April 25, 2006
This will be the summer of Supes, no doubt about it. Will the movie turn out to be the next Spider-Man, or the next Catwoman? If you're playing the odds, your best bet would be somewhere in the middle, but the possibility exists that Superman Returns could be fantastic...or fold like a cheap lawn chair.
With the film coming out, we're swamped with Superman merchandise right now. Most of it revolves around the film, and Mattel is cranking out the product already. Most of said product manages to defy the laws of physics and actually sucks and blows at the same time, but it's out there nonetheless.
But as badly as Mattel is doing with the Superman Returns toys, they are going in the completely opposite direction with their more generic comic book based line, DC Superheroes. The first wave was Batman themed, and largely involved rehashes of figures released overseas only. The second wave is Superman based, and includes four characters - Bizarro, Supergirl, Superman and Doomsday.
I haven't been able to find Doomsday, the shortpack yet, and I already reviewed both Bizarro and Supergirl at my other site. That leaves the man himself, Superman, for today's review.
If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, you can
always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoy this review, take a minute to check out my
other site at Michael's Review of the Week, and let me know what you think. Now on
to the review!
"DC Superheroes Superman"
While a line like Superman Returns is intended for kids (with all the ridiculous baggage that assumption makes), the DC Superheroes line is more collector focused, even though it's sold at mass market. The line is also very much like Marvel Legends, and in many ways is emulating the innovations of that line to attempt to find similar success.
Packaging - ***
The packaging is about as sturdy as you can get without being a complete clamshell. The bubble runs up the entire front of the cardback, and could be considered a 'half clamshell', I suppose. The cardback is attractive, and they've used the included comic book to help add more visual interest. You can see the figure easily, and get a good idea of what you're buying before you open it.
Sculpting - ***
This Superman isn't any one particular version, instead being more of an interpretration of the classic character. He has a slightly animated appearance, but has the beefed up musculature of the usual comic book. His expression is stoney without being constipated, with a firm resolve and sharp lines.
The cape looks terrific, and is just about the right length. It's plastic, but flows nicely, and fits to the body well.
The scale here is 6", and that's about what Supes stands at. This makes him about the same height as Batman, and just a little short for me. Another quarter inch would have been nice, and made him appear a little less stumpy. The hands are also a bit obtrusive, appearing oversized and fisted. Doing something a little more creative with their sculpt, and dropping the size a bit, would have improved the final appearance. This handful of issues dropped the score for me a half star.
Paint - ***1/2
For a mass market line, the paint ops are very well done. The colors are cut well, with little slop between them, and even the flesh tone on the hands is clean, with no glopping (a common problem on hands). Several of the parts are simply cast in the correct color, but this often leads to inconsistency across the part. That's not the case here, and the quality is much better than what usually comes off the peg at Target.
The bright blue eyes are particularly interesting. They are painted high on the eyes, rather than centered, which adds to that stern, tough appearance. The tampo "S" on his chest is centered and straight, and looks terrific. This is what the symbol is supposed to look like!
Articulation - ***1/2
While these haven't quite reached Marvel Legends levels of articulation, what has been added is very useful and beneficial. This move away from the standard 5 points of the past DC characters is a welcome breath of fresh air.
Superman has a ball jointed neck, but the movement is somewhat restricted. He can look up and down slightly, but won't be taking any flight poses. He also has ball jointed shoulders (with joints on both sides of the ball), pin elbows, knees and ankles, cut wrists and waist, a chest joint, and a cut joint on the upper thigh.
He also has a somewhat unusual hip joint that allows for forward and backward movement, along with movement to the outside. This multi-direction joint is not a traditional ball or cut, but has pluses and minuses over both. It's better than a ball joint in terms of likeness, but doesn't have quite the range of movement. It's got more movement than a cut joint, but doesn't look *quite* as good, although it's close. I like it quite a bit, as a great compromise between appearance and articulation.
The joint does seem to force his stance to be wider than usual. I suspect this is as much a fault of the sculpt as the joint, and had the hips themselves been cut a little deeper, the legs would have come together closer.
Accessories - *1/2
Unfortunately, here's the one category where Supes tanks pretty hard. He comes with...a comic book. And it's not a great comic book. Considering all the possible accessories he could have had - and the terrific looking base he was originally shown with back at SDCC - this is a real let down.
Fun Factor - ***1/2
If you're looking for a great Superman figure for your kids, forget about that stuff that is coming under the Superman Returns label, and snag this guy. Sure, it doesn't look like the character in the movie, but that's not necessarily such a bad thing.
The articulation in combination with the great sculpt and paint make this a great toy. And yes, Virginia, it is possible to make a toy that plays great AND looks great. Put this Superman in front of a kid next to Super Breath Superman, and I can bet you the kid will play with this one far longer.
Value - **
These figures tend to run around $10 at most brick and mortar retailers, which is about $2 more than their competitors, Marvel Legends. Considering the greater number of accessories with ML, Mattel is going to have to do something to improve the value of the DC Superheroes with upcoming lines.
Overall - ***
I waffled around a bit on this final score. Part of me thinks that he really deserves another half star at the end of the day. But then I look at the oversized hands, slightly undersized height, lack of accessories and price point...and it's a tough call.
If you like comic based figures - large, oversized musculature - then I can tell you that you're unlikely to be disappointed with this Superman. He's not spot on perfect, but he's the best Supes we've gotten at mass market in a very, very long time.
Where to Buy -
These will eventually hit retailers like Target and Toys R Us, particularly with the spring reset. Right now your best bet is online though:
- Amazing Toyz has the singles at $9 each.
- CornerStoreComics has the singles at $9 each, or the full set of four at just $37.
- YouBuyNow has the singles at $9.50, but they don't have all of them in stock at this point.
- Killer Toys has the singles for $10 - $15 each, depending on the character.
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I reviewed the Bizarro and Supergirl last week.
Also, I reviewed the Batman and Killer Croc from the first
series. Since some of these were originally released as European exclusives in the old style
card/bubbles, I reviewed the Bane and Scarecrow from there, and have a great guest review of the
Batsignal Batman and Attack Armor Batman.