Friday, December 24, 2010

Toy Review – Movie Masterpieces: Superman By Mattel

While I skipped General Zod the first time he was offered on Mattycollector.com, I knew I would buy the Superman whenever they offered him. Christopher Reeve as Superman is one of the greatest casting choices ever and one of the few versions of the Man of Steel I can tolerate. Also, I saw the first three Superman movies in the theater with my mom (as well as the awesome Supergirl) and Superman II is one of the first movies I truly recall.
I wasn’t too crazy about a couple of things in the pre-production photo on Matty’s site, but their products tend to look much better than those photos. Was that the case this time around? Find out…

Next!
First Glance: Shit. Supes looks exactly like the photos on the site. Except maybe that he doesn’t have the same camel toe. The head sculpt looks very good, though.
Mrs. Troublemaker inspected him from her perch on the stairs and had this to offer:
He looks fucking stupid.”
Sigh.
Sculpt: Let’s start with the negative so we can end on something positive. Hopefully.
His abdomen does look stupid. It’s too skinny when compared to his chest, which actually looks pretty magnificent. As a matter of fact, Superman’s arms and legs are very well-muscled and look terrific. He’s not too bulky and Mattel realized they couldn’t just use the same body as they did for, say, the Ghostbusters figures. The problem is basically from the bottom of his ribcage to the tops of his hips – that portion is too narrow and makes the figure look weird. Also, it makes his outerpants fit strangely.
This plastic Man of Steel has double-jointed elbows and knees; along with great shoulders and hips. All of his major joints have those clicky parts that help heavier limbs stay in place. As a matter of fact, the more I think about it, the more impressed I am with most of Superman’s articulation.
Until I think about his neck and head. Which suck. Horribly. Probably to the point that they are the biggest failures of this figure, which is saying something because there are a couple of major ones. Superman’s neck/head articulation consists of a stump sticking out of his shoulders with an incredibly loose ball joint at the top holding his head on. This means that not only is Superman looking at his shoes all the time like some sort of morose 90’s frontman, he also cannot face forward while in a horizontal position. 
Meaning he cannot fly properly.
Did you read that sentence? Did you catch the meaning?
Superman. Cannot. Fly.
Mattel, you fucking idiots.
And you know what really burns me? What really makes this oversight such a brutal kick in the nuts? I mean, besides the fact that I’m having to get upset over a Superman figure. What really makes this suck to the utmost is the fact that Superman comes with this fantastic stand that is strong and looks nice and has an amazingly well-designed hinge at the top that is clearly designed to allow the figure to be posed in an in-flight position. AAARGH!
Not only that, he includes “in-flight” hands. Either that, or the flat hands were intended to be kung-fu hands. Or perhaps Vanna White-esque “Look at these fabulous prizes!” hands.
I didn’t mean to end that section on a negative, but I sure as heck did. But hey, remember his big, strong arms!
Design: It is at the same time unrealistic and unavoidable to compare Mattel’s $60 1/6th scale figures to the more expensive toys produced by Sideshow or Hot Toys. Unfortunately, that means the perfectly good paint job on Superman’s head looks a little sub-par. Everything is accurate, but when you’re used to the advanced techniques and subtlety utilized by the higher-end companies – such as glossy paint for the eyes and washes so expertly applied they look like actual shadows – Kal-El’s head just falls short. But not for the money.
His costume looks really cool. The materials Mattel used for the tights, outerpants and cape are very nice and fit/drape well. I wouldn’t have used that ribbon material for his beltloops and embroidered “S” crests might have been nice. Other than that the costume looks tremendous.
I don’t like the boots, though. They should have used pleather or vinyl instead of this shiny stuff. Mine already has runs in it and that is a sad thing to have to say about the Last Son of Krypton’s footwear. I do like that they kept his ankle articulation functional, though.
Accessories: Superman comes with the awesome stand I mentioned above. I really am impressed with the construction of that stand. They were determined to make their failure on the figure design as devastating as possible.
You also get two pairs of alternate hands; for a total of three sets – fists, “in-flight” hands and “aaaargh” hands. As in “Aaaargh, it’s kryptonite©!”
Speaking of kryptonite©, the figure also comes with a Fortress of Solitude console with a piece of kryptonite© and an information crystal that can be plugged in. It’s neat and a nice extra that Mattel could have gotten away with not including, but it really should light up.
Packaging: Superman comes in the same kind of box that the 12” Ghostbusters came in. I love the design, but this one didn’t come open as easily as Ray Stantz’ did.
Overall: Man. As much as I really want to love this figure, I just can’t give it a solid score. The failures are just too big and easily – and I mean easily – avoidable. A better neck, different boots and a slightly wider lower torso would have made this such a perfect figure. It’s so frustrating that this Superman is so close, yet so far away.
2 out of 5
The bottom line is if you want a Christopher Reeve Superman figure, this is it. I’m sure at some point either Hot Toys or Medicom will produce one, but they sure as heck aren’t going to be sixty bucks. More likely they’ll be three times that. For the price, this really is a fair deal. I just wish Mattel had nailed it. I might have knocked off a point more than was necessary out of sheer irritation. I’ll have to revisit this guy in the future.
As of right now you can still purchase Superman (and General Zod, who I’ll review soon) from Mattycollector.com.

Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. that was a hilarious review :D Sorry you were disappointed, though- I got mine last December along with Zod & STILL haven't opened them, LOL!

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  2. This is a good Christopher Reeve figure for the price. I have it too which is still not opened and I recently got the Hot Toys version of the Christopher Reeve Superman.. Not surprisingly, it looks even better than this one from Mattel... It has a fantastic headsculpt! Check out the photos I took of the Hot Toys version! >>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/imranbecks/sets/72157627931413395/

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