Thursday, July 11, 2013

Toy Review – Man of Steel Movie Masters Series 1 Superman By Mattel

It is rare occurrence for me to be reviewing a Superman figure.

It’s not that they don’t make that many Superman figures. Though, now that I think of it, they kind of don’t. Unlike Batman, Superman traditionally hasn’t carried many lines by himself. That’s an interesting observation that I just made and don’t have the time or presence of mind to pursue right now.
Side Note: It’s 4:30 on Monday morning and I am getting out of work in half an hour. I am tired and basically just wanted to see how much of this review I could crank out before quitting time. Not much if I don’t stop with this Side Note.

So they – “They” being Mattel – actually don’t make that many Superman figures.
But on top of that is the fact that I am just not a big Superman fan unless we’re talking about Christopher Reeve. So the chances that I am going to spend money on an action figure of Krypton’s Last Son are about the same as the chances that Superman is going to be packed in with a character that I actually want.

Like he was with He-Man that one time.

Or, I suppose, the same as the chances that a Superman movie will come out that is so compelling and badass that I get the ol’ urge and just have to have a figure of the Superman from that movie.

As you may have figured out – especially if you’re already read my reviewMan of Steel was just such a movie. After the credits rolled I wanted some toys bad. So I stopped by Walmart on the way home and bought myself a Superman. Thus far I have resisted the temptation to buy Jor-el and Zod. Jor-El looks awesome, but just isn’t a character that interacts with anybody else, really. I don’t feel the need to own him. Zod, on the other hand, interacts pretty significantly with Superman and is a total badass despite sounding like Dr. Evil sometimes. But I want him in his armor, not his underwear. That Movie Masters Zod is just so underwhelming. I’ll probably end up with him at some point, but I’d much rather have armor.

Superman doesn’t appear to be underwhelming, so let’s take a look at him now.
First Glance: If you’re used to collecting 6” scale figures, there’s no way around the fact that Mattel’s Movie Masters seem small. But they’re not. They’re actually my preferred – and the correct – version of the 6” scale; one inch per foot. I don’t know how we got off track from that, but I wish we hadn’t.

Anyway, Superman looks a little small compared to your normal 6” scale figure, but he does look really cool and much more visually interesting than Superman tends to be.
Articulation: The Movie Masters also feature much more limited articulation than some other lines in the supposed same scale. Superman has a fair amount, but there are some noticeable omissions.

Head – ball joint
Shoulders – ball joint
Biceps - swivel
Elbows – pivot
Wrists – swivel
Waist – swivel
Hips – swivel/pivot
Thigh - swivel
Knees –pivot
Ankles –pivot

Unfortunately this Superman commits Phantom Troublemaker’s Cardinal Sin of Action Figures of Characters That Fly (PTCSAFC) – it cannot look forward while posed for flight. This is very stupid on the parts of the people who made the figure and basically an instant fail. I mean, not really because maybe the rest of the figure is very good. But c’mon, morons. Superman flies. A lot. It’s one of the main things that he is known for in his modern incarnation (and in Man of Steel, specifically). This head can’t even come close to looking forward during flight.

The shoulders work quite well. They have a great range of movement and can hang naturally at the figure’s sides. Part of the reason I like the Movie Masters is their more realistic proportions. They don’t have the absurd “T” shape that other figures have that prevent a neutral pose (arms hanging down). The elbows have fairly deep bends and the wrists rotate freely.

I have to say that I am way over this style of hip joint. Honestly I was over it the first time I saw it, but it’s better than a simple swivel. This thing is just so ugly when the figure is posed.
The knees don’t bend a whole heck of a lot, but the ankles have a decent pivot.

The joints on my figure all move freely and hold poses. None of them were loose at all and they function as well as they are meant to.
Sculpt: I can’t decide if the head sculpt on Kal-El is soft or not that good. It does not particularly resemble Henry Cavill. At least, not to the extent that other Movie Masters have nailed likenesses. It doesn’t look bad – and definitely looks Supermanly – it just isn’t a stunning likeness like the other figures in the line.

The body might not actually be muscular enough. It looks good and all, but Cavill was really buff in this movie. The figure almost looks a bit too slim. But it does look good. The musculature is well-defined and the proportions are realistic – as they should be in this line. 

The articulation is also worked into the sculpt quite nicely. Except for the hips, I guess.

The sculpt of the costume is fantastic. All of the detail is actually sculpted in and painted. The new lines and designs of the movie suit are tightly done and look absolutely fantastic as an action figure. The raised and fully-defined “S” looks awesome. And I love the textures on everything. When I first saw this costume I wasn’t sure how I felt about all of the textures, but once I saw the movie and just how much it focused on Kal-El’s alien-ness I appreciated it. And it looks awesome as an action figure.

I didn’t specifically notice this Superman’s belt until I got this figure. It’s kind of weird that they dropped the trunks but not the belt. Why does he need a belt? The new designs break up the costume enough. But it looks cool and is worked into the design nicely. And I’m not even sure that’s actually a belt.

The only thing I would say is really lacking on this figure aside from the head sculpt is body hair. To be totally movie-accurate this thing should have some curlies crawling out of the chest and sleeves.
Coloring: Superman’s head has one of the better paint apps I’ve seen from Mattel. The hair is glossy and accurately applied – none of the black falls outside of the lines. The eyes are well-centered and a nice baby-blue. The eyebrows are straight-up painted on and not sculpted, which I take issue with, but they actually look okay. The flesh has a bit of a wash that looks good.

The suit – in keeping with the movie – is a bit darker blue than we’re used to, but it looks very good with darker washes in a few spots. The red is still nice and bright and actually provides a more interesting look in contrasting the dark blue. I also really like the gold behind the “S”. The slightly metallic silver of the new trim looks very good and creates interesting new lines.

All of the paint is very well done and accurately placed. I feel like these Movie Masters get a little more quality control than your standard Mattel DCU release.

Flair: The cape looks great, which is pretty important for Superman. It’s made from a softer plastic than most of the capes we get from Mattel and I like that. The sculpted folds and the way it appears to hang look good whether the figure is standing or flying. Of course, if it’s flying it’s going to run into things because it can’t freakin’ look straight ahead. Good thing he’s Superman, I guess. There’s probably a joke in there related to how much destruction happened in Man of Steel, but I’m too tired to make it.

Also, I’m glad we’ve gotten away from Superman having an “S” on his cape. I don’t know why, but I never liked that. And Mattel has always made it look like crap on their figures anyway, so good that it’s gone.
Accessories: Superman comes with a stand, which is truly the lamest of action figure accessories. Not only does a stand not add one bit of play value to an action figure, it also says, “Hey, consumer – we couldn’t be bothered to design a figure that can stand upright on its own. So here’s an ugly chunk of plastic to help out with that. Have fun with your cluttered and crappy-looking shelf!”

I hate stands.

And this stand commits a crime above and beyond just being a crummy pack-in – it doesn’t even match the other stands in the line. Each Man of Steel Movie Master comes with a differently-colored stand. And going beyond that, if you take in Mattel’s Movie Masters as a whole (which you should) – including Batman and Green Lantern – the other lines do not even come with stands. 

If Mattel really wanted to wow people they would have included a snap-on heat vision effect. That would have been awesome. But seeing as they didn’t even see fit to provide their Green Lantern Corps figures with ring constructs I suppose that would be expecting a bit much. Now that I think about it, none of their Movie Masters Batmen have Batarangs or anything, either. Man Mattel, you sure do suck.
Packaging: A strangely large blister card. I don’t know why, but I find the Man of Steel Movie Masters packaging to be awfully plain. It fails to be eye-catching to the point where I simply overlooked the Movie Masters twice the first time I found them in a store.
Value: $14.99 is a close to not being a great deal. It’s okay because this is actually a very well-done figure. Kudos to Mattel for training me to believe I should be paying a premium for a well-done figure as opposed to that simply being the standard.
Overall: Likeness aside this is a pretty cool Superman figure. I like it and think it is done as well as we could expect from Mattel. I say pick one up if you liked the movie.

4 out of 5

Oddly, I have yet to see the Man of Steel Movie Masters in a Toys R Us. They are plentiful at Target and Walmart, though. Seems like people are snatching up Superman and leaving underwear Zod and Jor-El behind, just like I did. Maybe I can get those two on clearance. It’s almost a shame, though, because I want Faora and that big dude and they’re in the second series, which may or may not ever make it to retail given Mattel’s track record.


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