Review > (Return of) Superman (DC Universe Classics)

return_supesAfter his unfortunate accident, I was forced to replace my red-and-blue Superman figure from DCUC Wave 6. Fortunately, the new one I traded for is in working order. (Thanks to anti-hero from the Fwoosh for the trade.)

A few years ago, in a rare rave review of the DC Super Heroes Superman figure, I wrote: “This is everything an action figure should be, and the Four Horsemen and Mattel should be proud.” I stand by the latter part, but it turns out I was perhaps a bit wrong on the first part. As good as DCSH Superman was, he could be even better. Unfortunately, DCUC hasn’t quite gotten there yet.

In retrospect, DCSH Supes has a few problems: his looks are perhaps a bit too chiseled, his head is a wee bit too small, and most significantly, his legs are stuck in an extremely wide stance. DC collectors waited with baited breath for an updated DCUC Superman, but it wasn’t until Wave 6 that we got anything even close to that.

superman-4

I say “close” because this isn’t quite the ideal Superman figure. While the new figure does feature the Man of Steel in his classic red-and-blue togs (as opposed to the amusing Red/Blue Superman of Wave 2, and the variant Regeneration Suit Superman of this wave), he’s also rocking some shoulder-length hair, and let’s face it, that’s not anyone’s image of Superman.

Supes wore this look for a few years after coming back from his “death,” which was apparently the occasion for some sort of midlife crisis. He didn’t crop his hair to the classic spitcurl ‘do again until he married Lois.

While I understand the idea behind this variant–Mattel and the Four Horsemen seem oddly determined to create a “Death and Return of Superman” sub-line with DCUC–but it does make me wonder when we’ll get a “regular” Superman. Superman will sport his traditional coiffure in the Superman/Brainiac two-pack, but his eyes will be heat vision red.

Still, Mattel has already announced regular “All Star” releases of the DC big guns like Wonder Woman, Flash and Batman, so I can only assume we’ll get a standard Superman sometime in the near future. In the meantime, we’ve got “Business up front, party in the back” Superman to hold the line in our superhero displays.

supermanSculpt: In most ways, I think this figure manages to improve on the already-excellent DCSH figure.

I dig the shorter cape, which fits my traditional conception of Superman. And the facial sculpt is definitely better–larger and a bit softer, without the razor-like edges of the earlier figure.

The chest is a bit narrower and the lat muscles less pronounced on the new figure too, which is good; the older figure looked a little too ripped, even for Superman.

superman-2Plastic & Paint: I prefer Superman with lighter shades of blue and red, which is something the DCSH figure got wrong–the blue was much too dark, while the red was a little too subtle, in my opinion. That’s probably because Mattel wanted the figure to resemble the color scheme from the then-upcoming Superman Returns.

Wave 6 Superman has a good, bright red, but the blue is still too dark for my taste. I really want a vibrant lighter blue, like the original DC Direct figure. DCSH Supergirl used that shade of blue, so I don’t see why we can’t get it on Superman. It’s possible, however, that the darker blue was chosen for this figure because it better fits the way the character was depicted during the “Return of Superman” period. It was the ’90s, man.superman-3 Everything was dark.

Unfortunately, the disappointment doesn’t stop there. One thing the DCSH Superman has on this one is the big, thick S-symbol on the chest, which looks a lot more modern. The slender, more defined red S on the Wave 6 figure hasn’t been standard in decades. It just looks outdated.

While I’m glad to finally get the yellow S on the back of the cape, again, it’s disappointing, but for a different reason. Due to the way the cape folds go all the way up to almost the top of Supes’s back, the only place they could properly tampo the S symbol was right between the shoulder blades. This is much higher than it’s usually depicted–again, see DC Direct’s figure for how it should be done.

Finally, the paint applications themselves are a bit spotty and sloppy, especially around the neck. The work on the head and hair is good, though, particularly the blue drybrushing on the hair.

Articulation: Standard DCUC articulation: ball joints at the neck and shoulders, swivels at the biceps, wrists and waist, and hinges at the elbows, knees and ankles, with the H-hinges at the hips for ball joint-like movement.

Accessories: Supes comes with Kalibak’s arm and Beta-Club, but nothing for himself. I suppose that’s par for the course for Superman, though I still think you could throw in a hunk of Kryptonite or something.

Quality Control: My first figure’s leg snapped off at the hip. Supposedly Mattel has managed to get this recurring DCUC problem fixed at the factory. The second figure appears to be fine, other than some paint spottiness.

Value: The usual $12 a pop. At this point, I feel that’s average–not

Overall

111/200

I’d be willing to forgive the colors and the long hair and award at least an extra half-point if not for the problems with the symbols. I just think Superman looks better with a larger, thicker chest symbol; as for the yellow symbol on the cape, it’s so high they might as well not have bothered with it.

I’ll admit this is really a 2-raven figure. It gets an extra half point because as negative as this review may seem, I like the figure more than the sum of its parts may suggest. It’s the first red-and-blue DCUC figure, and in terms of sculpt, it’s an improvement over the already-excellent DCSH figure. With just a few minor changes to the symbols, a mullet-less head, brighter blue bodysuit and normal eyes, we could have the (new) definitive Superman action figure.

Comments now closed (19)

  • Hey Poe, good review. I have to say I really agree with you on the S-logos, the one on the chest just doesn't seem right, and the one on the cape is awful.

    I really don't see this being the only standard Supes we get in DCUC though, so I hope they tweak the S logo's between releases. And also re-do the cape to allow for better placement of the logo on it.

  • Superman with a mullet is definitley not my image of Superman! I'll definitley pass on this figure!

  • To be fair, it's not really a true mullet. A mullet is short in the front and sides and long only in the back.

    This Superman just has long hair 🙂

  • I like the figure (I haven't yet found Recovery Suit Supes), but I have similar problems with it. The logo is too small and the one on the cape is poorly placed. My other main complaint is that on my figure the cape doesn't seem to come down far enough so he has some skin showing where the cape goes "into" his costume. Overall though I like the figure, but really wish the Brainiac figure didn't have the heat vision eyes.

  • You knock it out of the park again, Poe. I'm glad to see that you moderate the negative and never descend into outright viciousness that some reviewers seem to delight in.

  • As someone with long hair, trust me-that's a mullet. Or he's really good at keeping it swept back.

  • I actually like this figure a lot more than I thought I was going to. I mostly got him to fill the gaping Superman-sized whole in my collection, but out of the package there is just something about him for me that works. Maybe I like Superman more than I thought.

    As fair as the hair is concerned, it is definitely swept back and long all over except for the front curl. If he parted it down the middle it would just look like long hair.

    Interestingly mine has two left fore-arms. Its not major and doesnt bug me in most pose but it is there. Also instead of using bare hand molds like Captain Marvel, they went with the gloved hand in flesh tone. You can tell from the wrinkles on the knuckles and lack of veins. It seems like it would have been easy to use the Captain Marvel molds for this but maybe I am just nitpicking.

  • I have black suit man with Mullet. I know regular Supes comes with the Braniac two pack out soon.

    What they really should do is a Krypton Man variant for Eradicator for those that couldn't get the figure since Wave 5 was so elusive. A simple repaint is all it would take.

  • i>reviewers delight in viciousness? hard to imagine! 😉

    I've never beeen a huge fan of Supes, so I'm maybe not quite as picky as others might be. However I do agree that this blue is a shade or two too dark. And now that Poe has pointed it out, I'm going to forever hate the "S" on SM's chest…

    Otherwise a great figure. I managed to find this one on shelves, not regeneration suit, which if I do ever find I might consider picking up. Until then, I'm happy with wave 6 and Kalibak.

  • I meant to say this earlier but clearly Superman can't come with kryptonite because he would die in the package.

  • This to me is the supes i grew up with and my earliest memory of him, so i'll pick him up, and i love the hair for nostalgia reasons. i do agree that the chest symbol is too small but if i can get one without it being QC-crappy, i'll be happy

  • Griffin has a point. I'd hate to spend good money on a figure just to have to bury it in the backyard.

  • Yeah. I know. But sometimes it's just outright painful to read the vitriol in some reviews because the reviewer seems to think that their personal bitching is more important than the toy.

  • I love Superman but this figure is indeed far from being perfect. I agree that the blue should be lighter, the S-shield logo should be bigger and Mattel should just had made a new cape for Superman just to get the S-shield right on his back.

    I have already used a different head for my figure and looking at replacing the cape also. Maybe then I can come up with my perfect Superman figure…

  • his long hair was in the mid 90's and a mullet doesnt looks like that. he has long hair, its not white-trash-tralier park-hair. besides thats the hair he had aginst doomsday.