New takes on retro action figures is a huge thing these days. I think a lot of the credit (or blame) on the resurgence of vintage and 5POA figures can go to Funko and Super7’s ReAction lines, but since then a lot of companies have jumped on board. And while McFarlane is already producing a dizzying array of regular DC figures in their Multiverse line, they’ve found the time to reintroduce the world to Kenner’s old DC Super Powers Collection. These aren’t exact reproductions of those figures, instead some are new versions of the characters done in the old style. And unfortunately, these are all Walmart Exclusives, so I was pretty surprised to find any of them at all, let alone the whole wave. Let’s start with the figures and then I’ll have a look at one of the vehicles!
The first wave consisted of three figures: Superman, Batman, and Darkseid, but since I managed to find Jon Stewart Green Lantern from the second wave, I’m throwing him in here as well. The second wave also included The Flash and Batman Who Laughs, and I’ll only be picking up the Flash out of those two. Obviously, the packaging is going for pure nostalgia with some pretty close approximations of the old Kenner card backs. They look great, but they are definitely not collector friendly. And I was tempted not to open these at all, but my willpower is shite, and I tore into all of them. The wave one figures were on clearance, so I may pick up a second Batman and Supes to keep carded, if there are still any left. We’ll start with The Man of Steel!
Superman is the only one of the bunch that’s pretty close to the original Kenner figure, at least in terms of costume design. He’s got his bright blue suit with red boots and undies, yellow belt, and S-shield. I dig the proportions on this figure, and the sculpted muscles look really nice. The coloring is also outstanding with bright yellow, vibrant blue, and crisp red, he looks like he flew right off the pages of a DC funnybook. The head sculpt is a tad soft in the facial features, but they really captured his trademark cowlick, and I like the bright blue eyes.
The cape is like a cross between paper and cloth. It’s stiff, but looks good, and has a wire running through the collar, which is the only way it attaches to the figure. It hangs on well, and my only gripe here is that the cape was secured to the bubble with a wire, which left a tiny hole in the cape. This won’t be an issue for mint-on-card collectors, but it bugs the hell out of me. As with all the figures in this line, Superman has seven points of articulation. The head turns, the shoulders rotate, the T-crotch allows the legs to move forward at the hips, and the knees are hinged. The figures do not retain the Kenner action gimmick that made them punch when you squeezed their legs.
Unlike Supes, Batman is a completely different version than the original Kenner figure. I think this design is based on the Hush comic, which admittedly isn’t a huge departure. Instead of having the yellow and black bat symbol on his chest, he just has the black. It’s disappointing to me, but not a deal breaker. Otherwise, the figure looks fine with a mix of new sculpting and recycled parts. The cape works the same as Superman’s and yes it still has a tiny hole in it from the wire. Batman is by no means a bad figure, but he’s definitely my least favorite of the four.
Darkseid is also pretty different from the original Kenner figure, with this being the New 52 version, which is nice nod for me because I happen to like this look a lot. Darkseid is the biggest and most complex figure here with a lot of great sculpting for a figure in this scale. The armor bits give him a lot of heft, and I love the detail to his belt. You even get a little sculpted fissures in the skin on his arms and his face. Even the coloring here is fun and vibrant with the bright blue and yellow contrasting nicely with the dark skin. Darkseid has one hand sculpted into a fist and the other able to grab other figures. I love this guy!
Last, but not least is Jon Stewart, who did not get a release in the original Super Powers, as Kenner only produced Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. And oh boy, is this figure outstanding! The costume is pretty simple with a mostly black bodysuit and green boots, bracers, and shoulders, with the lantern emblem on his chest in green and white. The head sculpt is an absolute homerun here! The facial sculpt is so good that it doesn’t feel like it belongs in the same line as Batman and Superman. Jon’s right hand is sculpted in a fist and has his power ring clearly represented, while his left hand is designed to hold his lantern accessory. Wow, what a great figure!
There’s a part of me that would have liked to see McFarlane do the Kenner versions of these figures, but then New 52 Darkseid and Jon Stewart Green Lantern are so great, I’ll happily stick with what we got. Despite being cherry-picked from across the DC Multiverse, these figures still manage to capture the charm and fun of the original Kenner efforts. What’s more, they certainly don’t feel like quick and dirty nostalgia cash grabs, but rather damn fine figures for their scale and style. Even more so at less than $10 a pop. But we’re not done yet… let’s move on to the Batwing!
Kenner Super Powers gave us the Batmobile and the Batcopter, but this Batwing is an original design for this line, borrowing heavily from the 1989 Batman film and retro-fitting it perfectly for the vintage Kenner style. The jet comes in a fully enclosed box that mimics the vintage vehicles for more of that sweet, sweet nostalgia. You get artwork on the front and some shots of the Batwing on the other panels.
The Batwing comes out of the box fully assembled, but with the wings folded up. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a play feature, or just a method of getting a big toy into a small box. Either way, I dig it, as it’s similar to how some vintage aircraft would fold up the wings for storage on carriers. I’d like to think that this is how the Batwing travels up an elevator to be deployed out of a concealed hanger on the top of the Batcave.
With the wings folded down, we can get a better look at the jet, and it’s a damn cool little vehicle. Again, the similarities to the 89 Batman jet can’t be overstated. This one is a little smaller and cast mostly in blue plastic with black bat wings jutting up from each side of the translucent orange cockpit. There’s a little bit of panel lining, and two gray machine guns, at least that’s what I’m calling them, and finally a very classic black and yellow bat symbol, which doubles as a button to spring open the canopy. The back has a gray thruster cone, and there’s a trigger on the undercarriage to activate the capture claw hidden on the front. I really love the design of this little toy, especially how anachronistic it is. The way it takes a newer design and makes it feel totally at home in this retro line is just genius.
Batman is a bit of a snug fit in the cockpit, but it works! I prefer to remove his cape, just so it doesn’t get all bunched up in there. The cockpit is detailed with some very colorful pre-applied stickers for the consoles, and a bat-shaped yoke for steering.
The capture claw feels right at home as a Super Powers action gimmick, while also employing a feature seen on the 89 Batwing. I can practically see a kid in a vintage commercial swooping in for the grab while shouting, “YOU’RE FINISHED, DARKSEID!” Every bit of this toy just oozes 80’s Kenner charm!
Now, I will confess to some Batwing sticker shock, as for some reason I was convinced that these vehicles were $20, but in fact they were $29.99 at my Walmart. I’m not going to say it’s totally outrageous, but it is a lot for what is a pretty small and simple vehicle. But, obviously it wasn’t too much, because I came home with it. Still, I wish it had been on clearance like the figures! Nonetheless, I have no regrets. This line is just tons of fun and looks great on display in a little corner of my Comic Room. I’m not sure how deep I’m going to go with collecting it, but I am hunting Flash and Wonder Woman now, and I will probably break down and pick up the Superman vehicle as well. It would be great to see Kalibak and Steppenwolf, as those were some of my favorites in the Kenner line, but even if we do get them, who knows what versions they will be. And that’s really just my one nitpick here is that I would have enjoyed more of a cohesive selection of character versions.
I’ve passed several times on the vehicles even though they are both cool as heck! $30 is a bit much for me right now. As far as the figures capes go, you should check out ” capemaster” on Ebay.
I’ll take a look… thanks for the tip!!!