PHOTO REVIEW: Mattel Man of Steel 3 ¾ Inch Line
Core Film Characters Plus Imaginative Creations...
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To support the new release of Man of Steel from Warner Bros., Mattel has put out a hefty lineup of 3 ¾ inch figures. On store shelves now, the assortment of single-carded figures, light up figures, and multi-packs is reminiscent of the toy selection for Green Lantern, though obviously with a tighter focus on fewer characters. Superman is of course the main man, and at least three out of every four figures will be some version of him, whether right out of the movie or a fanciful new creation with funky colors, armor, and weapons. Designed primarily for kids (and they’re going to love it), this line does cater to the collector as well with some cool designs and solid figures.
Packaging for the 3 ¾ inch line loudly proclaims the movie as often as possible, with the Man of Steel logo, title, and a pretty good actor likeness everywhere you look. Likewise, the colors are all red, blue, and yellow in varying stripes and swooshes. The regular figures come packaged on a standard J-hook card with lots of curved lines and swirls. Each figure’s name appears below it on the front of the bubble along with a notation for what kind of weapon he wields (like “Mega Weapon!” or “2-in-1 Mega Blade!”). Meanwhile, the back panel shows off your figure in an action pose (quite often one it can’t stand in by itself) flanked by a display of the “Flight Speeders” toys. The Walmart exclusive Powers of Krypton figures come in small, flat boxes just like the similar light up figures from Green Lantern. There’s a Try Me hole in the front window and on the back panel you’ll find action shots of the figure, others in the same lineup, and the giant mech figures.
Finally, at Target is the Kryptonian Invasion 5-Pack that comes in a wide, flat box just like the Battle for Gotham City pack that came out for The Dark Knight Rises. The back of this box has huge photos of the included figures along with shots of the standard carded offerings.
As with most toy lines from a movie focused on one superhero, the character selection is fairly limited for Man of Steel. You’ll see the “standard” version of Superman in each SKU, plus a couple other characters... and then lots of variations on Big Blue. What’s neat about the alternate versions in this lineup (and opposed to what we usually get with Batman lines) is that some of the figures are sort of based on real comic book characters or appearances. “Concrete Crusher” Superman has a light blue suit with a lot of red that’s reminiscent of certain Eradicator designs, while “Wrecking Ball” Superman has a bold full red suit that could fill in for Superman Red. My favorite comic-inspired figure is “Tread Attack” Superman whose unique black and red “S” shield is immediately recognizable to comic book fans as the Kingdom Come version.
Whether it’s a Clark Kent or otherwise, these figures are at least as good as anything else you’ve seen in toy aisles based on a movie in recent years. The standard Superman figure stands about 3 7/8 inches tall, appropriately tall in the 3 ¾ scale (though a little short next to the also ubiquitous 4 inch figures); meanwhile the tallest is the giant Namek at about 5 inches. Sculpts on the Man of Steel figures is pretty good, with a lot of textures on costumes and all of the intricate lines of piping and armor. Face sculpts, while not necessarily head scan quality, are overall pretty solid for this scale. Paint apps vary widely, with quite a few figures getting the short straw with one solid color for their bodies while some others have a lot of different touches. And while the first figure I opened (Tread Attack) disappointed me with a clear plastic cape, the rest had decent cloth capes. And while some other movie toys we could mention are rocking the retro five points of articulation, for the most part Man of Steel figures have ball-jointed necks, ball-jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivel hips (though mileage may vary on the bulkier armored figures).
The standard figure line as well as the Target 5-pack come with lots of accessories, though thankfully action features are few and far between. The included “weapons” are a mixed bag of everything from car parts and chunks of concrete to futuristic rifles and melee weapons. They’re all big and fun-looking, though they’ll warp the hell out of the hands that hold them and in most cases the figure won’t be able to do it and stand up on its own. Again, kids will love these but older collectors may just send them to the parts bin. The Powers of Krypton figures are so named for their light up feature; press the button on a figure’s back and watch the LED in its chest pulse and glow for a few seconds. With plenty of translucent plastic the light up effect is pretty good, and their accessories are designed to play off of it with clear armor, visors, heat vision effects, and the like.
If you have kids who are into Superman then you’ll doubtless find something in this lineup to make them happy. And if you’re a somewhat older fan, you may just be surprised and get one or two for yourself as well. Overall the figures stand up pretty well on their own (as long as they’re not holding any bulky accessory) and look good enough to hang out with other 3 ¾ inch superheroes, especially Mattel’s other movie lines and Infinite Heroes. You can find most of the figures in any big box store, though some are exclusives like Target’s 5-pack and the Walmart “Powers” figures. And make sure to price check; you should be able to find the regular line for less than $10 each and the Powers for that much. Happy hunting, and enjoy the film!
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin