Topless Toy Chest: 18-Inch Christopher Reeve Superman by NECA
Lex Luthor did not want me to complete this review.
I mean, what would YOU think if you went to UPS.com to track your package, and it actually told you flat out that a train derailment had caused an interruption in your delivery? It’s a good thing Superman lived up to his billing as “more powerful than a locomotive” and made it here anyway.
Christopher Reeve was my Superman. I don’t mean he was the ideal embodiment of the character; I mean that when I first learned who Superman was it was Christopher Reeve. The movie existed in my mind first, and only later did I become aware of the comics, which I assumed were based on the Christopher Reeve version. His Superman was real to me – the first time I went on the roof of a tall New York building, I was disappointed not to see Superman flying below. Superman III is something we can rag on all we like as smart adults now, but it introduced me to Richard Pryor and Robert Vaughn.
Hell, my parents can tell you about the time we flew from the U.S. to Ireland on a red-eye, and I insisted on staying up because the inflight movie was Superman, then screamed every time the sound wasn’t perfect in those terrible old plastic tube headsets that planes used to have. This despite – or maybe because of – my knowing the dialogue by heart (and insisting the movie’s audio complied).
Mattel made a 12″ Christopher Reeve Superman for Mattycollector. Let’s take a look at him first:
Because it was the first one, we somehow accepted this as a Reeve likeness.
Mattel Superman, would you care to step outside?
Luthor’s diabolical derailment may have scuffed up the back a bit, but as a toy reviewer I take this sucker out of the package anyway. (Luthor must work for Mattel.)
NECA’s headsculpt is obviously eons better, but their choice of facial expression is unusual. Superman in my memory is smiling, either in his signature pose flying out into space and promising another movie sequel, or in the mundane tasks like saving a cat from a tree (side note – how many of the modern-era movie heroes are shown doing things like saving little girls’ cats from trees?). NECA has him stone-cold serious, and his eyes looking up – which means you can either have him eyes-upward like he’s preparing to fly, or you can angle his head downwards with his eyes then looking ahead for the classic psycho stare utilized so often by deranged Stanley Kubrick characters. It’s like he might be Evil Supes from part III by mistake.
Yes, he does have the yellow S-shield on the back.
Bela Lugosi’s dead…
Just as NECA nailed the individual “scales” on the Henry Cavill Super-suit, so have they textured what would probably have been spandex and rubber details on this one.
One cool detail is that so as not to break up the look of the chest with a visible ab-crunch joint, they’ve hidden it under a rubbery overshirt. Despite the different material of the chest part of the costume, it still matches the arms just fine. There is one really evil thing that was done, however – one of the twisty-tie wires that holds the figure in place actually runs through the figure underneath the shirt piece, and must be pulled out through an arm hole. The twisties in general are ultra-evil on this figure – actually tied in knots rather than simply twisted around and around. Don’t even try removing them with bare hands – nailclippers at minimum are a must.
Another tiny detail – they’ve painted the part in his hair with a small strip of fleshtone. Nice idea, but up close it looks weird.
Supes is light on accessories – all he has are alternate hands in slap/chop poses that I doubt I’ll ever use. The Kryptonite necklace would have been a fun accessory, but maybe they’ll save that for a future variant who also has a smiling face. Considering he retails for around $105-$115, which is about the same as their heavier, light-up Pacific Rim figures in the same size, and $10-$20 more than their usual no-frills 18-inchers, I’m guessing the likeness rights must have cost more than the norm.
He is fully articulated, with mostly ball-joints. The neck is a bit restricted by his hair, but he can totally sit down if you like.
Now, how does he compare to other, similar figures?
I thought this next one was off at first, but according to imdb, Reeve actually was three inches taller than Cavill is now.
Michael Keaton is significantly shorter, but his Bat-movies pretend he’s six feet, so let’s assume that’s what’s happening.
When Christopher Reeve turned fifty, I sent him a birthday card and a donation to his foundation, hoping to keep his spirits up as he battled neck-down paralysis and searched for a cure. It never came. He died. I cried. All of us who grew up with him probably did likewise.
Now he will have a presence on my shelf forever, and show the heroes of today how it’s done without muscle suits or CGI – just poise, presence, and a wire harness or two.
Thank you, NECA.