Toy Review: Supermarket Superman (Man Of Steel)

Has it really been a month and a half since my last toy review? That's weird. It's not because I haven't gotten any new toys recently, it's just that sometimes it seems like the Dork Dimension chooses its topics itself. I need to seriously get back on track, so let's start with this review of... um, I'm not quite sure what to call this Superman. He doesn't have any sort of distinguishing designation, but I happened to pick him up at my local supermarket so I guess I'll just refer to him as "Supermarket Superman".

I enjoy Mattel's 3 3/4" Man of Steel toy line for what it is, namely affordable kid-friendly action figures (although I admit there's room for improvement). Apparently there's a Man of Steel sub-line floating around that's designed for impulse purchasing at stores that don't normally focus on toys. The idea is to provide cheap, bare-bones figures, sans accessories, for parents who want to placate their kids while they're shopping. I've seen toys like this before: a Dark Knight Rises line popped up at supermarkets last year, and I still see some New Batman Adventures figures at drug stores every once in a while. And now we have a Man of Steel line.

This Supermarket Superman caught my eye for two reasons. First, it looks like this colorway isn't available in the main line so it has a bit of an "exclusive" feel to it. Second, the $4.50 price tag is solidly in the impulse purchase range, and that impulse was just a little too much for me to resist. Let's stop and think about that $4.50 a minute. Obviously, it's much cheaper than the $7 figures from the MOS main line. But let's take it a step further: if we compare it with vintage Star Wars figures from 1977 by adjusting for inflation, this Superman would be only about 60 percent the price of an old-school Star Wars figure. That's not too shabby, and it's encouraging to know that an action figure can have a very reasonable price tag if the manufacturer doesn't go crazy with sculpt, paint apps, and articulation.

But there's the catch. The sculpt is pretty good and the plastic is solid, but you're not getting much in the way of articulation or paint apps here. I can do without a lot of articulation, and I actually dig this Kenner-style articulation even if it's limited to just 7 points (limited swivel neck, swivel-hinge shoulders, hinge elbows, swivel hips).

But I have difficulty accepting the paint apps. My main beef is that there's a serious lack of effort in the eyes. Good eye paint can go a long way to make a figure look good, and what I like to see is the upper eyelid, sclera, iris, and pupil painted (the Green Lantern movie line from a couple of years ago is a good example of how to do it right). The main Man of Steel toy line failed in this regard because it only painted the upper eyelid and the iris, which made the figures look cheaper than they needed to be. As antiquated as I thought that was, this figure takes it one step further with even less paint. Supermarket Superman's eyes are nothing more than a couple of blue blobs! Frankly, it's kind of freaky. I know that the whole point of this line is to keep production costs down, but can that little extra bit of eye paint really add all that much to the bottom line?

Accessories are non-existent and I'm okay with that. Superman isn't a character that really needs accessories (at least, not as much as a character like Han Solo or Thor). Frankly, if I could have gotten the figures from the main line at this price without any accessories, I would have done it.

Superman's cape is vinyl instead of soft goods. Although the vinyl is kind of cool in that it reminds me of the capes of vintage Star Wars figures, it has the annoying tendency to crease easily. I'm not sure if all figures in this sub-line have vinyl capes because I didn't think to look, but if I see them again, I'll probably look for figures with cloth capes instead.

This isn't a great Superman by any means, but it's a nice addition to my Man of Steel collection. Not only is it a new colorway, but it's also nice to treat myself to a Superman figure while I'm grocery shopping and not have to worry about budgeting for it. The price is right, even if the paint apps on the eyes are clearly not. As much as collectors hate Mattel's 3 3/4" DC movie figures, I really dig them. I hope Mattel has some plans for the upcoming Batman/Superman movie in this scale... but it's going to be rough waiting until 2015 to add anything new to my collection. Scroll down for more pics!

More Pics

Now you can re-enact all those kid-friendly scenes from the feel-good hit of the summer!

DISCLAIMER: All items reviewed on Dork Dimension were purchased by the reviewer unless otherwise noted. The opinions expressed on Dork Dimension are solely those of the author and are presented for entertainment purposes only.