#2188: Superboy Vs. King Shark



“It’s the battle of the beach as Hawaiian-based hero Superboy takes on King Shark!  Superboy may not have the massive might of his idol, Superman, but he does have his own special powers and abilities.  He describes them as ‘tactile-telekinesis’ which means that the Teen of Steel can affect anything he touches with his super-strength; in addition, he is also invulnerable and can fly.

Of course, all his strength may not be enough to take a bite out of King Shark!  It’s uncertain whether King Shark is some kind of mutation or, as some Hawaiians believe, the offspring of a shark-god and a mortal woman.  Whatever the case, King Shark is every bit as ruthless a predator as any real shark, with razor sharp teeth, extraordinary strength, and deadly claws on his hands and feet.”

In the mid-90s, Kenner had given Batman a couple of lines, so figured why not give DC’s other big guy a go at it.  Ta-da! Superman: Man of Steel.  It ran two basic series, two deluxe series, and two multi-packs series, and then ended with a bunch of un-released items.  A handful of those pieces would make their way out a few years later.  Among them?  A canceled multi-pack including today’s figures, Superboy and King Shark!


Superboy and King Shark were originally planned for the third assortment of Man of Steel multi-packs, due for release in ’96 (as can be noted from the date stamps on the figures), but were ultimately shelved and then repurposed as one of the four HasbroCollectors.com exclusive DC Super Heroes two-packs that surfaced in 1999.


Superboy was quite negatively affected by Man of Steel‘s early end, with two separate figures canceled.  This one got saved, and is, admittedly, the more conventional of the two that were cancelled.  As far as I know, the costume seen here was made for this figure, as were most of the variant costumes for MoS.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Hooray for that waist swivel.   It’s essentially an all-new sculpt, with a bit of a pre-pose going on.  This one serves the surfing nature of the figure well.  He’s a little larger than the original MoS Superboy, a fact I can tell by the use of a slightly retooled basic Superboy head to top things off.  It’s nice from a consistency standpoint, and nice from a “it’s a good headsculpt” capacity.  The paintwork on Superboy is pretty basic; it matches the standard colors of the character, and the application is pretty solid, if perhaps a bit roughed up on my figure.  Superboy is packed with a hi-tech surfboard, which he can peg into.


King Shark!  He’s a shark!  He’s King!  And this was his first action figure!  How about that?  King Shark’s figure is another 5-incher (though it’s because he’s squatting; he’d be much taller standing) and he’s got 5 points of articulation.  His head is separate at the neck, as if to add a joint, but there’s no actual movement to be had there.  King Shark’s sculpt is a fair bit more cartoony than a lot of the others in the line, but it’s admittedly not totally out of place for a character like King Shark.  It’s certainly unique when compared to the others.  The paint work on him is rather monochromatic, but, again, fairly accurate, so I can’t really complain.  King Shark had no accessories, but given his larger stature, it kind of made sense.


I was a big fan of Raving Toy Maniac’s action figure archives back in the day, and they had a pretty solid one dedicated to the Man of Steel line, where there was a whole page of cancelled items.  These guys were included there and always piqued my interest, so I was beyond thrilled when they actually made it into production a few years later.  I still really dig this set, in all of its gimmicky goodness.

#2005: Cyber-Link Batman & Cyber-Link Superman



“The Man of Steel teams up with the Dark Knight to form the ultimate crime-fighting team!”

After a rash of success with their various Bat-themed lines, in 1995, Kenner tried to expand their DC reach, giving a dedicated line to DC’s other big hero, Superman.  Superman: Man of Steel was not a smash success like its counterpart Legends of Batman, but did manage to get two regular assortments, plus some deluxe figures, and even a few multi-packs.  In an attempt to get a little bit of synergy from the two lines, Kenner decided to team up the lead characters, as they had been so many times in the comics, releasing the pack as part of Superman’s line to give it a slight boost.  Today, I’m looking at that set.


Cyber-Link Superman and Cyber-Link Batman were the only set offered up in the second round of Multi-Packs from Kenner’s MoS line.  After the poor performance of the “Superman & foe” layout of the first assortment, this one was a push from Kenner for a better selling product.  Despite their propensity for just dropping these sorts of variants without much explanation or thought, these two actually got a backstory.  “Cyber-Link” was an Elseworlds concept, an alternate universe where Batman was a Metropolis resident and he and Superman were a crime-fighting duo.  Trace elements of Kryptonite within the Earth’s atmosphere necessitated the use of the Cyber-Link suits seen here.  All of this was explained in the 11-page Christopher Priest-penned comic included with this set.  It’s a surprising amount of backstory for something that seems kind of straightforward, but I guess they were trying to inject a little bit more of Legends of Batman into Man of Steel.


He’s the star of the line and the star of the set, so I guess he gets to go first.  The ninth out of nine Superman figures, this one didn’t exactly cover new ground, but was interesting in his lack of a specific purpose like we had seen with the prior variants.  It’s definitely a different sort of design for the character, a departure from his classic look.  He’s even sporting the mullet still, further removing him from the Superman we all knew.  Of course, in light of things like the New 52, I guess the design doesn’t feel quite so out there anymore.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Yay for waist joints!  Despite his non-standard nature, the sculpt for this figure is actually pretty decent.  The pre-posing that would plague Total Justice was starting to settle in, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad here.  It’s got sort of a dynamic “just about to leap into action” look about it.  He also doesn’t have any trouble staying standing, which is nothing short of a miracle with most of these figures.  His head, despite the dated hairstyle, is a good take on Superman, and the removable cape is quite nice, and further supports the dynamic stance.  Superman’s paintwork doesn’t stray too far from his classic colors, though the blue and yellow are kind of metallic, and there’s quite a bit of black.  There are also a number of sculpted lines that just sort of get ignored here, though they would be more emphasized on later uses of the mold.  Superman included no accessories, though his hand looks like it was supposed to hold something at some point.


Man, how often is it Batman that plays second fiddle?  Obviously, this was his first figure in this line, though he was hardly lacking on figures from his own lines.  Batman’s design here isn’t quite as foreign as Superman’s, but that may be partly because he’d just had a more fluid design up to this point.  He’s a little more on the armored side, and some of his color elements have been moved around a bit, but otherwise he’s going to pass the squint test.  The figure, like his Kryptonian counterpart, stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt was unique to him, and is an okay offering, though I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Superman’s.  The posing seems a bit more extreme, and the proportions a bit less balanced.  He also has a little more trouble staying standing, though he still doesn’t face plant nearly as often as some of these guys.  I do kind of like that little sneer to his expression; it’s unique for a Batman figure.  His paint/color work is about on par with Superman.  It’s just slight variations on the usual colors, and some of the sculpted elements are kind of ignored, but the overall work is solid.  Like his packmate, he includes no accessories, but still looks like he’s supposed to be holding something.


I had none of the Man of Steel two-packs growing up.  In fact, I didn’t have anything from the line beyond several Series 1 figures.  However, my obsessive toy-nerdiness meant that I gazed upon their photos many a time on the back of the package and on Raving Toy Maniac’s old archive page, so they’ve always been in the back of my mind.  A loose set ended up traded into All Time Toys alongside a larger collection of ’90s toys, and since there’s not a huge market for these guys, I felt compelled to save them from hanging around the store for forever.  Superman’s my favorite of the two, but I kind of dig both of them, and all their crazy ’90s glory.

As noted above, I got these from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1397: Eradicator



After producing one of the most expansive DC toylines ever in the ‘80s with Super Powers, Kenner ran into some issues keeping up with the whole “expansive” aspect as they moved into the ‘90s.  If it wasn’t Batman, it really wasn’t selling.  They tried out a Superman line, Man of Steel, in the mid-90s, which was at best moderately successful.  After two series at retail (the second of which was virtually nonexistent) the line’s third series was scrapped.  Fortunately, two of the proposed figures were salvaged and offered later down the line as exclusives.  I’ll be looking at one of those two, prospective Superman-replacement Eradicator, today.


Eradicator was offered by ToyFare magazine as a mail-away offer, extending Kenner’s Man of Steel line by one figure.  He’s based on Eradicator’s design from the “Reign of the Supermen” arc, which was, at the time of this figure’s release, the character’s only design.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.   His sculpt was unique to him, and is a pretty decent recreation of Eradicator’s page bound counterpart.  He’s a little more pre-posed than the earlier Man of Steel figures, showcasing Kenner’s steady move into the Total Justice style of pre-posed figures.  Eradicator is at least not ridiculously pre-posed; the slight upturn of the arms at the elbows makes sense for his energy-based powers, and the slight step in his legs helps to keep him balanced with the slightly heavy cape piece.  The head sculpt has a rather intense expression, which was fairly in character for Eradicator, and offered a nice change from the standard Superman sculpts.  The hands on the figure do seem a little on the large side, but perhaps it’t just the pose throwing things off.  His cape is a removable piece, which plugs into place.  It’s a little on the bulky side, but not terribly so.  Underneath is a fully detailed sculpt, which actually has a pretty nifty light-piped feature where the usual logo would be.  Eradicator’s paintwork is pretty decent; the application is mostly clean and sharp.  The contrast could maybe bee a little higher on the blue sections of the costume, but the metallic sheen is still pretty cool.  Also pretty cool?  The translucent feature on his arms.  That’s a lot of fun.


Eradicator predates me really getting a lot of the ToyFare exclusives, so I didn’t get him new.  I’ve been on the look out for one recently, and I ended up fishing this guy out of 2nd Chance Toyz’s $1 bin.  He was still in his little baggie and everything!  This guy’s okay overall.  Not the most exciting figure of all time, but he’s a solid rendition of the character.

#0873: Superboy “VTOL” Cycle




While they’ve all but disappeared from the market nowadays, there was a time when goofy made up vehicles were the norm for action figure lines. Kenner in particular was pretty big on them, especially ones that they made up. Yesterday, I looked at one of the figures from their Superman: Man of Steel line, and you might think that someone like Superman wouldn’t have any need for vehicles, but you’d be wrong. The Man of Steel line had three different vehicles, including today’s focus, the Superboy “VTOL” Cycle.


SuperVTOL3The VTOL Cycle was released as the first (and smallest) vehicle in the Superman: Man of Steel line. The cycle is about 3 ½ inches in height and 9 inches in length. It’s not based on any design from the comics, since Superboy’s never been one to need flying transportation, so it’s a totally original creation from Kenner. Despite re-use of vehicle molds being somewhat common from Kenner in th 90s, the VTOL Cycle has its own mold. Generally speaking, it’s really just a fairly generic pseudo-Sci-fi motorcycle. There aren’t any super in depth details, and the sculpt is slightly on the soft side, but it certainly doesn’t look out of place with the rest of the line. The vehicle has been designed with the Superboy figure in mind, so it fits him pretty well (if not perfectly). There’s a seatbelt piece with a cool Superman logo at the front, which keeps him properly seated. The cycle boasts that it “converts to pursuit jump jet” on the SuperVTOL2front of the box; essentially, the back wheel splits in two and each half can be folded out to create a turbine on either side. It’s nothing extraordinary, but it’s vaguely cool. There’s also a “kickstand” piece, which is useful for keeping the vehicle standing. The Cycle is done up in colors that vaguely match up with Superboy, but are not so specific so as to prevent the cycle from being used with another figure. The paint has a few spots of bleed over here and there, but generally looks fairly decent. There was also an included Superman logo decal, meant to be placed on the front of the Cycle, but I actually forgot to put it in place.  The VTOL Cycle includes a “claw snare” launcher, which can be mounted on either side of the back wheel, as well as an oxygen mask piece, which is meant to be used with the Superboy figure.


As I noted in yesterday’s Superboy review, I got the VTOL Cycle in a lot with the Superboy figure from a vender at this past Farpoint. I never had this vehicle growing up, but I saw it on the back of various different packages over the years, so I was always curious. Truth be told, it’s not the most thrilling vehicle Kenner ever put out, but it’s nifty enough that the purchase feels warranted. Plus, it makes a pretty neat accent piece for the Superboy figure (of which I now have two)!

#0872: Superboy




In the 90s, Toy Biz had a ton of success with their litany of Marvel Comics-based action figures. Kenner, the then holders of the DC license wanted in on some of that success, and branched outside of their “safe zone” of movie and TV-based figures, to try something with a more direct comics tie. There was, of course, a rather extensive Batman line, but they also produced a short-lived line of Superman figures, under the title Superman: Man of Steel. The figures were mostly based on characters from the Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen storylines, including the uber 90s incarnation of Superboy, who I’ll be looking at today.


SuperboyMOS2Superboy was released as part of the first series of the Superman: Man of Steel line, as one of the three non-Superman figures in the set. The figure stands about 4 ¾ inches tall and has the standard 5 points of articulation for a Kenner figure. Superboy is based on his 90s, leather jacket sporting look. As dated and silly looking as it is, it’s really his signature look, and the only one he had at the time. He got a totally unique sculpt, which is actually pretty cool looking. The proportions are mostly pretty sound (if a bit exaggerated; hey, it was the 90s), and the detail work, especially on the jacket is incredibly well handled. I also love the head sculpt, especially the attitude present in the facial expression. There are a few odd bits, though. For one, the hand poses are pretty stilted, and he’s also got a weird blockish thing sticking out of the back of his right forearm, which is sort of odd. Superboy’s paint is pretty straight forward, but it has some pretty cool things going on. The colors are all pretty vibrant (though the yellow on the chest could stand to be a bit brighter) and there’s some pretty neat details, like the cool stitched logo on the back of the jacket. Superboy was packed with a two spring-loaded Mammoth Capture Claw and Taser missiles. They slip over his hands, and are the reason for the block thing on his forearm. They’re definitely a weird thing to included, but hey, it was the 90s. Might as well include a projectile of some sort.


I actually own two of this particular figure. The first was bought for me by my grandmother, from a K-Mart I believe. I remember really wanting a Superboy figure (I was a huge fan of the Filmation Superboy show as a kid) and deliberately setting out to get him. I don’t think I had quite picked up on him being separate from the Clark Kent version of the character at the time. He remained one of my favorite figures growing up, and took quite a beating. At this past Farpoint, I found another Superboy, in a lot with the Superboy VTOL Cycle, at the table of the same vendor who sold me the Power Loader, and figured having a spare wouldn’t be the worst thing ever.  I’m actually really happy about how well the figure has aged.