SUPER POWERS (KENNER)
“The Scourge of Apokolips. Orion is Darkseid’s son and a half-brother to Kalibak. He turned against his father’s evil ways to fight on the side of justice. Orion wields the astro-force, an energy beam of tremendous power, and bears a computer-like device whose rays disguise his true face, the visage of one born on Apokolips. Although Orion is greater than mortal, he can be defeated in battle by a stronger warrior, or injured by conventional weaponry. When traveling on Earth, Orion has used the alias ‘O-Ryan.'”
This year’s Post-Christmas reviews sure do involve a lot of me coming full circle on some stuff and “going back to the beginning” so to speak. Today’s focus is perhaps not back to the beginning for the site so much, but it is certainly a return to form for my collecting as a whole. But that’s for the last section of this thing. Let’s get through the lead-in first. I’ve reviewed Kenner’s Super Powers six times before on this site; I’ve probably discussed it a few more times than that. It’s kind of the quintessential DC toy line, and quite frankly, it’s kind of the quintessential comic book toyline. Mego may have really gotten super heroes out there, but Super Powers is the genesis of most things we think of in terms of super hero toys. The line ran three years, each year stranger than the last. As it progressed, they got some help on it courtesy of Jack Kirby, whose Fourth World characters would become a fixture of the line. Orion, central hero of the Fourth World would join the line not long before its end.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Orion was released in 1986, as part of the third and final series of Super Powers figures. He and series-mate Mister Miracle rounded out the line’s New Gods theme. The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation….7 if you count the neck, but that’s not *really* a point of articulation. Orion, like every Super Powers figure, was a totally unique sculpt. While the line’s first assortment stuck to the DC style guide, but the second year there were sizable changes for some of the more secondary characters, especially the Fourth World stuff. Orion followed suit, with one of the more intensely different designs. Honestly, if it weren’t for his name being on the box, you could be forgiven for not realizing this guy was supposed to be Orion. The base color scheme is the same, and you can see some remaining elements of his helmet and astro harness, but only slight elements. The helmet in particular, typically the one constant piece of Orion’s design (and honestly the best piece of Orion’s design) received a major overhaul. It’s…well, it’s goofy to say the least. The sleekness of his original design is gone, and while there’s still a lot of Kirby in this look (fitting, since it was an authentic Kirby design and all), it’s just not as strongly heroic as the original design. Some of it is a symptom of the line’s knack for action features. Most of them weren’t an impediment to the design of the figure, but Orion was notable exception, because you can definitely tell that a lot of that helmet design had to do with being able to fit in flipping Orion’s face from “good” to “bad.” It’s certainly a memorable trait of his from the comics, but I’m not really sure it was worth upending his classic design. All that said, it doesn’t make for a terrible looking toy, and Kenner still put their best foot forward on translating the design into plastic form. The paintwork is all pretty solid, with a bright palette that is nothing if not eye-catching.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Super Powers may have ended six years before I was born and nine years before I began collecting action figures, but that didn’t stop it from being a huge impact on my collecting as a child and as an adult. The line first become notable to me as a kid due to my love Hal Jordan, and his notable lack of then-current action figure coverage. This one being just a few scant years removed made it relatively attainable to me, and so I, with some definite help from my parents, set out on collecting my first “vintage” line. The Super Powers archive was my home page, I knew the line-ups to each assortment by heart, and I knew the rumors for the failed fourth line-up (before we actually knew the official fourth line-up). I would scour ebay, looking at auctions for all of the figures. And, for Christmas every year, I would put two more figures from the line on my Christmas list, and my dad would dutifully track them down. Interests change, and I fell out of Super Powers for a bit, and when I got back into it, I was doing most of my own buying. At one point, I was even planning to round out the line-up by buying one figure for myself out of every paycheck. That didn’t pan out, as you can see by my not owning the whole line yet. This year for Christmas, I decided I to ask a Super Powers figure again, so I made up a list of the ones I didn’t have, and then this guy was the very last thing I opened on Christmas morning. It was a nice throwback. And with that, I have 26 Super Powers figures; just eight left.