#0338: Plastic Man




I am a fan of superheroes with stretchy powers. I just think they allow for so many really cool possibilities, and they’re always a lot of fun. One of my all-time favorite super heroes is the Elongated Man, one of DC’s resident stretchy heroes. EM tends to be slightly overshadowed by DC’s other stretchy guy, Plastic Man. Plas was not originally even a DC character, but he was owned by one of the many companies DC bought out between the golden and silver ages of comics. DC kind of forgot they owned the character until somewhere around the late 70s/early 80s (part of the reason Elongated Man exists), but when they finally figured it out, they went to work trying to make the character work for a larger audience. He made an appearance on Super Friends, got his own Saturday morning cartoon, and even made an appearance in Kenner’s DC Super Powers line, marking his first venture into the world of action figures. Today, I’ll be looking at that figure.


PlasticManSPWilsonPlastic Man was part of the third, and final, series of DC Super Powers figures. The figure is about 5 inches tall (5 ½ with his neck extended) and he features 8 points of articulation. That’s actually one more point of articulation than the usual SP figure, because Plas got a waist joint. Don’t know why he was the only figure to get one, but it is nice to have it. He’s based on the look most associated with the character (though not his original. The sleeves were added later). The sculpt of the figure is really great, easily my favorite Plastic Man sculpt. It’s a fairly simplistic sculpt, but it really works for Plas. He’s taller and leaner than most of the figures in the line, which really give him a great stretched out look. The head is a spot on recreation of the character, and he’s got the perfect goofy smile that Plas is so often seen sporting. Possibly my only complaint about the figure is that they chose to simply paint the ties on the front of his costume rather than sculpting them, but that’s a really minor thing. The paintwork is pretty straight forward. There’s nothing super noteworthy, but everything is pretty cleanly applied, and they got all the colors right. Plas included no accessories, but he did have the requisite SP action feature. When you squeeze Plastic Man’s arms, his neck extends about an inch, replicating his stretching powers.


Plas is a recent ebay purchase. For the last several years, I’ve been slowly piecing together a full set of DC Super Powers figures. Plas marks my 23rd figure from the 33 figure set, putting me in my final 10. Since I got him so late, you might assume that I don’t particularly care for Plas, which is far from the truth. Plas is one of the figures I most wanted from the line. However, being from the final series from the line, and being one of the few characters in that series to be an actual DC Character using an actual DC design, he can be a little difficult to get. He’s not one of the most difficult, but he’s up there. Fortunately, I came across an ebay auction recently that was at a price I was willing to pay. Plas is one of the cooler figures in this line, and I’m very glad to have him. Now I just have 10 more to go!


#0163: Plastic Man




If there’s one super power that has a tendency to be underestimated, it’s shape-shifting, particularly of the stretching type. Mister Fantastic, arguably the most famous “stretchy” character out there often has that part of his talents down played to focus on his high-level intellect. I’ve always felt that was a shame. I love stretchy characters because I think they have a lot of potential for creativity on the part of the writer/artist. They’re just a whole lot of fun! In fact, one of my favorite characters of all time is the Elongated Man. He’s not the character I’m looking at today, but he almost would have been, had it not been for the fact that Julie Schwartz, one of the guys behind the creation of Elongated Man (and so many other Silver Age DC characters, but that’s more for a later time), didn’t remember that DC owned the name Plastic Man. Granted, EM would have still be the same character, just with Plastic Man’s name, similar to the Hal Jordan Green Lantern and the Barry Allen Flash. I’m getting a bit off topic, aren’t I?

For those of you who don’t know, Plastic Man is Eel O’Brien, a one-time crook who gets doused by a strange chemical and left behind by his gang during a heist. When he awakes, he discovers he has the ability to stretch his body into impossible shapes. He decides to use this power to bring his old partners to justice and creates the identity of Plastic Man. He was big in the 40s, but faded into obscurity until around the 80s, where he saw a bit of a resurgence in popularity, eventually leading to him joining the Justice League of America during Grant Morison’s run on the series in the 90s. But, what of the figure?


Plas was released in the 3rd series of Kenner’s JLA series. JLA was a line of figures exclusive to KB toys in the late 90s. They were made using retooled molds from Kenner’s Total Justice line from a few years previous. Plas’s inclusion in the line makes sense given his place on the titular team at the time. Plas has 5 points of articulation and stands about 7 inches tall with his neck fully extended. The line was in 5 inch scale, so he fits right in. The line used a few common pieces for certain figures, and Plas features the generic male torso, used by a few of the figures. The rest of the figure’s sculpt is unique. It all works together pretty well, though I can’t help but feel that the re-used torso looks a bit too stubby in comparison to the rest of the figure. The head and arms are cast in rubber with wires running through them, allowing you to pose the arms and neck in a variety of ways. The paint is passable. It’s fairly basic, but that fits with the rest of the line. The biggest issue with the paint is that it had some peeling issues on the rubber pieces, particularly the white on his goggles and teeth, which is almost gone on my figure. The hands have also suffered from some noticeable yellowing. Sadly, these are both issues of working with rubbery materials. I don’t know that anything could have been done to prevent them. Plas included a JLA logo stand, in red I believe.


I got Plas from the KB Toy outlet in the town where my family vacationed. I know I had seen the figure before, and had been interested in getting it, but I never did. My parents bought him and another JLA figure (I believe it was Impulse) for me, which was pretty cool. It’s actually not a bad figure, though it sadly did suffer from a few issues over time. I’d be curious if a Plas who had less playtime might have come out unscathed.