SUPER POWERS (KENNER)
“Japanese history professor Toshio Eto was teaching class one day when suddenly a mystical bolt of energy hit him. The bolt of energy had been sent from emissaries of the New Gods who were in need of super heroes. The strange energy enveloped Eto and released the latent energy in his body, transforming him into the Samurai. Using his newfound powers of the hurricane and wielding an energy sword, the Samurai mistakenly caused havoc until the transformation was explained to him and he decided to be a force for good.”
You know, I really haven’t reviewed enough Super Powers figures on this site. I mean, at this point, I’m essentially only reviewing them once a year, which means it would take me almost 40 years to actually get through them all. That’s not a great metric for me. I should probably work on that. Fortunately, I’m getting some help on that front, with a new one to kick-start things a little bit. Super Powers started with a focus on DC’s core characters, but as the line continued it shifted its focus, and by its final year, it was largely made up of rather minor characters, and in fact a good number of characters not even from the comics originally. Though not a total fabrication for the line, Samurai began his life outside of the comics medium, as one of four heroes created for Challenge of the Super Friends in order to diversify the Justice League’s line-up. Ultimately, he and the rest of these new heroes fell into some pretty heavy stereotyping, but hey, it was the ’70s. Samurai was the only of these characters to be carried over into Super Powers, but it’s worth noting that both El Dorado and Black Vulcan would have joined him had the line continued (El Dorado even made it to the prototype stage).
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Samurai was released in 1987, as part of the third and final assortment of Kenner’s Super Powers. He was Samurai’s first figure, and would remain his only figure for a good three decades. The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation. Samurai had one more joint than most figures in the line, with movement at his waist. It’s largely just there to facilitate the figure’s action feature, but it’s still possible to use it as a point of articulation as well, so hey, extra movement. Samurai’s sculpt is actually not bad. He had the benefit of only really having one source to draw from in terms of design, and he ultimately does an okay job of capturing that design in three dimensions. It’s not the greatest design, admittedly, but I guess it could have been worse. It’s also worth noting that they didn’t feel the need to redesign him the way they did a handful of characters from later in the line, so, again, this works out pretty well. Samurai’s design relies on some cloth goods for his vest piece. It’s a piece very commonly missing from the figure, and it’s worth noting that the one sported by my figure is, in fact, a reproduction. It’s not a bad repro, though, all things considered, and regardless of repro or original, the cloth piece works well for this part of the figure. Makes him very difficult to get complete, but cool nevertheless. Samurai’s paint work is pretty basic stuff. Not a ton of crazy work going on, but the face is pretty sharp, and the colors are bright. I can definitely get behind it. Samurai was originally packed with a small sword, which, like the vest, is very commonly missing from the figure. As you can see, my figure does not have it. Some day. In addition to the sword, he also had an action feature, “Gale Force Spin.” When you squeezed his right arm, his lower torso would spin. And mine still works, even.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Of the four added characters from Super Friends, Samurai has always kind of been my least favorite, which makes the fact that he was the only one to get a figure here a little sad. That, coupled with his rarity, has meant I’ve never really rushed out to get this guy. However, my dad, who has been getting me Super Powers figures as Christmas gifts since I was 7, got me this guy as a Christmas gift this year, albeit an ever so slightly late one, thanks to the mess that is the current state of the United States Postal Service. Hey, at least I managed to get him before the new year. That was a miracle in and of itself. Samurai isn’t the most impressive character, but the figure is kind of fun, and is a major step forward with my Super Powers collection. Just 7 more to go!