#2973: Battle for Metropolis



“It’s a never-ending battle of power and wits for Superman and his arch enemies in Metropolis, but this time, star reporter Lois Lane has the scoop!”

After the bulk of the product for the animated incarnations of Batman and Superman had run its course at retail, and shortly after officially shuttering Kenner and moving the DC license under their own name, Hasbro filled in their DC offerings with a lot of re-decos and repacks of stuff Kenner had done in the ‘90s. It helped to get a lot of figures back out there, but also helped to establish right from the start just how much Hasbro intended to phone things in with the license.  While Batman was clearly getting the main focus, there were never the less a few Superman sets, one of which I’m taking a look at today.


Superman, Lois Lane, Brainiac, and Lex Luther were released in 2001 as part of the Superman: The Animated Series line, in a set titled “Battle For Metropolis.”  Like many of the sets, it was three repacks and one new offering.


“Kal-El, infant son of Jor-El and Lara of the doomed planet Krypton, was rocketed to Earth when Krypton was obliterated in a cataclysmic explosion.  The baby was found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named him Clark and raised him as their own.  As he grew, Clark discovered he possessed powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary people…powers he decided to use for the benefit of humanity as Superman.”

It’s hard to do a Superman set without Superman, so here was the requisite Superman.  Have I said Superman enough?  Yeah?  So, this Superman was a straight reissue of Strong Arm Superman, from Series 4 of the main line.  At this point, Series 4 was still awaiting its proper US release, so despite his rather standard Superman appearance, he was actually sort of new.  That’s good, I guess.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  The arms are a bit restricted by how the action feature works, but he is otherwise pretty good on the mobility front, at least for a DC figure of this era.  The figure largely re-used parts from Capture Net Superman, the line’s “standard” Superman.  While not entirely show accurate, it was a halfway decent figure, and keeping things consistent is far from the worst thing.  This release got a new set of arms, bent more at the elbows and with the hands flat, for the purposes of lifting stuff overhead.  It’s not the most versatile pose, but it’s good for what it’s meant to do. His paint work is generally pretty decent.  It’s bright, colorful, and pretty cleanly applied.  And he’s even got actual eyes this time!  Superman is packed with a chunk of wall and a car bumper, both of which are meant for use with his throwing action feature.  It’s a little hard to get him stabilized holding them, but they’re still pretty nifty.


“As a top-notch reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet, Lois Lane has a knack for catching the biggest stories and getting in the deepest trouble.  Possessing excellent detective skills and a keen eye for news, she takes risks in pursuit of the scoop.  Lois can handle just about any situation that comes her way and talks rings around most men…but one man leaves her at a loss for words — Superman!”

Lois Lane, despite being one of the oldest and most visible female characters in comics, had up to this point never had an action figure, which seems kind of silly.  She got her first two within a year of each other, so they were learning from their mistakes.  Lois was undoubtedly the selling point of this set, what with not having a figure before and all.  The figure stands about 4 1/2 inches tall and has 4 points of articulation.  Her articulation scheme is rather restricted, with the head being largely immobilized by the hair, and the legs are also without any movement below the waist.  Additionally, she has a lot of trouble remaining standing, not helped by the lack of any movement in the legs, or peg holes in the feet so that you could use a stand.  It’s not a ton of fun.  Lois’s sculpt was all-new and would remain unique to this figure.  It’s alright.  It’s not 100% accurate to the animation model, but it’s about as close as the rest of the line.  The biggest issues are definitely with the eyes, which are just a bit too small to be accurate.  Lois’s paint work is kind of weak.  STAS was notable on that it actually gave its civilians a couple of different outfit options. Lois had two distinct color schemes, but this one is actually neither of them.  It seems to be going for her B outfit, which was red and black, but it’s not quite there.  Additionally, the application is quite dialed down, with only a few apps, which are kind of fuzzy.  It doesn’t do the sculpt any favors, which is a shame.  Lois is packed with her cellphone and a clipboard, which is better than the kind of stuff most of these figures got.


“Created by the scientists of the planet Krypton, the humanoid super-computer dubbed Brainiac was more concerned with saving itself as the repository for all Kryptonian knowledge than attempting to save the doomed planet.  Brainiac travelled the universe, draining the worlds he encountered of all knowledge and leaving them ruined husks before he came to Earth where he at last found a foe able to withstand his enhanced strength and mental power — Superman!”

I’ve actually reviewed this exact figure before, back when I looked at him on his own.  He’s honestly not a bad figure, and hadn’t been exceedingly easy to find, so a re-release was honestly okay.  This time, I do have his goofy space sled thing, though, which is pretty cool, right?  How about that?


“Although born and raised in Metropolis’ downtrodden Suicide Slum, Lex Luthor was destined to become a financial monarch and business magnate.  The aggressive young inventor uses his great cunning and intellect for his own personal advancement, creating the multi-billion dollar megacorporation LexCorp.  Only Superman rivals Luthor for power and respect of the people of Metropolis…for that, Luthor’s hatred of the Man of Steel knows no bounds.”

While Brainiac made some degree of sense, Luthor made almost none.  By this point, his first release was still rotting on the pegs of a lot of major retailers.  While he’s a story important character, this translation of him just didn’t really work, at least not as a Luthor.  I reviewed the Series 1 edition of the figure several years back, and the only difference between the two is some minor paint deco change up.  The gunmetal grey parts of the armor are now a pale metallic green, and the accents on the underlying figure are a truer green than before.  That’s it.    I can’t really say that either is really better than the other.  They both just sort of exist.  Difference for the sake of difference, really, which isn’t terribly compelling.


I remember when this set came out, and I remember looking at it a lot, but I never actually got one.  I think it was just too soft a sell for me.  Sure, it’s got Lois, but she’s honestly kind of mediocre.  The other figures are the very definition of space fillers, which is likewise a disappointment.  It’s not bad, but I’m honestly kind of glad I waited until a loose one got traded into All Time to pick it up.


#1984: Brainiac



“The fusion of alien lifeform and computer, Evil Alien Brainiac uses telekintec powers and a blasting space sled to control his enemies as he attempts to conquer the universe.”

After the smash success of Batman: The Animated Series, the show’s creative team moved to an adaptation of DC’s other big hero with Superman: The Animated Series.  Though not quite the same cultural phenomenon as its predecessor, the show was still a pretty solid success in its own right, and unsurprisingly netted its own line of toys.  But, while Kenner’s BTAS line actually covered a good chunk of the show’s cast, with the wacky-Bat-variants coming in later, Superman’s line was much more variant heavy from the very start.  There were only two non-Superman figures in the initial launch: Superman’s two biggest foes, the previously reviewed Lex Luthor, and today’s focus, Brainiac!


Brainiac was initially released in the first series of Superman: The Animated Series figures under the name of “Evil Alien Brainiac.”  You know, in case there was some confusion about his motivation or his place of origin.  Kind of sad we didn’t get this naming scheme across the whole assortment.  Why not “Good Alien Superman” or “Evil Human Lex Luthor”?  Would those have not appealed to the mass consumer as well?  Regardless, the figure in this review is not actually the Series 1 release, but is instead from the “Battle for Metropolis” four pack released at the tail end of the line.  The two figures are essentially the same, but there were some color differences, which I’ll touch on in the paint section. The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation, which was standard for the line.  After being reasonably faithful to the show designs for BTAS, the STAS line was a bit more stylistically divergent from the show.  Brainiac was one of the more faithful sculpts from the line, though he lacks the somewhat streamlined proportions of the show design.  Beyond that, though, it’s not a bad offering.  The details are pretty well defined, the costume details are all where they’re supposed to, and the pre-posing isn’t as crazy as some of the other figures in the line.  The paintwork on Brainiac does the sculpt well and keeps him fairly faithful to the show.  This second release was even closer, having swapped out the shade of purple for a slightly warmer tone like we saw in the show.  Both versions of Brainiac were packed with the same missile-launching Space Sled.  My figure is without said accessory, though.


My STAS collection growing up was actually pretty small.  Brainiac here was a slightly more recent addition (though still purchased almost a decade ago, so “recent” is relative), purchased from Yesterday’s Fun Toys & Games during one of my family vacations.  He’s a solid figure of a solid design, and really one of the better figures in this line.

#1824: Superman – Quick Change



“Danger arises in an instant – just the amount of time Clark Kent needs to transform himself into Superman, the Man of Steel.”

Following up on the success of Batman: The Animated Series, the creative team moved onto DC’s next big offering, Superman.  Superman: The Animated Series wasn’t quite the smash success its predecessor was, but it’s remained my personal favorite of the bunch.  Sadly, it wasn’t quite as well treated by merchandising.  It got its own line of figures from Kenner, mostly made up of variants of the main character.  I’m looking at one of those today!


Quick Change Superman was one of the handful of Superman variants from the first series of Superman: The Animated Series from Kenner.  He’s the second of two Superman variants in this first series that could pass for a standard Superman…in one configuration, at least.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  The mechanism that allows his “quick change” feature means he has no neck articulation, but he still has the waist movement, which puts him ahead of most figures of the same stylings.  The basic figure is actually rather similar to the Capture Net Superman.  The posing of his hands is swapped, and the cape is cloth, rather than plastic, but otherwise he’s the same basic set-up, with the same strengths and weaknesses as that figure.  As a whole, a pretty decent offering.  The paint also matches pretty closely with the Capture Net offering, but my QC Superman is from later in the run than my CN, so he’s actually got eyes this time, which certainly looks far better.  Of course, mine’s also taken a bit more of a beating, so I guess it’s kind of a wash.  To facilitate his quick change feature, he’s got four clip-on pieces: a head/torso combo, one for each of his legs, and a backpack piece that clips onto the torso.  The overall end appearance is of Clark Kent, with a polo shirt, khakis, and a back-pack.  Definitely a different look than we usually see for Clark.  Maybe he’s gone hiking or something?  It’s certainly better than most attempts at Bruce Wayne.


Quick Change Superman was the first figure I got from this line, not long after getting the show’s premiere episodes on VHS, so I was pretty pumped to find him.  It was on a late-night trip to Toys R Us with my dad, while my Mom was out of town for a bit.  I remember that I got this figure and the 1960s Batman: The Movie on VHS, and my Dad and I sat up and watched the movie while I opened the figure.  He remained my standard Superman for a very long while, and even now he’s definitely a favorite of mine.

#0855: Capture Net Superman




In the 1990s, the vast majority of Kenner’s DC Comics output was TV and movie based. They struck veritable gold with the Batman franchise, which included the incredibly popular Batman: The Animated Series. When Superman got his own cartoon, Kenner tried to recapture the success of Batman’s toyline, but never quite hit that same spot, for a number of reasons. There were plenty of wacky Super-variants to be had. Today, we’ll be looking at Capture Net Superman, who, like Combat Belt Batman before him, was a standard version of the main character masquerading as a wacky variant.


SupermanCN2Capture Net Superman was part of the first series of Kenner’s Superman: The Animated Series line. Of the seven Superman variants released in the first series, he was one of two that could be classified as a “normal” Superman, and since the other one was saddled with a quick-change feature, this was the one most people considered the “default.” The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation. The S:TAS figures were all about that waist movement! Of all the figures offered in this line, this Superman has the virtue of being the most on-model. Of course, that only makes him the closest of the off-model figures, which isn’t saying a whole lot. The figure’s upper half isn’t too far off. The head is a little more elongated than it should be, and is certainly not as nice as a few of the later offerings, but it’s not terrible. The torso and arms are a bit more muscular than the show design, but once again, not terrible. The cape is a fairly decent match for the show, so that’s good. The design kind of goes off the rails on the legs; one of the staples of the Bruce Timm aesthetic is the streamlined nature of the legs. That’s definitely not shown here. They’re a perfectly fine sculpt, but they’re just not accurate. As a whole, the sculpt is nice and clean, and is certainly pleasing to look at, but it falls short of the show design. Superman’s paint work is generally pretty good, apart from one small issue. See, my figure is one of the initial wave of figures, which were rushed into production to be in stores by the time of the cartoon’s premier. Instead of proper eye detailing, corners were cut, and he instead has a solid black blob in place of his eye. Later waves would correct this issue, but no such luck on my figure. It’s a little odd, but honestly not that bad once you move past it. The rest of the paint is nice and bright, and makes him stand out quite nicely. The blue’s probably a little too bright to be show accurate, but why start being accurate now? The figure’s name comes from his one accessory, which is a big missile launcher thing, which fires two missiles with a net attached. As goofy as it is, it’s actually kinda cool, especially since the net is shaped and painted like his logo.


Despite being a fan of the cartoon and having several of the figures growing up, I only got this figure last summer (Quick Change was always my default Superman). I found him in the dealer’s room at Shore Leave and kind of impulse bought him. He doesn’t exactly offer anything new or groundbreaking, but he’s a fun figure.

#0670: X-Ray Vision Superman




Remeber last week when I looked at one of the wacky Superman variants from Kenner’s tie in line for the 90s cartoon?  Well, that one wasn’t even the tip of the iceberg.  At least he was somewhat passable as a basic Superman.  Today’s figure? Less so.  Without further ado, here’s X-Ray Vision Superman.


XRaySupes2X-Ray Vision Superman was released as part of the fourth series of Kenner’s Superman: The Animated Series, the story of which I covered in Power Swing Superman’s review.  He’s another of the frivolous Superman variants designed to showcase Superman’s less obvious power set.  Yay?  The figure is 5 inches tall and he features 6 points of articulation.  He sports a unique sculpt.  It’s not quite show accurate, but it’s in line with the all of the other Animated Series figures, so at least it’s consistent.  It’s nowhere near as extreme in pose as Power Swing Superman, but he’s still a bit removed from a standard standing pose.  The most out there part is definitely the throwing arm, which is permanently outstretched and at a 90 degree angle.  That’s a bit on the awkward side, but it works okay with the accessories.  The rest of the sculpt is more standard fare: fairly simple musculature and decent enough proportions.  The head sculpt isn’t as good as the PS Superman, but that’s mostly due to the “action feature.”   What is this action feature?  Well, he’s got light piping, so as to light up his eyes and simulate his…X-Ray vision.  I think they may have gotten confused with his heat vision.  The paintwork is where the figure really gets wonky.  In lieu of the traditional Superman colors, this figure is primarily a red-orange-yellow gradient.  It’s a very warm look, which once again makes me think someone at Kenner kept mixing up heat vision and X-Ray vision when designing this guy.  That said, it’s a unique look, so I actually can’t complain.  The cape has been swapped to blue, I guess to break up the reds a bit.  Overall, the paint is pretty decently applied, with no real slop or anything and lots of nice, bold colors.  Superman is packed with a bundle of dynamite, as well as a safe to hide it in.  The safe is partially translucent, so as to demonstrate Superman’s power.


Like his series-mate, I picked this Superman up from Yesterday’s Fun. He was another one of the wacky Supermen that had intrigued me all those years ago.  In fact, he has the notoriety of being the very last thing I bought on vacation.  He’s not quite as much fun as Power Swing, but he’s not too bad.  And, as an added bonus , paired up with Power Swing, you get a pretty decent Silver Age Superman Blue and Red.


#0663: Power Swing Superman




When you are creating an entire line of action figures based on a property with one defined look for your main character, the only way to keep the main character at the forefront, logically, is to release a bunch of variants of that character. Sometimes, they’ll be authentic designs from the source material (such as many of Hasbro’s recent ML Spider-Men) or a practical extension of their basic look (like Iron Man). Other times, they’ll just be completely made up. Enter Power Swing Superman.


PowerSwingSM2Power Swing Superman was part of the fourth series of Kenner’s Superman: The Animated Series line. This series is significant because it wasn’t carried by conventional US retailers. Instead, it hit in Europe first. The series didn’t make it to the States until it was offered by Diamond Distributers a few months later. So, there’s that story. The figure stands 5 inches in height and has 6 points of articulation (though his waist swivel is limited by the action feature). Now, where, you might ask, did this figure’s costume originate? Some one episode look, or perhaps an obscure Elseworlds story? Nope, it came straight from the minds of the toy designers. Yes, this costume is totally made up for the figure, though it is notable that this figure removed the signature red shorts over a decade before the New 52 redesign made it canon. The line never really stuck to the show’s style when it came to sculpts, but this figure actually takes it even further, with more defined musculature and an exaggerated pose that wouldn’t look out of place on the dance floor of a disco. While many of the wacky Supermen were sculpted in his traditional garb and painted funky after the fact, this figure’s sculpt actually has details that correspond specifically to this design, which is kinda neat. The best part of the figure is easily the head sculpt, which actually manages to be the most show-accurate sculpt the line ever produced. It’s spot on! The paintwork on the figure is alright, but not great. It sticks to his traditional colors, though placed a bit differently. The colors are nice and vibrant, but the application is spotty. The costume has a lot of bleed over, and the red areas in particular feel like they could use another coat of paint. The head manages to be the best piece once again, avoiding the bleed over and actually doing a very nice job on the eyes. The figure included a large piece of pipe for him to hold, as well as a miniaturized version of Luthor’s exo-suit from the pilot episode. Also, his waist is spring-loaded, allowing him to “swing” the pipe at the exo-suit and “demolish” it. It’s not high-end or anything, but it’s amusing.


Power Swing Superman was one of my many purchases from Yesterday’s Fun whilst on vacation this year. I had actually always been intrigued by this guy, but I’d never seen him in person. So, when I came across him, I snatched him up quickly. He’s definitely goofy, but I really enjoy him.


#0603: Lex Luthor




Batman: The Animated Series is pretty much universally viewed as one of the best interpretations of Batman and his supporting cast ever. It was revolutionary at the time it was released, and, thanks to top notch writing, animating, and acting, it still holds up pretty great after over 20 years. For me, though, the best entry in the DC Animated Universe is the series that followed B:TAS, Superman: The Animated Series. While B:TAS got a pretty decent run of figures at the time of its release, S:TAS wasn’t quite so fortunate. Kenner produced a line of toys to tie-in, but the character selection was somewhat limited, and many of the characters were rather off-model. One of the characters hit the hardest by off-model-ness was Big Blue’s arch enemy Lex Luthor, who is the focus of today’s entry.


LuthorSTAS2Lex Luthor was released as part of the first series of Kenner’s Superman: The Animated Series tie-in line. He was one of the two non-Superman characters in this particular series. The figure is a little over 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation. Dig that waist articulation guys! It’s more than most DC figures had at this point! Now, this figure is sort of based on Luthor’s animated appearance, but, as I noted in the intro, the figure is more than a little bit off-model. To Kenner’s credit, they managed to produce a near-perfect rendition of the animated Luthor’s noggin. It’s really a very good piece. The trouble lies with literally every other piece of the figure. Rather than release him in his signature suit, Luthor is depicted here in a Kryptonite armor suit, which is completely made up for this figure. The “Kryptonite” parts are all snap-on armor pieces, which can be removed to reveal….some sort of exoskeleton thing. It’s a perfectly fine sculpt on a purely technical level, but it looks pretty wonky and the body doesn’t even have proper Bruce Timm-style proportions. I get that a guy in a suit doesn’t make for the most exciting figure. That said, if they were going to do the clip on armor thing, why not put a more conventional suit under the armor? Just seems like a weird choice. Also, the figure seems to have borrowed Total Justice’s guide to posing; his arms and legs are all bent and turned. It’s most annoying on the legs because it makes getting him to stand next to impossible. As far as paint goes, Luthor is pretty reasonably handled. Nothing super thrilling, but everything is applied pretty cleanly. It’s a nice touch that he veers away from the primary colors, helping set him apart from Superman. In addition to the clip on armor, Luthor includes a big freaking missile launcher thing. Hasbro would be so proud.


I never had this figure growing up. I saw him many times over the years, but I just never got one. It’s most certainly due to the weird design of the figure. Why now? Simple, my comicbook store had a table of action figures for $2.99. If you bought five, they were only $2 apiece. So, I bought ten. Luthor was one of them. This actually isn’t a bad figure, just kind of weird.LuthorSTAS3