Superman RETURNS!

Posted: November 23, 2011 by J. Marcus in Toy Review
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Before I write a single word more, I have to apologize.  I did not have my good camera to record this event, so the images contained from here on out are from my phone.  Better images WILL come soon.
When I say that Superman has RETURNED (all caps), I mean the one and only Christopher Reeve-Superman has been brought back to us in a way that up until now fans have only dreamt of.  Hot Toys has released it’s newest 12″ figure in the likeness of Reeve himself, and it is EVERY Superman fan’s dream come true.

Hot Toys went all out here, giving thought to every conceivable detail.  This is first made apparent in the packaging.

The red you see in the left is the actual box that the figure comes in.  Keep that blue bit in the back of your mind.  It comes into play later.  For now, just look at it as a piece that keeps the figure-box from shifting during shipping.  Why would it ship, you ask?  Good question.  It’s because the box looks like this
That’s right!  It’s an “S”-shaped box.  Pretty cool.  And across the front is a thin ribbon with the SUPERMAN: THE MOVE logo emblazoned on it.  It’s noteworthy that that logo appears all over this product, making it very clear that this is the Christopher Reeve Superman and in no way a mere comic-book representation.

However, the CLASSIEST move, by far, is what happens when you pull the lid off.  Before you can dive in to enjoy the figure, a very clear, and very moving piece of text greets you:
In the beginning of the film itself, is a slate that says “This picture is dedicated with love and respect to GEOFFREY UNSWORTH, O.B.E.”.  This is a reference to the passing of Mr. Unsworth, who was the Director of Photography on SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE.  He died just before the release of the film.  I find the above inscription evocative of that card because what you see when you lift this lid is filled with love and respect for the man who made us all believe a man can fly.
The inside is packed very carefully in multiple layers.  Included as a warning that tells you to read the instructions carefully.  It’s important because, as you will see, this is not a piece you would forgive yourself for ruining.
Unfortunately the plastic is initially so thick that making out the face is difficult at first.  That will come later.  The most striking thing when you open it, however, is the body type.  It’s not the over-sized brawn that Superman has become in the comics.  The body type is what you would have expected to see for Mr. Reeve.  The costume is done rather well.  The color look great and the boots and belt are solid.  The weakest point from this perspective is the “S” itself.  While it seems rather too difficult to have it sewn into the costume as Mr. Reeve’s was, the idea of a painted decal seems a bit odd.  While it certainly seems sturdy enough to not tear or come off, it just throws the look off slightly and (as you will see) can  shine in flash photography. Also, and maybe it’s just me, but the shape of the “S” seems to be a bit off.  While it’s old news that the film-version of the “S” is not a perfect representation of the comic-book “S”, this still seems a bit off from the film version.
As you continue to dive into the packaging, one is immediately struck by how many layers there are.  I almost lost count of the number of diamond-shaped pieces I had to go through to get everything out.  While you might immediately find this annoying, I found it satisfying that it was packaged so well, with every piece secure.
While my excitement mounted, I pressed it back so that I could tackle the stand.  First thing’s first.
The figure comes with two stands.  The first is the FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE stand.  The individual crystalline pieces (plastic, of course) capture the look and feel from the film perfectly.  The texture and color are amazing, and the base itself as that dusty, snowy feel to it captured straight off the celluloid.  It comes with a clear plastic rod and adjustable clamp so that you can have The Man of Steel hovering over his snowy home.  The second stand is a basic black with the film logo emblazoned on it.  It comes with a resting stand for when you want to pose Superman in a standing position.
With the stands ready to go… it’s time for THE MAN HIMSELF.  Once again, I apologize for the crude cellphone photography.  When I get my better camera back it will be time to really show off this fine piece of work.
This is him right out of the box, no posing whatsoever.  First, kudos to the design team.  In case you didn’t notice, the man can stand quite easily on his own.  Amazing feat in and of itself.  But the thing that is most striking are the eyes.
They have a tendency to catch the light in a way that is almost haunting  There is a light gloss on them giving him a very natural look in the eyes.  And the blue is spot on for his look.

Once you start to move the body around, you realize the work that was put into this piece.  His arms have pretty much full poseability (it would be nice if you could bend his arms at the elbows a tad more, but it’s hardly a dealbreaker.)
The boots are the part I am most keen on.  Molded from rubber, there is a joint inside so you can still move his feet at the ankles.  But the best part is that the joint is completely covered by the boot so the line is never broken.  Once again, the sculptors took the route that will keep from breaking the illusion.
When you see the figure “taking to the sky” as he is in this picture, you can’t help but hear John Williams’ score playing in the background (curiously, my setting up of the figure was done silently… I guess it would have been redundant to have the music playing out loud with it blaring so loudly in my head).
As with most forms of animation, attitude can be up to the animator or whoever puts the figure in the pose.  Somehow, though, you can almost feel the modesty that Mr. Reeve brought to the character in a pose like this one.  It does, however, point out the OTHER weakest link of this figure, and that is the wrists.  Of all the joints on the body, these are the ones that most glaringly SHOUT, “HEY, look at me!  I’m a figure!”.  In most instances it’s a small price to pay for what you get in the rest of the figure, but here it’s almost tragic.
For about $200 from Sideshow Collectibles, I’d say this was a damned good deal.  You get statue-quality work that you can actually pose yourself.  And I have to say the likeness is uncanny.  The most challenging part for me is going to be trying to decide where to put him and how to pose him.
Oh yeah… remember that blue piece I told you to keep in the back of your mind from earlier in the post?  The one that slipped into the cardboard box to keep the figure box from shifting.  Well, guess what?  It’s actually a square that unfolds into two triangular pieces that act as a stand for the box itself.  So, if you have the room, you can actually put the box itself on display.
Pretty SUPER if you ask me!
P.S. If you do decide to buy from Sideshow and not another retailer, you can get the Sideshow exclusive variant that comes with the Kryptonite necklace from the film.
The necklace has a real metal chain and looks like it comes right out of the film.  What more could anyone ask?

Comments
  1. Tiberius says:

    It’s as if the Man Of Steel is rising out of my screen! Couldn’t be more perfect!

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