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Review of Chrisopher Reeve Superman action figure

NECA
Date Published:
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Overall Average Rating: 2.5 out of 4

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Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Introduction

I'm not a big Superman fan. I think it's difficult to be a huge fan of both Batman and Superman, because they do represent two very different approaches. It's why I have high hopes for next year's Batman vs Superman - when Lex says "man vs God, night vs day..." it speaks to my thoughts on the two characters quite clearly.

But that doesn't mean I'm not a fan at all, and I'm particularly fond of the Christopher Reeve version of Superman. Everyone was excited when NECA did their version of the 1989 Batman last year, and collectors were begging for them to hit up other iconic DC movie characters in a 7" format.  NECA listened, and have release three more - a Reeve Superman, a DK Joker, and a 1966 Batman.

I'm going to check these out separately - they are certainly worth the time and effort. The figure should run you around $20 from Toys R Us (that's the retailer to hit), or you can get it from the online Warner Brothers store for $30 with a completely worthless DVD.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Packaging - ***1/2
The packaging mirrors what we've seen used with collector lines from NECA, Hasbro, Funko, and others. It's a small box with a large window to show off the figure, and it's mostly collector friendly. There is a twisty tie around Supes' waist, but that's the only encumbrance.

The box is a little thinner than most though, making it more susceptible to shelf wear and shipping damage. The graphics are attractive, and it has a reasonable amount of background text on the reverse side.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Sculpting - ***1/2
Yep, that's Chris Reeve.  Considering the scale, they've done a great job, even better than the 18" version. It's possible this is the exact same sculpt, but the process of reducing it to this size has been good to it. Remember, this guy is only 7" tall.

The detailing in the hair is excellent, as are the lips and facial structure.  The shape of the face matches the actor nicely, and two key areas for Reeve - lips and nose - are pretty dead on. Even the expression works for the character, and avoids any sort of mannequin or zombie gaze.

The body proportions are a little wonky, with the arms and chest looking slightly off in relation to each other.  I do like the sculpted texture on the suit, and they've used a cloth cape, always a big plus for me.

As I said, this is a 7" scale line, and this figure comes in at just about exactly 7" tall. He'll fit in nicely with the 89 Batman they released earlier, as well as the other figures still to come.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Paint - ***
The paint work is great in some spots - a little iffy in others.

The best work is on the eyes, lips and eyebrows.  Nice, clean applications in these areas go a long way to enhancing the look of the sculpt.

In areas like the hairline, chest symbol, and suit, some problems crop up.  In some places, black from the hair ends up on the face, and skin tone runs into the hair in other areas. There's some dirt and glop in the blue suit, and the yellow and red of the symbol have very sloppy edges. To top it off, there's some dirt particles in the blue, and even a dark smudge on the skin above the right eye.

While that might sound like a lot, in hand the overall impression is pretty good.  The majority of the issues are hard to see without magnification, and the work on the critical areas is solid.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Articulation - *1/2
But now we get to the sticky wicket. Prior to receiving my Supes, I had heard many reports of breakage with this figure, particularly at the knees and elbows. There are rotating hinge joints at both locations, to go with NECA style ball hips and shoulders, a ball neck, cut waist, rotating hinge wrists, and terrific rotating hinge/rocker ankles.

I figured better safe than sorry, so I used hot water to work every joint free, not just the elbows and knees. And it was all going well...until I got to the last one, the left knee joint. In the photo below you can see the result.  Even with a well heated joint, this knee snapped with very, very little pressure. In fact, it shocked me when it snapped, because it seemed like I was barely touching it, let alone putting any real pressure on it.

This was the only joint I ended up having trouble with, but that's probably because I went crazy with the hot water. Had I not known and merely tried working with the figure in a normal way right out of the package, I suspect the result would have been far worse.

This sort of widespread breakage is simply not acceptable.  A broken joint is a worthless figure.  I ended up gluing the knee in place so I could take the photos, but the figure will never be what it should have been.

This problem with extremely brittle plastic being used in joints is not new. We saw it with the first release of the Game of Thrones figures from Funko, and we are still seeing it - although less often - with the DC Collectibles BTAS figures. I'm pretty surprised to see this issue continue to hang around, and companies like NECA need to correct it immediately or face a longer term issue of dropping consumer confidence.

All the photos you see here (other than the packaged shot of course) were taken after the break. Thanks to the great posability of the hips and ankles, I was able to get some decent stances, but it would have been much better with two working knees.

UPDATE: I've heard from NECA, and they are aware of an issue with the first shipment and breakage. They are sending out replacements free of charge - just contact them either through twitter (@neca_cs) or through the customer service contact on their website.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Accessories - **1/2
There's not a ton here, and the score suffers because of it.  The only extras are the second set of open 'flying' hands. They swap pretty easily, although with the problems mentioned in the previous category, I'd definitely heat up the arms first.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Outfit - ***1/2
There's not much of an outfit here - this is a sculpted figure after all. But I'm using the category to mention how much I like the cloth cape.

Of course, the symbol is centered properly high on the back, and the thin cloth hangs neatly from the neck where it is permanently attached. It looks best folded back over the shoulders, but you can flip it forward as well, and it's large enough and long enough to give you some posing options. There's no hem on the edge, but it didn't appear that it would ravel.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Fun Factor - *1/2
This is a category that takes a secondary hit thanks to the breakage issues.  You can't have much fun posing and re-posing a figure if you're terrified you'll snap a leg or arm any minute. Even after I freed up the elbows, I still worried that they could break at any time, and that pretty much sucks all the fun out of an action figure.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Value - **1/2
Most collector targeted figures in this approximate scale are running $20 right now, making these a pretty average value. That's assuming you get a Supes that stays in one piece.

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Things to Watch Out For -
There's pretty much one thing and one thing only - breakage. Because the plastic being used in the joints is brittle to begin with, I'd suggest only using heat to loosen them up.  Sometimes the freezer trick works too (stick the figure in for 20 minutes or so and the plastic/paint contracts, making it easier to free the joint), but that can make plastic brittle as well, and brittle on brittle is not a good combination.

Even with heat (either hot water or a hair dryer will do), you can still have problems i.e. me. Take your time, and do what you can, and hopefully you can return the figure if the worst occurs.

Overall - **1/2
Without any breakage problems, this figure vaults up to ***1/2 easy, maybe even **** simply because of the source material. This could have been a home run figure, something to contend for best of the year, but with the widespread problems with the various joints, it ends up becoming more of a PR nightmare.

I'm hoping that the other two won't have the same issues, but that might be a fool's wish.  I know I'll be using plenty of hot water with both of them just to be safe, and I'll have reviews up in the next couple weeks of both Joker and the '66 Batman.

UPDATE: As I mentioned earlier, I have heard back from NECA and they are replacing broken figures free of charge. Contact them through their website, or their twitter account (@neca_cs)

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - *1/2
Accessories - **1/2
Outfit - ***1/2
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - **1/2

Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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Where to Buy 
I fell sucker to the WB Store where you could buy the figure with a crappy DVD for $30, then they charged you eight bucks for shipping each one even though they shipped all three in the same box. Grrr...they are also shipping to Toys R Us retail stores, so that is probably the smarter move. Or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
My favorite of the Reeve Superman figures is the Hot Toys version from a few years ago. They also did an 'evil' version a couple years later, which might be even better.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
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Christopher Reeve Superman action figure by NECA

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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