Secret Identity Superman

Many of you know Julius Marx from the site, Action Figure Times.  He does a terrific column over there called The Amazing Justice League of Julius Marx.  Check it out - now on to the review!

Finally, after being pushed back from November until the beginning of this New Year, collectors are able to add another 9" DC figure to their shelves.  The Target 9" Secret Identity Superman has arrived.  I was a big fan of the old Mego "Worldís Greatest Heroes" line as a kid, and was excited to see the rebirth of that style of 7"-9" figure with cloth costumes starting with the Toy Biz Famous Covers figures and later expanding to the DC 9" Super Heroes line.

The DC 9" line has seen a couple of "deaths" and rebirths since itís debut two years ago.  Now, it looks as if the line will continue for at least another year in the form of Target exclusive figures based on the Superman and Batman Ďfamilies."  Reports are that Corporate Target is watching this line very closely in terms of sales.  The Batman Secret Identity figure from last year has now completely sold through the allocation made for Target.  If you missed the Batman, or think you will miss the Superman figure, you will have a second chance through Diamond comics distributors.   The SI Batman was solicited in last monthís Previews catalog and we should see the SI Superman follow suit in the next few months.

Packaging - ***
I must say I like the packaging better on this new Superman than on the Secret Identity Batman figure exclusive.  The dark packaging on the Batman made the overall presentation of the product a little dark and murky (I know, I know Batman is SUPPOSED to be dark!)  There were a lot of blacks and purples, and it didnít really pop out on the shelf at Target. This new Superman packaging is bright and clear.  There is a big bold "Superman" logo on every panel and you know just what you are looking at.  Itís still the same kind of box with a big front window and a smaller window on top; the color design is just better on the Superman box.  Through the front window the figure is posed is a great running and changing pose.   You can clearly see the figure, the outfit and the phone booth accessory.

The packages for these new Secret Identity exclusives are boxes, which is a change from the first wave of the DC 9" Heroes line.  The First wave of Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman and the original Silver Age Target Exclusive Batman and Superman all came in a silver and black six-sided box, that showed shelf wear and could be bent/damaged quite easily.  I think the SI Batman box will easily show wear in time too because of its darker colors. The Superman box should hold up and better disguise wear.

Sculpting - ****
The only NEW sculpting here is the head (and a pair of glasses), and I gotta say I like it!  The box art shows more of a 70ís era (or a mid 90s Jon Bogdanove) look for Superman and I prefer the more pronounced spit curl.  He has a very stern look on his face and the glasses fit him well.  I prefer this new Superman/Clark head to the Target Silver Age Superman figure of old.  The look on his face and the curl make this a better-looking Superman, but I think the oleí Superman head works better for Clark Kent.   The old head has more of a "mild mannered" look.   The new head is a little too intense for Clark.  With the new figure in "Clark" mode he looks angry, in a hurry and if you bother him heíll pull a vein out of your neck.  I suspect when any of you come over in the future and see my 9" figure shelf you will find the Secret Identity Superman figure in Superman mode and the Silver Age Superman figure dressed as Clark.  Even though the cape on the Silver Age Superman is no removable, it is a smaller cape and easily tucked into the back of the pants.

Paint - ****
So far, ALL of the paint jobs Iíve seen on the faces have been really clean. The hair and eyes are right on.  I know sometimes with figures of this size you can get some wonky eyes, and Iím sure SOMEWHERE in the production run there maybe some honked up so as always, your mileage may vary.

Another problem figures of this size sometimes suffer from are over-painted lips.  The 9" Star Trek figures were some of the worst offenders on this front, but Superman canít talk smack about any other nancy-boy figures or else they will remind him to look at the blue lipstick on his 9" Superman Blue figure.
Hasbro thankfully left well enough alone and didnít put ANY paint or gloss on this figureís lips.   This figure actually gets an extra star because of it's LACK of paint.  Simpler is better.

This new version of Superman has the added details of the "S" shield on the back of the cape and the red belt-loops, that were missing on the Silver Age version.  These are a couple of much needed details and helped bump up the score in this category.

This doesnít exactly fall under the "paint" heading but I think it is important to mention that buyers should look at the application of the "S" shield on his chest and on his cape.  You can see through the window if they have been applied straight.  I havenít seen that problem on the Superman yet, but I did see some Batmen with crooked emblems.

Articulation - **
My only real disappointment in the 9" DC line (besides the look of the removable cowl on the Silver Age Target Batman) is the fact that Hasbro didnít take a page from Toy Biz and make a couple of different sized base bodies for this line.  Letís face itÖ. Superman is TOO skinny.  Heís too small.  He doesnít really fill out his costume and he looks puny next to the bulkier Famous Covers figures like Thor.

This is the same body that we have seen on all of the adult DC hero figures so no surprises here.  He has the standard articulation of: neck, ball-jointed shoulders, bicep cut, elbows, ball jointed wrists, fingers, all joined waist, ball jointed hips, knees and ankles.  The joints on the Superman I opened are probably the stiffest of all of the 9" DC that I have open.

This figure certainly could be helped by a ball-jointed neck to accommodate flying poses, so he loses a star for that.

Accessories - **1/2
Iím going to include the Clark outfit as an accessory. So, for accessories we have the Clark outfit and a card board phone booth.

The outfitÖwell, I guess its score depends on how you plan to use it in your display.  If you want just a Clark Kent figure standing around waiting for his JLA signal watch to go off, it loses points.  As we saw with the Bruce Wayne Tuxedo, itís still tough to get outfits this size to look right with the fabrics Hasbro is using.  The shirt is sewn into the pants, which helps the look of the suit, but makes it a little tougher to dress and undress the figure.  The tie is just a piece of ribbon and because of the placement of the top shirt snap will never lay dead center of the shirt like it should.  On the PLUS side the Clark outfit DOES include shoes, which is something we were missing with the Bruce Wayne outfit.  Make sure when you buy one of these that you check and make sure he is wearing shoes in the box.  I suspect we will be hearing of people buying these, swiping the shoes for their Bruce Wayne figures and then returning the incomplete figure.

If you are going to display the figure with the coat and shirt open it bumps the score up to a ***.   The removable glasses are a necessary, nice touch (because you know we COULD have gotten another head swap!)

Iím really pretty indifferent towards the phone booth.  Itís cute to have, but a little hinky. It is the same image on almost every side, and there is no picture of a phone on the interior. If you are going to have Clark in mid-cloths change, youíll want this, but if you are just looking for a cool Superman figure you wonít care about this cardboard box. There are instructions included on how to properly fold it.

Play Value -  *** 
I think these figures are great and really remind me of the "Old Days" playing in my room, or in the back yard, with my Megos.   I really like this line, it has good articulation, the outfits look great and are pretty on model, they are just nice, accurate depictions of these iconic characters.  Iím also looking forward to finally getting some villains in this line with the Joker, Penguin and Riddler being kicked around as future Target exclusive 9" figures later this year.
Even if you are not going to play with him, there is something reassuring about having a big angry Superman standing next to your computer.

Value - ***
Well, Iím a little biased on this one because when I found the figures at Target they were "NOT ON FILE" yet.  When they went and pulled the DPCI number off the shelf label where these were sitting, they used the old Batman number and not the new Superman number.  So I got my set for $4.94!  I still really like these sets and Iím a HUGE DC fan so I donít mind paying the $19.99 for these.  The first wave of DC 9" were $15 most places so with the added outfit I can see paying a little more for the Secret Identity figuresÖ You may want to ask me again how in feel about the $20 in the spring when Iím plunking it down for the next in the Target Exclusive 9" line- The Joker.   Cuz heís NOT gonna come with an extra outfit, but Iíll betcha that wonít stop Target from charging the $19.99 for it.

 Depending on where you live, how many Targets are in the area, and how heavily your Target ordered these there is a chance you will find these on clearance in a couple of months.  I was able to pick up a spare Secret Identity Batman at the end of itís Target run for $10.90.

Overall - ***
Iím glad I have him, and I think he is a definite improvement over the Silver Age Superman.  Plus he just looks cool standing in front of the rest of your 9" JLA.

Where to Buy
For right now Target is the ONLY place to get this.  Eventually this figure will pop-up in Diamondís Previews so you may order him though your local comic shops.

Figure from the collection of Julius Marx.

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