DC Direct 13" Superman

AFR (ActionFiguresRule) checks in for his first guest review tonight with a great one - the new DC Direct 13" Superman.  What's the scoop, AFR?

Thank you, MWC, for having me post my first “official” review on your website. I’ve been a fan of your work here for the last couple of years, having been inspired more than a handful of times to buy an action figure based on your reviews. So now, it’s truly a pleasure for me to be able to give something back. Having said that, let’s get on with the review!

The Man of Steel: a nearly 70-year-old superhero character that has endured through time, as the world has evolved. From what I understand (and I may very well be way off on this supposed “factoid”), the original creators of Superman initially made him a villain, only to change him later into a good guy. And, eventually, his origins would become legend. The last son of Krypton, the alien from an extinct planet galaxies far, far away from our own.

Superman has seen various plastic incarnations over the years, and with the advent of this year’s Superman Returns film, fans will be chomping at the bit to get a hold of as much Superman paraphernalia as possible. So, will this figure be worthy of your collection? Let’s take a look-see, shall we?

Packaging and Accessories/Costumes/Outfits  - ***
Superman comes in a “two-box” type package. What I mean by that is that there are two compartments: the first is the main compartment that houses Superman, the chain, the bendy steel bar, and the stand. The second, thinner compartment, which also acts as the “lid,” houses the other accessories – the spare bendy hands, the Clark Kent clothes – including a pair of nifty blue boxers, Daily Planet newspaper, and Clark’s eyeglasses.

The packaging succeeds in effectively conveying the “deluxe” collector figure “feel.” Nice, bright, primary colors and cool front and rear graphics, showing Supes in various “hero” and “action” posing glory. And once you open up the box, you see two clear-window compartments, displaying both accessories and figure.

The accessories/costumes/outfits are also pretty cool, I must say, because in a way, you’re getting two figures – actually, three, if you think about it – for the price of one…well, sort of. You get Clark Kent: Daily Planet reporter, in dark navy business suit. Then, you get Superman: the Man of Tomorrow, in primary colored tights and cape. Finally, you come home, after a hard day’s work, and can kick back as Clark Kent: casual and mellow fellow, in blue boxer shorts! (Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch, I know, so sue me! (o: I’m sticking with this reasoning so it’ll make me feel better justified for being looney enough to buy three of these badboys!) 

DC Direct also did a fine job of adding intricate detailing into Superman’s various accessories. For instance, Clark’s shoes have real laces, which I highly recommend you do not de-lace because they’re a pain in the booty (no pun intended) to re-lace. Instead, use the hairdryer technique to loosen up the shoe enough to remove from and put on Clark’s feet. 

Although Superman’s tights and cape are not perfect, they effectively project the Man of Steel’s majestic essence: form-fitting, bright, spandex-like, blue bodysuit that zips up from the back; large S-emblem; red shorts with belt loopholes; golden belt that clips on and off; red boots that, once again, zipper up from the back; and of course, the shorter yet still flowing-enough red cape. 

Sculpting - ***1/2
The more I look at this Supes’ face, the more I like him. I didn’t at first because I thought he looked a tad bit older than how I envisioned Superman. Not that an older Superman meant he was out of his prime by any means. I’ve just always had this vision of Superman as being someone in his early thirties, and this rendition of Supes looks more like he’s in his late 30’s/early 40’s. But again, as I looked more and more at him, this Supes’ look grew on me. He actually reminds me of a 1940’s/50’s Superman, disguised as the classic metropolitan, mild-mannered reporter. Tim Bruckner did a splendid job sculpting this rendition of Superman, which has become my second favorite sculpt of the Man of Steel. (The first was the 6.5” scale DCD Superman, again sculpted by Bruckner.)

DC Direct is apparently using the same body sculpt for all their male 13” scale superheroes. Superman and Hal Jordan Green Lantern both sport the same body sculpt, and I’m pretty sure the upcoming Lex Luthor, Batman, et al, will all have the same body too. This has gotten some folks in the DC collector community up in arms, since they astutely point out that not every character has the same height and build as one another. (DCD has also applied this concept of heavy re-use of body sculpts in their 6.5” line, specifically the Superman/Batman and soon-to-be-released JLA Classified figures.) Fair enough to point out, for certain. And all I can say from my end is that I am pretty okay with that. Obviously, DCD wants to keep things simple and cost-effective on their end, so re-using the same body mold for each character makes sense financially. 

And even creatively, to some extent, using the same body for each of these iconic figures gives this line a kind of “artistic symmetry.” The DCD sculptors and artists can now focus their efforts on improving the level of quality and detail on the headsculpt and costuming, which can, indeed, help better define the overall essence of the character. Who cares if Clark, Bruce, and Hal are all the same height and build? Well…not me anyway. To each their own, I would say.

Oh, and one more cool advantage to having uniform bodies for each hero: we as collectors have a certain level of “customizing” and “interchanging” capability because the body sculpts are the same. How? Each character can share different outfits and accessories (such as different colored/toned hands and fists). I popped onto Hal’s arms one of the “extra” sets of Clark fists I had handy; Hal’s even wearing a pair of blue boxers, during his downtime as a superheroic figure. So, there are definite perks for having these figures uniform in body sculpt. 

Paint - ***
You can tell the quality level has been upped in these figures from their 6.5” counterparts. Most of the paint on these flesh-colored, ABS plastic bodies have been applied onto the figure’s headsculpt, upper torso and interchangeable hands. Clark’s eyes are what I describe to be piercing. I don’t know, but they look real to me, not in a scary way, but just a very realistic, powerful way. The eyes kinda look like acrylic/glass eyes, the ones you would usually find in Asian ball-jointed dolls and the sort. I think with the various paint applications, they give Clark more of a majestic look and feel to him. 

Scale - ***
Okay, so he isn’t a true 1/6 scale figure. But then again, DCD’s never really gotten that whole scale thing down right anyways. Or is it that DC Direct simply wants to do their own thing and make their own scale? After all, their smaller scale figures are actually 6.5” as opposed to 6” scale, so they’ve always made things a little bigger than the rest of the industry’s unofficial standard. Ah, well, such is life. If you’re really against scale mismatch, then there’s no hope here for you. But if you’re an action figure nut like me, then you’ll get over the scale difference pretty quickly.

In any event, Supes stands at about 13.5”, which in the 1/6 scale world, means he’s about 6’6”. (Thanks to the folks at a popular 1/6 collector fan site for doing the math right on this particular calculation. I sure fouled it up the first time around. (o: ) Yes, that means he’s about 3 inches taller than what he’s listed as in the DC Universe encyclopedia (6’3”).

MWC note - not sure who told AFR that 13.5" in normal sixth scale was only 6' 6" - it's 6' 9".

Nevertheless, he looks cool standing next to my Mattel 14” Bats, and during my stop motion animation filming, I can always used forced perspective for shooting him with other 1/6 scale figs. Besides, as DCD releases more and more of these figures in the DC Direct version of 1/6 scale, I won’t have to worry about finding additional “figuremates” for Supes to hang out and fight crime with!

Articulation - ***1/2
Supes is loaded with virtually all the right kinds of articulation points, a nice balance of sculpt versus articulation. And I say virtually because there’s really only one set of POA that I have a difference of opinion on: the mid bicep joint. Instead of opting for the more popular (and in my mind, better-looking) mid bicep ball-swivel ala Marvel Legends (and soon-to-be Marvel Legends Icons), DCD opted for the older-school mid bicep cut-twist joint, which I think looks less pleasing, especially when twisted underneath skintight spandex. Really, if they were shooting for an aesthetic balance between sculpt and articulation, the bicep ball-swivel joint would have made so much more sense. In any case, all things considered, DCD did a marvelous job w/ all the other POA. They are solid and functional, for the most part, although, as with most action figures – not just DCD’s, even though they have gotten the notorious bad rap for having bad quality control in their manufacturing process – the joints are somewhat loose in certain areas. 

Well, let me first step back and say this: I like my action figures to have tight joints…not so tight that it would take a pair of channel locks to break the seal, but just tight enough where I can put my fig into most any pose and know that it’ll hold the test of time. My favorite– my self-proclaimed trademark pose –is the standing sidekick. If a fig can hold that pose, it racks up extra bonus points in my book. Well, believe it or not, since I got this badboy (and his subsequent “brother badboys”), I have been able to pose them in unassisted standing sidekicks for upwards of 20 minutes. Another reason I like to have tight joints on my figs is that I also have been experimenting (for the longest time) with stop motion animation, and having tighter joints on my figs makes it all the easier for me to animate them. 

Anyways, back to the articulation: 

· fully-functional ball-jointed neck
· fully-functional ball-jointed shoulders
· mid bicep twists
· double elbows
· twist wrists
· mid-torso crunch
· waist twist
· fully-functional ball-jointed hip (one of the best-looking 1/6 scale hip joints I’ve seen)
· mid thigh twists
· double knees
· lower calf/ankle twists
· ankle hinges

The POA allows for Supes to “do his thing” and then some. He’s able to do many of his signature poses. And for the ones he is lacking in and/or falls somewhat short, I’m okay with. Why? Because he’s freakin cool, that’s why! Again, he’s able to perform many other poses that more than makes up for the few he doesn’t have quite down pat. And he looks cool doing them too.

Fun Factor - ****
For a 30-something guy like me, I had lots of fun posing him, snapping up pics, and yup, flying him around the apartment during all hours of the night (and early morning hours before heading to work). Although the initial hysteria I had for the fig has subsided a bit, I’ll still fly him around the place just for the heck of it! And now, with the arrival of Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Supes has yet another partner-in-crime to kick some villainous butt! 

I can’t say for sure how a child a third my age would feel about the fig, since I haven’t been that young in a while, but I can tell you I’ll have him duking it out with my Mattel Bats and DCD Hal Jordan when I finally get to animating them in a stop motion animation scene sometime in the future…and I’ll have a blast playing with them for sure.

Value - **1/2/***
At about $90 a pop, my wallet took a beating when I decided to go stir-crazy and buy 3 of these “Supermen”…and open all three of them to play with!!! So, depending on how you look at things, the price point might be a bit too steep for some. However, if you look at some of the higher-end 1/6 scale figs coming out of places like Japan, whose price range can be as low as $30 and as high as $300+, $90 is a relatively decent price for what you’re getting.

Again, people will have their own say on this, so carry on! 

DCD’s strategy to reduce the price point with the recently-released Hal Jordan Green Lantern, the upcoming Superman Returns Superman, Lex Luthor, Two-Face and Batman, is a very smart move. It’ll entice more fans, who had been teetering on buying the fig because of price, to finally break down and go for it. For the level of quality you’re getting, you have no reason not to get at least one.

Overall - ***1/2
I’m impressed with DCD’s venture into the 1/6 scale arena. So far, they’re doing a lot of things right. If they keep creating amazing head sculpts; design costumes that not only capture the look of each character but physically fit well on the bodies; continue to work on their QC and make the joints the “right level” of tightness; work on an alternative way of making their bendy hands so paint flaking issues get eliminated (how about same-toned rubber???); and keep the price point down without sacrificing overall product quality, then this line will see many years of happy collecting.

Score Recap- 
Packaging and Accessories/Costumes/Outfits ***
Sculpt *** 1/2
Paint ***
Scale ***
Articulation *** ½
Fun Factor ****
Value ** ½ / ***
Overall *** ½

Where to Buy
Oh boy, I got my three from Amok Time, Amazing Toyz, and Tower Records Store locally. There still may be other online retailers that carry this figure, but you may end up hunting for him on Ebay because he may be sold out (or nearing it) elsewhere.

Other online options:

- Alter Ego Comics has the Superman Returns version of this guy for $48.

- Killer Toys has the SR version on preorder as well, at $55. 

- CornerStoreComics has it on preorder for $47.

- Fireside Collectibles has it on preorder for $48.

Figure from the collection of AFR.

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