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DC Super Powers Collection

Kenner DC Super Powers Collection by Jason Delacey

The DC Super Powers Collection ranks as one of my all-time favourite toy lines. It was relatively short-lived, lasting only three years (from 1984 to 1986) but made a significant impression on a lot of kids. From the late 1970’s onwards Kenner had a fantastic run with the Star Wars license and their innovative figures and vehicles changed the world of toys forever. But by the mid-eighties their popularity started to slip, Kenner knew they needed something new ­– something that could compete with Mattel’s Masters of the Universe figures which had become the number one international toy line for boys.

Kenner went to DC and, thanks to a colourful pitch where they talked about how unique their toys would be, they were given the license to make figures based on DC heroes and villains – all of which had previously been in the hands of the folks at Mego.

Hawkman

All About Action

The first batch of Kenner DC Super Powers figures set the tone for what the series would be all about. The big selling point was that each figure would have their own super hero special move – Batman could do a bat punch, Aquaman a deep dive kick and The Flash could run fast thanks to his lightning legs. This made each figure unique and was a way to show that Masters of the Universe was not the only toy line that had action features.

These features were pretty neat and a really smart marketing strategy but there was more: the first series featured twelve characters and all but two of them (The Flash and Brainiac) would come with an accessory. To name a few: Superman had his cape, Wonder Woman her lasso and The Joker had a mallet. You certainly got a lot of bang for your buck with the DC Super Powers line.

Superman

Three Series

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Robin and Aquaman were all featured in the first series as well as classic villains The Joker, The Penguin, Brainiac and Lex Luthor. That is one star-studded line-up and presented a challenge for Kenner with what to do next!

Series two included Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, Red Tornado, Fire Storm and Dr. Fate. It also showcased some super villains including: Darkseid, Desaad, Steppenwolf, Mantis, Kalibak and a Parademon. That represents a solid line up for fans of DC comics, but lacks the star power of the first series. Still, from a personal point of view, I would actually say that series two is my favourite and, as an adult collector, tracking these down became one of my main collecting goals.

The third and final series (released in 1986) comprised of ten figures: Shazam, Cyborg, Plastic Man, Tyr, Samurai, Mr. Freeze, Orion, Mr. Miracle, Golden Pharaoh, and Cyclotron – the last two being created specially for this line. While it is great Kenner resisted doing a ton of character repeats, it is fair to say that even a diehard DC fan would struggle to describe this last line-up as stellar.

Batmobile

Super Heroes On The Move

While vehicles were not a focus for my childhood collecting, Kenner actually supported the DC Super Powers Collection very well with a cool range of moving mechanicals. In total, they would release eight vehicles including such classics as the Batmobile and the Batcopter. The Hall of Justice playset was a lot of fun and the hard-to-come-by Darkseid Destroyer has become a holy grail for Kenner collectors.

Untapped Potential

There has been rumour and speculation about figures, vehicles, and playsets that were planned, but never released. The most notable of these is the huge Tower of Darkness playset ­– something any kid would have given their Power Ring for! Many characters such as Man-Bat, Reverse Flash, Deathstroke, Super Girl, Kid Flash and others were said to be planned but ultimately never appeared. It is said that Kenner actually had series 4, 5 and 6 in the pipeline!

Green Lantern

Pop Culture Phenomenon

Despite its short life in stores, the Kenner DC Super Powers collection was a pretty big deal at the time. DC actually created a short series of comic books based on the figures, there was a couple of parallel TV shows and Burger King had a major kids meal promotion. So though it never lasted long, it did have a significant impact.

How It Shaped The Future

It is easy to look at this line and say it was a flop. The figures failed to fly off store shelves (no pun intended) and the production run was short. But I think there’s an argument that this line of figures was hugely instrumental in shaping the way toys based on super heroes should be. In fact, over the years many figures have taken inspiration from the DC Super Powers line. An example is the movie inspired Robin Hood line that Kenner made. It reused parts from both Star Wars and the DC Super Powers line. Mattel even got in on the fun by making some classic figures in the Kenner style (but bigger) and putting them on a DC Super Powers card 20 years after the line first launched.

Personally, I love this line and the toys are great for any cash conscious collector as many figures from the excellent first series can be picked up fairly cheaply. I have come across a few unopened figures and paid less than ten bucks for them. It’s a fun line and one that really captures the feel of the key 1980’s DC characters. But I can’t help feel that if Kenner had spread the A-list characters a little better then the line might have not died the way that it did. Just saying.

Master System – master of the 8-Bit console

How the Master System was the master 8-Bit console by Jason Delacey

It didn’t really take off in the USA – dwarfed by the mighty NES in terms of sales and number of games – but in the UK (where I grew up) and many other parts of Europe, the Sega Master System was king of the 8-bit consoles. I know for some people this may sound crazy, but the Master System sold well even after the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive over here) was released. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at what made the Sega Master System so awesome and what it was like growing up in a place where more kids had a Master System than an NES!

 

Sega Was Everywhere!

You remember the late ’80s and early ’90s with mega-retailers like Toys R Us – their shelves stacked high with NES games right? Oh, and the barely visible half-a-bay set aside for the Sega stuff? Well, in my local store it was the exact opposite. Any retailer that sold video games would have way more Master System games than NES ones. Sega was everywhere and it’s popularity was high for some time. Long after interest for the Master System died in the USA, games that were released for the Sega Game Gear would also see a release on the Master System in Europe and Brazil.

 

Arcade Action At Home

Ok, so that may be overselling the power of the Master System just a bit but arcade gaming was still a big deal back then and to have a home console that came anywhere close to recreating the experience was just amazing. Sega brought arcade classics such as Outrun (everyone I knew had at least one version of Outrun in their collection!), Space Harrier, Afterburner and Hang On right into your living room. Ok, they had their limits but having these games was a huge deal and something that certainly made the Master System stand out.

Arcade style action

 

More Colours Than a Rainbow

In my opinion the Master System graphics were better than those of the NES. That may sound like a bold statement, but the Master System had a much better colour palette and when this was used right many games looked simply amazing. Don’t take my word for it – just look at Donald Duck: The Lucky Dime Caper and put it next to anything on the NES! Agree? Ok, if witches kidnapping ducks aint your thing then what about the Sonic games, Mickey Mouse or Golden Axe? I’d say these all eclipsed what was being done on the NES.

Super range of colours

 

Just Like Its Big Brother

One interesting thing about the Sega Master System was that it had many of the games that the Sega Mega Drive was famous for. The popularity of the Master System in Europe and Brazil meant Sega deemed it worthy to make versions of many popular Mega Drive games. The quality of these games differed, but you would be surprised at how well some of these turned out. Streets of Rage, Shinobi, Strider, Road Rash and many more games that were iconic titles on the Mega Drive all had ports for the Sega Master System.

 

Sonic Was An 8-Bit King

The Sega Master System has its very own library of Sonic games. Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos and Sonic Spinball all were released on the console. Each are fun platformers in their own right and well worth checking out. One interesting thing about the Sonic games on the Master System is that to make up for the lack of system speed, the games featured more exploration. This makes them different to the Genesis games and adds layers of fun.

Sonic The Hedgehog on the Master System

 

Sonic Was Built In

As mentioned, the original Master System sold well in Europe but the release of the budget Master System II saw the console really take off. Due to the low asking price and cost-effective games it became a smash with families. But there was another reason that the Master System II was seen as such a great deal – it came with the original Sonic The Hedgehog game built into the console! This made what was already a great value console seem even better in the eyes of both dedicated gamers and parents alike.

 

So while overall the Master System may not have come close to matching the NES in terms of world-wide sales, it was still a big hit in some places. Many gamers in the UK and Europe regard the Master System and its games with the kind of fondness that many American’s feel for the NES. So please don’t think of the Master System as doomed to the dungeon of forgotten consoles just yet. There are some awesome games on there that are well worth checking out.

The Fun World Of Funko Pop!

The Fun World Of Funko Pop! Six reasons why the line is so popular by Jason Delacey…

Has there ever been a line of collectibles toys as numerous as the world of POP!? Probably, no positively not! There was a time when I didn’t really dig these things. I found it all a bit ‘so what’ until my wife bought me a Rocko’s Modern Life Rocko and Heffer – then the flood gates opened! So, I thought I’d try and figure out why the POP! range is so, well… popular! Here are my six reasons:

 

  1. A Who’s Who Of Pop Culture!

One of the things I really love about the guys and gals at Funko is that they’re willing to make a POP! out of almost anything. No matter who or what you are into there’ll be a POP! for you. Superheroes? Well, there is a ton of them. Horror icons? Funko has you covered there too. In fact it‘d be more surprising if a game, movie, comic or TV’s show didn’t have a series of POP!’s. Even obscure things like random celebrities, sports mascots and the British Royal Family are represented!

  1. They Can All Hang Out Together!

While the cast of POP! characters is diverse in the extreme, they all share a root DNA. This means you can mix and match your POPS! and they rarely look out of place. I have a shelf dedicated to POP! Figures, featuring characters like Pennywise, The Rock, The Alien from Toy Story, Sophia from the Golden Girls and SpongeBob to name a few – a weird collection of characters to have on the same shelf, right? Well yes, but thanks to the POP! style this ensemble looks perfectly fine.

 

  1. They Are Insanely Collectable

I can’t even fathom what’s it must be like to own a complete Funko POP! collection. You would need to have a place the size of Wayne Manor, a Scrooge McDuck level bank account and hire Dog the Bounty Hunter to find them all. But the cool thing is you can still form a great collection even if you concentrate on just a single area of interest.

 

  1. Funko Look Out For The Collector

Any new Pop that I buy now I like to keep in the box. This was not always the case, hence why I have a shelf full of loose figures. Anyway, one thing that Funko do which I think is really cool is the packaging. Some complain that the boxes for POP! figures are super easy to get damaged (and they are) but I do like how easy it is to open a box, take a figure out and then put it back in if you decide you want to keep it boxed.

  1. They Are Not Super Expensive

Ok, so some of you read this and spat out your coffee. Hey, I understand; the cost of some exclusives and the secondary market can be brutal. However, POP!’s can also be found for £5 and under in many, many places. Heck, just the other week I found a few Mortal Kombat POP!’s in my local supermarket for £4 each! So, while this can be a series that you spend money on, It doesn’t have to be! There are many awesome figures out there that are reasonably priced.

 

  1. They Seem Like Such Cool People

There’s a really awesome documentary about Funko (I think it’s still on Netflix) that I really do encourage you guys to watch. It shows the origins of the company, but the thing it does best is to show you that the people behind this stuff are just as cool, nerdy and fanatical about collectibles as we are.

 

So, there you have it – a few of the reasons why I, and millions of other people, have become Funko POP! fanatics. BTW: I’m just on my way out to the local mall – no, not searching for POP! toys but to buy a new set of shelves to display my ever increasing collection. LOL!

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