Man of Steel opens in theaters today. Spoiler alert: It's awesome. To celebrate, here's the start of a series of reviews from the Mattel Man of Steel Movie Masters line.
I've never been a huge Superman fan, but I was able to catch a press screening of the new movie last week (thanks to our friend Sandwich John!), and liked it so much that I actually decided to open the Movie Masters I had picked up, but was on the fence about keeping. Unfortunately though, the figures aren't quite as awesome as the film.
Wave 1 consists of Superman, Jor-El, and Zod. I'll tell you right now, you can skip two-thirds of that wave. The unarmored Zod is coming again in a later wave with an additional accessory (shackles), and the Superman is exactly the same as this Wave 2 version that also includes an additional accessory- his Kryptonian Command Key.
The packaging is unremarkable and not nearly as nice as the Dark Knight Rises Movie Masters from last year. The front of the card is rather generic. The back has the character's movie bio and a cross-sell for a couple other figures.
If you've collected Movie Masters figures in the past, you'll have a pretty good idea of what you're in store for with this line. The Superman sculpt is pretty nice. The entire suit is textured to resemble the fabric from the movie. The belt and ribbing throughout the suit is also well done. And the molded cape is much better than the horrible ones we saw in the TDKR line. It has much more character, and looks like it's flowing in the wind, rather than hanging limp and boring from Kal's shoulders.
The likeness to Henry Cavill is good, but not amazing. The features of the face are a little generic. And the head is cast in a flesh tone plastic that is annoyingly reflective when it comes to photographing. It's almost impossible to see in photos, but there is a very slight hint of a five o'clock shadow painted on the figure. I've seen some where it's darker and more noticeable, but on most that I've seen, it's very faint. I think that's actually a pretty nice little touch of detail.
The paint job as a whole is pretty sharp. There is very little smudging or bleed-over on most of the figures I've seen, and the lines are mostly nice and clean. There is some dark shading in the chest emblem that gives it a little bit of depth.
Unfortunately, the articulation is a little lacking compared to past Movie Masters figures. The figure lacks any sort of torso articulation, and the forward-back range of motion in the hips isn't very great, resulting in a figure that can barely achieve anything more than a vanilla standing pose. And while it's not common in Mattel's figures, the lack of a neck hinge to allow the figure to look "up" in flying poses also hurts the playability of this figure. And for Superman, that's kind of an important one.
Other than those misses, the articulation is the same as we're used to in the DCU line; ball jointed head, ball-hinged shoulders with bicep swivels, single hinge elbows, knees, and ankles, swivel waist, wrists and lower thighs, and the standard Mattel hinge-swivel hips.
This figure doesn't do too bad in the accessories department. He comes with the same "S" shield logo figure stand as the Wave 1 release, plus the Kryptonian Command Key. The key is die cast metal, including a metal chain necklace, and is actually more of a prop replica, meant to be worn by people, rather than something meant to interact with the figure. For what it is, it's a pretty nice little extra that Mattel threw into the package. You won't want to display it on your figure shelf, but if you have a movie props shelf, it will fit in nicely there.
And like I said, that "Command Key" is the only difference between the Wave 1 and Wave 2 versions of Supes. Here's a photo of the Wave 1 figure in package (now that I realize they are identical, I will be returning him to Target). So unless you hate getting extra stuff for the same price, in which case I call you a weirdo, don't bother with the Wave 1 version.
The Man of Steel Movie Masters have hit all major retailers are this point. I've seen Wave 1 at Targets and Wave 2 at Walmarts. There are apparently only seven figures in this line (including the Supes and Zod releases that are identical to previous releases with the addition of a new accessory), and you should be able to find everything at retail now. If you can look past the slightly reduced articulation and don't mind movie figures being slightly smaller in scale than your comic DCU figures, there are worse things you can spend your money on. I recommend this figure for the sculpt alone. The metal replica of the Command Key is a bonus.
Words, photos, and planet destruction by Zak