Saturday, May 25, 2013

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Hot Toys Christopher Reeve Superman 12" Figure

In honor of Superman's 75th anniversary (and before the upcoming new film potentially ruins Superman for everyone) I present the Hot Toys Superman 1/6 scale action figure!

As regular readers of my blog know, a while back the bank in which I worked failed, thrusting me (and everyone else who worked there) into the cold cruel world of unemployment. I was very, very fortunate to find a new (and better) job just a couple of months later. To celebrate my good fortune I decided to splurge and buy my first ever Hot Toys action figure. Hey, get yer mind outta the gutter! Contrary to their somewhat provocative name, Hot Toys is a Japanese company that specializes in very cool, very detailed and very expensive high-end 1/6 scale action figures (Oy, a lot of backstory this is for the purchase of a toy!).

But which figure to get? That was easy! I chose the Hot Toys Christopher Reeve Superman figure.

Superman: The Movie has always been one of my all time favorite films. It my opinion it's a darn near perfect example of what a superhero movie should be and Christopher Reeve is absolutely perfect as both Superman and Clark Kent.
Superman arrived at my home on a cold and wintry February day. I heard the UPS man drive off and I opened the front door and almost tripped over a huge box on the stoop. Luckily for me my UPS man actually placed the box on the porch and didn't toss it from the curb.

So how big was the box? Much bigger than I expected. That's the box above with a DVD laying on it for scale. Yeah, it's a Doctor Who DVD. Yeah, I'm a big nerd. What of it?

Inside the huge box was... yet another huge box. This one was just slightly smaller than the first one. I guess they were trying to make sure nothing got damaged, but it was starting to remind me of my dad's favorite Xmas trick: wrapping a pair of earrings for my mom in an enormous box filled with a series of thirty progressively smaller ones inside. A timeless classic!

Now we're getting somewhere! Inside the second box was the actual action figure box (Ach, Again he goes on with the stupid boxes!).

As you can see it's not your standard box. It's shaped like the "S" shield on Superman's chest. There's also a blue strip or sash stretched across the front, letting me know the figure's been sanitized for my protection.

Hot Toys prides themselves on their quality packaging and it's obvious they put a lot of thought and planning into this box (Oy, yet again about the boxes!). A lot of collectors consider the packaging to be just as important as the figure itself. I am not one of them. 

I freely admit I am not a fan of this box. In fact I downright hate it. I get what they were trying to do, but it fails miserably. The stinkin' box can't even stand up on its own! You have to prop it upright with the two separate blue cardboard triangular pieces. Who thought that was a good idea?

Plus I wonder how much this complicated and elaborate packaging added to the final cost? As a graphic designer I can tell you with confidence that a custom-shaped box like this ain't cheap. I'm sure it had to drive the price up a quite a bit. I'd have been much happier with a plain cardboard box that doesn't need chocks to prop it up and a lower price point.

Lifting off the top of the S-shaped box reveals yet another lid beneath it, Matryoshka style. This one is dedicated to the memory of Christopher Reeve, which I will admit is a nice touch (Tell me he's not still kibitzing about the boxes?).

According to the underside of this second lid, a portion of each sale of this figure will go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation for stem cell research, which is a nice thing for Hot Toys to do.

Finally! After all that unpacking, at last I get to see my Superman figure. It's displayed nicely in the tray, as are the many and various accessories. 

You can't see it here but underneath this upper tray is a lower one containing a small display stand and an "in flight" Fortress Of Solitude diorama which I'll get to later.

At last I popped the figure from its plastic prison and got to see it in all its glory. Now this is the Superman we all know and love (Finally he talks about his toy he bought!).

The costume is very well made and fits the figure perfectly. I'm not a fabric expert but I think it's spandex. Whatever it is it's very flexible and doesn't interfere with the articulation. It's pretty much a perfect 1/6 scale representation of the Superman costume from the film.

I don't understand why the recent Superman movies feel compelled to change his iconic costume. There's nothing wrong with this one. No one pointed and laughed when they saw this suit in the cinema. It's a perfect three dimensional representation of Superman; probably the best comic to film translation of a costume that I've ever seen. It's perfect in every way. It definitely wasn't broke, so I don't know why they keep trying to fix it. Changing it seems almost sacrilegious somehow, like altering the flag.

The classic suit is for damn sure better than this thing from the upcoming Man Of Steel movie. What's with the dingy colors and the scaly, reptilian texture? It's full of unnecessary little flourishes as well, like the cuffs, the piping on the thighs and worst of all the art deco wings that point right at Superman's bountiful package (as if we needed help to see it).

Worst of all, where the hell is his red underwear? He looks frustratingly incomplete without them. You can argue for days whether it makes sense for a superhero to wear their drawers on the outside of their suit or not, but all I know is that it just plain looks wrong without them. It looks like Superman got dressed in a hurry and forgot to put them on.

The figure is fully articulated and can be easily placed in many natural looking poses. The joints are fairly tight, so he'll stay in whatever pose he's placed. 

Superman contemplating his place in the universe.Or perhaps he's thanking the Kryptonian god Rao that he remembered to put on his underwear.

Superman comes with three pairs of hands: two normal relaxed hands for everyday posing, two clenched fist hands for punching and two flattened "karate chop" hands for flying poses (Oy, now he starts on the hands forever!). The hands pop off easily and can be quickly swapped out. Also present there in the tray were two extra wrist pegs. I'm not sure if they included those in case you lose one or because they're prone to breakage. Hopefully the former.

One nice feature: there's a thin little wire sewn into the bottom hem of his cape. This allows you to bend the cape into various shapes to simulate it billowing in the wind.

One thing I've always wondered about Superman's costume: why is his S-shield red and yellow on his chest, but all yellow on his cape? Is it because they thought the shield wouldn't show up as well on a red background? Just for fun I did a little Photoshop experiment to see what the red & yellow S-shield would look like on the red cape. Personally I don't think it looks that bad (Sounds like someone has Aspergers, maybe?).

The all-yellow shield is definitely be easier to color, so maybe they did it to save time. Or maybe it was just a coloring mistake that stuck.

The best  part about the figure is the head sculpt. There is absolutely no doubt that you're looking at Christopher Reeve. The detail is amazing. His skin has tiny imperfections and blemishes and his eyes actually look as if they're moist (Oy vey iz mir! You want I should leave you alone with your doll?). If I didn't know better I'd swear this was a photo of the actual Christopher Reeve.

Many times these sculpts tend to look like the actor from one angle only, but this one looks just like Reeve from either side.
You can even alter his expression a bit by a subtle tilt of the head.
Superman comes with a stand to keep your expensive figure from toppling off your shelf to its death on the floor far below. That patented Hot Toys "crotch holder" stand looks darned uncomfortable though.
The figure also comes with an elaborate and icy looking Fortress Of Solitude base/diorama from the beginning of the movie. The base was harder to assemble than you'd think (each of the pieces will only fit into the base one way, and it's not readily apparent what that way is).
Once assembled you can either place Superman directly on the base or use the clear acrylic rod to display him in a flying pose (those flying hands finally came in handy).

I'm still in awe of this head sculpt. I can't quit looking at it (Oy, now definitely I'm leaving you two alone!).

You can get some really interesting effects from the sculpt just by playing around with the lighting a little.

With a little help from Photoshop you can even simulate Superman's heat vision. 

So how much did this figure set me back? I'm not tellin.' It was pricey, and that's all I'm gonna say. I'm not being coy, it's just that people already look at me funny when they find out I collect action figures, so I can only imagine the looks I'd get if I went around announcing how much I paid for this one (Oy, very perceptive, this one is). 

Would I ever buy another Hot Toys figure? I'd like to, but barring winning the lottery, which I don't play because I believe I have the same chance of winning whether I buy a ticket or not, I probably won't get another. I'm definitely glad I bought this one though.


  1. te felicito mi amigo soy de mexico y con tus buenos comentarios de esta figura me comprare una igual
    te mando un abrazo mi estimado bob se feliz por siempre!!!

  2. What a fantastic, in-depth review!

    You've covered everything superbly and have complemented your word with some fantastic pictures.

    Whilst Christopher Reeve will never be bettered in my opinion (was his selection as Superman, the greatest piece of casting of all time); I must admit to enjoying M.O.S. and it's different approach. It did miss some levity & chemistry; but these could follow in the sequels now that Superman knows his purpose and has found his connection in LL.

    Everyone slates the destruction in the final third; but let's not forget that Metropolis was mostly destroyed/evacuated by the time Superman gets there. Also, he had to stop Zod at all costs, & if that meant sacrificing thousands of lives to save billions then so be it.

    Initially I didn't like the new costume, but now I quite like it: it looks a lot more sturdy. I didn't like how he got it in the film-it was too convenient (perfect fit, a suit that looks different to all the different Kryptonian outfits, that just happens to be on a scout ship sent to earth).

    Apologies for the digression, & thanks once again for the outstanding-entertaining review.


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