Make It So: Super7 ReAction Super Powers by Jerry Whitworth
The 1980s was the golden age of the toy industry. The likes of G.I. Joe, Transformers, and the Masters of the Universe grew to become multi-billion dollar industries. One of the lesser known yet financially successful brands that has endured to today is Super Powers. Featuring the characters of DC Comics rendered in plastic masterfully crafted by the sculptors at Kenner, Super Powers acquired its name from the mechanical motion the action figures produced from squeezing hidden trigger levers. Initially releasing an impressive twelve figures in its first wave in 1984 including Superman, Batman, Robin, Joker, Lex Luthor, and Wonder Woman, Super Powers grew to produce 34 figures, eight vehicles, and one playset over the span of three years. Crashing alongside the rest of the action figure market in 1986, toy historian Jason “Toy Otter” Geyer uncovered a myriad of figures that were in the pipeline including a sub-line known as Power Plus. In the years since, the brand has consistently re-emerged time and again, notably in maquettes from Sideshow/Tweeterhead, statues from Kotobukiya, and action figures from Figures Toy Company and Mattel within the last decade. With this in mind, the time is ripe for Super7 to tackle Super Powers for its ReAction line.
Since 2013, Super7 has produced the 3 3/4” ReAction line. Adapting the likes of Alien, Predator, Terminator, Universal Monsters, Masters of the Universe, Arrowverse, Star Trek, Street Fighter, Planet of the Apes, Robocop, ThunderCats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and G.I. Joe, ReAction borrows heavily from Kenner’s initial line of Star Wars action figures in design. Produced at an affordable price point as opposed to their premium Ultimates and Super Cyborg lines, ReAction features limited articulation and an artistic expression catered to a simplicity of design. DC Comics previously developed a similar line at 3 1/4” scale beginning in 2001 called Pocket Super Heroes through its DC Direct though their influence was more around Mego’s Pocket Super Heroes, Playmobil figures, and MediCom Kubrick figures (which inspired the popular Minimates line from Art Asylum). Lets see what a ReAction Super Powers line could entail.
When Super Powers debuted, DC’s most popular heroes were rendered in their classic likenesses from the late-Silver Age to early-Bronze Age while villains like Lex Luthor and Brainiac were re-designed to be more visually appealing as a toy (Brainiac turned into a chrome skeleton in place of his classic bald green humanoid in a purple tunic). Many of DC’s most iconic heroes made it to the line though noticeable absent were much of its heroines like Batgirl, Supergirl, Lois Lane, Black Canary, Mera, Hawkwoman, Zatanna, Wonder Girl, Mary Marvel, Starfire, and Raven due to the belief boys (or their fathers) wouldn’t want female characters. Likewise, villainesses like Catwoman, Cheetah, Poison Ivy, Giganta, Star Sapphire, Killer Frost, and the Female Furies didn’t emerge. To a similar idea, people of color didn’t make it into the series until its final wave. Kenner seemed as though it was going to continue to amend that over sight with an El Dorado prototype made with an eye to Green Lantern John Stewart, Black Vulcan, and Black Racer to come. With this in mind, many of these characters would have to be on the radar if Super7 produced a Super Powers ReAction line. Noted several times, the future of Kenner’s run with the toys was expansive.
With a Super7 Super Powers ReAction line, the original 34 have to be on the table as well as the figures Kenner wanted to make like Man-Bat, El Dorado, Quadrex, Shockwave, and Silicon which went so far as having prototypes (not to mention the Power Plus toys). Kenner pushed toward making Super Friends original characters as well as their own including Rocketman, Executioner, and Howitzer. Other iconic heroes like the Atom, Black Lightning, Swamp Thing, Metamorpho, and Blue Beetle and non-primarily Justice League associated characters like those from the Teen Titans, Justice Society of America, Legion of Super-Heroes, New Gods, Green Lantern Corps, and Marvel Family would be high on the list. Further, the villains of the Super Powers line were primarily New Gods with a handful of Batman and Superman foes. A ReAction series would have to expand such with rogues like the Riddler, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Ra’s al Ghul, Clayface, Croc, General Zod, Toyman, Parasite, and the Kryptonite Man as well as the enemies of the other aforementioned heroes. Of course, while this focus is on characters of that time period, Super7 would be free to bring more modern entities into its fold. With production of a Clark Kent figure, other heroes’ secret identities would also be looked toward with Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, and Billy Batson being prime targets. This, of course, opens the door for supporting characters as Alfred Pennyworth, Jimmy Olsen, Steve Trevor, and Tawky Tawny to be immortalized in the series.