No matter how long an action figure line may run, there are always a few more characters that could have been produced that end up haunting collectors for years to come. Here are my picks for most tragically truncated DC Comics action figure lines:
MEGO’S WORLD’S GREATEST HEROES
Let’s start with the granddaddy of my youth. These were the figures (and playsets) that I wanted every Christmas for years when I was but a tot. Eight-inch highly articulated figures with cloth and plastic character-accurate costumes, the Mego Corp era set a high bar for my collecting fever - but there were a few mainstream characters that were never produced: Green Lantern, Flash and Lex Luthor, to name a few. While Mattel did a nice homage series some years later (Retro-Action Heroes) and Figures Toy company currently produces a massive line of World’s Greatest continuations, that didn’t help way back then. Mego shuttered its doors far too early for the tastes of a boy of eight.
THE SUPER POWERS COLLECTION
Super Powers was a major marketing push that included comics and cartoons in the mid-80’s, but the highlight was Kenner’s line of Super Powers action figures. Working from designs by legendary DC artist Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, these 5-inch scale figures each had their own action features (you’d squeeze Flash’s arms and he would ‘run,’ for instance) and came with a mini-comic in each package. The line of vehicles and a Hall of Justice playset only added to this line’s brilliance. However, after thirty-some figures and only three waves, it was cancelled even though they’d barely scratched the surface of the character pool. In recent years, plans for a fourth wave with John Stewart, Man-Bat and Blue Devil have surfaced, but such figures were relegated to pipe dream status when Super Powers ceased production.
THE MAN OF STEEL
Batman always seemed to have the upper hand during the Hasbro era when it came to action figure lines. Sure, he had the movies and the animated series - but I was always dying for more Superman. And they gave it to me with the all-too short-lived Man of Steel line, which focused on the era shortly after his death. With strange choices like Conduit, Massacre and King Shark, it always seemed inevitable that they’d make a Supergirl or a Bizarro to expand the roster. But it was never to be.
Likewise, Hasbro’s mid-90’s attempt to create more ‘extreme’ versions of DC characters ended far too quickly for this collector’s tastes, despite awesome sculpts of characters like the Huntress, the Peter David-era Aquaman and the first-ever Hal Jordan/Parallax. But even a few exclusive figures available through this new thing called ‘the internet’ (like Blue Beetle and Dr Polaris) just weren’t enough to round out a roster that sported less than two dozen DC characters.
Most recently, DC Collectibles decided to cancel their DC Icons line. This was an awful blow, as they had finally discovered the perfect balance of articulation, sculpt and character selection (for my tastes at least). Though more than a half dozen new Icons figures were teased at Toy Fair a few years ago, DCC opted to pull the plug after the magnificent Superman/Doomsday two-pack in order to start a new line of slightly larger (and cheaper) figures with DC Essentials. C’est la vie.
Action figure tragedies, to be sure.
Anything missing from your collection?