By Michael Bailey
File this figure under, “Shut up and take my money!”
“The Death and Return of Superman” is the biggest Superman story that has ever been told.
No question about it.
There hasn’t been another Superman story that was not only a bestseller in multiple formats, but also brought in new readers and made headlines around the world. It also happens to be one of my personal favorite Superman stories, so I am more apt to collect the merchandise that is associated with it. This makes me a mark for things like the Return of Superman MAFEX action figure, which is one of the most comic book accurate versions of the so-called “recovery suit” that I have ever seen. It has a number of pluses and only a handful of minuses, which are detailed below.
The packaging is modest but eye catching. The front is open and allows you to not only see the figure but all the accessories and attachments that come with it. I especially like the back because they show the figure in several poses that are right out of the comics.
The attachments are neat for the most part. I’m not sure why there are two sets of fists, but the multiple hands allow for a variety of display options. The rocket boots are an inspired choice and I especially like the attachment that mimics the flames that come out as the boots allow Superman to fly. It’s a neat detail that makes the whole package more impressive than other recovery suit figures.
Another impressive feature is that this figure can stand on its own without a base. Too many articulated figures are either too top heavy or the legs and feet don’t allow the figure to stand upright without weird positioning. Not so with this figure. You can take him right out of the package and put him on a shelf.
The detailing on the figure is minimal, but at the same time the design of this costume is minimal, so there aren’t many details to get right. The S is three dimensional as opposed to being painted on the chest. The head sculpt looks like Dan Jurgens drew it. The arm bands are present and correct as well as the tips on the boots.
The figure also stands nicely on the base. The second head sculpt is nice, but not really necessary. It’s more of a “that’s neat to have as an option” than a “oh man, I just have to have a nearly snarling version of Superman”. Because the design is more Dan Jurgens inspired the hair is not…I repeat…NOT a mullet.
Did I mention that I like that they put the tips on the boots?
I know. It’s a weird thing to get hung up on. I just happen to love it.
The base allows for multiple options in terms of displaying the figure with the rocket boots, so you can have him wear just the boots or add the flame attachment and have him hover or change out the hook and use the attachment that better balances the figure at the mid-section and have him look like he’s flying.
You can see a better shot at the second hook head here. The balance on this figure is amazing. It was easy to put the figure in this position. The head doesn’t twist up at all, but it still looks good.
The various hand options are fun to play with as well. All the replaceable parts are easy to take off and put on, so you don’t have to struggle and feel like you’re about to break the figure. My favorite is the first one on the left because it looks like Superman has jazz hands and is about to break into song and considering there was a Superman musical that is on the table.
There is a second arm and hook that you can use that I assume is for better positioning to make the figure look like it’s flying. At least that is why I think it’s there. I personally think the single arm and hook works out better from a presentation standpoint but this one works as well.
There are three minor issues that I had with this figure. The first is that the head does not attach well. It stays on, but it doesn’t pop into place, so if you tip it backwards the head will fall off. Also, the pieces of the hook that holds the figure can come off easily, so if you are trying to work it into position it can come apart. Finally, there were no instructions. It seems like it should be fairly easy to put the base together, but for someone that is just getting into buying and displaying these figures a set of instructions would be helpful.
Other than that, this is an impressive figure. It is not too big, so it doesn’t take up as much room on the shelf. It is faithful to the source material and the attachments make it a fun figure to customize. I cannot recommend it enough either to fans of Superman or fans of action figures in general.
You can purchase the Superman “Return of Superman” MAFEX Action Figure from EntertainmentEarth.com.