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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Super Powers by Kenner - 1984

sgThis is the ne plus ultra of Aquaman action figures. Part of the gorgeous Super Powers line by Kenner, Aquaman was one of the first wave (sorry) of figures, along with Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Hawkman, Luthor, Brainiac, The Joker, and Penguin. They each came with a "super power", in this case Aquaman's "deep sea kick" when you squeezed his arms. It also came with a mini-comic starring that particular hero.

The line became very popular, with kids and collectors alike, and eventually expanded into the further reaches of the DC Universe, with characters like Green Arrow, Plastic Man, Mr. Miracle (!), and the Martian Manhunter, the first time this charter JLA member received action-figure honors.

Because of their high collectability, they are very expensive to find still in the package. I only had a loose one (sans trident--horrors!), and just recently found this one, still in the package and in great shape, on ebay for a little less than my monthly car payment. This is a great figure, bright and beautiful. The price tag on the package is $1.99 (!) and from a store named Spag's. (Spag's?)

Well done, Kenner.

If you may indulge me for a moment, there's a story from my childhood that frequently comes to mind when I think of these Super Powers toys. These came around around 1984, right at the age where I was just a tad too old to still be playing with toys. And, in fact, I didn't play with these--I was such a comic book fan that I was collecting them, to keep not to play with.

Anyway, like a lot of other kids did I'm sure, I kept my comic book reading a secret in school, lest I get picked on for being such a nerd. Obviously, though, I had been spotted at Kiddie City or somewhere buying some of these, because one day at gym class, our teacher talked about breaking all the kids up into teams to play some game that undoubtedly involved beating the weaker kids into submission.

He mentioned that there would be an elimination round, and the top two teams left would be the "super powers" of teams (that term was used to describe the US and USSR at the time, so it was in the news). Anyway, one kid I knew, a little punk named Donny Brown, turned around and started sniggling at me. I was confused--Donny had picked on me before, but usually his directed his sadism towards other, even weaker targets. Why now?

And then it dawned on me--super powers. Somehow, somebody, maybe Donny on his way to mutilating an animal or something, had seen me buying them, and the jig was up. For the rest of the day, back in regular class, Donny would walk by my desk, lowly muttering "Superman!" or "Super Powers!" as he went by, filling each utterance with all the ugliness and malice he could muster. He even once or twice knocked something off my desk, or slapped me in the back of the head. Every time I looked to the teacher to see if she noticed this, she had somehow managed to be looking at the point in the room the farthest from my desk. Like a lot of other times in grade school, I felt helpless, and ashamed of my interests. I felt like a freak because I liked comic books, sci-fi, action figures.

I think if ever had a time machine, I wouldn't use it to go back in time and save JFK or buy lottery tickets with winning numbers or anything like that. I'd go and tell my early self that it's all gonna be okay. You'll stay focused, you'll go to art school, you'll make friends that share your interests. Eventually, you'll become the exact thing you wanted to be as a kid--an artist, a successful one--and you'll meet a wonderful woman who loves you for who you are, and even encourages your nerdly habits. In fact, the very Super Powers figures you're so ashamed of now, you'll end up posting on a website for the whole world to see, because you're so proud of owning them. I think it woulda made my childhood a lot easier, even with having to get over the idea of meeting my future-self, and wondering where the hell my hair went.

So, my point is, suck on it, Donny Brown.


Dixon said...

That's a wonderful story! I'm glad you shared it. I personally know that every comic book geek of a certain age has one just like it. How could we have known what treasures these Super Powers figures would become in the years to come?

rob! said...

thanks for the thumbs up. i was waffling back and forth whether to include it or not. i didnt want to sound like i was still nursing wounds, 20+ years later, since its not like that. but now that i read it over it seems to read how i wanted it to!

man, if i had kept those SP figures in their packages...i think a carded Samurai alone would probably pay off my car.

Plaidstallions said...

Egads, that's too close to home. I bought a Superpowers Flash on the way home from the ninth grade.

I accidently left the comic from the package in my school bag and it fell out during class the next day.

The kid beside me said "Dude, that stuff is for four years olds" and never mentioned it again. I was lucky that day....

Anonymous said...

I was always proud of my super powers.
I would get money walk to the toyshop and buy one. It was the 1st time heroes had their powers and weaknesses- so you could go WOW Superman VS Wonder Woman...
and the sculpts are still champion by todays standard.

I even have a tonne of customs.