Thursday, March 1, 2018

Kenner Super Powers Collection

In 1984, facing the real possibility that Return of the Jedi would be the last ever Star Wars movie and with Mattel's Masters of the Universe and Hasbro's G.I. Joe figure lines breathing down their necks, Kenner was looking at a future without a franchise.

Deciding to go for the DC Comics brand of Super-Heroes, Kenner won the license away from Mego to begin production of the Super Powers Collection, one of the, if not the, best lines of 4.5 inch Super-hero action figures ever made! Along with the figures, there were also vehicles and playsets, such as the Batmobile and the Hall of Justice, produced. Unfortunately, the line would last for only 3 waves and was cancelled in 1986.

Drawing heavily on José Luis García-López's artwork from the 1982 DC Style guide, Kenner was able to keep the line true to the comics and cartoons they designed after. Jack Kirby himself was brought in to apply re-designs to his Fourth World characters of Darkseid and the New Gods. This enabled Kirby to actually earn royalties on the figures produced! George Pérez was similarly employed for Cyborg and Lex Luthor.

Hanna-Barbera produced two animated series coinciding with the line, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show followed by Super Powers: Galactic Guardians the next year. DC Comics produced three comic book mini-series in support of the Super Powers line aimed at kids who bought the figures, but weren't familiar with the comics they were based on.

The figures in this line all have a standard of seven points of articulation including the neck, shoulders, groin, and knees. Each Super Powers figure stands between four and five inches high and each features an individual power action feature giving the line its name. Most importantly, Kenner successfully hid the trigger mechanisms inside of each figure, so as not to interfere with the anatomy by having awkward knobs or switches.
Series 1 of the Super Powers figures from Kenner was released in 1984. This first series included eight DC Super-Heroes and four DC Comics Super-Villains. The SUPER POWERS Series 1 action figures were as follows: Aquaman with deep sea kick and trident; Batman with removable cape and Bat Punch; Brainiac with computer kick action; Superman with removable cape and action punch; Wonder Woman with lasso and deflector bracelets; The Joker with Madcap Mallet; Hawkman with mace and removable flight wings; Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) with lantern and ring thrust action; The Flash with lightening legs; Lex Luthor with removable chest plate and nuclear punch; Robin the Boy Wonder (Dick Grayson) with removable cape and karate chop action; and finally The Penguin with umbrella, removable coattails, and umbrella action.

With the second wave, the world of Jack Kirby's "Fourth World" joined the collection with Darkseid, Kalabak, DeSaad, Parademon, Orion, Mister Miracle, and a mail-order only Steppenwolf. The line up also featured Dr. Fate, Green Arrow, Firestorm, Red Tornado, and the Martian Manhunter.

Finally the third wave brought Cyborg, Captain Marvel, and Plastic Man along with a mail-order Clark Kent figure. Also in the line-up was Super Friends character Samurai and two characters specially created for the line by Kenner: Cyclotron and Golden Pharaoh. On the Super-villains side there was Mr. Freeze and oddly enough Tyr from the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 30th Century!


  1. Been looking at getting a couple of these figures, but still seem to teeter on the fence. Not sure if I want to dive in or run away.

    1. I remember when the line came out and I have a special place in my heart for them... but the Super Powers collection really was a cool toy line, well made and looked just like their comic/cartoon counterparts plus they had a play factor that modern collector figures just don't have. Stay tuned, I have more Super Powers goodies up my sleeve!


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