No one wanted to give away at the pedestrian crossing
In an earlier entry, we managed to have a look at the purchasing checklist for the ever-amazing Super Powers Collection that was produced right out of the 80's. It should be said, personally, that the Super Powers Collection is very close to my heart as I remember absolutely loving these figures when I had them.
The Super Powers Collection was obviously based on DC Comics superheroes and supervillains and was created by Kenner Products.
It was so in 1984 that DC Comics awarded the toy license of their characters to Kenner Products, following in the steps of Mattel's popular He-Man toy line. Winning the license away from Mego Corporation and Mattel, Kenner devised hidden mechanisms within the figures that would trigger an action when the figures legs or arms were squeezed. This emphasis on each figure's super power led to the naming of the line - The Super Powers Collection.
Brand from the past
When Marvel's Secret Wars toyline by Mattel came onto the retail toy scene, it was set up as direct competition for the Kenner line. These figures, similar in scale to the Super Powers Collection, introduced a competing marketing strategy between manufacturers of Marvel and DC action figures. This started the trend of Marvel and DC using competing toy manufacturers to produce their toys—a trend that continues to this day.
Superman is really this old !
Each figure in the first two series of The Super Powers Collection were also packaged with a mini-comic featuring that character's adventures.
Once the line was produced and shipping, DC Comics and Kenner went forward with a large merchandising campaign which included; DC Comics producing three comic book mini-series featuring characters from the toy-line, Hanna Barbera also produced two animated series, called Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians.
Our standards were lower when we were kids - but our imagination was better.
In all, three series of figures and accessories were released (in 1984, 1985, and 1986), but after three years of production the line collapsed. Coincidentally, Kenner's Star Wars line stopped shipping to stores the same year the Super Powers line ended.
Comic creator Jack Kirby received some of the only royalties of his long career for redesigning his characters for Kenner. Artist George Pérez also received royalties for his design of Cyborg and redesign of Lex Luthor and Brainiac. Most all other designs (and much of the packaging artwork) were based on José Luis García-López's classic DC Style Guides.
Needless to say, the collection is highly prized today. Certain figures such as Cyborg, Golden Pharaoh, and Plastic Man remain rare to this day while the Flash and Superman are easily found. Another reason the Super Powers Collection is so highly sought after is the inclusion of both popular and little-known characters throughout the line.
While the First Series featured well-known characters, the Second Series concentrated on figures from Kirby's New Gods Saga, and the Third Series mixed both DC Comics acquisitions from other companies and figures created solely for the line. Foreign cards, figures, and even characters add to the collectible appeal of the line.
Kenner's Super Powers Collection eventually released 34 figures, eight vehicles, one playset, and one carrying case.
Today, the Super Powers Collection is available from private collector-level resellers and can be found from time to time as vintage action figures. Mattel's current DC Universe Classics line draws inspiration from the Super Powers figures, with figures such as Mantis and Steppenwolf being re-cast in this line.