At the San Diego Comicon in 2009, Mattel announced the release of their Superman: The Movie Movie Masters action figure line to be sold exclusively through their web site Mattycollector.com. The three figures in the series were produced in 12″ scale with removable Mego-like cloth outfits and were arguably the first action figures sculpted with the likenesses from the classic Superman movie series, so it generated a lot of excited buzz among collectors who never had a Christopher Reeve Superman action figure before. (Mego’s 12″ Superman line had some very basic resemblance to the actors, but their costumes were more like Silver Age comic versions, and the “Reeve Superman” looked nothing like him.)
The first of the series was General Zod, who went on sale on December 15, 2009 at an original issue price of $60. Like all three figures in the series, Zod was released in a plain white outer carton which held a full color box with imagery from the Superman films. In Zod’s case, the background is the Oval Office, which looks fantastic on display.
The figure is pretty good… its likeness is obviously Terrence Stamp as Zod, but it’s also a little bit distorted almost like a caricature. The biggest flaw is the shiny red vinyl material on the costume. Though it is technically correct that it’s red, the red Mattel used is not dark enough; they would have been better off going with black.
On the left side of the box is a slide-out tray with the characters accessories. Zod comes with extra sets of hands as well as a figure stand and two guns: a “red hot” shotgun and a bent machine gun.
The second figure in the series was the most anticipated: Christopher Reeve as Superman. It was initially offered for sale on December 15, 2010 for $60. Superman comes with a few sets of hands, a stand, a couple of Kryptonian crystals, and the crystal control panel from the Fortress of Solitude.
This is a neat figure worth owning, because it’s the first licensed Superman action figure done in Christopher Reeve’s likeness. The costume is nice, but the sculpt is just a hair off and the skin tone is a little too yellow. Not too bad even for the initial price of $60, but it really pales in comparison to the later Hot Toys release (as it should, when that one was $200).
The last of the three Superman Movie Masters from Matty Collector was Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, which was released on April 15, 2011 at a price of $60. Lex comes with a stand, several different removable molded plastic wigs that fit over his bald head, a few sets of hands, and a piece of Kryptonite on a chain. The suit is nice, but the buttons are ridiculously out of scale.
Ultimately, these figures feel a lot like a missed opportunity. They aren’t terrible by any stretch, but, as the first Superman: The Movie figures that actually looked like the actors and wore movie-accurate costumes, they should have been spectacular and they aren’t. As a result, they didn’t sell in huge quantities. While I’m not really a prognosticator, I really doubt there will ever be another 12″ Superman: The Movie Lex Luthor.
Even though Matty Collector claimed sellouts for both Zod and Superman through their web site, they eventually offered all three Superman: The Movie figures at a discount through their site and as part of a blind “grab bag”-style bundles. Finally, in 2012, the remaining Superman: The Movie figures, along with several other Matty Collector releases, were dumped to the PA-based salvage chain Ollie’s Bargain Outlet. Ollie’s sold the three Superman movie figures at $29.99, half the original Matty Collector price, and eventually cleared them out at $14.99 in the spring of 2013.