Batman fights crime with a utility belt full of high tech devices and weapons, and he also drives a Batmobile and a Batboat, and even flies a Batplane. All of those wonderful toys can and has been duplicated in multiple formats from cheap, child-centered playthings to highly detailed replicas marketed to adult collectors. One peek at eBay and you can see how Batman the character has been a merchandising bonanza for many years. However, Superman doesn’t really need any of that stuff, so the opportunities to sell Superman gear are more limited.
One effort to expand the possible merchandising of Superman was the invention of the Supermobile, which first appeared in Action Comics #481, cover dated March of 1978. In that story, Superman unveiled the Supermobile after temporarily losing his powers due to exposure to red solar radiation bombarding Earth. Using the Supermobile, which was constructed to be able to duplicate all of Superman’s powers, he was able to travel to the very near future and regain them. One of the more ridiculous aspects of the Supermobile, aside from the giant punching fists, is that it’s made of an element called Supermanium, which is so strong that it can only be molded by Superman’s great strength.
The Supermobile never really caught on, both in a story sense and in a merchandising sense. Mettoy Co. Ltd. of the U.K. released a two different die-cast sizes of Supermobile as part of its Corgi brand; one was in larger scale and the one shown below, sold in their Corgi Junior line, was about 3″ long and the size of a traditional Matchbox car. Corgi Junior Supermobiles aren’t difficult to find at all, especially if you want a loose one… they must have sold pretty well because there are still plenty of them around even 30 years later.
Even the carded ones aren’t too tough to find. The Corgi Junior Supermobile was offered in several different packaging variations, including one with a flying Superman on the card and a white background dated 1978, and another with the same Superman, but on an orange background and a logo with circles around it, also dated 1978. The card shown below is dated 1979 and features a slightly redrawn Action #381 cover (which, by the way, was drawn by comics great José Luis García-López).
Here’s one ad for the Corgi Junior Superman line that appeared on the inside front cover of Superman 343, cover dated January, 1980. It shows some of the other Corgi Junior vehicles with a Superman theme, including a hilarious Daily Planet truck that inexplicably features an ad for an issue of the Planet that has a big photo Clark Kent changing into Superman.
Special thanks to Rick D. for selling this one to me at a great price.