One of the greatest debates among toy collectors is preservation vs. enjoyment… do you keep your collectible toys mint in the package and try to preserve them in that state for as long as possible or do you take your toy out of the package and play with it and enjoy it as it was intended and not care so much about preservation or possible future value? Heck, I have this debate internally with just about every toy I buy. Case in point… this awesome Transogram Flying Superman gliding figure, released in 1954.
This flying figure of Superman, standing about 12-1/2″ long from the loop over his fists to the tips of his toes, is made of (vacuformed?) hollow red plastic with blue, tan, and yellow painted details. The Superman figure launches from a launcher handle powered by a rubber band: just hold the launcher in one hand hook the figure into your rubber band, pull him back by his feet with the other hand, release, and watch Superman glide in the sky. It looks like a lot of fun, except the plastic on these is extremely stiff and brittle. I would love to try it, but my luck would be that this 60 year old toy would shatter into a million pieces as soon as I pulled back on the rubber band.
In any case, it still looks great on a shelf with the original display card. Here are some pictures of mine:
The back of the figure says, “Copr. MCMLIV National Comics Publications, Inc. Flying Superman. Made in U.S.A. Transogram Company, Inc. N Y C”
Here’s a picture of the figure and launcher on the original card. The figure that I bought came with the card, launcher with a rubber band, figure, and a longer rubber band, all loose. I don’t know for sure, but I think originally, the launcher was looped to the card with the rubber band and the figure was probably tied on with string or thread. I didn’t trust looping a rubber band through the card because of the stress on the card, so I used some elastic I had in my Mego parts bin to string the launcher and the figure to the card without putting too much tension on either.
I’ve seen a Flying Superman packaging variation with a black background, too. There are a couple on eBay right now. I don’t really know if one is more rare than the other, but I did check Harry Matetsky’s book Adventures in Superman Collecting and the example in that book has a yellow card, too. If you have an opinion on the matter, please post a comment below.
The back of the card is blank, but the instructions for launching Flying Superman are underneath the figure.
Here is a detail shot of the instructions.
Here’s hoping I stumble on a loose, cheap one to fly someday!