With more than seventy-five years of merchandising, there have been some very strange interpretations of Superman
“Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman! Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.” Those abilities would clearly include having some of the best toys, and some of the most unusual toys.
With a DC Comics character that is over seventy-five years old, and whose symbol may be one of the most recognizable symbols on the planet, there are bound to be some missteps in his merchandising and some ummm, shall we say interesting bootlegs? With this article I am going to try to stick to the officially licensed Superman toys, but there are going to be a few of those bootlegs, because they are just that unusual.
There are a few things ingrained into the social unconsciousness of the general public about Superman, like his powers. I am sure somewhere you have heard this “Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Some of the most unusual toys tied to Superman actually play off these powers in some interesting ways.
I guess back in 1985 “faster than a speeding bullet” meant the Super Powers Collection Justice Jogger. This “overland villain chaser” with “power stepping action” looks like the love child of a drunken one-nighter between a Star Wars Scout Walker and an old beauty salon hair-drying chair. Just look at the packaging. Even Superman looks embarrassed sitting in this thing. I mean why in the world would a man who has raced the Flash and kept up with him decide to chase a villain in this monstrosity? Wonder Woman even looks embarrassed for him.
Speaking of Wonder Woman’s shame, she joins Superman in another vehicle combo that leaves no doubt regarding her embarrassment. Here she even donned a bad orange/red wig to hide her shame as she rode in the sidecar of the Superman Wonder Woman Motorcycle Battery Opperated with Flash Light. No, that’s not a typo. That is what is on the box you see below. While this is an unusual Superman toy, I think it would make a great cosplay today.
When we consider “more powerful than a locomotive”, I admit I would never have considered Superman and Thomas the Train as separated at birth, but apparently DC has. The Thomas and Friends Super Friends Minis collection served up a set of mini trains where the faces of Thomas and his friends are replaced with those of known DC Comics characters. Alongside Superman (bottom left) are Batman, Robin, Lex Luther, The Riddler, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and many more making for an interesting little locomotive collection.
“Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound” was never more clearly represented than with the Superman Super Hopper Pogo Stick. This may be one of the best worst ideas for a Superman toy, but in 1977 Master Juvenile Products put it out celebrating the Man of Steel. This was a basic pogo stick with a weird bust of Superman mounted on it. I love this toy because it just reminds us that child safety was not a big concerned back when I was growing up.
I know when you hear “Justice League Hydro Heroes”, you think of Aquaman right? Not if you consider the fact that we’re discussing “Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers” and you in charge of merchandising. In that case you clearly slap an “S” on it and move it to market. I think the most unusual part of this is the branding. Since it is a Justice League toy, why not just use Aquaman the hydro hero of the League (or at least use him in a set)? Once again the King of the Seven Seas gets no respect.
Super Duckie, you’re the one, you make bath time lots of fun, Super Duckie, I’m awfully fond of you. Yeah, I can just see Ernie singing that while playing with the Superman Bath Duck from Paladone.
But the Superwater fun doesn’t end there, over the years Superman has had many water guns, some using him as a pistol and others using the “S” Shield as a focal point to it. But I am pleased to say he never had a water gun as demeaning as Batman presented here