I was perusing the inter web the other day and out of the corner of my screen I spotted a familiar favorite that just seemed a little different. For the supposed condition of it I could have overlooked it but something called me in to take a closer look.
Something was out of place from what I was accustomed and I couldn't put my finger on it immediately but I knew that something was very different. Lex was in a black suit first of all, which I new to not be correct but I wrote it off as some sort of custom job. Something else wasn't right about the packaging but still I couldn't readily identify it. I watched the item for a couple of days but no one seemed interested in it, partially due to its odd description:
"Package has the original front, the back has been replaced by a sheet of white card stock. The plastic bubble has been stapled to re-attach it. The figure is in good condition. Package shows some wear. No 4408. Fully Poseable Figure. With Action Feature. Button Activated Power Punch. Great to add to a Collection, Display, Use or Give as a Gift!"
So after a couple days, I went for it. At $5 plus shipping I really had nothing to lose so I dropped the hammer and had it sent out immediately. It arrived within 2 days which was simply nice but once I got the first look at it in person I knew something was VERY different about my new little friend, something VERY familiar:
So the first thing I noticed was this head. At first I told myself, "Wow, this is a craftily repainted model, but why black?" Then I started to really look at the face and the hands and something really stood out to me. This was not the production model head that we received in the final figure. I started looking on the web at some of the package shots and what I saw was VERY familiar indeed. And on top of that, my little friend here lacked any mechanical set up for his Villainous Head Smacking action… No Lever!!!
This head was definitely an identical sculpt to the one used on the photo model but not the production model. Very cool... so I started to examine the figure a little closer and noticed a few other things that should have stuck out immediately. This figure had no molding seams!! This figure was an original sculpt if not a VERY early copy showing no reproduction lines from factory casting. Upon closer inspection, this figure didnt even seem to be plastic!, possibly even carved out of wood? "WTF am I holding?"
There was an obvious refinement to the sculpt itself. Though there were still signs of workmanship, the way everything fit together was just so much tighter and cleaner. The hand of course was not originally sculpted to hold a breif case or gun, The left hand showed no sign of a sculpted ring BUT it did have a much more delicate sculpt that looks much nicer than the ham fist we got on the official release. A lot of the messier details we saw in the official release seem to have a lot to do with the quality/cost of their molds. The production run of Lex Luthor has a much more bulbous head with less "undercuts" which can wreak havoc in the casting process. I imagine the hands also fell to a similar fate once the final model was established.
Next I looked at the packaging. There were some clear differences right off the bat. First was the hand drawn DC Super Heroes logo which had been drawn, hand colored, cut out and then photocopied in place ontop of the color halftone background. The Power Punch burst was slightly out of place. The corners were square cut, not the retail friendly radius corners. The product code was that of Bob the Goon from the Batman figure line (research). The hanging mechanism was a "J" hook and not the typical rack punch style. Everything was wrong and this was starting to look like a very legitimate early rough proof and I was starting to become really intrigued.
The bubble itself was an unsealed square cut bubble. Though the outer shell had the trademarks of the running toybiz line the base was not cut to a radius as they were in production. Also the inner tray, which was a perfect fit for the outer blister, was fitted for a Super Powers Aquaman... peculiar, no space for his trident...
Well, there it is, my mysteriously sourced toy. I have reached out to a couple folks who I feel could possibly help me track down this figure's ultimate source besides simply being an early proof/prototype but have not heard anything yet...
Some things that I DO know from my own understanding being familiar with the line from my childhood definitely point my hopes towards some very interesting facts relating to this particular figure.
• ToyBiz bought the rights to get in on the Batman franchise creating a small 3 figure line of figures of characters from Batman the Movie starring Michael Keaton.
• The line itself was made to directly take off from the popularity of the Kenner made Super Powers line.
• Many of the figures from the line were near matches to their Kenner counterparts
• The photos used internally to sell the line to DC were largely of Kenner figures used as either direct models OR repainted to stand as new characters to be in the line.
• Lex Luthor was the most unique figure in the first pitch of 8 figures from the DC Super Heroes line
• The Riddler was a new addition to the line-up though his early product photos as well as the production release were essentially a repainted Flash.
• The line did later include versions of The Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Two-Face, all with original sculpts as well as all new sculpts featured in their product photography.
I welcome any tips or information on the ultimate source of origin for this figure.
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