A Couple of “Super” Powers Holy Grails
January 5, 2009

I’ve basically been collecting toys my whole life.  There was maybe an 8 month break my senior year in High School that I stopped buying stuff… but I still HAD all my Star Wars, Shogun Warriors and Transformers out on display for any and all to see.   I started college in 89′ right after the Keaton/Burton Batman movie. Shortly after that came Batman: The Animated Series (which I got the big, complete boxed set for Christmas, thanks mom and dad!)and when Hasbro started releasing that line I was back in the collecting game! 

It was around that time, that my buddy Doug (my mentor, best friend and a BIG Silver Age fan) told me about a toy line that he had been shown by another guy, some DC Comics figures from a line called "Super Powers" that had just ended a few years back.  The coolest thing for me was that there was a Dr. Fate figure in the line and I had just finished reading the J.M. Dematis run on that title.  I could never imagine a figure being made of that character!  Doug lived in my home town and I was 2 hours away in my college town, but every chance we had, we got together and went to flea markets, little stores and toy shows looking for Super Powers figures. 

This was in the days BEFORE the Internet  (can you kids even imagine?)  so we got all of our information from magazines like Tomart’s Action Figure Digest and Lee’s Action Figure News and Toy Review,and "the Ebay, before there was an Ebay" – a bi-weekly newspaper called "Toy Shop" and THAT’s where everyone sold their action figures. They put an ad in Toy Shop.

Long around 1993 Doug (and Toy Shop) introduced me to a new concept in collecting that I had never heard of or considered before- Custom Action figures. Doug mailed me (snail mailed me, mind you!) an ad torn out of Toy Shop for a guy named Scott Fleming and his "Scooter’s Custom Works"  This guy made custom Super Powers figures and carded them and called them "Extra Powers."  See that ad over there to the right?  That’s the exact ad Doug mailed me.  I still have it.

In the ad it said that if you sent a couple of bucks to "Scooter’s Custom Works" he would send you a color catalog of his work.  Doug sent away for a catalog.  A scan of some of those pages are below.

 

 

We found out that these started at about $40 a piece.  For a poor college student without a job in 1993 that was WAY too much money to spend on an action figure.  But I kept all the ads and scans and I LUSTED after these!   I really wanted the Sandman or the Animal Man "Extra Powers" because those books were in their heyday then.  But I also really dug the Batgirl and Catwoman ones because they seemed like they SHOULD have been in the Super Powers line.

Over the years I have been in touch with Scott from Scooter’s Custom Works and became friends with him because of my toy writings on the Internet.  At one point he was even going to revive the Extra Powers line and write an ongoing article about customizing for use at AFI, but life got in the way and that never got off the ground.

Scott has a website where he details the history of his Extra Powers line and the rules he followed to make them.  It’s well worth a read to discover this page of toy history.  It’s a little outdated (it was all written in 2005) and he refers to me twice as "Julius Schwartz" (who was the big silver age editor for DC Comics) but it’s still a great read on the how and why he did this line of customs.

As you can see from Scott’s  "history of the line",  in the day before the Internet Scott’s customs were responsible for a lot of confusion about the Super Powers line.  People thought they were prototypes, or bootlegs or any number of other possibilities. So it was not that surprising to me back in November when these two figures showed up on Ebay that they were listed as "maybe Mexican?" the seller speculated at their origin.  But I knew what they were. I wrote to him, told him they were in fact customs and made him an offer.  He accepted and now, 16 years later and a lot of pining, I have two carded "Extra Powers" figures in my collection.  

 

 

The cards are partially hand drawn/colored and cut and pasted using 1991 era color copier technology.  The bubbles are real Super Powers bubbles.  The backs of the cards are all black, but signed and dated by Scott.

I own customs by a lot of the "greats";  the big names like Iron Cow, Airmax, Double Dealer, Casimr, and others.  So, I’m honored to add these samples from the "grand daddy" of customizers to my carded Super Powers collection.

 

Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com. Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com, Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.

 

 

 

16 Comments »

  • Casimir says:

    Scott is a talent and a gentlemen. Congratulations on the rare find and excellent addition to your collection, sir. Have you informed Scott these turned up? I’m sure he’d be amused.

  • [...] Powers. [via] “In 1989 I had customized the few first Extra Powers (EP) figures … About half the [...]

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    Saw ‘em. Passed on ‘em. Glad you won ‘em, tho! Had no idea they were from back in the day…thought it was some new guy’s customs since they tend to pop up from time to time.

    Peace,

    Chip

  • Danny CantinaDan says:

    Great blog. Thanks, JM. Congrats on the new acquisitions. Props to Scott for doing those cards by hand before the days of computer graphics applications!

  • The Superfly says:

    oh man! this totally brings back memories…I remember these exact ads in Toy Shop back in the day, and thought they were awesome as well. Great stuff!!

  • Great White says:

    WOW! Number one…we’re about the same age…so I remember those wonderful publications with great fondness!! and number two… I also lusted after these figures and actually had a Banshee made back in 1993! I no longer have that figure but man it was SWEET!This guys work got me motivated to make my own figures and supplies were SO limited back then! Great find and a nice piece of nostalgia!

  • Newton says:

    Amazing work for that time. The price and detail aren’t bad at all in hindsight.

  • Jason Geyer says:

    I, too, was perplexed the first time I saw Scot’s work in Toy Shop.

    I had never seen custom cards before, so I knew they weren’t legit, but still couldn’t figure out where they came from.

    I was already doing customs myself then, however, having first discovered them from a Federal Judge who ran a comic shop in Corpus Christi, TX.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    I remember these. Cool stuff. I started collecting with the Super Powers line, but only bought about 1/2 of them. I later used Toy Shop to acquire many of the ones I was unable to get from flea markets. Good memories.

  • Hourman says:

    I have very mixed feelings about Scooter’s Custom Works and Scott Flemming. On the positive side, I remember my eyes bugging out and turning green with envy seeing his brochure and the great looking work he did. I also remember being disappointed after sending him a mint Mego Batman in trade for a figure and then never hearing from him again. And finally, I remember reading some of his posts on th old Toybuzz message board and thinking he was a royal jerk, particularly when he once replied to a post with which he disagreed with the classy response “Eat me”.
    So yeah, mixed feelings.

  • Scot Fleming says:

    First off – let me say thanks to the folks that remember and spoke up positively about my work. As I just wrote to JM about – It is painfully embarrassing to see some of one’s earliest work presented. I am sure that people used to Casimir’s and Iron Cow’s recent offerings would cringe at the thought of paying money for those figures of mine now. As would I. But as was pointed out – this was a while ago and not only did we have less resources and materials at our disposal, there was no internet to speak of to find more. I can honestly say that my work improved even during the time when I was making these and that came, like everything else good, from practice, and experience. Nothing helped my work more than doing them every day for 3 years.

    On the eating humble pie front – I have to apologize to hourman (and many others) whom I offended with my attitude and/or words some time ago. It certainly isn’t something I can defend or refute. There were long periods of time when “royal jerk” would have been an upgrade. I have been through a lot of life-changing experiences in the last decade and hope I am a better person for it. Feel free to drop me a line for a more in depth apology.

    I still do custom work of a different, less license-infringing variety at http://www.pimpmybatmobile.com where many of us are trying to improve upon Hot Wheels’ Batmobile efforts. And as I told JM, the redux version of the Extra Powers line is still in very much in sight. This year I’ll be revising/relaunching the website and updating a lot of stuff so keep an eye out.

    – Scot (Scooter)

  • Toythinker says:

    Holy Moley – yeah, I was one of those guys looking through periodicals for action figures back in the early 90’s just like you. Funny, it was a time when Starting Line Ups were all the rage, and ToyBiz Marvel Super-Heroes Storm was no where to be found. I even found the last series of Super Powers for $5.00 at a LCS, but couldn’t bring myself to sepnd “that much” for them at the time. D’oh!

  • Hourman says:

    No hard feelings, Scot (and my apologies for somehow mispelling both your first and last name). Humility is a highly underrated quality, and I applaud your willingness to display it here. I’ve certainly found the last ten or so years of my own life pretty humbling, so I appreciate where you’re coming from.
    Thanks for addressing my issues and best of luck with your future endeavors. I was always admiring of your talent.

  • Doctor Loopy says:

    I am the mysterious “Doug” of whom Daniel speaks of. I thank him for his kind words about me. For awhile I think we were going to see who died with the most toys but I fear he has greatly outstripped me over the last few years.
    This certainly brought back memories and I can’t believe he kept that ad for all this time. I do rememeber fondly going down to Comic Empire weekly to get TOY SHOP just to look at what I was missing out on. I learned a lot from that and other publications of the day. It was a great time to collect..a time when you HAD to go to Toys shows and conventions to find things. How many times did I drive to Dallas or Kansas City to try and find that elusive figure. Daniel was a great part of that and i’m glad to see him continue to carry the torch for toy collecting. Thanks for the memories!

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    Great to hear about this again, guys. I was a charter subscriber to Lee’s and Tomart’s, as well as a frequent costumer of Toy Shop’s various action figure merchants back in the 90’s.

    Scot’s Extra Powers ads always amazed me. Once I saw the first one, I knew then that Super Powers would live on forever, and here we are on its 25th anniversary.

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