As some of you know, I am a certified James Robinson Starman nutjob. Loved the character of Jack Knight, loved the series and Tony Harris’ artwork and loved pretty much anything else associated with the property. Still do. I re-read all the trades on a fairly continual basis – just great, great stuff. So with apologies to Robinson and Jack’s shop, I’m borrowing the “Times Past’ phrase to share some stories from my own crazy collecting experiences. This particular Times Past tale is about a topic we all know and love – The Super Powers Collection.
1984. Masters of the Universe, G.I.Joe and Transformers was what my world revolved around. Playing with toys and watching those wonderful 30-minute animated commercials pretty much consumed my life, with a little school and eating on the side. I had a definite interest in super heroes from the beginning (I dressed as Wonder Woman at age 5, horrible story for another day) and I every once in a while would be allowed to buy comic books at the Circle K or the old bookstore that kept back issues in a big bin. That is where I discovered my first issue of the original Justice League of America comic books,number 119 with the helpless injured JLA on the cover watching earth being destroyed from space. I bought that and was hooked. The Green Lantern was my standout favorite character, along with Green Arrow, Black Canary and Red Tornado, but I loved them all. The idea of all these heroes in one story was a 9-yr-old’s idea of perfection. Many hours were spent drawing Green Lantern and his adventures, cutting them out and playing with them since there were no figures made at the time. And then I saw the commercials.
I don’t remember the specifics of the commercial for the The Super Powers Collection of action figures, but my focus was only on one thing – the Green Lantern!! I had to have it. But we couldn’t find them. We had no Toys R Us, Lionel Playworld didn’t have it and neither did the local mall shop, Toys By Roy. And as kids do, I kinda forgot about it. So one day, I’m running errands with my Dad and we make one of the usual toy runs I’ve yet again talked him into. We stopped at Smitty’s, a local grocer now long-gone from Arizona, and I proceeded to the toy aisle to peruse the latest figures – and there it was. An entire endcap of Super Powers figures! Superman, Batman, Flash, Aquaman – and Green Lantern. Somehow I convinced my Dad to purchase it, and man that was it. The coolest action figure ever. EVER! The sculpt, the pose, the little lantern, the action feature! Even today, with all the advances in technology and sculpting, this figure still remains arguably the best version of Hal Jordan in plastic. I took that thing everywhere, outside, to school, errands with my Dad, everywhere. I didn’t even need any other figures to play with, G.L. was the coolest! Of course, Superman followed soon after, and then Batman and Joker and Hawkman and the others. My folks ended up buying me the entire first series that summer, except for Wonder Woman, Brainiac and Penguin which could not be found anywhere.
That fall my family took a road trip to California. These trips meant business meetings and sales calls for my folks, but for me it meant only one thing – the legendary visits to Toys R Us! *cue music* Nothing back then or even now compares to that feeling of walking down the ginourmous aisles of the original setup of Toys R Us and seeing what seemed like every single toy in existence. Those of you who remember that know what I am talking about. It seemed like a mile long, simply amazing. We headed down to the area that contained a 10â€³ x 10â€³ spread of Super Powers figures, and looked through all of them, row after row, but could not find the three I was missing. Dejected, disappointed, we turned to leave but on the way out my Dad spotted an employee. They chatted for a minute and then the employee disappeared for a while. He was actually checking in the back, it really happened back then! The employee returned with a big smile and presented me with the elusive Wonder Woman, Brainiac and Penguin figures, all right out of the case. It was a moment of sheer joy! I can’t even imagine that happening now, things have changed so much. And it’s funny that something so simple would stick with me all this time. The employee also brought out the Hall of Justice playset, and my parents bought it all! What a horrible spoiled child I was. I had the Hall set up in the back of the infamous Country Squire the entire 8 hour ride back to AZ, and I still have all those figures today. Hard to believe it’s been over 20 years.
So, I pretty much have my parents to blame for this whole collecting thing.