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.
||Posted by Julius Marx