It’s no secret around these parts that I’m a Super Powers collector. I have a complete loose collection and a (near) complete carded collection. But, I can’t just stop with the 33 figures in the line. For the past 3 years I have been buying Super Powers customs. Mostly loose, but I LOVE to find custom SP figures on custom SP cards.
Several months ago a series of …figures started to show up on Ebay by multiple sellers. They were being billed by the sellers as "the lost wave" of Super Powers figures and were "discovered overseas." They said they were manufactured by a company called "Industrial Toy Werks" out of Kazakhstan (which as you recall is where the character Borat is from).
Collectors took notice of these and threads started popping up on several message boards, including ours, asking about the origin of these figures. This has been fairly baffling as the different sellers all have a different story about where they came from and how they came to own them, that and the fact that there are a LOT of them. There are some characters I’ve seen listed (and usually sell) as many as 20 times.
So what are these? Are they customs? Are they bootlegs? Were they manufactured in mass? How many were made, who did it and why? I still don’t have all of those answers but after having one in my collection I can make some educated guesses.
I knew that most of the figures would not look great close up, but the cards seem to look nice. The main issue was that they were a bit too pricey for what they were. Most ranged from $50-$100 with their starting bids and their "Buy It Nows." There were a few loose ones that showed up that were just a figure and a card with no bubble,but those didn’t really fit into what I collected.
Then, a Mirror Master showed up on Ebay a few weeks back for a decent price because the bubble was separating from the card, so I went for it, I took one for the team, wanted some answers, I bit on it and I won the auction. There was a little bit of back and forth with the seller after the auction closed. They wanted to make sure I knew that the bubble was really separating and that it might even be worse than the auction described… so they offered to throw in some freebies. My carded Mirror Master arrived with a Batman McDonald’s toy, and old Superman comic from the 90′s and a loose Super Powers Kalibak (no weapon but great paint and tight joints, even better than the loose sample in my collection, so I swapped him out.)
Here is the carded carded Mirror Master I received:
He was quite easy to slip out of the bubble:
Let’s look at the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of this figure.
It has a die-cut hanger tab (unpunched), the real deal, it’s not just drawn on.
It mentions the magnetic parts here in the card text and that you can mix and match parts. That is not true. More on that and the construction of the figure below.
It has a biography card on the back in the same font and format as the real cards:
Here is the list of characters shown on the back supposedly made for this line/wave:
Of the figures shown above I have yet to see a listing or image for Blue Beetle, Gleek, Booster Gold, Apache Chief, Wendy, Marvin or Wonder Dog. All of the others have been sold several times with the rarest seeming to be Jayna of the Wonder Twins. You can see carded images of them later in this article.
Another thing to note is that none of the Shazams or Supergirls that have shown up and sold have capes attached to the figure or included with them.
Shazam is an interesting inclusion in this series since he was in the actual Super Powers 3rd wave line up, but I suppose that Black Adam was made from the same parts so it was an easy repaint/inclusion in the line.
The Riddler appears to also be a mash up of the Flash/Shazam parts, not a reuse of Green Lantern like the Super Amigos bootleg Riddler.
Of course the strangest inclusion in the line is Bruce Lee as "The Dragon."
The other items mentioned on the card back are the two "play environments." Neither of these have ever surfaced on Ebay either.
The final note of interest on the cards is the inclusion of this wording:
On the standard figure this text reads: Contents: One toy figure ("one mini comic book" is also included on wave 1 and 2 figures).
Also at the top of the regular cards the text reads: AGES 4 AND UP
Where as on these the text reads: AGES 18 AND UP; THIS IS NOT A TOY
This clearly puts these into the category of Customs and Bootlegs and not a legitimate "lost wave" as some of the sellers would have buyers believe. We know what the REAL lost 4th wave would have been.
The Bad…here is Mirror Master loose. As you can see he is based off of the Flash body, with Shazam’s arms and Doctor Fate’s legs. He still has the lightning bolt belt that’s just been painted over. The head sculpt looks to be all new probably an original sculpt judging by it’s large size and one solid piece with no neck articulation.
The figure cast in solid resin so he has more weight to him than a standard SP figure. He doesn’t have any action feature and there’s NO magnetic parts as mentioned on the card.
The UGLY…WHOAH! Now that’s a face only a mother could love! As you can see in this closeup the paint is not the strong point. The eyes are just vague, crooked black dots, and the lips are just a smudge.
It also looks like there was a sculpting glitch on his "bib" where whatever they used to sculpt it flipped up a bit when they let it dry and it stayed that way.
Because of the limitations of the material used the legs are REALLY loose, floppy even. It is possible to get him to stand when finding his center of gravity, but make sure nothing bumps the shelf he’s standing on.
In this picture below you can clearly see how wide a gap there is between the hip and the pelvis.
Another interesting thing to note is that there are no peg holes in the feet like all Kenner figures of this time had.
In my Custom Super Powers buying frenzy of the past year I actually ended up with two different Mirror Masters customs by two different custom artists. This one is also based on the Flash body:
As you can see the custom on the left is much more accurate in color, costume and accessories. That was part of my inspiration in buying this was since the bubble was separated from the card, I knew I could do this switchero and have a much cooler carded Mirror Master in my Super Powers collection.
Here are some of the other figures available from this series:
I still don’t know who made these or how many are out there, but hopefully after reading this you can answer for yourself "are they worth it?’
I wouldn’t mind picking up Captain Atom, Black Adam, Classic Brainiac and maybe Supergirl for my collection IF I found them cheep enough. With the cards as nice as they are there’s enough of a novelty factor in them for me to be interested. And, I can always try to do another switchero with a better custom.
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