Kenner Super Powers vs Toy Biz DC Super Heroes: the Big Differences

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Can you tell the difference?

Can you tell the difference?

To many people out there, including avid toy collectors, it can be confusing differentiating between the Kenner Super Powers line and that of the 1989 Toy Biz DC Super Heroes Line.  And to give Toy Biz credit where credit is deserved, they did attempt (at least with some of their figures) to copy what in my humble opinion is the greatest line of action figures ever produced.  Many of the figures in the Toy Biz line at first glance are very difficult to distinguish between those of the Super Powers Collection.  The Toy Biz line started with the release of the 1989 Batman movie and the first three figures to hit stores were: Batman, Joker, and Bob the Goon.  None of these bore the familiar aesthetics to Kenner’s line (although the Batman figure does have similarities with the 1989 Estrela Batman that some have come to closely associate with the Super Powers line…to be discussed in another post).  It was later on in the year with the release of the DC Super Heroes line that we begin to see these “plastic clones” coming to fruition. The first wave from Toy Biz (excluding the separate Batman line) included their versions of: Superman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Lex Luthor, and the Riddler (with similarities to the Argentina “El Acertijo” from the Super Amigos Line).  A year later Toy Biz released a second wave which included: Flash, the Green Lantern, Hawkman, Aquaman, and Two-Face.  We will begin our comparisons with my favorite of the DC Super Heroes line: Superman.

Carded 1989 Toy Biz Superman

Carded 1989 Toy Biz Superman

Cardback for Toy Biz Superman

Cardback for Toy Biz Superman

Kenner Super Powers Superman, the real McCoy

Kenner Super Powers Superman, the real McCoy

Toy Biz Superman

Toy Biz Superman

The Kryptonite Ring

The Kryptonite Ring

I vividly recall visiting Toys R Us in 1989 and purchasing my first Toy Biz Superman, because at that time it was extremely difficult to find Super Powers on the shelves. Now I do want to make one thing clear: I am actually a fan of the Toy Biz Superman, and to some extent a few of the other figures in the Toy Biz line.  Superman is a great figure aside from a few design flaws that are very common with the entire line (for some reason, I broke the legs off of several figures at the knee, which never happened to any of my Super Powers figures). As a kid, I loved the kryptonite ring that came with him.  If you stuck it close to his chest, he shook and fell over due to the magnets inside both the figure and the ring.  However, as an eight year old two atrocities stuck out in my mind when I first opened the package:  1) nothing happens when I squeeze his legs.  2) the metal screws in his legs are really ugly. But on the flip side, there are many similarities that to the untrained eye can cause a collector to believe they are purchasing the real McCoy when in actuality they are buying the “Bizarro” of Super Powers Superman.  Many sellers on eBay mistakingly list items as “Super Powers” but when looking at their pictures it is clear they are actually selling Toy Biz figures.  Hence why we want to ensure collectors are aware of the differences and are not fooled by trickery or ignorance.

SIMILARITIES:
  • Both figures stand at nearly the exact same height.
  • Both figures stand with the same posture
  • Both figures feature a detachable red cape with the same length and an insignia
  • Both figures have single blue dots for eyes
  • Both figures have identical joint movement: head, arms, legs, and knees
  • Both figures have very similar paint colors (although the Toy Biz line is glossier).
DIFFERENCES:
  • Toy Biz Superman does not punch when legs are squeezed
  • Toy Biz Superman has a magnet inside that works with his kryptonite ring
  • Toy Biz Superman has metal screws on the sides of both knees
  • Toy Biz Superman has six pack abs (the bottom two are small) instead of four in the Super Powers line.
  • Toy Biz Superman’s chest insignia is diamond shaped with a shorter top
  • Toy Biz Superman has glossier paint
  • Toy Biz Superman’s cape has a red and yellow insignia instead of the all yellow with red outlines of Kenner’s
  • Toy Biz Superman’s cape attachment piece is thinner when compared to the Super Powers version
  • Toy Biz Superman has different muscles accented on the legs and arms
  • Toy Biz Superman does not have holes in the heels of his boots
  • Toy Biz Superman’s “S” curl on his hair is not accented as much as the Super Powers version
  • Toy Biz Superman has the copyright stamp on the back of his left thigh instead of the inner right thigh of the Super Powers figure
True Super Powers Cape

True Super Powers Cape

Toy Biz cape

Toy Biz cape

Super Powers heel hole

Super Powers heel hole

Toy Biz boot bottom. No heel holes

Toy Biz boot bottom. No heel holes

Super Powers: Right thigh copyright info. No screws in knees.

Super Powers: Right thigh copyright info. No screws in knees.

Toy Biz Copyright info on back left thigh. Screw holes in knee.

Toy Biz Copyright info on back left thigh. Screw holes in knee.

Notice the glossier paint of toy Biz (on the right).

Armed with this information you should be able to distinguish when shopping on eBay.  Superman is definitely one of the more challenging figures to differentiate.  Next up we will look at another of the Toy Biz figures, Aquaman.

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