When NECA revived the ’80s Defenders of the Earth toy line, the appeal was evident. It allowed the company to cover a superhero license nobody else cornered in that scale. But it remained a limiting license, as the cartoon which inspired the toys only used a core group of four main heroes, who stayed in basically the same outfits. But now it looks like the company wants to take the concept of early newspaper and pulp heroes to the next level. Like Boss Fight Studios, which did Flash Gordon and the Phantom in 4-inch scale before adding other older characters, NECA’s Randy Falk has expressed a desire to do the likes of Tarzan and Zorro. The new blanket umbrella line “Original Superheroes” allows precisely that.
But rather than wait another year or so for all-new characters, NECA will kick off the line with comic-accurate versions of the three King Features characters it’s already made in their Defenders costumes. The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and Ming the Merciless come with new paint jobs and accessories. Now more closely resembling the original comic strips, they no longer all have to use the same laser gun sculpt. Though they retain blast effects and muzzle flashes. (Note: Superhero Hype is an affiliate partner with Entertainment Earth and may earn fees on purchases made through site links.)
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Flash Gordon’s new head features his retro headgear, while his costume adds a belt, holster, and new sword sheath. Ming, in classic green, adds a bald head sculpt similar to Max von Sydow’s in the 1980 movie (but legally different). He also wears the same gun belt as Flash. The Phantom now features glow-in-the-dark eyes, and authentic handguns, along with the classic striped trunks and holsters. With DC no longer allowing guns to come with action figures, toys like these stand out for the old-school firearms philosophies. His signature whip and Oath Skull come too, and his rings no longer use blast effects, though the pistols do. And it looks like NECA learned from the previous figures not to paint the hand pegs in flesh tones, because that paint just rubbed off immediately.
While Zorro and Tarzan seem like future possibilities, not to mention comics variants of Mandrake the Magician and Lothar, there’s lots of leeway here. Buck Rogers could join. Or The Shadow. A classic Lone Ranger, maybe, or his canonical descendant, the Green Hornet. Maybe a decent John Carter of Mars at last?
Whom would you like to see join the lineup? Let us know in comments.
Recommended Purchase: Defenders of the Earth – The Complete 65 Episode Series
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