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Apache Chief Week:
DC Classics Samurai Review

Another DCUC wave has arrived at IAT and that means it’s time for another Theme Week! All week long Vault and I will be taking a look at the figures from DC Universe Classics Wave 18 – the Apache Chief Wave. Today, I’m kicking things off with one my faves, Samurai!

This particular wave has caused a bit of consternation among my fellow DC toy collectors, but I am not in agreement. Even with the line’s future in an unexpected and irritating flux, I don’t think this was a wasted wave. Yes, I still need Elongated Man & Golden Age Mr. Terrific, but I’d be no less bummed if Samurai were missing from my DCUC collection. I have fond memories of the great comics from my youth just as I have fond memories of the cartoons in which Samurai appeared and even his original Super Powers toy. And yes, some of those cartoons aren’t very well done, but my character want list is full of characters that spawned from some not very well done comics too.

Samurai first appears in the The All-New Super Friends Hour when it was brought back in the late Seventies. The show was reformatted – Wendy & Marvin were dropped in favor of the Wonder Twins – and new characters were created to give the Super Friends a more “ethnically diverse” roster. It doesn’t work, as it really just shines a spotlight on a problem instead of doing anything to fix it.

Some props to Samurai though, as he outlasts all of the other additional characters. He ends up appearing in four of the seven incarnations of the cartoon, including the final one (and my favorite), Galactic Guardians, despite it’s being much closer to DC continuity than the previous cartoons. It’s likely that his longevity and current status on the show contributed to him being the only member of the Hanna Barbera Super Friends to earn a coveted spot in Kenner’s Super Powers line in 1986.

I only vaguely recall Samurai’s first cartoon appearance, helping Superman get a UFO out of a volcano, but I doubt that his origin was given in the six or seven minute short. His origin most likely came nearly a decade later when he appeared in the Super Powers comics and received a bio on the back of his Super Powers figure. That origin lists him as Toshio Eto, a history professor who was given powers when struck by a bolt of energy emanating from New Genesis (as part of a recruitment drive to thwart Darkseid). His basic power was wind manipulation (his original SP toy’s legs would unleash “Power Action Gale Force Spin” when his right arm was pressed in), but he later gained the ability to burst into flames or become invisible.* Each of these powers would be activated by speaking a broken Japanese phrase. He also wields an energy sword – which both of his figures have included. I’m not sure where the Samurai aspect comes into all this, but if Samurai were here he would tell us, as he always knew how to relate the current situation into a contrived samurai lesson in the cartoon.

* – I always thought Samurai’s powers were odd. He was basically a human wind machine which made him an analogue for DC’s Red Tornado, but his other powers were representative of other famous comic androids. His invisibility echoed Vision’s intangibility while bursting into flame calls upon Marvel’s first android, the Human Torch. I guess what I’m asking is, has anyone ever seen Samurai bleed?

If you really look at the Super Friends wave, you see that Mattel was able to put this wave together with very few new parts and still capture almost all of the costume details. Samurai needed only a unique head, tunic, and forearms, though a quick look at the picture above shows that the Classics figure could’ve used new boots as well. At first, I thought plain boots might’ve been used to be cartoon accurate, but a few other details do spawn from the vintage toy, so the boots being undetailed might have been a cost issue. I don’t know. Either way, my nostalgia is always for the toy over cartoons or cardbacks, so I would’ve been happier were boots done accurately.

It’s not a deal-breaker, because the new pieces we did get are fantastic. I love the head sculpt and the soft plastic tunic is a great upgrade for the Super Powers cloth version. One feature that I first thought was odd, but really appreciated once I realized why is that the seam on the front of the belt matches the fold/wrap on the classic toy’s belt. Continue to Page 2…

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28 comments to Apache Chief Week:
DC Classics Samurai Review

  • Adrian

    Great review, Dan! Samurai looks awesome. I can’t wait for Apache Chief!

  • Benning

    Sorry, Noisy, but this wave is a HUGE WASTE in my eyes. Bronze Tiger is the only figure worth owning.

  • Freefire

    Samurai does look great! Love that panel where he’s split between his two “worlds”!

    Im looking forward to when these release in stores near me in about 7-8 months =P

  • I dunno, it could be fun. I guess I just get confused by the conflicting message of “Super Powers” figures Vs. “Super Friends” Vs. actual DC Comics, as line intent and focus, ya know?

    All I care about for now is Samurai’s tunic gets us one stock part closer to a Paul Kirk Manhunter. 🙂

    • I don’t think there should be lines between those things. The line’s focus is the DC Universe and these guys are all in it in my book, even if we have to go back and call the Super Powers comic Pre-Crisis Earth-SP.

  • Rystar

    Great reviews as always! I’m really looking forward to it!!

  • Jonatan

    I know many people hate this wave, but this is by far one of my favorite ones in DCUC line. I have all Super Powers figures and I waited for years and years to get an updated Samurai as well a Black Vulcan figure, Apache Chief, Toyman and to my big surprise, El Dorado. I would add Brainiac robot in this wave too.
    I really don’t care if the figures are based on cartoon or comics, since they make nice and good looking figures to my shelves and not repainted Batman, Superman and Green Lantern.
    To complete, I would love to see Giganta and Apache Chief in 6″ scale, but I know Mattel will never do that.
    Great review as usual!

  • Bigbot

    I didn’t grow up with Super Powers, and I have no idea who this guy is. A complete waste for me, but kudos to those who want him. I’m sure no one thought we’d get this guy at the beginning of the line.

  • Brainlock

    I managed to find this wave last week up in Fenton WM, and was lucky enough to get a chance to decide between TWO Samurai: one with a bit of orange paint slop on the crotch, or one with a large gap in the sash connection. I took the former.

    Samurai I don’t mind as much sneaking into the line, not just because he managed to make the SP cut, but he’s also had a few random cameos the last few years. I recall seeing him at least once before a 2(?) panel appearance in JSA, helping aid in a tsunami or some other global disaster with Dr. Light (Kimiyo Hoshi) and I think Rising Sun?

    As to who he was supposed to be a composite of in the cartoon, for some reason, I always thought of a cross between Reddy and J’onn, more for the invisibility aspect, I guess?

    part of me now wants to see him in the new Booster-led JLI, seeing as it’s going to be a Global Guardians type of book…allegedly. (I only caved only a minimum of DCnU titles to support my LCS…60 miles away, wayyyy up in St Charles! thankfully, they offer monthly shipping! LOL)

    • I think I completely forgot to mention it, but mine has the green slop on his knee.

      Yeah, he’s has a handful of DC cameos here & there – and good call on J’onn, I hadn’t thought of that.

      I ordered too many of the DCnU titles…

  • orionpax636

    As one of a handful of Asians in all the grade schools I was in, I always felt a kinship with this guy, and thus was also eager to get a figure of him.

    There comes a time when certain aspects of a representation make it stereotypical of a culture. That said, this guy is so far from what I would consider stereotypical ANYTHING that he’s in no danger of that. I’ve never seen any samurai in any artform dress anything like this. He’s just a handsome, half-dressed Asian man with unique fashion sense and a possible commitment to bushido.

    I admit, I could be totally ignorant to the ways of the samurai, and this could have been standard garb in their ranks. Regardless, this is a good figure that I’m happy to have.

    • I think you just wrote his bio. 🙂

      I mention the stereotypes because that seems to be the consensus, but the only one that ever makes me cringe is Apache Chief.

  • I’m a huge fan of the late Japanese acting legend Toshirō Mifune. Samurai reminds me a lot of him as seen in the classic masterpiece “Seven Samurai.” I also respect the character for appearing through the second half of Super Friends’ run, right through the very end. I am looking forward to displaying him on my shelves!

  • you_will_forget

    We didn’t have access to any of the early DCish cartoons over here, so I’ve no nostalgic attachment to this guy, or indeed any of his fellows in this wave. Without any personal attachment to them, they look, well, dull.

    Thankfully, the CnC is likewise of no interest, so this is the first wave I’ve not even umm-ed and ahh-ed about skipping. Captain Boomerang and Bronze Tiger, as genuine characters, are being added to my otherwise complete DCUC collection, but it’s hard not to think of these as “figures that should have been a multi-pack, not taking up precious slots in the main line”

    Great review though, as usual.

    Jo

  • Rich

    I found he was a little tall, compared the the rest of the Super Powers incarnations in DCUC. He’s standing next to Orion and Mr. Miracle, and he Dwarfs them. Cyborg looks puny in comparison to this guy!

    Still, SO SO glad my Super Powers collection is complete!

  • Wow Super freinds is getting alot of hate! I guess those of us that didnt grow up with it will never understand. The whole wave (capyain boomerang aside) looks great and I cant wait to get my Chief up and running. I didn not read the review as I dotn want it to influence my own review of Samurai later in the week but i’m sure its great as always!

  • […] with Samurai, Black Vulcan was another character added by Hanna-Barbera in 1977 for the sake of diversity, but […]