Since I did my favorite figure yesterday, I figured I’d get my least favorite figure out of the way today. Had Black Vulcan come out looking more like the 2up, I would’ve have enjoyed his figure nearly as much as the others, but something went awry between El Segundo and China.
Below is a comparison shot of the 2up (left) and the final figure, note the brawnier buck, closed fists, sculpted gloves, inaccurate deco, and the definition in the face. Now I know that even the best factory can’t reproduce a 4H hand-painted original, but most don’t miss the mark this badly…
SuperHeroTimes.Com used their most recent Mattel Q&A to ask about Black Vulcan and were told that the changes were made by the “design team and the Four Horsemen”. Personally, I wouldn’t own up to making some of these changes. I mean, I get some of it – rounding the “ears” off to non-fragile boomerangs for safety and even going with the slimmer buck because it doesn’t really matter (and the brawnier one may have been unavailable), but the clip-on accessories just don’t look right with the open hands, the inaccurate deco and missing gloves really take away from the figure, and the softer face sculpt is just really disappointing. The 2up looked amazing* to this Black Vulcan fan and the final product just seems “meh” in comparison.
* – Ironically, as I’m writing this, Toy Guru has just reminded collectors at the Org that “prototypes are shown ALL the time for lines and then small changes often have to be made by final product” in regards to possible changes to a MOTUC Draego-Man figure. C’est la vie.
As with Samurai, Black Vulcan was another character added by Hanna-Barbera in 1977 for the sake of diversity, but he’s not exactly an original character. See, I was really interested to see the back of his box for his biographical information – which up until now, didn’t really exist. Mattel (or DC) handled it pretty deftly be leaving his origins and identity a mystery, but stating that he was still a trusted and valued member of the team. Plus, it allowed for the possibility that he really was Black Lightning.
In Black Lightning #10 (1978), Black Lightning stops an imposter Black Lightning created by the villainous, scheming Barbara Hanna. It’s a really nicely written story despite the obvious metafiction. Like any good thirty year old contract dispute, I’m not up to speed on the details, but that old issue of Black Lightning has always made Tony Isabella’s (the writer & creator of Black Lightning) feelings towards Black Vulcan pretty clear to me.
Black Vulcan was really a simple figure all things considered since his only unique piece is his head. You know, I kinda feel like my intro basically guts the usual sculpt and paint sections since I can only reiterate my previously mentioned grievances. The figure just needed a little more love. I don’t mind the occasional painted detail, but Black Vulcan would’ve been better served with the gloved hand the Four Horsemen had intended to give him and maybe even the Sinestro Corps boots to get some sculpted detail on the legs (an extra line would be present, but it’d be better than no sculpted lines at all). I can forgive the boomerangs on his head, but the tray has warped the soft plastic and combined with the soft details on the face, it just doesn’t work for me. Continue to Page 2…