ItsAllTrueReview: A Tale of Two Steppenwolves

Really, it should be Steppenwolfs. I’m sure Mrs. Day would disapprove of my flagrant disregard of proper grammar, but it sounds better. Right?*

* – Sorry, Mrs. Day. At least I knew it was wrong!

If you’re not familiar with Steppenwolf, well, that’s not surprising. The green version first appeared in 1972’s New Gods #7 where he killed Izaya’s (Highfather’s) wife and then was, in turn, killed by Izaya. That would probably be his complete comic legacy too, had it not been for Super Powers. In the mid-80s, Jack Kirby was contracted to redesign some of his New Gods characters for the Super Powers toy line. This is where the red axe-wielding version comes into its own. This design first released as a mail-in figure (and then later on card) in the Super Powers line gave most fans their first glimpse of the character despite his appearance thirteen years earlier. Even now, a full quarter-century after the Super Powers figure (and some play in the various animated series), the character hasn’t appeared much in the comics and when he does, things don’t go well. He’s one of those fringe characters that lazy writers don’t bother to research before using and then kill as a plot device*. His ratio of appearances to deaths is probably about even.

* – My personal favorite being when he was killed by the Clock King.

Despite his low rank on the importance scale, Steppenwolf has made his way into DC Classics. His appearance in Super Powers can’t be overstated as a reason for this and it’s only appropriate that Mattel and the 4H have given us both the Kirby-created original look and his Kirby-redesigned Super Powers look. I know there’s consternation out there about the Super Powers love in the DC Classics line, but I’m right at the perfect age to revel in it. I love getting these SP versions and can’t wait for the future Super Powers Characters to be released. The red Steppenwolf was one of my most anticipated figures in this wave, but that’s not to say I wasn’t interested in the classic look too.

The thing that surprised me when Mattel did the first of these Super Powers variants was that the 4H was able to create really different looks with the same basic parts. The Steppenwolfs follow that precedent. They’re both built from the standard buck with various add-on pieces and paint doing most of the work. Green Steppenwolf features new calves, forearms, and a head as well as new softer plastic pieces for the boot tops, shoulder covers, and the cape/bandolier/skirt. These extra pieces give Steppenwolf a nice approximation of his original look.

The red version features a new head, calves, feet, hands, and forearm. Again a softer plastic is used for his shoulders and the one-piece that gives him his armored collar, bandolier, and belt. He also includes his trademark accessory, the Electro-Axe, attached to his backpack. The head sculpt on this one is particularly excellent, and when combined with the detailed armor pieces, faithfully recreates the Steppenwolf I mailed-in for as a kid and he’s quickly become one of my favorites in the DCUC line.

The paint on both figures is very good. I had no issues with the red Steppenwolf. I would’ve liked to see the axe vac-metallized of course, but they haven’t done that for anything else in the line so I can’t knock them here. The paint used looks somewhat metallic so that’ll do. On the green Steppenwolf, there was some slop on the smaller button details and yellow paint is also a tricky thing for action figures since it needs to go on thicker than other colors. It’s not really an issue, but it does make the otherwise excellent face sculpt look a little off on the green version.

Articulation is standard for these guys. The softer shoulders and skirts only block the articulation marginally and I have no complaints there. The 4H seemed to find just the right spot on the shoulders were the piece doesn’t get in the way, but still looks good. I was surprised to find that green Steppenwolf’s head articulation wasn’t blocked like recent figures. He can look up a bit and tuck his head down into the collar to cover his mouth. The red version might have better articulation too, but his armored collar blocks movement. Hopefully, we’re getting closer to figures with the head articulation restored.

I’ve gone back and forth about how to count the red Steppenwolf’s accessory. It is something he could hold, but it’s also attached. So is it part of the figure or not? On the Ghostbusters figures, I say no. So to be consistent, I’m not counting the axe as an accessory here either. Still, it’s all he needed to come with and it looks great on him so I’ve no complaints on this figure.

* – Even if it’s on the wrong side!

The green version more than picks up the slack in the accessories department. He features his sword, his whip, and his drinking horn – all faithfully crafted after his first appearance in New Gods. On the plus side, the whip is made of a very pliable plastic and is fun to whip aroud. The only drawback to this was that all of his accessories are made with the same grade of plastic, so Steppenwolf ended up with one of those trick bendy swords. One thing I would have liked to see was some hooks or sheaths to store the accessories.

Overall, I was a lot more excited about the Super Powers version going into this wave. Not only did that version exceed expectations, but the green version really wowed me too. These are both great figures. The red version is easily among my favorites in the wave (along with Cyborg Supes) and the green version isn’t far behind. The only thing I would have changed on these guys is the stand they were packaged with. Neither included a Kilowog piece and I believe Steppenwolf was planned to come with a “Super Powers Collection” stand at one point, but that was pushed back and Desaad will be the first person to get one. As it is, they both came with the regular blue stands and, as I’ve said before, those suck. Seeing pictures of the full color Super Powers stands (still on the blue oval) and the upcoming Grayskull diorama stands for MOTU, makes me dislike the blue stands even more. Mattel should develop something nicer for the DC figures.

For more DCUC reviews, check out our DC Classics Collector’s Guide.

31 thoughts on “ItsAllTrueReview: A Tale of Two Steppenwolves

    1. I’ve been wanting to do that for awhile. I figured I’d wait for all three of the variants. I kinda want a “proper” Kalibak, but that seems so silly and pointless…

  1. The Hall of Justice? You always make me jealous with the backdrops. The Firehouse, Castle Grayskull, even your Joes reviews were in one of the bigger playsets, and now the HoJ! At least tell me that you had to buy these as an adult…

    1. HoJ was a gift from my fiancee in college.
      Firehouse was a gift to my brother when we were kids. He didn’t want it.
      I use the modern Grayskull and I bought that one myself.
      For Joes I’ve used the original HQ and the Mobile Command Center. I’ve had those since I was a kid.

      So half & half. Most of my ‘playsets’ as kids were elaborate pieces of styrofoam. I had this music store near my grandma’s house and she would go over there with me and dumpster dive. They had the best styrofoam I’ve ever seen.

    1. It was between that or a line from Moby Dick. I wasn’t sure how drunk he was. The horn’s not that big and I don’t know if he ate first.

  2. Great review. I didn’t realize the comic version showed up so little. I kinda feel bad for hating on the SP version! 😀 I think drunken Steppenwolf is my new favorite character, but I thought his horn was for bugling not drinking so what do I know..

    1. Yep, that horn is for his liquor. Don’t feel bad about not knowing the comic angle – I find that even with continuity, wiki, and who’s who – it’s very hard to know what the flavor of comics was like or even what happened in them. It’s a very nostalgia driven medium right now.

      Back in the early 90s, everyone but the oldest fans tried to convince you that Crisis cleaned things up – there were all these clashing storylines and multiple Earths and it was confusing. But when you read the comics, it was all kept rather straight. It’s just something you have to figure out on your own.

  3. don’t forget that green steppie had a recent pop in on B:BatB. so a newer audience, in about 10 years, will think that’s his classic look (which is it) and that that red one is a tacky rehash… funny how time moves in cycles.

    1. Damn. I mentioned the animated shows in the teaser and then forgot to get back to it. He also appeared in JLU as the green version too, so that’s dominated the airwaves.

      It’s hard for me to understand that one though. Steppenwolf and Mantis were so infinitely better, I just don’t get it. I can respect it, but I don’t get it.

  4. I like the red Steppenwolf more than I expected (he always was a minor character in my SP battles). Green Steppenwolf is great, but man, that’s a stupid stupid hat.

    One question though, when did the Clock King killed Steppenwolf? I might have missed that.

    1. Sean McKeever’s Terror Titans. He killed Desaad too – effortlessly.

      They were humanish, I guess, as it took place around Infinite Crisis. Still, there’s no way that moron takes down two of the most evil people in the universe – but the writer wanted to show Clock King as some badass and thus sacrificed too characters in an attempt to do the impossible.

      1. The Clock King was kinda of a badass, true, an anal retentive badass in Batman animated series. He was even the brain for the Suicide Squad. Plus, he can kill you and tell you the time of your death… That sounds like a Jaen-Claude Van Damme movie.

  5. I was really looking forward to Green-wolf, but was surprised when I saw the red one in hand. He was just too cool. I pre-ordered the set and always intended to sell of the SP version (sorry, that was just barely before my time). But, I ended up liking both figs a lot. Like I said before, SP-wolf looks like a medieval Ghostbuster! Or a roided up Genghis Khan! Kick-ass!!!

    1. LOL. I like Genghis Khan on steroids.

      I’m full-on Super Powers kid. They came out right at the age where you start remembering your toys. I remember getting one with a tank of gas. I remember choosing to get Batman & Robin at the store instead of Blitzwing & Astrotrain (clearly an economical mistake). I remember being crushed that I’d never get Clark Kent when I got doubles of Martian Manhunter for Christmas and opened the one without the CK sticker first and had to return the other (I traded him for a Red Tornado who also had the sticker and all was right with the world).

      Still, I totally respect the generational aspect. I appreciate folks who are big fans of Turtles and Power Rangers, but I’ve never really felt that pull.

  6. Great review as usual. Both versions of this character are fantastic! This is the first one where I felt like I should have the SP version too. I tried with the Red Parademon but I’m a JLU guy and the red one just sucked. Plus I have 5 green ones so that’s probably enough haha.

    1. Thank you!

      It’s funny about the red Parademon. Since I was exposed first I can’t stand the green ones – they’re bland and… green. LOL And I even like green!

      It works on the shelf for me though. I put the red one with my New Gods or Super Powers depending on the arrangement and I out the green one with Deadshot where they await Catman, et al.

      1. That’s a good idea. I don’t know anything about the secret six though so that grouping won’t be happening on my shelf. I originally planned to have 3 green and one red and have the red one be a parademon general of sorts to the green guys but I just didn’t like the red one enough so I sold him off and got 2 extra green. It’s a nice little set up, 2 with the gold weapon and 3 with guns. Once Darkseid and Desaad show up it’s going to be a sweet grouping of New Gods villains.

        Just officially added this site to the bookmark bar. Love this place!

        1. Thanks!

          We do indeed have a good New Gods thing going. I’m not sure which Darkseid I want to use in the display though.

          I loved the old classic Secret Six, but Vault swears by the current Secret Six.

  7. I look at that last pic and think Zoolander.

    “What is THIS? a Hall of Justice for ANTS?!?!”

  8. I too was a Super Powers fan and had about a dozen of them (Dr.Fate being my favorite – I still have him to this day!) I had such love for the line and the SP Dr.Fate that I snatched up the DCUC Dr.Fate when Wave 8 was released. It was “fate” that decided to revisit my childhood and collect the entire DCUC line.

    1. I love Dr. Fate. It’s hard to pick one when it comes down to him, Firestorm, and Plastic Man – but yeah.

      That’s a great story about getting into the line. DCUC Fate is one of my all-time favorite figures.

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