Thursday, August 6, 2015

Vintage Rubber 1950's Superman Figure. Or Not.

As a collector of Superman memorabilia, I will periodically do a search on eBay for "vintage Superman" to see what old items pop up. Of course, "vintage" is a relative term, and often, one man's antique is another man's piece of recent junk. While it galls me to see cheap, poorly designed items from the 1980s and 1990s listed as "vintage," I realize they are now decades in the past, and thus fit the rather loose definition of the word.

However, there are times on eBay when sellers are precise with their dating of objects. And then there are times when they are so far off the mark that I can't let them get away with it. Such is the case with this Superman figure, listed as vintage rubber 1950's Superman figure. To the trained eye, it's immediately obvious that this is an unlicensed, bootleg toy. But you don't have to be an expert on action figures to quickly notice that it's off by a good four decades.

If you look closely, you'll see that this is a Batman sculpt repainted with Superman's colors (adding red gloves that he doesn't wear), with a new Superman head stuck on top. And it's not just a Batman sculpt, it's easily pegged (thanks to the distinctive abs) as based on the costume from the 1992 film, BATMAN RETURNS.

Okay, so it's not from when they said. What's the big deal? How about the fact that the Buy It Now price on this cheap, well-worn, incomplete (I assume at one point there was a cape attached to the back, but could be wrong) bootleg is $498.00!! That's overpricing this thing by, oh, I'd wager a guess of at least $478.00 (hey, at least the shipping is free). The description in the eBay listing doesn't help the seller's credentials:

1 old spiderman figure from the 40's or 50's. Made of soft vinyl rubber. Couldn't find more information about them. If you know anything more about these, please let me know. I was quoted this price by an appraisor in europe (already converted to dollars). Have not seen any others like this on Ebay before.

The "spiderman" (sic) / Superman mix-up actually happens all the time on eBay. I'm highly skeptical that any "appraisor" (sic) in "europe" (sic) or anywhere actually took a look at this thing. But it's the "if you know anything more about these, please let me know" bit that cracks me up. As you can tell, I do, and I did. I e-mailed the seller, correcting them as to the nature of this 1990s bootleg, but they did not get back to me, nor did they alter the listing, probably because there are actually two (three, counting me) people watching this item. I'd like to think that the other two watchers are doing so for the same reason I am (to share and chuckle), but you never know. That's the thing about selling "vintage collectibles." They are worth precisely what someone is willing to pay.