- The Washington Times - Monday, June 10, 2013

A look at toys and collectibles devoted to the Superman mythology and the new movie “Man of Steel.”

Jor-El (DC Collectibles, $129.99) Actor Russell Crowe’s upcoming portrayal of Superman’s birth father gets immortalized through a beautiful, 1:6 scale statue featuring him in battle armor and focused for a fight.

PHOTOS: Slideshow: Photos of 'Man of Steel' toys and collectibles

Sculpted by legendary Gentle Giant Studios, the hand-painted, cold-cast porcelain masterpiece stands 12 inches tall and has Jor-El standing, wielding a Kryptonian rifle in one hand and a fist ready to strike with the other

The intricate details of the bone-colored armor will impress as well as the burgundy cloth cape with wire armature for maximum poseability. He also permanently stands atop a base showing the familiar, red Superman crest.

By the way, the head sculpt of Mr. Crowe is dead on down to his graying beard, wavy hair, bluish-green eyes and slightly puffy cheeks. It’s a statue worthy of showcasing behind a display case in an entertainment room.

Quick Shots: Battle for Metropolis (Mattel, ages 4 and older, $24.99) This 15-inch tall playset based on the “Man of Steel” movie combines action figures and a safe shooting gallery featuring an alien-landing craft that looks plucked from “The War of Worlds.”

PHOTOS: Slideshow: Photos of action figures from Mattel's Man of Steel: Movie Masters collection

With help from younger fans, Superman zooms toward a confrontation with General Zod, dismantling the villain’s ship in the process and smacking him down.

Owners get a 3-inch tall, pint-sized version of Superman featuring a soft body, cloth cape and elastic arms, which Stretch Armstrong would admire, that act as missiles.

Attach the figure to two fingers and launch this self-contained slingshot projectile toward the ship. The goal is to aim at strategic points (look for the Zod family crest) on the ship that break it open to expose a spinning core (with fiery guards) and hit another target to pop up and knock down a figure of Zod.

Two issues came up quickly with my younger testers. First, getting fingers in figure hand grips to launch was a bit of challenge as well as keeping the ship from not falling over after an especially hard hit.

However, the concept is sound, and taking the ship apart is a worthy challenge for the 8-year-old in the family.

The good news for dad or mom is that the ship requires minimal assembly and best of all, no stickers.

I’d suggest parental units also buy a Man of Steel Quick Shots figure pack ($6.99) that contains another Superman along with a hard plastic Zod minion that acts as a very easy-to-use launcher.

Flight Speeders: Superman Strike Ship (Mattel, for ages 4 and older, $25.99) This combination portable spaceship and Superman launcher has the design to be a brilliant role-playing experience for the younger “Man of Steel” fan but ends up falling way short in performance.

Owners get the top half of a blue-and-red, 12-inch-long Kryptonian spaceship with a convenient handle.

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