Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colección Super Amigos: Liga de la Justicia de Detroit

Blogs across the internet today celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Super Powers Collection, featuring some of the world's greatest super-heroes and among the finest action figures of their time. However, as always, the Justice League Detroit blog is less concerned with the spotlight hogs than the obscure, ethnocentric also-rans of yesteryear. Where is the love for the Colección Super Amigos, and most importantly, the Liga de la Justicia de Detroit figures that were only produced in Latin America? Today, their light will shine!

As many of you know, Pacipa Argentina reused the SP molds in 1989, which Play Ful then took over in the early '90s, both producing inferior quality figures for the South/Central American market. The mid-'90s saw the Columbian Gulliver Super Powers line, but none could compare to the toys produced by Broma Práctica!

As we'll discuss in a later installment, the Detroit era League comics proved much more popular in Mexico than in the United States. This created demand for their representation amongst the Super Amigos, but the Mexican market wasn't financially strong enough to justify licensing fees, much less new molds. Notorious bootleggers Broma Práctica rushed to fill this void with abysmal knock-offs made available through flea markets and street hustlers. They were cast in cheap plastic, and their (lead) paint jobs would typically begin to flake even before being removed from their blister packs/Ziploc bags. Soon afterward, limbs would be lost. Not just the figures, but amongst the children playing with the most notoriously lethal action figures of all time...

Pictured: Zatanna and Vixen

Pictured: Mexican child victim of Super Amigos Liga de la Justicia de Detroit

Zatanna was mostly harmless. Though advertised as having a "Power Action Mystic Spell Cast," Zatanna only went through the basic articulation motions without any enhanced features. Vixen, on the other hand, was the sharpest figure in the set. To minimize costs, the amount of plastic in her mold was reduced to the point her facsimile hair was honed to razor sharpness. At just over three inches, this made Vixen a street legal switchblade throughout most states, and she could easily circumvent metal detectors. The Vixen action figure became the weapon of choice amongst young Mexican street punks, while "gangster" rap and ranchero songs often referenced the lethal toy (most popularly in "El Vixen es una señora Fox" by Control Machete.

Pictured: Street toughs brandishing Vixen action figures. Note the boy wearing a "Vibe" headband.

Pictured: "Señor Alargado" (Elongated Man) and "Gitana" (Gypsy)

Elongated Man's packaging fraudulently exclaimed "Cuello del estiramiento de la acción de la energía," but in fact "Señor Alargado" was merely cast in rubber, making him slightly more pliable than the average figure (more in line with Mattel's Secret Wars line.) Gypsy, or "Gitana," wasn't even technically an "action figure," as she was molded in a single piece. However, her advertisement as "Símbolo Santería" made her a well regarded lucky charm often hung from the wrist or a rear view mirror (as applicable.)

Pictured: "Gringo Cibernético" (Steel) and Vibe

Steel and Vibe were of course the most popular figures in the line, outpacing even Aguahombre and Detective Marciano. However, Steel was another extremely unsafe toy. Though it appears as a standard Super Amigos mold, the figure was in fact die cast iron, making it a terrific weighted weapon/bludgeon. Vibe meanwhile was afforded the only functional action effect: a wind-up motor with a mounted ball bearing set in the figure's chest piece. This "Vibración Magnífica" made the toy as popular with moms as sons!

After numerous complaints from consumer advocates on both sides of the border, Broma Práctica was finally traced by customs agents back to a small sweatshop in Tempe, Arizona. No criminal charges nor civil suits were successfully leveled against the U.S. owned company, though their action figure division was eventually scuttled.

More Colección Super Amigos:
Colección Super Amigos: Vibe
Colección Super Amigos: Vixen
Colección Super Amigos: Zatanna & other Liga de la Justicia de Detroit Mini-Comics

Further Reading:


The Irredeemable Shag said...

Frank - This post was friggin' brilliant! The JLD line of Super Amigos figures is renown throughout the toy collector community as the most sought-after and dangerous collection. You've done an excellent job recapping it.

My only questions is why no love for the sometimes-considered member Firestorm? Don't make me pull out my Super Amigos Vixen on you!

The Irredeemable Shag

Diabolu Frank said...

Chill esse! Firestorm was too big time to get covered with the JLD bootlegs! Rob's covered the many black market Aquaman toys, I'll have to investigate Martian Manhunter, and you're tasked with digging up them darn Firestorms. God help the Bat-Blog, because there's more phony Batmen than the rest of our put together!