Cinemaquette Superman Review (by Stephen)

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“You’ll believe a man can fly!”

Stephen reviews the Superman Cinemaquette!

“Superman was my childhood hero” is an opening one tends to encounter a lot when reading appreciation articles about the Man of Steel. I’m not even going to try and unravel the universal appeal of the character for children, or why it fails to dissipate with the onset of adulthood. Suffice to say that I feel Superman’s faith in truth and justice, not to mention his absolute incorruptibleness, are ideals and values that children readily identify with. In addition, Superman’s ability to fly, coupled with his God-like invulnerability, makes him utterly captivating to young minds.

I’d like to start this review by saying that Superman was my childhood hero too – or rather Christopher Reeve’s Superman was my childhood hero. I don’t know precisely when or how I saw Reeve’s Superman for the first time, but a good guess would be Superman II on television at about age six or seven.

It’s been said many times that Christopher Reeve made us believe, and that was certainly true for me. It’s obvious from watching Chris’ performance now with older eyes that he was totally committed to the character. He ability to play Superman and Clark with all the necessary honesty, playfulness, grace, imperfection, insecurity and humanity is even more astonishing when one considers that Superman was his first major movie role.

Superman had a very big influence on my life. There are many uncertainties during childhood, and Superman was my subtle template for right and wrong. It’s lines like “Uh, you really shouldn’t smoke…”; “I never lie…”; and “I’m here to fight for truth and justice…” that create the lasting impression. Superman also offered a certain level of emotional comfort and confidence to me as well, for example my need to wear glasses from a young age (at a time when glasses definitely were NOT cool), was made easier because Superman wore them on his days off. Then there’s the fantasy escapism that characters like Superman afford, making me think bigger and grander and beyond the confines of my own home, family and school.

After watching the movie my appreciation for the character grew, and my Mother was soon inundated with all sorts of requests for Superman merchandise: audio books, lunch boxes, wallpaper, bed spreads, pyjamas – you name it, I wanted it. And that included Bubblegum Cards.

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As time went on and the inferior movie sequels and television shows began to rack up my interest in the character became muted. “If it’s not Christopher Reeve, it’s not Superman” I told myself. That said, the original films still rank amongst my favourite movies and I consider them absolutely sacred. In my opinion, no one will improve on Tom Mankiewicz’s incredible screenplay, and the vision of Director Richard Donner. Who can even imagine a fanfare to best John William’s rousing 1977 music, or replace the performances of Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Terence Stamp, and last but of course not least the man who made us believe a man could fly.

Superman filled my childhood with wonder, and I’ll never forget how much meaning and pleasure those films have brought to my life.

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“Very well, you are revealed to the world…”

In July 2009, Cinemaquette finally silenced all the rumours by unveiling their vision of Superman. The piece shown at the Comic Con was a prototype featuring a Christopher Reeve head-sculpt by Mike Hill, with an incomplete base, cape and work-in-progress costume. I’d long hoped Cinemaquette would immortalise Superman, and finally here it was before me.

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It’s fair to say that while I was staggered by the realism afforded by the headsculpt, I was less sure about the pose, which I found unusual to say the least. I think this was partly because I had a pre-conceived idea in my mind of how I thought the piece would look , and partly because the pictures from the Comic Con made it impossible for me to get a sense of the movement and flight Cinemaquette were aiming for.

Over time I came to appreciate just what the Superman Cinemaquette was all about. There was actually something both very graceful and very powerful about it all, and I started to appreciate how the pose worked, with Superman gliding in to land at the entrance to his artic home.

Furthermore it became quite obvious that the Cinemaquette was a much about the character, as it was about creating a worthy tribute for the actor himself. As Cinemaquette CEO George Sohn later wrote for CBD:

“…getting the estate on board with the project was very important to me. I wanted to pay tribute to Christopher Reeve and everything he brought to the role. Having that tribute to Reeve’s memory and being able to give back to the foundation was very important. I didn’t want to do it without them.”

“For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”

So it’s with great pleasure that my very own Kal-El arrived at my doorstep this past week. Finally, after months of waiting, discussion and careful study of pictures, I had taken ownership of the one character above all others that I’ve wanted since I began collecting over ten years ago.

“I don’t know what to say, Father. I’m afraid I just got carried away.”

The Cinemaquette Superman follows the standard packing template each piece has used since the releases began: an outer series of cartons housing an inner box containing the piece itself.

The collector’s box itself is pure class, and firmly places one in the frame of mind for the unpacking experience to follow. The lid features the classic chromed “S” shield over a blue/black background with the golden Cinemaquette logo on the bottom. The design optimises elegant economy: simple, effective, and sexy.

The lid lifts away to reveal the first layer of packaging, containing the COA signed by head of DC Entertainment Geoff Johns; an interesting choice, as endorsement from the Reeve estate seemed the most likely given their involvement in the project, not to mentioned substantial $25,000 donation Toynami pledged to the Reeve Foundation.

A quick read of the certificate confirmed Cinemaquette’s total dedication to producing a top quality product, and further heightens the build-up and anticipation of the statue itself to follow.

“Superman’s address…”

The second layer holds the base, care instructions, and silicone touch-up powder. Now the first thing that struck me about the base was its size and elegant simplicity. While not quite as large as the base for the Alien or Predator, the multi-stepped design gives an extra sense of mass and weight. The S shield at the front of the base was also much bigger than I expected, and on this note I must say that I’m glad Cinemaquette stuck with the red/yellow design as opposed to the original silver concept from the prototype.

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Another point worth making about the base is the snow effect. Cinemaquette have literally created a surface texture that perfectly replicates the look of fresh snow. The sides and rear of the bases also have ridges grooved into them to evoke memories of the lost cities on the planet Krypton.

The crystals were not present on the SDCC prototype, but were always intended. These really are something of a revelation, and are surprisingly solid and heavy. Each crystal has a misted centre which gives them a neat three-dimensional appearance, and a cool effect of depth when backlit. The entire concept works tremendously well, and elevates what would have otherwise been a very sparse base.

As base designs go it ranks up they’re with the T800 and Indiana Jones as being one of my favourites in the line.

“About six four, two… two twenty five.”

Collectors often talk of pieces having a “wow” factor, a piece that on first sight exceeds all expectations and literally makes you take a step back in amazement.

For me, it’s difficult to put in to words the intense sense of elation as I lifted the packaging and caught the first glimpse of the piece itself. I was instantly seven years old again, reintroduced to this wonderful character and the actor that played him for the first time all over again.

Firstly Superman himself is enormous, and gives some idea of just how big Christopher Reeve was in real life. Again pictures did not prepare me for the sheer size of the muscular frame, which is all perfectly scaled and proportioned.

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The actual piece itself has a comforting weight to it, and attaches to the base by way of a metal peg, which snugly fits in the hole in the base. The peg is painted white at the end and is indiscernible from the base at a distance; giving the impression of Superman gliding to the floor.

The pose is very neat indeed, and with the cape flowing in place the effect of Superman coming in to land is both utterly convincing and mesmerising all at the same time. More so than with any other Cinemaquette, Superman literally looks frozen in time, and perfectly captured in three dimensions.

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“Say Jim – that’s a bad out-fit!”

There was a lot of talk about the costume after the piece was revealed at the Comic Con in 2009. The focus was mainly on the colour of the blue fabric used for the costume, the size of the chest shield, and the omission of the yellow cape shield.

With the piece now in my collection I can happily report that any uncertainties have been proven false, with the costume colour a nice deep blue. It’s obviously not a perfect match, but it’s close enough for me especially when compared to the movie suit as filmed during night scenes. The tunic S also fills the correct portion of the chest too.

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The suit has a neat sparkle to it, and the tailoring is immaculate. Like the real thing the costume hugs Superman’s body very tight, allowing all the sculpture of the chest, arms and legs to be appreciated.
The pants and belt fit perfectly and required no type of adjustment when unpacked. I haven’t noticed any type of sagging or gathering of material in a way that is unnatural to the eye.

Finally, the boots look every bit as special as the footwear you’ll find on any of the other pieces. The boots faithfully recreate the look, texture and colour of the movie version. What I like about the footwear, and this isn’t unique to Superman, is that Cinemaquette go to great lengths to actually make the footwear look like it is being worn, rather than just being sculpted on.

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“And Otis, take the gentleman’s cape.”

The cape deserves special mention for a number of reasons. Firstly I was extremely impressed with how Cinemaquette packaged it. It comes rolled around a tube to stop creases inside a protective plastic wrapping. Kudos to Cinemaquette for this because it meant the cape come out blemish free. It’s all these little decisions and problems to solve that collectors sometimes take for granted when they’re in a hurry to unpack a new piece.

The cape also has an extra piece of fabric around the collar, which on first sight looks like a hood. This actually tucks inside the cape at the back of the neck, creating a snug fit around the collar area.

The cape as most know is fully poseable using three sturdy wires, which are concealed very well in the seams. As we’ve seen on CBD already there have been some interesting and diverse choices of pose, and collectors are literally free to let their imagination run wild until they get the look that works for them.

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The cape attaches to the body by way of two small protruding wires that literally push in to the silicone body. It’s a very low-fi solution, but works for the most part. The wires mostly stay hidden, but certain poses of the cape will force the hooks up out of the holes. As such I found it’s best to have a second person press the hooks down as the cape is being posed, thus preventing the cape from lifting free in the meantime.

It looks like Cinemaquette used the same template from the shield on the chest to make the yellow shield for the cape. Sure it’s a little over-sized, but I can imagine this was the best compromise for the available development budget.

Cinemaquette chose a smooth material – almost like nylon for the cape. I confess that I was expecting something a little softer, but at least the cape does have a nice thickness to it, and isn’t see through or anything like that.

“You like cuteness, huh? Dimples. I’ll give you dimples.”

Finally the head sculpt by Mike Hill. This is truly incredible, and I feel captures both the likeness and essence of the beloved Christopher Reeve extremely well. The use of silicone and real hair adds the usual increase of realism, complimented again by the continued employment of small eyelashes.

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Close examination reveals all the creases, folds, dimples and nuances in Reeve’s face with a very subtle smile to boot. The hair is rock solid out of the box and I’m very glad that no fiddling about was required.

All things considered I really adore the portrait Mike Hill came up with. Not only a stunning piece of sculpture in it’s own right, but a fitting tribute to Christopher Reeve himself. If Cinemaquette set out to honour his memory, they have surely achieved it.

“The Son becomes the Father, the Father becomes the Son.”

The only question left to answer is whether or not the Superman Cinemaquette is the tribute piece it’s designed to be. The answer from me is a resounding yes. I’m giddy with excitement every time I look at him, and can’t get over just how awesome the whole piece is. The presentation is totally awe-inspiring, the likeness astounding, and the attention to detail and overall grandeur really something to behold.

In summary, the piece is just so satisfying from tip to toe and the completeness of it all makes it unlike any other collectible I’ve ever owned or indeed am likely to own.

This piece has delighted owners and I’m glad to say I’m no exception. One hundred percent, this is the smartest, coolest, most stunning piece in the Cinemaquette line, and the absolute centrepiece of my collection.