Golden Age Hourman
By Hervé St-Louis
June 22, 2008 - 13:26
The Golden Age Hourman, created by writer Ken Fitch and artist Bernard Baily, first appeared in
Adventure Comics #48
published in 1940. Hourman’s alter-ego, Rex Tyler, designed a drug called miracle pill that would give him super strength, speed, stamina and durability for one hour. A founding member of the Justice Society of America, Hourman, now deceased, would fight crime by helping those who could not help themselves. The Golden Age Hourman action figure by DCDirect, released in April 2001 is the only six-inch one about Rex Tyler ever released.
If there ever were a character whose costume was the most based on a pyjama, they would come short next to Hourman. Hourman’s costume is a yellow hood and cape combo with yellow tights and a black body suit. The boots and the lower back of the cape have red and black stripes. Over the years, the length of the boots have increased or decreased. The size of the buckle of the boot has also changed over the years. The front of the hood, which is the facemask area, has traditionally being painted black, much like the Silver Age Batman
to add contrast to the face.
The action figure follows the overall look of Hourman, although the character’s face is not as narrow as in the Golden Age comic books and without the high cheekbones. Also, there is considerably a lot of room, around the eye lids opening of the hood, compared to the 1940s illustrations.
This one of the early sculpting by Tim Bruckner which is easy to see in the details he inputs in Hourman’s face. Hourman’s physique is small but compact. He permanently looks down which is not a good thing. I also find the biceps and triceps to be too long and too lean compared with the forearms. Hourman looks more like a gymnast than a wrestler.
This is a simple job with very little details. While Hourman’s face looks good and even his lips are painted, there is no shading on the action figure. The coat of paint on the stripes of the cape bleeds a little. The paint used on the belt is not thick enough to cover the black plastic mould underneath. The yellow colour inside the cape is darker and brighter than outside. It is a good move that adds dimension and contrast to Hourman’s physique.
Because this is an early DCDirect action figure, it really fits with other six-inch toys the vendor made back then. Next to the Modern JSA action figures, Hourman would look like an old man from a bygone era surrounded by extremely pumped bodybuilders. Next to the Golden Age versions of Flash
, Dr. Mid-nite
, Green Lantern
, the Silver Age Superman
and Dr. Fate
, Hourman will look very good.
Hourman has poor stability due to his uneven soles. His upper body tends to tip him backward. So to adjust him, one has to lean him a little forward. As he already looks downward, this doesn’t make his posing to good looking. Thankfully, Hourman is one of the first DCDirect action figures from that era to have a peg hole in his right foot.
Hourman, along with the Golden Age Dr. Mid-nite, the Silver Age Aquaman
are some of the few characters to have a new type of ball-joint articulations at the hips that DCDirect was testing back then. Although it gave Hourman more motion in the legs, it came short of equivalent ball-joints from vendors such as Toybiz. Also, using the hip articulations would grind the v-shaped lower abdomen. Hourman has ball-jointed shoulders, articulations at the elbows, the knees and the neck. Unfortunately, the torso does not twist and the fists which seem ready just for that also do not twist. The cape collar around the neck does not affect the twisting of the head.
Hourman is made of PVC material. His cape is made of a lighter stock but is non-flexible. The seams on the side of his ribs is almost non visible. So although the arms and legs are encased in the torso, one doesn’t seem much of that. Hourman has a tendency to become dusty very quickly.
The Hourglass that comes with Hourman is tied to his neck with a cheap thread that can easily break. The thread also catches dirt easily. The hourglass has a refractory effect as if looking through thick glass. No there is no sand inside!
At the time, Hourman was packaged on a cardboard card and encased in a clear plastic bubble glued to the cardboard. Images the other characters in the second JSA series were shown next to him.
At the time, Hourman cost around $19.99. Although prices on DCDirect action figures have decreased since, Hourman could fetch quite a lot of money on today’s market. I would assume that Hourman could fetch a minimum of $100 on an auction site. A unit in its package should go for about $200.
Hourman was introduced in one of the early DCDirect action figure waves before 2003 when the modern Superman action figure made DCDirect a hot commodity. As such limited amounts were produced as they were manufactured on orders received by DCDirect through comic stores and other hobby shops which used Diamond Comics as their distributors. Unlike the Golden Age Green Lantern, DCDirect has never released a second production run of Hourman. Hourman disappeared quickly from store shelves and can only be found on the secondary market, like auction Web sites.
Because he wasn’t a popular character and that the first Hourman action figure
by DCDirect, based on the robotic version that will succeed him was a peg warmer, DCDirect has been very careful with not overstocking this action figure. As one of the early DCDirect action figures that sported good sculpting, Although Hourman wasn’t much an interesting subject because of his lack of definitive features, this is a great action figure. If you have an Hourman action figure, cherish it and do not sell it. It cannot be replaced easily.
Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12