Toys / Comics to Toys / DCDirect

Super Friends' Black Manta Action Figure

By Hervé St-Louis
May 18, 2003 - 13:28



Black Manta looks like the Super Friends' design. It also matches the Silver Age comic book version, although he looks simpler. There isn't much to Black Manta's design in the first place. He's just a guy with an odd shaped helmet with two tubes attached on connecting to his back. The one area where there are variations is the shape of the eyes. Some draw them like squinting eyes, others like triangles.


Black Manta is posed in the traditional relaxed Super Friends' posture. He leans slightly on his left leg. His right hand is opened, while his left one is a fist. The right hand's opening is too large to hold his gun properly. Black Manta looks like he's ready to threaten and attack somebody. There's a sculpted in backpack/air supply on the figure's back, where the tubes attached to.

Physically, Black Manta is more imposing than either the Super Friends' or the Silver Age Aquaman. His shoulders are wider. He is bulkier. Although his limbs are lean, they are thicker than either Aquamen figures. The shape of his backpack and helmet are round. Manta has no muscle definition, but since he's wearing a wetsuit, it's understandable. His wetsuit detailed are sculpted in.


Black Manta's colour scheme is simple. He is purple. However, this is not the base colour of his plastic. His head is a dark blue/grey green. His gigantic eyes are yellow with a light sculpted in ridge. Except his belt buckle, other smaller pieces are black. The paint application on his silver belt buckle is poor. Only Black Manta's head is covered with shinny polish.


As mentioned above, Black Manta is taller than either Aquamen figures. He is shorter than the Super Friends' Sinestro. Those of you who wanted to use him as your regular DC Universe villains will be pleased with Manta's proportions. Manta looks great next to fellow villains such as Eclipso, Mirror Master, Captain Cold, Vandal Savage and the Mist. Because he wears a wetsuit, his simple sculpt is not an issue.

Standing upright

Although he carries more bulk on his torso than the Super Friends' Aquaman because of his bulkier body and air supply, Black Manta stands still better than the latter. He can lean forward though. Again, it is best to use the figure stand that came with the figure. You may want to put the peg bar as far back as possible to allow Manta's right foot to fit properly.


Manta has the standard nine points of articulations at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. A waist articulation would have been cool. The tubes do not impede the mobility of Manta's head connected to his head and backpack, but don't twist his neck abruptly or too far to avoid disconnecting or breaking the tubes. Of course, Manta'S shoulders are ball-joints.


DC Direct seems to have improved the plastic in its action figures recently. It doesn't stink anymore and it doesn't have the gooey liquid under the armpits. Although the figures were bulky, they seemed lighter than the other figures of the past. The plastic is still heavier than the stock used on Toy Biz and McFarlane figures though.


The figures come with props that suggest a diorama. The villain's manta-shaped submarine is included. It can be attached to a stand with a large base. It is detailed and a good replicate of the cartoons' design. The figure's stands are different from other DC Direct stands. Each has the Super Friends' logo on it. Perhaps having each character's name would have been more fun, but these are fine.


Black Manta comes with a ray gun with a small antenna. Unfortunately, there are no props for Aquaman, although, as mentioned above his right hand can hold objects. The Silver Age Aquaman's trident fits well. I would have included more than two peg bars per set though.


DC Direct's two pack packaging has been improving since they Birds of Prey Three Pack. Unlike the Birds of Prey's package, every element is contained within the box. There are no stuck on parts outside the box. There is even a nice window on top of the box where one can look at the figures. The figures are well attached to the box.

However, there was a problem with the way Aquaman's right leg was attached to the box. It bent, like the Modern Superman action figure from a few months ago. The leg has taken back its normal position-unlike my Modern Superman's leg. This time, all peg bars are sealed in a rolled up plastic bag with a tape on it. There's less chance that fans will find parts missing, like in the Birds of Prey set.


Like all DC Direct Two Pack, this set costs more than two individual figures. The logic behind this still makes no sense to me. Again, I strongly suggest to DC Direct to impose a real price on these action figures. The price variation from retailers is not good for the fans. There are only two prices. Expensive, and ridiculously expensive.


I know this sound like I've been repeating myself in these last reviews but I urge fans of these figures to get them now. This is the first Black Manta figure available ever. He was in high demand at the main DC Direct board. This is not the first Aquaman figure produced by DC Direct or another toy company, but the first Silver Age Aquaman Two Pack with Aqualad has sold out.

The Super Friends occupy a large part in the minds of kids from the seventies and eighties. Apparently, even boomers like them. The Super Friends show runs through syndication in many television shows around the world. Cartoon Network is also releasing a compilation of Super Friends cartoons on DVD to coincide with the release of these action figures.

There are many comic books on the Super Friends and a very successful action figure line based on them, the Super Powers. If you are like me, and cannot devote time to hunt the Super Powers action figures, you will probably prefer to settle on these adult action figures with better paint, sculpts and articulations. After all these are bigger and scarcer than the Super Powers. 1   2

Rating: 10 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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