Featured Screen Shot
Lois Lane [to the hand-cuffed Spider Spinelli]: Look on the bright side Spider, at least you look good in silver?
Mannheim: What are you waiting for? Shoot it!
Goon: But it’s a big ducky!
Mannheim: SHOOT IT!
Synopsis "Fun and Games"
“Spider” Spinelli’s gang screeches through the streets of Metropolis in a stolen armoured car before using a smoke screen to cover their escape. The gang is celebrating their haul in an anonymous warehouse when a peculiar figure wearing a grinning full-head dolls mask steps out of the shadows. He introduces himself as the “Toy Man” and tells them to deliver a warning to their boss Bruno Mannheim. By the time the gang recover their senses the Toyman has left and locked them in the warehouse. However, they’ve taken their eyes off a bouncing ball he has left behind. It starts bouncing faster and faster gaining speed with each ricochet. It quickly starts smashing crates and eventually leaves large dents in concrete and metal. The criminals retreat into the armoured car until their terrified cries attract Superman’s attention. The bouncing missile even phases the Man of Steel until he swats it. He then flies the armoured car with the criminals still in it to police headquarters.
Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are at Metropolis PD headquarters when the police pull Spider’s gang out of the wrecked armoured car. They overhear one of the gang mumble something about the Toyman, but Spinelli refutes Lois’s accusation that he works for Bruno Mannheim. Meanwhile, the gangster rehearsing a speech donating “Mannheim Park” to the children of Metropolis – part of his efforts to project the image of a respectable businessman. Clark Kent is already there covering the build-up to opening when Lois arrives, but she tells him the Toyman story is hers.
Mannheim is telling Lois he’s a “respected citizen” when a trio of toy fighter planes suddenly open fire on them. Clark pushes Mannheim out of harms way, but the planes shoot-up the picnic tables and anything else that moves (luckily the children haven’t yet arrived for the party). Mannheim runs, but Lois grabs Clark’s arm believing he is also in danger and prevents him from following. The toy planes circle for another attack run on Mannheim who has got himself stuck in a playground playhouse. While everybody’s attention is diverted Clark lowers his glasses and uses his heat vision to knock out the toy planes before they causes any more damage. The next attack against Mannheim comes that night when he’s on-board his private boat. A fifty-foot tall “ducky” appears and starts pecking at the boat. It slices the boat in two and Mannheim has to swim to shore. Superman arrives to hold off the ducky, but the escaping Mannheim runs straight into the Toyman who knocks him out with sleeping-gas filled bubbles. All that Superman finds is Mannheim’s gun and the Toyman’s discarded bubble wand.
Lois had written up the attacks on Mannheim and had brought in a psychologist to profile the Toyman. The profiler concluded that the Toyman must be an “emotionally stunted, amoral narcissist, with paranoid delusions desperately seeking external validation for his anti-social behaviour.” The Toyman does not particularly like Lois’s description of him and sends Lois a “Princess Nighty-Night” doll that puts her to sleep with its fairy-dust. When Lois awakens she finds herself dressed as a child’s doll (complete with mittens, giant-hair bow, and heavily rouged cheeks) in an adult-sized version of a doll’s house. The Toyman is calling to her from his warehouse of toys asking if she “can come out and play.”
Clark and Jimmy search the Daily Planet’s records for any connection between the Toyman and Mannheim. It’s only when they narrow the search to Mannheim and Toys that they find the story of a toymaker called Winslow Schott. His factory was raided by the police after it became the front for a numbers racket run by Mannheim’s gangs. Mannheim was a suspect, but he was never indicted. Only Schott was ever convicted, but he died before making parole. The Toyman has kidnapped Lois so that she can report what he considers to be an accurate account of his grievance with Mannheim. The Toyman explains how his father, Winslow, was an innocent pawn in Mannheim’s scheme, and that he has created the Toyman persona to get revenge on Mannheim for ruining his original childhood.
Lois finds that the Toyman has dressed Mannheim in a stripped prison costume and has strung him up as a marionette. The Toyman blindfolds Mannheim ready for his execution by a perverse firing squad of toy soldiers. The Toyman tells Lois that he is “deadly serious” and that “Playtime is over”. However, she surprises him by knocking his toy soldiers over like dominoes. The Toyman turns one of the very real guns on Lois, but she’s saved by the sudden arrival of Superman who snatches the gun away at super speed (he’d learnt the location of Schott’s family farm from the Planet’s obituary of his father). Lois cuts down Mannheim whilst the Toyman is occupied with Superman.
The Toyman had prepared for Superman’s intervention and throws a can of “Dopey Doh” over him. Despite its harmless appearance it is actually a “lethal biogenic formula” that smothers anything it touches. Superman’s solution to the formula is to spin at super speed like a spinning top. Lois and Mannheim find cover as the green gloop is flung in all directions smashing the Toyman’s playhouse and his giant toys. By the time Superman that is free from the gloop the place is in runs. The furious Toyman then drops hundreds of ticking toy grenades on top of them and disappears into the shadows. Superman scoops up Lois and hauls Mannheim up by his collar as the grenades start exploding. They clear the farmhouse just before it is consumed by an explosion that tears it to the ground.
Later, as police comb over the remains of the farm, Lois tells Clark that she can’t help feel sorry for the Toyman. Mannheim tells them that he’ll happily skip Schott’s funeral, but the police inform them that they only found the Toyman’s shattered mask and not his body.
The flubber-like bouncing ball versus the armoured car – I just love the concept and visuals of it.
I must applaud Bruno Mannheim for his use of such well constructed picnic tables. Those things must be made of several inch thick hardwood to take the bullet dents they do from the Toyman’s planes.
I love the opening sequence with Spinelli’s gang in the warehouse. The idea of a rubber ball that gains speed with each ricochet is brilliantly simple. It helps underscore how this Toyman isn’t as fluffy as the comic book version can occasionally be. I also like the way Superman is so understated. He doesn’t speak at all during the entire armoured car sequence and stands there watching and anticipating the bouncing ball’s path before swatting it effortlessly between his hands. The animation is old school, as you’d expect, and that shows with some of the city shots or pieces where they’d now use cgi. But!, there are some moments where it’s absolutely beautiful and fluid. The debris on the shattering yacht or Superman’s superspin are amazing.
I find it interesting that the Toyman is using children’s toys to attack Mannheim whilst Mannheim is actually trying to do something positive for the children of Metropolis (albeit to his own selfish ends). Superman also defeats the Toyman by acting like a toy – spinning top – to throw off the “Dopey Doh” (you find yourself typing the oddest things whilst reviewing these episodes). The reinvention of the Toyman as this faceless voice is inspired and creepy. This episode has a lot to live up to, as the first “regular” episode of Superman after the origin, but it stands-up well and is one of the better episodes of the entire series.
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