The Lure of the Public Domain Super Hero

The Spark Man harnesses the power of the deadly spark

With the Amazing Heroes Kickstarter campaign having less than a day to go (they have yet to meet their goal), plus the recent solicitation email from GBJR Toys (that's everyone's favorite trolling toy "creator" Geoff Beckett's follow-up to Shocker Toys) that they are looking to fund the Spotlight Golden Age toy line via some place I will not link to (I don't want you to suffer the fate of 100s of other people still waiting on product or refunds)...just why are these Public Domain Super Heroes generating such a buzz?

So many questions. How does Lone Warrior have a sidekick? And why is he named Dicky?

The obvious reason is that you don't have to pay any licensing fees. So find some cool characters whose Copyright has run out or hasn't been renewed...and make a toy out of them. You don't have to get into negotiations with Marvel or DC, which means you don't have to fork over a good portion of the profits.

Reefer King - Super villain who sold marijuana to kids

But if something sounds too good to be likely is. It's not as if Superman - or even Aquaman - are in the public domain. Most "good" public domain characters comes from the literary world. Think of the assemblance of characters in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or Showtime's new series Penny Dreadful. Both make use of well-known character now in the public domain.

There are a handful of interesting super heroes, but they're almost entirely included in the Amazing Heroes line. A lot of the characters in the public domain are just unimaginative or don't have a place in modern culture. Lots of blatant racism back in the 1940's...

Someone's glad they let the Copyright for Captain Nippon expire

There's a great informational database at They have information and photos (some of the ones I stole here...I'm assuming they're public domain as well) on several thousand Public Domain Super Heroes.

3 thoughts on “The Lure of the Public Domain Super Hero

  1. You should check into your facts a bit more before posting an article. Our facebook and Instagram show plenty of customers receiving their goods and loving them. GBJR Toys did what it said it would do and you keeping that from fans and slamming the company is not professional journalism but a sham in itself. We hope someday so called toy journalists do the right thing and cover all angles of a story not just the ones that suit their needs and opinions.

    1. If there’s enough smoke to choke on…there’s likely a fire somewhere. Heck, even Wikipedia makes reference to the non-shipping and lack of license issues.

  2. Hmmm and I wonder who wrote that wiki page? There is so much missing information on that skewed wiki page it is a joke. As a tip before reporting you should goto the source instead of a wiki page or other sources. You are a toy journalist get the facts, “ALL” the facts when preparing a story just my two cents.

Leave a Reply to GBJR Toys Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.