That knockoff Superman outfit, the big Converse shoes and the red nose — Marty Sullivan’s “Superhost” persona was as absurd as it was beloved during his reign as WUAB Channel 43’s Saturday-afternoon emcee.
So when we stumbled across a photo of Ray Miller’s tribute to “Supe” — delivered in the form of a 1970s Mego action figure — posted online (left), we wanted to know more.
But when we contacted Miller, we discovered he wasn’t a Clevelander at all. He’s lived in Pennsylvania since his youth and currently resides about an hour south of Pittsburgh.
“Cleveland was a part of my childhood even though I didn’t live there,” Miller explains, noting that WUAB was one of the television channels his family received in the ’70s. “I do recall when I was a kid thinking, They ought to do a Superhost toy.”
Now a toy collector as an adult, Miller was impressed by custom Mego-style action figures created by fellow hobbyists and decided to immortalize Superhost himself.
He started with a “fat Mego body” — one similar to the sort the now-defunct toy company used for characters like Batman’s nemesis Penguin — and dressed it in a blue superhero suit. “But the suit is turned around backward so the seam is in the front, like the thermal underwear that Supe made his costume out of,” Miller notes. The Converse shoes were lifted from a knockoff Bratz doll, modified and painted. (That’s where the socks came from, too.) Then Miller asked his wife, a seamstress, to create Superhost’s cape and oversize shorts. That left the toughest part: the head. A custom-made cranium was out of the question, but Miller luckily found a Mego-style head that vaguely resembled Sullivan at a toy convention.
“I think the character is from the S.W.A.T. or the Emergency series of toys,” Miller says. “I just trimmed up his hairline a bit and painted his nose red.”