And now we come to the end of our SDCC coverage. I’ve had to hold off on this one because I was really busy last week, but now I can finally take the time to discuss all the reveals.
Mattel showed a mock-up of a 1/12th-scale Ecto-1, which is currently available for pre-order along with Peter and Ray figures with removable proton packs so they can actually sit in the car. As of this writing, the pre-orders are extremely low and this seems unlikely to be made. It’s $215 for the car itself, $25 apiece for the Peter and Ray figures, and a multipack of all three for $265.
Doesn’t Mattel do market research? Couldn’t they crunch the numbers of their previous Ghostbusters sales and realize, “There’s no way we’ll sell enough of these?” The toy itself sounds amazing – it has lights and sounds, the trunk opens so the figures can store their gear, the doors open and so forth. That’s great, but it’s hard to get people excited when you don’t even have a prototype to show off.
Yes, that worked for Castle Grayskull, which is obviously the inspiration for this attempt. The problem is that Ghostbusters was never anywhere near as popular as Masters of the Universe Classics. And for good reason! It was a poorly-produced toyline. If Mattel had done a (much) better job on Ghostbusters – with individual body sculpts for the Ghostbusters, better facial likenesses, more ghosts, 6″-scale Real Ghostbusters figures, etc. – the Ecto-1 might have had a chance. Maybe that wasn’t cost-effective, but if so, maybe Mattel shouldn’t have picked up the license in the first place.
I think a lot of fans are wondering what’s going on with Mattel’s DC strategy. Since the end of DC Universe Classics as a brand, Mattel has been all over the place with the DC license. My theory was that DC Collectibles is slowly taking over the adult-collector-targeted, comic-based figures while Mattel focuses on cartoons, movies, and kids, and would stop competing with Mattel.
That may be true in regard to 6″-7″ figures. But just as DC Collectibles expands its 3 3/4″ line (and, it should be noted, Hasbro reduces its own 3.75″ superhero line), Mattel introduces their DC Comics Multiverse line, which everything I’ve found online says is 4″ (not 3.75″) tall. While the DCC line appears to focus on comic-based figures, Mattel’s will focus on videogames and movies, apparently, including a Michael Keaton Batman in the second wave.* The line is due in Spring 2014.
Of course, every figure of this line will be incompatible with all the 3.75″ lines out there, so forget about having Batman hang out with Snake Eyes or Marvel Universe Wolverine. I remain utterly confounded by the blindness of so many companies to collectors’ scale preferences. Mattel is one of the worst offenders with their giant MOTUC, slightly-oversized DCUC, too-small Movie Masters and all-over-the-damn-place Arkham figures, but as another example, McFarlane blew it with their 5″ Halo stuff. Collectors – especially superhero collectors – care a lot about scale. Making figures in scale with each other is a good marketing tactic. You will move more units, period. Why is it so hard to give us that?
I suppose it’s possible Mattel is going with the 4″ scale because they can’t legally do a 3.75″ scale due to DCC’s line, but given that DCC is (as far as I know) owned by the license holder, I can’t believe that’s the case.
It also bugs me we’ll now have a 12″ Michael Keaton Batman, an 18″ Michael Keaton Batman and a 4″ Michael Keaton Batman, but no 6″ Michael Keaton Batman. If I were a crazier person, I would view this as personal persecution by dark forces. But I’m not…quite…that crazy.
Anyway, I somehow missed out entirely on the DC Multiverse line until I started writing this thing today, so I’m not sure how much of a splash it made. Are people excited about this? The figures themselves look, well, okay. I wish they had biceps swivels, and I’m not sure whether they have ball-jointed hips, but otherwise, they look fairly good for the scale.
Then there’s the new DC Comics Total Heroes line, a 6″ line at a $10 price point. The line is stylized and seems to be based on the ersatz-animated look of Mattel’s kid-oriented Batman line, but with a bit more articulation. The Four Horsemen evidently had a hand in developing the look and/or engineering, but I don’t think they’re the primary sculptors.
In general, I collect “realistic” figures. Stylized looks turn me off so much I haven’t even been able to pull the trigger on Mezco’s awesome 9″ Gillman from Creature from the Black Lagoon. So this Total Heroes line has little appeal for me and would have no place in my collection. However, between the 6″ size, the excellent character variety**, the appealing, colorful designs, the welcome accessories, and the cheap price point, I suspect not only could this line prove popular with collectors, but it may even break through with kids and serve as a kind of Super Powers for the twenty-first century.
In short, while I won’t collect Total Heroes, I heartily approve and hope it does well. As with the Multiverse line, this one is due in spring 2014.
Finally for the DC stuff, there were the Club Infinite Earth reveals. The rest of 2013 will feature Huntress in her Jim Lee outfit with a crossbow, Ocean Master because why not, Ra’s Al Ghul as played by Lee Marvin, and Batzarro because again, why not I guess. Since I have a complete collection of all the Bat-family characters from the DCSH/DCUC/CIE era, I’d like to get Huntress and Ra’s Al Ghul, if only for completion’s sake. However, I don’t see myself fighting Mattycollector on sale day to get them (is CIE stuff even sold on sale days? I don’t even know).
The 2014 sub – if it happens – will feature a hook-hand Aquaman, Connor Kent Superboy, Ice, and two versions of Doomsday, one in his technological “straightjacket” and the other “unleashed” (a.k.a. “normal”). Because the unleashed Doomsday is more desirable, he is the higher, far-less-likely-to-be-reached goal of the subscription.
Oh, and there are still a couple more Watchmen figures coming.
Masters of the Universe Classics
Before I start, I just want to mention again I’m not subscribing for 2014. Last year I barely subscribed to Club Eternia 2013, and that was because of Ram Man. My reasons are pretty simple and I’ve stated them before – I’m just not that interested in MOTUC any more. They’ve released every character I owned as a kid, and the line is expensive to collect. Despite my personal waning interest, I can’t and won’t deny Mattel’s offerings for the rest of this year and for 2014 are almost all entirely awesome.
Thankfully, He-Man.org put together a list I can just crib from:
The Remaining 2013 Schedule:
AUG: Shokoti (Club Filmation) – Castaspella (2013 Club Eternia)
SEP: Batros (Club Filmation) – Sky High with Jet Sled
OCT: Lord Dactus (2013 Club Eternia) – Mantenna (2013 Club Eternia) – Nephthu (Club Filmation) – Weapons Pak: End of War (NO SUB) – Horde Troopers 2Pack (2013 Club Eternia)
NOV: Geldor (2013 Club Eternia) – Sea Hawk (Club Filmation) – Stickers (2013 Club Eternia) – Castle Grayskull (NO SUB)
DEC: Plundor (2013 Club Eternia) – Strong Arm (Club Filmation)
The 2014 Schedule:
JAN: Two Bad (2014 Club Eternia) – Modulok (2014 Club Eternia)
FEB: Glimmer (2014 Club Eternia)
MAR: Hydron (2014 Club Eternia) – The Unnamed One with Mini-Comic drawn by Axel Jimenez detailing He-Man and Skeletor’s FINAL BATTLE and the Horde Empire MAP (2014 Club Eternia)
- Traveling con figure for 2014 will be Goat Man from the Golden Books.
- MOTUC Standar figure announced at Stan Lee’s convention Comikazi in 2013.
- Scorpia’s Tail was teased in a very quick shot.
Let’s start with the stuff that looks fine but doesn’t interest me mucht: Hydron, Glimmer, Nepthu, Shokoti, Batros, Mantenna, Standar (a bizarre figure of Stan Lee as a MOTU character).
Plundor, the giant pink rabbit from the bizarre Filmation episode “The Quest for He-Man,” has proved controversial. I think the main reason for the controversy is that he’s a f***ing giant pink rabbit. No wait – what I meant to say was, the main reason he’s controversial is because he’s taking up a Club Eternia monthly spot, instead of either a.) a Filmation sub spot, or b.) the traveling con exclusive spot.
Personally, I think Club Eternia should be reserved for characters who were in a previous toyline, the MYP cartoon, or expanded universe stuff like Vikor. The Filmation sub should be for characters from the Filmation series, and the traveling exclusive should be either basically a repaint (TOD Sorceress, Strobo) or some other not-necessarily-must-have item.
Goat Man, while bearing a ridiculous name, looks badass. Plundor is one of the goofiest characters ever to appear on the Filmation show, and that’s saying something. Swap Goat Man for Plundor and the problem is solved, or if you have to, put Plundor in the Filmation sub, but why put him in the main sub?
Plundor also represents another significant deviation from the “Classics Style” the Horsemen hewed closer to earlier in subscription. It’s very cartoony, which clashes with a lot of the other figures in the line. At this point, I suspect many fans will be placing their Filmation figures on a separate shelf from the main MOTUC line.
I suppose the idea is to make the figures look as much like the Filmation design as possible, to give value to the Filmation aspect. But it comes at the cost of a certain degree of uniformity for the line.
Modulok. What else can I say about this? He’s incredibly badass. Assuming the engineering works, this one hits it straight out of the park and over the moon.
Lord Dactys. Couldn’t we have gotten this guy before I was spending a fortune on S.H.MonsterArts? Anyway, he looks fantastic.
Two-Bad. Here’s a great example of what I was saying about the Classics style. There’s no cartoonishness here. It looks great, although I’m always going to have a soft spot for the Millennium version.
Sea Hawk and Strong Arm (ignore Nepthu on the left). Strongarm is neat, and he doesn’t have a cartoonish head so he’ll fit in with the other MOTUC figures just fine.
Unfortunately, the jacket on Sea Hawk makes him look, well, kind of fat. It’s especially problematic since he’s one of the leaner males in the MOTUniverse.
The Horde Troopers – these are cool, although I’ve heard complaints that they’re too cartoonish. While I’m obviously aware of that issue, I don’t think it’s that bad here.
Sky High with Sky Sled. I’m severely tempted by this. I love the Sky Sled, I love Sky High from the Grayskull poster. I’m on board.
Finally there’s the whole “Unnamed One” thing. Mattel recently released a tease about him. Very curious to see how all that turns out.
If the sub doesn’t go through, Mattel has said that at least some of the figures that were shown will get released one way or another. I remain skeptical the subs won’t go through. While interest in MOTUC isn’t what it was 2-3 years ago, the reveals this year were much stronger than last year’s. I suspect it will pull through.
On the other hand, if Mattel is at all on the level about these “thermometers,” I don’t think Club Infinite Earths or the Ecto-1 will make it.
I believe the only way Mattel would have had a chance of getting the Ecto-1 and Club Infinite Earth subs pushed through would have been to do so in a manner like Kickstarter, with total transparency regarding the financial number they need to hit and constant real-time updates of the orders (Although let’s face it, Digital River could never get their shit together enough to offer real-time updates.) This gives fans a much clearer understanding of the situation and a clear goal to campaign for. (This would also help the MOTU subscription, although I think that will pull through anyway.)
Unfortunately, I think a big corporation like Mattel is just too bureaucratic and dependent upon risk-averse lawyers’ advice to get the permissions for that sort of thing.
*I suppose one could argue the lines aren’t competing with one another because one focuses on comic-based versions of characters while the other is movie/videogame-based, but DC action figure collectors only have so many dollars they can spend.