Poe’s Point > Thoughts on Funko ReAction

AlienSetCarded

This post is largely reworked from comments I wrote for Firefly confirmed for “Funko Legacy 6″ line (and ReAction as well).” It got me thinking about Funko’s ReAction as a style and brand, not just a set of remolded Kenner protoypes (speaking of, here’s CollectionDX’s review of the Alien ReAction figures). Super7 originally developed the toys, but then Funko bought both the Alien figures and the “ReAction” style and brand from Super7.

PGPoA staff member Nemo Eight expressed doubt that ReAction’s appeal would extend beyond the Alien prototypes, at least for non-1980s properties like Firefly:

I’m both surprised and not surprised about the Re-Action stuff. Honestly, I think that Funko is WAY overestimating the appeal of those figures based on the huge response ALIEN got. I think it’s a big mistake to do anything from after 1992 in the style, especially at the beginning of that range ESPECIALLY when you have the accurate 6″ figures coming 6-8 months later. […] I’m certainly open to Re-Action but psychologically they need to hook the audience on wish fulfillment for properties we’ve grew up with and never had (or never had “proper”) toys from – ALIEN, Back to the Future, Goonies, Escape From New York, etc. Those are movies OF that era. Firefly and Buffy… those are 90s properties and don’t make a whole lot of sense going backwards in nostalgia.

1977_star_wars_action_figure_a_luke_skywalker

1977_star_wars_action_figure_a_luke_skywalker by Dan Mire, on Flickr

I think the distinction I would make is that the nostalgia is focused on the property, not the “vintage Kenner figure” style. I think Funko’s idea is that the figures’ style isn’t to be viewed as “vintage Kenner-style as opposed to modern figures” but rather its own retro style.

Put another way, the target audience for ReAction shouldn’t be modern action figure collectors or even nostalgic fans of vintage action figures, but rather (and I hate to use this word but it’s the best shorthand I can think of) hipster-ish fans of those properties. These figures should be sold at Hot Topic and Newbury Comics. ReAction might be best marketed like POP or Mighty Muggs or Mattel’s recent MOTU Minis – novelty items, not collector-oriented action figure lines. I think Nemo Eight is probably right that the 1980s-era properties will do better than the post-1990 ones, at least initially. Can Funko successfully divorce the retro-Kenner style from the era in consumers’ minds?

The only similar endeavor I can think of are all the Mego-style figures that have been done for modern properties, but I don’t think those aren’t a great example. Mego figures have unique attributes that are going to turn people off in a way Kenner-style figures won’t. For many people (especially casual consumers) fabric=doll.* Mego figures are relatively large and tend to have loose joints and other issues relating to rubber-bands, which is another reason I generally avoid them. Perhaps most significantly, many more of today’s adults owned Kenner Star Wars figures than owned Mego figures. Star Wars was a phenomenon and arguably touched off modern geek culture, and the toys are intimately entwined with its pop culture legacy (just think of Elliot showing E.T. his Star Wars figures).

That said, here’s a thought experiment: let’s say someone makes a new 5″ DC Comics toy line in the squat, over-the-top-muscled style of vintage Masters of the Universe/Remco. The outfits are modern but the style is vintage. Would that be appealing, or ridiculous?

Space Commander in Detail a.k.a. Gary Graves!

Space Commander in Detail a.k.a. Gary Graves! by skipthefrogman, on Flickr

To wrap up, will the ReAction concept prove successful? My initial response to the idea was a big yes – doing retro-style 3.75″ figures, with their cheap sculpts and basic articulation, seemed like a no-brainer and I couldn’t believe it hadn’t occurred to anyone before. Nemo Eight thinks the figures look terrible and outside of the novelty of having been Kenner prototypes, the Alien ReAction figures have little appeal and the concept will fail for all but popular 1980s “might have been” licenses like Goonies and Back to the Future. But JoshB of CollectionDX tells me he’ll buy every single ReAction figure Funko makes (though he added he thinks a great deal of the appeal lies in the retro packaging, and that from now on he’ll probably display them all on his wall on their cards).

After some reflection, I think the figures will appeal to both casual consumers and action figure collectors. Casual buyers will enjoy tossing a figure or two up on their desk as a kind of novelty item. Some action figure collectors, through a combination of natural interest, nostalgia and sheer compulsion (we’re called collectors for a reason), will get sucked in as well.

However, appeal and success aren’t always the same thing. The major limiting factor here is the price point. $15 is too much for these when a super-articulated G.I. Joe or Marvel Universe figure won’t run you more than $10. If Funko can get it down to $12 or even better, $10, I think the ReAction brand could do quite well for them.

*For me, fabric=looks terrible on sub-12″ action figures, is perishable, and is difficult to clean.

Comments now closed (7)

  • A big factor here is, as you point out at the end, price. They cost 75% of what Star Wars Black does, and prices rising so dramatically across the board one must be ever more choosey with how and where they spend that money. I do like the IDEA of the ReAction line but in most cases I'll be spending that money on something that I actually want rather than something that is a novelty – which these are.

    ALIEN gets two big boons to it's success: firstly, it's releasing much fabled un-produced prototypes (rather than creating a 'what if' scenario) and secondly it's the first thing out of the gate. It's novel. How long will that novelty last? That's really the issue with all toy lines that really dictate their life span. Eventually every line boils down to lesser known characters or re-issues that no longer appeal to a large enough audience to keep the line going, so the battle is juggling that 'novelty ball' so it stays in the air the longest – which is why I think they are shooting themselves in the foot leading with FIREFLY.

    As we both feel, '80s properties will have the highest appeal in this format – so they should lead with those, and then, once that novelty starts to wear off roll in 90s or more recent properties as an infusion of fresh blood. Strategically they're making the wrong move. Novelty definitely has a shelf life and in most cases it's not long.

  • I can understand the appeal of stylized figures but I can't really see Kenner-style figures that way. Mighty Muggs, Funko Pop, Minimates, etc. are stylized. Kenner was trying to be realistic with late-70s technology, so when I look at these I see limitations and inferior product rather than style despite my memories of playing with similar figures.

  • I almost think that modern licenses done in 70s/80s toy style is more appealing than the classic licenses. I will definitely be picking up a few as oddities.If they do get the price more reasonable, I could see myself getting a bunch. I'm most excited about Firefly, Universal Monsters, Back to the Future, Terminator, Predator, and especially The Rocketeer.

    If I can get an Alien, Predator, and Terminator in this style, it would be a shame not to be able to get RoboCop too. There's a POP of him so hopefully he makes it out in this line too.

  • I don't think modern superheroes in the vintage MOTU style is the best comparison because superheroes in the '80s already had a more iconic representation with the Kenner Super Powers line. MOTU was about shirtless barbarians and mythical warriors fighting space monsters and cyborgs, not "traditional" superheroes. A better modern fit might be Frank Miller's 300– King Leonidas would feel right at home in Castle Grayskull.

    I think the real appeal of expanding the ReAction line is creating another option besides Megos as the go-to "retro toy". Many vintage properties don't seem to mesh well with the MEGO aesthetic and could be better served by the smaller, more detailed Kenner-styled figures. Remember Mattel's recent failure with The Real Ghostbusters? What a waste of a opportunity to properly portray Samhain is plastic!

    As a fan of both Firefly and vintage Star Wars toys I would personally love to have a little Shepherd Book who looks like a dark skinned Late '70s Obi Wan figure with a vinyl robe and dreadlocks.

  • Pingback Affiliate Link – Alien ReAction Retro Action Figure

  • Pingback 3AGO, 3A Toys Announces Mego-Like Action Figures (Again?)

  • Pingback Spotted Online – Alien ReAction and Classic Action Figures