Truetorial: Mattel Rips off the
DC All-Stars Band-Aid (Updated)

News of the (ideally temporary) demise of DC comic-based figures at retail has been circulating for a few days. With Young Justice canned, the DC Classics line moved almost entirely online, and DC Comics’ basic inability to market their wares, it’s not the best time to be a DC collector (again).

As a lifelong fan of DC Comics and a toy collector, I have to say that I know frustration comes with the territory. I mean, collecting is never as stress-free a hobby as it should be. It’s too easy to focus on what you don’t have. The drive to acquire can overcome the appreciation of having. It can be a slippery slope especially when you contemplate the old adage that “you can’t take it with you”. Toy collecting is even more prone to pratfalls because the quality is often not collector-minded, any number of factors can cause inadvertent rarity, lines falter and die all too easily, etc. You almost start to wonder that maybe toy collecting isn’t supposed to be fun…

If you’re like me and collect a lot of different lines, you’ve surely found that different lines carry differing levels of frustration. As a MOTU Classics subscriber, the toys (almost always) show up at my house, paid for without my direct action. It’s easy for me stay excited about that as long as the figures themselves are up to par. For Joes, the figures are almost always up to par, but repeatedly hitting up the local stores to find Firefly staring at me is the problem. Marvel figures are fun to find, but I’d never buy Daken if I didn’t need the Zola arm. Buying Ghostbusters makes me question my sanity. Glyos makes me fall in love with toys all over again, but older items are hard to come by. I enjoy all of and am sometimes frustrated by all of the lines I collect. That’s the nature of the beast.

And then there’s being a DC Collector. I’m sure there are some long-term Joe fans or TF collectors with horror stories. I know that there’s Captain Power or COPS n CROOKS fans dying for their favorite line to get a second look. So, I’m not trying to say that DC fans have it the worst. We don’t. But, of all the things I collect, it has frustrated me the most over the years. Ten years ago, when DC Comics was 67, when the modern action figure was in his mid-thirties and about to undergo a hyper-articulated overhaul, the quintessential DC toy line was still Super Powers, a line of 34 figures that had come and gone nearly twenty years prior. There have been other notable all-encompassing DC lines, but the 34 Super Powers figures constituted the best stab a toy company had made in making DC Comics toys until Mattel got a hold of the license. Basically, figures my parents gave me before Kindergarten were still some of the best examples of DC toys after I’d graduated from college. Ouch.

To their credit, Mattel changed all that twice. Yeah, they got off to a rocky start. JLU had some early cancellation scares before going on to be a fantastic animation-based line. I ended up buying more of my DCSH figures at Big Lots rather than the big retailers, but the DCUC line rose from those ashes and had a fantastic run: nearly three hundred figures, over 200 unique characters. It’s an impressive line if you were fortunate enough to put it all together.

For the first time that I can remember, Mattel actually made it an awesome time to be a DC Collector. Yes, there were some frustrations – distribution, quality control, but DC toys finally felt on par with Marvel. There was product and most of it was very good. I didn’t have to go into a store and look longingly at a healthy Marvel selection while there wasn’t a DC toy to be found. Things were going well it seemed. And then, whether you were casually collecting the DCUC line or going for all of them, you were likely shocked when things came to a screeching halt during last year’s SDCC Heroic Partnership DC/Mattel panel.

“Wave 20 will be our final wave at retail.”

To say that 2011 wasn’t a great year for DC fans in general would be an understatement. Green Lantern, the movie that was supposed to do for DC what Iron Man did for Marvel, bombed critically and financially (I used to say I was a huge Green Lantern fan, but can I still claim that when I still haven’t seen the film?). The powers that be at DC Comics quietly swept the universe we’d been reading under the rug. There was no big bang on the way out either, no thanks for all the memories. Geoff Johns simply put together a poorly written mini-series that took us to an alternate Earth and then… we just never got to come back.*

And then the toy line more or less imploded at SDCC. The quoted line above was delivered so casually that I still don’t quite think I’m hearing it right when I replay the video. “Wave 20 will be our final wave at retail”. First, there was the crying and gnashing of teeth one would expect. Then, damage control started soon after. The new line was an opportunity! They could take advantage of the DC Reboot AND give retailers what they were asking for! Classics will continue in the subscription! As I wasn’t that enthused about the New 52, I wasn’t that enthused about the retail line, but I liked the idea of a DC Subscription so I put my eggs in that basket and pushed for it to go through. And it did, and things are good on that front. Eight of the nine revealed figures are awesome and I’m not going to let that last one spoil the bunch for me. If there’s going to be any DC toy enjoyment in 2012 it will have to come from the subscription.

See, we’ve gone back to those days of staring at healthy Marvel sections (really healthy Marvel sections with movie lines and multiple scale comic-lines) while DC again has no presence in the action figure aisle. Even though I didn’t really embrace the retail line, I intended to document it. We added DCUAllStars.Com as a sister site and built a loose checklist as the first three waves were revealed. But that’s imploded too. First, the second and third waves were cancelled. Then a new first wave was solicited. DCnU Superman, DCnU Batman, and Red Robin were moved up. Larfleeze, Flashpoint Plastic Man, and the others have been (temporarily?) shuffled off to toy limbo. Then there was this:

DC Universe is going away after 2012 and there’ll be one more wave of 4. In 2013, we’ll be relaunching our 6″ with complimentary offerings on Matty and at Mass. You guys will be able to complete your collection and I hope you’ll like what we are doing. We’ve taken lessons from DC Universe and Legacy. Overall, we need to adjust to retailers, consumers and what’s selling in volumes that can be supported.

In the AFI Q&A Mattel referred to the All-Star line as a “Band-Aid”:

We have an announcement coming shortly, but due to the order cancellation, word has gotten out faster than we can get this announcement up. The All Star concept was a good idea but executed Band-Aid style. We’ve decided to hold tight until we can create the right line with the right packaging, etc.. For now, we’re going to finish up DC Universe with one last wave.

“Volumes that can be supported” is the key part to this for me. It’s why I wasted your time earlier bringing up Super Powers and the lack of non-Batman DC toys at retail for the twenty years between that line and Mattel’s offerings. I’m not going to excuse Mattel, but I have to wonder how much better off we’d be if DC could successfully market its secondary characters; if DC had been able to position itself as Marvel has. Remember, in the toy world, it’s all about units moved. If Mattel could sell more DC figures, the figures would presumably be better. I am frustrated with Mattel, but I’m really frustrated with DC Comics. DC’s inability to market itself is what has brought about the Relaunch in the comics. DC’s inability to market itself is why Mattel has been reduced to selling figures online, directly to consumers while Hasbro is pumping out two scales of comic-based merchandise for Marvel.

DC’s inability to market itself hasn’t suddenly gotten better either. And that’s where “volumes that can be supported” comes in. I don’t think that bodes well for DC toys. In 2012, JLU is ending (after a great run), Young Justice has been cancelled in both 4″ and 6″, DCU All-Stars is cancelled. Only four 6″ comic-based figures are slated for retail for the entire year. It’s okay though, Marvel and Hasbro need the room, right?

It’s not all bleak. There is the sub. This last wave of DC whatever will have Superboy Prime & Red Robin. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think the DCnU Superman and Batman look like cool toys even if I don’t care for the costumes. I hope that 2013 will be better, that Mattel can capture some of the 2009-2010 awesomeness, but the need to create a line that features characters in “volumes that can be supported” just gives me pause. If DC can’t elevate Superman and Wonder Woman to the level of Batman, if they can’t take a character like Green Lantern or Flash and elevate him to the place where Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor currently reside, then I’m not sure that “volumes that can be supported” will do much for collectors. I hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see. We just finished a great run of DC Classics. Eighteen fantastic waves and two more to boot. Let’s hope that Mattel can do it again, because I don’t think anything is going to get better at my favorite comic book company anytime soon.

All right, that’s probably a lot more blathering than was necessary, but I needed to type it all out. I feel better. If you read all of it, thank you, and I appreciate your perseverance. If you didn’t and skipped down to this strange gap between paragraphs, then right on, man. We’re on the same wavelength.

So here’s what all this means for my checklisting duties. I’ve moved that final four figure DCUC/DCUAS/whatever wave to the DCClassics.Com 2012 Page. DCUAllStars.Com is in limbo, much like the line. I’ve removed it from the site directory and the URL will now redirect to the 2012 page. Until we get a little better handle on what’s going on, that’s the setup going forward. I’ve got some other minor updates to make to the 2012 page (review links, subscription figure pictures, etc.), look for those closer to the end of the month.

4/11 Update:

After I wrote this on Tuesday, IAT got some crazy traffic numbers. So, let me kick this update off with a thankful nod to the readership. I’m always atonished and humbled that thousands of people come by and read my crazy rantings. When it’s late and I’m trying to get the next update done, you guys are what keep me going!

Anyway, after the forum links, tweets, Facebook posts, and not to mention my bud Poe Ghostal’s shout out (and Topless Robot’s shout out to him to boot), Mattel posted a Facebook update regarding the future of the DC at retail. I doubt that my Truetorial had anything to do with Mattel’s announcement, but it did make my article a little dated. Thus, time for an update. Here’s Matty’s Facebook post:

You may have heard that the time is nearing for the end of the Young Justice toy line. While we’re as bummed as you are, we want to be sure you know this doesn’t in any way mean the end of DC toys from Mattel. In fact, it’s quite the opposite!

Next month kicks off not one, but two new lines: our DC Universe Club Infinite Earths subscription service dedicated to true collector characters you won’t find at retail. The first shipment goes out in May and features an all-new 6” Golden Age The Flash figure. If you missed out on this awesome subscription, a limited quantity will also be available at on May 15th at 9am PT. Then, in late May, head to your local retailer and you’ll find The Dark Knight Rises, a kid-targeted Batman™ line. And for 2013, we’re planning an innovative collector-aimed line coming to retail stores.

Keep your eye on this spot and we’ll have more details as they’re available. Our partnership with DC is stronger than ever and we couldn’t be more excited for all the amazing new collector and kid toys to come!

It’s really only this line that matters: “And for 2013, we’re planning an innovative collector-aimed line coming to retail stores”. I had to laugh a bit because, by everything we’re told, a collector-aimed retail line being successful would require a small miracle. Still, I closed the original article out with hope that 2013 will have good things in store and 4 ‘little birdies’ have buoyed that hope. Today, the Four Horsemen pointed out on Twitter that they were currently making new DC Universe Classics style figures.

So within a day, there’s a little more to go on than where my Truetorial wrapped up. Yes, DC Collectors are still in for a long year, but if the 4H are sculpting now? Hopefully that means that we’ll see something cool at SDCC. And, after last year’s PR disaster, I think we’d all agree that Mattel needs to knock the 2012 Heroic Partnership Panel out of the park…

247 thoughts on “Truetorial: Mattel Rips off the
DC All-Stars Band-Aid (Updated)

  1. * – I didn’t want to get into a long tangent about the “The New 52”. It’s been a commercial success that I can’t argue with. And there are a few gems. But I will say this for myself personallly, I read all fifty-two #1s. Eight months later, I’m only actively interested in 8 or 9 of the books – and that’s when I actually get down to the comic shop. My reasons for going are severely diminished; I buy more to support my local retailer than any interest in what DC is printing these days.

    1. “The New 52” is (was) a relative commercial success, but it appears to be an unsustainable one driven primarily by novelty. Recent ICv2 reports seem to indicate that sales trends are reverting back to something like the pre-New 52 levels, with Marvel holding a small but consistent lead over DC in total unit sales. And the New 52 stunt didn’t really solve one of the problems it was supposed to: the fact that if it doesn’t have Batman, Superman, or Green Lantern in it, there’s not a lot of casual reader interest in DC’s books (a fact reflected in Mattel’s toy output… endless Bats, Supes, and Lantern-related figures and variants).

      Personally, I feel like DC botched what could have been a perfect opportunity to expand beyond the superhero comics market, i.e., a superhero comic is a superhero comic is a superhero comic… “re-launching” a superhero comic won’t make it any more appealing to readers who aren’t inclined to read about guys in capes and spandex in the first place, and all they’re really doing is (temporarily) changing the way they and Marvel divide the shrinking superhero comics sales pie. But that’s neither here nor there as far as toys are concerned, I suppose.

      1. It’s not about the toys, but it’s endemic to the whole marketing machine.

        I think the opportunity that DC really missed was in recruiting quality talent. I don’t want disparage any partcular creator, but I will say that not all artists are inherently writers. Writing is a learned skill the same as pencilling or inking. It was exasperating to see DC hand a lot of the writing assignments to the artists. Can you imagine if DC let any random writer just pencil the book? The art probably wouldn’t turn out that great, and the storytelling on the artist-written books hasn’t turned out that great either.

        The people in charge of the Relaunch are the people that brought it to the point it needed to be Relaunched. That probably wasn’t the best idea.

    2. The New 52 definitely helped Aquaman out and I think it did move a ton of units at first; most friends I know who are longtime comic readers actually fell into buying fewer books. Honestly, I’m surprised at the number I’ve stuck with and I only get Demon Knights, Aquaman and Green Lantern; I’d have stuck with Grifter and Legion Lost if not for how they’re crossing into two separate books apiece, ones that don’t have the best reputation on top of having little interest in the starring characters.

      I say that knowing that at Marvel, Journey into Mystery, a book that started last year that I’m a big fan of, is going to cross over into New Mutants. That’s a title I’ve never had an interest in but I’m going to buy the 2 extra issues. The difference there is I like Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning enough from other work to buy a few issues of New Mutants since JiM isn’t a borderline buy for me. Scott Lobdell and Rob Liefeld are nice guys but I don’t really have an interest in buying Superboy or Voodoo when Grifter’s been a guilty pleasure from the start.

      I thought Flashpoint was a terrible mess of half-finished ideas and editorial mandates; the first issue is Flash wondering what the heck is going on while the heroes of the Flashpoint-verse all gather to talk about how they won’t stop evil without the help of Batman, because he’s too awesome to do anything without. What’s exciting about five issues of a comic where the Flash is trying to convince Not-Batman that he’s not crazy and should fight evil so everyone else should be OK with fighting evil? That’s on top of the bizarre incident where Barry was harmed by being struck by lightning to give us a cliffhanger so he can spend 10 pages of the next issue getting struck again and getting his powers back.

      When DC announced the New 52, I knew what they were doing with Flashpoint but it made all the miniseries matter that much less; why would I want to buy a bunch of half-baked Elseworlds arcs? Still, I tried to be positive about the reboot since it was trying to fix things that weren’t working (Superman and Wonder Woman are very popular characters that have books that sell inconsistently, Justice League hasn’t been able to compete with most Avengers titles for a while) while keeping the things that were (Green Lantern, Snyder on Batman). But that quickly turned into new fixes on top of old ones where the Daemonites started to appear across titles to get people more invested in the Wildstorm characters. Books that I was reading because they’re somewhat non-committal, like Legion Lost which I picked up because Fabian Niecieza pulled a great run out of Thunderbolts long after most everyone stopped caring, seem less attractive when they replace the writer right when the title was getting its grip and then tie it into the HIVE plot that’s running through Teen Titans.

      Even my interest in Action Comics, which was my favorite of the relaunched titles, was derailed a little by the fourth issue; it had some really odd storytelling in it on top of the storyline grinding to a halt for two issues while Rags caught up on the art for the last two chapters. I love his art but it’s really jarring to stop in the middle of the rising action of a story to go show Superman’s origin. Because of that, the book seems inconsistent even when it’s under the same writer and (mostly) in the same storyline.

      Then again, I think Mattel’s recent actions with the DC brand are tied VERY deeply into the corporate structure at DC; as excited as Matty is to have an excuse to do a new Batman, I can’t help but imagine they’re finding out things on a month-by-month basis the way we are with new writers taking over low-selling titles after 6 months. With almost every character being redesigned, and some redesigns appearing different across individual titles (look at the ten different minor variations the new Batman suit has already had in different books), Mattel isn’t sure what to feature now. Remember how Aqualad was a big part of Brightest Day? Makes sense they’d probably try and make a figure of him especially since he’s on Young Justice and is therefore a little more accessible to kids. Well Young Justice is the only place you’ll see him since all the Brightest Day threads were trashed with the reboot and he’s yet to appear in New 52.

      I think that’s why we’ve seen so few reveals from DC Direct as well; they’re going to end up making almost every character from Arkham City because there hasn’t been a slam dunk mega-popular storyline/character from the comics proper yet, like Batman Inc. or Atrocitus.

      I think Mattel’s handicap with this is the short notice they’ve been given to get product ready from DC who started doing things a little fly-by-night last year; I don’t think Flashpoint ended up being anything near what it was conceived as (a Flash event akin to Sinestro Corps War) and things still haven’t settled entirely from the abruptness of that. I commend DC for committing to having monthly books out on time but when a book called Flashpoint, that directly spun out of the Flash title, basically ends up starring an alternate universe Batman you have to wonder what’s going on.

      Sorry for the rant; like you said, it feels good to type it out. I do think that Warner Bros is putting the crunch on DC to focus on “fixing” its comic arm before it spins out into ancillary product, which kind of leaves licensors like Mattel hanging. WB might think that everything is fine since The Dark Knight Rises will have merchandise everywhere but Mattel’s trying to keep momentum going past a movie year bump and they probably lack a ton to go on.

      1. That’s a very good essay there, and I think I have the missing piece of the puzzle.

        The problem at DC is, they’re looking for the next ‘Dark Knight Returns’.

        I think one had to be there, back in the ’80s, when that book dropped. It was huge. It (along with Watchmen, of course) actually got mainstream attention, lots of ink with headlines like “Bam! Pow! Comics aren’t just for kids anymore!” (and how often does THAT action line get trotted out?)and it might be argued that the success of DKR helped put the Tim Burton Batman into the big time (and actually get made) and of course the success made Frank Miller a rock star.

        All good stuff, not a question at all DKR made money, lots of money and that’s the only real measure of success Warner Bros. understands. But there was another effect, a subtle one, one that many don’t really think about unless you point it out to them.

        Miller took a future Batman and during the telling of that story tossed out a bazillion ideas, things dropped casually as ‘atmosphere’ because that’s how you do it, you build the world by taking the familiar and turning it on its head somewhat. Heinlein did it all the time, just writing “The door dilated open” tells you that things are different more than any wordy technical description could.

        Thing is, Miller tossed all that stuff out there (what happened to Robin that made Bruce act the the way he does? Why are Bruce and Clark at odds? Superman took off Green Arrow’s arm?! and so on, you know the story), it wasn’t meant to be a blueprint, it wasn’t meant to be cast in stone history, it was just stuff.

        But writers, and it seems editoral at DC went nuts, saying “YEAH! YEAH! That’s direction!!” and suddenly, everybody wanted to write ‘that story’, the one where Superman lops off Green Arrow’s arm, the story of who was that woman Gordon kept referring to (well, Miller did that himself), why did Green Lantern leave Earth (he saw his movie 🙂 ) and on and on. It was the thing. People wanted to be the guy who wrote the story that OFFICIALLY leads up to the events of DKR.

        And it was that way for a good long time. Then Alex Ross was deigned to be a rock star and Kingdom Come became the new DKR. And everybody wanted to write ‘that story’ about a character that leads up to the future of Kingdom Come.

        (I think DC was very sad about DKR-2 that it wasn’t as big as DKR, but that little 9-11-2001 thing kinda took some heat out of the timing. OTOH seems a fair amount of what Miller put out in -2 did get people wanting to write ‘that story’ again, I don’t recall Plastic Man being portrayed as f’ing insane before Miller)

        So, now, time has past, and the powers that be at Warner and DC feel things are ‘stale’ and ‘old’ and (shhhh, softly now) ‘we’re getting our ass kicked by Marvel in the movies’ so, let’s try to artificially create the ‘buzz’ that Miller and Ross had with a yet-another reboot. The mandate, while not put this baldly, clearly was “Make the comic books like the movies” and so we get rubber armor Batman and pantless Superman and Wonder Woman with pants, as seen in that hit TV series…whoops. And creepy bio-costume Green Lantern from that hit movie…whoops.

        I predict the ‘new 52’ will slowly just vanish over the next year. There’ll be another event and another re-boot. DC will be looking for the next Dark Knight Returns once again.

        Oh, what does that have to do with the DCU figures? Not that much. It’s dead. The few remaining national chains that carry toys are going to turn their backs on $15 and up action figures. I would bet Mattel will re-launch DCU in a 4″ size because that pricepoint (hopefully under $10) is more in line with what retailers want and the product will be a better fit for the reduced toy area that everyone is planning.

        1. That’s an excellent point about DKR and ESPECIALLY Kingdom Come; I think there’s been at least one story every 2 years since KC came out that “leads” into it or threatens to. Thy Kingdom Come in JSA, Earth-2 Superman in Batman/Superman, Generation Lost etc… Heck, Alex Ross DID the story where the Joker killed Lois Lane in one of the JSA tie-in one shots.

          Was Obsidian Age before DKR-2? I remember Plastic Man being totally nuts in that from being reassembled in the present after being broken down into a bajillion pieces a thousand years in the past. It’s been a while so I may be remembering it wrong.

          But yeah, WB and money. Harry Potter has left a franchise void at the WB that’s only going to be exacerbated when Nolan’s last Batman comes out and they want that filled NOW.

          That’s why we’re seeing Before Watchmen this year, whether or not it’s a good idea. WB’s desperate for a successful media extension of a DC property that isn’t Batman but they’re rushing things; that’s why we’re seeing goofy sight-gag Animal Man shorts on DC Nation while the actual Animal Man comic out now is pretty far away from what you’d give to a kid. They’re throwing anything at the wall to see what will stick so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first TV show based on a Vertigo property come out soon (excluding the debacle Fables went through). They’re trying really hard to get a new live-action show out before Marvel does and they’re succeeding; since both Wonder Woman and Green Arrow have at least made it to pilot while whatever Hulk or Alias things that Marvel’s got going have yet to materialize. But that’s part of the problem as DC/WB is in such a rush things aren’t coming together right.That’s why Flashpoint started as a Flash event akin to Sinestro Corps War but spun out into the adventures of the amazing Not-Bruce Batman and Crazy Barry trying to stop a fight between Anti-Aquaman and Wonder Warrior where Reverse-Flash just happened to pop up so he could get killed.

          I have to wonder if Mattel is sitting out because they’re totally unsure of what to try and sell. Just look at the new Justice League: Batman and Superman are getting figures because they always do. Mattel’s probably iffy on WW because that’s how the market is with female figures. Aquaman’s got a big selling book but is his costume really any different from how it used to be short of that surfer necklace thing he has in some images? GL looks exactly the same as he always has with their being plenty of figures of that look already out and Cyborg was one of the biggest pegwarmers in the line. The only one left is Flash and they cancelled him. I get the impression they don’t know where to go as DC just fractured the toy audience a little more: now instead of just modern looks/figures (Anyone from Jack Knight to KC Superman to Blackest Night Characters) and classic ones (like Metal Men or JLI or what-have-you) they’ve also got Post-modern/New 52 looks to deal with.

          1. I am so on the bubble about Before Watchmen. I actually kind of want it to work but I know I KNOW they won’t take the chances true prequels would demand and they’ll play it safe, do lots and lots of ‘clever’ foreshadowing and just totally pee away the potential.

            Here’s my cure for Mattel’s problem with DC. “From the comic!!” line. Figures sculpted to match the art from specific comics. Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Simonson Batman and Manhunter. Mike Grell LSH. Giffin Ambush Bug. KIRBY FOURTH WORLD muthaf…. um… yeah. 🙂

            OK, I know that’s insane. That would require so much new tooling Scott Toyguru would have a stroke trying to find reasons why they couldn’t give Paul Kirk Manhunter his weapons. And the Kirby figures would be so massive they’d use twice as much plastic as the other figures. 🙂

            But I like insane. Gotta admit, it would get attention.

            1. I’m not sure what to think about Before Watchmen either. I kinda don’t want to buy it, but hey it does feature characters I know, characters that will (presumably) act like they should. 😀

              I’m not to up for Mattel go get too artist specific with their wares. Honestly, the specific “Golden Age” or “Silver Age” versions of characters (mostly Batman) have bored me to death. The only exception is the GA Bats that came with Bat-Mite. For some reason, I love that Batman figure to death.

              1. I’ll probably read Before Watchmen simply because I don’t want to grouse about it without actually having experienced it. They did get a group of talented people to work on it but that has the double edged sword of Darwyn Cooke being tied up working on something I don’t care enough to ask for but am too curious not to read. I’d rather he be working on something like a new volume of Parker or another DC limited series or whatever.

                When I do read it, it’s going to be in a collected edition though and one I’m going to get from the library since I know they’ll have it. Funny that this is DC’s event book for the year as, even if some events are not great, there’s usually one or two positive things that spin out of them. For example, Civil War was all over the place (man those issues of Frontline are so ridiculous and what happened to the undercover Atlanteans?) but the Initiative book that spun out of it was excellent.

                DC Direct was the home of artist specific likenesses but they only really finished what they started with things like Batman/Superman and Kingdom Come. Some of those didn’t turn out so hot either (Identity Crisis) but it doesn’t matter now since Arkham Asylum/City and Blackest Night are the best selling things they’ve probably ever had so they’re probably going to continue in that vein in the future.

                I note that I’d love one completely consistent set of Legion members though, preferably in scale with one another. The Matty set really tempted me but there were too many “minor” issues to justify dropping the cost of a Hot Toys figure on it. With shipping, I think the deluxe T-800 they’re putting out would only be about $30 more.

                1. I don’t think I have the patience to wait for Before Watchmen to come put packaged together. I’d like to be that guy, but I’m just not good at it.

                  I’m glad I bought the Legion pack, but only have 12 of them seems so silly, that I don’t really feel like I need to have bought it.

            1. NECA (I think) put out some pretty great, albeit fragile, Harry Potter toys. Even I considered picking them up and I don’t like Harry Potter anything.

              1. NECA does good work. It’s interesting that so little toy merchandise seems to be out there compared to what a powerhouse the films were. I wonder if that means anything.

            2. I’ve seen some decent UK only HP toys, in a smaller scale than the 7″ LPS “action” figures we got over here. Even the 5″ CO Doctor Who figures are better then some of what we get, but they’re near impossible to find and CO seems to have turned to numerous cost-cutting variants and obvious “kewl” looking misfires. :/

        2. Mattel is still promising 6″ compatible figures in 2013. And that’s in their best interests anyway because the retail figures could become a vehicle to sell more subscriptions.

          Cause, y’know, Matty’s good at cross-marketing like that. 😛

      2. My favorite version of Aquaman will always have an attitude and a hook. The new Aquaman title is okay, but I resent the notion that Geoff Johns ‘fixed’ anything with the character and it hurts the book for me a little bit (granted GJ did fix the awful changes Busiek brought about).

        I liked parts of Flashpoint, particularly Batman, but the overall story just makes no sense. If you’re a GJ fan you can’t really get hung up on basic storytelling (sorry, GJ), but how did Flash’s Mom living or dying affect where Superman’s rocket landed? How did Zoom messing with time left and right not screw anything up, but Barry screwing with one thing that Zoom screwed with screw everything up? It was writing to serve a purpose, a tale built around nothing more than getting us to that 2pg spread with Pandora. Boo.

        What bugs me most about the Mattel/DC relationship is that we’re not seeing the “nU” looks hardly anywhere else. Reese’s candy with DC superheroes was still from the old universe. The DC Hostess cakes are still the old art. The Spencer’s bikinis still evoked the older DC costumes. Maybe it’s just about lead time, but the nU isn’t being foisted upon me everywhere I turn, just mainly in the comics and toys – the two areas I care about most.

        1. I’ve never read the Peter David Aquaman stuff (DC is really inconsistent about reprints, and even more inconsistent about the actual paper quality etc… of those reprints) but I definitely have favorable impressions of it from reading Wizard back in the day. I love Kurt Busiek but Sword of Atlantis was a mess; it wasn’t even clear for a minute if Arthur had died off-panel. Yikes.

          I think DC was relying on everyone reading Flashpoint to not have read the Flash title that “led” into it. That had it’s own set of ridiculous snafus, like being the most notoriously late book DC had this side of Flash:Rebirth, but I really couldn’t tell you what it or Time Masters really set up. Then again, Thawne already changed time once in Rebirth and nothing happened outside of Barry’s memory changing so it’s possible that the editorial began as far back as the start of the second story arc in Flash.

          I love Geoff Johns, going all the way back to JSA and his first Flash run (really his only one too since the second title was such a scheduling snafu), though I’ll admit he may not be the best fit for what DC’s trying to do with him. The push to make writers huge superstars that are “names” to sell events is a thing I’m noticing a lot lately. Marvel’s doing the same thing with Fraction and the result was Fear Itself. That series itself was… uneven. We did get Journey into Mystery out of though and it’s excellent.

          I recognize the need for marketable names but is Bendis really a fit for the X-men? He’s an incredibly nice (and very funny) person who has written some good comics but I never thought any of his Avengers work was outstanding. You can see where Brubaker kind of walked away from them trying to do that with him though; he’ll write around events but I don’t think he’d ever do something like Avengers vs. X-men.

          I have to stop before this turns into how all these Marvel writers need to stop trying to top each other with outrageous bronze age references and how the entire company needs to appreciate Dan Slott’s incredible talent more and finally let him write “The Reckoning War” that he set up in She-Hulk all those years ago.

          Harry Potter got some above-decent toys from NECA. I never bought any but Hagrid turned out great from what I could tell and I think the one wave for Order of the Phoenix with all three of the main kids turned out OK. They came out right before NECA hit their next quantum leap in amazing quality (the Bioshock/Predator era) but anything for the last two movies was just repackaged stuff (I think). Even then, NECA put out stuff that was better on all sides of the Potter license era; RE4 for example.

          I’ll believe those 6″ inch vehicles when I see them and then promptly not buy any of them except maybe a Batmobile.

          Excellent point about the media visibility of those designs; comic people are the only people who are really seeing them and the only merchandise with them are toys that are too expensive for kids to buy. I love DCUC but I really don’t see him getting one figure of someone like Green Arrow when he can get a deluxe Transformer and a GI Joe for the same price, or like 6 Botshots.

          We’ll have to see what happens with those costumes in the future, especially since MAN OF STEEL uses a variation on the New-52 outfit. In the meantime, I think things like the candy, bikinis, school supplies, beach towels or whatever will use the old designs because they don’t expect kids or Spencer’s customers or whoever to recognize that new Wonder Woman symbol or to know that Batman’s new-52 look is his suit and not some special battle armor.

          1. The 90s Aquaman is one of my favorite comics! I wasn’t that thrilled with the Veitch stuff, but Will Pfeiffer did awesome work with him before Busiek came along and told me to stop buying Aquaman.

            I completely agree about the licensing kit should still feature classic looks! I wish the toys would get the same exception! 😀

    3. “Eight months later, I’m only actively interested in 8 or 9 of the books – and that’s when I actually get down to the comic shop. My reasons for going are severely diminished; I buy more to support my local retailer than any interest in what DC is printing these days.”

      That’s more books than I’m interested in, and I’m keeping enough for a pull to support my “local” comics shop, as well. I use the term “local” VERY loosely. Geographically, it’s bout 25 miles away, but it’s 60 to drive there. yeah. Luckily, they offer a mail service after they closed the second store, so I don’t have to waste gas running up there at least once a month.

      Newsarama had a recent list of the current ten lowest selling titles that might be next on the chopping black and three of mine were on there. If DC does decide to bring the axe down again on these books, then I’m not going to bother replacing them on my pull. All but one of my pulls are DC (GoT adaptation, which needs an artist who can draw more than three faces), having given up on Marvel’s steadily increasing prices and only keeping up on a handful of characters by trades.

      As for Mattel’s DC lines, I still haven’t seen any “Official” announcement on YJ other than rumors and comments there of. I’m still confused to the status of 6″ DC AllStars or whatever, and expect the sub to be delayed again.

      I just find it slightly ironic that Marvel Legends started it’s decline as DCSH adapted to DCUC, and now that DCUC is on it’s way out, ML returns. c’est la vie….

      1. I wish mine would offer a mail service. They think they can’t compete with the likes of major comic retailers, but I actively disagree. I think folks would be fine to get comics mailed to them locally. The shipping wouldn’t be high and the delivery would be quicker than the big sites can get it to us.

        Anyway, yeah 8 or 9. LOL I’m not even commital to the ones I like. A lot of the ones I do enjoy are ones that I don’t expect to last for long. The sad thing is that I’m buying more than nine, so I’m spending my money on crap I don’t really like. I gotta stop that…

        As for Mattel’s DC lines, I still haven’t seen any “Official” announcement on YJ other than rumors and comments there of. I’m still confused to the status of 6″ DC AllStars or whatever, and expect the sub to be delayed again.

        I just find it slightly ironic that Marvel Legends started it’s decline as DCSH adapted to DCUC, and now that DCUC is on it’s way out, ML returns. c’est la vie…

        If you follow my first link to the Matty forum, you’ll see the Matty Justice League fellow confirm the retail death of YJ and All-Stars in various posts.

        The irony of ML/DCUC/ROML isn’t lost on me. It’s just damn unfortunate!

  2. So one last wave, let’s call it “21” and then just the sub… you are right DC don’t know how to market their heroes. Too bad, and you were right about collecting DC… it sucks a bit.

    1. I wish it didn’t, but DC has never had their act together enough to promote their secondary tier and Marvel has proved that’s the bread and butter.

  3. I was around when Mego went bust and wondered, as only a kid would at the time, why there weren’t any superhero action figures out there as compared to Star Wars. Why weren’t Pocket Super Heroes bigger than SW? The logic here was that Kenner kept churning new figures out of what were then 2 out of 3 films while Marvel and DC had been publishing comics every month for decades. Why weren’t they marketing their characters as action figures when Star Wars was doing so well with a movie line? That’s how I learned about the importance of marketing your wares in an efficient fashion. It just wasn’t happening until Super Powers arrived while Secret Wars basically blew it right out of the gate.

    I could see the writing on the wall soon as DC announced the Relaunch. Seventy five-plus years of continuity down the toilet meant that there would be no need to market “classic” characters anymore. That was the sole reason for DCUC’s very existence. Distribution was spotty, yeah. But the attention being given to the brand’s history and collector support of DC’s legacy was key to the line’s success.

    All I can say is, thank the plastic Gods for the Classics sub and to all those who supported it. Otherwise, we’d have nothing. Maybe teams will be completed while DC gets its act together and gives Mattel something more feasible to work with. Marvel Legends were but a memory until last year, so I have faith that we’ll see DC bounce back as well. Time Warner has too much at stake with Disney being their main competition in the superhero arena. DCUC was the greatest, most emotionally fulfilling line since Super Powers. I’m confident that we haven’t seen the end of it yet.

    1. Can you imagine if there were no sub? The TRU 2pks (which I neglected to mention in my article), Red Robin, & Prime would be it for the entire year!

      I do think things will be better once they get re-organized for 2013, but I’d like it to be as good as it can be again. I think Mattel can have it limp along for awhile both in the sub form and at retail and if DC can figure something out that would increase licensing sales, hopefully Mattel can take advantage of it.

      A lot of hopefully involved though…

  4. I blame Mattel. If they can get Barbies and Hot Wheels into nearly every store on the planet, they should be able to get me Action figures for under $10 and at my local bigbox stores.

    1. Barbie and Hot Wheels are Mattel’s own brands. With DC, they have to get into licensing someone else’s ideas, and that adds more layers of bureaucracy and meddling. I’ve been interested in DC toys for years, though I very rarely bought any, and I think that no matter which toy company is involved in making DC-based toys, there are going to be disappointments. So while Mattel hasn’t exactly been the best customer-focused company of late, I’d say that DC is probably responsible for a hefty slice of the blame, too. Too many lawyers, not enough marketers.

      1. Not to mention it’s about demand too. Hot Wheels and Barbies will always be in demand. As fervently as some collectors are about DCUC, they do not represent everybody. For the most part, people and kids seem to not want DC Comics based toys.

        1. The article was really running longer than I intended, but I did want to really touch on that. Again, not to excuse Mattel – they are not the most creative folk when the chips are down – but the distribution issues and the cost also have their roots in DC Comics inability to market itself.

          Clearly, a portion of the fanbase couldn’t find the toys. Either that was because they were sitting in a different Walmart in a different state or because Mattel wasn’t quite selling enough to meet demand – but I’ve never though that the demand wasn’t being met by a large margin. I sometimes wonder if Mattel had been producing more figures, if the stores did a better job doling them out, would things have been better or would the pegwarmers just have piled up that much faster?

          The demand just isn’t there like it should be, particularly when you look at it compared to Marvel.

          1. Well, if you’re talking Wal-Mart, my experience from living in the States told me that Wal-Mart was the worst nationwide retailer for getting products into stores. Distribution would’ve been handled better by a tranquilised baboon pointing at random points on a map. That’s how it was back in 1997, and wasn’t a great deal better by the time I moved back to England in 2000. I take it not much has changed in the Wal-Mart distribution department in the intervening 12 years . . . .

            1. It depends on where you are. I live an hour from Wal-Mart central and WM is fantastic for us. When I’m travelling, I see that’s not the case everywhere, but a lot of the collecting here lives and dies by WM. I have 1 TRU, 1 Target, and about 30 WMs within an hour of me.

              1. only ONE Target and TRU? forget it, I’m NOT moving down there, now! LOL

                (my usual into StL toy route has 6 Targets, 7 WM (three aren’t worth stopping at now), and 3 TRU, a couple more if I run up to St Chaz where my LCS is)

                1. Yep. It’s all Walmarts here! The upside to all the WMs is if you miss it at one, it’s likely at another nearby which used to be great for epic toy runs. I get almost everything online anymore though.

    2. I know we like to make those comparisons, but they’re not really applicable. It’s always about units sold. Do I think Mattel could be more creative? Absolutely. Do I think the profit margin is high becaue Mattel has to keep all those cubicles lit up? Absolutely. But is Mattel also hamstrung by having the lesser selling comic-book license? Yeah, they are.

      If DC toys sold as well as Barbies, we’d probably be some of the happiest, broke-ass collectors out there…

  5. Nice job on this. I was just talking with a friend the other day about how there will be practically nothing DC to buy for all of 2012. Luckily for me, I have the sub and I’ll be getting the JLU offerings but for him, he will not purchase a new DC figure all year long. How does that happen? How in 75 plus years, has DC failed to get a single character to the level of Batman? What they really should have blown up and restarted is their movie franchises. After the Dark Knight comes out this summer they should have found a way to start over with everyone and work towards a Justice League movie. Marvel already laid out the formula, all DC had to do was follow it themselves but they seem utterly incapable of doing that.

    1. Thanks, J!

      I think you’re right on. At this point, DC needs to reapproach their films. We can tell from the comics that quality isn’t a high concern, but that needs to be the primary focus. That starts with getting the right people. GL didn’t have that luxury and looking at the folks attached to some of the upcoming projects, we’re in for some trouble.

    2. “How in 75 plus years, has DC failed to get a single character to the level of Batman?”

      Ugh. Go back and look at history. Superman was as popular in the 40s and 50s (fleischer toons, serials, radio show, World’s Fair, George Reeves tv show) as Batman is now…and had a resurgence of popularity due to at least the first two well received Reeve movies of the late 70s and early 80s. One of the many reasons why that when you see an s in a pentagram, no one needs to explain to you…or a 5 year old…who that is. That being said, yes, WB and DC let that popularity ebb through…well…diminishing quality of product (to be polite).

      Sorry…but I just hate it when seemingly EVERYONE overlooks the fact that DC did have a pretty popular hero before the bat.


      1. pentagon…not pentagram. Ugh. Been up all night. Also, did not mean to sound “troll-ish” there…but from an opposing point of view, Batman has reached the level of Superman (just superman reached that level in the 50s…and has fallen far…so far…since).


        1. I understand that, but the Superman movies were made almost 40 years ago. At this point, it feels like DC has Batman and Batman only. They can’t get any other characters going in their movies.

          1. I’m a Superman guy first and foremost, so I hear ya. They’ve had stints one other characters have gotten tremendously popular as well.

            But, in the thirty years I’ve been around Superman DC has done little but let it ebb, like you say. Superman should have multiple film franchises, 100s of figures, and all the good stuff. To the credit of the character and the various writers that have portrayed him so masterfully, the symbol is still everywhere. It’s a sigil with a meaning unto itself. But DC’s done crap in terms of marketing the ‘man’ behind the symbol.

            1. I agree and that’s why I enjoyed All Star Superman so much. It wasn’t about the symbol but about the man behind it and his struggle he was facing.

  6. So you’re saying I shouldn’t hold my breath for an Elasti-Woman figure…

    I’ve really enjoyed DCUC, even if I’m not a completist. And I’m a DC Comics fan; even if most of the books I like get cancelled. Repeatedly. But there is probably a lot of blame to be spread around here. DC has made a lot of questionable choices lately–the 52 really should’ve been a hard, across the board reboot; but they couldn’t risk messing with Batman or GL. Mattel’s distribution and price and quality control all figure into a snowball of discontent–why are wrestling figures eight bucks cheaper than DCUC? Because they don’t have collect-and-connect pieces or buttons?

    Hell, I even have DCUC blame on the local level: how do several local stores still have Mary Marvel and Captain Cold on the pegs? How? I understand it has to be difficult to get every cylinder of a toy line’s engine firing, but currently DCUC has none going…

    1. what would really chap you is, the wrestling figs feel much sturdier too…

      i do wonder what went wrong w/ the DCU model, cuz they seemed on track to rival marvel legends. you also have to factor in, when accounting for marvel legends, that you had three companion lines, hulk classics, spider-man classics and x-men classics, that released characters in the same scale/style… could DCU have benefited early on from giving compatible lines to their big two at least, and thus free up some space in the line for more obscure figs?

      or in another direction, has DCU released anyone as obscure as arnim zola, or modok? i guess i don’t know that one for sure, but it seems, as a kind of DC outsider, that you guys didn’t get as deep into the roster of available characters as legends was able to do…

      this is starting to sound mean, and it’s not meant to… i’m genuinely curious what could have been done differently to keep the line viable at retail. certainly, price tag has murdered casual interest, stabbed it repeatedly in the chest and is seeking sanctuary in cuba as a political dissident. i can’t help but think the overall lack of marketing really hurt them. while it’s true that toy biz didn’t market legends, it’s also true that the toy world was a different place when legends kicked off… DCU didn’t get support w/ a cartoon, they were after the jlu cartoon and teen titans had ended, and they didn’t advertise on tv. toy fare died, so magazine ads were out… they needed kids to buy the figs too, and i just don’t think that was (is) happening. how do you get kids to be interested in some of these characters? forager looks really dated, robotman looks really dated, etc… kids know superman and batman, and no one else has really cracked the collective subconscious like they have. some of that is marketing. i will say, the new green lantern cartoon has my kids interested in rainbow lanterns, at least in the conversational arena… that’s a start DC.

      1. Perhaps it is just my experience, but I’ve seen much of those companion lines peg-warming worse than Captain Cold (is than an odd pun there?) around my neck of the woods. I’ve kinda wondered how Mattel can complain about sales, when i see DCUC sell out in a matter of days, but can still find the same Iron Man figs from a few years back, just collecting dust. I guess Mattel and Hasbro have different expectations in how their respective lines should move.

        1. The GL Classics line got super clearanced here. And Vault still never built Stel.

          Here, a store gets in one maybe two cases of DC Classics, sells through it well enough and then the pegs are empty for awhile after that. The Marvel figures that do collect dust are the accumulated pegwarmers of multiple cases being sold in the same time frame. We’ll never know specific numbers, but I have to image that the number of units DC/Mattel can move is paltry when compared to Hasbro’s.

      2. I can say for certain that DCUC mined the depths of obscure or minor characters. Killer moth, Kamandi, Dr Impossible, Cyclotron. There were some truly strange choices in the line.

        And the biggest reason that peg warmers develop for DC is the case packouts. Captain Cold was a NOTORIOUS peg warmer but it was not his fault at all. Wave 7 was split into two cases. One case came with Flash x3, Kid Flash x2, Cold x2, Barda, Green Lantern, Batman. This was the first dip into the Flash universe so people were buying up Flash figures really quick and then a new case had to be put out. Eventually, the Cold figures which were selling 0-1 per case built up to huge numbers. Almost every peg warmer in the line has a similar case packout story which led to their peg warming.

        1. Captain Cold was especially nasty because he was packed in FIVE different case packouts. Not just the two Wave 7 assts but in three other “Best of” special cases that were made for both Walmart and Target.

          1. That had to be the most boneheaded one of all. I wonder what motivated that. They anticipated more demand? He was a mold that wasn’t being demanded somewhere else?

            It’s a shame they didn’t have the ability to pop Gentlemen Ghost in those cases, two birds.

        2. There are a couple Walmarts here that can’t give away Kamandi. Even one of my local stores has been shuffling thirty Power Girls and a couple Foragers back and forth for two years, now. I didn’t see them last week, so I don’t know if they boxed them up to return to Mattel or what. If they dropped the price from $11 I might buy some fodder, but this is also a store that has XMO:W 2pks for $5 one week, then $20 the next, then $10, for over a year. Add in the new confusion of ML now being sold as “Marvel Universe 6″ Legends” to stores that barely bother with 4″ MU and it’s disaster in the making.

          1. Al the WMs are prety clear down here. There’s one not too far with Wave 14 still piled on, but for the most part no DCUC to be found.

            I had to laugh on my recent trip though, I found Doctor Impossibles. Ouch!

        3. I’d say DCUC had a fair share of obscure characters. They could’ve done even moer obscure in my eyes, but I think the line crossed the spectrum pretty well.

      3. Jemm, Son of Saturn? Kamandi? Tyr? Validus? The Shark? Mantis? Killer Moth?

        DC has done characters way more obscure than Modok or Arnim (and those characters were BAFs).

          1. Wasn’t Jemm supposed to be the J’onn variant before they realized they could do the alt.head/hand as a variant instead?

            And who was demanding a Killer Moth outside of Scott Rogers? Yet he still sold fairly well, or at least, better than Cold, who was on SuperFriends.

            1. I think that was the rumor mill when it comes to Jemm. It was just making Jemm just didn’t make any sense (and delightfully still doesn’t!)

              Killer Moth languished a bit here after he was in that first refresher case, but yeah not as bas as Cold who was in multiple refresh cases.

    2. I think Elasti-Girl stands a good shot of being in the sub. She can use the Giganta buck without needing much tooling and Toy Guru knows she’s a character we’re keyed in on.

  7. Thanks for a great editorial, Noisy.

    I’m still kind of in shock over just how much of a screeching halt Mattel’s DC properties (all of them, really, but dcuc in particular) came to after the SDCC announcement. I wonder how much damage that one sentence did to the entirety of the line, how much momentum was lost at that moment. Could collector interest have helped carry sales to support the intended (but certainly rushed) change in direction? Would we have looked to a successor line with anticipation (no matter how mild) rather than trepidation?

    As it stands, the wave 20 news left so many collectors aghast, frustrated, and lost. In this age of digital socialization, the fans’ internet felt a bit like a family helpslessly watching their family home, with all their possesions inside, slowly burning to the ground. Sure, we would move forward, and have new experiences to look forward to. However, in that moment, things were changing. Drastically. With no clear direction for the future. Over dramatic, for sure, but the net does lean towards the emotional output rather than sensibility.

    That’s where I see the start of the end for DCUC, at least from the collector angle. Ever since that moment, the demise of the line has been like a child removing a Band-Aid: slow, and excruciating to watch.

    1. Thanks, Lemmy!

      It really is a quick fall from grace. I have to assume that the particular line from the Con didn’t do too much outside of the immediate collectorbase, but those were the people that needed to buy the sub.

      And Wave 20 sucks. I don’t want to write myself into a corner before I do the reviews, the figure themselves may get good reviews despite my supreme annoyance with the character selection – but Wave 17 and Wave 20 were the two goat waves for me.

      1. I’m super bored at work so I’m actually going through and reading every single post here haha.

        I can’t say I agree with your wave 17 stance. Let me preface that by saying that I could have lived without every single one of those figures. I’d much rather have gotten actually lanterns instead of the one off deputies. That being said, the figures themselves were really fun and turned out pretty great. I think it was a terrible idea to do an entire wave with that theme but I had fun with them.

        Wave 20 does suck. Nekron lost his scythe which really hurts a pretty good figure. White Lantern Flash is gray. Hawk and Dove are gray and I’d rather have Don. Red Arrow is nice but after seeing the YJ look I much prefer that costume. Sinestro was fine but we never should have needed this re-release anyway. Reverse Flash was a simple repaint and a needed character. Green Arrow was nice too but I was perfectly happy with the one I had. I had very little enjoyment opening that wave up and I can imagine I’ll end up selling a few of them off one day.

        1. LOL. It’s cool with me. This is an interesting subject!

          I’m not opposed to the Wave 17 figures at all, I actually think that there would be a lot less criticism for them if they’d just been salt and peppered in over the course of the year. For me, it was not getting any variety, Diana being a bad figure, two more Hal Jordans, and the Anti-Monitor was too short AND the Geoff Johns version. I love my Blue Flash, but he can’t carry the wave…

          Wave 20. Ugh. Flash having a Superman symbol on his back is the current end point for the line. That says a lot…

          1. Wave 20 was one of my favorites in a long while. I love Hawk and Dove (and prefer the Dawn Granger Dove to Don Hall), I’ve been wanting a Red Arrow exactly like that one for a while (though I guess in my head he didn’t have the gritted teeth, but whatever), GA may not have been a necessary redo, but I like the look well enough and his unabashedly-liberal political leanings make him favorite character, Zoom is an obvious reused of parts that’s been too damn long in coming (I’d have been happier if they just reused the previous Barry Allen head, since part of Zoom’s backstory is that he’s had cosmetic surgery to make himself a physical replica of Barry Allen), and I never got a Sinestro Corp. Sinestro the first time around, so I’m more than happy to get the fixed version. About the only clunker in the line for me was White Lantern Flash. He’s a pointless version of a pointless character (Barry Allen was better as a martyr than as an uninteresting resurrected Super Friends relic), he’s got a friggin’ Superman logo on his back, and he didn’t even come with the White Lantern. I figured at least I’d get another colored lantern out of the deal, but that didn’t happen.

            1. I do love GA, but the Brightest Day theme to that wave just irks me. I don’t need a Brightest Day GA even if it is a great figure. I don’t have even the slightest affinity for that Red Arrow. Hawk, Dove, & Reverse Flash are all fine. Sinestro Corps Sinestro is still a cheap kitbash with his stubby arms and yeah, White Lantern Flash. Toss in the Nekron and no scythe and I just don’t have much to be excited about.

              I haven’t even opened ’em yet…

              1. I am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on them and seeing some pictures. There are certainly some good mini comics to be made with that wave.

                1. The silly thing is that the reviews aren’t going to be as lackluster as I feel about them right now. I know in hand, I’ll be fine with most. We do need to get a Nekron Week on the schedule soon… just a lot going on in the background this whole year. I need a IAT vacation! 😀

              2. I guess I didn’t think of this wave as being particularly “Blackest Night”-ish, though I can easily see where that impression comes from.

                Roy was back to being Arsenal by then, Zoom only really appeared in a tie-in I didn’t read, and until someone pointed out to me a few details that make this version of Green Arrow the Brightest Day one, I, and most everyone I’ve discussed it with, kind of figured it was a Longbow Hunter GA. Hawk and Dove are a pair I’ve been wanting for a while (and I wouldn’t have been mad to get a Don Hall and Holly Granger, too, but if I could get only one Hawk and one Dove, this is the pair to get). The only figure that unequivocally is set as part of that storyline is White Lantern Flash, and I’m in full agreement with anyone who says that figure was a waste of a slot (it would have been lishgtly less of a waste if he’d at least had the damn Lantern).

                1. Not Blackest Night, but Brightest Day! That story focused heavily on GA, Hawk, Dove, and involved Reverse Flash (he’s got his little Johns baton, see) and Sinestro. White Flash is tangential and Roy is the complete outlier by virtue of his not having his Cyborg arm. It’s thought though that Red Arrow replaced Atrocitus when he was pulled for the subscription (similar to GA Hawkman for Jay Garrick).

  8. I have to agree with you about DC’s inability to market their characters, ND. It’s a shame that since 1999, Marvel has not only made more comic-based films than DC, they’ve made more than all the other comic companies combined! And with relative ease! I mean, they made an Elektra movie, for God’s sake!

    Why is it so hard for DC to put out a film that doesn’t star Batman or Superman. And even then, not everything emblazoned with that big, red “S” is gold. “Returns” was a stinker and Smallville, although running for 10 seasons, was about Clark and not Superman. Point is DC continues to sit on their asses while Marvel is hogging up all the spotlight and that is especially true for the toy aisles.

    1. Well we did get Jonah Hex and I think the Losers was DC as well… but thats not alot– since there are more X-Men Characters who have had their own comic series in one movie than all of DC movies combined

      1. Hex… there’s another DC movie I can’t even bring myself to watch. You know, the Marvel movies make me re-examine my appreciation of those characters from that other company. While the DC movies can’t get me into the theatre outside of Batman & Superman… hmmm….

    2. They’re letting Marvel walk away with it too. I do enjoy the Dark Knight movie – and I suspect the upcoming Superman film will be good too, but we need more. We need that depth of marketing that sells Gladiator or Constrictor…

  9. Nicely put as always Noisy. You are often the voice of the people.

    Excellent point about elevating characters like Superman and Wonder Woman to Batman like levels. Marvel has done it(due in not small part to some solid movies for the core Avengers), but even before these movies, those characters were building in popularity. The New DCU 52 was great for a short time and quick buzz, but in the long run it is not what DC was hoping I am sure, having already cancelled several titles. I even dropped Justice League cause Jim Lee is no longer drawing it. It is a great time to be a Marvel Fan though and I must say that with the upcoming X-men vs Avengers story line, I can see why Hope was in the first wave. At first I thought it was a waste of a figure slot, but now we see how important she will be going forward.

    1. “Nicely put as always Noisy. You are often the voice of the people.”

      I like this. Very true.

  10. I wish I could say this news was surprising, but it’s not. It’s disappointing, but not surprising. Distribution has been horrible since Mattel got the DC license. They can blame it on the retailers all they want, but no other figure line has had these kinds of massive, persistent distribution problems. Quality control has been poor, and some of their marketing decisions have been outright bizarre. Whose idea was it that the YJ 6″ figures would all come with a cheap diorama base in a huge box and cost $5-10 more than the carded figures? I still believe a carded YJ 6″ figure line would have had more legs than the boxed one.

    I think part of the problem with the DC line has been timeliness, or lack thereof. I’m not sure that the guys at the top have been reading comics lately. Their character selection seems mostly centered around who was in the Super Powers line, or who they remember from when they were reading comics as kids. I can think of numerous figures I would have bought because I’d just read a comic the character was featured in… if only they’d been available. Conversely, if there’s a Marvel character you like and have read an awesome story about, chances are they’ve had a figure in the last couple of years. Sure, I love some of the classic DC stories, but I’m also still reading comics today, and I’ve just as much interest in many of the modern characters (or just modern versions of characters) as I do in stuff from the Silver Age.

    IAT had a cartoon during their review of ML Bucky Cap that hit this nail on the head. If you’ve been following the Death and Return of Captain America, one of the biggest storylines in comics in recent years, you can buy a figure right now of damn near every major player in that storyline, from Steve Rogers and Buck Cap to Sharon Carter and even Arnim Zola. If you wanted to do the same thing for the Death and Return of Batman… um, you could maybe get a couple of those guys from DC Direct.

    1. Distribution is always a complicated issue to me. It basically means there either arne’t enouh figures to go around or those figures aren’t getting to the “right” places.

      Mattel has some resposibility in this regard. Vault has been on high alert for a Monster High Cupid doll, but Mattel had trouble delivering it and I don’t think anyone is quite sure where/how it’s going to end up. But once Mattel delivers it to Walmart, it really is out of their hands.

      When it comes to DC andI’m spendig all this time talking about what seems to be a genuine lack of demand, then I have to wonder about distribution. Were enough figures not really made? Were stores not able to distribute them well because the demand isn’t sufficient to fill up stores? I don’t know, but I worry I wouldn’t like the answers.

  11. Great show Noisy!! I was a DCUC collector for only about 6 months but in that time there was more aggravation than any other line I have ever collected. I jumped ship and sold off a moderatly large collection. I expected there to be some regret or wishing for the new stuff, but overall I havent looked back and I feel much better for not caring about it anymore. Mattel makes bonehead moves everyday but at least dealing with MOTUC its characters I love who look (mostly) the way I want them to, DC is so all over the map with their stuff its hard to get behind things like rainbow lanterns and some lackluster build a figures. Dealing with decades of comic history is a hard thing to handle as the fan base is so fragmented and when you pile all the problems with the line its hard for anyone to give a damn. Great trutorial all around. You should do a death of DCUC picture comic!!!

    1. Thanks, Doc!

      I completely agree about how hard it is to serve all the masters in a comic book line. The fans who foolishly think no good comics have been printed in recent years. The fans who foolishly think that no good comics were printed years ago. The people that get caught up in what character “deserves” this or that. It’s silly.

      The toys should also be a gateway back to the comics. I always wonder if any of the folks who scoff at the Kamandi figure ever have had the chance to go and learn more about Kamandi. I’m glad he got a figure because I know about those old comics, but there are plenty of Marvel figures that led back to the comics. I wish that were true for more folks.

      1. Well, you know me (or maybe I never really stated this boldly), My first DCU figure was Kamandi. Now I cry and moan because we’ll never get a Ben Boxer or any other of the cast from that comic, and I’ll never be able to afford getting the other Kirby 4th world figures, and never ever are we gonna get The Forever People (with an Infinity Man C&C?) so poo on them and the horse they rode in on.

          1. Not only easy, but *wham* instant variant (all silver) and IIRC the other two guys were exactly the same, just different heads.

            Of course knowing Mattel, they’d do the version where Boxer is wearing the old space suit and we lose the cool Kirby signature ‘wiggely lines are maybe actually a detail or maybe shading’ effect.

            Lordy, I can even ‘read’ ToyGuru’s Facebook defense of the choice:

            “In discussion with our licensing partner it was decided that a Ben Boxer powered up and all silver would cause market confusion with our Captain Atom figure, so we went with his first appearance in the space suit, however the tooling cost of the product that the Four Horsemen delivered precluded the inclusion of the space helmet. We’re looking at some way to deliver that helmet to the marketplace, maybe in 2014”

      2. man everytime I hear Kamandi I’m brought back to a strip from Toyfairs twisted mego theater from years ago when spidey thor and the hulk get trapped inside a con after closing and thor thinks he is Kamandi..

        1. That was back when it was funny, before they got stupidly political, and before they decided that photoshopping whatever figure they wanted to be a character was better than the old days of taking something Mego (or, in some cases, customized from a Mego) and having it ‘make do’ to serve the story.

          Like when Spock stood in for Namor. That’s FUNNY. (so was ‘free of pants’ Spock. Woop Woop Woop! 🙂 )

          Tell ya, I’ve had more smiles and laughs here at IAT then in the past 5 years of Toyfare’s Twisted Toyfare Theater. Of course Toyfare is now dead and gone (and that truth is a contributing factor to the woes in the action figure biz, I am 100% convinced of that).

  12. Another aspect of the god awful GL movie is that animation fans will not get a GL: The Animated Series line at retail. Retailers took one look at the glob of GL movie figure haunting their isles and said “no thank you”

    One line not touched upon was Batman: Brave and the Bold which was also marketed poorly. Instead of learning from their mistakes with JLU, Mattel once again ignored a quality animation program that had a cast of diverse characters that appealed to people of all ages and instead cranked out an infinite number of Bat-variants (which was even parodied on the last episode of the show). I get that kids like Batman, but when the writers are throwing out references to The Ten Eyed Man and The Freedom Fighters, who do you think those are for? Gentleman Ghost had several appearances in the show and the toy didn’t even move past a prototype. There was also a Flash prototype that never saw the light of day. Who doesn’t know the Flash??

    1. i have a question about the brave and the bold line… does it seem to anyone else that the answer to that line was releasing 2 packs, w/ a batman variant and a partner that was actually paired to match the TV show? so like aquaman comes w/ an underwater batman costume? space batman comes w/ blue beetle. and you make the case packout 3 batman-hero packs and three hero-villain packs? the hero villain pack you could do another batman, or you could do an appropriate hero pairing, like maybe blue beetle w/ the jaime face revealed packed w/ kanjar ro? then, if you want to try something innovative, you release a code, packed in chunks across a wave, that let you watch an episode that is website only.

      1. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say for me that it wouldn’t have helped. I hate being forced to buy pointless variations of one character to get a second character I actually want, and it’s been that way ever since I was a tot.

        I just didn’t have any interest in the line. I thought the cartoony style looked really goofy and unappealling, and throwing giant plugs on the shoulders didn’t help.

        1. I never minded the hexes for their play value. More toys need more play value, but they were clunkier than they needed to be surely.

          Strangely, that was the beaty of DC Classics though – I had a line I was buying and was able to skip most of the Bat-theme toys that I’d gobbled up hungrily in the 90s because that’s all there was.

    2. I think you summed up the problems with the GL:TAS perfectly. DC didn’t just fail to increase brand awareness with that movie, but they downright hurt the franchise in some aspects.

      I didn’t get to talk about it much because I’m really focused on DC, but Mattel – yeah, they crack me up when it comes to some of the other lines. I think they share a greater responsibility for Young Justice.

      Brave & the Bold though. There’s a funny story about that line that I like to relate. There was a Plastic Man in the initial line. That figure BOMBED here. I got one for a $1 it piled up so poorly while the Batmen sold around it. Then Mattel redoes the line, changes the packaging and then put out Plastic Man again. He’s not down to a $1 yet, but he’s sitting in the clearance aisle all over again.

      1. Mattel must think there’s some giant Plastic Man fan base out there that is just dying for his figures in every possible line. The JLU Plastic Man was a huge peg warmer too, and that was AFTER he came in a 3-pack. You got Volcana all tooled up and ready to go and then you release comic style MM, disco Brainiac and Plastic Man as singles. They can blame sales on the “fans” all they want (and they do it A LOT) but they don’t give us much to work with.

        1. I love Plas, but I just don’t know why Mattel keeps going back to him. He’s a proven retail dud.

          I do think Mattel can do things better. I know I turned this more towards DC because I think the problems start there, but Mattel needs to get smarter too. It’s not easy I’m sure, but they can help themselves by being more savvy in dealing with DC’s lack of demand.

        2. And on the rare occasion when they did give us new figures, good luck finding them amongst the pegs full of Power Rings and OMACs.

          1. I was excited to finally get JLU Firestorm and then Mattel/Target made it virtually impossible. My Target got that wave once and the other waves built up until things were full.

            1. That Firestorm is one of the stand out figures in the line. I had no attachment to that character before but I loved that figure.

              1. Yer rubbin’ it in! 😀 Firestorm was one of my very first favorite characters. I need to snag him sometime. If I’d been paying attention, I could’ve gotten him on the last Matty sale.

  13. Great points, but just mainly wanted to add that in no way should you feel guilty or less of a fan for not having seen the Green Lantern movie. It’s really awful, in almost every sense. It’s not an entertaining popcorn movie, it doesn’t deliver on any geek levels, and the only even half-way likable character is freaking Sinestro, the guy who we’re presumably supposed to root AGAINST in the (likely won’t happen) sequel.

    (And toy-wise, how some didn’t lose jobs as a result of the GL movie lines, I don’t know…)

    While the GL movie didn’t need to be dark and brooding (probably would’ve sucked worse) let’s just say Martin Campbell ain’t no Christopher Nolan, and Ryan Reynolds could only joking be referred to an actor in the same sentence with Christian Bale. You gotta take some chances, and let some visionaries have a crack at this stuff. That’s when the payoff usually happens.

    That said, the point about Marvel and DC’s comparative lack of character marketing extends to the movie world as well. What have we really seen from DC on that front? The Batman movies, the joke that was Catwoman, the ill-advised and failed Supes relaunch, and the bloated, hollow GL.

    Marvel on the other hand has saturated the market to the point where even though their movies are bad more than they’re not, people damn well know (and like!) the characters, regardless of generation. And the filmmakers generally know to keep the stories relatively small, even if these are epic characters. Not everything has to be a wall-to-wall spectacle in the comics world . . .

    I understand quality control and protecting your brands, but DC has protected itself into obscurity, and throwing a bunch of money at ONE franchise (a la GL) isn’t the solution. You have to stick your neck out and invest in ALL of your major players, even throwing a bone to lesser-knowns now and again.

    Maybe you don’t get to X-Men or Iron Man without breaking a few Daredevils and Ghost Riders. 😀

    But for sure, it’ll be interesting to see how all this DC toy stuff is gonna roll out. It’s probably what news I’ll be most keen to learn this SDCC. Not so much because I’m a diehard DCUC collector anymore (my collection feels pretty complete and satisfactory where I’ve got it) but because I’m curious to see how Mattel handles “collector” product moving forward. They’ve had some success dabbling in prop replicas, and thanks to the amazing 4H skills and the blind support of fans the MOTUC line has carried on. But beyond that, they have yet to prove they understand what collectors want, and how to deliver on it. So I’m wondering if they’ll keep on the lukewarm path, ramp things up and really take charge, or let it dwindle even further.

      1. Last year they were saying it was a definite, but I’ve heard no talk of it moving forward this year.

        Less than two months ago, when Reynolds was promoting Safe House, he was asked about GL2:

        “IGN also asked Reynolds about a sequel to Green Lantern, which he answered by saying “no idea”, before explaining things such as budgets to the interviewer. Which seems a polite way of saying that the film made a little over its budget back and wasn’t that well received, so don’t hold your breath on that one, either.”

        material taken from
        warning, the video starts auto-playing; at the 50 second mark is where they talk about GL2 and Reynolds actually takes the conversations off of GL2 and back to Deadpool fairly quickly.

        1. All the stuff I’ve heard has a lot of the same producers and writers. Those same folks are attached to the Flash film too.

          Clearly, DC wants to learn really hard lessons…

            1. It’s still about backscratching and favors instead of quality talent. The biggest problem I’ve had with the Relaunch is that it’s not about quality creators. It’s Bob Harras getting the 90s Marvel band back together in some areas.

              Michael Uslan has had a hand in ruining DC movies for years, but no one ever said ‘maybe we should do this without Mike’. And I can’t think of the guy’s name, the one that always wanted a damn giant spider in everything. Same thing.

              1. One of the biggest problems on the creative side is that it’s largely the same people writing and drawing the line post-relaunch as it was pre-relaunch. They may have shuffled some creators around, but they’re still pretty well locked into the same talent pool. If they really thought there was a problem telling stories with 70 year old characters, the problem lies in not having creative enough people to make those stories interesting, not in the characters themselves.

                Look at Marvel. They’ve never had a line-wide reboot. They’re still working with 50-70 year old characters, and they’re kicking ass in sales without (temporary) hype-building relaunches. And it’s because they’ve got the right people there who can make stories about characters that have been around for decades still seem interesting.

                1. James – It’s not a guarantee, but there has been rumors about a reboot following Avengers vs. X-Men

                  1. I’ve heard those too. I just don’t see it. Maybe, the weaker editors and writers could feel the “stories are all told” and want to do something like that, so they can, ironically, tell all the stories again. 😛

    1. Thanks, LZ.

      Maybe DC just needs to amp up the movies and let the stinkers out there to get to the good stuff. I mean, Man-Thing was on this epic road to Avengers afterall.

  14. Also, it should be noted that Mattel might not be the best partner for DC on this, considering that Mattel themselves have shown a decades-long knack for being unable to successfully market and maintain one of their (historically) biggest brands: MotU, of course.

    1. I can agree with that. DC should probably hire an outside PR firm. Mattel could use one too… seems to work great for Hasbro.

      (Subtle shout out to the awesome folks who work at Hunter PR and check out IAT!)

  15. I’m just noticing that the majority of this discussion is about comic films and not comic books…which i think is the point that DC is missing. It’s just a sign of the times that pop culture marketing strategy has changed. Comic books aren’t being used to market toys and movies, the movies are being used to market toys and comics.

    I’ve read lots of opinions on some Marvel storylines that arent that good. So i don’t think its all wine and roses over there, BUT they have taken a chance on some of their 2nd tier characters and have put out some good, well written movies. DC needs to follow suit and do the same or face languishing in. obscurity

    1. I think if you’re worried about moving units, you have to talk films. Good films.

      DC needs to get the right (“better”) people in place to handle their films. Goyer is a great place to start.

  16. As an old-school comics reader,Dc has always been your “Mom & Pop” type comics,and Marvel has always been the “Cool”kids,”The House of Ideas”,and you can see it being played out right now.The Avengers movie is about to change the game as far as Comic Book Movies go,and what does Dc have to offer? The Dark Knight Rises.A movie that if it makes a billion dollars,it’s still a dead end,because it won’t establish any other DC characters because of Chris Nolan’s idiotic need for so called “realism”in a movie set in a “comic book universe”,and add to that the fact that “Batman” is being rebooted after this movie.A sad state of affairs when you think about the fact that WB/DC could have done a Justice League YEARS ago.Maybe they’ll get smart and just follow Marvel in both toys and movies and learn how to succeed.Here’s hoping.

    1. I love the Nolan Batman films too much to disparage them, but I bored with the fact that they already have to have a Batman reboot on the books to try and catch up to Marvel.

      1. It appears that this is the superhero film formula tho. Marvel films have been around long enough to have created the formula. X-men films had 3 and then a reboot with First Class. Spiderman had 3 and now its reboot flick is coming out. Hollywood has figured out that the origin stories are what makes the big bucks, and with enough different iterations of these characters..theres a way to give a new take yet keep basic elements of the character alive. The ONLY example of this is Nolan’s Dark Knight. He’s been able to put out his 3 film arc. If Warner Bros. is smart they’ve already been in meetings with people for their post-Nolan Batman films.

  17. I think POE Ghostal made a great point when he said “….what’s more significant is that more collectors in the 18-49 segment want a Constrictor or U.S. Agent than any of the Metal Men. And I include myself in that list. I often wondered, when reading a review of a DCUC figure, how many of those reviewers had any idea who the character was before they were announced as a DCUC figure? Speaking for myself, I knew the core JLA and the Bat-characters and that was about it. I did a lot of catching up and bought a lot of trade paperbacks…”

    I think this happens because Marvel has done a very good job of giving second tier characters a chance to shine in big event cross overs like Av vs Xmen, Skrull invasion etc. so you at least get familiar with how secondary characters look and act over several issues and months (based on Av v Xmen #0 I reaaaaly hope we get some Serpent Society members like Puff Adder and Anaconda). So, for consumers, when a toy does come out like Constrictor, it is much more attractive to people who only know major players. He is still “pegwarming” a bit(although most stores by me that have 5 or 6 of him and no one else are sold out of him within a few days), but not as much as some past DCUC toys.

    1. Poe did a great job! I think he summed it up best with his Pepsi & Coke comparison too. That’s something that DC has allowed to happen too. When I revew DCUCs, I was actively trying to give character background because it seemed that it was needed.

  18. But then again, these issues with the line only seem to be recent, so maybe it is all DC New U’s and the failure of the GL movie that really hurt the line in the end.

    1. We do want to remember that the line worked for nearly 5 years. I feel like there might have been a built-in death trap between the rising cost of production and the number of people wanting to buy DC comics stuff.

      As production costs rise, you either need to raise prices or spread the cost out with more units. I don’t think, distribution issues aside, that DC could’ve sold more units, so the prices kept going up… which limits the number of buyers, burns the candle at both ends, and the situation gets untenable really quickly.

  19. Some of the mandates come from DC Editorial.
    DC won’t let the GL animated series use Sinestro, for example. Really? Sinestro is suddenly so popular that we can’t have him appear in multiple media at once?
    Isn’t exposure half the battle, even if kids see one version on tv, teens another in theaters, and adults a third in comic books? “Mommy, can you buy me a Sinestro for my birthday?” vs “Who’s Sinestro? He’s not in my video game…” Brand recognition is about, well, recognition first. A new “DC Entertainment” logo will not solve the toy aisle wars, I’m sorry to say.

    Do we remember when JLU had a firm “no Bat-family” rule, because viewers would be confused seeing the Joker on both “The Batman” and JLU? Which one of these had staying power? Was it the one with the diverse cast of characters that avoided wild shifts in characterization, and focused on the characters’ personal developments, and not just the world-saving?
    Characterization will sell comics: just look at Bryan Q Miller’s Batgirl. It will also sell movie tickets, as Marvel proved when they took their films under their own umbrella to protect the portrayed characterizations and continuity.
    DC seems to enjoy licensing a group of characters, imposing mandates on certain character selections, but leaving the producers free reign to play with the rest any way they wish. I think this does more harm than good, when marketing a brand. At the same time it’s both too much meddling (“You may not use The Joker or Sinestro to fight Green Lantern or Batman!”) AND not enough… a source ‘bible’ would say ‘this is the universe you can play in: Joker doesn’t have dreadlocks, and Sinestro has a yellow ring for this reason. Please tell your own stories, but play within the confines of our universe, and respect our history, please.’ To do a universe ‘bible’, DC editorial would need to know what’s going on in their own house, but the New 52 hasn’t given much evidence of that yet.

    I think a lot of people blamed DC editorial for the shift from DC Universe Classics to All-Stars, with a focus on New52 designs in the toy line. Had they left that alone as well, and let the toy designs organically shift to new outfits as demand for Bat- and Super-variants necessitated, while still keeping a mix of classic designs, well, retailers maybe wouldn’t have balked at the sudden shift, and customers maybe wouldn’t have been broadsided last year.

    “The more you tighten your fingers…”?

    1. Spot on here. WB/DC only hurts themselves with their character limitations. When JLU was on the air, I wasn’t collecting figures or reading any sites about it so I just sat there wondering why I never saw Batman villains in the show. It made no sense to me that we could get all these other villains but the Batman rogues (clearly the most popular) were no where to be found.

    2. UGH the bat-embargo. Such a stupid decision. In the last season, they had to turn Black Manta into “Devil Ray” because DC was producing a smallville-esque Aquaman series that never saw the light of day

      1. ANOTHER dumb exclusion. Are you telling me people would have been confused that JLU had a Black Manta and some live Aquaman show also had a Black Manta? Give me a break. Oh well, I like Devil Ray.

        1. Exactly. DC needs to give the common viewer a lot more credit.

          Heck, if the character appearing in the cartoons is NOTHING like the one in the comics, I would think we’d want to expose folks to multiple versions right quick…

    3. I really can’t see the upside to philosophy. Multiple versions of Batman exist and he’s there most financially successful character. Hmm…

      Initially, Brave & the Bold or the Batman not having Superman right away just kept Mattel from making more Superman toys. Not the brightest thing, DC.

  20. DC should have done their DCnU relaunch on all fronts (toys,comics,tv,movies) all at once. Things are still in a state of dissaray. This goes against everything they seem to by trying to avoid. I for one have no problem with all venues not matching. One smart thing Marvel has done is kept the essence of their characters intact, even tho they’re different looking across all platforms. The movies don’t seem to dictate what goes on in tge comics, the comics don’t seem to dictate what goes on in animation. Whats DC’s problem with everything having to match?

    1. Thing is, they thought they were. They actually thought they had this amazing perfectly timed assault going on.

      Then DC decided they needed a new logo. Then the Wonder Woman TV series died. Then Green Lantern happened.Then they decided that they needed a kidvid block on Warner-owned Cartoon Network but only an hour, and the best thing on that I’ve seen has been the amazing shorts, WHICH HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE NEW 52 WHATSOEVER AND PLAY AROUND IN THE PLAYGROUND OF OLD THAT DC WANTED TO KILL!!!

      Line the entire management up against the wall, I’ll pull the trigger. 🙂

      1. They really didn’t, Steve! How often do you go out and see new things with the old licensing guide still being used? School supplies, candy, hostess cakes, easter goods – all still sporting the old Jim Lee contol art, or in some cases Garcia-Lopez control art!

        There was no global launch. They planned for the comics and then toys somehow ended up a casualty too.

        1. But that’s exactly what I (clearly ineptly. I strive so hard to be ept. 🙂 ) I thought I was saying. DC (and Warner) clearly thought if they waved their hands and put stuff on Facebook and Twitter that magically everything would work perfectly fine.

          and as you say, those old, old control art images are STILL being used. (and I see the Adams/Aparo art on things too). Green Lantern hit theaters (and home video) with the old ‘swoosh’ logo instead of the ‘pringles lid’ logo.

          Know what I think the problem really boils down to? There’s no Czar. There’s no Big Boss Face. No one person with authority AND responsibility. It’s all endless gray men (and a couple of women here and there) forming committees to hold meetings about forming a panel to discuss if a committee should be put together.


    2. You hit the nail on the head, TF! The comics are different from the media so multiple versions already exist. Just go with it!

  21. on a side note too, marvel’s success w/ their movies didn’t begin w/ iron man… they made a ton of crap projects, but they broke new ground on BLADE. and DC hasn’t had their blade yet…

    1. Absolutely right on Blade. I picked out Iron Man because it heralded in the “Marvel Movie Age” and that’s what DC wants to copy, but you do have to go back and start with Blade when tracking Marvel’s rise.

      Also, I want an Iron Lantern figure. 😛

  22. I’m not going to go into the comic side of thing (as I disagree with most everyone here), but in terms of action figures I think DCUC was a success. While Marvel fans will say that it can’t come close to Marvel Legends I’d say it is on par with that line. Both have their issues, but in the end they both delivered a line that will be remembered. In terms of unique and obscure figures DC has Marvel beat as while Arnim Zola may be obscure there are a ton of DCUC figures that I cannot believe were ever produced and are far more obscure than almost all Marvel Legends figures. There are complaints about how many Green Lanterns and Batmen we have in DCUC but there were similar characters in Marvel Legends.

    I, honestly, think this 2012 layoff was done so that they could sync up with the New 52 and launch a line next year that will play better with the new DCU. People say that they should have been synced up already, but that just doesn’t work in terms of action figures. The starting of a new figure is a long way off before it actually comes out to retail. It stinks that the Young Justice line didn’t take off, but that can partially be blamed at the crazy high price of the figures along with the fact that the show, while great, has had a very poor schedule itself and did not air as it should have. I’ll still pick up this small wave and enjoy my subscription figures. Having close to 300 DCUC figures is pretty impressive anyway you cut it.

    It’ll be strange to not be really collecting anything much for the year, but I’m not going to jump on some other line to fill the void.

      1. DCUC was a hands down success! This year is going to be a bummer, dropping down to just getting one or two a month.

        I’m not sure how much the 2013 line will sync up to DCnU only because, even in their band-aid scramble, Mattel was catching up pretty quickly. They’ll still have the two most importat figs out pretty soon too. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but 2013 could be a better mix further removed from the nU.

    1. As a DC fan, I’ve found DCUC to be a bit of a disappointment, for some of the reasons I listed above. Many my favorite characters aren’t available as toys and probably never will be. How has Mattel had the line for 10 years and there’s still no Huntress? We can get friggin’ Kamandi but not Oracle?

      And while DCUC has its strong points, the insistence on massive parts reuse, whether appropriate or not, hurt the line. I can’t think of anything Marvel Legends has done with its figures that’s as bad as the scaling/body issues with Big Barda, Starfire, Robin, Kid Flash, golden age Atom, Wonder Woman and Power Girl, etc., etc.

      1. For one person a character like Huntress would be high on the list while for others she would be far below others. Besides the big A-list characters I think releases are debatable. One person’s favorite character is another’s least. In the end who decided who was put in DCUC isn’t known. Everyone wants to blame DC, but if DC had the reigns I doubt they would have released a good number of characters they did.

        Just look at the scale issues within the first two new waves of Marvel Legends. How small is Tony Stark without the armor since with it he is still thinner and smaller than Captain America? Hope? Toy Biz tried hard with scale when they started Marvel Legends, but later Marvel Legends and Marvel Universe aren’t exactly perfect scale wise either.

        1. I have to say, as upset as I am about Huntress, I’m more upset about Aztek, Zauriel, Flamebird, Uncle Sam, etc. so yeah Huntress does cross most of the lists (and she was rumored to have been removed from Wave 13 by DC if I recall) but it’s hard to pick out a character. Kamanda is a Scott-picked pegwarmer to be sure, but I’m super glad they got to him!

        2. ML isn’t perfect, no, but for Hasbro to do anything as dumb as building Big Barda on the standard female buck, they’d have to release a Hulk built on the Bullseye body. “Big” is in her name.

          1. That’s the thing though! Barda was an almost 100% tool. The hands and boots are the only thing that could’ve been reused and the 4H tend to just go all-new when they’re that close (which, ironically, is part of why we’re told Ivy can’t have new hands).

            I’ve always wondered if Barda was cost-cutting, an issue at the factory like Sinestro, or someone at Mattel just didn’t know what they were doing when they downsized the 2up.

      2. I’ve gone back and been reading the Morrison run on JLA lately and I think some of the biggest omissions are from that era. Wally Flash, Crabmask Kyle, Hook Hand Aquaman, Zauriel (who would make a really cool looking figure). Where were those guys? You’re right about Huntress too but I fully expect her to be a sub figure. I’ve been calling that one since the sub was announced.

          1. I’m just generally pissed that we never got a Wally. Wally’s been the Flash for nearly as long as I’ve been alive, and Barry had been dead for 25 years when this line started. And yet, we got Barry (7 or 8 times now), because he was the Flash in the old Super Powers line. He was the Flash that Scott and Geoff Johns and numerous other people with a finger in this pie grew up on. Never mind that he’d been gone for over two decades, and that he was more important as a martyr than he’d ever been as a character. Never mind that Wally was a more popular Flash than Barry was (going pretty much purely on sales), or that you’d had two generations of comic readers who’d never read a current book published with Barry alive and active as the Flash. Never mind that the Wally West Flash was the surprise breakout character of the incredibly popular Justice League cartoon, which was still fresh in consumers’ minds when this line hit. No, Barry was the guy that the behind-the-scenes crew, who mostly don’t seem to have read a comic since 1982, remembered from their childhood, so he’s the Flash we’ve gotten over and over and over.

            Never mind, even, that an acceptable Wally West Flash is one repaint and removal of boot-wings away.

            1. Agreed on all points. Bringing back Hal, while I don’t like the side effect of all other lanterns being second fiddle in an ensemble franchise, was a huge success. Definitely the right move.

              Trying to have lightning strike twice with Barry has been a disaster up to and including Flashpoint.

              1. You know, the new Flash book is actually pretty good but I HATE that Wally is not around. I brought this up before on the AFI forums and I was the only one really excited by the idea, but I’d love to see a team book that featured Wally as Flash, Kyle as GL and Dick as Nightwing and then go from there. Maybe add Starfire and a few of the other “young adult” heroes in the DCU. I was even trying to come up with a team name the other night as I was going to sleep haha.

                1. I tried reading it, but I just couldn’t get into it.

                  When they first announced “Earth-2” and Batman was carrying Dick’s escrima sticks, Wonder Woman had the starfield in her hair, and Superman looked young – the idea of the “sidekick” was bandied about. That Earth-2 book ended up being a particularly awful sounding idea, but I’m still game for a sidekick book with Wally, Dick, Donna, etc as the principal cast. I’d happily shunt Kyle over to that Earth too. Provided it had a good writer, I’d be all for it.

                  1. I loved that book. It was called “Titans.” It’s just, if you were a fan of the “New” era Titans, screw you at this point. New Teen Titans once rivaled X-Men as the best selling book out there, and it’s been completely eviscerated by the reboot. Donna, Wally, Garth, and Raven are MIA, Beast Boy’s damn near unrecognizable, Cyborg’s been co-opted by the Justice League, and Starfire is… well, the less said about her, the better. Dick’s about the only one who made it through relatively unscathed, though his new costume is ass.

                    1. Tell me about it! “TITANS” was the last gasp of the NTT crew, and that got bungled at the end, esp after they kept re-approaching the whole “Who is Donna?” for the fourth/fifth time! even the last run of JLA was more Justice Titans than anything else and the magic wasn’t quite there. (Robinson already screwed Roy before that!)

                      I don’t even recognize what titans we’ve seen in the nu52, and slightly glad Donna, Wally, and Garth are being spared. (and forget the new, highly touted Aqualad outside of the YJ cartoon!)
                      and turning Dick’s costume accent from blue to red makes it “ass”? Is there some element to it in the Bat-books I’m missing in the NW title?

                      I was going to see Perez in Metropolis come June 9, but now I hear there’s a Trek convention in Nashville that same weekend. Decisions, decisions…..
                      (plus waiting on someone else’s answer if/can he go??)

                    2. I don’t like the Red costume either. It was change for the sake of change. No reason for it.

                    3. I remember the Titans book from the late 90s into the new century. That was back during the days when I last really enjoyed DC Comics. Downward slide with Didio from day one.

        1. Barry has had: w7 (basic), TRU exclusive “Cherry Barry”, White Lantern, Blue Lantern, “All-Star” re-release, and Reverse Flash all but used the exact same mold. They couldn’t fit Wally in there? BULL.

          Zauriel – Hawkman has had three releases (w6, DC/MOTUC, w19), yet they can’t do him? right. I never saw Hawkgirl at retail until the 2pk with Gentleman Ghost.

          I was holding hope for Classic Kyle, since we already have the crabmask and he would just require new forearms/hand and could probably get away with the Red Lantern boots. Not anymore.

          PADiator Aquaman would have been nice as well. The DCD Direct version simply uses paint to imply his armor, and would really only require a new head and forearm.

          Huntress – the question here comes in which costume? Some still beg for Earth 2, some want the full body version seen in Total Justice, others want the open belly from Hush, and now we have another version pre- and post-nu52.
          (personally? I would go TJ w/ E2 variant)

          Oracle – I’m still hoping we see her in the sub, and as a bonus, we would have the wheelchair needed for Doom Patrol’s Chief, except that one of the recent Q&A’s implied they had not interest in Doc Magnus, which doesn’t look good for Chief or Barb.

          WW – how hard would it have been to add in the GA skirt or Byrne’s pleated battle skirt for Hippolyta? Diana already came with her mother’s battle axe, so it would have been more of a minor retool.

          I could go on about how many easy characters they could have done (A-SS, Ambush Bug, finishing up teams) but we’d be here all night/day.

  23. Just as I predicted it, DCNU won’t last. I’m really very disappointed that Marvel has been kicking DC’s assess for quite sometime already. Being a huge DC fan than Marvel, I can’t believe that DC cannot get over that hump. I just seem to notice that DC nowadays have been focusing on signing Popular Writers/Artists to help market a book than focusing on the character, while Marvel is doing the opposite. If you look at Marvel’s books, there are a lot of new writers/artists being introduced and the readers won’t care because they buy the books because of the characters. DC on the other hand seems to be big on introducing the old guards of comic books and hopefully would convince long time fans of those creative teams to pick up the books (I never bought any DCNU books except for Action Comics 5 which retold Superman’s origin but is now tempted to pick up Superman comics because of Dan Jurgens who is my favorite Superman writer). This alone shows that DC is not doing quite well with their characters. And with Marvel getting in the movies, this will further push DC away from comic book popularity. I believe too much Batman ruined all of DC’s other characters. I have a lot of friends who are into Marvel but when asked who in DC comics they like, all seems to be united in saying that they like Batman the most, and nothing else. Their explanation is that Batman is a cool character because he is only human yet he is capable of beating someone like Superman. I believe Dark Knight Returns ruined Superman and all the other super powered DC characters. It made DC’s meta humans irrelevant because Batman is capable of beating them all. Who wants to read these other DC titles when there is one character who is capable of beating them? This made the non-batman DC characters boring. From there, Superman became Batman’s punching bag. DC has to find a way to right the wrongs. They need to restore the respect that Superman used to have before DKR happened. Doing this would bring back faith to other DC metahumans. Unfortunately, they will not do that because of the pending court case with the heirs of Shuster and Siegel. Sometimes I wish DC would lose their rights to Superman and have Superman go to another comic book company who would restore his rightful place back in the comic book industry. Heck, I wouldn’t mind if Archie comics would publish Superman stories in digest form in the same mold that they would release their Archie comics, at least Superman’s classic iconic status in comic books can be preserved than having DC ruin it over and over again.

    As for the toyline, I’m happy mixing DC Direct and DCSH/DCUC in my DC Universe collections. The perceived scale problems aren’t really that problematic compared to being left high and dry by Mattel with holes in your collection. It’s a plus here in the Philippines that a lot of DC Direct collectors sold their DC Direct collections at bargain prices just for them to dispose of it and switch to DCUC. I’m quite happy with the DC Universe that I have.

    1. I have no idea why you think the New 52 DCU won’t last. DC has had the top 10 comics for several months in a row (see headlines: Aquaman outsells all Marvel titles). While AvX will help out Marvel things are the same there as at DC. For DC if it isn’t Justice League, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, (and for now) Aquaman and Wonder Woman it isn’t selling well. For Marvel if it isn’t Spider-Man, X-Men, or Avengers it isn’t selling well. Even then things are all peachy as the newest Spider-Man title Avenging Spider-Man has crashed in sales and the a number X-titles are floundering in sales. Are there a number of particularly low selling DC titles? Sure. Marvel just cut the bottom out of its line (Ghost Rider, X-23, Daken) and books like Thunderbolts, Journey Into Mystery, New Mutants, Hulk, and more aren’t doing any better than the low hanging DC titles.

      When it comes down to it the fans aren’t up to supporting books that don’t sport the big characters and the big teams. There is a lot of love out there for OMAC, Batwing, Hulk, Thunderbolts, Journey Into Mystery, and lots of other books, but that rarely turns into sales. Their dollars are being stretched and it leaves most people wary on picking up a book like Hulk or OMAC. The current success of Animal Man and Swamp Thing are an anomaly and even then they are far below the big (X-Men, Spider, Batman, GL, Justice League titles). Things aren’t particularly rosy for either of the Big Two right now, but DC is clearly doing better now than it did before their relaunch. Have sales fallen? Of course. All comics suffer attrition from month to month barring a relaunch, new creative team, or big story (stunt/death) moment.

      1. I think DCnU is here to stay, but I also thought Hal Jordan would stay in the ground. It’s really about editorial decisions and Didio’s successor may not stick with this. That said, DCnU will not continue while Didio/Johns/etc are around. It’s there stamp.

        1. My prediction is that what happened with post-Crisis DC will start to happen with DCnU; everybody involved tried really hard to make it new and fresh for a number of years. All of the continuity problems inherent in trying to rewrite an entire multiverse’s history will start to get unmanageable, and then you’ll have creators who grew up on the previous iterations of these characters start getting hired and eventually calling the shots at DC, and things will very strongly start to resemble the old continuity anyway.

          A perfect example of this is Supergirl. Immediately post-Crisis, there could be no Supergirl, because Superman had to be the only Kryptonian. After a few years, the rules softened a little, so Superman still had to be the only Kryptonian, but people demanding Supergirl could have a Supergirl, she just couldn’t be “the” Supergirl from Krypton. So we got Matrix and Linda Danvers and Cir-El and all of that. Which were actually some good stories (some, not all), but people in the mainstream would hear Supergirl and go, “Isn’t that Superman’s cousin?” So all of the convoluted Earth-born Angel stuff and pre-Crisis superbabies and all of that was quietly shuffled away, and some guys who’d grown up in the Silver Age figured, “Let’s just make her Superman’s cousin again.” And what we basically ended up with was pre-Crisis Supergirl in a slightly more modern costume.

          1. It was unmanageable right out of the gate! New 52 #1s had conflicts. LOL

            It will be interesting to see where DC is in five years, that’s for sure.

            1. Yea it wasn’t really as fresh of a start as they wanted, especially for Bats and GL.

              1. Those books were selling as high as WB wanted, so no need to mess with them too much.

                1. While that’s smart from a business standpoint, it really messes with things and necessitated all these confusing “5 years ago” origins. They would’ve been better served starting over and growing out organically.

                  They should do whatever the smart business is I suppose, but the whole thing can never be better than a permanent gimmick. They didn’t increase the quality of the storytelling. Heck, all the artists-turned-writers have hurt the quality of storytelling.

                  1. What, you’re not excited about the three books Rob Liefeld will now me writing 😀

                    The reboot was absolutely about business and not at all about creativity. And while yes, DC and WB are businesses, they’re in the business of being creative. And the reboot was not a good creative decision. Saying, “We can’t tell good stories with these characters anymore, we need to start over,” is essentially declaring creative bankruptcy. And it really doesn’t seem like there was any consistent logic applied across the entire brand. Books like Batman, Green Lantern, and Aquaman read as though no reboot ever happened, other than a few costume changes (which happen fairly regularly in comics anyway, not that I can think of even one costume from the New 52 that changed for the better). Barbara Gordon is now Batgirl again because, to the world at large, that’s her iconic role. But then why isn’t Dick Grayson back to being Robin? The people who are only familiar with Barbara Gordon as Batgirl get that notion from other media adaptions, and those same media adaptions only depict Dick Grayson as Robin, and almost never as Nightwing (the current hit cartoon Young Justice featues Dick Grayson as its Robin).

  24. My view of this is because DC alienated a lot of their Pre-DCNU fans in favor of getting new readers. I mean we (pre-dcnu fans)were disrespected by not even giving us a decent closing chapter to our universe (flashpoint was lousy). At least Pre-crisis fans were given a proper send off. Whatever they were thinking, alienating old fans in exchange for new readers is not a sure shot. The old fans stuck with them for years despite Marvel beating them in sales, but can this be said for the new readers who are yet to give their loyalty to DC? True there might be a spike in sales because of sudden interest but the question is will they be able to sustain it? From the looks of it, they might revert back to the pre-dcnu universe. I might be wrong but my gut feel tells me that it is a huge possibility. For now, i’m happy hunting down back issues of pre-dcnu Superman related titles. That should satisfy my comics fill.

      1. I kinda hate Pandora. You know, just to make sure it’s clear DC can’t win. I think leaving open the possibility flies in the face of what they were trying to do! I hate it! LOL

  25. DC has always had its pedigree to fall on – mainly that of the very first Super hero, very first super hero team, and then of course Batman, who, despite being reinvented every decade or so since his inception has managed to stay in the media’s eye. Batman, unlike Superman, was nothing that special in the beginning, being almost a complete rip off of Zorro, Dick Tracy and the Bat pulp fiction characters.

    But what Batman has had, that even most Marvel characters have never had – every damn comic writer and/or artist has always wanted to try him out – so he always has traction. I never particularly liked what Miller did with Batman, until Batman: Year One, and even some of that fell into his usual weird pattern. I muched preferred what Bolland, Adams, Byrne, or hell even Perez were doing with him. (As an aside, the only character I felt Miller was truly born to do was Daredevil – talk about taking a character nobody cared about and making him cool).

    To give DC a little credit (just a little), they know all too well that they hold the cards to the Big Two – “BatSupes”. Your average movie goer doesn’t even know that DC and Marvel characters don’t exist together and don’t really care. But BatSupes are cultural icons that damn near everybody but your blind grandpa knows. Spiderman and Hulk have that to a lesser degree and always will, and in an amazing moment of inspiration now Iron Man as well. That last one still gets me. Layton’s Iron Man was always one of my favorite comics, but it took way too long for him to become an A-lister.

    So the real question DC needs to ask itself is how do you create another icon out of your characters? The character can change, even the costume, but whatever makes that character interesting and unique – draw inspiration from it and show it to as many people as possible. Sounds easy enough, and they certainly tried with Green Lantern, but they’ve done nothing to make Hal Jordan, the hero behind the mask just as iconic. Bruce Wayne and Superman and Peter Parker are just as iconic as their alter egos, because their alter egos are unique in their own way too.

    DC tried to keep Hal out of GL for years and it hurt them, because now the ring is more important than the man behind it everyone is supposed to relate to. My daughters wondered why Green Lantern wasnt black; my brother why he wasnt Kyle Raynor; and my Father why he didnt have blonde hair. Talk about confusion at the multi-plex.

    And… was a pretty bad movie – No bandwagon to fall off of, just truth be told, an all around very hacked up and underwhelming way to overanxiously shove Green Lantern down the masses throats.

    Personally, I think Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Green Arrow have all kinds of potential done right, but as DC’s current TV ventures have shown, maybe they themselves don’t have as much faith. Grell’s Green Arrow run should have been the basis for a Green Arrow film years ago, but DC has been run by corporate bean counters far too long.

    Thus, Marvel fans should soak it up while they can, ’cause the Disney machine will suck every last creative morsel out of the House of Ideas. Marvel Studios has done fairly well in keeping consistency (other than scaring off actors and directors repeatedly) but Disney has already issued corporate ground rules that’ll form a desert of ideas for sure. I’m a longtime Avengers fan, and personally I cant join the Whedon bandwagon – it looks really bad to me – the ultimate vanity project horribly matasticized.

    I had the same feelings when Green Lantern trailers were filling every other commercial spot. I went in with an open mind, hoping for an Iron Man, knowing Ryan Reynolds couldn’t hope to sneeze as well as Robert D Jr, and felt the same “super hero fatigue” everyone else in the audience was feeling.

    There’s only so much room at the mulitplex or the retail shelf, and sorry DC and Mattel, but Marvel planned their stay better. Enjoy the reprieve!

    1. You’re right about Green Arrow. He was essentially a Batman rip off to begin with so how is his popularity so much lower? His new book isn’t helping either.

    2. I think Green Lantern can work as an ensemble cast (but DC doesn’t package it that way, all other lanterns must play second fiddle to Hal Jordan’s awesomeness), but I otherwise agree. DC is the “rest on your laurels” publisher while Marvel is the one that had to fight its way back from bankruptcy. That clearly made them stronger, editorially and financially, and much smarter in the marketplace.

  26. Brilliant editorial. As a DCUC/DC toy fan, this helped bring closure to the DCUC line. Thanks, though I wish it were to continue.

    I have one point that would have helped DCUC distro: they never refreshed the package. Shazam/Cpt Marvel shares a peg with Martian Manhunter and Dove/Hawk at my local Target. Even viable toy lines (like Star Wars 3 3/4″) gets clearanced out with a package/ISBN refresh. The SW Vintage line is suffering for this.

    As toy collectors, I wonder if we are at a point in the general economy of action figures that is going to take a serious nose dive at retail. I guess you wouldn’t know it from all the Hasbro offerings.

    1. Thanks, Gregor! It’s not over yet, there are still more coming and Mattel can do something great in 2013. I just wish DC would make it easier for them because Mattel doesn’t always do well under stress.

  27. what a great, well thought out post. theres quite a lot to say here, and i’m sure its been said in the comments above —

    A couple points you hit on that resonated with me —

    · “Collecting is never a stress-free a hobby as it should be.”

    Unfortunately it isn’t — why not? Its TOYS! Toys are supposed to bring us joy and happiness — not anger and frusteration!

    · “Its too easy to focus on what you don’t have.”

    As you said, all too easy… Its this vicious “Pokécycle” where you’re concentrating on “catching ’em all” instead of just enjoying what you have.

    · “You almost start to wonder that maybe toy collecting isn’t supposed to be fun…

    Exactly… and why is that? is it something we do to ourselves? is it the nature of the best with the relationship between consumer, retailer, and manufacturer?


    1. Thanks, PrfktTear!

      It’s funny, when I was writing the quick pros and cons of the lines I collect, I found myself complaining about not finding them all. I had to think that one through in the second draft.

      I don’t think the relationship between the three major bodies needs to be antagonistic. I do think that a lot of old axioms need to be examined. The ideas about what sells and what doesn’t, who the market is, etc. all seem to be these resolute notions that may not still be completely true. The smaller companies seem to do a lot better job of keeping those relationships happy and I think it’s because they are more able to keep up with the times.

      It’s one reason that I like the subscription on a fundamental level. If Mattel can keep up and find creative ways to balance their internal concerns with the needs of the consumers, the subscriptions can really turn out well.

      1. I think you’re giving Mattel a little too much credit, Noisy. With their current subscription-based lines, the attitude is the same as it is at retail; you’ll like what we tell you to like. The very fact that they’re so insistent on it being subscription based speaks to this. They don’t want to have to put out product month after month and worry that, if the product’s no good, people won’t buy it. They want you to write them a check at the beginning of every year and be happy with whatever you get, whether it’s good or not.

        They killed the Ghostbusters line pretty quick because they wouldn’t listen to the market. The customers told them what we wanted, ie more characters, ghosts, terror dogs, Ecto-1, etc., and Mattel told us, “No, you’re getting the same 4 characters 4-5 times each, with minor accessory differences and maybe a couple different kitbashed bodies.”

        As for all the old axioms, I agree 1000% that they’re outdated. The biggest reason for this is that the numbers, facts, and figures being rattled off by these company reps are the same numbers, facts, and figures that were being rattled off in the 90s. Anybody who pays attention can tell you that the action figure market is not the same as it was in the 90s. Things have become a lot more collector focused, for good or ill, but the bigger companies don’t want to acknowledge that. They want to keep telling us that it’s still the kids and moms who are the main buyers, and that’s just insane. TRU couldn’t maintain an aisle of NECA and McFarlane and Mezco product if that was true. Halo, Gears of War, Walking Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, Predator, and all these other lines couldn’t survive if the action figure market was dependent on moms and their kids to sustain it. Heck, a line like DCUC wouldn’t even exist, because no way is a mom going to plunk down $15-20 a pop for her kid to have Hawk and Dove, or Kamandi, or three differently colered Flashes. Hasbro even still cites old data (the most commonly cited figure being that collectors only make up 10-15% of the entire action figure buying market) while proving themselves wrong. A line like GI couldn’t keep chugging like it has, with no media tie ins to speak of right now (save for the movies, but look how well the movie toys did. I can still find Destro or some Cobra Troopers from that line, but good luck finding most of the 30th anniversary stuff), they couldn’t produce entire waves of Classics/Generations/Universe Transformers, to say nothing of Masterpiece figures and the like. And who do they think are buying Hope Summers or Fantomex or even Iron Fist figures? I doubt any little kid’s begging his mom for a Winter Soldier or Namor.

        1. I don’t want to this to sound like I’m coming up to the plate to swing the bat for Mattel, but I don’t view them as my antagonists. I view them more as people that try hard, but can’t always figure out how best to solve a problem. People that are sometimes able to get to a solution with a complex set of circumstances, but not always as creative as they should be in coming up with those solutions. Of course, the way I’m saying it here may sound much harsher than just calling them assholes. 😀

          Take Ghostbusters as an example. You’re a frequent commentor here, so I’m sure you’ve seen my general “meh” attitude towards that line. But, as awful as it is, it isn’t like I just look at Mattel and blame them for not listening. It’s more that I’m in shock about how bad they are at coming up with creative solutions to the problems the line presents. The figures don’t sell well because Mattel doesn’t make them worth buying. I’m convinced of that. But I’m also convinced that the demand outside of the main four in their basic garb is too small and that Mattel was doomed before they started (they learned this listen when it comes to BTTF). I know that I whine and moan in my reviews that Mattel needs to do a better job on Ghostbusters, because they do, but I’m mainly meaning they need to find better use of their limited resources. When they planned Dana, the sub was still going, but it’s a pretty dumb decision in retrospect. Whenever Mattel has the option to do a 100% tool come up again, it needs to be the Terror Dog. But wil it be? I don’t know. I already have limited expectations for the 4th figure because Dana is the 100% tool, though her lack of articulation might help us out there for once. As for the MOTU subscription, with a few notable exceptions that couldnt’ be helped, we can get tweaks when we bring something up quickly and en masse (moss man’s ears). We can get whole figures through campaigning (Battleground Teela, Battle Armor Faker (who wasn’t in the sub, granted). Keldor Swords are coming. I’m usually satisfied as a MOTU subscriber. I’m hopeful that the DC sub will be more like MOTU than Ghostbusters, but it’s going to be an uphill battle. And, ultimately, I know they will all die the same sad Ghostbusters death as sales dwindle.

          Also, the thing about “writing a check at the beginning of every year…” isn’t really anything abnormal for a subscription service. My parents once did a $500+ cheese of the month club with no idea of the cheeses. Pajamas. Peanut Butters & Jellies. A lot of “of the month” clubs don’t lay out what you’re going to get. Sometimes that’s even part of the pitch! So I can never hold Mattel’s feet to the fire on that one. I want MOTU characters I hate in the sub so I can see if they’ll kindle interest where the previous figures failed. I wish people would get down off their “favorite character” horse now and again and find the value in Atrocitus, Jay Garrick, etc. I wish the toys would lead back to the comics like I mentioned earlier. Though, as the price has gone up, the “stakes feel higher” when you want your favorites. I feel it all the time too. I’d rather have Zauriel than Black Mask, but I’m guessing someone out there views it oppositely, so they win this round…

          And yeah, when TRU has a “Collector’s aisle” you kinda want to smack the big companies around a bit, no? LOL The thing I always hate about the kids vs collectors axiom goes right back to what I was saying about creativity in solving problems. Let’s say collectors account for only 20%. Instead of saying, “we can’t give every fifth customer what they want because, we really need those first four customers to keep buying” why not find an answer to both? Sure, some situations may have diametrically opposed desires, but most aren’t. Why does their gain have to be our loss? Why can’t a solution be found that would, y’know, sell more toys.

          1. Couldn’t agree more with your favorite character paragraph there. I’ve been guilty of this in the past, and even in some of the posts on this very article where I trashed Kamandi again haha. Ultimately though, I’m happy for others when they can get a figure they truly love because I know at some point a figure will come along that I think is amazing and someone else is going to loathe it.

            1. We all do it. 😀 I try to never use the term “wasted slot” when it comes to the line, but then you run into things like the white suit Superboy when you don’t have Miss Martian, and we’ll… y’know.

              1. Or you run into white suit Superboy when you don’t have a proper jeans-and-t-shirt Superboy.

          2. i do admit, in the dark and cobwebbed recesses of my deviant mind… did we actually get a boon w/ the moss man ears? or did toy guru find out ahead that some of them got made that way accidently, and he PRd it to be a solution?

            while it’s difficult to fathom him having that kind of PR acumen, it’s also the one and only example of a time where mattel was quick to reply to our requests… and they still only took our advice for part of the run… does that in any way seem more likely than them fudging up? if those director’s commentary things are teaching me anything, it’s that scott is one of those tools who will rip both arms off to pat himself on the back… and moss man is a frequent patting point.

            i know, only someone who is truly paranoid could believe something to be that conspiratorial. i say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t actually out to get you.

            1. The funny thing is we have a list of things that we have pushed for and received in the MOTUC line. But as you read those TG director’s commentaries, it often seems like fans have no input in the line. They seemingly had everything, including our wants, figured out before hand…

              1. eh… we’ve gotten some bones tossed our way, but the time frame in which they “responded” to the moss man ears is, for example, shorter than the lead time on the poison ivy hands, which we’re being told is impossible… hence why my conspiracy theory.

                1. The Ivy hands are impossible because the geniuses in charge didn’t make all the girl hands interchangeable. Due to mold availability, preference, or just cause – Ivy’s got the Sapphire body which apparently has forearms incompatible with previous hands. Why they don’t all have the same size pegs, I don’t know.

                  1. I don’t want to go with, “Because it’s Mattel,” but this is a company that just doesn’t seem to make logical decisions like that. For example, the pegs on the arrows for the Young Justice Artemis and Red Arrow figures aren’t the same size, so they can’t interact with each others’ display bases. To us on the outside here, making parts like that interchangeable is a no-brainer, but it seems the men behind the curtain don’t think like we do.

                    1. You’re right on there. I’m dumbfounded that the parts are more interchangeable for their own purposes. There seems to be little control over how the internal parts of a figure work sometimes. It seemed the the folks at Mattel didn’t know about the tri-barbell that blocked DC neck articulation until it was shown to them.

                    2. The problem they have is that no one thinks ahead. Every problem they run into could have been fixed with some forethought and then they provide a bandaid fix which only leads to more problems. When they started a line like DCUC they should have planned out the basic bucks they would need and the scale it should stay in and go from there.

                    3. I agree there too. They don’t need to have interchangeable parts as selling points for consumers, but they should have them just because.

        2. right on brother… if they were going to let fans have some say on the line, they’d start w/ some fan voted line-ups and perhaps a pre-order process, rather than a sub.

          1. The only problem with that is the diversity of the DCU. Everyone has their favorite corners, their favorite D listers or even F list characters. Every poll I’ve ever seen conducted for a figure line where the entire DCU was up for grabs ends with an inconclusive total for everyone. Go take a look at the recent (and now pointless) Young Justice poll that was done over at AFI. Hundreds of votes were put in but I’d be willing to bet that no one character cracked 15 votes, maybe not even 10. That doesn’t really help Mattel. Not to mention the problems with budget and tooling that could arise with the characters we vote for.

            All that being said, I’d love to have a vote on each and every character but the poll would have to be streamlined and they would have to lay out more details about each figure than they’re willing to give us.

            1. That was the biggest problem with the subscription early on I thought. The folks that really want Jay Garrick don’t necessarily give a crap about the red mess that is Atrocitus. The folks happy for Atrocitus don’t care about “geezer” Flash. The sub is really an epic case of factions having to get along, even more so with MOTU.

              The big reveal at SDCC seemed to make most folks happy, so maybe things will go better. But when we get to the time of year when we only have one reveal at a time to chew over, I’m curious to see what happens.

              1. Due to the fact Jay was previously pulled from w18/JSA and Atrocitus was pulled as soon as he was announced, I think that Mattel was told by DC they were going to have a “big shake up” coming and maybe a few hints of what was coming (esp if Johns was palling with Scott in having input on Lazer-Lot and the DCUC Lantern themed lines). That gave Mattel enough heads up to set up the DC sub and start sculpting on the DCnU52 characters, which they were probably forced to stick to. The fact Mattel has now revised and then cancelled All-stars to be rebranded AGAIN next year is certainly telling evidence toward this.

                Maybe Larfleeze & Atrocitus and Red Robin & Ivy & Black Mask were going to be paired off in w21? We don’t know and unless Scott ‘fesses up and spills all (won’t happen), we’ll never know the whole story of what happened behind the scenes the last year or so with DC and Mattel’s partnership.

                Heck, have they even put all the GL Movie Masters? Has anyone been able to assemble cloud monster Parallax? I managed to snag a Hector/Sarsgard off ebay and saw a handful of Morro, but neither had the CnC piece.

                1. You can finish Parallax, but I think the last two had to be bought online.

                  I don’t think Mattel had anything sculpted beyond what they showed at SDCC other than Metron. I could be wrong. And that’s not counting what the 4H might have sculpted in NJ.

          2. The problem with fans and polls is, it’s totally useless. Thanks to the internet, corruption is inevitable. Not to mention how biased it will become.

            Plus, there’s zero transparency. The poll may seem to weigh towards a figure that requires 100% new tooling and a couple of accessories (and Scott TG hates the character) but in the end the ‘winner’ might be a repaint with new head (and it’s one of Scott’s dream team) and zero accessories. How do we know that’s real?

            And of course if the poll is only on Facebook. Oy.


            1. They could easily just poll the subscribers only.

              They’re the ones “guaranteed” to buy the fig anyway.

              1. *PFFT*

                Stop trying to infuse logic into my blather! 🙂

                What’s one of the rules about Matty we all know and love?

                “If it makes sense, MATTY CAN’T DO THAT” 🙂

              2. They tried that with OUR club exclusive figure and DR botched the whole thing. Not only could ANYONE vote for it, but you could vote as many times as you could refresh the page. I’m glad Metron won out because he was the only one worthy of winning but someone could have easily spammed the BL Swamp Thing vote.

                1. Yeah, they’d need to do a better job on the polling too!

                  Black Lantern Swamp Thing. Ugh. Course Rocket Red has turned out ‘ugh’ now too. What was the fourth guy? Shaggy Man? I get that and the Nekron poll confused.

                  I’d like a Shaggy Man… I’d really like a General.

            2. I think all of the fan polls have been legitimate for the DC line. They were all obvious who was going to win on day one because Mattel/DC picked characters with wildly different popularity levels. Admittedly, Huntress would’ve won had JLU not made him so cool recently (when the poll was taken), but he seemed the shoe-in at the time. Raven was a given. Nekron was annoyingly a given. I was sure it’d be Metron too, though the idea of Black Lantern Swamp Thing was so scary/awful that I did at least worry that time around…

              1. Metron was tooled up and shown by the 4H before the poll even started haha. I think Mattel knew who was going to win.

                1. I think he was guaranteed to get the second slot if one of the others won the poll for sure. Since he seems intended for a Wave lineup (having been sculpted so early) I wonder if we were skipping the chair at the point.

                  Though recent comments about the subscription make it sound like it was conceived shortly after Toy Fair last year, so maybe none of the figures were pulled and were sculpted for the sub. Metron and chair was supposed to be one, but the Poll option came later.

            3. and didn’t a recent Q&A reveal they have no plans for Metal Men’s Lead? How hard is that to do when you have the DC Sub option? It’s not that hard to flub it a little and call him “Metal Man LEAD(er)”, the actual element name of “Plubonium”, or just say plain “Metal Man”. I know they’re hesitant after the recent scandal, but we’d understand if they had to rename him slightly because of that!

              Bad enough they won’t do Will Magnus, but then turn around and REFUSE to do one of the members? You shouldn’t have even started the team!!!

              1. Ya think that’s really the core issue? Mattel fears that if they made a figure named ‘Lead’ some idiot will assume it’s actually MADE of Lead and cause a mediastorm crisis and/or lawsuit?

                I mean, given the way of the world currently I can’t dismiss that possibility but…

                I assumed it was the Ram-Man problem. Body shape isn’t a standard ‘buck’ and there’s little to no re-use potential for the parts.

                However, unlike Ram-Man, I suspect there could be potential re-use of Lead’s body. It might not be 100% correct but given the wide (haw haw) variety of body shapes in various DC characters… Like (don’t laugh) I could see some clever modification and you’d have Granny Goodness.

                But otherwise, yeah, just plain dumb to start a team that there’s zero plan, intentionally, to complete.

                1. No current plans for Lead is what I thought he said, because of the 100% tool needed.

                  Lead does have plenty of buck reuse, unlike Ram Man (who’s popularity also comes into paly), but we have to sell more 2013 subs to get 100% tools. I’m not sure if that’ll happen or not. I’m not going to be writing in any articles though. Mattel has to sell year two on their own.

  28. The danger of Twitter, and one of the reasons I loath it. You cannot fit context into the character limit.

    Take this: “Today, the Four Horsemen pointed out on Twitter that they were currently making new DC Universe Classics style figures. ”

    How do you take that? I take that as “New characters to be manufactured and sold akin to what was done with and in the style of DCUC”. I suspect some took that to mean “YAY they’re making new DCUC!!!!”

    See what a difference a little context can have to such a posting?

    I hate…no, that’s not right. I loath and despair how Twitter has made the world even more ADD. bah. 🙂

    1. You quoted me and not their tweet though. 😉 Based on their tweet, they’re making compatible figures that will not make me (or Poe to be specific) unhappy.

      1. OOOP!

        I stand corrected then. When I clicked on the link there was so much time passed I couldn’t see anything remotely like what I quoted, so I just assumed an assumption.

        And yet my mistake further confirms my overall statement in re. Twitter. Unlike a blog post (like this very one) that has an anchor in time and space and allows for tracking and follow-through and amending without erasing, well, blah blah blah the rest can be imagined by anyone following my crazy train of thought. 🙂

        (and that’s one thing. While I’m sometimes upset that I can’t go back and fix a comment I post (spelling, grammar, etc.) I’m glad I can’t ‘retcon’ a post to try and make it seem I’ve never said something or pretend I’m more clever than I am. It keeps me honest 🙂 )

  29. I could type out paragraphs, but I only have one point in this case at this time: the problem with DC toys is all supply and demand. Not enough supply of Gentleman Ghost, not enough demand for Kamandi. But what is the solution?
    If you make GG 3 to a case, does HE become the Kamandi?
    How do you make the demand match what they produce? Even KENNER couldn’t figure out the ratio 100%, so I have little faith that Mattel will ever do it better than Kenner.
    How does Mattel even know what direction to move in? When they decided to make Hourman, what gave Rex Tyler the precedent over the Infinity Inc/robot/modern looks?

    Building a universe TO THE MAXIMUM CAPACITY can never work at the six-inch scale.

    1. I find myself always waiting for your comments…

      I think if you make GG three to a case he absolutely becomes Kamandi. I don’t think it’s so much that Mattel can’t do it as much as it that it can’t be done or can’t be done efficiently. Mattel could be smarter – there was no need to pack Captain Cold into so many cases (though I wonder if his 100% tool necessitated that in some way) where as Gentlemen Ghost definitely needed to be tossed into at least one Best of case in late 2009 (he was the only Wave 8 character not to get repacked, I presume it was due to Joker hogging his mold or because the head is the most expensive part to overrun on the C&C. Somewhere around here I’ve got a whole article on case assortments.

      1. Agreed about figures that dog out, altho honestly, some are a bit more obvious then others. Anyone want a Creeper? No? How about Eclipso? Really, I can get you one at full MSRP anytime you want. 🙂

        The problem isn’t so much the case packout as it is the base choice for the figures made, combined of course with the odd catering to the scalper that seems to go on with Mattel. Combine this with the way the few retailers that sell toys stock and sell them, ways stuck with a playbook crafted in the ’60s that seems to completely fail to take advantage of modern technology and you have a failure stew, at least as far as completest collectors go.

        Add to THAT how it seems ether Mattel isn’t hiring local reps to check how sales are going or training them to spot these issues of peg warmers, and having a procedure in place to address the issue on the local level, one cannot help but assume that insofar as Mattel is concerned, there really ISN’T a problem. You don’t get your Gentleman Ghost and thus can’t complete Giganta? What’s wrong with YOU? Go buy another figure, so what. It’s all product.

        (yet remember back to the ’90s and Ape Face Leia for Hasbro. They saw a demand for the figure because, ya know, “female figures are rare and thus highly collectable!!” so they rushed to get full cases of that horrible, horrible figure to shelves. I admire how proactive they were in fighting the scalpers but man, *brrrrr* that figure!)

        The solution to the problem of missing figures is obvious. Make them available at Mattycollector as a long-term item. Kill off the scalper bait by having all the figures available. Want a figure that was in Wave 3? Here ya go! Go one step further and make all the C&C parts available on their own so you can cherry pick just the figures you want from each wave.

        Of course they may want to embargo a wave to help ‘push’ the retail release, so say when Wave 10 hits stores then Wave 9 hits Mattycollector.

        And THEN, when a Wave has been out for some time, they could REDUCE THE PRICE and encourage people to go back and pick up those figures they passed on! “well, I really didn’t want Creeper, but now that he’s $5, yeah, I’ll pull the trigger, I can always use him for a custom”.

        But this is just a fantasy I have. In addition to the base truth (Mattel could never do this because it makes way too much sense) there’s various money reasons why it wouldn’t work. Current tax laws on paying on your inventory (which has forced so many to ‘just in time’ stocking which has its own downside), the problem of pick and pack, the need for very very precise SKU maintaining and control, warehousing. It would take a lot of work and a lot of long term planning (and concurrently sticking with it for the long haul), neither of which is currently so much as a concept in today’s world.

        1. Mattel has local reps. I was just chatting mine up the other week. The problem with pegwarmers though is that it’s far too late at that point and Mattel doesn’t participate in any kind of credit or buyback programs, so it’s moot. The mistake is made at the planning stage and, while I pick on Mattel, even Batman would have hard a time figuring out case assortments. Though, don’t double pack Kamandi is always a good place to start (not that I have a good suggestion for who else to double pack in that wave, an extra Batman was prolly best).

          To me the fundamental problem will always come back to the central tenet of my article – DC doesn’t do enough to promote it’s characters. I admit that Mattel should work smarter with their situation, but there’s nothing they can really do with DC characters that would make them sell better.

      2. Noisy, you have to make your way out to NYCC one of these years.

        There aren’t many things sold in the way toys are. Could you imagine if milk, orange juice, and beer were sold in mixed assortments? I can only imagine what the Internet on that Earth would look like…
        There’s a complicated psychology inside of collecting. Scope this logic:
        things have to sell out at a certain rate to not be called a failure; multiply this by two, because there’s an internal Mattel time, and a fan-determined time (as threads on .org document). People watch for pegwarmers. If the line is too easy to get, “people must not want it”; on the flip side, people will pick up a “Phasing Vision” who don’t even collect Marvel Legends because it is rare. If everyone is satisfied (i.e. everybody gets what they want), then there is no buzz on the line, people take it for granted, then they don’t feel the fever to collect the line. A section of the collectors drop that line because it doesn’t have “the heat” or they’ve had enough.
        The above is not meant to paint everyone with the same paintbrush. The only fact I can make after roughly 17 years of internet forums and fandom about “collectors” is that collectors are too individual to make mass assumptions about. It’s a hobby where people will skip a figure they have asked for on forums for years because there is one missing paint application on a head. THAT’S what Mattel and Hasbro are up against.

        1. ::golf clap ::

          I think we’re on the same page, or if not at the very least the same book. 🙂

          After I had written my comment I stopped and though about what other product was sold (and had similar issues) as toys, and the best I can come up with is…


          Clothes, jeans, pants, shirts are all sold in assortment case lots. A shirt, for example, will be broken out as S, M, L, XL, XXL (if we’re lucky) and the packout will be weighed towards the M and L. So, case of 20 shirts, you get 4 S, 6 M, 6 L, 2 XL and 2 XXL. What sells? Well, the XL and XXL usually go fast because, ya know, America is fat. (but some like some room in their clothing and some buy larger because loose clothing is a fashion thing. see also ‘pants on the ground’) Large sells eventually. Medium sells some, and Small, generally one will go. So after that ‘assortment’ has streeted you’ve probably sold 10-15 units.

          Oh, heck, I’m too lazy. Just go to Target or Old Navy and flip thru the clothing racks and you’ll see it in action. The smallest size will always be the ‘peg warmer’. But because that stock sits, they can’t (won’t) get in any more cases of the stock that WILL sell, BUT it doesn’t matter because every 6 weeks the category turns another cycle and different styles comes in!

          Toys really have their own thing. It doesn’t work the way it did in the ’60s but there’s no real interest in trying to figure out how to make it work better now. What the retailers WANT is one good, solid BIG HIT toy, the ONE THING everyone wants (think back to Cabbage Patch Kids) and a smattering of ‘evergreen’ products that turn (Barbie, Hot Wheels, Lego) so there’s constant turning and steady profit. This is the thinking behind the current Walmart plan to keep shrinking the footage of their toy department. One BIG HIT MUST HAVE toy hopefully every 2-3 months, and the evergreens.

          But of course we all know there’s no possible way to actually CREATE that giant hit toy. So it seems a foolish quest yet it goes on.

          1. I’ve been making independent films since 2007. People may or may not know this. And the journey from that first short we did to a film that stars Ernie Hudson and Doug Bradley is a book unto itself. So I’ll relate something based on a conversation that came out of my filmmaking.

            A guy that was about to graduate college who was interning at my day job that is not making movies asked me a simple question: “Why did they have video stores?” I had to think about it for a second…this guy is only about ten years younger than me, but he doesn’t remember a time when you couldn’t just buy the films you wanted on VHS. And what has happened to films (and music) is slowly happening to toys.
            The corporations destroyed their own markets in the eternal quest for more profit and cutting out middlemen. Video stores HELPED the corporations because it allowed people to get in at low cost. People would buy tapes of movies they “had to have”, even if they were $40. Laser discs showed the corporations that you have a sliver of the consumer base that WANTS $120 special edition sets and will pay for them – but not enough to support a corporation. Look at where DVDs are now – small sections in Department stores. Places like Coconuts and Suncoast blown off the map of history, along with Sam Goody and so many other music places. (there’s a lot more to the demise of DVD/ownership of films, but this relates to the toy issue at hand)

            Quick question: who is the largest customer of Hasbro goods? RETAILERS. Does Walmart care what is in those boxes marked “Transformers” if they know they can sell Transformers? When kids were all toy-crazy in the 80s, you could put ANYTHING in a Gi Joe blister and sell it for $3 – UNTIL kids wanted something else more – TMNT, Toy Biz Marvel, etc.

            It is a complete switch of industry philosophy for Mattel to move from selling to Walmart to selling to us directly – which is why Mattycollector has been so tentative for them. The math is completely different when you cut the customer base to “people who already know they want something”. You can see that very few entities – Onell, the Horsemen, Sideshow – have been able to make limited run “toys” actually work.
            Mattel sees people frothing at the mouth for Ghostbusters, they do them, and realize after the sales of the first four that they can’t make a Firehouse/Ecto-1 work in their financial structuring. Even MOTU, their most popular MattyC line, can’t make a Castle Greyskull work.
            At retail, Bandai finally answers the call for Thundercats – and what can you find at every store in the Jersey area? Thundercats Classics that people have begged for over multiple years.

            Is there an audience that is lost when figures go up to $18 plus tax? Hell yeah. If DC Classics was $5 a figure, I would have had every single one. I start to think about things once the price hits $6; I can skip a NECA line that is $20 a figure for a license I really like because I know I’m going to break off a limb as soon as I touch it. But they can’t make the figures retail for $5 when they sell it to retailers for $7 per.
            So it becomes more and more insular until the only people buying DC Classics is the hardcore fanbase. No one new could get in even if they wanted to. See also: comic books.

            Perhaps the future of DC figures is more for a DC Direct approach – at comic stores and online, made to the level of pre-orders with a limited amount for “impulse” purchasing. But that seems to be the way of anything categorized outside of the Transformers/wrestling/Star Wars sections of the toy aisle.

            1. Ernie Hudson? You, sir, are a god!

              It’s always funny to think about “what people knew” before you were born. One of the times I remember realizing that was Titanic. My friends were annoyed with the obsession the movie had and didn’t understand why it was so interesting to people. I was talking to my Dad and he started whimsically telling me about when they found it. It was then I realized that to me it was a tragic sea accident that held little importance beyond the deaths of so many people. To my Dad, who had lived during a time when no one knew where the hell it was, there were unanswered questions, a certain mysticism that had followed the comibination of majesty and tragedy when it sank. It’s an interesting generational gap.

              That’s totally off-subject.

              I don’t mind the $12-15 range. I get a little antsy going higher than that at, at least at retail. Of couse, I’ve all but abandoned retail at this point. It’s funny to think about how toys showing up in the mail was a rare and awesome event. Now, finding a toy I don’t already have at a store is the rare event.

          2. What’s really interesting to watch is Monster High of which Vault keeps me aprised. It’s a hit, internal toy line and Mattel treats it royally. There’s still distribution issues, but I think I’ve seen them all with the exception of Cupid (who is still an exception at this point).

            It’s a fashion doll line, so it’s a buck line, but the line has gotten to the point where nearly every assortment has dolls with new and unique bodies. It’s interesting to watch what Mattel can do under ideal conditions.

        2. I’d love to get out to the east coast again. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but certainly before I ever get west… LOL

          Mixed assortment fruit juice would be great! Be in the freezer section at 8am as they open the case so you can get the one-to-a-case pink grapefruit? Or the 1 to 100 case treasure hunt dragonfruit juice? Would the demand of orange juice necessitate being packed to whole cases just by itself or would it pile up and expire?

          I remember this painting from a tv show, movie, or heck, maybe it’s a real painting and I’m uneducated, but it’s this immense portrait of heaven and hell. But through the middle is the narrow line – it’s the world. Everything we know is in that tiny sliver – from quarks to galaxies, it all fits in the sliver.

          For anyone but Batman, I imagine that the window between pegwarmer and “distribution issues” is about as narrow. Though there is one difference between toy manufacturing and the painting. The consequences of missing that narrow sliver either way is hell. It’s on both sides.

    2. The problem wasn’t GG, per se, but rather the C&C parts that he comes with. The whole concept of the build-a-figure, back when Toy Biz introduced it, was the help even out case ratios and get more customers to buy complete waves rather than cherry pick. I think that’s worked, to a large degree, though I realize not every customer will buy into it 100%. I myself have bought a number of figures I otherwise wouldn’t have just for the C&C part, but I also have a little box next to my desk of C&C parts for figures I’ve never completed.

      If Kamandi had contained the head and crotch pieces for a desirable C&C figure, he’d be impossible to find, too, especially if, like GG, he’d been ridiculously short-produced. They rereleased Gentleman Ghost in a two-pack with Hawkgirl, and I don’t know how the thing sold elsewhere, but around me that sucker sat on the clearance shelf for months (as the Crime Syndicate 5-pack is doing now. Wish I hadn’t cherry picked the loose figures I’d wanted off of eBay).

      This is once again Mattel just not understanding their customers, or not applying common sense to their marketing (see also the incompatibility of parts discussed a little higher up on this page). Why on Earth would they rerelease all of the figures from wave 8 in “best of” assortments EXCEPT the one that came with the head and crotch of the C&C figure? It makes the C&C parts from the other figures (a rather large set of accessories) completely worthless.

      1. Completely agree.
        The problem with the C and C is that if the character is not desired, you lose that whole angle. Then again, why was the Darkseid wave so heavily clearanced that I eventually assembled him for about $45? People online were jonsin’ for a bigger Darkseid…
        You can’t make people want a figure they don’t want is the lesson I get out of this.

        1. I couldn’t give you a definitive answer there, other than perhaps the entire wave was overproduced? It’s also a wave that features a lot of C- and D-listers, without a real “name” character to anchor the line. I was more than happy to buy two different Mary Marvels (I’m a big fan of the Marvel family, and I loved Mary until “Countdown,” when DC just seemed to go out of their way to make her an unlikable character, story logic be damned), but I know not everyone was. I was also glad to get Copperhead, Spectre, Desaad, Dr. Midnight, and Lead, though I could have lived the rest of my life without that Eclipso and not been upset.

          For me, there’s a tipping point for getting figures just to get the C&C or BAF part. I bought the entire ML Red Hulk wave at Target because it was half off and I wanted at least half the figures. Conversely, I wanted Validus, but I didn’t like most of the figures in that wave, so I’ve only got a couple of the parts sitting in my parts box (the figure I wanted most out of that wave, Raven, I never saw in stores). If I don’t want at least half the figures in a wave, I usually won’t be inclined to buy the rest of the wave just for the parts, and even less so if it’s not a great C&C. It took a sale at Walmart for me to finally get Robotman to complete Imperiex, since I cared so little about either character.

          1. My problem with the line has always been distribution. Mind you, i have almost every figure of the entire line. Apart from a few variants and a couple of the 2-packs…i have them all. With that said, i have only found wave 1, wave 6 and wave 10 at ANY retail store in my area…thats it. 3 waves out of 20! And i dont mean i’ve seen one figure here and there by chance….i have seen ZERO DCUC’s in my area. Its not like i live in some remote, rural area either. I live in the Sacramento Ca. area. I have at least a dozen Walmarts and Targets and a couple TRU’s within a 30 minutes drive. I still have seen NOTHING. 90% of my collection i have picket up online. And not for a lack ot trying. I have put in my time driving to all the retailers in my area…only to come up empty handed over and over.

            So i’ve never thought Matty has had a distribution problem. To me they have NO distribution. All those Walmart Green Lantern 5 packs you’ve seen on clearance?…i’ve never so much as seen one. I bought my set off of Amazon. The Crime Syndicate? Still havent seen one in any Walmart near me. Again…its not like i live in a small, remote town. I live in the capitol of California. Its not LA…but its a pretty large metropolitan area. Why does Matty have such a hard time getting toys to my area? Forget about character selection. I love all the characters so i have no problem picking up an entire wave. Its just a simple matter of finding the damn things

            I’m wondering about how in the hell do you sell a toy line when you have zero advertising AND zero word of mouth? At least if you had stores stocked with your product, a kid that had no idea of what these toys are or who these characters are…they would at least see them in store which could pique their interest and perhaps buy them. When said child is playing with his new DCUC figure with his friends and tell them he saw them at Walmart..perhaps then his buddy would want one too and have his mom buy one. If you dont so much as have one figure on the pegs at stores….how is anybody going to be aware of your toy line?

      2. I think Captain Cold had Atom-Smasher’s head, but that’s neither here nor there. He was packed into multiple cases two too many times. Kamandi I think had the torso which had the biggest and most complicated paint apps (one more reason to not double pack him!)

        I have to think GG was either caught between Joker using his mold while those best of cases were being made or that the cost of the Giganta head made him not as worth reissuing as the others (Sorry if I’ve said this already, I think I’m repeating myself after 240+ comments).

        I also think DC’s lack of high-profile “big” characters was one more reason that Mattel was looking to end DCUC. We want Lead, Elasti-Girl, Doomsday, King Shark, Starro, Blok, Warth, the right Rocket Red, the General, etc – but who on that list besides Doomsday, is going to motivate any one but the most hardcore DC fans to pick ’em up?

        1. That’s where the New 52 should have helped them out but WB/DC screwed it up. They could have released those new versions of all the big names and kept the obscure figures coming for us.

          1. Part of the problem might have been how little notice it seems anyone was given about the reboot. This weekend is C2E2, and I remember watching interviews with DC creators at C2E2 last year discussing their plans for upcoming stories on their books, most of which never came to fruition because the entire product line was scrapped. And they all seemed genuine, like this wasn’t a smoke screen to keep the surprise of the relaunch. They genuinely seemed to believe they’d be on the same books with the same characters for 6 months to a year or more. And, given what I’ve heard or read DC creators say since then, yeah, they still believed at the time that they would be carrying out those plans. At least a few books I was reading not only didn’t get a proper ending, but didn’t even reach a decent stopping point in the storyline before they were axed.

            That was April, and the reboot happened in September, so even people on the creative staff were given less than 5 months warning, which really translates to 2 months warning, tops (it typically takes 3 months to get a comic to print). So, if it takes 12-16 months minimum to get a figure from concept to shelves, as we’ve repeatedly been told, there’s no way Mattel could have figures ready to go by September, or even by now, since, as of this time last year, it seems the majority of the DC staff didn’t know of the reboot, if the decision had even been made yet, which I have my doubts on. It’s very unlikely that they new looks of the character would have been finalized to be handed off to Mattel.

        2. Off the top of my head, I can rattle off a decent number of Bat-family characters that’d get me to purchase a figure. One is Poison Ivy, who we’re getting in the sub, and then there’s Huntress, Batwoman, any version of Renee Montoya, three versions of Stephanie Brown. Of course, those are all females.

          There are also versions of some already-released figures that people have been chomping at the bit for, like hook-hand Aquaman, crab-mask Kyle Raynor, Wally West, Connor Hawke (yes, this is a 90s JLA tangent), modern (pre-DCnU) Black Canary.

          I’m also desperate for an Oracle, but I realize the chances of getting a plain woman in a wheelchair are next-to-none, even with the subscription (and I’m on record numerous times as having said, if they’d announced Oracle as one of the subscription figures, I’d have bought a sub, despite hating the concept with every fiber of my being).

          1. Actually, I think our only chance of EVER getting a proper Oracle is in the sub. Look at all the work they put into Metron, they could do it with her too.

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