You know it’s Summer when the days heat up, the kids run free, and the stores fill up with all manner of mass-produced, poorly-executed movie toys. Usually, they’re an easy pass for me, but this year Hasbro’s 6” Avengers and Mattel’s Dark Knight Rises Movies Masters have me hooked.
One of the things about action figure collecting that always frustrates me is the harsh retail climate for supporting cast members. See, I know that my DC Classics collection is never going to be complete. I mean, you always know that no toy company will have the time and resources to get as extensive as we ultimately want them to be. There are always minor characters, fan favorites, great (but short-lived) designs, something… someone that will get overlooked. But there are also very important characters that are perpetually overlooked.
For example, we’re not likely to ever own DCUC versions of Lois Lane & Alfred Pennyworth. At first glance, it’s kinda ridiculous. Think about how crucial both of those characters are to their franchises. Think about how many appearances they’ve made over the years, likely eclipsing even the major villains they help their respective heroes defeat. And yet, getting a Lois Lane or an Alfred figure into Classics is about as thankless a cause as my ongoing desire to see Warlord as MOTU Classics figure.
The reason for this has been a stalwart explanation for decades. Kids don’t want boring people figures. Parents won’t buy their kids boring people figures. I want to say it makes sense, but it has never applied to me. One of my all-time favorite figures growing up was the Super Powers Clark Kent. I always wanted a Lois Lane to go with that figure. I wanted an Alfred to go with Batman & Robin. Basically, I’m not the right person to try and figure out why well-known, non-spandex characters don’t have market appeal. Why a household name character like Alfred or Lois can’t be made while Captain Atom or Guy Gardner is a lock in multiple scales.
Even in recent years, as we’ve entered this “collector’s renaissance” where toys get stuck with little labels like “adult collector” or are marketed directly towards us via subscriptions or costly-to-obtain convention exclusives, that same logic unfortunately still holds sway.*
* – I never understand why toy companies don’t truly take advantage of convention exclusives. It’s a giant “nerd herd” of the target demographic** of the people that, at least in theory, would buy secret identity or supporting cast figures. And yet, the exclusives still tend to be not much different from retail offerings. It baffles the mind.
** – I know some of you out there are in disagreement. I’ve been told by collectors before that a figure of Alfred or Lois isn’t something they would buy. I fear that a figure like Lois Lane popping up in the subscription would cause all sorts of havoc. I’d be happy, but would all of you? I don’t know.
Anyway, I’m recounting all that pent up frustration because I want to make it clear how much I want an Alfred figure. I did once own the TAS version and the DC Direct version, but I sold the first and the latter broke, but that’s neither here or there. I want an articulated figure, capable of doing anything a Batman figure can do, albeit a little slower and probably with a shotgun. I want that Alfred figure so bad, that I’m willing to buy a figure that’s close, but not quite what I want. Namely, a movie-based figure instead of a comic-based one.
If you’re a Batman fan, buying movie-based figures as comic substitutes isn’t anything new. For the 90s my Batman villains were Jack Nicholson, Michele Pfeiffer, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, and a very inaccurate, but happy Penguin. In recent years, with the success of DC Classics, I haven’t really felt the need to pick up any of the Batman Begins / Dark Knight figures. I’ve got the comic line I always wanted and didn’t need the substitutes. I did pick up a few during lean toy times or because I wanted the figure – the Aaron Eckhart Harvey Dent or the Ghoul Batman, but for the most part, I didn’t need the Movie Masters figures. Continue to Page 2…