It’s just me again for today’s entry into our 2013 Retrospective. Vault looked back across 2013 and didn’t find much one way or the other, so I’ll be taking lead on the Highlights & Disappointments. Hopefully, he’ll be back for Friday’s forward-looking wrap-up (& how about some reviews next week – you guys miss those at all?)!
2013 was a fairly up and down year for me personally. There were some setbacks here and there, my job went through some crazy changes – one of my longtime friends at work was fired which caused for some real challenges, and we lost one of my favorite uncles (miss you, Jim!).
There were some undeniably good things that happened too though. I’ll be an uncle for the first time myself in a few days (kinda a 2014 thing, but still), my wife & I moved into our first home, and that topsy-turvyness at work did ultimately include a lot more money. (might explain those Hot Toys hanging around…)
Hobbywise, I think 2013 was pretty solid overall. A few dumb things happened like always, but a lot of great toys came out too. So sit back and I’ll see what I can put together for 5 Highlights & 5 Disappointments in 2013 Toy Collecting. I always start off with the disappointments first, so the highlights can end on a high note. Who wants to end an article on what I think the suckiest thing all year was?
|No.5 – The High Cost of… Well, Everything.
|While I was very fortunate this year, I did want to get something on the list about how expensive our little hobby is increasingly becoming. I know that we’re well past the days of getting a Super Powers figure free with a tank of gas, but the economy (& some savvy accountants taking advantage of said economy) have really combined to put the squeeze on the collector. I love MOTUC, but I do cringe a little when paying $33 for a month with just one figure+shipping (& that’s splitting shipping with Vault). There are somewhat cheaper alternatives at retail, but often times, and especially this past year, I wasn’t that that impressed by the retail offerings. I only bought two Transformers at retail this year; that was a HUGE change. There were some good things to be had, like 6” Star Wars Black, but when $20 feels like a deal – well, we’ve come a long way in ten years. I wonder where we will be in ten more?
|No. 4 – The Desolation of Toy Store Shelves.
|The other big disappointment is another familiar concept: distribution. I was trying to think of the figures I walked into a store and purchased at retail this year – it’s very few. I could’ve bought some stuff from Playmates were I inclined. Most of my NECA purchases were at TRU. That’s a win. Mattel basically abandoned boys retail this year, so maybe I’m just complaining about Hasbro? I never did see any of the “Ultimate” Joes in later Retaliation waves. The Masterpiece line, even when brought to the states by Hasbro, is clearly undersupplied. (I won’t armchair quarterback a ton, but more Soundwaves woulda been good for everybody). Target had some Marvel items on occasion. (Zemo & Red Skull were a nice Target find recently), but Walmart is the island of misfit toys at this point it seems. I do sometimes feel like we’re living in a “golden age” for toy collecting, but it’s an online golden age for sure.
|No. 3 – Characters not Classic Enough for MOTUC.
|Okay with the perennial cost & distro complaints out of the way, let’s get to the meat of it. While there are some great things going on with Masters of the Universe Classics, one disappointment this year has essentially been reality setting in. Early on, the subscription model (which I love for this very reason) helped collectors of lesser important characters get their characters subsidized, but with the promised removal of concept characters the sub the line grew a little dimmer. In 2013, we saw a poorly handled poll for NA characters and the knowledge that NA was being scaled back due to sales. You guys know that Red Beast & Calix are high on my list, but Darius & Tuskador are on there too! The line still has life left in it, but knowing there are characters whose chances are even more slim to none now means we’re more towards the end then I want to be.
|No. 2 – Goldilocks and the Three Keaton Batmen.
|Of all the boneheaded, aggravating, OMG, why-do-they-hate-me-decisions this year, it was the announcement that the line that would essentially be replacing DC Classics would be 4”. At first, I could deal. But the announcement of Superman movie & Batman Returns figures – Reeve Superman, Keaton Batman, Catwoman, Penguin – figures I’m dying to have in my 6” collection would be included. I think I might have let out one of those “Khaaaaan!” howls. I will give the caveat that I’m still hopeful they’re cool, but this is Classic Mattel giving you what you want in a way you don’t want it. Hot Toys & NECA have my back with their scaled up Keaton offerings and I will be buying the 4” Mattel figures – I suck at protesting, okay? – but damn it if Mattel can’t just be consistent. I guess their data must tell them that no collector wants to put compatible figures of Adam West, Michael Keaton, & Christian Bale together on a shelf? C’mon!
|No. 1 – DCUC finally goes DOA.
|The biggest disappointment this year should be easy to guess: the dissolution of DC Classics. I know that technically there are five figures left, and one of them is going to kickass. I’m thankful for the two years of subscription figures, but I still have, like, eleventy billion characters I would love to see in Classics style. The disappointment though is not simply that the line ended, but that the joy seemed to go out beforehand. The 2013 sub didn’t really have a killer figure. Huntress was probably the closest thing to greatness, but at one figure a month, Mattel & the Horsemen needed to turn the notch up to 11 – and they didn’t. (Sadly, Hook Hand Aquaman looks like an “11”, but he was too little, too late and is kinda cancelled out by Superboy looking like a 3 ). The folks at Mattel may feel that the support just wasn’t there to bring the sub to life, but I’d tell them the results just show that they didn’t put enough heart in the offerings to begin with.
Continue to Page 2 for my 2013 Highlights!