My latest trip to Toys R Us inspired this particular rant. While there, I saw the usual suspects: Transformers, DC Classics, Fury Files, Pixar Cars, Legos, and Minimates of Marvel, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, and now Ghostbusters. These are selling at mass retail. Yet DC Direct couldn’t sell DC Minimates to even specialty shops. Since there is nothing wrong with these other brands of Minimates, the question is… what the hell is wrong with DC Direct?
A few years ago Art Asylum designed a neat mini figure and dubbed them Minimates. After a little trial and error they got the hang of it, they picked up important licensing deals, and their fanbase grew little by little. To me, Minimates were always that toy you see around, sometimes a friend had one, or you would see it at a store and think, “this is kinda cool”, but that was the extent of the interest. That’s how I was, at least, until the day Art Asylum announced a partnership with DC Direct.
Art Asylum had already acquired the Marvel license a couple years before, so they were already pumping out Spidey, Hulk, and all their friends. Now, they would be allowed to add the DC characters – my personal favorites, to the mini-universe. With a few exceptions, we haven’t had a DC and Marvel line in similar scale and style since Mego’s World of Superheroes back in the seventies. But it wasn’t just that we could get a cohesive set of figures. The first pictures showed they were using a larger body for bigger characters like Bane and Ares. They announced rare characters that had never been made in toy form before like Ambush Bug and the Ma Hunkel Red Tornado. I saw tons of potential.
I was excited to say the least. So much so that I even went back and eBayed all of the older C3 line. After releasing a good selection of characters, with good designs and new pieces when appropriate, the line was becoming more and more fun to collect. Then, it stopped without warning. DC Direct stopped soliciting upcoming waves, and the few questions that they would answer about the line were vague at best. The most common answer that the line wasn’t “meeting expectations”. Months after the last wave shipped, DC Direct confirmed that the DC Minimates were “on hold”. Thanks…
Don’t get me wrong. I understand the economics of the toy world. If something doesn’t make money, then it doesn’t stay around. I get it. What I don’t understand is what DC Direct’s “expectations” were.
Art Asylum doesn’t seem to have a problem selling Marvel, Ghostbusters, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica (the 1970’s version no less), Chef Duff (no offense to the Ace of Cakes, but WHAT?), and last but certainly least, Suddenly Susan (MADONNA? WTF?!). Yet somehow DC Direct was struggling, trying to sell some of the most recognizable comic book characters in the world as Minimates. So again, I ask, what the hell is wrong with DC Direct?