Mr. Rant asks
Where are my DC Minimates???

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?

-Mr. Rant

26 thoughts on “Mr. Rant asks
Where are my DC Minimates???

  1. Agreed! I had resisted the pull for a long time but the unique pieces and sizes of the DC sucked me in and I bought a couple of them.

    One reason it might not have been as successful is maybe there are more Marvel fans than DC fans so the fan base of potential buyers is less or maybe the little bit of time minimates spent in Target helped them build up a fan base outside of regular specialty store goers.

    If the sales of the other minmate lines are strong at Toys R Us and they still have the molds it might be worth a look for DC Direct to see if there is a market there. Maybe re-release a couple of the most popular as Toys R Us exclusives and see how they do. They always seemed to have extra accessories than the Marvel ones like their unmasked faces and such (although now I think the Marvel ones do that too)

  2. It’s kind of hard to compare profits between licenses when none of the profits have ever been made clear.

    It’s entirely possible that DC had a higher overhead due to some of the decisions that set their product apart from the Marvel brand. Instead of doing the standard six figures plus variant, DC did a run of eight figures, which means having to mass produce two extra figures instead of just running six with a short run of a seventh. The DC figures also used the bigger body style, which likely results in higher production costs in having to load up two separate sets of molds just to run the bodies for, let alone tooling the added parts. Then, DC also filled their sets with accessories, which is more added cost. All of that goes towards cost, which is why every few series of Marvel figures, you see a line that reuses a lot of parts or does subtle changes to past characters to help drive costs down. I’m not saying that DC was wrong to go for extensive detail on their figures and cut out the short pack variant, I’m just saying that it likely increased the production costs which would decrease profits if they sold the sets for the same price as the cheaper to produce sets (which they would pretty much have to, in order to stay competitive, because your casual buyer isn’t going to plop down $2 or $3 extra dollars per set when they can get other ‘mates for less).

    Also, the numbers for Ghostbusters and Terminator are still out, but the Madonna stuff apparently sold like crazy due to Madonna fans. Chef Duff is incomparable, because that wasn’t a license that AA/DST sought out, but rather one that sought them out. They sold all their stock to Charm City Cakes, who were responsible for selling them to the masses. Whether that was profitable or not, we don’t know.

    I will agree that DC is crazy for not backing a line that directly competes with a Marvel line, since its more appealing to your casual buyers who want to see Spider-Man fight Batman. If they’d try to mirror the Marvel Minimate business model or just set their goals a little less ridiculously high, they could have had a winner.

    But whatever, let them go make Blammoids. It saves me money that way.

  3. Blammoids, cosbabies, minimates, pocket heroes, etc. are all just little monstrosities DCD puts out to feel for something that will catch on like action figures. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when they fail.

    The minimates at retail never seem to move either and I don’t think most of them even get to big box retail anyway. So Marvel isn’t doing that much better except for move tie-ins. Still they are pretty deep in while DC is out totally. But what do you expect from DC Direct? For them it’s one issue after another…

  4. Oh… DC Direct. Did you hear about their Superman 1 Million figure?

    Yeah, it’s not the one from the 853rd century, it’s just their millionth version of him in the classic costume. 😀

  5. “Desperately Seeking Susan.” Come on, man. And don’t tell me you wouldn’t go nuts over a “Who’s That Girl?” or “A League Of Their Own” Mini-Mates.

    There’s no crying in toy collecting,

        1. you think you know somebody and he reveals he has a long kiss goodnight collection

            1. You don’t even know what that movie is! It came out when you were like 12.

              Ebon, think about this, if we had a Geena Davis face and a Stryker minimate from X2. Long Kiss Goodnight’s major players would be complete!

  6. Stop it…. there’s a Chef Duff minimate!?!?!?! 😀 (Sorry, I know I’m not helping, but I do wonder why things like Duff and Desperately Seeking Susan are out there but DC minimates are not. If they did DSS for the Madonna hype, why not just produce a “Madonna through the Ages” line?

  7. silnt… here ya go doll… don’t say i never did nothing for ya!

    dude, i own the chef duff minimate… in fact, the wife and i got two, one for each of us. and he rocks!!! he’s duff freakin’ goldman… booster gold can’t make a giant frog cake! martain manhunter didn’t come w/ a two cakes and a hand mixer!

    1. Dayraven, you’re my new bff! Duff is AWESOME!!!!! I love his frosting injector/piper on his back (reminds me a bit of Ghostbusters actually…) What is on top of the brown cake!? It looks like a pighead, but I cannot be sure….

      SOLUTION: Buy it and see! Thank you, Dayraven! <3

  8. access leads to excess huh. well i guess that’s why i have the ghostbuster ones

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