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DC and Mattel 2018: 15 years together. Time to go away or relaunch?

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Author Topic: DC and Mattel 2018: 15 years together. Time to go away or relaunch?  (Read 1790 times)
Gardner Grayle
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« on: March 25, 2018, 11:32:36 am »

In 2003, Mattel took over the DC license. 

The first 6" line was Batman.  Obviously.  Kid focused with Polar Camo Ninja Batman and more.  They also did a handful of comic accurate figures and variants that proved to be insanely popular.

Then came DCSH is 2005/06.  Better sculpts, better QC, more comic accurate figures, but no variety.

In 2008, we got DCUC and several related lines.  We got four glorious comic accurate years out of this.

2011 and the rug was pulled out from under us for many reasons.  Just no good ones. 

2012/13 we saw the DCIE sub and a diminishing number of retail figures. 

2014 saw us get an unofficial sub and no retail figures whatsoever.   

2015 saw no comic accurate 6" product at all unless you count Total Heroes.  And even that wasn't much. 

2016 introduced us to the Multiverse line.  A mixture of comic and TV figures with the umbrella line including movie figures.  The comic/TV waves have offered little variety, spotty distribution, questionable QC, and not much technical innovation thus far.  Toy Fair rolled around and all they showed were retailer exclusives.  Two of which just got nuked with the closing of Toys R Us. 

So what's next?  Fifteen years feels like a good place to step aside.  Or maybe recommit.  Perhaps the reason we saw no waves at Toy Fair is that Mattel will relaunch the DC license at SDCC 2018.  It's a much more fan friendly forum to do something like this.  I'm not Pollyanna and I haven't heard any rumors. 

But with Marvel Legends continuing success and a veritable comic book renaissance going on at DC right now, it just feels like the time when Mattel should be doing more comic accurate figures for retail, not less.  Your thoughts?  Thanks.       
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2018, 05:22:44 pm »

GARD, I would LOVE to think Mattel was relaunching DC action figures.  A new line encompassing ALL eras would be fantastic.

But I'm telling ya, the Cynic in me tells me that NOBODY wants to make DC action figures.  I wish I could say that I was joking.  I'm thinking that people just want to make high end merch, and say just screw making toys.

Please convince me that I am wrong.

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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2018, 06:52:29 pm »

Who else would it even go to? DC wouldn’t be under the same manufacturer as their rival and no other company has the means to produce the amount of product a license like DC demands. There’s so much more to consider than only 6” collector figures.

The only option I could see would be Mattel giving up 6” figure rights to a smaller company while they deal with everything else.

In any event, I’m basically done. I’m not starting a brand new DC collection. If future figures get made, I’m not getting them unless they’re DCUC compatible.
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2018, 07:14:44 pm »

Yeah, thatís also a deal breaker.  Whatever gets made has to be compatible with whatís already been produced.
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2018, 01:38:10 pm »

These times really make me sad.  DC action figures are what got me started on message boards, period.  I had many wonderful years chatting on the original DC Comics boards, then on Critical Mess, and now on here.

To think....we went from the beginnings of DC Direct to DCU Classics, and then downhill to an extremely questionable DCC....what a bummer!!  I just can't imagine things ever getting any better.  I think as DC fans, our action figure glory days are long gone.  We're just going to get Batman, the Joker, many Harley's, and about 6 to 8 more characters over and over again.  They'll be in different scales and have slightly different costumes, but that's it.  Maybe once a year we'll get something like Dr. Psycho or a non Big Gun.
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2018, 10:31:36 pm »

As discouraging as it's become, this thread is me "keeping hope alive".  For myself at the very least.  These nameless, faceless corporate cogs have to know that there is a demand for comic accurate DC figures.  They also know we prefer six inch scale.  They can see the rousing success of Marvel Legends.  They know DCUC sold very well for four years.  Some of them may even be aware of the outrageous secondary market prices some of these figures are going for. 

The main problem, as I see it, is that they can't seem to maintain the profit margins they want.  I obviously don't have access to that data.  But it's at least one logical conclusion.  Follow the money.  Or lack of it.  The other would be that WB isn't that interested anymore.  If that's the case, we're boned.     
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2018, 09:27:32 am »

Without reading any other responses first (will do that next), I'd have to guess most of the blame falls squarely on DC/WB.  There cannot be anyone at the company who is passionate about a DC toy line -- otherwise, the product offerings would be better than what they are. I wish someone there would think outside of the box and find ways to get some classic figures in the hands of those who are interested.

I doubt, though, that Hasbro would ever get the license as long as they are producing Marvel figures. For the most part, I think the ship has sailed for a really good DC line of figures at retail.
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2018, 04:02:22 pm »

From what I've always heard, both Jim Lee and Geoff Johns are ardent action figure guys.  It seems to me either or maybe both of them would have a seat at the table when it comes to DC when dealing with Warner Brothers Consumer Products.  WBCP is a division of WB I imagine to be populated with lawyers and accountants being protective of the properties, but always looking at the bottom line. 

On the Mattel side, Bill Benecke seems to still be in charge of the DC brand.  Rumor has him to be only slightly less of a DC fanboy than Neitlich was.  The 4H Studios are still onboard, even if it isn't one of the main guys doing the sculpting.  So the Mattel side is covered.

Classics would be nice.  Modern (Rebirth etc.) would be acceptable (to me anyway).  Wide open would be optimal.  Chuck the TV figures.  Go all in comic accurate.  That was the heyday from 2008-2011.  MLs has released 3.5 waves in the first quarter of the year.  Multiverse has released 1 wave.  Abysmal. 

Just go back and do what worked before.  Or copy Hasbro.  Just do something.       
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2018, 08:02:56 pm »

DCUC feels like a lifetime ago.

I don't even think about DC figures much now. I give the occasional nod to a figure or two announced in a future Multiverse wave. But the large numbers of movie/TV/artist specific figs in a wave mean that I cherry pick. Even a kick-ass C&C like King Shark wasn't enough to make me buy a single figure in that wave.

Unfortunately as a universe builder, the characters I need to continue that are almost an impossibility now. A Golden Age Mr Terrific, etc.

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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2018, 10:23:47 pm »

I'm always curious to hear what people think "classic DC" is.  There's no real right or wrong answers, just a difference of opinion.  Personally, I believe "classic" was on the way out when Wolfman/Perez introduced us to the first three Marvel characters that just happened to live in the DCU.  Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire.  Some people would say 1986 when Byrne rebooted Superman.  Others would say before DiDio which would be 2002.  Still others count classic up to the first issue of Flashpoint. 

I truly see it from both ends because there's a metric fuck ton of DC figures I'd buy from all eras of DC Comics.  As much as I want more vintage JSA, I also want the new Damage, Sideways and Silencer.  I can almost put together the Terrifics now.  The Batman who laughs is genius design.  I really want Jon Kent.  New Superman would be fun too.  DC is crushing it when it comes to their comics.  I wish that applied to action figures.   
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« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2018, 05:32:41 am »

I’m curious why you feel that way about Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire? (I don’t mean that in a snarky way. I’m genuinely curious. I don’t have any strong feelings on the characters, I’ve just never heard that before and have never thought about what separates a DC character from a Marvel character)

For me, classic is just a broad, arbitrary term to mean “old”. I was a kid during the 90’s so for me, stuff like Kyle Rayner, Aztek, electric Superman, Azrael, etc is all “classic”. It’s what I grew up with. I’d have a harder time labeling something from the early 2000’s as classic, but it’s approaching 20 years old at this point, which feels like a good place to start calling things classic.

I see classic as a term that shifts with time, whereas labeling specific eras (Silver Age, Bronze Age, 90’s) are very definite. As well as the term “iconic” which I feel describes a characters defining look.

I keep calling the Thor I’d like to see in ML as “classic” but he wore that costume for most of his existence through several decades up until not terribly long ago. It’s definitely not fair to just label it as “old”. Its what I’d call iconic. Before heroes got new costumes every 2 years.
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« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2018, 07:40:30 am »

I’m curious why you feel that way about Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire? (I don’t mean that in a snarky way. I’m genuinely curious. I don’t have any strong feelings on the characters, I’ve just never heard that before and have never thought about what separates a DC character from a Marvel character)

In 1978 DC "Imploded".  They very much misread the market at the time.  Prices were going up on everything.  Inflation.  And they tried to go from 35 cents to 50 cents across the line with an additional 8 story pages.  It did not work.  Staff was let go, freelancers were let go, and a third of the comic line was cancelled.  Many people lost their careers and never worked in comics again.  That's when Marvel overtook them and they've really been playing catch up ever since.  Up until that point, DC was the largest comic publisher in North America.  By a very wide margin.

In 1980, still licking their wounds, DC management threw a "Hail Mary" and hired Marv Wolfman and George Perez away from Marvel.  From what I understand, they were given virtual carte` blanche by the disparate DC honchos.  Marvel has a long tradition of tragic heroes.  DC, not so much.  And it paid off. 

Cyborg was a star athlete and honor student tragically disfigured in an accident.  Worse yet, the accident was caused by his parents.  One of whom died in same the accident.

Raven was the literal devil's daughter.  A devil anyway. 

Starfire was royalty sold into slavery by a sibling.

All tragic figures born out of a perspective that DC did not have at the time.  And New Teen Titans outsold Uncanny X-Men for months.  That's what Wolfman and Perez were hired to do.  Make DC a little more Marvelous.         
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« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2018, 05:12:43 pm »

The winning formula for Marvel has always been that their weaknesses are psychological, human, relatable.  DC weaknesses are kryptonite, fire, and yellow.
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2018, 06:06:56 pm »

I hate saying it, but I just don't think WB/TPTB wants to be bothered with a Comic Accurate collector's line.  Maybe they think we're just a pain in the ass to deal with.  Maybe they figure they can't compete with Marvel/Hasbro.  Maybe it's just easier to do simple toys for children.

Basically, I think DC action figures ( the style WE want ) are done.  DCC doesn't even count.  I honestly wish Funko or Hasbro or Jakks would take over the license.  There has to be some company that actually WANTS to do DC action figures.  I know that can't and will not happen, but it's amazing to think that DC Collector action figures are now a thing of the past.
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2018, 09:55:48 pm »

I’m curious why you feel that way about Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire? (I don’t mean that in a snarky way. I’m genuinely curious. I don’t have any strong feelings on the characters, I’ve just never heard that before and have never thought about what separates a DC character from a Marvel character)

In 1978 DC "Imploded".  They very much misread the market at the time.  Prices were going up on everything.  Inflation.  And they tried to go from 35 cents to 50 cents across the line with an additional 8 story pages.  It did not work.  Staff was let go, freelancers were let go, and a third of the comic line was cancelled.  Many people lost their careers and never worked in comics again.  That's when Marvel overtook them and they've really been playing catch up ever since.  Up until that point, DC was the largest comic publisher in North America.  By a very wide margin.

In 1980, still licking their wounds, DC management threw a "Hail Mary" and hired Marv Wolfman and George Perez away from Marvel.  From what I understand, they were given virtual carte` blanche by the disparate DC honchos.  Marvel has a long tradition of tragic heroes.  DC, not so much.  And it paid off. 

Cyborg was a star athlete and honor student tragically disfigured in an accident.  Worse yet, the accident was caused by his parents.  One of whom died in same the accident.

Raven was the literal devil's daughter.  A devil anyway. 

Starfire was royalty sold into slavery by a sibling.

All tragic figures born out of a perspective that DC did not have at the time.  And New Teen Titans outsold Uncanny X-Men for months.  That's what Wolfman and Perez were hired to do.  Make DC a little more Marvelous.         

Very cool. Thanks for that. Some of this kind of behind the scenes stuff and critical analysis of the creative behind the scenes of comics really intrigues me. Especially companies doing things as a direct reaction to their competition.
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