Does DCDirect hurt Mattel's 6" DCUClassics line?
July 9, 2008

Here I am, knowing 5 waves of Mattel’s DCUC, and debating.   Do I buy or not.  I saw Black Manta again yesterday.  At 10$ each and in the 6" scale, they look a lot like DCDirect figures to me.  And that’s the problem.

For every figure Mattel has offered so far – and is offering as far as I can see through wave 5 – I’ve already had the chance to buy this character in this scale.

The price of DCDirect kept me away from a lot of them.   I picked and chose my figures carefully based upon characters I love.  In fact the only one I have that I do not like is one I bought on clearance for 6$.   I feel the same way about Mattel’s DCUC.  At 10$ each I am not going to buy a character I do not like.

By the same token, I am not likely to buy a character I already have in that scale.  I already paid 10$ – or more - to get a figure of that character.  Why would I buy it again?  Aquaman is cool, but I love my Ed McGuiness one with all the sculpted scales.

I find myself torn.  I would love to support this line from Mattel.  But I am so picky.  And cheap.  If they want my money, they will need to make characters I have not gotten around to buying and make them easy to buy individually (I’m looking at you, Metamorpho).  The other thing is, can I wait?  I’ve been a fan of Black Lightning since the 70′s.  DCD finally made him a figure, but in his new costume.  The Mattel one coming is also in his new costume.  If I have to choose between two which are virtually identical, why would I wait?

So, how do you see DCDirect impacting Mattel’s 6" DCUC line?  Does it impact it for you?  Do they compete for your money (and space on your shelf)?  Or have you never bought DCD and are starting new?  Are you selling off DCD and starting again?

Erik "Superfriend" Skov
"Gathered together from the four corners of the universe." Oh, wait, that's the show, not me. Erik "SuperFriend" Skov never actually got to appear on the show, although he did watch it every week. Erik spent 6 years working for Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI before leaving for a job that paid more (Why else would a collector leave the company that was making Star Wars, Transformers, and while I was there Batman). I used to post all over the net. These days I tend to hang my hat at AFI.
Read other articles by Erik "Superfriend" Skov.





  • MoMoney says:

    It doesn’t.

    I want a cohesive DC Universe. DC Direct does not offer that. They offer a smattering of figures in a particular style that likely won’t mesh well with a different smattering of characters in a completely different style. I won’t even get into the glaring scale issues with DC Direct…

    They are two totally separate collections. I don’t see them in competition with one another. Mattel is going to repeat characters that DC Direct has already made because DC Direct has been making five figures a month for ten years. That’s roughly 600 figures. Almost all of the popular DC characters have been made by DC Direct already. Does that mean Mattel shouldn’t bother? No.

  • Toythinker says:

    I see them as two different lines entirely since DC Direct has more flexibility to craft/create/engineer a sculpt that falls in-line with a particular artisit, or storeyline. Mattel’s appears to be in scale with eachother, (ahem…not Doomsday, but alas I digress).

    I picked up the Kirby version of Mr. Miracle not long ago and saw the DCUC Verson coming up in Wave 6 – I like the Kirby version better since it resonates with me more.

    So, I buy the ones I like – which makes the DC Direct line more “fun” because of the different variations/interpretations of each character. However, if you’re a chronic collector, as I once was, your damned if you do and damned if you don’t collect each and every one of them.

    Bottom line: Mattel is a fresh take on the characters at mass retail.

    DC Direct will still cater the fanboy comic book jockeys that we all are.

  • Jason Jason Geyer says:

    I’ll second MoMoney’s comments, and add that although DCD has made figures that are roughly 6″ tall, I would exactly call that the “scale” as none of them would fit in relation to DCUC, let alone each other.

    To me, having DCD alongside DCUC is no different than adding JLU into the mix. They just don’t look like they belong.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

    DC Direct is focused on creator-inspired lines and their inconsistent size scale is a prickly issue for collectors. But every once in a while, they’ll deliver a character whose chances of being produced are one in a million. Take the recent Jonah Hex figure from their Showcase series. I bought him because he is a favorite of mine, looked cool and is unlikely to be seen again in a similar format.

    On the flip side, DCUC’s 6” scale is more uniform in size, with some larger characters offered as BAF figures. (Grodd, Grundy) The articulation is far better than DC Direct’s. But as we have seen, distribution has been shaky even though it is a retail line. DC Direct ships straight to comic shops, so at least you know where to look for them.

    My advice: Buy what you like. Just focus on the figures you enjoy most from each line. It’s an old adage, sure, but it still rings true to this day.

  • Wildcard says:

    For me, it’s the other way around… Mattel’s DCUC hurts DC Direct. Like what has been said before, I like the consistency in scale and quality of the Mattel figures. The 4H designs also help influence me wanting the Mattel figures. I have stopped buying DCD figures because of the poor quality and articulation in some of the figures. DCD for me has truly become the source for upscale collectibles (13″ series, AmeComi, etc) and not for the action figure category.

  • John Cage says:

    I don’t see either line affecting the other very much other than DC Direct moving further toward more artist or era specific figures rather than general interpretations of characters. They’ve done this most of the time anyway, so it’s not too drastic.

    Personally, I like both outputs. I started collecting DC Direct figures after seeing the fantastic DCAU-ish Ed McGuiness (sp?) line and have been collecting other figures that resemble their animated counterparts since. Mattel’s line is of good enough quality that I have no problem with putting a few figures that fit that bill — Supergirl, Clayface, Parasite, the Demon, Red Tornado — on the shelf with the DC Direct ones. That said, I prefer DC Direct for the quality, but the Mattel figures aren’t bad. I can see them co-existing peacefully.

    Have a good day.
    John Cage

  • dave aikins says:

    Both have problems, though…
    -I can get DC Direct figures, but the scale issues and quality control stink.
    _Mattel has great scale and good QC, but it doesn’t matter cause I can’t find them…
    They’re doing a great job of hurting themselves. Fix these problems and then we can talk about which one is better, or which one is hurting each other. Right now, they just hurt themselves…

  • puppetboy says:

    DC Direct may have already done alot of these characters but the’re mostly artist specific and not all in the same style where as Mattels are. I say support this line, that’s if you can find them.

  • m.h. says:

    I found myself nodding in agreement with this blog entry a lot. Some of the Mattel stuff looks solid, but several of the characters have been offered several times already in the past two years by DC Direct (like Green Lantern or Batman). And face it, this is a collector’s line. I just don’t see kids or the uninitiated scrambling to get the two Firestorm variants.

    I have bought a couple of the Mattel toys to plug some holes in my DC Direct collection and they work OK in general. There are a couple more I may get this year to do some patch work.

    Plus, the older I get and the more stuff I accumulate, the less interested I am in starting again. And with the economy like it is, I want to make sure all my purchases “count.” I don’t know about you, but that disposable income is shrinking on up for me.

    Bottom line, no matter how cool the Mattel Sinestro figure looks, I’m not buying the same character again.

  • mtsbspidey says:

    though i started collecting DCD when it first launched as primarily a vertigo line my superhero interests are mostly bat-related…since mattel and DCD began making batman figures at around the same time and i prefer the four horsemen designs (and their lower price-point) mattel’s toys have been my focus and DCD has been filling the gaps…while i expect this to continue i do think that the expanded scope of DCUC will cut into my DCD purchases

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Thanks. Thank you for all the well thoguht out responses. Its clear that both DCDirect and Mattel’s DCUClassics have there fans here. And I am thrilled how varied the responses have been. You have reminded me of some things I forgot.

    1. Not everyone has been collecting since the dawn of time. Characters need to be released again, for the newer crowd. My 6″ DC collection from DCDirect dates back to some of their earliest offerings, the Green Arrow and Black Canary of the Hard Travelling Heroes set. And it includes sove very recent stuff. I never bought the Hal Jordan from that set. I recently picked up the new Hal Jordan from the Green Lantern series.

    2. The main point I was trying to make was, if I already had figure X, why would I buy him again. I am facinated that consistency of scale and style is such a big deal. Maybe its my display style, but for figures of this size I tend to pose them in groups of 4 to 8 figures. Its just what fits in my display shelves. I have 4 Ed McGuiness figures: Captain Atom, Aquaman, Superman, John Stewart. I love them so much they travel to my desk at work every so often. But if I had more in that style, they would not fit in the location where they are displayed. I keep contemplating getting the Batman figure to add to the group, but something about expanding the quartet and squeezing another figure into that disaplay space feels wrong. More later.

  • hellpop says:

    I pretty much echo Wildcard’s post: DCUC has basically reduced my interest to DCD to nothing (which is good, since I refuse to buy any of their product after they just dropped the Minimates line for no good reason). I do agree with your sentiments about not wanting duplicate characters, so I’ve been actively selling my DCD figures on eBay to make room for the DCUC ones. Sometimes it’s hard; I really like the DCD Firestorm, but is it better then the DCUC one? IMHO, no.

    I also go back to the beginnings of DCD, and I look at DCUC as a chance to replace inferior DCD figures I bought because I liked the character, not the figure. The two figures you menition, HTH GA and BC, are (again IMHO) terrible figures. Ten bucks doesn’t seem like a lot to me for a better figure. To each his own, I guess!

  • JoeAce says:

    DC Direct has been producing way too many versions of Batman and Superman. They could have really expanded on their character offerings if they chose to do so.

    I’m happy to see Mattel offer some of the DC Characters that I wanted in a nicer form than DC Direct’s versions. They are also less expensive and offer the build-a-figure option for the money.

    I now limit my DC Direct purchases to characters that I like.

    I like that Mattel’s DCUC can be picked up and played with without worry of them breaking. They also stand better than most DC Direct figures which tend to fall over in time.

  • Thatman says:

    From my perspective, DCUC is hurting DCD. I used to buy a considerable amount of DCD’s offerings, but got more and more frustrated with scale issues, and at $15 a pop (usually), it just didn’t feel worth it to me, especially if the character looks out of place on the shelf.

    See, I have four shelves of DC 6″ (approx.) product, and I would really like to have all of the characters in one scale/style. DCD started out that way, but dropped the ball, IMO. Whereas once I was buying dozens of DCD figures a year, I have bought only 5 in the last year. (Dr. Sivana, Mary Marvel, GA Hawkman, Jericho and Terra, for the curious.)

    I’m not crazy about replacing figures I already own, but honestly when I see the DCUC up close, fully articulated, same scale, style, etc. I’m honestly really impressed and so far have ended up preferring to buy the DCUC figure..I have all from the first two waves. Since I allot a certain amount of ‘petty cash’ to action figure purchases, I’m comfortable making DCUC a priority. So I will buy Sinestro, Deathstroke, etc. for that reason.

    Also, I dislike artist-specific figures, so I want the DCUC Captain Atom, for example.

    And when it comes to figures I don’t have, like Lightray, for example, or the upcoming Kalibak, I’d rather get the DCUC version than the DCD. Just my personal feeling on it, anyway.

    But I do echo comments that DCD alienated me somewhat with the cancellation of the minimates. (And the Justice line.)

  • Bigbenkenobi says:

    I do not think both lines really compete.The only thing that will/is hurting Mattel is not being able to find the figures in retail….

  • Scott Rogers Scott Rogers says:

    I’ll buy from whomever makes me a Killer Moth figure first. :)

  • Erik superfriend says:

    They don’t compete?
    same universe
    same characters
    same scale
    roughly same price point

    If you are a comic book fan – which if you are not, I fail to see the interest in the line – you are already shopping at a comic book source. So you already go where DCDirect is sold. So you don’t have to make an “extra stop” to buy DCD figures. The arguement about retail vs specialty shops does not work because you are already going there.

    How can they not be competing products?

  • Scott Rogers Scott Rogers says:

    Let me add this – DCU is hurting DCD but for DCD, not for me.

    For example, I own unopened figures of Sinestro, Deathstroke and new Robin. They will be going up on Ebay once I get the new DCU figures. I also won’t be buying the Sinestro Corps DCD figure for the same reason.

    The DCU figure have superior sculpts, can stand on their own (well, except Harley) and don’t break when they fall over like so many of my DCD ones have. Plus they are generally $5 cheaper which is a big enough margin in my book. DCU also makes characters in their classic versions and as much as I like comic versions of figures, I’m tired of McGuiness and Turner versions of characters.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    5$ differece? yes, I agree. But my local Price Point has gotten much less. At 17$ I new bought any. Any. But on sale? At roughly 10$ I’ve bought most of mine for that.

    Mattel. 9.99 at Target. 12.99 at Newberry Comics Music/DVD store (they currently have Black Manta, Superman Blue, Superman Red on the pegs).
    DCD at my local comic shop. 12.95 when they first come out. Older figures are 9.95. This pricing structure has encouraged me to pick up a bunch of older DCDs. Newberry Comics Music/DVD is wierd for DCD. A figure can be anywhere from 13.99 to 17.99 even in the same assortment. Nightwing for Superman/Batman was 17.99, more than any other figure in the set. Currently, the “52″ asst is on sale for 8.99.

    My rule of thumb for DCD. Never buy when they first come out. Wait. Currently waiting for local shop to get in or Newberry to discount JLoA wave 1 so I can pick up Vixen.

  • StrangePlanet says:

    You buy characters.
    You buy toys of certain characters.
    Once you have a toy of that character, you’re done.

    Not everybody is like that.
    I buy toys. Toys that are cool.

    To use your example of Black Manta, I always liked his look, always wanted a toy in 6-inch scale, but I never bought any of the DCDirect figures of him. Why not? Because they blow. They’re not good toys. Not really. Just my opinion.

    And then there’s the DCUC line – and a Black Manta toy and for the first time I buy one. Because it’s a good toy. Sure,I could have gotten a toy of that character, but not a good one.

    DCDirect does make some good product, and I’ll pay the money for something good, but I suspect more will go towards DCUC, because even though DCDirect has the characters, DCUC has the better toys.

  • MoMoney says:

    As I said before, many (if not most) people are looking for a cohesive DC Universe.

    You aren’t. You don’t care what your figures look like together. You’re collecting for an individual character, not a uniform display.

    Which is good, because you’re not gonna get one from DC Direct.

  • DC Direct hurts Mattel’s DCUC in at least one way: I might buy DCUC if there hadn’t already been a superior 6″ product available. I love the artist-specific lines, and the sculpts blow away anything I’ve seen from Mattel’s comic-style offerings.

    There are a couple of things about DCUC that completely turned me away from the line.

    1) Batman and Superman back when it was still DCSH. There was nothing appealing about either figure. Even if I wasn’t going to invest in the entire line, I would usually have bought those two characters. Not these.

    2) Female characters. The few times Mattel has tried, they have completely failed. Cassandra Cain was the first character that could have sold me on the line, but then I saw her in person, and she looked AWFUL. Harley was their second chance, and I buy just about anything Harley. Again, she looks TERRIBLE. If Mattel had gotten Batgirl and Harley Quinn right, I probably would have gone back, caught up on what I’d missed, and collected the entire line. They were just complete disappointments, though, and Wonder Woman and Artemis both look to be just as bad.

    I like Red Tornado, and I could have picked him up to fill in a hole in my DC Direct collection, as I wasn’t a fan of either of their releases of the character. I don’t get into the Alex Ross style figures, and the first one is plain boring. The DCUC version is just too generic to fit in with the DC Direct figures, though. In fact, pretty much EVERYTHING from DCSH/DCUC looks generic. That’s fine if you’re just doing the one line (Super Powers was a pretty generic line, but that doesn’t make any less amazing, especially for the ’80s!)), but I wouldn’t want to display them next to the more detailed DC Direct characters.

    The DCUC Jefferson Pierce looks okay, but the DC Direct version is better. The DCUC Ray Palmer looks pretty good, but the Atom isn’t really the character to convince me that I should buy ONE out of a whole line. Despero looks nifty, but it doesn’t even begin to compare to the Ethan Van Sciver version that’s coming from DC Direct. If I was going to have one very long shelf across my entire living room, then maybe I’d be concerned about every single character being in scale with every other character, but I’m fine displaying each series on its own. Some mix well with others, too.

    So if Mattel had blown me away, then I’d have dove in head first. They didn’t, though, so I’ve only bought two, both of which were gifts for other people. Most of them look at least okay, and a couple look good, but DC Direct figures look so much better. So yeah, if I wasn’t spoiled by DC Direct, I’d have been spending money on them. They’re at least hurting them that much, and I know there are plenty of others who look at them the same way.

  • Ef22 says:

    I felt that when mattel got the licensing for all the DC characters it spelled doom for dc direct. I got rid of a lot of dc direct figures just because I got tired of joints sticking (GL series 2 Shark) and having weird scaled figures coming out, Knightfall series didn’t match well with the rest of dc direct figures ( Nightwing & Catwoman ) taller than entire Hush series. I love articulation and thought WOW when I got my first DC Direct Superman with 21 points of articulation. he was awesome and I expected the rest of the figures to be like that, boy was I wrong! Now with DCUC not everything is perfect like, I don’t know.. TRYING TO FIND THEM.. WHERE THE HELL ARE MY PRE-ORDERS FOR SERIES 2 & 3? Mattel Will I get Lead poisoning by displaying them? I think I collect DCUC but I would have to have more than one series to do so.

    Trying so hard not to buy DC Direct Sinestro Corps Cyborg Superman & Sinestro….Must not give in to the dark, oops dc direct side.

  • a. mceen says:

    Unfortunately (and this is not talked about) some of the DC Direct figures tend to be fragile. After a while, the legs on some of them get loose enough to fall off.

    Teen Titans Wondergirl, Knightfall Catwoman and Alex Ross Sinestro comes to mind

  • Kofi Brewer says:

    Does DC Classics hurt DC Direct?

    Not as much as DC Direct hurts DC Direct.

    Their figures would be selling so much more if they were in a consistent scale and were not so easily breakable considering their price.

    I love DC Direct but at times it is a painful relationship that entails lots of patience.

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