I know it’s going to be controversial blog and idea to some, but I think Mattel should merge the Justice League Unlimited and Batman the Brave and the Bold action figure lines.
As I sit here, still in my pajamas on a sunny Southern California morning watching the latest episode from Batman the Brave and the Bold I can’t help but want figures of these characters, but I want them in an adult collector setting and design. I don’t need plug and play accessories or fractal tech gear or any of that other nonsense. I just want accurate representations of these characters with accessories that make sense. Ideally I’d LOVE to have them in a scale that works with some of my other DC animated figures, instead of starting over with an all new scale that fits with nothing. I’ve dabbled a bit in the current Brave and the Bold line, picking up a few characters here and there. I have yet to open any of them because they don’t fit in with anything else.
Then I think about my Justice League Unlimited collection. I love that line. I’ve been in it from the beginning and was the first person to post pictures of the figures on the Internet. This line, despite it’s flaws, will always have a special place in my heart and on my shelves. But, it’s no secret that the line has struggled in the past 2 year. The JLU line was set to end with the Grodd Target 6-pack, but like "The Little Engine that Could" these figure keep resurrecting and giving us more JLU plastic goodness. This blog is just me spit balling and brainstorming on a Saturday morning, so I might not have all the kinks worked out yet. I’m just going to put my thoughts down and you guys tell me what you think.
Mattel still views the Brave and the Bold line as a "kids" line, so much so that it’s not even managed by the Boys Action Play team that handles all of the rest of Mattel’s DC properties. Justice League Unlimited has been a hard sell for years because of a lack of media tie-ins. The B&B line is sold by every major retailer. JLU is a Target exclusive line.
The Batman Brave and the Bold TV show started off a little stumbly and direction-less as have almost all of the DC animated properties, but has morphed with the help of actual DC Comic writers and previous DC animated property staff into a love letter to classic DC stories and characters. It’s a great show that is steadily building it’s own universe and continuity. Brave and the Bold is starting to take on some multi-episode story-lines and their range of characters is only surpassed by JLU.
Justice League Unlimited is back on Cartoon Network now in reruns, but hasn’t had a first run episode in years. The DVD sales have done well for Warner Brothers, but the show in it’s original airing was so all over the place was almost impossible to follow. The final two seasons featured brilliant story telling and a shining example of how well the DC Universe works in animation.
I think if Mattel started making Batman the Brave and the Bold figures in the same scale as JLU without the "plug in accessory" holes it would really breath new life into BOTH franchises and would open up a whole new roster of characters for us to put on our JLU shelves. Characters like: Guy Gardner, Mera, Speedy, Aqualad, Ra’ Ah Ghul, Killer Moth, The Challengers of the Unknown and Detective Chip. It would also get us some key characters in other eras of costumes, and could finally get us a real Hal Jordan with a mask.
We’re already getting some fun and interesting characters in the Brave and the Bold line like the Metal Men and Black Manta, characters not seen in JLU. But if the line remains as a "kids property" we will never see the depth of characters put into the line that the show deserves. We’ve been told not to expect females in the line and anytime a question about Brave and the Bold comes up in the monthly Mattel Q&A’s we are always told that "Brave and the Bold is a kids line. If Collectors want DC characters bases on DC animation then Justice League Unlimited is the line for them." Does it REALLY have to be that way? is there something in the contract that makes them have to be separate? Is it "that’s just the way it’s always been" thinking holding the line back?
Here’s how I think it can work.
Separate but similar lines. We’ve already seen a version of this in action with the similar packaging, but different product both from Mattel in the DCUniverse lines (JLU and Infinite Heroes) and with Hasbro and their Star Wars lines (Legacy, Droid Factory and Clone Wars) Both of these examples allow for different styles, but similar product. Clearly the Star Wars example work as a better example of this than trying to match JLU and Infinite Heroes, but I think you get the concept. These lines can run along side each other and leverage off of each other to improve the overall health and longevity of both.
You still would need to work on the packaging concept as anyone that has found JLU mixed in with Infinite Heroes or Clone Wars mixed in with Droid Factory figures can tell you. The people stocking the shelves can’t tell the difference in subtle packaging. You could do a similar card design, but with a different colored backer for instance. There just has to be some blatant differance between the cards because just changing the chip or strip at the top doesn’t work.
Of course there will be some other kinks to work out as well. I know some fans of both properties will be protective of each shows style and not want to mix then on shelves, but it wouldn’t bother me a bit.
If need be Mattel can keep the 5" kids line running separately, but at this point they are really missing out on capturing a lot more DC fans by embracing Brave and the Bold as an additional collectors line. It’s like they are leaving a suitcase full of money on the sidewalk and walking away from it.
So what do you all think? Am I crazy? A genius? Somewhere in-between? Tell me what you guys think!
||Posted by Julius Marx