The choice of Mattel to use Comic Con 2012 to launch a new figure/staction/product line has been a controversial one with fans. I think this reaction was so strong because fans were expecting there to be some sort of DC Universe Classics/DC Signature Collection exclusive. Mattel’s response to this was that the SDCC exclusives have been figures/characters/features that would have been more expensive or difficult to place at retail. Since the line is not longer sold at retail and the slate is now wide open to the subscription line they didn’t see the point of producing an SDCC exclusive for this year.
Instead the have opted to test the water with this new 8″ staction line of the DCU. The launch figure/exclusive is “Death” from Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ series. Death is the sister of Dream (the Sandman) and part of a family known as “The Endless.” The ‘Sandman’ started as a regular DCU title, and even weaves in several DCU characters such as Mister Miracle, the 70′s Kirby Sandman and the Martian Manhunter in it’s original story arc. Then when DC launched their ‘Vertigo’ imprint the ‘Sandman’ moved over to that and dropped out of the standard mass market licensing agreement. Recently Death has crossed back over to the regular DCU appearing to Lex Luthor in an issue of “The Adventures of Superman” last year. That made her available to Mattel (much like Swamp Thing coming back to the DCU as part of the new 52.). However the package does sport the “Vertigo” logo on the front. So is this proposed new staction line DCU rooted? Or is it a new Vertigo line? We don’t have those answers yet.
The figure is 8″ tall. It comes with a base in the form of a skull face with two pegs for the figure to stand on. The sample I received will not stand up without the base. The figure is articulated at the neck, both shoulders, and mid-waist. She has a string for her trademark ankh necklace. Her skin color is a light gray instead of the usual white she is portrayed as having in the comics. That seems to be a trend with Mattel, using a light gray for white as fans have seen with the DCUC line.
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Mattel has recently had a smash crossover hit with with their “Monster High” line that has been appealing to both kids and adults as well as boys and girls. I believe that MattyCollector is using this Death figure to also appeal to that wide fertile market of MH fans, goths, Twihards, Sandman/Gaiman fans, and anyone who just likes kind of dark stuff. It’s a wide net and with 100k+ people coming through the doors at comic con each year it’s a chance to capture the non-hardcore toy collector… because let’s face it they have got us already.
I don’t fault them for trying something new and I get what they are trying to do and that audience they are attempting to capture. My only beef with the new product comes with the packaging. Mattel always takes a lot of pride in their package design for their SDCC exclusives. I’m a LONG time Sandman (and Neil Gaiman) fan. I actually started picking the series up back in 1990 with issue 8 which was the introduction of the Death character. I own the original Pre-DC Direct Death statue, I have the DC Direct Death action figure and PVC set of the “Endless” so I’m still part of their target.
The package, in my opinion is out of character for …um… the character. It’s a graveyard with big tombstones and spooky woods (and the skull base) which is supposed to be dark, scary and death-y. On the back of the box is a short bio with a picture of Death, still in the grave yard with a rose. My problem with that is that’s never been what this version of death has been about. Quite the opposite. She’s not scary doom and gloom Death. She just a nice, personable, unassuming girl. Friendly. The first issue we ever see her she’s just in a park feeding some pigeons while some boys play soccer in the background. She’s not spooky. She’s someone you’re not afraid of, that makes the “transition” easier. Someone you wouldn’t mind hanging out with. So, on that level the package and the base don’t work for me. Your mileage may vary.
The next questions will be, did their gamble pay off? And if so what’s/who’s next in the line?
The Death 8″ staction figure will be available at the Mattel booth at San Diego Comic Con in July and on MattyCollector.com shortly thereafter for $30.
This sample was provided by Mattel.
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