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The Hottest Action Figure Line of 2006?  Could Be …

Golden Age Atom

Welcome back, compadres!  Open Mike continues it’s SDCC coverage with an in-depth look at what could very well be the hottest and most collectible toy line of 2006 --Mattel’s DC Superheroes!

First though, with regards to my last column and our interview with DC Direct head honcho Georg Brewer, I have to make a correction.  Georg stated that a Golden Age Atom figure would be included with the upcoming Modern Age JSA assortment.  He said that Atom’s later costume, the so-called “Fin-head” version, would be the one they’d use because that’s who the fans chose in an online poll on the DC Direct message board.  Well, as it turns out, we were all a might confused.  It was in fact the Atom’s original, hooded costume that won the poll by a landslide.  Georg and DC have been notified and they’ve confirmed that the Atom will be wearing his traditional costume when the figure is sculpted.  My sincerest apologies for the error.  I take full responsibility for that.  I voted in that poll, and I should have remembered who won and corrected Mr. Brewer during the interview.  I do sincerely regret any disappointment my mistake may have caused.

Now, on to the Comic-Con International Mattel coverage.

Mattel Booth at SDCC
Superman & Azreal

Justice League Unlimited
Picture this, toy enthusiasts: The World’s Greatest Superheroes in a line of 6” figures, sculpted by none other than the legendary Four Horsemen, averaging about 25 points of articulation each and packed with a comic book.  Too good to be true?  Think again.  The Spring of 2005 will bring DC action figure fans a collector-friendly, mass-market line that we have long dreamed of, called simply: DC Superheroes.

This exciting new line is the brainchild of Eddie Hayden, Associate Brand Manager at Mattel and the man in charge of the company’s JLU toys.  Working with Geoff Walker, Director of Entertainment Marketing, they came up with a can’t-miss formula that should have fans buzzing all through 2006.

Right now, the plan is to release four assortments of the line in 2006 (One each in the Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter).  Each assortment will contain four figures.  The first two assortments will focus on Batman, his allies and his foes.  The next two waves will feature Superman and his cast.  Mattel is hopeful that they can expand the line beyond Superman and Batman related characters in 2007, and also kick it up a notch and release five assortments that year.

Superman, Copperhead, Aquaman

As I said, each figure will be sculpted by none other than the Four Horsemen, and if you’re familiar with their work (http://www.fourhorsemen.biz) then you know that they have a reputation for combining generous amounts of articulation with highly detailed, breathtaking sculpts.  They are among the absolute best in their field and they’re perfect for a line like this.  Most of the figures in the line will have 25 or more points of articulation.  Some will have less.  It depends on the particular character and whether or not it makes sense to add a lot of movement.  The sculpts will not be specific to one particular artist, or even necessarily one particular era.  The figures will be faithful to their appearances in the comics, but this will not be an artist-specific line like DC Direct’s Hush.

DC Superheroes is a mass-market line, but as with Marvel Legends, it will be geared towards collectors.  Each figure will come with a comic book.  The comics that you see pictured here aren’t the ones that will be included with the figures.  I posted them so those of you who aren’t familiar with the characters can get an idea of what they look like. There will be variants, most notably of Superman and Batman, but the variants will make sense from a collector’s point of view.  There won’t be any day-glo, bright purple and red colored Batman figures in this line.

Green Lantern Corps
Dr. Fate, Vixen, Hawkgirl
Injustice Gang

Black Canary- Superman w/Black Mercy
At present, the plan is for all the major retailers to carry the line.  Wal-Mart is never guaranteed, but the signs look good.  M.S.R.P. is 7.99, but bear in mind that Mattel has no say in what retailers actually charge.  Expect to pay anywhere between 7.99 and 10.99 a figure.

The sad news is that the beautiful, sculpted bases that we saw at SDCC won’t be included in the package.  However, the bases are planned for production and at this time they plan to be distributed to the fans through a mail-in promotion.  So save those proof-of-purchase and UPC seals, guys.  ;-)

The sky’s the limit here.  If the line takes off the way I suspect it will, and Mattel is able to work out an agreement with Warner Brothers to expand beyond the core brands of Batman and Superman, then think of the possibilities.  Legion, JSA, Secret Society of Super-Villains, Teen Titans, and on and on. Eddie said in San Diego that he would like to include accessories that make sense (Like the Bat-Signal that will come with Batman) and maybe small pack-ins like Mr. Mxyztplk.  After Mattel gets the bases out to those who want them, they’d like to do “build-a-figures” like Marvel Legends did with Galactus and the Sentinel.  Atom Smasher, anyone?

The Batman
Also at the Mattel booth this year, the JLU line has been expanded to include new characters once again.  Mattel has heard our pleas and they’ve added more females and villains to the line-ups.  New characters this year include Dr. Light, Supergirl, Vixen, Black Canary, Bizarro, Mirror Master, Lex Luthor (In his classic Super-Friends inspired green and purple costume) and Copperhead.  Also on display were Steel, Orion, Tomar Re and Kilowog.  There were some collector friendly variants which should make fans happy.  The long requested Justice Lords versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman were there (YES!!), along with a regal looking caped Aquaman, a phasing Martian Manhunter and a Superman figure from the classic JLU episode “For The Man Who Has Everything”.  The three packs will continue, with plans calling for the Black Canary, Orion, and Bizarro to be included in a wave of Target exclusive 3-packs this fall.  Stunningly enough, Luthor, Copperhead and Mirror Master will come in a three pack called “Injustice Gang”.  Three villains and no heroes?  Kinda like Bizarro world, isn’t it? The 2” die-cast metal line will continue with the addition of Green Arrow, Dr. Fate, Atom and Aquaman to the line.  Currently, there are no plans for vehicles and playsets for the core JLU line.
The Batgirl
The Batman line continues on into next year with the addition of new characters.  This line really isn’t my cup of tea because I never really warmed up to the show, but I must say the Batgirl figure looks nice.  I’ve watched the last few episodes and there has been some improvement, so I may jump on the bandwagon.  Time will tell.

I asked Eddie about Superman Returns, and he said that it was too soon to talk about that just yet, but I expect that Mattel has some big plans.  We should know more at Toy Fair in the Spring.

Remember, we have some Mattel insiders that post here at AFI’s Mattel-All board.  Their handles are Inside Traitor and Texas Ranger.  If there’s something specific you’d like to see in DC Heroes, The Batman or JLU, you have their undivided attention.  They take the time to chat with us here, so let your voice be heard.  They really do care about the fans and while not everything we ask for may be feasible, they listen.

That wraps up Mattel, and that’ll do it for this edition of Open Mike.  Next week, part II of DC Direct (I promise!) and a look at the Corgi booth and their awesome Batmobile line.  The week after that, Toybiz.  (Just so my name doesn’t get changed to Johnny DC).  Be good to each other, have fun at Wizard World Chicago (Those of you who are going) and I’ll see you guys on the boards!

Click here for previous columns.

Got a comment? Send me a line at Sdcomics@actionfigureinsider.com!


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