Everybody loves a good comeback story. The rebirth of Captain Action is one of my favorites. Captain Action is Back! The beloved 1960’s toy has returned with comics, toys, apparel and collectibles – welcoming back old fans and creating new ones every day! Two superfans of the property bought the rights to the license and didn’t just bring an old action figure back to market, they have updated it and somewhat re-imagined the property without alienating classic fans, still keeping the root of the property, what makes it unique. That’s never an easy task in the fickle world of fandom. On top of that they managed to secure “the big 2” of Marvel and DC to be able to take Captain Action back into their sandboxes.
To Joe Ahearn and Ed Catto, the founders of Captain Action Enterprises, the beloved toy line of the mid-1960’s produced by the Ideal Toy Company was more than just a source of fond childhood memories; Captain Action was an intellectual property screaming with potential.
Under their guidance the character appears in an ongoing new comic book series, lithographs, statues, action figures, T-shirts, model kits and iPhone app. Additional projects are in development, including a dynamic new spin-off character, Lady Action and the Zeroids.
After a successful first year with the good Captain, Ed and Joe are embarking on their “phase 2” of Captain Action. We ran into Ed at the Round 2 booth at Toy Fair back in February and saw the seeds of what was coming next, now plans have gelled, decisions have been made and they are moving full speed ahead.
Today in part 1 of the interview we talk to them about the action figure line. We get an update on both the Marvel and DC lines, we get to debut some brand new images of upcoming products and we find out what their San Diego Comic Con exclusive will be.
Tomorrow we will have part 2 of the interview where take a look at all the other licensing and media that Captain Action is involved in.
Part 1 – The Figures.
Action Figure Insider: Much like Marvel moving into their “phase 2” of their film projects it feels like the Captain Action reboot is moving into “phase 2” is that a fair assessment?
Captain Action: Ha ha! We hadn’t really thought it of it that way, but without being too full of ourselves, that’s a pretty good categorization. We’re now shifting out of the early development phase, assessing what fans like and don’t like, and aggressively moving into a stage that’s driven, in many ways, by the reactions and needs and wants of fans and collectors.
It’s also extraordinarily exciting for the toy line, as we’ve established that we’ll be producing quality products. Every little thing wasn’t perfect, but we’re learning (and course correcting) each step of the way. The feedback we’ve been getting reassures us that fans now know that the quality is there, the innovation is there, and the respect for the comics, characters and creators is there.
AFi: We know that Iron Man and Wolverine are next and then you finish up the Hawkeye Build-A-Figure. When we will be seeing those?
Captain Action: We had hoped to get these products out earlier this year to coincide with the Iron Man and Wolverine movies, but now they will debut in late September/early October. Well in time for the Yuletide season.
AFi: Will there be a regular and a deluxe edition of those costume sets?
Captain Action: In response to fans, we’re going to be shifting gears a little. For Iron Man and Wolverine, we’re going to be taking the best of both the deluxe and basic and combine them into a new format. These new sets will still have the popular Build-A-Figure elements (we’re also calling it Assemble-An-Avenger) so faithful fans can create a Hawkeye costume, but we’re going to offer it all at the “Basic” price. So suggested retail is only $19.99.
The downside is that we won’t be offering some of the extras like the Daily Bugle newspaper or extra hand/glove options, but these sets are still, quite frankly, overflowing with cool costume elements.
And we’ll also be introducing our new “Codename: ACTION” figure. For this next wave, the Captain Action standard figure will also be offered at just $19.99. This makes us one of the best bargains in the industry. This figure will come with all the essential elements. In addition, long-time fans will love the new packaging – we’re showcasing the superheroes on the front of the package!
AFi: Will these new sets have Bruckner head sculpts?
Captain Action: The Wolverine head sculpt is Bruckner classic. We feel it combines the best of the classic Cockrum, Byrne and Jim Lee looks of the character. And it’s filled with “I’m the best there is at what I do” attitude.
The Hawkeye mask, also sculpted by Bruckner, is just fantastic. It’s as if it leapt out of an old 60’s comic. Sharp-eyed fans will see it has that Kirby vibe that runs though so much of our Captain Action line, but it also evokes those early Don Heck Hawkeye appearances in Tales of Suspense and the Avengers.
Tony Cipriano provides iron Man’s mask, and you’ll see it embraces a real 70’s feel. For this one, we challenged Tony to give us mask that combined the best of Gene Colan and Bob Layton’s Iron Man. Somehow, he was able to evoke the best of both those artist’s renderings of the armored Avenger. We’re really pleased. This mask with be a two-parter, with a faceplate, and then the iron “cowl”.
AFi: The Iron Man set is a very 70’s Iron Man. Is the Wolverine the tiger stripe yellow, blue and black or the brown and black costume version?
Captain Action: For Wolverine, the first costume we’re producing is the classic tiger stripe yellow outfit. It looks sharp and even the blue boots have attitude. If the fans demand it, we’d like to get to the brown & black outfit down the road, and we have an awesome Logan sculpt (without the Wolverine mask) we’re keeping on our back pocket. We feel this might be one of the best we’ve created so far and really want to get it out there in the not-too-distant future.
AFi: How are you handling the claws on Wolverine?
Captain Action: We’ve contracted with an African firm in some place called Wakanda to provide Adamantium for the claws. So watch out, Moms of America, because you’re living room drapes might suffer. No, seriously, we have that extended claws look that looks fearsome and will display well. We couldn’t create any sort of spring action at this stage, but we think X-fans will be extremely pleased with the presentation of the Wolverine costume.
AFi: With Captain America and Thor we got alternate versions of both characters. Will we see that with IM and Wolverine? There are a lot of costume variations for both those characters.
Captain Action: Yes, we’d really like to offer alternate versions for both these costumes. Again, there’s a rich history in the Marvel Universe to explore and that’s part of the fun of this line. So nothing’s on the docket right now, but you know we overflowing with ideas to do just that!
AFi: Do you have any idea who’s up for the next wave of Marvel after these two?
Captain Action: We’re trying to figure that out right now. There are so many good characters out there – and we have so many favorites. Characters like Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, Cyclops from the X-Men, Dr. Doom, Daredevil and Black Panther seem to be on everyone’s short list. On the other hand, characters like Iron Fist seem to have such a grassroots support. We saw 6 or 7 Iron Fist cosplayers last month at C2E2.
When we put our fanboy hats one, Joe would love to create Captain Marvel in both his green & white original costume and the red/black/blue style. Ed’s wish list includes Dr. Strange, Nova, Ant Man, Dum Dum Dugan, and the western Ghost Rider. And this doesn’t even include any of the Lady Action ideas we’re developing. We’re always open to suggestions and encourage fans and collectors to let us know their “must have” characters via the facebook page or website.
AFi: Will you keep doing the build-a-costume for the Marvel product?
Captain Action: Yes, you bet we will. We think it’s a great way to reward faithful fans and to also offer costume sets for characters that might not have the oomph to support their individual costume set. We’re committed to thrilling and delighting collectors, and we think this is a part of it all.
AFi: At Toy Fair you showed some DC Comics costumes. Who is up in the first wave of those and when can we expect them?
Captain Action: We’re starting off strong – and will debut with Batman and the Joker. After that, we come back with Superman and “a player to be named later.” These will all be the classic comic versions of the character, although we do have plans to get to the Batman ‘66 versions of the characters. They will start in early 2014.
After that –there’s a ton of favorite DC characters that we’re so eager to bring to the line. Flash, Green Lantern and Green Arrow are all on the short list. Fans always bring up “newer” characters like Nightwing and Deathstroke the Terminator. (And of note, our pal Marv Wolfman created both!)
AFi: Will you have the build-a-costume as part of the DC costume sets?
Captain Action: Our Build-A-Figure character will be the King of the Seven Seas: Aquaman. And we’re going to make it easier for fans; they’ll be able to complete their Aquaman set with just the first three purchases. So it will be quicker and easier. The reward should be that much sweeter when fans can display him sooner.
AFi: Are you currently looking into any other characters/licenses outside of DC and Marvel?
Captain Action: That’s a tough question, because, like the saying goes, “Our eyes our bigger than our stomachs”. There’s a few close-in characters that make all the sense in the world – Space Ghost, James Bond, Star Trek’s Kirk and Khan, – but for the next few laps around the track, we’re focusing on developing the very best Marvel and DC costume sets we can.
We do have a couple of top-secret international characters we’re exploring that would appeal to both US and Worldwide fans These discussion are in the very early stages, but they’d be very fun and very cool if we can bring them life.
And we’re big fans of lots of comics and see potential in characters like Prince Valiant, Mark Waid’s Nocturnus from Thrllbent, Francisco Francovilla’s Black Beetle and Steve Rude’s Nexus –so who knows?
AFi: Any more movement on a Lady Action figure or Action Boy figure?
Captain Action: Good news here! We’re well underway with the development of our Lady Action line extension. We’re in the process of developing the body and selecting the very best costume sets to launch with. Current plans call for starting with Marvel and DC heroines like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Catwoman or Black Widow. However, we’re hearing from fans (and retailers) that they’re really excited for characters like Harley Quinn, Jean Grey (Phoenix/Marvel Girl and Black Cat. Ed keeps saying he’d like to see Steranko-Style versions of Madame Hydra, Agent 13 and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine but those characters are probably too “inside baseball”.
AFi: Any update on the rumored Rocketeer set?
Captain Action: That Rocketeer set is still very near and dear to our hearts. Quite frankly, we tripped ourselves up last year with this one, but we’re passionate about the character. IDW’s doing a fantastic job with the character- the recent Mark Waid series was great, and the new “Hollywood Horror” mini-series is so much fun. We love the writing and the covers by our pal Walt Simonson covers have been knocking it outta the ballpark.
We can’t say much more about the details, or Bettie will get angry with us and nobody likes when that happens. The original idea was to make this a comic shop exclusive and we still feel that’d be the way to go. But we can suggest that if fans really want to see this iteration, they should let their local comic shop owners know! And by “let them know” we actually mean “nag incessantly”.
AFi: Will there be another SDCC exclusive this year?
Captain Action: Yes, we’re really excited to release another San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive. This year we’ve got a very cool Dr. Evil, but we’ll be offering in him in a “coffin box” packaging with characters on the outside of the package. And by “coffin box”, we simply are referring that old style rectangular cardboard box that 1/6-scale figures used to be sold in. He’ll also have a few special elements too.
End of part 1. Thanks to Ed and Joe for all the answers. Come back tomorrow for part 2 of the interview where we will discuss the Titan Merchandise CA product, the future of pulp novels and get a sneak peek at the pre-production work for the proposed Captain Action animated series!
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