For those whom don’t know I am a huge comic book and action figure fan and collector. This time of the year is kind of like Christmas for a geek like myself, the San Diego Comic Con. This is when pretty much every major geeky thing is shown off in one way or another.  But I am getting away from myself here…

A several years ago Toy Biz started a line of action figures entitled Marvel Legends, which was sort of a revolution in the arena. In the time before the Marvel Legends figures you had one of two choices; small 5 inch figures of limited sculpting, paint and articulation or a nicely sculpted larger figure with almost no articulation aka a statue. The Marvel Legends figures were large 6 inch figures with fantastic sculpting, amazingly detailed paint and most importantly nearly limitless articulation at a very reasonable price point. As a little added bonus you got a little diorama and a comic book that the figure’s design was based of in the package.

This quantum leap not only sold very well but also brought many people whom had given up toy collecting back, like myself. As the line continued Toy Biz continued to improve the line with increasingly improved articulation and the addition of the “Build-A-Figure” concept in which you got a piece of a larger figure with each figure you bought to create a character that is too large or expensive to make on it’s own.

Fast forward to a few years ago in which Marvel announced that they had given the rights to make toys to Hasbro, whom is known for making Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Transformers among other brands. It was pretty much known that Hasbro would try to create a 3 3/4-inch scale line for the Marvel characters. Hasbro continued the Legends line in which they made many down right bizarre changes including raising the price, removing the comic book, reducing most of the paint applications from most figures, bad character selection and most disturbingly made several really disturbing sculpting changes to already shown figures. All of these changes were made to look even worse when compared to Mattel’s much better looking DC Universe Classics figures which use the same basic Marvel Legends concept and sold for cheaper.

After several lackluster waves and terrible reviews of the figures Hasbro came out with their obsession, the 3 3/4th inch scale Marvel Universe figures all while holding out completely on Marvel Legends news. The Marvel Universe figures have not garnered a very good response from the collector community for a multitude of reasons, most notably very, very poor sculpts and very high prices compared to similar lines such as GI Joe and Star Wars.

Now this week, Hasbro showed off some really fantastic looking Marvel Legends prototypes. Some of them long wanted characters, some obscure. There was a lack of many of the long time wants from the line namely characters such as a Jim Lee era Jean Grey, a Extremis Armor Iron Man or a Bucky Captain America, which the Universe figures have all three of, but it was nice to see something. But, Hasbro says that we will only see six of the nearly 20 figures shown.   Also, before the show longtime wanted Iron Man villains Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man were seen and received a good response but Hasbro announced that they will never be released.

A basic rule is that it is very hard to get a positive buzz about your product whatever it is a movie, video game, soda or toy. But, it is very, very easy to lose that positive buzz. Hasbro has done this repeatably with the Marvel license. If Hasbro wants to make the 3 3/4th inch figures then please by all means make them. If they are not interested in making 6 inch Marvel Legends type of figures anymore why don’t you let someone else make them?

I feel like the Marvel Select folks could do a excellent job at creating these figures. Their 7 inch figures are limited in many ways; a unpopular scale, limited articulation. Perhaps a move to 6 inch scale and perhaps setup a system like Mattel has in place with the Masters of the Universe Classics line in which we have a new figure every month would be exactly what would satisfy everyone. I would image they would be able to turn a profit with the limited amount of marketing, nearly no distribution and the amount of sculpting made on each figure. A Legends line would hopefully have more sculpting costs than the normal MOTU figure but I would imagine more people would be interested in good quality figures of not only highly wanted stuff like the Jean Grey but timely releases of new/revamped characters.

I honestly feel like that is the biggest sore spot for a comic book fan with the Marvel Legends line, Marvel should be using Hasbro/whomever as a way to market themselves and vice versa. When Marvel made Bucky Captain America, Hasbro should have had a Bucky Captain America figure out that same month or around that time. There should have been a entire Secret Invasion wave, imagine a X-Men or Illuminati Super Skrull, Skrull Queen, Mockingbird, Nick Fury and a Extremis Iron Man. Or a Dark Reign wave that has Iron Patriot, Marvel Boy, Daken, Female Loki and a Hank Pym Wasp. I mean these are just pulled out of my ass here but it would seem to me like it would be easier to sell a comic book based toy line that is dealing with current comics. Maybe include with each event wave a teaser comic like what we got when Dark Reign started to show people who might not be exposed to the comics, you know like kids these days, but also adults who may see a Bucky Captain America and wonder why he looks so weird and inside is a comic explaining it all and there is a new Captain America reader! It might also give Marvel the perfect way to get back into mass market comics and get comics back into places like a Wal-Mart or Supermarkets again.

But it is all woulda, shoulda, coulda and for whatever reason I am not in charge of anything at all.

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Posted by Djarum, filed under Comics, Toys. Date: July 25, 2009, 3:55 am | No Comments »

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