Back in May, I brought up the story on how popular media outlets that cover the toys & collectibles trade were no longer getting advance notice from DC Direct on store releases like action figures, statues and other such items. Gone were the days for action figure fans like myself to get an appropriate heads up on product delays (still waiting for Series 1 of Blackest Night figures, by the way) and when items would possibly move up in the schedule. This has been an invaluable tool for me when keeping a monthly budget on the collectibles that are on my radar. And you know, it’s especially useful when the holidays are approaching.
As I said, in May we raised the question of why the consumers and media were cut out of the process. Attempts to reach DC management only yielded the suggestion that the then-brand new DC blog, The Source, was the destination for general news items, but to date I can’t recall an instance where DC Direct was ever covered there. Having allowed a full weather season to pass, Newsarama attempted to readdress the matter directly with DC, but were unable to get an official statement on the lack of DC Direct communication.
So where does this leave us, the readers and consumers? Well, one possibility depends on your relationship with your local book book provider. As they continue to get the Direct Channel newsletter, your vendor can share that with you at their discretion. The newsletter, among other things, lays out what is hitting stores over a three- to four-week stretch. Otherwise, maybe make friends with someone at Diamond??
In the last DC solicitations, the one we DO receive as a media outlet, the closest thing to new action figures was an expanded array of repainted, previously available figures featuring the A-list of the Batman Family. Under the banner DC ORIGINS SERIES 1 ACTION FIGURE TWO-PACKS, I can tell you that I myself already own 6 of the 8 figures pictured, the modern Batman and Joker being the exception because I have several other versions of these two and have put the cap on the more contemporary offerings. I’m morbidly curious to see if something like this is on tap for the Superman Family, mainly to see which characters and figured would get reused, but I can assure you that it would be as likely a PASS as this first “DC Origins” wave is for me.
Which takes us to what DC Direct is still coming up short on, and the fact that they now have a competitor who is making surprisingly great strides getting never-before-seen characters in the stores, and by stores I mean juggernauts like Target and Walmart. I hate to say “it’s not a popularity contest,” but maybe it is. Consider some points in regards to Mattel catching up to DC Direct, or in some cases surpassing them:
a) Mattel got to the All-Star Squadron (Commander Steel) before DCD did, and DCD has been around over ten years.
b) By next year, Mattel will have begun the Doom Patrol and the Metal Men, which DCD has yet to ever do.
c) Mattel has TWO Gigantas (one in the Justice League Unlimited line, one in DC Universe Classics — a build-a-figure); DCD has none.
d) Despite TWO terrific Jack Kirby-inspired waves by DC Direct, Mattel will have made more New Gods than DCD. True story: Mattel has made Mr. Miracle, Lightray, Barda, Darseid, Desaad, Kalibak, Mantis, Forager, a Parademon, and Steppenwolf in DC Universe Classics, not to mention a JLU Lashina. DCD has made one New God that Mattel hasn’t: Metron. They have no Mantis, Forager, Parademon, Steppenwolf, Lashina, or Desaad.
e) Mattel has the Wonder Twins (albeit REALLY hard to find), and will have Samurai, Black Vulcan and Apache Chief in JLU. DCD has never done a single one of the Hanna-Barbera Super Friends originals.
f) Two words: Killer. Moth.
While it is nothing but good for the consumer to have two distinct manufacturers available to produce DC-based action figures, I can’t help but find it odd that the company around for over a decade is the one with so much catching up to do. So, readers and collectors, who is leading the pack in terms of DC Comics action figures?
Special thanks to Troy Brownfield for his insights…