Thursday, August 8, 2013

After the comic con dust settled...What is in store for the American toy companies?

 Now that Comic con is in the history books, we find ourselves in the subscription wars...

But why is it a war now?

Why can't American companies take chances anymore?

Why are we in such craptacular position?

Comic con is important not only cause of the exclusives, the costumes or the panels. For us in the design/customizing world, it shows us the future direction that the toy industry is heading, and I can tell you, it does not look good.

Each year the Japanese companies like Bandai or Chinese like Hot Toys are gobbling up the american licenses, giving us expensive but really good looking collectibles, and this comic con was not the exception. Bandai is already gearing up to make Predator and Alien figures, kicking absolute butt right under the nose of Neca, which is a company that I truly admire (along with Playmates) however the prices and quality will differ tremendously from the NJ company.

Need I mention Hot Toys? their unique and paranoid attention to detail has made them the SOLE option for any 1/4 collector out there, leaving in the dust offerings like the 12 inch joes from Hasbro or the Mattel stuff (can you compare the Christopher Reeves Hot Toys Superman vs the Mattel one? ) or Play arts, stealing the 8 inch scale with their unique "animesque" rendittions of american properties like Batman, Man of Steel and the list goes on. Sure they are not everyone's cup of tea but their legion of fans is growing more and more even as you read this note.

The truth is that now american manufacturers have to rely on Subscriptions to get the ball rolling, the anemic performance so far is a sign of the times. Collectors are tired of the same thing over and over, and if you don't step up your game, then waht is next? give up? let the Asian market gobble you up? The solution is simple: QUIT WHINING!

the Japanese/ Chinese, already got the idea, they stopped bitching of cost increases, and they just did it. "You pay me 50-60-70- bucks for high end quality figure , and I give you kick ass figure, better than American crap"

  Their offerings cost much more than the american counterparts but you pay for that with your mouth shut, cause you know that you will be getting an awesome figure for your collection, with the attention to detail that can't be found in an american toy.

As I write this, I feel terrible. America was always about the CAN DO attitude, the country that no matter what, it was wrong to bet against, cause they could always do better, they were THE SHIT. Sadly, when it comes to toys...we are losing the battle. Slowly but surely.

Now the Star Wars black series line might be a bright spot, a small incling that at least Hasbro has got it right but you know it as well as me, that the first waves are all about the awe..then the ball starts dropping . I hope and pray to the action figure gods that this is not the case, cause they really look good, but hey only time will tell.

However, not all is darkness. You can see BEACONS of light when you look at the Four Horsemen and their superb Kick Starter campaign that blew all expectations, and will give us the most amazing well sculpted, fully accessorized, independent action figures in the entire industry, and this without any media support: No comics, no webs series, no TV show, just the name and talent of the good folks out there in New Jersey. Now THAT is how you make business! kudos to them. 

As for subs, I already bought my Eternia Subscription. I owe my entire loyalty to that brand and I will sub until the end, even with Plun-dorrs and Hydrons It's the least I owe to He-man, Mattel, and the folks who helped me build a career in the customizing industry.  But for the Dc subs, I don't see any offerings that really make me enthusiastic about them. They are old outdated outfits (like Ice) only appealing to the die hard fans, not the main customer base. When you want business, you have to cater to the majority of your base, not just the adult ones, otherwise you risk a complete failure.

In a few words the key to making profitable toys in the industry is:

-GREAT quality (this is paramount: Mind fucking sculpts-like the ravens-, Spot on likenesses etc)
-Tons of accessories
-GREAT selection
-Innovative designs, articulations etc (see Hot Toys/Revoltech moving eyes, and the uber articulation)
-Cost increases up to 50% to 70%
-A desirable licence

This last one, applies in the case of Ghostbusters...who cares for an Ecto 1? Sure, you can say"I know a ton of fans who would kill for this car!" yeah, then why don't they want to pay the $215 plus shipping and taxes price? Or maybe they did, and that is why they are at 21%

The facts are Simple...See what happens when you only cater to your hardcore base?

Now ask yourself: what if instead of Ecto 1 it would be the Delorean from back to the future, plus Marty (with a mini hoverboard and interchangeable Nike shoes and vest)  plus Doc Emmet for $215? wow, did I make you think twice? See? desirability!!

However I feel optimistic about the future. Whatever it holds, it will mean less money for us, but tons of great toys....either American or Imported. The costs WILL rise no matter what we bitch about . Let's just make the best figures ever and retake the american toy industry by the horns, and ride it all the way down til every fan has the figure they want.

I have one friend who said to me:" I started to sell my entire marvel and Dc collection, I'm sure MAFEX will get the license for 6 inch toys for Dc and Marvel Someday. Can you imagine a MAFEX new 52 superman? or a Kayodo/Bandai cyclops?...American companies make toys...the Asians are making ADULT COLLECTIBLES"..... Are we going to make her right?? HELL NO!

Wake up Fellas! We can do it!

Get your MOTUC subs:

Get your DC subs:
Get your Ecto 1 :

Four Horsemen Kickstarter campaign:

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