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Monday, January 15, 2007

The end of an era ...

Adam Creighton. Actor. Video game armchair analyst. Comic book junkie.

And, yes, toy collector.

Which brings me to this post.

I collect toys. Mainly action (don't-call-them-dolls) figures that are unique, or iconic, or great sculpts, or inspirational or entertaining in some way.

One of my favorite series is the Marvel Legends series from Toy Biz (including the Marvel Legends ICONS). And while I feel like they've missed the mark a couple of times (and gotten a bit lazy on a few of the sculpts), the quality and diversity across the board (and the variants) have kept me coming back for more, and they're the biggest part of my modern collection.

But Toy Biz is passing the Marvel Legends baton to Hasbro, and I'm not crazy about the first foray.

I mean, I was a bit nervous before, but I ran into the retail versions yesterday, and they left me cold.

On the Legends front, I looked at X-3 Beast, Planet Hulk, Banshee (who's, um dead), and Emma Frost. Most of the sculpts aren't great (Banshee looks disproportionate, and sexy Emma looks like she's wearing an adult diaper). Even the Planet Hulk figure, which looked like a good sculpt in prototype, looks like it's made of cheap plastic, and the jointing looks weird.

On the Hasbro iteration of Icons, Wolverine and Thor aren't great sculpts, and the paint job on Wolverine in particular is bad (oh, I get it, that's supposed to be arm hair).

So why did Marvel/Toy Biz make the decision? Business.

Marvel awarded Hasbro 5-year rights to create toys off of Marvel's more than 5,000 characters (comic book and movie spin-offs), with the option to extend, depending on what entertainment properties are released during the time. The underpinnings of the agreement are the Spider-Man 3 and 4 and Ghost Rider movies. And Marvel did a sweet deal on the arrangement -- guaranteeing themselves $205 million in royalty and service fee payments, with $70M due at the release of Spider-Man 3, and $35M for Spider-Man 4 -- this is planned revenue for those two years.

And Hasbro does some really good stuff with the Marvel IP -- they're just really uneven in quality and craftsmanship. Their Marvel Super Hero Squad rocks (with the exception of Daredevil and Iron Man, but that's admittedly a preferential thing). And they've done some solid other work, like their Spider-Man Origins Spider-Man 2099, but they did muff up the jointing by not giving it the consistent foot joints like most of the other Origins line has -- seriously messes up the pose ability of the figures.

And Hasbro's sculpts for their second series of Legends (especially Quicksilver, Yellowjacket, and Thor) look good. As do the wave two Icons of Dr. Doom and the MAX-inspired Punisher.

Oh, and the Spider-Man Origins Signature Series line of Mego-like heroes? Retro awesome, and I'm seriously going to get a Captain America, even if it does sorta look like a doll.

So what's Toy Biz going to do? Actually, it's going away. Sort of.

Toy Biz becomes Marvel Toys (though they evidently buy the domain, first). And, since they're jettisoning the Marvel Legends line, they're free to do other stuff.

Like independents. Like Judge Dredd and The Darkness (both look great, and the latter will probably be timed with the video game I'm so stoked about). and the the Pitt 10-inch build-a-figure looks incredible, and makes the Hasbro Marvel Legends wave one build-an-Annihilus look ... wussy.

Ooh, I want The Maxx figure from Marvel Toys!

Hmm. Yknow, I have blogs for my acting (this one), video games (and industry analysis), comic books, movies/tv/videos, and music. It may be time to create a toy blog ...

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