As I sit here, in my sister’s house, away from all the new toys and stuff I’ve wanted to review, I’ve sort of become reflective about things, especially about this year in toys. Now, I can break it down and give my comments in a best-of-the-year kind of post, but instead, I’m going to focus on the major players in the game right now: Mattel, Bandai and Hasbro. Each company has done some impressive stuff this year and I like to point out the negatives and the positives of what they are doing and give an accurate perdition of what they will do next.
now, Bandai is a weird company to predict what they do next. They sit on top of things in Japan and before last year, they where the top dogs when it came to toys here in the US, but after last year and the Success of the Transformers movie and the even bigger success of the movie itself, Bandai’s most valuable asset for boy toys in the US Power Rangers has taken a back seat in popularity, In the long run, being that Power Rangers is powered by the all mighty power of Disney, it wont let it die in the US. But this brings an interesting point, starting with the Jungle Fury line, we started to wave in classic Power Ranger characters in the Jungle Fury line (Green Ranger, Lord Zed, White Ranger, Gold Ranger) and the rise of the Super Legends Retrofire line (with the Mighty Morphing Megazord, Wild Force Megazord and the RPM High Octane Megazord) has proved that there is somesort of collectible market for Tokusatsu figures in the US. Meanwhile, in the other side of the world, Bandai of Japan teamed up with Tamashii to make what is my import line of the year “SH Figuarts” featuring a heavy dose of Kamen Rider goodness with riders from Kamen Rider the Next, Kamen Rider Kabuto, and some of the Imajin from Kamen Rider Den-O and for some reason, Domon Kasshu from G Gundam. The Line combines 2 things: Great articulation and even greater sculps. What does this all mean? well, like I said earlier, there will be a huge Tokusatsu figure spike coming in the next year.
One thing I’ve neglected to mention is the SIC figures. SIC Figures have been a staple of the Tamashii brand for a while now, right next to the Saint Seiya Cloth Myth figures. My problem is that I got one of the early generation figures and it left a sour taste in my mouth when I got it (if your wondering witch, it’s Kikaida WAY back in the first release), but as of late, it’s becoming more and more articulated and the line itself can now branch out and experiment with other like-lines, like the upcoming Kiwami Tamashii, a line of much smaller (G.I. Joe sized, yay!) SIC figures. Another line that I didn’t mention much was Gundam itself. We all know Gundam and we all know that the model kits themselves sell gangbusters no matter where you go. And all you Gundam Fans, you tell me with a straight face you want to get that Haro PC tower, I know you do (“There’s a Haro PC Tower?” – Stan). One line I like to touch up on is the Robot Damashii line. It’s sort of the robot equivalent of the SH Figuarts figures where it has highly detailed and highly posable figures based on Gundam 00 and Code Geass. Really great stuff, but all this wont be getting in full swing till next year, especially Kiwami Tamashii line.
Again, 2009 will be that epic year that Tokusatsu and the figure collecting community become one and more high end figures based on Tokusatsu series will be released, Expect SH Figuarts to get very big before the end of the year. If Kamen Rider Dragon Knight DOES get big, expect a huge influx of Kamen Rider merchandise to spike drastically on both sides of the world.
Hasbro has been riding the coattails of the success of the Transformers movie and 2009, the lightning will strike twice with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But before we go into that, let’s go back to this year. This year has been a year of great successes and epic losses that Hasbro should look at before going into next year. Let’s talk about the positive first. The great positives this year where plenty: Transformers continued to flourished with the remaining Movie figures and the Animated line as been very successful for Hasbro. G.I. Joe has been going in full swing this year too, preparing people for the upcoming movie by releasing more 25th Anniversary/Modern Collection figures out on the market and making the G.I. Joe name known before the August 7th, 2009 release date. Marvel and Hasbro have been pretty big as well, with 2 major lines with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk movie toys have been a huge success for Hasbro, considering that Iron Man was one of the biggest movies of the summer also helps as well.
But unfortunately, we have to take all the good with all the bad as well, it almost seems that Hasbro underestimated the success of a lot of lines, Mainly the handling of the Marvel lines and the Transformers line. As the movie toys continued to be sold out to retails, we were offered repaint after repaint of the same figures we got when the line was released in 2007, it wasn’t till September did we start getting some fresh Transformers figures out on the shelves with Animated and Universe 2.0. As far as Marvel goes, well, it can be because of the success of each movie that caused problems. While Iron man was the superior movie that did gangbusters in the theaters and also on the toy isle, the Hulk didn’t cause a blip on the radar and the line just ultimately just ended up clogging up shelf space. Even G.I. Joe has started to get a bit troublesome with the way they handle the figures. Now, I do enjoy that they are re-releasing figures that once would be harder to find are now just taking up shelf space. If I have to see one more JUMP Pack Duke, Iron Grenadiers Destro, Flash or Black V1 Snake-Eyes, I’ll scream! anyways, notice how I didn’t talk about Marvel Legends… well, the figure offerings where pretty scarce this year unfortunately. For the rest of the year, they kept on releasing the Brood Queen wave and trinkling out older figures from earlier waves at the end of the year. The only new mass release was the Hulk figures. They did release some new figures for specific retailers, Target got a exclusive Red Hulk wave and WalMart got a Ares wave as well, but the lines… well… they are just retreads of older figures that where release WAY back in the Toy Biz days (Vision? the heck? Black Suited spider-man?! oh man…). And don’t get me started on how they treated poor Indy… Still breaks my heart that it’s over…
predictions of 2009:
Revenge of the Fallen will be HUGE. VERY HUGE. So VERY huge. The problem is everything else. X-Men Origins Wolverine looks good, but that’s about all that it’s going for at the moment. G.I. Joe looks good too… but something isn’t adding up either, especially after seeing the leaked pictures of the figures and seeing that they are just re-painting some figures from the 25th line… And Marvel Legends? I don’t think it’s going to last very long after the Nemesis/Holocaust wave is SOMEHOW released.
you always hear about these things: The Cinderella story. At one point, once laughed at and out of luck due to alot of problems with the company. Only having last year survive one of the biggest blows that any has suffered (recalling more then 100 or so toys in the last year alone if I remember the numbers correctly) and loosing ground against MGA and their Bratz toys, thus, their cash cow Barbie was at odds. And on the top of all this, they haven’t seen much success on their boy lines. They tried to grab lightning in a bottle in 2002 with their revival of Masters of The Universe, but that ended up becoming some sort of sick joke more then anything, but 6 years after, im shocked to say that they not only learned their lessons, but started making some right decisions to insure a long life to come.
The problem they once faced was that they catered too much to what they believed is true, causing so many headaches in the long run, This can be seen blatantly in the 2002 MOTU line and the 2002 Batman line. Count how many repaints of Skeletor, He-man and Batman in each line. But in 2007, they had sort of a social experiment line released called “DC Super Heroes” and it sort of worked, mainly due to the fact they went with what they believed the fans wanted as opposed to what they believed is true.
It wasn’t till 2008 that we saw them take what they learned from the social experiment and what was once a long shot for success ended up being what I could consider the best domestic toy line of the year “DC Universe Classic” and it’s Spin off line “DC Movie Masters” and it’s distant cousin “Masters Of The Universe Classic”. One full year of the line later and things are getting more and more better for the line, and the inclusion of Matty Collector has made things more complete for the company. It also helps that this year they aligned with the right movie with The Dark Knight, the biggest movie…like… ever.
Predictions for 2009
Well, things can only get better from here for them. The only problem at the moment is that they have no strong, marque line from a movie to do for next year. In 2010, Jakks Pacific will loose the license for WWE and Mattel will be producing figures, but other then that, nada. But Nada IS good for now. DC Universe Classic, Masters of the Universe Classics and other lines will be more then suffice for the fans.
So that about wraps it up for one year. The problem is that we are in a weird year and things will change because of it. With the economical crisis hitting everything, it’s becoming much harder to produce figures and it’s becoming harder for fans to buy toys too. But I think this will be a temporary setback for a bigger year coming up.
so from one fan to the next, I say have a happy holidays and have a happy new years.