FIGURE ZONE 10-14-02
BY RUDY PANUCCI
This is it!-the promised
"All news" edition of the Action Figure Zone! We're
going to gaze into our crystal ball and tell you about some of the cool
you can start saving your pennies back to squander over the next year.
Some of this news is vary early and tentative, but that's the fun part.
WAY IN THE FUTURE
Well, next year at least.
We've got some early indications and hints about what we might expect
to show up at Toy Fair next year. This is very sketchy info, with a
little healthy speculation tossed in for dramatic effect.
Mattel will be looking to
exploit their new relationship with DC Comics and AOL Time Warner, so
it's safe to say that we can expect a February
unveiling of toys based on Batman, Superman, and The Justice League.
On top of that, there's a good chance that they'll be working on figures
based on the new TEEN TITANS cartoon show that was recently announced
for Cartoon Network. To quote from the Cartoon Network press materials,
"Set in a future of intergalactic strife and interplanetary battles,
TEEN TITANS features five teen superheroes each with special powers,
led by Robin, the Boy Wonder. This group unites to form a defensive
force to protect the Earth from a new generation of villains. An eclectic
group, their powers complement each other so that when they band together,
they become a superb fighting force. Their personalities, on the other
hand, often clash. Discovering how to control their powers, these Teen
Titans must learn to work and grow as a team while dealing with the
trials and tribulations of being teenagers. " It looks like they're
planning a somewhat Animsqrt(C)-inspired update of the classic Marv
Wolfman/George Perez incarnation of the team, with stylistic elements
of DC's recent "Young Justice" comic book tossed in for good
measure. Action figures are a natural. Mattel will also offer up figures
and toys based on Cartoon Network's other new cartoon show, DUCK DODGERS,
based on the classic Chuck Jones-directed Warner Brothers cartoons from
This series will follow the adventures of (Daffy)Duck Dodgers and Space
Cadet Porky Pig as they do battle with Marvin the Martian. While both
of those series are a sure bet for future action figure lines, don't
expect to see anything from them until Toy Fair 2004. The series won't
premiere for at least a year-and-a-half.
Closer to realization, but
still keeping our animated theme, the first images from "SINBAD:
LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS" are available. As you may have heard,
Hasbro will be treating us to action figures based on this
DreamWorks feature film. The interesting twist here is that they will
released under the umbrella of the GI JOE ADVENTURE TEAM. Late word
is that they will have Kung-Fu Grip, but not flocked hair. Could be
impressive entry into a 1/6 scale historical era that is way under-represented.
Staying animated, but looking
way, way ahead, we find "TERRANOIDS". BA20 Entertainment,
the new UK kids' media outfit set up by BIONICLE
co-creator Alastair Swinnerton, has hooked up with the creative team
responsible for some of the classic Judge Dredd comic strips for its
first major project. BA20 has optioned a project from John Wagner (Judge
Dredd), which also involves long-time Dredd and Batman writer Alan Grant,
and fellow artist from the 2000AD/Judge Dredd crew, Cam Kennedy.
Together the trio have come up with TERRANOIDS a multiple-media sci-fi
project that is aimed at the kids 8+ market. The project's TV dimension
is a combo CGI/2D boys' action-adventure series; what Swinnerton described
as "a graphic novel somewhere between Moebius and Akira."
The series is set on a distant planet that humans have populated with
army of droids. When humans finally colonize the planet, the robots
rebel and enslave all the human colonists except three teenage kids.
Together they set out to rescue their parents from the rebel droids.
With his experience from devising Lego's BIONICLE property, Swinnerton
intends to roll the project out into not only a TV series but movies,
games, comics, books, toys and apparel. As exciting as this may seem,
you have to remember that we probably won't see toys based on this property
for at least two years.
And since we're looking that
far into the future, it's worth noting that Jeff
Smith, the creator of the cult hit comic book BONE is working on a four-issue
mini-series starring DC's Captain Marvel. Under the title, SHAZAM: THE
MONSTER SOCIETY OF EVIL, this series could conceivably spark renewed
interest in the Shazam property, and lead to animated series and action
figure line. It may not, but it's worth mentioning here, just because
I'm a fan of the "Big Red Cheese".
While we're on the subject
of comics, it's worth noting that the Target
Exclusive 9" Penguin figure, along with an unexpected new Batman,
showing up some Target stores. The price is $19.99 each. These are likely
the final DC Comics releases by Hasbro, who gave up the license this
Meanwhile, DC Direct is releasing Superman, Braniac, and Bizarro directly
to comic book stores, which reflects their new flexibility concerning
their flagship characters. Look for more Superman and Batman items in
the direct sales market over the next year.
THE COMIC SHOP BEAT
Upcoming cool action figures
from Diamond Distributors, which can be
ordered now from your local comic shop include several interesting and
offbeat selections from the world of music, television, movies, and
terrific action figures that are just toys.
For some reason, there are
several action figures due based on musical
artists. Vital Toys is offering up figures of Madonna and Snoop Dogg,
Kiss is being mutated into something called GRUNTZ. For some reason,
Vital Toys thinks that there's a market for faded "singer"
Madonna in action figure form. They're releasing figures based on her
only well-received film role from the nearly-twenty-year-old movie,
"Desperately Seeking Susan. Madonna, who played the title role
of "Susan," a free-spirited New York punkette makes her action
figure debut (except for a nearly-impossible-to-find Dick Tracy figure)
in this new series of figures based on her many costume changes in the
film. Rabid Madonna fans can choose from: "Pink" (from Bathroom
Scene); "White" (from Bedroom Scene); "Orange" (from
Club Scene); or "Black" (in Pyramid Jacket). Each figure stands
approximately 12" tall and features limited articulation. So basically,
you get a statue with movable arms and a rotating neck for twenty bucks.
I don't see this one selling too well. Slated to retail for thirty-five
bucks, we have famed rapper and guy who was found "not guilty",
Snoop Dogg. Snoop Dogg has gone from rap/hip-hop sensation to Hollywood
star in such films as Bones and The Wash. Now here are three different
versions of Snoop, sporting the latest "fly" threads: "Street",
"Suit", and "Bandana". Each figure stands 12"
tall, is fully articulated, features a real cloth outfit and comes in
packaging. Now that Snoop has gone Hollywood, maybe they'll get him
to play Chuck Berry. If he has the acting chops he can pull it off,
since he already resembles the rock pioneer. There have been KISS action
figures for years. From MEGO to McFarlane, it seems like everyone has
produced some form of rock and roll's top Kabuki Metal act. Now they're
being transformed into something called "GRUNTZ", some sort
of cross between those horrible "Urban" action figures and
a bobble-head doll. . These Gruntz collectible 7 tall figures capture
the boys of KISS in their full regalia, and feature bobble-head action
on articulated bodies. This series will include: Gene Simmons, Paul
Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley. Blister card packaging will enhance
your purchasing experience as you fork over between ten and fifteen
bucks each for these odd bits of plastic.
HOT OFF THE BOX
From the world of TV, we get treated to more Simpson's and Star Trek
figures, and nice set of figures from The Avengers.
First up, All your favorite Simpson's barflies will be drawn to the
Previews Exclusive playset , which recreates Springfield's one and only
watering hole, Moe's Tavern. Since no mass market retailer in his right
mind would sell a playset of a bar, this little gem will be going the
Select" route. This package comes with the exclusive Duffman action
figure, available only with this set! Joy! Plug him onto the Tavern
floor and he (and any other Simpson's figure), will utter original dialog
from the hit
TV series which happens way too frequently in real-life bars anyway.
special note: This set is priced at $46, which means that it should
sell for the same price that your local Comic Book Guy is scalping all
Simpson's' playsets for. In other Simpson's news, Celebrity series 3
has gone the way of the dodo. Retailers didn't order many of this series,
and so Playmates is making two figures intended for this assortment
(Jim Varney as Cooder and Jon Lovitz as Llewellen Sinclair) available
only to their online customers. Hank Scorpio (Albert Brooks) will be
part of the regular line in Simpson's assortment number ten. Jackie
Mason as Rabbi Krustowski won't be coming out because the famed finger-flipping
comedian wants too much money. Also available through Playmates online
club (http://www.simpsonscollectors.com ) is the set of Homer, Barney,
Principal Skinner, and Apu as the "B-Sharps". Oddly enough,
ex-member Chief Wiggum will be included with a B-Sharps playset next
year, which is slated to be a Toys R Us exclusive.
Art Asylum is going Borg-wild with their upcoming line. Star Trek's
biomechanical terrors, the Borg, have assimilated countless species
across the galaxy, moving from one planet to the next, assimilating
these worlds have. This new series of figures shows the results of the
Borg's assimilation of various alien races, including Cardassians, Hirogens,
and the Klingons! Each 7" tall figure features all the trademark
signs that make a Borg a Borg, including replaced limbs, implants, and
deathly coloration. I've
always wondered about something: If Seven-of-nine was the seventh assimilation
of the ninth Borg, would that mean that she's related somehow to Ernest
Borgnine? These figures should hit in January, at a price around ten
Making their action figure
debut are "THE AVENGERS". No, not Thor,
Captain America, and Iron Man, these are the British TV Avengers, John
Steed and Emma Peel. Scheduled to ship in April 2003, you'll meet a
mysterious man in a bowler hat and immaculately tailored suit carrying
an umbrella. At his side, a stunning woman in a leather cat suit. These
are the Avengers, whose TV series typified the mood of the Sixties in
Britain. Now these larger-than-life characters are brought to life as
this wonderful pair of
12 collectible figures with over 40 points of articulation. Each figure
detailed likenesses of actors Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg, and includes
their trademark accessories and real fabric clothing. These are a bit
pricey, but well worth it for die-hard fans of the show. Now if they'd
do Patrick MacGoohan as "THE PRISONER",AP..
In one last TV note, Moore
Action Collectibles has cancelled the remainder of their X Files line.
They cite declining interest since the end of the television show, but
I personally think it's a conspiracy.
BIGSHOT MOVIE STARS
From the world of movies,
Comic Shops are getting quite a mix of different action figure characters.
From THE CROW to GODZILLA and even
NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, there's plenty to draw the furious fans
of filmdom into comic book shops to pre-order.
NECA offers up a fully poseable
action figure of Eric Draven as The Crow,
featuring a removable trench coat and accessories. In addition he spouts
four electronic voice phrases pulled from the original film: "It's
not a good
day to be a bad guy"; " Victims, aren't we all?"; "
And I say I'm dead and I
move. "; and "It can't rain all the time." These are
around thirty-five bucks in window box packaging. They look a heck of
a lot like the latter-day appearance of WCW wrestler STING.
Godzilla has reappeared
on our shores in a new line of action figures based on the real green
guy, not that alien-looking thing from the US movie.
Fans can collect the entire family of Toho mon-stars with this GODZILLA
COLLECTOR'S ACTION FIGURES WAVE 2 series of 6 1/2" action figures
including the Kaiju King, his friends, and enemies. This wave is scheduled
to include: Space Godzilla; Mecha-Godzilla; Mecha King Ghidorah; Anguirus;
and Godzilla 2001. All of these little guys will be comfortably ensconced
in a lovingly-crafted blister card.
Vital Toys is hitting us
with figures based on Sylvester Stallone's Rocky. There's not much to
say about these. They're good for fans of the movies, but of little
interest to anyone else. Sometimes, you just gotta shrug.
Popping out sooner than
those sets, NECA brings us NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, a line of figures
that come as close as they can to Hasbro's original highly-sought-after
action figures without actually buying the molds. Included in this assortment
are Jack Skellington, Sally, Dr.
Finklestein, the Mayor, Oogie-Boogie, Werewolf, Behemoth, Santa Claus
and Santa Jack. I watched the movie just the other day on HBO, and it
really holds up well. In an odd twist, since Nightmare is owned by Disney,
they're using characters from it in a new video game that combines all
the Disney characters with a few new characters in an adventure designed
by Squaresoft, the folks behind the "Final Fantasy" series.
There's a good chance that Hasbro will produce action figures based
on the game. Analysts and game experts expect KINGDOM HEARTS to be one
of the biggest video game hits in history based on its track record
in Japan, where it was released in April, and the enthusiasm of players
who have previewed it. Don't be surprised if it's a major marketing
phenomenon next year.
Finally, fans of MONTY PYTHON
AND THE HOLY GRAIL will be thrilled and
delighted to learn that, in addition to The Black Knight, Tim The Enchanter,
and Roger The Shrubber, Sideshow Toy is releasing a special edition
The Knight who says 'Ni!' , which towers to a height of 18 inches in
sure to be the tallest in the Grail collection. So tall in fact that
fashioned a special box for it, as cramming it in the old one is not
business perspicacity. This Sideshow offering is sure to appease the
demanding members of the 'Ni' appreciation society. This Knight of Ni
exclusive is a Limited Edition of 1000 pieces, and it's only available
HEY LOOK, TOYS!
In addition to all that stuff,
we can look forward to several cool toys that
are just toys.
Fans of the 3 -ae" GI
Joes will want to haunt their comic book stores waiting
for a special 8 figure set featuring the GI Joe team and their arch-nemesis
COBRA. Scheduled to ship in February 2003, with this set, you can re-live
the adventures of the Real American Heroes as they battle the forces
of Cobra in a limited edition collector's pack featuring eight exclusive
3 -ae' G.I. Joe (Dial Tone, Roadblock, Wetsuit, Snake Eyes) and Cobra
(Undertow, Firefly, Fast Blast Viper, & Storm Shadow) figures, with
complete bio cards for each character on the back. Plus, this set comes
with a copy of G.I. Joe #1 from Image Comics.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
is coming back with a new series on the
Saturday morning FOX BOX and The TMNT also return in an all-new series
of toys based on their return to TV. Each figure will be fully articulated
meticulously detailed, right down to the detailing on their shells.
All figures will include their authentic ninja gear as seen on the show.
This set will
include: Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Raphael. There will
several assortments and sizes to choose from and these will probably
the mass market in February.
Wrapping up our all-news
column, we'll just take a moment to tip you off
about Stikfas. These little customizable kit-figures look to be slowly
building a huge following. Stikfas Action Figure Kit (AFK) is a super-articulated
3" figure you can assemble and configure in numerous
ways. With its unique design and solid parts, the Stikfas AFK is both
playable and customizable. Armed with incredible poseability and 44
interchangeable parts, accessories, and labels, Stikfas aim to lead
the way in a whole new toy revolution. The next series of figures will
be available in Green, Tan or Black with new customizing options. This
product looks to have huge crossover potential and could be the next
That's it for this all-news
Action Figure Zone. Next week we'll take a
look at even more news, including updates from Sideshow Toy, Ertl and
a new action figure called Construction Jack. I'll also have reviews
of a ton of
stuff, including the new Adventure Team guys, and Sideshow Toy's Black