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SDCC2008 – The Hasbro Marvel Report, Part 1

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Almost six months ago, as I was writing the Hasbro Marvel Report for Toy Fair, my sense was that things were looking up for Marvel action figure fans.  With the Foom wave and the first set of Legends 2-packs, it was clear to me that the Marvel team at Hasbro was starting to incorporate feedback from its collectors – a return to more detailed sculpts, better articulation, and more paint apps.

If after seeing the contents of Hasbro’s Marvel display booths, you’re not convinced of that too, then you’ll probably never like what they’re producing.  And that’s fine, because that means more for the rest of us!

 

Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure Ares Wave – September / October ’08 Wal-Mart exclusive

If
you’ve been Fwooshing for a while, you know that it’s not often that a
toy company can serve up a genuine surprise.  Between leaked pictures
and retail system computer sleuths, we often see or read about upcoming
toys well in advance of when the toy companies are ready to talk about
them.

Not so with the Ares build-a-figure wave.  We had not an inkling about the eight figures in this BAF.

  • Scarlet Spider – with etched webbing details, Ben Reilly has never looked so good in action figure form
  • Vision – the Silver Surfer body from the Hasbro ML Fantastic Four wave gives him a sleek, almost-human look
  • Human Torch – also leverages the HML F4 wave, but with two new "flame on!" decoes
  • Ultimate War Machine – the HML 1 Iron Man comes with the black and gray color scheme and a new headsculpt under the helmet
  • Heroes Reborn Iron Man – a completely new sculpt, and was almost the Iron Man highlight of the show
  • Crossbones – you might not recognize it, but that’s Hulkling under that vest and impeccable new head sculpt
  • Kang – making good on their promise, Hasbro is finding
    ways to reissue Legends from the Toy Biz run that were harder to find –
    Kang comes with an updated paint deco
  • Guardian – the early production run figure on display is
    still getting his paint deco tweaked – I hope it comes out with that
    cherry red – Alpha Fans rejoice!
  • Ares (BAF) – the early production test figure on display
    is still getting some details added – you can see some of the
    additional paint apps in the packaged pics, e.g., more drybrushed
    details on his chest plate and a more nuanced paint app for his stubble

Marvel Legends Two-Packs – Fall ’08, with broad retail distribution

Sure,
we had inklings of what was coming, after the discovery of cryptic
SHIELD and Iron Man entries in Wal-Mart’s computer system – but we all
figured we were going to see some re-hashed Iron Man from years gone
by.  Nor were we ready for what we were getting in terms of the female
SHIELD agents.

  • Iron Man (classic) / Maria Hill – call me a blasphemer,
    but this completely new sculpt for Iron Man blows the Toy Biz ML series
    1 shellhead out of the water.  With alternate Stark and masked heads,
    you may struggle to pick which one to display.  Maria Hill will come
    with an alternate SHIELD agent head, which will look strikingly like
    Sharon Carter, but with a different hair color
  • Iron Man (stealth) / Sharon Carter – alright, Hasbro
    showed me the perfect way to display these new Iron Men – unmasked but
    holding the alternate head.  Sharon will also have an alternate head,
    which looks surprisingly like Maria Hill, but with a different head
    color.
  • Dum Dum Dugan / Hand Ninja – tired of alternate heads
    yet?  Dum Dum will also have a generic SHIELD agent head, so you can
    army build to your heart’s delight!
  • Invisible Woman / Human Torch – we’re getting a lot of use
    out of that Human Torch from the HML F4 wave.  But with this two pack
    and the Mr. Fantastic / Thing, we’re finally seeing the blue and black
    uniforms on all four of the Fantastic Four.  Sue gets rid of those
    etched details on her uniform and has a much-welcomed new head sculpt.

Some folks have reported even packing on the two-packs.  We’ll try to get more info on this.

Spider-Man "Hero Movie" line – November ’08, with broad retail distribution

I
too was confused by the re-branding of the Spidey line, but what counts
is that we’ve got another outlet for characters in the six-inch scale. 
Sure, we’ve got to deal with another re-issue of Scuba Spidey, but that
gets us these guys:

  • Classic Tarantula – I’m liking the re-use of the Captain Marvel tooling here, but am wondering what’s going on with those traps.
  • Juggernaut – like with the Superhero Showdown Juggs from a
    while back, he comes with a color variant that my old eyes have a hard
    time seeing.  We’ve been dying to break in to the display case to see
    what’s under that removable helmet.
  • Mac Gargan Venom – finally, a Thunderbolts Venom!

Iron Man / Hulk Movie lines – ongoing, with broad retail distribution

These
lines are still going strong, with more variants of our main heroes
than you can shake a stick at.  For customizers, I saw one winged Iron
Man that could be tweaked into a Mach IV.  Get to it!

Hulk Legends – ongoing, with broad retail distribution

For
those of you without Foom heads, I’m sorry to report that the
shortpacking of She-Hulk will continue.  That’s based on Hasbro’s
estimates of market demand for the Foom BAF.  The distant light at the
end of the tunnel is that we haven’t yet seen full retail penetration,
as the street date for the line was supposed to be August 1.  An even
more distant light is that Hasbro could make the She-Hulk available in
a limited production run on HasbroToyShop.com, if there’s enough demand.

That
incredible (ok, pun was kind of intended) Grey Hulk from this line has
two possible running changes planned.  The green / purple one on
display is pretty much a done deal.  They’re trying to get a more
classic green with blue pants in there too, but I imagine re-orders
will determine that.  We made the case for fists, and we were not alone
with that request.

BAF – RIP – 2008

After
Foom, Ares, Red Hulk, and Nemesis in 2008, we won’t be seeing the BAF
reappear in 2009.  We talked with the Marvel Team at length about
this.  It’s not that the BAF concept has played itself out – rather,
they believe that there are very few remaining characters with BAF
potential that have mass market appeal.

As a result, we won’t be
seeing traditional single-carder MLs in 2009 – the two packs are where
this line is going.  With the alternate heads, hands, accessories, and
army-building potential, the Marvel team thinks they’ve got a formula
for delivering a lot of play value with the Legends line, despite the
loss of the BAF.

One question that will remain open for some time
is if the move to the two-pack format will limit the release of bigger
characters.  For now, we hear the answer is no, as long as they can be
balanced in a wave with smaller figures.

More Surprises in Store?

I
talked earlier about the surprise of the Ares wave and my toygasm over
that classic Iron Man.  As I’ve babbled on ad nauseum to anyone that
will listen, one thing that’s been consistent in the responses from the
Marvel team is that "you ain’t seen nothing yet" – with the Hasbro
Marvel panel coming this afternoon, I can only imagine that we’re
finally going to hear about something "big" that we’ve been
anticipating from the start of the Hasbro / Marvel partnership.

Expect a part 2 to the Hasbro Marvel Report, coming soon!


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