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SDCC2008 – The Hasbro Marvel Report, Part 2

{mosimage}Long time readers of the Fwoosh will remember the angst-filled days during Toy Fair 2006, when Marvel Toys (then Toy Biz) and Hasbro announced the 5-year deal that granted Hasbro the master toy license for the Marvel Universe of characters.  Back then, Toy Biz had 2 core Marvel Legends lines – Marvel Legends in the 6-inch scale and Marvel Legends Super Hero Showdown in the 3 3/4-inch scale.

At that time, I conjectured that the core 6-inch line would be subject to the most pressure to change, and that Showdown had the most to gain.  And at each toy-related event that followed, I would ask the Marvel team at Hasbro, "What about a 3 3/4-inch line?"

Today, at the Hasbro Marvel toy panel, the creative team at Hasbro answered with the announcement of the Marvel Universe line of figures, due in March of 2009.


The Product Overview


Summary: 3 3/4-inch scaled Marvel action figures (over 30 in 2009) with collector-oriented file cards and website tie-in

The creative team behind Marvel Universe are the same folks who brought
us the core 6-inch Marvel Legends from Hasbro, and it’s clear that
they’ve drawn inspiration from Legends.  A widespread expectation from
toy collectors was that when (not if) Hasbro produced a 3 3/4-inch
line, they’d look like the modern GI Joes that exploded with the 25th
Anniversary line.  And while many Legends fans are also Joe collectors,
most that I talked to were not too keen on Marvel figures in the line –
they worried that the high level of detail would be lost in the smaller
scale.  To them, I can say this:

These are not Marvel toys in the GI Joe style.

For one thing, Hasbro brought in the stable of sculptors that
produced many of the fan favorites for the 6-inch line.  They named
Dave Cortez, Phil Ramirez, and Gentle Giant, among others.  The level
of detail in the prototypes shown in the slide show was comparable to
what we’ve seen in the 6-inch scale.  In some cases, it appeared as if
they had just shrunk down the 6-inch version – this was the case with
the classic Iron Man from the upcoming 2-packs that is my favorite
figure from SDCC.

That said, the creative team took inspiration from the Joes.  Each
figure will come with a Super Hero Registration Act file card that
gives the background and skills of each character.  Figures will also
include a SHIELD dossier file pack-in that are being written by the
folks at Marvel Comics.  We can also expect weapons and accessories for
each figure.  The packaging, too, is reminiscent of Joes – however in
this case, the artwork on the front and back of the card is being
supplied by Frank Cho.  Also taking a cue from the Joes, a mail-in
promotion will be available with the line, for Nick Fury, who bears the
call to arms on the back of each package.

The line also takes Hasbro into the interweb age.  Each figure will
come with a code that can be entered into the companion website for the
line (www.furyfiles.com) and will unlock additional content for each
character.


The Lineup

I was way too busy soaking in the images on the screen to write this
down, so thanks to the other toy websites who are far more professional
than the Fwoosh.  The figures they displayed on screen were:

  • Iron Man
  • Spider-Man
  • Silver Surfer
  • Punisher
  • Bullseye
  • Black Panther
  • Daredevil
  • Human Torch (and Johnny Storm variant)
  • Iron Man (Stealth Armor)
  • Wolverine (X-Force)
  • Ultimate Captain America
  • Green Goblin
  • Ronin
  • Iron Fist (modern)
  • Spider-Man (symbiote)
  • Hand Ninjas
  • Ms. Marvel (and classic variant)
  • Thing
  • Hobgoblin
  • Moon Knight
  • Grey Hulk
  • Union Jack
  • Thor (modern)
  • Colossus


First Impressions

I’ll admit that I was one of the guys thinking we’d be seeing Marvel
toys in the Joe style, so I was blown away at the level of detail that
I saw.  From an articulation standpoint, it wasn’t clear if we were
seeing elbros in some cases, but there were clearly double knees, and
biceps on many of the figures.  One common point of articulation is the
mid torso joint that is prevalent on much of the Hulk Legends and Red
Hulk wave of figures.  Perhaps the ab crunch plus waist swivel was too
much for the scale.

Paint looked good – although I must caveat this statement by saying
that what was pictured were clearly hand-painted prototypes.  If this
line will be shorted in any way, I’d expect it to be in the paint
department.  However of the figures shown, I only saw one that had the
Joe-style paint apps on the eyes.  We’ll have to wait to see what
subsequent showings reveal.

For scale, I again was expecting something more like Joes, where
every character is more or less the same size.  The creative team made
a point to say that this was in the 3 3/4 inch scale
– and that characters will be sized appropriately.  In group shots, it
was clear that the big guys are going to be big.  I’ll be curious to
see if shorter characters, like Wolverine, will be sized.

Overall, it was an impressive showing.  I got the sense from some
folks who attended the panel that it was a bit anti-climactic.  I
suspect that much of that sentiment came from waiting for this
inevitability for over a year and half.


The Future (this is pretty much all conjecture at this point)

I’m pretty sure we’re going to see lots of goodness still to come,
figure-wise.  Speaking with some of the toy-makers at the show (one of
the greatest parts of coming to Comic Con), it sounds like there were a
lot of characters that have been in the can that weren’t shown during
the panel.  I think we’ve only just gotten our appetites whetted by
this showing.

One person asked about vehicles and playsets – and while the Marvel
team gave the standard "we’re considering it" answer, it’s a certainty
that we’ll get these if the line is successful.

For 6-inch Legends, the 2009 plans are a little less clear.  Without
giving a clear signal one way or the other, Hasbro told us that the
6-inch Legends line has been a huge success for them.  I would suspect
that much of the 2009 focus will be on launching the Universe line, and
that if we continue to see 6-inch scaled Legends, we’ll see them in the
2-pack format and HasbroToyShop.com exclusives.  As an avid 6-inch
collector, I really want to see Legends continue.


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