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SDCC ’19: Top 5 Reactions: Making the Grade

SDCC 2019 is wrapped and in the books.  Time for an overall Top 5 (6” Line) Reactions to the show (good or bad) from someone who sat at home and armchair critiqued the displays and reveals all weekend.

Granted, there was a lot of cool stuff at the show for 2019.  But there were also a couple of head scratchers.  One of those brings us to the first reaction, and it’s a bad one.

5) Hasbro Star Wars

What happened.  Clearly, Disney/Lucasfilm had their heel crushing Hasbro’s throat so hard, Robo almost had to run on stage and give them CPR.  I haven’t heard that much pity applause for a manufacturer in a long time…and they had to beg the attendees for it.  Yikes – that was not a good look for Hasbro. 

Almost a third of their presentation was talking about how their team built the diorama/display in their booth.  Let that sink in.  They spent a good portion of their time in front of collectors – showing them something they will never be able to buy.  And then, at a show that has a target audience of young to middle aged adults with disposable income, who want to spend it on collectables, Hasbro focused on their new kid line.  And when the crickets could be heard chirping from Nevada, they had to remind everyone in attendance that what they were showing was for kids, and kids love action features.  So Hasbro paid money to send a team to show off product, and then they had to emphasize to the semi-engaged audience that the product they were showing off, wasn’t intended for them. 

The rest of Hasbro’s 2019 product isn’t 100% new content related.  There is stuff coming from previous films.  Why couldn’t Hasbro debut that product here?  I don’t even want to talk about the helmets. 

Hasbro Star Wars Grade: F

4) McFarlane Toys

Before Toy Fair in February the world learned that Mattel had lost the adult collectible license for DC action figures and that McFarlane had picked it up.  Not surprisingly, McFarlane didn’t have anything on display for DC at that time.  Five months later, and designs should be well underway in order to have product out on the shelf in 2020.  It wasn’t expected that there would be finished product at SDCC for what their DC plans are going to be, but it would have been nice to at least seen some control art mock ups with maybe an articulation breakdown.  We did get a look at a very stylish McFarlane Batman.

It is interesting that their new Harry Potter figure seems to have the old style of McFarlane articulation and not the updated scheme of their Fortnight and Call of Duty Figures.  Hopefully they can make updates to the articulation before the figure is locked for production.  McFarlane needs to make sure they have proper articulation across all of their properties. 

The Scorpion and Sub Zero they had on display looked to be designed with the appropriate articulation points.  It will be interesting to see how they look when displayed against Storm Collectibles Mortal Kombat line.

It was surprising not to get any news about Game of Thrones and who could be coming in Wave 2.  Did Todd hate season 8 so much that he is abandoning the line? We got a look at a couple of repainted dragons. This may be all that is left in the license that has his interest.

McFarlane Grade: B

3) Mattel Jurassic World Amber Collection

Last year at San Diego, we got a preview of 6” Jurassic Park/World figures.  The final product was on display this year, and it has been through some changes since we last saw it.  Double-jointed elbows have been replaced in favor of Single jointed ones.  The paint deco budget seems to have decreased ever so slightly, and the line has to be launched as a retailer exclusive, possibly due to lack of full retail support.  More alarming is that wave 1 and wave 2 only have 2 figures each.  With Wave 1 debuting Fall 2019 and Wave 2 in Spring of 2020, the pipeline doesn’t scream that it is flowing.  Hopefully they hit the sales goals for the line and they can expand with full retail support, because right now, it screams dead on arrival. 

Mattel Jurassic Grade: C+

4) NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

What happens when you combine a thirsty fan base and a manufacturer with passion for the license they have had to fight tooth and nail for?  Complete Wave 1 sell outs of both your line’s expressions.  Gamestop’s Movie Turtles and Target’s Cartoon Turtles flew off the shelves in the first half of 2019 never to be seen again.  Unfortunately, due to the realities of the brand and the licensing issues that suffocate it, NECA cannot bring these lines to mass retail.  They have to live as exclusives, but NECA is determined to push the limits of what their license allows and do everything they can to get product into the hands of collectors. 

NECA didn’t bring any new movie Turtles to SDCC, but they did tease reveals for NYCC in the fall.  The figures that make up the Capture of Splinter set will be available as singles at Gamestop in 2020. NECA did bring Wave 2 and 3 of the Target two packs as well as Fan Channel/Specialty Retailer exclusive single packed Video Game Turtles.  The cartoon turtles look fantastic, and the couple teases that were on display show that NECA is going to do the line justice.  Bebop & Rocksteady, April & Casey Jones, Leatherhead, Slash, and Metal Head all looked fantastic on display.  The only thing that NECA could have done better would have been to confirm that the production size of Wave 2/3 would be at lease twice as many as were produced for Wave 1.

NECA Turtles Grade: A-

5) Hasbro Marvel Legends

Wow.  Hasbro’s Marvel team came into the show riding high on the almost universal acclaim for the 80th Anniversary collection.  Comic figure fans were finally getting definitive expressions of top characters they have been asking years for.  Movie figure fans were getting fun and unique figures like Korg and Ghost – missing from their respective movie wave line ups.  Hasbro could have just let people buy already announced figures at their booth at the show and they would have probably been celebrated.  Instead they upped the hype factor for themselves by announcing one of the X-Men heaviest lines ups in years. 

And not just any X-Men but community demanded X-Men figures like Jim Lee Jean Grey, X-Factor Polaris and Havok, not one but TWO Age of Apocalypse Waves, a Strong Guy build a figure, as well as Dr. Doom and classic Vulture.  Not only were the products revealed exciting, but the members of the panel presentation all seemed to really be proud about what they were putting out in the market.  With more reveals planned throughout the year, Marvel Legends doesn’t look to me slowing down anytime soon. I will say that my biggest gripe in terms of the Marvel team, is the telegraphed double dip on Mark 85 Iron Man. There should have been an unmasked head and snapping hand included on this release. There are two figures that are essentially repaints in this wave. I can’t for a second believe that the budget wasn’t there for a Tony Stark head and snapping hand. Low Blow Marvel Team. LOW BLOW.

Hasbro Marvel Grade: A

There are many other things that caught my eye – Super 7’s lack of Ninja Turtles product after saying it was coming earlier in the year. Mattel jumping right into Masters of the Universe and turning the vice on Super 7. DC Collectibles limping along with their Batman Animated Series inspired line. Diamond Select showing off another Westworld figure, but showing John Wick slipping later into the year. Hasbro’s warm embrace of the Power Rangers line and showing that they are going to go deep with it.

So what were some of the biggest reactions you had to SDCC 2019?  Be sure to leave a comment below or join the discussion on the forums.