In a lot of ways, we are looking for 2021 to make better on the year that was 2020. I know, it has had a pretty rough start so far, but if things break the right way, 2021 could be a successful transition year to a better place for all of us. One thing is for sure though, it is going to be a breakout year for Super7’s ULTIMATES! line.
I have talked at length about my love and excitement for many of the things that Super7 has been doing over the past few years. They have a lot going for them, and have always been really good about presentation and appealing to a certain demographic that craves nostalgia, but also slick presentation. I mean, I have bought more 3¾ action figures via their ReAction line than I have ever purchased in my life, so getting me to get somewhat in that scale is a pretty big thing for me specifically. That said, it is their ULTIMATES! expression that really gets my attention, and it appeals to me on so many levels.
ULTIMATES! has its roots way back in one of my favorite toy lines of all time, Masters of the Universe Classics. Super7 picked up the mantle and style once it was jettisoned by Mattel, and keeping the design infrastructure and style in place (via retaining the Four Horsemen), while upping the ante in terms of expanded licenses and executions has put this line at the forefront of my collecting excitement and focus, so I think about them far too much. Sure, MOTU might be done (at least for now), but I am now adding everything from ThunderCats to Ninja Turtles, to Disney, to Toxic Crusaders, and beyond to the style, and I am having a blast doing it.
Super7’s “made-to-order” approach with these figures is a smart one to hedge risk and ensure buy-in for some premium additions, but it was always going to have a slow start. We really didn’t start to see the fruits of some of the early (2019) pre-orders until the second half of 2020, and while I know it was a challenge waiting that long, the pandemic and overall timeline of what it takes to make an action figure played a lot with that. As we are seeing now, things are starting to ship more regularly, I have gotten TMNT 2 and GITD Mumm-Ra in the last month or so, and Conan looks to be soon, so pre-orders are getting closer to alternating with product delivery and ULTIMATES! is finding its groove, so to speak. 2021 is looking to be the real take off point, especially if you are collecting multiple properties within the overall line.
We have recently been updated that ThunderCats series 2 is making progress, NJPW series 1 is in the final packaging stage and Conan The Barbarian is shipping to us in the next few weeks. This is essentially the payoff for getting past that first length of time for all of these initial lines to get through production while new pre-orders are being introduced. Sure, Lunar New Year always causes a pause in Q1, but that notwithstanding, I am betting that the release pattern for ULTIMATES! is going to start to run pretty regularly going forward. If you didn’t see our interview with Super7’s Brian Flynn from a few months ago, he gives some really good insight about the process and overall state of ULTIMATES!, so check it out here:
I think some of the most important points to take from this is that things are finally getting to where they want them to be in terms of timing, and that their factory has been ramping up to be able to support the quality and pace these lines require. Frankly, I am really impressed with most of the attributes of the various lines so far, and as things are just really getting started, I look to them to continue to improve. Sure, ThunderCats series two might be the last holdover from the Mattel factory, and is thus delayed much longer than anyone would like, but TCats series 3, and TMNT series 3 should both be arriving in short order afterwards as they are being handled in Super7’s primary facility. Super7 is playing in a lot of sandboxes in terms of various licenses but they are getting their handle on things now, and seeing new pre-orders and new deliveries each month is something that I am really looking forward to, and things look promising.
Now, I am not saying that everything is already perfect, or that there isn’t room for continued improvement, because there most certainly is. The kickoff for ULTIMATES! was always going to be an endurance race, rather than a sprint so that protracts the learning curve in terms what needs to change/improve as we move along. So, I understand that this line and its dynamics are not for everyone. It is going to take a good chunk of time to build out those (hopefully) large TMNT and ThunderCats collections, so patience is required. I also understand that these come with a premium price tag that is not approachable for all collectors. I feel that the price makes sense as I consider these to be premium, and I understand that the made-to-order philosophy plans for smaller production runs, so it all pans out in my brain, but again, this isn’t a line like Marvel Legends, so it takes a different mindset. Sure, I want my entire Turtle roster as soon as I can get it, but I also enjoy the relatively stress-free ordering process and the care that each release is given. I think there will be a lot happening this year to make that experience and time much more manageable.
Towards that end, I really do think we are just getting started. I feel like TMNT and ThunderCats are ramping up and gaining more and more collectors with every release, so I am hopeful that those lines will be nothing short of Masters of the Universe in terms of fully realized rosters. While those are the likely anchors, there are some cool and interesting other things that are currently complimenting those properties. We have already mentioned things like Conan, NJPW, and those things, but I am really looking forward to the direction of the Disney line (maybe lines?), and I wonder about further expansion of some things like Toxic Crusaders and Ren and Stimpy. Furthermore, Super7 has hinted at, and has a penchant for going after interesting licenses.
They obviously have traction with some things like SilverHawks and even with Hasbro in general, so I am really looking forward to any and all possible new announcements this year. Past that, I could day dream for a solid week and still not name all of the things I would like to see under the ULTIMATES! banner. It just feels like certain properties make so much sense here. Thinking about Advanced and/or cartoon Dungeons and Dragons, Blackstar, friggin’ MEGA MAN, Thundarr, Bravestar, or even a more full-blown Frank Frazetta line? Like I said, I could go on and on all day long, but the possibilities are definitely out there. Sure, you just can’t go make everything, I get that, and there is a point of over-saturation, but man, I would love to see some of these. I am going to go think about Mega Man a lot now.
I might be getting a bit a head of myself with the wishlists, but I do believe that 2021 is going to be a great year for ULTIMATES! I am most certainly a fan, so seeing my Ninja Turtles come together is a blast, and FINALLY getting a comprehensive ThunderCats line is something I have been waiting on for as long as I can remember. I think they have hit their stride, and I look forward to the new pre-order reveals each month, but also for new items to find their way to my doorstep. It has been long road so far, but we are just getting started. Bring it, Super7, I am ready. Ready for ULTIMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATES!