DC Universe Classics Wave 17 – a Response by Cliff Francis

After we posted about the much-discussed rumored line-up for DC Universe Classics wave 17, we received this response from Cliff Francis. While I don’t often agree with his point of view, I do often find myself amused with how he tries gets his point across. On this topic, I think he has some interesting ideas. So, give it a read and see what you think!

You can also find Cliff at Costume Contumely, his blog about “Comic Books, Action Figures, and More.”

No Pot Of Gold At The End Of Mattel’s Rainbow

Did you enjoy the DC Universe Classics 6” action figure line by Mattel and the Four Horsemen? Did it take the place in your heart as THE DC Comics action figure line of all time? Did you have fun tracking down new figures and anticipating ones to come? Well I hope you got a lot of satisfaction out of it because it’s over.

Done. Finished.

It comes to and end next spring when Mattel will ship wave 17.

You think I’m joking?

Then clearly you haven’t been paying attention to the recent (as yet unsubstantiated) leak of the character assortment for that wave.

The ‘Lantern Deputies’ wave is supposedly made up of:

Star Sapphire Wonder Woman, Blue Lantern Flash, Orange Lantern Lex Luthor, Indigo Tribe Atom, Sinestro Corps Scarecrow, Hal Jordan as a Black/White Lantern 50-50 variant, and an Anti-Monitor Collect and Connect figure.

At the LCS this week, some of us were discussing the negative reaction this leak has engendered on the message boards. Someone said, “I don’t see the big deal. It’s visually exciting variants of A-List characters from the most popular storyline in recent memory.” This imbecile was clearly an outlier. For the most part, fans are in lock-step with their anger over this wave. It’s not just us fuddy-duddy ‘classicists’ decrying it as ‘flavor of the month’- even the fans of Blackest Night are blasting the selection of the deputies over actual colored Lanterns like Warth or Larfleeze. Mattel has a problem.

This line will undoubtedly ship on-time and in abundance. Retailers will stock up on it, and there it will sit- steadfast on the shelves until finally being put on clearance next fall to make way for Christmas product. Meanwhile, the following waves will never make it into the clogged retail channel, further discouraging collectors from keeping up with the line while fickle retail chains will dismiss 6” DC figures as “unmovable.” End of line.

So why is Mattel making such a boneheaded move? There has been a lot of speculation, but most discussions boil down to three possible explanations:

  1. In 2011, Mattel is moving to a ‘themed wave’ strategy where each wave will support a cohesive theme. Green Lantern would seem a natural selection for a theme.
  2. With the avalanche of product coming in the first half of ’11 (wave 16, 17, 18, Legion 12-pack, GLC 1&2, and who knows what else) Mattel and the 4H simply can’t make toys fast enough. They need a wave with little to no new tooling to be able to “catch up” with the production process.
  3. This wave is scheduled to land just before the Green Lantern movie opens and DC/Mattel want to take full advantage of exploiting that media juggernaut.

None of these explanations hold water though. They’re akin to Slussh; mere skeletal remains held together by colored light.

“Cliff, you’re being unreasonable.” If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. I ‘expect too much’ from action figure toy lines. In the interest of responding to these criticisms of myself, I’d like to take a different tack with this editorial. Instead of flying into a rage over this issue, I will attempt to be… constructive. I will take each of Mattel’s three possible motives and show how they could approach it in a better way while still achieving what they want from this wave.

1) In 2011, Mattel is moving to a ‘themed wave’ strategy where each wave will support an integrated theme.

The relative merit or weakness of moving to themed waves is the subject for another time. But if Mattel is going that way, Green Lantern is certainly a valid choice for a wave theme. Many have called it redundant with the existence of the GL Classics waves, but GLC is limited to two waves and is seemingly focused on Corpsmen (of various colors). That leaves plenty of room for a themed DCUC wave to cover other classic characters from the Green Lantern family. How about this wave?

Parallax, Ganthet, Air Wave II, Tomar Re (a proper one with new head tool), Evil Star, Dr. Polaris, and C&C Goldface

An assortment of important characters from several eras of GL history that would have broad appeal to fans of different niches and would be very well-received by the collector community.

2) Mattel needs a ‘breather’ to catch up with a frenzied production schedule.

While I have a little trouble believing that the largest toy company in the history of the world would have fulfillment issues, let’s just take it on faith that it is the case. Here’s a selection that gives them the same A-List characters and still adheres to the requirement of no new tooling. The only difference being, these are versions fans would actually buy.

Instead of Blue Lantern Flash...

... Adult Kid Flash

It wouldn’t be any costlier to make, but they’d get a lot more bang for their buck with the collector community. It would appeal to Flash fans, Titans fans, fans concerned about scale and team completion issues…the breadth of the appeal here is infinitely greater than that of a BL Flash-in-the-pan.

Instead of Orange Lantern Luthor...

... President Luthor

Don’t give me that old saw about trying to market a ‘bald guy in a suit.’ A President Luthor figure would be the next Gentleman Ghost. And The Horsemen wouldn’t even have to touch this figure – it already exists in different parts within the line.

Instead of Indigo Atom...

... Damage

Why not build on the Atom legacy with a character that actually had a rich history in the DCU? Not to mention that modern JSA fans haven’t had much come their way in awhile.

Instead of Yellow Scarecrow...

... Catman

If you want to add a Batman villain that can be done without new tooling, Catman sure makes a lot more sense than a Lantern Scarecrow. Besides- he’s much more than a Batman villain these days. He’s got a vast following of his own, unlike Dr. Crane.

Instead of B/W Hal...
... Hal Jordan Spectre

A Jordan Spectre may not be that exciting of a choice, but is it any less exciting than a version of Hal that appeared in one or two panels? Answer: No. Mattel could even throw in a cheesy glow-in-the-dark variant, and it would still be an imporvement.

Instead of Star Sapphire Wonder Woman...
... Golden Age Wonder Woman (or Earth-2 Wonder Woman, or Bronze Age Wonder Woman, or...)

There are so many valid and important versions of Diana to be done, one hardly knows where to begin. Any of the above could be done with very minimal new parts.

3) Mattel wants to take advantage of the GL movie opening.

This explanation makes the least sense to me. If you want to leverage the GL movie, why not have a wave of characters THAT APPEAR IN THE FILM? What a great way to do comic designs for some characters that might otherwise be tough sell at retail?

Hal Jordan (modern costume), Guardian 2-pack, GL Sinestro (redone with new masked head and properly proportioned body), Salaak, Amanda Waller, Thomas Kalmaku w/Itty pack-in, and C&C Hector Hammond

The TRU exclusive Hal doesn’t cut it- a modern Jordan needs a new head and the proper symbol. GL Sinestro needs no explanation. And can you imagine the fan celebration at the announcement of an Amanda Waller figure?

If I do say so myself, these alternatives make a great deal of sense. So why is Mattel going the route that it is? What can be the real explanation behind the Rainbow Lantern wave? You’re not going to like it. But it’s staring us all in the face.

Mattel wants to kill off the 6” line.

It’s too expensive to produce and they’d much prefer to move their resources over to a rebooted 4” line. The evidence is all over the place. They’ve hinted at big announcements coming soon for DC Infinite Heroes, and some very interesting test shots were recently unearthed on eBay.

Using the Rainbow Brites to kill the 6” line gives Mattel the cover it needs to claim innocence. Can’t you hear it now? “There just wasn’t enough retail demand to continue the line…” Now I wonder why that is?



24 thoughts on “DC Universe Classics Wave 17 – a Response by Cliff Francis”

  1. This is hilarious. Really. The deputy wave isn’t a great idea because it’s set to come out from DC Directaround the same time, same characters, with better sculpts. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 4HM, but these DCD ficures are based off the comic likeness. But regardless of that reason, it will still do very well because it’s the main characters with new shiny costumes that actually make sense. And considering how many soccer Spiderman figures sold, it’s a safe bet these will too.

    But that’s not even the funny part. The real funny part is thinking that a wave including some of the lamest DC villains around would do better! Goldface may be passable if he was the only lame character in the wave, but to have him with Airwave? And Dr. Polaris? You might as well make a wave of nothing but Dr Midnights for all the peg clogging that wave would do.

    Likewise with the comic versions of movie characters. Is the logic here “it worked for Iron Man”? To have comic versions and movie versions out together? Because if that’s the logic, it suffers from the enormous flaw that people are buying cool variants on robot costumes as opposed to lame variants on a dude named “Pie-Face”, or a woman named Amanda Waller.

    As for the other wave suggested, for the most part, I could see that wave happening. Although President Lex just sounds lame to me, and Hal as Spectre, even DC hates to admit that happened. And I have that DC Direct version from a few years ago, you could too if you go to any comic shop anywhere and get it for 5 bucks on clearance, because apparently no one else wanted it.

  2. This article is dumb. Not that I’m excited for the rainbow lanterns, but to say that Mattel is using them to kill the line (in one wave no less) is… not bright. If they didn’t want to produce the action figures… why not just cancel production? Making a wave of famous characters from a very popular story line seems like a bad way to kill a successful toy line in my opinion.

  3. there’s so many reasons to tell Cliff is wrong about the kill off 6″ conspiracy that a don’t have the time to put it here.

  4. This is idiotic.
    First of all, not everyone buying DC Classics is 47 and only wants old versions of characters.
    Secondly, this wave will probably not clog shelves, because Moms rather buy a blue Flash than Iron or Mary Baston.
    Thirdly, as much as collectors complain… If these look cool (especially Anti Monitor) these will be bought by them too

  5. I agree with the others. Really dumb article and his choices for different waves are even worse than the deputies. Talk about clogging shelves.

  6. I want some drugs from where this guy gets them. I’m happy as can be about the Lantern wave(If it’s True).

  7. Isn’t this wave a supposed false leak anyway? Also, Cliff is always an interesting read, not always agreeable, but interesting nonetheless.

  8. I too disagree that Mattel /wants/ to kill off the 6″ line… certainly not so they can push the 3.75″ scale. Why? Because DCIH has been…. well, nothing short of a disaster. I remember seeing DCIH blazing the trail with 3.75″ scale superheroes, and Marvel Universe scrambling to catch up. Mattel botched DCIH with inferior toys, design and aesthetics, and now they have a mountain to overcome in resurrecting DCIH – with both consumers and the retail chains. To push THAT instead of the DCUC niche market they have cornered? Doesn’t make much business sense.

    However, I can see DCUC gradually winding down due to lack of big name characters. The recent waves have seen increasingly obscure characters, which of course is inevitable. Now personally, I would love to pick up some semi-obscurities like Dr. Polaris and Goldface, for instance, but the high price of DCUC doesn’t make it very palatable. I know a lot of DCUC buyers are increasingly cherry-picking through each wave, which only leads to decreased demand. In light of that, doing the Rainbow wave makes sense to me — even if I personally have no interest in it — but it does take advantage of the GL movie hype and a big comic crossover event…. a far better choice than truly, truly obscure and lame characters. Kite-Man, Turtle-Man, anyone?

  9. i think it’s pretty obvious that the author was being facetious about the whole kill the line part. that said, if they do release this wave as it is, it will fail. we do not need more repaints, and we especially dont need these heroes repainted as lanterns. this is an incredibly stupid idea.

  10. lol @ Glenn Beck!

    Cliff’s not a regular contributor here, but when he sent us his reaction to the rumored line-ups, we had to post it. 😀

  11. My main complaints have already been noted: we already have GLC line coming and DCD is releasing these same figures AT THE SAME TIME. I still hold out the hope that this is still some fanwank list and Mattel will reveal a totally different line-up.

    @Chris – I wouldn’t mind a Hippolyta WW, altho the modern JSA version who appeared when Diana was a goddess of truth or whatever, as opposed to the GA look.

    and Adult Kid Flash? To go with the original NTTT line up of Wonder Girl, Cyborg, Raven, Deathstroke, etc! (I’d also like a white/red CHANGELING REPAINT too!)

    oh, and put me down for that CnC Warth! He could *almost* share a head with CnC Moose.
    also: Parallax (Hal/Kyle @ 50/50), Catman, AIRWAVE, Hammond, Guardians 2pk, The Wall….
    (I already have that DCD Spectre Hal repaint, so… pass.)

  12. Funny some of the people on the Mattycollector Facebook took this one hook, line and sinker. And by that I mean the columnist of course. Then again reading Facebook with those freaks is pretty hilarious than any CBS sitcom.

  13. I’m all for a deputy Lantern line, and I think they are far from a line of repaints. Hal, Flash, and maybe Luthor (unless they went with some translucent orange plastic for the armor) would be the only repaints. Wonder Woman, Scarecrow, and the Atom would require some new sculpts. I would think these characters have a wider appeal and would sell more than some of the obscure figures already released. Hell, I STILL see Power Girl and Cyborg on pegs at almost every store.

  14. holy fanboy whine-fest. it’s dudes like this that make us all look like idiots to the outside world. nevermind the utter irrelevance of crying about a RUMORED wave of toys. christ. calm the eff down.

  15. I have never commented b4 but I am not in favor of the rumored line up. I do not agree with everything in this article or its methods but I would like more characters not incarnations at this time. Not that Mattel or any company would ever really care about what we think. I feel there are many characters who have yet to appear at all and should b4 the line does go away; not that mattel is trying to kill the line. I am so tired of repaints and excuses. I would like more Green Lanterns for example. GREEN LANTERN CORPS. Corps being the operative here. I had hoped to see GL’s in the GL line and there are how many in the 1st wave? yeah, that’s right. Green Man, Arisisa, Arkkis, Boodika, Chaselon, G’Nort, Galius Zed, Soranik Natu, Sodom Yat, Salaak, Ke’Haan just to name a few who I would love to own. That’s 2 waves w/ a female in each I think.

  16. See I do not believe this will be the end of the line, but I do agree that with the DC Direct Blackest Night line doing so well that this line up should wait. If anything it should be a Green Lantern wave 3 not DCU wave 17. Besides the point the one key figure is missing. There should be a Mera with a regular Green var. If Mattel need to have a line with little or no retooling there are others to be done. Some from the past to be rereleased. Here would be my pics if they needed an easy line up.

    Professor Zoom – Repainted Flash.
    Damage or a Modern Star man – Repainted to a Atom.
    Classic Ray – Repainted Commander Steel (Start the Freedom Fighters).
    Elongated man – Retooled head and basic body. Could use parts from Plasticman.
    Vixion – Retooled head and Donna Troy body.
    Scarecrow – a repaint of the Batman line release.
    Phantom Stanger – G-Ghost and Question.
    BAF Elastic-girl – Giganta a little retooling.
    There are many others that could be created using existing figures.
    These are just ones I have been waiting for.


  18. This article is exemplary of what happens when fan-boys get too close to a microphone.

    It’s nothing but speculation based on opinions; there’s no “there” there.

    For example, on what facts does he base the odd claim that “A President Luthor figure would be the next Gentleman Ghost”..??? (Frankly, I’d much rather have an Orange Lantern Luthor…but that’s MY opinion).

    Everything MATTELL does is based on a rational, business strategy, not one particular fan’s wish-list.

    And besides…We now know that STAR SAPPHIRE is NOT in Wave 17, she’s in Green Lantern Wave # 2, so there goes Cliff’s whole theory.

    DUMB article.

  19. perhaps be right, perhaps not, the only truth is that Mattel in the end will have done of a lot of money and will leave many collectors disappointed by his bad executive decisions

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