As has been their tradition for the last few year, Hasbro kicked off NYCC 2015 with their ‘Twas the Night Before… Party, revealing new items from their action figure brands. We took a look at their Marvel and Star Wars lines, with a focus on their 6-inch figures in Marvel Legends and the Black Series from Star Wars. And we got to chat with our long-time friend, Jesse Falcon, from the Marvel licensing team.
Let’s start with Star Wars. The Hasbro reveals at the party were from upcoming waves for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been trying to stay away from as much Star Wars “news” as I can leading up to the new movie this December. So pardon me for saying that I have no idea who many of these characters are. Of course, I know Rey, Captain Phasma, and the suitably old-looking Han Solo, but as for the rest, you probably know more than me.
I think it’s a shot in the arm for the Star Wars brand that a new movie is coming out. We’ve always talked about Star Wars as an evergreen brand that will go on forever, but I think that even this juggernaut has started to experience some fatigue at retail. Certainly, the revelation that the 3.75-inch line was going to be a Walmart exclusive is evidence of this. I hope the 6-inch line is continuing to sell through well, and I think with the movie coming out that it will.
Speaking of 3.75-inch figures, Marvel Infinite Series (formerly Marvel Universe) will be getting another rebranding in 2016… to Marvel Legends. Hasbro showed off Iron Man, Ulik, Yondu, Triton, Captain Marvel, and Spider-Man Noir with the new branding.
While I think this capitalizes on the existing Legends brand and further cements the 6-inch line as a mainstay, this can only lead to confusion as diligent information hunters scour the retail systems for upcoming Marvel Legends waves. I’ve had some concern after some personnel changes at Hasbro that the 3.75-inch line would continue to lose steam. Since it’s had a relatively long life at retail, that’s not a surprise, but it’s nice to see some new figures in the pipeline.
I am at the point that I am cherry-picking, but very infrequently, since 6-inch Legends has had such a fine resurgence in recent years. And I think Hasbro has diverted more of its focus to 6-inch, and the smaller figures have lost some points of articulation and deco as a result.
Marvel Legends, in contrast, is holding steady as the flagship line for Marvel. On display at the show were Scourge (D-Man), Whirlwind, Taskmaster, Rogue, Agent 13 Sharon Carter, Mockingbird, Cottonmouth from the Serpent Society, and the Red Skull Onslaught Build-a-Figure. If you are wondering which of these things is not like the others (the others being related to Captain America / Avengers), surprise – it’s Rogue!
Hasbro wanted to set the record straight after San Diego, after they had said they weren’t doing a Red Skull alternate head for Onslaught. Jesse Falcon added his perspective tonight; it isn’t that Hasbro isn’t making X-Men (or Fantastic Four) figures – they just didn’t want to mix brands by including an X-Men accessory in a Cap-themed wave. Rogue, and the alternate Onslaught head, will be part of a separate wave of figures.
What else is to come? Jesse was mum, but he did emphatically declare that the Build-a-Figure from the next wave will make us sh*t our pants. I always take such proclamations with a grain of salt, but he repeated it several times. While in his role on the licensing side, he is not as involved in the actual development of each figure as he was back in the Toy Biz days, he still gets to provide input to the Marvel brand team at Hasbro (and the other brand teams, too, but we won’t go into that).
Jesse would really like the BAFs to follow the Hulkbuster model, with big, impressive figures that just can’t be single-carded. For example, he’d like to stay away from the ones like the recent Hobgoblin. He’s also soliciting input on what big BAFs Hasbro could tackle in future lines. So comment away!
The reveals tonight were mostly from the Marvel Comics universe (Taskmaster is based on his appearance in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon), so I was curious if we’d start to see figures from Agents of SHIELD and the Netflix series, with Daredevil being a smash hit and Jessica Jones premiering soon. Jesse talked about the popularity of the shows and how they more closely aligned to the experience with serial comic books, but also talked about some of the challenges dealing with multiple licensing partners when trying to develop toys for the shows. My take was that with the popularity of the shows, there’s definitely interest, but it will take some more effort and time to get something to market.
There was plenty of other items on display, but I’m sorry to say I was occupied catching up with old friends. So, sorry, Transformers fans – but we should have reveals from Hasbro pretty soon. G.I. JOE was MIA as expected for the most part, aside from one display on a table featuring sketches of four new characters. The Hasbro team wasn’t revealing anything more about them at this time.
And the Playmation team was on hand, recruiting new Avengers. I was put on the spot to produce my Avengers code name, but my super power is pretty accurate.
All in all, another fun event put on by Hasbro and their PR team at Hunter PR. We’ll have the official reveals from Hasbro soon, and more as NYCC begins tomorrow. Excelsior!