I used to make New Year's
resolutions. You know the type - eat right, work out more, be more
patient with the idiots of the world. But I never did a very good
job of keeping them, and decided that I was better off making
resolutions for other people. It was a no lose situation, as long
as you don't mind having very few friends.
This year I've decided to point the
bright beam of my resolution proposition machine on the toy
companies. They're big, they're tough, and they can handle it,
unlike Uncle Lou who didn't appreciate my suggestion that he resolve not
to eat like a pig every time he waddle up to the table in 1998.
Sensitivity seems to run in my family. I don't go to a lot of family
reunions any more.
So here's my suggestions for the top
companies in 2002.
McFarlane Toys - McToys is doing
an awful lot right these days, at least to the casual observer.
They have a ton of fans of their core product, and they seem to have the
ears of the entertainment industry. So what could they improve on?
My suggestion is pretty simple - get
back to the basics. While recent licenses like Shrek might make
them appear to be doing well, I think it would be a mistake to get into
that business too much. Todd made the company on cool toys based
on his own ideas. Stick with that. The new monsters series
is a good example, but I'd like to see more of that and less licensed
product in 2002.
Sideshow Toy - Switching to
specialty shop sales and limited editions seems to be working for
Sideshow, and they've certainly managed to produce plenty of cool and
unique figures this year. In 2002, their resolution is pretty
straight forward - make the James Bond series the finest they possibly
Tons of fans are looking forward to this
release, and unlike Reservoir Dogs, the press won't just treat it as an
oddity to report. This should get the media's attention because
it's such a classic license, and if Sideshow can put a lot of effort and
time into getting it right, they could make a major break through in
2002. This is your big opportunity, so realize how crucial it is
and give it all the attention you possibly can. If necessary,
consider it a loss leader, a chance to become one of the big names and
open new doors.
Toybiz - The Lord of the Rings
license is going to carry Toybiz through the next couple years. I
can't see them having the resources to do much else major, considering
that the Spiderman movie has to be eating up a big chunk.
I'd like to see Toybiz improve their
12" offerings. Both the Spidey and LOTR line could do well
with sixth scale figures, if they were better than what we've been given
so far. The LOTR aren't as awful as some think, but they head
sculpts need work. And the previous 12" superheroes that
Toybiz has produced have been simply awful.
Resolve to work in your sixth scale
offerings in 2002, when you have two terrific licenses to showcase them.
Playmates - Right now, Playmates
only big line in the action figure world is the Simpsons. I'm sure
we'll see some other licenses announced at Toy Fair, but if they are as
bad as Tomb Raider was, I think that if it isn't yellow, most folks
won't be buying.
Rather than focus on your shortcomings
in 2002, focus on your strengths and exploit them. 2002 can be the
big year for the Simpsons line, or it could be the beginning of the
end. Resolve not to let 2001 be the peak for this series, and be
careful with your releases. Let's see the characters that fans are
clamoring for, and avoid the over use of exclusives, particularly those
that are impossible to get.
Mezco - Mez is kind of the new
kid on the block, although he's been involved in this gig for several
years now. Mezco has proven they can get great sculpting, imploy
great articulation, and do great figure design. Now let's think
Popeye or Nemo aren't going to be the
kind of big sellers you need, and while Reservoir Dogs got a lot of
press, it was mostly because of the sheer oddity of action figures from
a movie like that. Your Dick Tracy should sell well this year, and
I am happy to see you going toward the 9" size.
What you need is a really cool license
in 2002. And I even have a suggestion for you. I tried to
get Flattt World to do this one, and I had this idea long before McToys
did the Tortured Souls.
Talk to Stephen King. Get in touch
with his agent. Do a line of figures based on his interpretations
of his greatest monsters. There's plenty to do, and the fan base
is HUGE. You'd get tons of media, and mainstream people that
normally don't buy action figures would be interested. Think about
it. My bill is in the mail.
Art Asylum - Art Asylum is like
Sideshow in 2002. They have the opportunity to capitalize on a
major license. Their resolution must be to do just that - take the
Star Trek license and use it to take their company to the next level.
To do that though, they'll have to
resolve not to lose focus. Doing the Star Trek license isn't like doing
a couple of figures for one license and moving on to the next cool
thing. They will need to be consistent, focused, and willing to
work through the boring aspects of managing a line and license the size
of Star Trek. Very few companies can do it, and if Art Asylum is
successful, they'll take themselves to whole new heights. If they
fail, they'll go back to being a chop shop for other companies.
Playing Mantis - 2002 could be
the year for Playing Mantis to make their big splash back into action
figures. Coming off the great success of the Rudolph toys these
last two Christmas's, we should see great things with the Peanuts
line. Lots of folks are looking forward to them, but PM needs to
resolve to produce the best quality, with excellent accessories, for $6
or under. Follow the lead you've already set with the Rudolph toys
and you'll be tremendously successful.
2002 proves to be an interesting year
all around. I have to say I'm looking forward to news from Toy
Fair this year, and hope to see some very exciting licenses and figures
announced from companies like Mezco, Playing Mantis, Palisades and
Sideshow. We should get to see the first look at the Peanuts line,
the Muppets, the new Star Trek from Art Asylum, and Bond from
Sideshow. I can't wait to see what the prototypes look like, and I
think 2002 will be a very good year for collectors.
So that's my top resolutions for these
top companies. Do you have any suggestions? Let me know
your thoughts by email!