The Captain Action panel teased the comeback of a classic hero as Ed Catto hosted a panel dedicated to all the new developments for the Captain Action figure at Comic-Con International in San Diego on Thursday.
The pulp hero, around since 1966, recently revived for a new generation. Following a successful re-launch of collectable figures earlier this year, Captain Action has been thrust back into the spotlight.
As a result, industry professionals, many of whom grew up with the character, have flocked toward the character for the chance to contribute to the franchise, including Joe Jusko (artist), Steven Gordon (animator), Tom Tatarnowicz (producer), Nick Barrucci (Dynamite Comics), J.C. Vaugh (Overstreet Comics Book Price Guide), Mike Murphy (Round 2 Toys), Joe Ahearn (Captain Action) and Julius Marx (Action Figure Insider), who all attended the panel to share the latest developments for the vintage hero along with their personal memories of the toys.
“This is one of the toys that I really fondly remember from when I was a kid,” said Jusko, who recalls asking all of his family members for the figures as Christmas gifts. “I ended up getting a dozen Captain Action figures and the costumes to go with it.”
Today Jusko draws the box art for his childhood hero, fulfilling a life long dream.
“Every time there was a revival of this character I wished I could do something with it,” said Jusko. “When Ed told me and asked me if I could do box art for the toys, I said, ‘Yes.’ It was really something I was proud to be associated with.”
Coming in August, Round 2 Toys will release the second series of Captain Action figures, re-introducing the super spy to his arch-nemesis, Dr. Evil. The villain’s design has been updated for today’s audience while keeping elements of his original look.
“Primarily, the whole Dr. Evil motif was very relevant in the whole counter culture movement,” said Murphy. “The way he looked was very hippy. He had the sandals, the jacket, the giant medallion. We wanted to try to keep true to that, but also keep it relevant to today’s sensibility.”
Dr. Evil will be appearing with a Loki costume to battle with Captain Action’s Thor.
After series two, series three will feature Iron Man, Red Skull, and possibly Wolverine. The deluxe editions of series three will complete Captain Action’s Hawkeye costume, which collectors have been gathering piece-by-piece since series one.
Series three hits the shelves next spring, but that won’t mean Captain Action fans will be left out in the cold for Christmas.
“We weren’t quite ready for Iron Man and Red Skull, so we might have something special for the holiday season,” said Ed.
Round 2 Toys will release a special Cover Classics set of figures featuring a black and white “Arctic Explorer” design for Captain Action and alternate costumes for Thor and Captain America that pay homage to their earliest appearances. The Thor figure will sport a beard that harkens back to Walt Simonson’s run on the character and Captain America will come with golden age styled accessories. The set also comes with four postcards for each character.
Dr. Evil isn’t the only character in the works to join the Captain Action line. Plans are in the works to have the female super-heroes represented by Lady Action by the end of 2013.
Catto also alluded to a top-secret license for series four that wasn’t quite ready for announcement.
“We tried to get the contract signed in time for San Diego,” said Ed. “We think that the casual fans and long time fans will be just thrilled with this.”
Beyond toys, Captain Action will see a new comic book series from Dynamite Entertainment in 2013. Negotiations are underway with Eisner Award winning artist Francesco Francavilla to do a cover.
Book publisher Airship 27 will put Captain Action on the printed page with a pulp novel entitled “Riddle of the Glowing Men” by Jim Beard. Catto describes the story as “What if Ian Felmming wrote a Doc Savage novel staring Captain Action.”
Captain Action is also in the early stages of getting his very first animated series and animation producers Tom Tatranowicz and Steven Gordon brought a sneak peak to the panel showing the animated character design. The show will feature a Captain Action in adventures of intrigue as he works with other heroes from around the world.
“The trick on this is to figure out something that can pay homage to Captain Action’s history for today’s audience,” said Tataranowicz. “The interesting thing about this property is that there’s all this backstory. There’s so much to plunge into with a TV show.”
“This is the kind of childhood dream come true because I grew up playing with the Captain Action figures and learned to draw by posing them,” said Gordon.
Opening up the panel for Q&A, fans asked for the story behind the rumor of a costume set for The Rocketeer. Ed explained that they had done some data gathering, asking what characters fans would be interested, and some people jumped the gun a bit when looking at the results.
“Some of the retailers were so excited that they put it right on-line because they wanted to sell it right away.”
A fan asked about the animated series and how to reconcile the licensing issues with a character that depends on dressing up as other characters.
“We wouldn’t use any of the licensed characters in the animated series,” said “However, we’re looking a couple of things that might make it a little more synergistic.”
The differences between the standard and deluxe versions of the toys has been a source of confusion for some fans and Cato explained why Captain Action is offered in multiple packages.
“We try and offer fans a couple levels. We don’t want to bankrupt anybody,” said Cato. “That’s something we struggle with to be more clear.”
Cato also said that they are looking at non-comic licenses. “One of the ideas somebody had the other day, which I thought was brilliant, was what if we did Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.”
The audience was invited to visit Captain Action Facebook page to leave suggestions for what fans what to see.
The final question of the panel asked if the Red Skull figure will have a swastika in the design. In this case, authenticity lost out to content standards.
“We’re not big Nazi fans, so that’s one we’re going to be in-authentic on.”