Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, fans packed the room to hear the latest news on Marvel Comics’ collaboration with toy manufacturer Hasbro and get first looks at plenty of eagerly anticipated upcoming releases. On the panel were Adam Biehl (VP, Global Marvel Line at Hasbro), Jesse Falcon (Marvel Director of Merchandising), Dwight Stall, (Hasbro Senior Marvel Product Design Manager), Bobby Vala (Hasbro Marvel Product Designer), and Laura Guilbault (Hasbro Sr. Mgr., Global Brand Strategy & Marketing).
Pointing to Marvel’s upcoming 75th anniversary, Guilbault revealed a sneak peak at a joint venture between Hasbro and Marvel to commemorate the event. “We partnered with a great team over at Marvel to introduce some amazing new variant covers which will be launching in October, which feature some of our action figures in the poses of the classic books,” she said.
Stall announced that the Avengers Wave One line would include Machine Man, and thanked Falcon for that figure coming out. Joining him will be Captain Marvel and Odin, the Allfather, which drew audience cheers. “This is another one that was a long time in the coming,” Stall said. “We had Odin on our list, for like two or three years, to try and get this because it was a big vacant spot for this character.” He said that because they were unable to make the figure sooner, it actually worked out better. The line will feature build-a-character pieces to convert Odin into King Thor, recently seen in “Thor: God of Thunder.”
When Stall announced Spider-Woman, the crowd lit up with applause. “We’re doing something a little different here. A couple of you guys have commented about Black Bolt’s wings, and mentioned the first version, which had fabric wings. We told you we’ve been trying to figure out for a really long time how you make these really odd but cool costume details work for these types of figures,” Stall said. “What we’re doing for Jessica is her wings are removable, and she comes with a set of folded wings and open wings, so you can pose her however you want on your shelf.”
The next reveal was Hellcat, which garnered even more applause than Spider-Woman’s wings. “This is another one that we had on our list since, I think 2006,” said Stall. “I remember back to 2006 pitching this and thinking that we wouldn’t get it made because of the name. I just remember when they were making the first ‘Hellboy’ movie that a lot of retailers were [dismayed] over ‘hell’ in the title,” suggesting that perhaps the Dark Horse character paved the way for Patsy Walker. “I think I pitched her as ‘Pretty Yellow Cat-Woman’ too,” Stall joked.
The final character in that wave was revealed to be the build-a-figure of Thanos, the Mad Titan, greeted to many cheers from the crowd, with several even yelling their approval. “This is from his more recent comic look from the ‘Infinity’ arc that was huge this last year.” Guilbault also announced Alex Maleev was providing art for the custom packaging of the Avengers Legends line, and showed a sneak peak at his work.
The crowd was audibly worked up as Stall turned the discussion so some of the previously overlooked overlooked characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “We talked about the focus on the movies, how we have ‘Avengers 2’ coming up, but I think there were a couple of team members from the first film that didn’t quite make it.” With that, he showed pictures of both the Sam Jackson version of Nick Fury, as well as Agent Phil Coulson (featuring alternate head with sunglasses), the latter being a huge hit with the crowd and receiving the loudest cheers of the panel. “Phil also comes with the alien blaster [from ‘The Avengers’] that he didn’t know what it did.” Adding to that wave were a few Spider-Man related figures: Spider-Man 2099, Spider-Girl and the Hobgoblin. More Spider-Man figures were promised, but that was all that could be announced during Comic-Con.
Stall then thanked the fans for the support of the long-running Legends line. “We’ve had a bit of a change this year, with themes — we had the Captain America wave, the Spider-Man wave — and they kind of build off what’s happening theatrically. And it’s worked out rather well for us, specifically with Guardians [of the Galaxy], because Guardians was an unknown property to a lot of the retail chains,” Stall said. “We had incredible success with Amazon, the pre-sale for Guardians was incredible. And one note I walked away with was that the one character that sold the best was Nova, which was a big surprise to everybody because he’s not in the movie! I said ‘Yeah, but it’s a Legends wave.’ And people that buy Legends are going to want that. We’re already talking about doing a second wave of Guardians, because it just performed so well.”
Guilbault then turned the stage over to Bobby Vala. “Now that we got Legends out of the way,” as an audible grumble was heard from Stall, Vala continued, “time for what you really came for, some three quarter-inch love!”
Stalll joked, “You disappoint me every day.”
“I’m sure you all have been down to the booth and seen Wave One of 2015, and I always check in the morning to see what people are asking for, and these are the top three on the list,” Vala said. “We have Black Cat, and ’90s X[-Man] Bishop, and a Big Time Spidey.” The rest of Wave One one features someone at the top of many lists. “[It was] literally everyone’s number one choice, some Jim Lee Beast. And Sandman, as we get close to completing our Sinister Six. And — we’ve got the classic gray version of Beast, and an ‘all-sand’ Sandman.” When the finale was met with silence, Vala said “What, no applause?”
“They’re ‘Legends’ people,” Stall joked, as the crowd laughed and finally offered belated applause for the announcements.
“I’ll turn them yet,” Vala continued. “And now, Wave Two, you gotta have some Eric Masterson, some Thunderstrike. Leather over spandex, typical ’90s character. Now, bringing in some more Sinister Six figures, you guys had been asking for a classic Doc Ock. And a figure you guys have seen but didn’t get released, and now we’re putting it back out there, is the Juggernaut version of Colossus. Also in wave two, you got some ’90s love, armored Daredevil. And then finalizing our Sinister Six, we have Vulture, and the lovely Shanna.
“You’ve all been asking for him,” Vala said as a picture of Alpha Flight and X-Man Northstar went up on the big screen, “we’re gonna make sure you get your Northstar.” The announcement was again met with applause.
Stall took over again to deliver some more Marvel Legends news, as Vala quietly booed in the background. “Like Jesse said, we want to do another line of Guardians, but there are some classic versions of characters that haven’t been touched on yet, so we are going to bring to you this wonderful five pack: Star-Lord, Groot, Rocket, Drax and Gamora in their classic look.”
“There are a few more things to look for. I’m not gonna tell you why, I’m not gonna tell you how, I’m not gonna tell you when. But a few things to look for, like Majik,” Stall said as the screen showed a classic version of the New Mutant. “And, a character you’ve never ever, never ever had an action figure of… ” he trailed off as Dormammu in his classic look appeared on the screen. “Now, Legends is done.”
Guilbault closed the panel by mentioning the winners of the Twitter vote contest Marvel recently did: Modern Gamora and Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), which will be released in 2015 and 2016.