Standing Room Only at DC Direct!

Earlier this week, blocks away from the gigantic New York's Toy Fair, a whole other form of media blitz was happening. The DC Direct Showroom was utterly packed with press. Camera crews, reporters and industry heavyweights were pushing and shoving, in an attempt to check out their latest offerings, and CBR News was there.

After checking out some of the jaw-droppingly great stuff they had decorating the walls, I met up with DC Direct's Senior Art Director, Jim Fletcher. He took me through the exciting collectibles his company will be offering this year.

Little Toys, Big Cliché Pun

First up was the ever-amusing MiniMates line. Later this month, DC Direct and Art Asylum will treat fans to micro versions of our favorite heroes and villains. Classics like Green Lantern and Wonder Woman will clash with Bane and Cyborg Superman. But the real joy for dedicated DC fans will be the more obscure icons. How obscure you ask? How do Booster Gold and Blue Beetle MiniMates sound? Steel, Wildcat and Golden Age Flash will each be immortalized in a MiniMate figure. Even Classic Batgirl is rolling into the MiniMate scene.

Plus there's The Penguin, Killer Croc, Martian Manhunter, Power Girl, Braniac and tons more to look forward to. With so many MiniMates in the works, hardcore collectors will have their work cut out for them. Fortunately, you can cut your spending in half as MiniMates ship in handy two-packs.

Through the Looking Glass

As one of the coolest ideas in comic book history, DC is extending its toy line to include all new figures from the beloved Elseworlds series. People who were impressed with Red Son Commie Superman and Anarchist Batman (the coolest thing ever) will scream for this year's additions. First off, the Red Son fun continues with the true American hero Hal Jordan. His impeccably detailed flight suit looks like he came ripping straight out of the Elseworld pages. He's even comes equipped with the mighty Green Lantern! Make sure you grab your Red Son GL next month!

In June, we've got Kingdom Come: Blue Beetle. Decked out in full battle armor, the Beetle has never looked so formidable. It's easily the most eye-catching piece of the Series 4 figures and sure to become a fast favorite.

And while we'll probably never see the bawdy beer-guzzling Anarchist Batman again, we've always got a close second in the JSA Liberty Files Batman. This hulking beast is impeccably designed down to his goggles and faded leather utility belt. A much more down-to-earth costume design makes him a must-have for Batmaniacs. Batman doesn't march off to battle alone in this alternate reality. Liberty Files: The Flash is right beside him, complete with his snazzy aerodynamic helmet. These 6.75-inch figures look ready to practically sprint right off their bases. Look for them in late July.

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Because You're Tired of Clark Kent's Plastic Face

You have been reading your new issue of "52" each and every week, right? Well rejoice, oh ye of excessive disposable income, DC Direct has more treasures for you. According to Fletcher, a few waves of special figures are getting ready to ship to coincide with this ongoing series. Just like the books, you won't just be seeing the usual suspects. Booster Gold, Animal Man and Supernova are all getting the plastic treatment in these fine collectibles. Each of them stands taller than your average toy at nearly 7-inches. Most importantly, Booster Gold comes in his "classic edition" costume with a special bonus: his right hand robot, Skeets! DC Direct is using an innovative technique of working side-by-side with the editorial team to bring you all your favorite heroes right while the series is still hot on the presses. Now that's service! Keep an open eye in May for 52: Series 1 toys.

Modern Classics in Sculpture Form

As Fletcher guided me through the frenzied onlookers, we stopped at a wall dedicated to some magnificent pieces. "As you can see," he said, "we're extending our Vertigo line." Excellent. The eight billion Batman and Superman collectibles are spectacular, but Vertigo is where the dark and glorious unknowns really get to shine.

Spinning on his rotating platform is everyone's favorite brooding immortal: a brand new "Dream" statue designed by Mark Buckingham and sculpted by Jim Maddox. It commemorates the new Sandman Absolute book. Any of you Gaiman junkies out there had better get your mitts on this quick! When the Sandman comes to shops in September it probably won't be there long.

In June, collectors can satisfy all their grown-up Fairy Tale needs. Straight from the pages of the breakout success, "Fables," comes a breathtaking statue of Snow White and Bigby Wolf. Approximately 10.5 inches high, this next Buckingham/Maddox creation should become the centerpiece of your entire collection.

Finally, there's Charles Vess's Stardust: Moon Star statue. This lovingly hand-painted cold-cast porcelain sculpture measures approximately 7.5" tall x 10.5" wide x 7" deep. It's an absolute work of art in every sense of the word. When it becomes available in July, you'd better grab yours quick. It was among the products receiving the most camera-attention from the assembled press.

The Death, Return and Mullet of Superman

Who remembers the day Superman died? Remember when that craggy Doomsday dude came out of nowhere, crushed a bird and then proceeded to pummel the crap out of Superman for 168 pages? Then a few months later Supes came back from doggy heaven with a new haircut and America was forced to endure a live-action Steel movie, remember? Oh and Doomsday wasn't dead either. What's become one of the biggest parts of the Superman Saga gets the action figure treatment as well in two ways.

First, you can buy the Superman vs. Doomsday Collectors Set. You'll get both the classic 6.5-inch Superman action figure and the 7-inch Doomsday figure, complete with a copy of the entire "The Death of Superman" Trade Paperback! For fans of this series, this really is a going to be a very nice set for fans. With 21 points of articulation and expert attention to detail, you'll really be getting your money's worth. You can pick this set up in late August.

Next, to coincide with the upcoming Direct-to-DVD animated movie "Superman: Doomsday," Fletcher also showed me the more "cartoon-y" interpretations of Doomsday and Superman. Inspired by the artwork of the legendary Bruce Timm, you can really see the detail in these toys. They have multiple points of articulation and stand proud on their bases. And if you absolutely must have some hot Clark Kent mullet action, there will also be a Solar Suit Superman. Check for these in October.

Hooray Anime!

Depending on your opinion of that "Anime-look" you'll either be excited or repulsed by this next line. Fletcher proudly showed me the new Ame-Comi Super Heroine figures, a collection of statues of Supergirl, Batgirl, Catwoman and Power Girl all rendered in that distinct anime style.

Fletcher was clearly quite proud of this exciting new series, which he had a huge hand in creating. "It gives the fans a new way to see these characters." He hopes it will be a huge hit, and judging from the popularity of Anime in America, he needn't worry.

Hands Off, You Bastiches!

Get out of the fragging way because Lobo's getting his very own section. As a tongue-in-cheek parody of everything that was wrong with "to-the-extreme" Wolverine, this foul-mouthed space badass really took off when first introduced. Over his career he's become an absolute cult favorite and now DC Direct has a "Re Activated" and absolutely awesome action figure. Complete with an actual metal chain wrapped around his wrists, you can take home everyone's favorite bastich bounty hunter.

Now I just need a Tommy "Hitman" Monaghan, to reenact Lobo's finest moment.

Unlimited Options

At some point, Fletcher and the rest of the guys at DC Direct must have sat down and asked themselves "Just how many versions of Batman do we actually need?" Apparently the answer is still "infinity," but now they've also decided to expand their scope. DC Direct's new DC Unlimited line allows them to expand beyond the world of comics and focus on other realms of pop culture.

WoW, Cool Toys!

First up is "World of Warcraft." For those not in the know, DC Unlimited has begun producing incredibly detailed figures based on this unstoppable gaming phenomenon. As a huge fan of the game, Fletcher was really excited about this development:

"Working with Warcraft is great! We're able to push the sculptures a bit further than just men in spandex. The designers are really digging the product."

The enthusiasm of the sculptors certainly shows. These PVC vinyl figures come in a variety of sizes, but each of them is like holding an incredibly high-resolution piece of the game in your hand. Fully articulated and decked out with weaponry and armor, you can pose these 5-8-inch figures to re-construct your favorite online battles. The first collectibles out of the gate will feature an Orc Shaman, a Blood Elf Rogue, an Undead Warlock and a Dwarf Warrior. Rest assured, these are among the most painstakingly detailed and imaginative figures ever crafted. Be on the lookout for them in October.

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Next we've got "Afro Samurai." Based on the hit Spike TV animated series (or the original manga, if you need to be official about it), these figures tie ancient samurai action and hip-hop culture into one interesting series. DC Unlimited has jumped on this show's popularity and is producing a line of high quality figures from the series. The first wave will include figures of Afro Samurai, Ninja Ninja and the venomous Kuma and Justice. But that's not all, in addition to these poseable 6.75-inch and 14-inch action figures, you should also be on the lookout for Afro Samurai resin busts and statues. Jump kicking their way into your local comic shop in October, fans of the series won't want to miss these eye-catching collectibles.

There was much, much more that we'll be seeing in the next few months. DC Direct is launching a new line of Shazaam action figures, a new Alex Ross designed Batman Black & White and an assortment of other "Infinite Crisis" figures. Plus you can look forward to a deluxe realistically proportioned Catwoman 1:6 scale collector figure with accessories and a detailed fabric costume. Then there's Armored Batman, Scarecrow, Martian Manhunter and about a truckload of other cool stuff.

All in all, it was a great day at the DC Direct show room. 2007 is going to be a spectacular year for collectors of all ages. A special thanks to DC Direct's Jim Fletcher for showing me around.

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