WWC: Mattel and DC Comics Presentation

With a bold presentation and obvious passion for the property, Mattel's Scott Neitlich took the Wizard World Chicago audience through a presentation for the upcoming DC Comics action figure line-up that included some convention exclusives and one world premiere.

The presentation began with the Signature Series 6-inch figures and an announcement that all lines to come will be focused on the collector market rather than the general audience. The new lines would have the quality and high detail -- plus high articulation --with a brand new vision to make the DC characters that collectors have clamoured about for years.

The new figures include Clayface; Catwoman with her cat Isis; Nightwing; Bruce Wayne- to-Batman, which comes as Bruce Wayne with a Batman head and chest piece that snaps over top; Laughing Gas Joker, with removable gas mask and gas apparatus; Black & Grey Batman; a Batman two-pack; and the Batman with Nightwing two-pack.

Exclusive to conventions this year is the Man-Bat, which includes "The best packaging ever done for this line," said Neitlich. With the clear version set up in the packaging, the red in the background gives the figure an eerie effect to look great on any collector's shelf.

Next up was the repeated announcement from San Diego Comic-Con that "The Batman" animated series would be continued with another season and with it will come new toys.

In the new series, Batman will be joining the Justice League, thus bringing the League into the new "The Batman" toy line. Figures will include Superman, with kryptonite decals; Hawkman; Green Lantern; Martian Manhunter; and others to come which will obviously take "The Batman" world to a whole new level.

Speaking of Justice League, "Justice League Unlimited" has some new figures on the way including a Target-exclusive Lava Reflection Doomsday; and the Joker as the Red Hood, with removable red hood. Also shown was the Toys 'R Us-exclusive Founding Members die-cast pack. Included with the figures, upon purchase, will be a pullout poster with all 78 figures in the line.

Neitlich wanted to make a point that Mattel and DC are listening to their fans and are trying their best to fulfill their needs and wants. They have lots of characters to make for 2008 and beyond and want the input of the fanbase and are investigating new ways to make that line of communication easier for both Mattel and the fans. Two of the characters to look forward to are Shazam and Blackhawk.

Along with the Justice League-themed figures on the way will be the Justice League for Kids line, as a means to introduce the age-old characters to newer and younger fans. The first wave will be Batman, Jon Stewart as Green Lantern, Superman, the Flash, Aquaman and Lex Luthor. The line will come in three sets that are the Basic Figure Set, the Deluxe Figure Set and the Hero Vehicle Set, which includes My First Batmobile, the Aquaman Sub, and the Batplane with disc launcher action.

With the announcements running rampant, what could a few more hurt? In 2008, Mattel will continue their focus on Collectors by introducing the DC Universe, a new line that will focus beyond Batman and Superman, on the other 3,000-plus characters that inhabit the DCU. The first run will include Hawkman, the Teen Titan's Cyborg and both the red and blue Supermen. With the new master license, excluded only to Vertigo characters and DC Direct, it opens the vault to allow Mattel to bring the characters that collectors want. And to that the audience had a very positive reaction.

To open the line will be the Fight Figures, two three-inch characters in action and fight poses. Only sold in two-pack sets, they will include Superman versus Darkseid, Batman versus Two Face, Two Face versus Robin, Batman versus Catwoman, Martian Manhunter versus Lex Luthor, and Flying Superman versus the Joker.

Next comes DC Universe Classic, a new 6-inch line sculpted by the famous Four Horsemen with chase figures and includes a build figure with each set. The first wave will include Classic Batman, the Penguin, Orion, and Etrigan the Demon. The build figure for this first set will be Metamorpho.

And yet another world premiere announcement was the line-up for the second wave, including Firestorm and a variant Firestorm chase character along with Aquaman and a variant chase Aquaman as well. Along with the wave comes Black Manta, Harley Quinn, Superman Blue and Superman Red (split fifty/fifty and not considered chase characters). The build figure for the second wave will be Gorilla Grodd, standing 25% bigger than the other figures.

With the announcement of the new master license comes the movie license that includes 2008's "The Dark Knight." The line will be sculpted by the Four Horsemen and will be five to six inches in size. There will be a total of six figures in the line.

"The Dark Knight" line concluded the presentation and then Neitlich opened the forum to questions from the small crowd. Most of the questions included fanfare about much needed female characters, which seemed to be dominated by their male counterparts in the presentation. The lack of Wonder Woman in any of the lines was responded to by a joke that the Invisible Jet was actually being displayed in the Mattel booth.

The most interesting questioning was on the subject of Mattel's new focus on collectors and distribution of their product. Some comic shop owners asked if Mattel was doing anything to help the small retailer to compete with the larger chains, such as Target and Wal-Mart. The discussion between the retailers in the audience became slightly heated and briefly took over the panel, but as they weren't standing in the line for questions, there was some outburst from the crowd.

Neitlich finished the panel saying he was a collector himself, and truly hopes that his fellow collectors can get all the toys they desire.

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