The Matty Collector San Diego Comic Con Exclusives were revealed last week, and I really needed time to digest them. Many fans felt that last year’s assortment was not something to get excited about. Vykron, a Death 8″ figure, and Dana as Zuul just couldn’t cut it. The best reveal of the entire SDCC 2012 (considered by many) was the Monster High entry. 2013 needed to be better and back to the glory of years past. We needed a Lobo, a Giganta, an Orko with Prince Adam, or a Queen Marlena and Cringer. I heard the grumbles all week, but I cannot let them dampen my enthusiasm for this year. We haven’t seen EVERY entry, but as a Masters of the Universe fan, I couldn’t be happier, even with the apparent cosmetic changes by Design.
For Hot Wheels fans, their cups runners over this year. While we deal in action figures here for the most part, anyone dealing with per-ordering and SDCC will always know that the Hot Wheels entry, regardless of what it is, seems to sell out the fastest. This year Hot Wheels are getting themselves four new entries. Two of them are from the spaceships of Battlestar Galactica. For fans of the series, they will celebrate these pieces’ 35th anniversary with the ships in vac metal, die-cast parts and vintage packaging, but for me, they will be part of my “Space Mutiny” collection. When we get Leia with “Spider-Skank” articulation is anybody’s guess. Next, the 80s action series “the A-Team” joins the Hot Wheels family, as their van gets the toy treatment with die-cast parts, Real Rider wheels, and a muddy deco over the action panel van. Lastly, the 80s game of Asteroids will have representation in an interesting way: an old beach pickup. It contains specific tire and deco treatments near and dear to Hot Wheel fans’ hearts and packaged in an Asteroids arcade cabinet box. Even as a non-fan, I applaud the effort to make these pieces extremely special.
DC’s entries across the board probably fit the most desired mold: they are “special” but not essential. I suppose that’s preferred, but as a regular attendee and Matty Collector customer, I had zero issues getting what I wanted before, and I really wanted something to earn my purchase dollars. This year’s entries start with a nifty 60’s Barbie as Julie Newmar Catwoman, complete with the 60’s doll aesthetics: a nice and unexpected touch (though appropriate in hindsight). Action figure fans are treated to Batusi Batman, a defining moment of the campy 1960’s series. Adam West’s rendition of the Caped Crusader features double elbows and an internal mechanism to “perform the dance” from inside the 60’s TV set-inspired packaging courtesy of artist SHAG. This is easily a win for a fan of the series. He can do the dance in the creatively-designed box? This is hands down the best purchase based on sheer novelty since the Wonder Twins from a few years ago. I will say, though, I would have loved to see Mattel do injection molded joints on these figures, but a small wish on a great addition!
Last (and maybe least unfortunately) is the DC Infinite Earths entry: New 52 Shazam. It’s a good character to have if you are a DCU52 fan, But that was the checking OUT point for me. What baffles me is that they branded this figure as the DC IE entry, which is a line dedicated to getting classic and highly-desired characters in the vein of the old line. Fans thought maybe Granny Goodness, or Ocean Master, Teen Titans characters, or some new Legionnaires would be added. New 52 characters are not supposed to be in this collection. Maybe it was a branding issue, and they should have stated DC Unlimited, but it’s deflating to those fans who stick it out on DCIE in the hopes of getting these scant bonuses not attained in the subscription. This was either a missed opportunity or bad branding, but it does hurt this fan’s heart a bit, after the out-of-place Death fiasco last year.
Now we arrive at my most anticipated portion, the Masters of the Universe Classics entry, or should I say, entrieS. The Rock Warriors, Stonedar and Rokkon, represent the best Comic Con purchase: important entries, with a ton of tooling and display options thrown in. Much has been said already and read but I will sum up my feelings this way: they follow the 2013 year of MOTUC appropriately. There weren’t blatant screw ups, but more could have been done to make them better. Yes the leg and arm clasps aren’t in the right spot, but if they functioned the same way as intended, the bands would have still been missing when the rock pieces were removed, so the end-result would have been the same. Secondly, the arm and leg bands can be Weapons pack or pack-in candidates. Thirdly, the action feature works, and that is commendable, even with the larger rock pieces. It IS interesting to see that the slimmer pieces on the prototype made the rock form effortlessly, so I wonder why the larger sizes at all. The final plus for me is that the rock pieces are removable to give them a Filmation look, and that was an unexpected bonus for me!
The Four Horsemen really gave a good-faith effort, even at the expense of using Trap Jaw parts for the millionth time. Like Sorceress, though, I will grow to love them. My older brother owned Rokkon as a child, and when I showed him the set, he INSISTED I pick him up one, and that’s all the indication I need that Mattel and the Horsemen did right. At the end of the day I will say I love what they did, regardless of Design’s blatant interference, and they will look incredible on my display. And true to form I will purchase multiple sets for multiple display options.
Maybe Design considered all these things, but I would have approached this set differently. New legs and arms, if done right, could have been added to the tool bank and re-used for New Adventures characters, or at least unique to them, as a Comic Con exclusive. I would also have had the meteor parts plug into ports on those arm and leg bands, and had colored Stonedar’s helmet and body armor a more royal blue to match the cross sell art to both look darker blue than his skin tone and make him look more dissimilar to Rokkon’s lighter blue. Lastly, Granita should have been included to make it a three pack. Mattel was worried about a $100 set, and yet they see fit to give us a $60 set with budget cuts with another $20 Mini-Masters set? Their logic was not overburdening fans with disposable income who paid to fly out for a weekend in San Diego by giving them a long-desired member of the Rock Warriors Triumvirate? Note to Mattel: I would have happily coughed up the extra money
And speaking of the Mini-Masters, what a charming set this is! At long last, the Four Horsemen’s latest expression of Masters of the Universe sees the light of day at the door of Castle Grayskull in packaging that resembles the inaugural figure for the Classics line: King Grayskull. Is this a sign of things to come? Will this usher in a whole new line? Will we see vehicles or maybe even pieces to make the questionable size of Castle Grayskull just right for the Mini-Masters? Not getting ahead of ourselves, I love how they are using the game to market these guys– they are like little Skylanders. Even if it doesn’t take off, this is a fantastic set and a must-have for any Masters fan for themselves or their children. It will be on my desk at work, for sure.
Mattel, I feel, brought the selection back to its former luster, but I wanted to be able to say I will buy everything they’ll sell. Shazam seems misplaced or poorly branded, and I am sure Hot Wheels and Barbie will find good homes. If Batusi Batman and the Mini Masters are any indication, Frank Varela and the folks that do the packaging at Mattel show us how powerful an attractive presentation can influence a purchase to fence-sitters like me. Stonedar and Rokkon demonstrate to me that as a consumer, I need to tell Mattel they need not worry themselves with budget on a one-time collectible if the characters are important enough. Price should never be an issue if I can afford the trip to San Diego. The Thursday of that week it will be our birthday (my brother and I), and I feel I will be transforming Rock Warriors before the night is over.
SEE PHOTOS OF ALL THE 2013 MATTEL COMIC CON EXCLUSIVES BELOW