Beware Gentle Giant’s Super Powers and Secret Wars
Nostalgia is a powerful drug. Now that almost all the kids that were collecting the likes of Kenner's Super Powers and Mattel's Secret Wars toys are closer to 40 then they are their pre-teen years, there's a built-in audience for revisiting these memorable action figure lines. What's more, these eternally young-at-heart fans now have disposable income, and can afford re-issues that are solely for collecting and not playing.
While you may initially scoff at the idea of paying around $100 for a jumbo-sized Secret Wars Wolverine or Super Powers Superman, it's hard to quiet the child inside when you see Gentle Giant's modern replicas in person. Not only are the figures captured from the original plans, but the packaging too is rendered almost exactly as it was all those years ago. The value of how cool it will look on your shelf immediately begins to tip the scales from how much just one of these figures will impact your wallet. These figures, as well as Gentle Giant's Star Wars and Batman: The Animated Series lines, toe the line at the intersection of comic art and nostalgia.
These 12" recreations aren't for everyone, obviously. Unlike some of Gentle Giant's more mainstream products, like its vast array of The Walking Dead statues (based on the TV show), these jumbo figures are targeting a very specific audience. Fortunately, even if you are a big fan of the older, less detailed and articulated figures from yesteryear, these large-scale pieces won't be the only way to celebrate your youth. Gentle Giant will also have a smaller line of collectibles in both series available for a significantly smaller financial investment. These mini-figures will be about the size of a Lego figure, and come complete in classic branded packaging, too.
Elsewhere, Gentle Giant had its standard assortment of Star Wars statues on display alongside more recent film incarnations of Marvel's memorable heroes. The nicest surprise in the statue department came in the form of new pieces based on the Marvel Baby Covers done by Skottie Young. Captain America, Thanos and Iron Man will kick off the line, with each pulled from a specific variant cover Young designed. Since the concepts were pulled from the comic art, Gentle Giant did have to consult a bit with Marvel and Young with regards to turnarounds for the pieces. Getting all 360 degrees of a piece to match is key, and from what we saw at SDCC this year, these Marvel Babies are probably going to be as hard to keep in stock as the covers themselves.
One piece at the booth stood out above the rest however. There was a massive Thanos on display that had been created solely with a 3D printer, including dyed materials to make it that much more authentic. This wasn't just a grey piece that Gentle Giant painted over to get it looking like the Mad Titan. The piece was actually a proof of concept, crafted in order to see both what a 100% 3D printed statue would look like, and to see how interested people would be in the idea.
While it lacks the polish and clean lines of a professionally sculpted and painted statue, the idea of picking a character, printing it and having it within a matter of days versus months or a year later is slightly enticing. The Thanos didn't look bad at all, but compared to the rest of the collection of statues in the cabinet, it was easy to spot that this wasn't quite up to the same standard aesthetically. Though 3D printing isn't quite at the point where it's a viable business model just yet, within the next few years, the technology and price points might make such a venture that much more attractive not just to Gentle Giant, but to consumers as well.