The great thing about Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites is the ability for creators to fill a void with a product or project they're incredibly passionate about. More and more, we're seeing niche action figure and collectible creators turn to this method to get their ideas out there. It's a hard road to commercial success at retail, but if you can reach out directly to your audience, there's a chance you'll make some headway towards bigger things and wider availability.
Seeing a hole in the action figure market for not just female characters, but female characters more representative of real women, IAmElemental campaigned to bring such a series to life. After a successful round of crowdfunding in 2014, the company released its first line-up, Courage, this year. We caught up with Julie Kerwin, chief elemental officer at IamElemental, at New York Comic Con to talk about the line, where it's headed, and whether or not it can succeed in a crowded market.
Developed by Kabam, mobile game Contest of Champions follows a galactic tournament where everyone from Marvel's vast catalog is duking it out for bragging rights. The game has proven to be so successful that a new comic series spinning out of Secret Wars takes place within that universe, from Al Ewing and Paco Medina.
Along with that new series comes an entirely new character, Guillotine. Making her debut both in-game and in the pages of the monthly Contest of Champions book, Guillotine is one of the first entirely new characters from a Marvel video game to make the leap to the page. While at New York Comic Con, we talked with Contest of Champions' art director Gabriel Frizzera about the game, creating a new character for Marvel, and the advantages of working in Marvel's mobile space.
I have a problem. That problem is my addiction to the Star Wars Card Trader app. Not once in my life did I ever expect to fall down such a deep rabbit hole for virtual trading cards I'd collect on my phone, but I also never thought Back to the Future II was capable of actually predicting (potential) World Series winners. These things happen. I freely admit that this all started when Topps sponsored some of our video content last month. Those little advertisements worked as Topps intended, and they got me to try out the app out of sheer curiosity. It's been a bad year to try and convince me not to buy something with the words "star" and "wars" on them. I've got a stack of comics and novels I'm still working through, and a lot of toys on order, much to the chagrin of my shelves.
When I saw that Topps was going to be at New York Comic Con, I immediately knew I needed to head to that booth. There was bound to be some sort of cool exclusive cards, which there were, and I needed to make sure I could get them. While I was there, I figured I might as well attempt to make it look like I was working, so I also chatted up Ian Hundiak, app producer for all of Topps Digital, and Matthew Petz, one of the designers for the Star Wars Card Trader (also a 2015 Eisner nominee for his work on Top Shelf's The Leg) about the app, its success, and what to expect for the rest of 2015.
Have you longed for the day when Frank Frazetta's artwork would do more than live on the page? Does your sixth-scale collection lack the imposing threat of the Death Dealer? Friends, I have news for you that you may find welcome. Not only is Frank Frazetta's iconic executioner being remade as figures and statues, but so are a few other Frazetta classics from companies like Go Hero and ARH. What's more, they won't be alone. Plenty of comic characters that haven't gotten quite the same attention as Marvel's and DC's big guns will soon be able to stand side-by-side with Hot Toys' and Sideshow Collectibles' interpretations.
You might recall Go Hero's name from a few months back. It's the company that helped Das Toyz bring the first Stan Lee sixth-scale figure to market (a new one is in development at Hot Toys now too because... reasons?). Though I'd never heard of Go Hero before, the company's showing at NYCC made me wish I had. The big name characters at larger publishers (particularly those with movies) tend to get the sixth-scale treatment from companies, but Go Hero's focus is on those that normally don't get a moment in the sun. Death Dealer probably hasn't seen a ray of light beyond a handful of collectibles over the years, but he'll have a figure from Go Hero soon enough.
There have been Star Wars toys on the shelves at retailers consistently since the mid-1990s. With the re-releases of the classic trilogy and the actual releases of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars has managed to not only stay hot for collectors, but thrive at retail in ways many other toy lines that started in the 1970s could only dream of matching.
This year is a big year for Star Wars movies, in case you hadn't heard. That also means it's a big year for Star Wars collectibles. It's such a big deal in fact, that an entire day, Force Friday, was built around the new toy releases themed around the upcoming sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
With figures from the upcoming film in high demand, it's a wonder the team working on Star Wars at Hasbro has any free time at all. Fortunately, we caught up with Hasbro's Star Wars team after getting a look at some of the new Star Wars Black Series collectibles coming later this year.
Since Hasbro took over the Marvel action figure license a few years ago, the Legends line has been home to a fairly diverse cast of characters from the classic Marvel Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That trend looks to continue heading into the new year, where Hasbro already has its plans in motion for the early part of the year, including the Captain America: Civil War wave, and the first wave of the newly christened 3.75" Marvel Legends.
During New York Comic Con, we were given an early look at some of Hasbro's plans for the Marvel Legends line for the upcoming year. Both the 6" and 3.75" lines will fall under the Legends banner moving forward, with new characters and some familiar faces filling out the rosters on both sides. After seeing everything that was on display, we had a chance to chat with some of Hasbro's Marvel Legends leads, Dwight Stall, senior Marvel product design manager, Mike Breslin, senior director, brand strategy and marketing, and Tony Colella, senior model artist, about Legends and its future.
When it comes to the import figure scene, few companies are as prominent as Good Smile. The company's Figma and Nendoroid lines are perennial favorites, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone that's owned at least one figure from either line. Though the new showings at New York Comic Con were limited, what Good Smile did have on hand hinted at a very strong 2016 for the Figma and Nendoroid lines.
Gaming figures had the largest impact on Good Smile's booth, with new Nendoroids for Venom Snake and Marth being key stand outs. The Metal Gear Solid V star looks adorably deadly, but it's that Fulton device accessory that really sells it. Being able to attach it to any existing Nendoroid is a plus, and since Figma toys also have similar pegs in their backs, I wonder if it will work for them as well. Marth transitions to the chibi style rather well, which isn't surprising, the level of detail in his outfit is still impressive for the trimmed-down aesthetic.
During New York Comic Con, two all-new licenses were unveiled for the very first time by Mega Bloks. The block-building sets the company already offers run the gamut from Halo to Skylanders to Assassin's Creed and beyond, but the latest additions to the company's portfolio have long deserved their chance to shine in construction set form. Though we'd known Mega Bloks had the Star Trek and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles licenses, no one had seen much of what the company had planned. Though no official TMNT sets were shown off, we did get to see the first figures across the three different series Mega Bloks is producing. There were plenty of Star Trek figures too, but the actual sets were what really caught our attention.
There are going to be plenty of sets released in 2016 and beyond, but at NYCC, Mega Bloks had three different kits for Star Trek on hand. Two comprised of ships, the very impressive classic USS Enterprise and the Klingon Battlecruiser, and the third was a transporter room set. All three looked impressive even in these early stages, but the scaled down Enterprise is definitely the star of the line. Or rather, it is for now without a bridge set on the horizon. One expects it can't be too far behind considering there's a transporter room already.
Since 2006, fans have flooded the Javitz Center year after year for New York Comic Con, but until this year, they've never been witness to magnificent pieces Sideshow Collectibles offered. Sideshow does its fair share of shows, but 2015 marked the first time the company made an appearance at NYCC. Though the booth may not have had the same square footage as Sideshow's SDCC presence, it was still packed with loads of incredible sculptures featuring many fan favorites and some of the company's own creations.
Most of what was on display at NYCC had been seen before at other conventions, but the more diminutive booth allowed for a more focused presentation. Where the SDCC collection was three or four times larger, that also meant there were that many more products vying for your attention. While it was definitely cool to see so many new things a few months ago, there was definitely some "cool stuff" overload happening. Notably missing from the NYCC booth was a great deal of Hot Toys, which was represented at New York with a handful of First Order Stormtroopers, and that's it. Sideshow put the spotlight on its own goods, including the DC and Marvel premium format figures due to arrive over the course of the next year, and its outstandingly creepy Court of the Dead line.
Though New York Comic Con isn't typically a show where Kotobukiya reveals many new items, you can always count on the company to tease a handful of never-before-seen pieces. This year, the pickings weren't robust, but they will make fans of Koto's Bishoujo series for statues happy. While there were some nice Star Wars figurines at the booth as well, the primary source of new statues came from the "beautiful girl" series.
Both the Harley Quinn and Spider-Gwen teased with silhouette's back at SDCC were given the concept art treatment at NYCC. Harley will be represented by her New 52 Suicide Squad look, which we knew was coming, but is still slightly disappointing. The second version created by Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti is much more interesting, and doesn't make you want to cringe just by glancing at it. Shunya Yamashita's design does the best it can with what he's got to work with, but this piece is already shaping up to pale in comparison to the classic Harley Quinn.
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