Sunday, December 4, 2011

Princess of Power Classics!

I am an avid Princess of Power (POP) fan - as can be seen in previous posts on this blog. Princess of Power is a spin-off of the legendary Masters of the Universe (MOTU) brand, engineered by Mattel. As Masters of the Universe starred He-Man, being an action figure toy line for boys, Mattel wanted to recreate the success of MOTU in the girls' market - thus Princess of Power starred He-Man's twin sister She-Ra. Though not as successful and expansive as MOTU, POP still established itself as an action figure/doll icon - it's rare to have a toy line of this nature, and even rarer for such a toy line to etch a place for itself in entertainment & merchandising history.

In 2008, Mattel made plans to continue it's MOTU relaunch by releasing new action figures via an exclusive online outlet. At this point, the MOTU relaunch toy line, known to fans as the 200X line, had been canceled in the retail market due to poor sales. Licensing privileges were given to NECA, who continued releases for the 200X line in the form of "Staction Figures", non-articulated action figure-sized statues that could be displayed with other 200X action figures. The staction figures proved successful through smaller niche online markets, and Mattel made decisions to revitalize the 200X line with this new online distribution method.

Having worked closely with the Four Horsemen toy sculptors for the 200X line, Matty was pleased with concept sculpts for this new online outlet, but was even more pleased with sculpts that were closer in style to the vintage MOTU toy line. The idea of taking original toy designs and refreshing them with contemporary action figure mechanics had already proved successful in Hasbro's Transformers Classics toy line, and it made since for Matty to do the same for MOTU. And thus, the Masters of the Universe Classics line was born.

Originally, there were only going to be a handful of figures released, just to commemorate the brand (similar to the Masters of the Universe Commemorative Series - which re-released a few of the original characters in their original sculpts). The MOTUC line started with King Grayskull, a "classicized" version of a character that had been introduced in the 200X cartoon series. Buzz around the figures soon erupted, and the line eventually grew beyond the 6 or so figures that were originally planned.

Quickly establishing an infrastructure to create, build, package, promote and distribute the figures, Matty was poised to carry the line for a fairly long stretch. It was soon decided to expand MOTUC beyond just the core characters - the absorption of the POP characters, as well as another MOTU spin-off line simply titled He-Man (known to most fans as New Adventures of He-Man {NA}), assured a massive inventory of characters for the MOTUC toy line. With the absorption of the spin-off series, and the release of 1-3 toys a month, many fans have speculated that MOTUC could last until 2017 or longer. But there's been concern that the line could potentially not make it that long...

Typically, a specific toy line has a 3-5 year life span. Toy companies often bring a toy line to a close, or reboot it if it's popular enough - Transformers and Power Rangers are chief examples of this. So it is understandable why collectors have anxiety levels that are continually mounting up.

And fans of Princess of Power have much anxiety, as the line is now in its third year, and going into its fourth with only 6 toys that are based on vintage Princess of Power characters: Adora, She-Ra, Bow, Catra, Bubble Power She-Ra and Swiftwind. Though there are 4 more toys coming in February 2012 in the Star Sisters 3-Pack: Starla, Tallstar, Jewelstar and Glory Bird, POP fans wonder what the rest of 2012 has in store - who will the next POP figure be?

As I am a member of the MOTUC/POP Facebook fan group SHADOW WEAVERS REALM, I'm taking part in a sort of petition to bring awareness to the gross shortage POP characters in the MOTUC toy line. Perhaps more fans can rally to this message, and get Matty to shift its ratios, which seem to be more focused on getting core MOTU characters released, rather than a more balanced distribution that brings POP and NA more into the fold.

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