Sunday, September 16, 2012

3rd Party Toy Makers & MOTUC

Masters of the Universe Classics, or MOTUC, has become a robust line with 94 released toys - including action figures, beasts, vehicles and display stands and weapon packs...and there's more to come! This exclusive online collector-grade toy line has been around since late 2008 - so it's going into its 5th year of existence. By ALL standards, MOTUC is a VERY successful line. One of the great things about this toy line is its versatility - it doesn't take much to create a new character with existing parts and imagination. Collectors and customizers alike have produced some awesome results in using existing parts, and even creating new parts, to create a character based on existing mythology, or a totally new character.

Transformers, the behemoth toy line managed by Mattel's rival Hasbro, has experienced an unprecedented boom in 3rd Party companies that provide product offerings that Hasbro just doesn't seem to be willing or able to provide - yet fans and collectors are frothing at the mouth to get them. From weapons, to alternate heads, to extra accessories, to sticker decals, to entire figures, and even play sets, Transformers 3rd Parties are rivaling what Hasbro can produce - in some cases, the 3rd party products are superior or more revolutionary to what Hasbro has released.

This 3rd Party trend is no stranger to Masters of the Universe...

I'd say that the MOTUC product line is relatively young compared to the Transformers products that have constantly been on the retail shelves for more than ten years. The TF 3rd party experience has evolved with Transformers over the years. In parallel, MOTU 3rd party "companies" are organizing and growing, but they're relatively young as well. The 3rd party trend with TF has experienced a significant boom in the past couple years - it's just been a matter of organization on the part of those small "companies", and the obvious success of selling such sought-after "custom-made" items. I think with MOTU, many of the folks who are capable of providing 3rd party goods and services are slowly discovering the potential of the market. If MOTUC is around long enough to support continued 3rd party growth, I suspect we will see expansion beyond already-produced alternate heads and weapons, and actually get armor sets, full-blown figures, and perhaps even beasts, vehicles and playsets.

There are already budding outlets for 3rd party Castle Grayskulls, but I've heard some rocky news on those fronts...waiting lists exist and are quite lengthy, so obvious mass production and distribution issues must be overcome, here's an example:

Manta Raider by Rudy Obrero & Joe Amaro
We've also seen the first 3rd party vehicle getting pushed. The Manta Raider offers great potential for quality 3rd party products to come:

There's great potential for 3rd party companies in MOTUC - I just think the entities that are capable of filling the rolls are not ready yet if you get my drift. All sorts of logistics need to be worked out if you're going to step in this roll and provide products to a large buyer group.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Wonder Woman: A Movie Done Right

There's a lot of talk about DC Comics/Warner Brothers launching a Justice League movie, now that Marvel has proven that a superhero movie can be done, and can be VERY successful.  It seems as if the WB and DC are panicking, scrambling to get their ducks in a row to "catch up" to Marvel's success. It's probably not a good idea to rush something that Marvel spent more than a decade developing. But maybe DC and WB will prove me wrong.

The Nolan Batman trilogy has come to a close, and now Zack Snyder's Man of Steel comes to theaters in 2013. Man of Steel could be a huge blockbuster, a luckwarm entry, or a major flop - we just don't know yet. All indicators point to this film being epic - as it looks to have avoided making the mistakes of its predecessor: Bryan Singer's Superman Returns. There were high hopes for Green Lantern too, but that didn't go so well...

Man of Steel is being marked as the beginning of DC's Cinematic Universe, with rumors abound of Wonder Woman making a cameo. With Batman taking a break until the actual Justice League film debuts, the question has been asked: which superheroes are going to appear in this JL movie, and of them, which will get their own movies?

Out of the 6-7 heroes that should star, Wonder Woman should definitely get her solo film, and it should play a key roll into leading into the team-up movie. The Princess of Themyscira is part of the DC Trinity: Superman (deemed the first superhero), Batman (the second superhero, and the first superhero without superpowers) and Wonder Woman (the first female superhero). Superman and Batman are secured with films. Now it's Diana Prince's turn. There's been debate though as to whether she should get her own movie - does she have what it takes to pull it off? I say yes.

WW is a hard character to pull off for DC/WB for 2 reasons:

  1. 1. She's female, and for some reason, the right forces are not in play to pull her off. With movie series like Aliens, Resident Evil, Underworld, Kill Bill and to a lesser degree Tomb Raider, there is absolutely no excuse as to why/how WW couldn't be done well. 
  2. She's based in Greek Mythology. This is where WW can be a hard sell for many movie goers. It's very difficult to combine sci-fi and fantasy. If little effort is done, the project comes off like oil floating in water. But it CAN be done, it HAS to be done if you're going to put WW with more reality-based, sci-fi heroes like Batman and Superman respectively.
I say take the best elements of WW from over the years (there's no need to reinvent the wheel - there's plenty of material to build a live action WW movie with).
Wonder Woman vs. Ares
  1. Take the best elements of the Lynda Carter series (no camp). Have Diana Prince working for the IADC in Washington DC with Steve Trevor. Putting her in the roll of secret agent would add an angle to her character that is befitting of a strong female role, and put her in a logical position to deal with some of the conflict that arises. This is likely the more mainstream way WW is perceived, and the best way to present her to general audiences.  
  2. The Wonder Spin, and the various WW suits, weapons, vehicles and gadgets add another level of uniqueness to the character - she's got powers like Superman, and is resourceful like Batman.
  3. Don't get caught up in the fact that WW is female. Sigourney Weaver's Ripley character could have been male if you just read the script - just write the part, and let the actress to bring life to it.
  4. Take the Thor approach to the gods by making them alien beings, or humans that were affected by alien technology - this is where you can tie in Darkseid and his planet full of minions, and set him up for the main JL villain. 
  5. Work up WW's Rogue's Gallery - Ares is probably the best one to start with, perhaps team him up with lesser villains as minions.
Wonder Woman should come before the JL movie, as opposed to being introduced in it. Despite past female action movies going wrong - Supergirl, Electra, Catwoman - that doesn't mean a female action movie cannot be done. WW SHOULD be the beginning of female action movies done right.