Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say“BLAARGH!”
This was SUPPOSED to be a Figure 8 about action figures that need to be made. Then the toys for the summer’s three big movies hit shelves, and my blood started a simmerin’…
Case packout refers to how many of each figure comes in an assorted case of action figures as released to retail. Companies will usually “heavy pack” a popular character – like a Wolverine figure, for example – since it is theoretically the figure that will sell the best. Case packouts for some toy lines, as of late, have gotten a bit… wonky, however. Consider the recently revived Marvel Legends line: 7 figures to an assortment, 8 characters to a case. That means SOMEONE gets doubled up. In some stores, this led to Iron Man peg warming while the rest of his wave flew out the door. Still, given low distribution in general, the figures end up selling regardless. But what will come of the summer movie toys?
Three big movies are hitting this summer with huge toy lines backing them: Amazing Spider-Man, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, and GI Joe: Retaliation. I’ll be ignoring Spider-Man here as I’ve yet to see the figures for the movie hit shelves. Where the other two are concerned, case packouts are ATROCIOUS! Mattel steps up to the plate with 4″ figures that – despite a typically Mattel lack of articulation – look pretty decent. Just take note – for a single case of figures, there are two Bane figures to the ten Batmen in their various color schemes. I said it before. I understand the logic. Batman is more iconic, therefore Batman will sell more. But you can’t tell me there’s a single kid out there who’d rather have Batman, dressed in red, than an accurate version of the movie’s villain. Well, you can, but I’ll call you a liar.
Hasbro’s GI Joe figures have an even more heartbreaking case packout – if only because I’m a bigger Joe fan to begin with. The first wave consists of Roadblcok, Cobra Commander, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Duke, Zartan, a Joe Trooper, a Cobra Trooper, and a red Ninja. This one should be pretty obvious, right? The Joe and Cobra Troopers, along with the Red Ninja, are obvious troop builders. Collectors will want multiples, and some kids may even convince their parents to stock up, so we double up on those figures, right? Wrong. Only Roadblock, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow make it into the case twice. The other figures – troop builders included – are one per case. Despite the fact that Roadblock, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow will be seeing numerous variations, come in the concurrently released Ninja Showdown boxsets, and at least in Snake Eyes’ case, come packed in with some of the line’s vehicles.
As a collector, I was prepared to buy the two Red Ninjas (a modest troop build by collector standards) I THOUGHT would be in the first wave of figures; and I struggled with it a bit knowing that anyone else looking for a Red Ninja wouldn’t get one out of that assortment. Now, if I DO decide to pick up a second Red Ninja, it will mean finding another case at another store, and it will mean that there are four people out there with Snake Eyes and Roadblock and Storm Shadow who aren’t going to be getting a Red Ninja. That seems a little backwards to me…
And I recognize that this is a toy line for kids – that Cobra Trooper comes with a real working parachute! Collectors are going to want multiples for display, and that means there are going to be a lot of kids missing out on that awesome play feature. Epic fail, toy companies. Epic fail.