A little while back, our friend Ed Catto wrote about the beginnings of the Captain Action Batman figure. Now, with Toy Fair 2014 in full swing (mucho coverage all week!), we have an EXCLUSIVE behind-the-scenes update on the production — with fancy Bat-artwork!
By ED CATTO
As many of you know, our revived Captain Action toy line debuted with new action figures for Captain Action and Dr. Evil, and an assortment of new superhero and villain costume sets from the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man and Captain America were in the original ’60s Captain Acton line-up of super-hero uniform sets. We added onto the list and they were soon joined by Thor, Iron Man, Wolverine, Hawkeye and Loki costume sets.
But we also have a strong fanboy passion for DC’s stable of characters, and are all very excited to develop costume sets for the cool DC heroes and villains. Most notably, we are all very anxious to get one of our favorites in particular – a certain Gotham City millionaire with a unique vision of civic responsibility.
In our little corner of the “toy universe”, once the yearly plans are established for the items in our line, the next step is to create a sales comp. Typically, these sales comps are used for each retailer’s toy buyer to evaluate the toy. Once a toy has already been established, as in our case, it’s less important for us to get a working sample to them, and more important to show each buyer what direction we are going with new releases.
I’ve learned that our bigger buyers usually have some suggestions and then we can go back and modify our plans. As you can imagine, we also listen very carefully to every retailer, big or small, when they offer their opinions. More often than not, there are usually some great ideas and insights in what they have to say.
So with that, let’s review some of the designs we’ve developed in preparation for the comps, specifically for the Batman costume set.
When we started, we were producing two sizes of costumes sets — a “deluxe” for comic shops and a “basic” for Toys R Us. There were two reasons for this: 1. We wanted to give Toys R Us an exclusive aimed at kids and moms. 2. We wanted to offer something special for the collectors and the comic shops. But now we’re focusing on one standard set – a mix of the deluxe and basic formats.
The first order of business in developing the packaging is to decide what art should be used. Our Captain Action line is really meant to evoke that Silver — and Bronze to a lesser extent — Age of comics. And we have so many favorite Batman artists and poses from that era. Carmine Infantino, Joe Giella, Nick Cardy, Neal Adams, and Jim Aparo –the list goes on and on.
As we evaluated it, we felt that the strong Bat-art of luminaries like Aparo and Adams were just a click after the era we wanted to bring to life. And we have always liked the classic Infantino pose of Batman on the rooftop with Robin –- although we had to do some flip-flopping for our packaging needs.
Also of note, as Murphy Anderson was so instrumental in the early days of Captain Action, we thought it only appropriate that we choose an illustration with Murphy’s wonderful inks. Again, this probably doesn’t result in even one additional sale (Dan here: Don’t be so sure, Ed!) but we do believe we have a responsibility to be authentic.
As you have probably guessed, we also toyed with the idea of various approaches and variants. Could we create a “Year One” version of the costume set? This was a fantastic idea that a leading comic shop retailer, Thomas Gaul of Corner Store Comics in California, suggested.
Everyone is anxious to know if we could create a Batman ’66 version of the toy line too.
And as we develop our plans for a Lady Action figure, costume sets for Batgirl and Catwoman make all the sense in the world.
But in the here-and-now, we’re at Toy Fair in New York City. Captain Action is being presented at three booths – Titan Merchandise (they make our T-shirts, hoodies, mugs and ID cases), Tonner dolls (these talented folks have created our Lady Action doll) and Round 2, whose Forever Fun division will be creating our Wave 4 costume sets (Batman, Superman, Brainiac and Joker).
NOTE: All images are concepts only and subject to licensor approval.
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