It looks like Mattel may be pulling a bit of a Marvel on fans.
Variety reports that Mattel, the world’s largest toymaker, has created a new in-house studio called Playground Productions to manage the creative direction of its properties, such as Barbie, He-Man, Max Steel and Hot Wheels. The new division will reportedly oversee the development of scripts for television and film, and control how the toys are adapted for books, live events, video games — and, by logical extension, comics.
Mattel already has one of its properties already in the comics world — DC’s He-Man & the Masters of the Universe title — but given this new push to better organize and monetize its brands, we could see a lot more.
I’m not generally a fan of photo covers, but who can resist DC’s Comic-Con International-exclusive cover for Batman ’66 #1, which uses action figures from the new Mattel line — let’s hear it for cross-promotion! — to recreate one of the great recurring gags of the classic TV series: the “window cameos.” Alas, the collection doesn’t include 6-inch versions Sammy Davis Jr., Suzy Knickerbocker or Werner Klemperer to make the homage complete.
It’s just one of four convention-exclusive covers announced this morning on the DC Comics website:
- Justice League #22, combining Ivan Reiss’ “Trinity War” covers for Justice League #22, Justice League of America #6 and Justice League Dark #22 as “a wraparound gatefold that transitions from pencils to a striking color image featuring the major players.”
- Batman #21, combining the minimalistic graphic design of the standard issue with an image of the Dark Knight in the background, drawn by Greg Capullo.
- Superman Unchained #1, with Clark Kent becoming the Man of Steel in a black-and-white illustration by Jim Lee and Scott Williams.
Each of the Comic-Con exclusives is priced at $10. Comic-Con International will be held July 18-21 in San Diego. Continue Reading »
DC Comics has debuted Ed Benes’ cover for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #4, which reveals a radically new look for the hero of television, film and toyboxes.
Gone are the trademark furry shorts and metal harness the character has worn since toymaker Mattel launched the line of action figures in 1981, replaced by what appears to be Eternia’s version of football gear, complete with honest-to-goodness pants.
“In the epic war against the forces of Hordak ripping through the pages of the current series, He-Man must don the sacred armor of his ancestors,” DC states on its blog. “While fans may be surprised by this turn of events, this dynamic direction for one of the world’s best-known heroes is firmly rooted in the classic legacy of MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE. After all, so long as you stay true to the core concepts, it’s always exciting to explore new possibilities, right?”
Masters of the Universe #4 goes on sale in July.
To entice fans to subscribe to its new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, DC Comics has partnered with Mattel to create a limited-edition variant cover created using Masters of the Universe action figures. A 12-issue subscription can be purchased here.
Written by Keith Giffen and penciled by Pop Mhan, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #1 features the return of She-Ra to Eternia as He-Man’s newest enemy. It goes on sale April 17.
Festivals | The Angoulême International Comics Festival has opened in Angoulême, France, and that’s where all the cool kids are. Bart Beaty surveys the scene for the rest of us; the president of this year’s show is Jean-C Denis (last year it was Art Spiegelman), and there will be an exhibit of his work, but Beaty says the big draw will be the exhibit of work by Albert Uderzo, co-creator of Asterix. [The Comics Reporter]
Editorial cartoons | Rupert Murdoch has apologized, on Twitter, for an editorial cartoon by Gerald Scarfe in the Sunday Times that depicted Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu bricking Palestinians into a wall with blood-red mortar. Many commentators were concerned that the cartoon, which Scarfe intended as a commentary on the recent elections in Israel, came too close to old anti-Semitic blood libel. Making things worse, the cartoon was published on Holocaust Memorial Day. [The Guardian]
This should lift the spirits of readers still mourning the end of DC Comics’ Tiny Titans: Cool Toy Review and Fwoosh have the first looks at Mattel’s Comic-Con International-exclusive boxed set featuring five figures — Robin, Raven, Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy — based on the character designs from the Eisner Award-winning series by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani. As you can see from the image above, the package is actually a Sidekick City Elementary bus driven by principal Slade Wilson and bearing the slogan “Convention or Bust.” On the back is a comic strip by Baltazar and Aureliani depicting the five pint-sized heroes, including a cosplaying Beast Boy, at the convention.
Check out more images below, and at Cool Toy Review and Fwoosh. The set will be available at the Mattel booth at Comic-Con for $20, and at MattyCollector.com later.
The operative word for Mattel’s San Diego exclusives this year would be “cute,” if the three DC Comics items they posted on their MattyCollector site today are any indication. As you can see above, they’ll be offering a set of Tiny Titans collectible figures with a display base. And if that’s not enough of a cute overload for you, click below to see the Death figure and the Polly Pocket Comics Villains set, featuring a trio of Bat villains, labeled “A” for “Adorable.”
They also announced some Masters of the Universe and Ghostbusters exclusives as well, so click on over if you want to check those out.
DC Comics will return to Eternia in July with a six-issue He-Man and the Masters of the Universe limited series by James Robinson, Phillip Tan and Ruy Jose, MTV Geek reports.
Although several companies, from Marvel to Image to CrossGen, have released comics based on the Mattel toyline, DC was the first, introducing Superman to He-Man, Battle Cat, Skeletor and other characters in July 1982′s DC Comics Presents #47, followed by Masters of the Universe inserts in more than a dozen titles and, later that year, a three-issue miniseries.
In the new series, Skeletor has discovered a way to reshape reality, making himself ruler of Castle Grayskull while leaving the heroes of Eternia as peasants with no memories of their former lives. As for Prince Adam, the alter-ego of He-Man? He’s a woodsman who thinks his visions of wielding a sword in battle are merely dreams.
“Adam is in a place where he really has to reconnect with what it means to be a Master of the Universe,” Robinson tells MTV Geek. “It’s his odyssey, much like the Greek myth in fact, that is the backbone of this series.”
Comic-Con International aren’t the only ones having trouble selling things on the internet. Mattel’s action figure collector’s site MattyCollector.com released several new items today, including a Masters of the Universe figure, Superman and General Zod figures, and (the reason I was checking the site) a new Darkseid/Kalibak two-pack for their long-running Justice League Unlimited line.
Everything went on sale at 9 a.m. Pacific, which is when I hit the site and got this:
I did get in about eight minutes later, selected my item, went to checkout, and then started getting the “traffic management” page again before I could complete my transaction. Dang it. Around 9:17 a.m. I got back in, and it remembered where I was in the checkout process (which was nice … I figured I’d be starting from scratch). A few seconds later, my order was complete. Trying to go back to the home page, however, brought the holding page back up.
I guess today is good practice for next February, when the hotel process for San Diego kicks off.
(Update: And of course, after I post, the site doesn’t appear to be having any issues … and it doesn’t look like anything is sold out yet, so head over there quickly before it does).
Well, it is Batman … or Kevin Conroy, to be precise.
One of Mattel’s exclusive items available in San Diego this year will be a Justice League of America Starro the Conqueror set, which includes the villain and five heroes — Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern. The packaging is pretty nice:
More info on it can be found at MattyCollector.com.
Geoff Johns and I have something in common: We both want Geoff Johns to write a He-Man comic.
In an interview at writer Poe Ghostal’s toy and action figure news blog, the Blackest Night, Green Lantern, and Superman: Secret Origin writer says that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is the only toy property he’d like to take a shot at writing. Now, normally this kind of offhand blue-sky wish-list comment wouldn’t merit a post, but I really love He-Man and Johns has written some of my favorite superhero comics of the past several years — and dammit, I’ve got a bully pulpit and I intend to use it.
Oh yeah, Johns discusses various other toy-related topics with Ghostal, including his childhood favorites and the highlights of his current collection. Unsurprisingly, Lantern Corps figures from DC Direct and Mattel fare pretty well, with Johns citing the action-figure version of his Blue Lantern character Saint Walker as his fave.
But seriously — Geoff Johns on He-Man! Start your letter-writing campaign to DC and Mattel in the comments.