With the rise in manufacturing costs versus the ever-emptying monetary resources of the average household, Mattel has opted to strip down their 6" action figure line to a product that can achieve the kind of price point parents are willing to spend. This hybrid of a larger action figure like a DCUC with simpler paint and articulation akin to the recent Batman Power Attack line, the toy manufacturer came up with this Total Heroes line. There's always a new crop of young comic enthusiasts to sell toys to, and with the rising popularity of these characters in movies and video games, it will be easier to compete on the pegs at major retailers with a ten dollar price point. While action figure collectors lament the recently announced conclusion of the DC Universe Classics line, make no mistake- Mattel wants to make more money.
These Total Heroes figures are highly stylized, much like the Batman Power Attack figures, but with a few additional points of articulation at only a dollar more. The waist still swivels, and there are additional swivels in the elbows and wrists, as well as hinge-swivel shoulders and hips for lateral range and hinged knees and ankles. There neck is only a swivel, and they don't have an abdominal hinge like the DCUCs, but they do have cloth capes, which I like, Superman's with a neatly printed insignia. Serious action figure collectors may see this as a dumbing down of their beloved DCUCs, but they aren't really Mattel's focus demographic.
I was a little surprised to discover that long-time Marvel artist John Romita Jr. will be drawing Superman for rival DC Comics. I really enjoyed the artist's work on the recent Captain America, as well as his run on titles Thor and Peter Parker: Spider-Man. I liked his illustration on the cover of Comic Shop News last week, and will be looking into it. JRJ's style is vastly different from his famous father's, and unique among his contemporaries. I see a certain Jack Kirby influence myself in his use of shadows and exaggerated features, another artist I'm a big fan of. The blocky, cartoony style of the Total Heroes figures share some those traits, but look more like a mix of the Young Justice and The Batman animated TV shows.
While DC Collectibles is still producing a detailed aesthetic in similarly scaled action figures, it seems there will be a certain gap in highly articulated 6" DC characters. If anyone will take the torch remains to be seen, but it could simply mean a change in the industry. Future waves of the Total Heroes line were shown at the 2014 New York Toy Fair, and MattyCollector will be selling deluxe exclusives online that will include more accessories. I can appreciate the fun simplicity of this toy, but would understand it's rejection by more discriminating collectors. And while I won't be hunting down every character in the Total Heroes line, I do like these and predict their success.
Total Heroes New 52 Superman with 3" Fisher-Price Imaginext Superman and Mattel 5" Justice League Superman...
Total Heroes with 7" DC Collectibles Justice League Superman...
More Later- Make It FUN!