At the 2011 New York Toy Fair, Mattel showed off its coming line-up of toys for DC Universe, Ghostbusters, the Green Lantern movie and Masters of the Universe. Mattel marketing manager Scott Neitlich sat down with CBR News to talk about some of the highlights for collectors.
Green Lantern Movie Toys
Coinciding with this summer's Green Lantern movie, Mattel will offer an assortment of role-playing items as well as basic and deluxe figures. Of course, many of the toys bear the likeness of star Ryan Reynolds, including a 12-inch Hal Jordan figure with an infrared sensor and a ring which plays sound effects. It also features the actor's voice reciting the oath, and will be exclusive to MattyCollector.com.
"Warner Brothers has been great sharing assets with us, and most of our figures are based on the digital sculpts, like the CGI characters Kilowog and Tomar-Re," Neitlich told CBR. "We have the digital scan of Ryan's face, so we have a very good likeness."
Working on a CGI-heavy film does present a rather unique problem for toymakers: the look of the characters constantly change over the course of the movie's development, and that affects the toy line. Even though Mattel has been working on the toy line for over three years and the toys shown at Toy Fair were the final products set to hit retailers in May, it's possible that they could be slightly different than what we see on the big screen.
"The toy industry hasn't changed, so it still takes three years to go from concept to shelf," Neitlich explained. "So much of [movie making] is being done in CGI and in post-production; even the suit [Green Lantern] wears is totally CGI-created, and they're adjusting that right up to the deadline. That's always been a challenge, because we want [the toys] to be accurate. I can't wait to see the final film; we're just hoping it looks like our toys!"
Neitlich clarified, however, that he doesn't expect any major differences between the toy line and on-screen versions of the Green Lantern Corps at this point. But if for some reason there are any discrepancies -- and the line is popular enough -- he told CBR, "I think we would definitely do a new version, especially for key figures like Hal Jordan."
DC Universe Classics
Continuing the 6-inch-scale DC Universe Classics line from the Four Horsemen, wave 18 will be based on "Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show" and the classic Legion of Doom. This wave will include Black Vulcan, Bronze Tiger (classic, with both tiger and human heads), Captain Boomerang (modern), El Dorado, Samurai and Toyman; collect all six figures, and you can build Apache Chief.
"We very deliberately wanted to do every single character, even the obscure ones that never appeared in comic books but were created for the 'Super Powers' toy line in the '80s," Neitlich said. "There are characters that have never been in toy form before, like El Dorado or Apache Chief; there hasn't been a toy of Samurai in 25 years. It's really exciting to do this wave of these characters that today's adult collector grew up with but have never had as toys before."
The wave will be sold exclusively at Walmart this summer for a limited time before it hits mass retailers. As for what's next, Neitlich said that nothing has been decided, yet.
"We try to look at the big picture and make sure each wave stands out," he said. "We work with our partners at Warner Brothers and DC, and we get their input. We definitely look at a lot of fan requests, and we see who's being asked for online. We try to surprise people with what they're not expecting."
Mattel also showed some of the figures that will be available in the Legion of Super-Heroes twelve-pack, which includes Superboy, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy, Ultra Boy, Karate Kid, Wildfire, Matter-Eater Lad, Timber Wolf and Colossal Boy. The set is confirmed for release on August 15 exclusively on MattyCollector.com and will come with a Proty accessory figure and die-cast Legion flight ring.
Masters of the Universe
One of the biggest revelations for Masters of the Universe line was the Man-E-Faces figure, which will be released in August with an as-of-yet-to-be-announced secret accessory. Due to much debate, Mattel is letting fans vote on the color of Man-E-Faces' skin.
"The [original] toy actually had kind of an orange skin, which a lot of people, including myself, interpreted as a body suit since his face was still flesh-colored," Neitlich explained. "So we're going to let fans vote. Would they like for him to have flesh-colored skin or orange body suit skin? It's about involving the fans and giving them a say."
There's currently a poll open on the MattyCollector forums where fans can vote on the final deco of the figure. Neitlich said that there are a lot of people on both sides, and since it doesn't mean Mattel won't do both, "There's no guarantee, so make your vote count."
And the reason why there's no guarantee is because Mattel has Masters of the Universe toys planned out through 2017; they know every figure that's coming out every month until then.
"We basically had to do that because we didn't want to get to 2014 and realize, 'Oh, we used up all of our good characters, and all we have left are the D-level characters,'" he said. "So we very deliberately spread everyone out so every year would be a nice even amount of Masters, Evil Warriors, Snake Men, the Horde, Princess of Power and New Adventures. It's very well thought-out."
Mattel showed off an impressively accessorized figure of Louis Tully, who's actually called "Vinz Clortho: KeyMaster of Gozer" on the package. He comes with two swappable heads -- a standard one and one with Egon's strainer-testing helmet strapped on. He also comes with a Terror Dog head, a pizza slice and a bowl of popcorn ("Yes, he can have some," Neitlich said).
In April, Mattel is releasing a two-pack of Movie Masters 12-inch Ghostbusters figures featuring Winston and Venkman. Retailing for $12, the set will have a ton of accessories including a possessed toaster oven, a stereo, the kitchen utensil device and a proton stream. There will be a second "Ghostbusters II" 12-inch two-pack later in the year that Mattel will reveal at Comic-Con International in San Diego.
"People who grew up with the Ghostbusters, now they're adult toy collectors, and there's never been adult collector Ghostbuster toys," Neitlich said of the line's success. "There were great Ghostbusters toys in the '80s aimed at kids, but no one has ever done the movie accurate ones. So we're doing those for the first time, and we're really excited about that."
All the actors -- Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray – have approved the head sculpts. The only problem was waiting for Murray to approve his likeness; in Hollywood, he's notorious for not having an agent and being difficult to get a hold of.
"He did take a while," Neitlich said laughing. "He was originally intended to be the very first figure in the line, but he wound up being the last of the original four. We basically had him approve three different heads at the same time, like a regular head and a slime head, just so we had them. Luckily, his hair style didn't change through the movies, so we could use the same head."
Another successful piece in the Ghostbusters line, besides the movie-accurate figures, was the PKE Meter. Nobody had ever made an official prop replica of the Ghostbusters' ghost detector and Mattel's version sold out in three days. We asked Neitlich if there was ever any hope for other replicas, including proton packs and traps.
"I would love to do a proton pack, but it would be like a $400 item," he said. "We would probably have to wait for a new movie for that, but it's definitely on the wish list. And a trap would definitely be something we'd like to do to someday."
Batman: Arkham City
DC Direct did the toys for the first "Arkham Asylum" game, and now Mattel is picking up the collectibles for the sequel, "Arkham City," scheduled for release later this year. Neitlich couldn't reveal much but did tell CBR that there's at least a two sets of two-packs on the way, and more will be revealed at Comic-Con International.
Voltron was another line we didn't see at Toy Fair, but Mattel did announce that the first Voltron figure will be available for purchase exclusively at Comic-Con International. There, they'll also reveal other collector toys as well as the line for the new animated series.
"We're huge Voltron fans at Mattel, and we're going to be doing this right," Neitlich said. "You're going to be getting something really big and really buildable, shall we say, in the right scale. So just wait, because the Voltron toys you've been waiting for for your whole childhood are coming!"
All photos taken by CBR photographer Katie Calautti. For more photos from Mattel's Toy Fair presentation, click here!