Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Example of brilliant viral marketing – Pixar, Toy Story 3

Check out these fantastic, newly released “lost toy commercials” from the early 1980s.

These are actually viral spots created by Disney/Pixar to help market the upcoming sequel to Toy Story. Each spot features a new character created for this film named Lots-o’-huggin’ Bear. An obvious homage to the old Care Bears line of plush by Kenner toys. Back then, Care Bears were all the rage for a couple of years in the toy biz. The Lots-o’ Bear will be a character in the film who has had to live both the highs and lows of being such a brand that was once at the top of heap then eventually discarded and forgotten.

These spot are completely creative and dead on mimic a youtube posted old commercial from the early age of the VCR. The spot is shot with ‘80s style marketing, jingle and fashion but even features the outdated and faulty technology with washed out color and patented VCR tape “fuzz” along the bottom of the image.

On top of it all, they even went as far as creating a Japanese style ‘80s spot for the toy as well!

Hollywood take note...this is a perfect example of how you take advantage of the internet to market your films.

Recommended Reprint of the Month - Dan DeCarlo's Jetta

For fans of Dan (famed Archie artist) DeCarlo art or of pinup works in general, I highly recommend this very affordable hardcover collection of his short lived Jetta Comic series from the early 1950s. This series was a mash up of DeCarlo's Archie-style teens and the retro '50s vision of the future. Or think of the concept of Josie living in the world of the Jetson's, long before the Jetsons were even an idea.

Only three issue were printed in this series and are extremely hard to find. Award winning cartoonist and designer, Craig Yoe has once again produced a stellar looking package for IDW. This book is not merely a collection of the three comics. Included are several rare pinups by DeCarlo along with tribute pinups by 37 of today’s top talents from the worlds of animation, comics and modern art such as Bill Presing, Craig McCracken, Bill Morrison, Andrew Pepoy and many more.

Check out Bill Presing's blog about the book here for some good eye-candy!

Most of these artists all work for studios such as Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, etc and are typically in attendance at the San Diego Comic-con. For those fans that attend the show, this would absolutely be a great book to lug around and have signed by these talents.

I also can't imagine the print run on this collection will be very high and if nothing else will serve as a promising investment down the road. Amazon.com has the book for only $14.99.

For more detail about the book and more preview pages, check out Craig Yoe's site!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Target steps backwards to offer the Kindle to your Grandma

The big retail news of the week: Target will start selling the Kindle in it's stores for Amazon.com exclusively in the mass market.

For a retailer who prides itself on offering far trendier merchandise and marketing than most, this is a puzzling move. While the digital book reader was hot for 5 minutes last Christmas, it is already outdated technology since the arrival of Apple's ipad.

This is akin to Target touting they are the exclusive retailer of black & white television after color TV arrives.
How Target's buyers could even imagine this was a great idea is beyond comprehension. By the fall Holiday shopping season, it will be clear that the number one gift requested will be the ipad. The only ones who are going to be receiving the Kindle will be grandparents who don't know any better or pay attention to them "new fangled contraptions" and very unfortunate teens who despite asking for the ipad will get the Kindle because either the gift giver is technologically illiterate or simply because the Kindle was cheaper.

Which means at that point both Amazon and now Target will be banking on the hopes that the consumer of the Kindle will be the technically illiterate.
Amazon would continue to have far better luck trying to sell this doorstop online and not allow the consumer to have a hands on, side by side comparison of the two products. You are going to now allow a potential consumer to play with the Kindle in a Target store, and then pop over to their local Best Buy and check out an ipad. How would you expect 99% of those purchasing decisions are going to play out?

The other interesting aspect of this story is the partnership between the two companies. Target.com has for years been tethered to the Amazon.com's ecommerce platform. Last year, Target made the decision to leave Amazon and are currently spending millions of dollars constructing their own platform from scratch. The complete break and relaunch is currently set for mid to late 2011. When the economy tanked in late 2008, so did Target.com's online traffic and sales. They have been in freefall since while Amazon as seen record traffic and profits in a down economy. Amazon is indisputably on track to rival Wal-Mart domestically in sales in this decade. Target finally realized that Amazon could very well end up their number one competitor and needed to quickly get out of bed with the former partner.

So it's interesting that the two are excited about partnering up now on this particular venture. Just can't see the advantage for either side here. Target selling an out-of-date, overpriced text reader and Amazon actually letting the item be compared to the ipad at mass. Perhaps Target thinks they are sticking it to Apple...sending them a message. Not that Apple could give a shit. Apple doesn't need any one retailer out there.

So if you are in the market for a Kindle for your Grandparents, just stick around and wait until it's in Target's clearance aisle for $30.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Comic Book Artist who desperately needs to be challenged – Frank Cho

The idea for this commentary struck me as I perused the latest summer publishing solicitations by both Marvel and DC Comics. While there are tons of comic book illustrators making a decent living in the marketplace with moderate talent, there are several top tier guys out there who have been coasting too often on the same tricks/cheats of the trade. These are guys who each company would view as an “A-lister” within their ranks for various reasons. Certainly some of these guys have earned their way to the top of this list for different reasons but at the same time, many of them need to start showing us something new. Be it filmmakers, music artists, writers or illustrators, every creator needs to be challenged from time to time.

One of these top talents in the industry that needs that push is Frank Cho.
Gasp! Yes I know Cho is one of the top guys out there with a huge fan following, myself included and best known for drawing babes with big racks and bigger behinds. He started out as a fantastic new comic strip illustrator and proved he had a knack for writing beyond his drawing ability. Heck, I was one of his early followers many years back when the guy was schlepping his first Liberty Meadows trade collection of works from his college years from one comic convention to the next trying to get noticed. Way before he became the Pinup god he was later ordained as in the comic world. But man, lately give him a 22 page comic project and his shortcomings/disinterest become evident as he moved beyond the classic four panel strip.

Undoubtedly, Cho can draw beautiful women and has masterful skill with the ink pen. But in recent years, Cho has had great trouble staying either focused or interested in telling a story in comic book form. Try to “read” any of his Marvel issues he’s done without the use of text and see if you can tell what’s happening in the story. Especially those New/Mighty Avengers issues he did a couple of years ago. This is the test of true storyteller. The reader should have some idea of what’s happening in the issue just by flipping through the pages. Overall in the course of an issue, Cho’s panels can be very sparse beyond the figure and he over uses tricks like the silhouette or the multi panel, same taking heads pose for conversations far too often. These particular cheats repeat in his work as he clearly tires of drawing detail or is hitting one of his deadline issues. Frank also needs to enhance the dynamic staging of his work. His use of the ‘camera’ within his storytelling is too much like that of a TV director and not enough as a comic book artist who has unlimited freedom within the 11” X 17” page in front of him. Too often he lines up the typical, straight on, TV medium ¾ body or close up shot. How boring is this page without dialog? I realize half the blame for too many pages of talking heads in a single issue also is shared by today's writers like Brian Bendis (a topic covered plenty by others online). But it's the artist's job to also make this kind of static look interesting.

Then consider this newest Cho cover of New Ultimates solicited for July. Three of Frank’s patented women standing around. Each figure and face the exact same as the next. But just standing there…doing nothing cool and looking fairly bored. There are far too many Marvel covers lately where the characters are simply standing around. How exactly does this kind of cover draw in an audience or new reader? How many of the best Marvel covers of decades past had the characters simply standing around? How many Kirby, Buscema, or Ditko covers can you recall in this vein? Cho is not the only artist currently plagued by this cover problem of late but he’s one of the top guys that should be way ahead of rest and not interested in creating a cover that is this…lazy. And creating them repeatedly!

Not every Cho cover or page has this problem of course. I know Cho is the type of guy whose time and talent are in demand from all directions and all industries such as Toys, comics, TV, animation, licensing and of course even family. But he also should not be the type of illustrator that wants to just crap the work out for the paycheck or just to get the work off his desk so he can move on to the next project. He’s simply better than his 22 page output at Marvel has suggested. We all know this. If an artist is disinterested or otherwise distracted while producing this kind of work, then how does he expect his audience to remain committed? A truly committed artist should want to challenge himself and his audience as he grows.

We’ll see how he handles the current incarnation of the Ultimates through his run but it's clear at this point that Cho needs to be pushed out his comfort zone. And I'm not picking on some kid starting out in the biz, this is one very experienced talent that grew up studing the works of illustrators most of the current generation of the industry have never heard of.

C’mon Frank. You are a lifelong study of the masters of the trade…show us you’ve learned more at this point in your career than how to frame a woman’s tits n’ ass in the panel.

Yes, the monthly Matty suckage saga continues...time to get over it

Seriously, it's just a joke at this point and the monthly experience with these guys is like that old Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day" where the same events and conversations occur over and over again.

Yes, it's true. Mattycollector.com, Toyguru aka Scott Neitlich, Mattel, Digital River, they all really suck at managing collector brands, executing distribution at the mass market retail level and providing any resemblance of an online ecommerce experience. Blah, Blah. And this isn't just our view at this point. Hell, one of Mattel's lead action figure lines brand managers, Scott Neitlich frequently will post and confirm these facts himself on their own Twitter, Facebook, forums and online Q&A responses all the time.

"Hey toy fans - heads up that once again you will likely find item "X' sold out before the sale barely begins!"

"Hey toy fans - We know we have site issues that make your purchasing experience painful monthly. It's only been going on monthly for a year but were working on it! It's our highest priority!"

"Hey toy fans - we understand you can't find any of the new figures at retail and that we keep shipping old stock instead. Totally the retailer's fault even though it's been a problem for over a year now. But it's our highest priority to fix!"

So here is the real lesson learned for all collectors, including us Geeks. The issues with Mattel aren't going to end anytime soon so just refuse to put yourself through the process. Look we understand a collector of a favorite toy line needs to keep buying the next new exclusive figure or wave. Guilty as charged! But we have to be patient. Not for Mattel to get their act together...that ain't going to happen anytime soon.

Screw trying to buy the next Master of the Universe figure on Matty's site. If you need to head to ebay for the figure, check out recent sold prices for recent releases. They all come down close to what you could have paid at retail including shipping. Not only that, Scott has confirmed both in words and actions that just about every new exclusive figure will be re-released again in a few months. And if you don't think the whole MOTU line isn't heading to Toys-R-Us soon as an exclusive brand, you'd be kidding yourselves. And when that happens, Mattel will re-release all the previously sold out characters again. Check it out...we've already seen Skeletor repackaged 4 times in the past year. An initial release online, second release online, new TRU two-pack with Lex Luthor and an upcoming San Diego Comic-con two-pack exclusive. It won't be too long now before the scalpers realize this line isn't going to be worth time and investment.

Another example? How about Mattel re-releasing DC Universe wave 5 online in May? The hardest to find series in the line to date will no longer be hard to find. Not only that, but there may be less and less DCU exclusives to purchase online anyway as Scott has already confirmed the following DC products do not sell well on the Matty store: JLU, DCU two-packs, DCU full waves. That would leave them with trying to sell singles soon begining with Plastic Man in August.

So we get it now. Thanks Mattel, lesson learned on our end. Until you can figure it all out, we'll wait our purchases out and perhaps give our money to the secondary market instead of putting ourselves through the pain and frustration of trying to give it directly to you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sideshow Collectibles craps out lackluster SDCC '10 exclusives

Well, as many suspected after their early tease, Sideshow's plans for this year’s San Diego Comic-con exclusives are nothing short of unimaginative and easy to pass upon.

Yet another repainted 1/6th scale Star Wars Prequel Clone Trooper. Yawn.

A Skrull-Woman. Wow. A very ugly Spider-Woman bust with repainted green face and chin with squiggles. Paying homage to a Marvel Comics event two years old now.

And there are more pieces that can only appeal to the smallest segment of the related license cult following.

No doubt each will sell out on the day the pre-orders start and also like last year in August after the show has come and gone, plenty of units will suddenly be found and available for sale again.

Looks like collectors will have more cash to spend in other booths at the con.

It’s hard to comprehend just why Sideshow has been on cruise control for the past several years. Producing the same characters over and over within the various licenses they currently pay for. This despite the fact they have entire universes of characters to mine. The fact that they have done nothing but piss away opportunity with the Star Wars license alone by releasing nothing but Clones and Anakin Skywalker over and over is worth scorn alone. How long has it been since they started releasing 12” SW product and we still don’t have key heroes and villains? But hey, they made about eight versions of Anakin and nearly as many of Obi-Wan and repainted the hell out of Clone and Stormtrooper molds. These guys couldn’t even produce a Vader anyone was happy with. Same issues with the Marvel Comics brand…how many Iron Man and Emma Frost pieces do we need?

Note to Lucasfilm: Let Hot Toys have the SW brand for awhile. Sideshow is clearly out of ideas.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beyond Marvel Legends? The Next Step In Action Figure Evolution

Here are pictures of a line of forthcoming Hyper-Gokin action figures that are in the 8"-10" range, but appear to be hyper articulated, with an internal skeleton for the Hulk & Abomination figures (Iron Man, like his Hot Toys counterpart, is more traditionally engineered). While we're not crazy about another scale, or the movie-based figures (I'd buy a comic version of Abomination in a heartbeat, but the movie version.... not so much). No release date or price point announced yet, but we're very curious...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jim Lee test drives the ipad

Ok, now I want one. Had no idea such an artist app was available for this device. Still going to wait for the 3G version tho.

I would link over to Jim Lee's Twitter account to see more but apparently Twitter has crashed this morning. No doubt because of ipad thoughts overload from the world at large.

But you can find his "how to draw on the ipad" posting here also.

Friday, April 2, 2010

God I hate April Fools Day

You cannot view any of your favorite sites without every single one of them posting some bullshit fake article(s). Parody is only good if a) it's written well, b) timely subject matter, c) posted when people least expect it and d) actually fucking funny. If everyone is doing it, all on the same day, and we are all aware of it, it's not a joke anymore, it's just tedious drivel.

"Tee Hee...looks at me I wrote a fake article and posted it today. No one will know it's fake and it will cause all kinds of rampant rumors and I will get attention."

No dude, we get what's fake. It's a waste of everyone's time.

If there is ever a day one needs to keep their computer off and spend time outside, April 1st is the day.

That's how this post ended up on April 2nd.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


I'm not a Bowen statue collector but this new, upcoming Dr Doom piece deserves some serious purchase consideration. Very few companies have come close to doing this classic Marvel Comics villain justice in any form of sculpt in recent memory. Sideshow for example has fucked up the look of Doom several times and let's not even consider the waste Diamond Select has crapped out over the years. Even in the action figure realm Doom hasn't received much love. This piece comes very close to a classic John Buscema design. Right up there with Jack Kirby's look for the armored ruler of Latveria.

Mattel Fuck-Up of the Day

Even though they rarely supply any answers that are worth asking the question for in the first place, hopeful nerd idiots continue to submit Q&A questions to Mattel in the hope of getting a concrete answer. Apparently Head Collector-Interface-Incompetant-Tool is out of the office (or beating off into an old Super Powers catalog), so instead of bagging these pointless exercises, Mattel PR decided to provide answers on his behalf. Remarkably, they found a way to supply even less concrete answers and show even more contempt for their fans than ToyGuru is capable of - and he's a clueless fucking idiot! Does Mattel have any corporate sense of customer relations? Is there a PR division there? Not if this exchange is any indication. Check it out here…

Q1.) Is DCUC Wave 11 going to be distributed to Toys R Us/Target, or has the entire run already been distributed?
A1.) Better not tell you now.

Q2.) Will any past waves be re-offered on MattyCollector.com? Wave 11 is marked out of stock, but not "gone for good".
A2.) Reply hazy try again.

Q3.) You’ve stated we’ll get a look at the GL 5 pack in April/May, but when are it and the announced Batman/Robin and Aquaman/Manta 2 packs expected to hit stores?
A3.) Outlook not so good.

Q4.) It was posted on Matty that Wave 13 is coming in March , Wave 14in April, Wave 15 is coming in July, and Wave 16 in Dec/Jan2011. Was a wave skipped there, or will no new product be shipping during the holiday season? Or will older waves be reshipped during this time frame?
A4.) Concentrate and ask again.

Q5.) Will the 2-Packs offered on Matty ever be offered again in any form? What about slightly different versions, like an 80s Starfire or Classic Adam Strange?
A5.) Very doubtful.

This is the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a burning person. Why not just shut up, or explain there's going to be a delay in answers, rather than aggravate your customers further? At least that way no one gets their hopes up.

Congratulations, Mattel - we didn't think you could find new ways to demonstrate your complete lack of respect and utter contempt for your fanbase.

How will you top this? We have some ideas: Maybe Matty can stand above the lines and piss on fans as they wait to buy Mattel product at SDCC? Or maybe you could charge customers for stuff they never get? Or have a non-functioning website that drives your customers away? Or hire a total collector-douche with no business sense to run your brands into the ground? Oh wait, you're way ahead of us on the last three...

In closing, this says more about their "Collector strategy" than anything we have written here in the last year or so.