Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Marvel Legends

Wanna know how corporate America gets away with all its deviousness? It's because we don't understand it.

Let's take yesterday's toy news for example. At first glance it seems like Hasbro has bought the license to make Marvel figures. And Toy Biz won't be making them anymore. This is bad news for all the fans that love their Marvel Legends line. And what's not to love? For the last five years, Toy Biz has been making nearly every Marvel character as a 6" action figure with about 40 different joints. No other action figure has ever been this poseable. There are Spider-man toys that move every finger. People really like this.

So that's all gone right? Maybe. Maybe not. Turns out Hasbro got the license from Toy Biz Worldwide, which is a separate company that produces and distributes the figures. This may be a good thing. The production and distribution of these figures are horrible. If you want to get these figures, you have to haunt the Times Square Toys R' Us every morning before work and fight it out with this fat 35 year old Asian guy. That is not how I want to live my life.

Toy Biz is a different company from Toy Biz Worldwide. They design and create the prototypes, and direct the artists, sculptors and painters here in the states. When I worked at Art Asylum, it was Toy Biz that was my boss' client, not Toy Biz Worldwide. Now fans are happy.

But then they looked closer. And saw this line:

"Through the agreement, Hasbro has obtained the rights to develop products based on Marvel’s globally-known universe of over 5,000 characters in a wide range of toy and game categories -- including action figures, role play and preschool toys, board games and puzzles."

Develop? Doesn't that mean design? So the Marvel Legends line will end to be replaced by a completely new line of Hasbro's design? Will it look like Star Wars or G.I. Joe since that's what hasbro normally produces? Now fans are in, for lack of a better word, a tizzy. Some pronounce doom and gloom, some say maybe their Marvel figures won't break right out of the box anymore. Some just say, "But, but I want me my superhero toys."

So what does it all mean? Clearly, I have no idea. Neither do the websites that cover this stuff. Here's the best explanation. It reads much like the corporate mergers I've been caught in, when conflicting information held sway. I can just imagine the lack of reliable info travelling around the Toy Biz offices. It's obfuscating to say the least. If there's any lesson to be learned here, it's just how easily a couple of corrupt CEOs can confuse stockholders, leaving millions they can sweep up under cover of legalese.

I just want me my superhero toys.

No comments: