On preview night of the widely hyped San Diego Comic-Con, DC Collectibles kicked off with a soiree of food, booze, and industry chatter. Some notables on hand were DC’s Jim Fletcher, Kevin Kiniry, and the writers for the newly announced comic book Gotham City Garage Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, all enjoying festivities and answering questions. The focus however was ultimately on the merchandise.
Last year, Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary and her then upcoming movie steered DC’s marketing direction. It appears that this year DC will focus less on movies and more on artistic branding with their collectibles: Releasing merchandise that relies heavily on the “limited/artistic” tag. Prime example of this is the upcoming DC Artist Alley. Currently highlighted artists for this series are Hainanu “Nooligan” Saulque, Chris Uminga, and Sho Murase, each having designed with drastically different interpretations of Batman characters in mind. DC boasts in a press release that their DC Artist Alley “Reveals New, Cutting-Edge Interpretations of Wonder Woman, Batman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn.” Saulque’s set is due for August of 2018, Uminga’s June 2018 (the variant color Batman’s to be dated still), and Murase’s for October of 2018.
The Gotham City Garage statue line will see an expansion in multiple facets. Akin to the DC Bombshells line that took iconic female characters and transformed them to something closer to a World War II pinup, Gotham City Garage transform heroines and villains into “biker chicks.” The line is slated to race onto shelves in 2018. Not stopping there, but also like the DC Bombshells line, Gotham City Garage will be getting a “Digital First” comic book in August of this year.
Amid the “designer” lines that DC is unveiling for next year we will also see a return to basics. DC Essentials is a figure line that will adhere to more classic representations of DC characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. The 6.75” characters will be designed by comic book artist Jason Fabok and will boast both moveability and poseability, making DC believe that this series will be sought after by long-time fans and those new to DC. The first wave of DC Essentials, Batman, Superman, the Flash, and Aquaman, will release in 2018. Deathstroke, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Nightwing will follow in 2019.
Most exciting though is the table we weren’t allowed to photograph. A new DC Bombshells Wonder Woman statue displayed the WWII version of Wonder Woman standing atop a ruined tank, holding skyward her sword. It’s marked for a June 2018 release. Two PVC Batman inspired statues were also present; One being Batman himself and the other the Joker. Both a special designer creation that started from a sculpture, the Batman figure depicts the caped crusader with chiseled abs and in mid-leap from a gargoyle statue modeled to look instead like Batman villain “Man-Bat.” In his right hand, Batman holds a poised Baterang. The Joker statue takes its likeness from the popular “Arkham” series of video games, completed with his slim-fitted purple suit, poisonous-lapel flower, and cane. Taking a more abstract approach compared to the Batman statue, the Joker’s base was made of up of large-green “HAHA” letters stylized as if they were crumbling ruins. I wanted to sneak some pictures, but DC’s Kevin Kiniry was nearby to thwart any and all attempts. Both of the statues are slated for an August 2018 release.
A centerpiece for the “forbidden” table though was the life-size version of the cane that the joker held in the sculpture. A smooth-cylinder design that separates into two pieces for shipping purpose, the cane’s head is an even more cartoonish version of the Joker’s face, elongated in the face with his hair pulled back to form the handle. DC has sold a cane before, but that was upwards of $300 and came with a wall mount.
It’s an interesting decision on DC’s part to not have any tied-in movie merchandise on display, except for a few Wonder Woman pieces that is. Is this any indication that DC is having doubts that their movies will push their toy sales, themselves now shifting focus onto older media with built-in audiences or to appeal to collectors that look more for artistic renderings? If movie reviews and sales figures are any evidence, the environment isn’t stable right now for toys based off of DC’s currently movie lineups. Except Wonder Woman of course. Go Wonder Woman!