May 19, 2024

TDmonthly Magazine

July 2004 | Vol. III - No. 7

Action Figures Of Quality Not Quantity

By Tony Maddela
July 2004

Quality is a hallmark of collectible gifts and toys. The attention to detail, extraordinary materials and high level of individuality that endear collectibles to collectors all contribute to a limited production of such products. The objective for the manufacturers is to profit from the premium that´s paid for current supply and introduce new products and lines to keep loyal customers. Timing is the key to a manufacturer´s and retailer´s success.


Dark Horse Comics (ToyDirectory) succeeds by linking many of its products to the movie industry. Always in transition, the company has mastered the strategy of satisfying the temporary spike in demand that occurs around the release of a film. It is half of a perfect marriage between the movie industry, unpredictably limited by interest and the collectible toy industry, deliberately limited by supply.


In order to expand the potential of a temporary market, Dark Horse innovates beyond the standard action figure fare by offering collectible standard and mini-busts. David Scroggy, vice president of product development said, "We are seeing a trend toward large vinyl roto-cast figures, many of which are inspired by the genre known as Hong Kong figures. There´s also a trend toward imported Japanese toys."


What happens when a movie evolves into a cult classic? Dark Horse immortalizes peripheral characters in the film, such as the mini-busts of a bounty hunter associated with Boba Fett in "Star Wars."


Dog Soldiers (ToyShow) takes a different, focused approach by serving the narrow but permanent American history market with action figures whose details are historically accurate. Its stock doesn´t change much in comparison with Dark Horse, but every Dog Soldiers figure is meticulously researched and is able to stand on its own indefinitely as a statue paying tribute to men of a unique era.


The astonishing level of craftsmanship renders Dog Soldiers´ Cheyenne and Viking figures almost lifelike. The company´s upcoming Pawnee figure features characteristics that are symbolic of the tribesmen, including a scalp-lock and standing moccasin flaps.


While prosperity is a priority, higher on Dog Soldiers´ owner Mike Gauldin´s agenda is producing action figures that are true to reality instead of Hollywood ´s interpretation. His company is committed to a cause. "When my generation was growing up, we received a really warped and inaccurate picture of our own country´s history from movies and television, then later we had to unlearn all of it. If a young person owns one of my figures and learns something from it, anything he learns later will build upon that first knowledge, not contradict it."

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