Editorial: A Look Back While Leaping Ahead
Congratulations everyone for surviving another year. I hope you didn’t punish your wallets on toys as much as I did (although I’m sure several of you spent far more). So, let’s recap the story of 2009 for posterity:
The big good story of 2009 had to be Macross Frontier merchandise. As I’m sure many visitors to my site are aware, merchandise is a pretty good barometer for the health of a franchise. Frontier has seen the typical range of mecha toys, character figures, and gashapon as well as cross-merchandised goods with Lucky Star, household products like mousepads and towels, and, of course, several popular pop albums. So Macross fans can rejoice; the franchise is still a proven money-maker so more sequels and more merchandise is more likely.
The big BAD story of 2009 had to be the death of various toy lines. While Frontier may have more merchandising than a single person can keep up with its already had one failure in Bandai’s VF100 line. The line was originally touted as Bandai’s opportunity to make just about every vehicle from the Macross universe in an easily consumable size and price-point but the botched VF-25 introduction to the series created an immediate dead end. Fans were turned off by the vast number of parts required in the parts-formation, the price, and ultimately the quality of the product. Like a Phoenix Bandai found something there worth resurrecting. From the ashes of the VF100 line comes Bandai’s new HiMetal 1/100 line. The new line features perfect transformation but that all will be a topic for 2010 as the first releases for that series (VF-19K and VF-1) are due out Q1. So Frontier had its failure but the big loser for 2009 was definitely Mospeada and Robotech’s The New Generation. The biggest flop in my universe was the premature cancellation of Beagle’s 1/10 line (released in the US as Toynami’s Masterpiece Collection Cyclone). I posted some scoop pictures of the amazing Fuke/Rook prototype Beagle had been displaying as soon as I had them but shortly thereafter the project manager left Beagle and the line was dead leaving us short of the two most unique ride armors. Yes, I may have been the one to announce that the line was dead but don’t think I didn’t do it with a heavy heart (as heavy as my heart gets for toys anyway). Toynami had also announced they’d be making Shadow Chronicles variants of the MPC Cyclones but I’m not sure I ever believed that and now we know we’ll never see it anyway. As if one crushed Ride Armor dream wasn’t enough, Mega House pulled the plug on their Ride Armor toys also leaving Fuke/Rook unaccounted for.
Other items of note in 2009 were Yamato’s being allowed to use the Macross7 license for new products (although only VF-22S toys were issued in the Gamlin/Max/Miria schemes).
Looking ahead the future looks both simultaneously very bright and very bleak. If you’re a Macross fan things are only looking up despite a crushing economic slump. There are more Frontier DX toys in the works, the new Hi-Metal line, Revoltech is making VF toys again, and it seems all but certain Yamato has something new planned (an SDF-1 less than $2200? Maybe). If you’re a Robotech or Mospeada fan things are getting very dark and cold. The only Robotech merchandise expected (realistically) in 2010 is the Shadow Beta toy… a toy that was due out long ago. Toynami has never been a good company about hitting projected release dates but one has to wonder if the delay in the Shadow Beta has more to do with the steep drop off in sales of the red and green versions of the Beta and a fear of over-saturating the market. I noted earlier that merchandise was a good indicator of the health of a franchise; to date there hasn’t been ONE successful Shadow Chronicles toy release. When Shadow Chronicles was released Toynami showed off I-men, Super Poseables, two MPC Alphas, and later showed a Synchro-equipped Beta toy. YEARS later only one toy was released, a quick repaint of the existing MPC Alpha mold, and it was such a half-assed job that Toynami recalled it. If you followed my Comic-con coverage, I also noted that there seemed to be no fan enthusiasm for the idea of a Synchro Beta when Tommy asked the crowd if they wanted Toynami to make one. Of course, the crowd may have still been stunned at that point as it may have been just after Tommy told the crowd that Shadow Rising wasn’t going to go forward until Warner Brothers did something with the Robotech license (because that would make the Robotech name more profitable which would be better for everyone). So, we Robotech fans have no merchandise for the new arch of Robotech, no new episodes slated any time soon, but at least we still have toys coming out for the original series right? Well, beyond the Shadow Beta that was slated for an 09 release? No. With Mega House and Beagle quitting Mospeada in 2009 there’s virtually NOTHING planned for 2010 to support the original Robotech franchise. There’s a chance Toynami may release their Vinyl Collection Battlepod or a 1/100 series toy. That said, again if we’re looking at the health of franchises by merchandise, Toynami chose to market the 1/100 series toys as MACROSS toys, not Robotech toys, which has to lead you to believe that Toynami feels the name Macross is more profitable than the name Robotech. To be fair, Macross does offer more paint variations so that creates more chances for easy profitability. Okay, so things look bad for Robotech going into the new year… but does that necessarily mean things are really going to pan out the way they look? Not at all. If I’m not mistaken 2010 is Robotech’s 25th anniversary so there should be some pressure on HG’s staff to make some money out of the occasion. Sure, we have nothing worth being excited for now but the year has just begun and there certainly might be something out there to surprise us. In the meantime, while it does appear CMs is also done with the Mospeada license (although I hope not), I will be reviewing a few CMs Mospeada releases that my site has so far been missing to keep the Mospeada name out there (as well as updating classic Mospeada toy posts).
I don’t have any dramatic changes planned for the website any time soon. I’m probably going to slow down on my new toy purchases but that shouldn’t be a problem as it seems the toy manufacturers are slowing down also (No Mospeada/New Gen releases will save me a ton of cash). I’m really hoping to go back and update my oldest posts here so that’s going to be a focus (as seen by my post earlier this week). Once the older posts are updated I think I’m going to do some condensing. Do I really need a separate post for every V2 1/60 or 1/48 release? Probably not so I’ll probably start making one very large post where readers can get all their info in one convenient spot. Then, once the site has nothing but posts that I think live up to my own high standards I might finally be able to branch the site out a little bit more and get away from just writing about toys that sometimes only a very small percentage of my readership cares for… but that’s probably more something that should be discussed after 2010.