(I was originally going to post this in the "comments" section of my first "Let's Talk Toys" post, but changed my mind at the last minute, deciding it might work better as a separate post.)
I don't have the time and/or the energy to respond to every individual point raised or question asked, but I will try to hit here what I see as the key issues.
Before I get into it, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who commented passionately while doing so civilly. It makes for a much more pleasant read and a productive discussion, don't you think?
(And as an aside -- in one of those odd, serendipitous life moments, I was driving home today, listening to NPR while musing about this response I was going to write, when what came on the radio but a fascinating story about what I believe was called the "Hip-Hop Chess Federation". Actually, I just Googled it, and came up with their website (http://www.hiphopchessfederation.org/).
What intrigued me the most was this one guy they were interviewing who was drawing the comparisons between chess and music, as both rely fundamentally on mathematics. And I thought "Huh... I bet Donatello would like to join a group like that!")
Okay, the first thing I'd like to address are the comments made by several people about how poorly TMNT toys do in stores compared to Toyline A or Toyline B, because it's plain to see that those other toys always sell out. Really? Is this an anecdotal, seat-of-the-pants, off-the-cuff estimate, or do you have insider information from the toy companies in question about (a) what they actually shipped to ALL the stores, and (b) how many of those items shipped actually sold? I seriously doubt it's the latter. It's easy to make those kinds of judgments, but not always accurate. There can be any number of other factors involved. For example, how may of you have had the experience of going to one toy store and not finding even one example of a particular figure or vehicle... then going to another toy store and finding a whole bunch of them? I remember when I used to buy a lot of toys, this would happen quite often, to the point where I developed a routine when I looked for a particular type of toy -- for some things I'd first head to Toy's 'R' Us, for other to KayBee, for others WalMart, and so on. There is substantial store-to-store variation, in my experience.
Second, I would like to request that, when we have these discussions, that everyone PLEASE refrain from making this type of comment: "If Playmates put (fill in the blank) in the TMNT toy line, I guarantee it would sell!" When I saw this in one person's comment, I had to mightily resist the almost overwhelming urge to respond with a snarky/sarcastic comment to the effect of "Will that guarantee be in cash held in escrow, bonds, gold bullion, etc.? Will you be guaranteeing the entire cost of production, or just estimated sales, or both?" Really, I know how very tempting it is to say this when you think you have a really good idea, one that JUST CAN'T MISS!!! -- but the sad fact of the matter is that, while every so often it happens, it is hardly a regular occurrence, especially in the toy industry.
Third, I would ask that everyone take a deep breath, and then perhaps a "chill pill", when contemplating and commenting on what some of you are calling "Rapper Don". Now, I feel about rap/hiphop much like I feel about jazz and country -- I don't listen to a lot of it, but of what I've heard, I like a little of it quite a bit, and the rest I can take or leave. That being said, I couldn't remember Playmates having come to us with an idea called "Rapper Don", so I dug around at Mirage and found the stack of "concept art boards" that the Playmates dudes had left with us from their past few visits, and went through them until I found the board in question. This showed one of six of what you could safely call "music-themed" figures. In deference to Playmates, I'm not going to post the artwork or go into great details. Suffice it to say that I think these "music-themed" figures are actually pretty clever and fun, and I thought then (as I still think NOW) that, as figures that fall into the "dress up" category (that is to say, the Turtles or other TMNT-related figures put into outfits that may or may not make logical sense vis a vis story lines in the comics or the movies or the animated TV series, but which have their own sense of playfulness and whimsy), these are no more or less preposterous than, for example, "SWAT Team Leo" or "Army Don". In all honesty, of the six figures, I think Don's isn't the greatest, but mostly because I'm not HUGELY excited about how his weapon is integrated into the figure's accessories. It's not bad, just not fabulous. (The others are, in my opinion, VERY clever... especially Leo.)
And Don's not called "Rapper Don" -- on the concept art board, he is labeled as "DJ 'D'". I suppose to some folks that immediately makes him a "rapper", but I guess I see it a bit more expansively.
Fourth, and finally, and at the risk of sounding like a "broken record" (huh... I just realized that expression is now virtually an anachronism), I'd like to reiterate that Playmates makes toys for KIDS. As far as as I can tell, they have never really wanted to spend a lot of time or effort in the "collectors" market, the sole exception being those lovely large resin sculptures of the four Turtles they did a couple of years ago. (And now that NECA is in the picture and so far doing a GREAT job of addressing the needs of the "collectors" market, there may be no NEED for Playmates to jump into that arena.) While I am not privy to all the inner workings of Playmates, I have a strong suspicion that they have done, and continue to do, a lot of research into what kids want, and what they want to play with, and HOW they want to play. I saw a number of comments that bemoaned the fact that Playmates is doing some things that they've already done once or twice. Well, yeah... but the fact of the matter is that there are always going to be a fresh batch of new kids, kids for whom what some of YOU may think of as old, boring, stupid rehashed toys are actually brand new and cool... and, most important, FUN TO PLAY WITH!!! -- PL