Over at Murph's "5th Turtle" blog, there has been a lot of discussion about TMNT toys, mostly about those from Playmates. Throughout the discussion, there has been one fundamental misconception about how the TMNT toys get made that keeps popping up. It's usually in some form of comment like "Mirage should make Playmates do GOOD figures/toys, like Jagwar from the Archie TMNT comic."
Mirage doesn't MAKE Playmates do anything, much as Playmates doesn't MAKE Mirage do anything. Mirage and Playmates work together to try to come up with what we both agree will be good, sellable toys that KIDS will want to play with. In this endeavor, we are partners. Yes, Mirage can reject designs or proposals from Playmates that we don't like. Yes, Playmates can demur from making toys that Mirage wants to see made. (Vacuum-metalized Fugitoid, anyone?) But we try to come to a meeting of the minds, respecting each other's position and expertise, and create toys that KIDS will want.
We've worked with Playmates for twenty years. I have come to have great respect for them, and for their knowledge of the toy industry. Have I always absolutely LOVED everything they've done with the TMNT line? No. Have they always absolutely LOVED every design or concept change we've required of them? Surely not. But I think that overall, they have produced a whole lot of great toys with a lot of "play value".
Talk is cheap -- it's easy to say things like "Hey, Jagwar would make a great figure! Why don't you make one of HIM, dumbass?!" Well, maybe... but would that figure SELL? (Sell more than the hundred units or so you might sell to the people who read and post comments on these blogs, that is.) Making and selling an action figure is not a simple or inexpensive thing. It takes a lot of money to cut that steel for the molds, to devise and produce the packaging, to advertise and market the toys. It is, in the final analysis, a BUSINESS. Risks can be taken, but they have to be carefully-weighed risks.
And Playmates once took a freakin' HUGE risk -- and that was doing the TMNT toy line in the first place. Lots of people in the industry scoffed, and said it would fail. "Green doesn't sell, ninjas are dead, etc., etc.." Playmates continues to take risks, every time they put out a product. As much as we would like it otherwise, this is NOT a very predictable industry. -- PL