07-19-12 : 2012 SDCC Wrap-up
Here’s my Mel Brooks related summary of the 2012 San Diego Comic Convention. Prior to the show my expectations were low, but I figured I’d drop by the Shout! Factory booth and any booths tied to Max, Mel’s son. It turns out that Fox has a 25th anniversary Spaceballs Blu-ray coming out. No other details were available and no other promotions were in place. The Shout! Factory booth didn’t have any new details about the Mel Brooks collection either. My friend did see this Spaceballs fan on the show floor.Â There was a neat photo booth tied to Max’s zombie books, but other than that, not much else.
You probably “find my lack of news disturbing.” But, if you’ve been to comic-con half the magic happens off the show floor.
On Saturday night I attended a comic-con panel entitled “AFI’s Behind the Plastic”. For those that are not in the know, in this context AFI does not stand for American Film Institute, but Action Figure Insider.Â Once a year this panel allows fans to hear directly from those with the inside track on the industry and this year I expected great things surrounding the release of MakerBot’s relatively affordable Replicator… see where this might be going?
As in past years, the panel was moderated by Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett from ActionFigureInsider.com.Â He was joined by the following folks (list from SDCC website):
Jesse Falcon (director of merchandising for Disney/Marvel brands)
Jim Fletcher (design director-creative services, DC Entertainment)
Jason Lenzi (CEO, Bif Bang Pow)
Jerry Macaluso (president, Pop Culture Shock Collectibles)
Scott Neitlich (marketing manager, Mattel)
Brian Stevenson (co-owner/designer, SpyMonkey Creations)
Chuck Terceira (director, Diamond Select Toys and Collectibles)
Jeff Trojan (VP, Marketing Playmates Toys)
David Vonner (director of product design, Kasual Friday)
During the Q&A a fan asked the panel “what fans can expect in terms of intellectual property in the future,Â given that hot property licenses like GI Joe, Transformers, Thundercats, TMNT, He-Man, etc… have been re-visited recently.” There wasn’t any definitive answer, but Scott Neitlich replied that he’d love to see “Spaceballs” action figures made but unfortunately acknowledged the agreement between Mel and George Lucas as potential problem. I followed up that question by asking whether he had actually tried to contact George Lucas or Mel given the amount of time and diverse Star Wars products on the market (ie this wouldn’t take away from George’s empire) and also suggested a “Mel Brooks line with Blazing Saddles, History of the World, etc… ” someone on the panel added that they could have digital voice chips to the characters (akin to a past Star Wars toy line) so when placed on a special base they would speak… “Mongo only pawn in game of life”… but ultimately they brushed off my question as a long shot.
So where does this leave Mel Brooks fans that want action figures inspired by his movies? Well, the other interesting discussion regarded the change in the toy market because of kickstarter and also the makerbot 3-d replicator. For those not familiar, kickstarter allows people to get funding from backers on the internet and the Makerbot Replicator prints out objects modeled on computers using spools of plastic (think Lego plastic). The interesting thing is that given a computer model, the cost of creating parts for a 3 3/4 size figure would be relatively inexpensive (no more than $10 for material and probably much much less). Can you imagine instead of going to a toy store you could surf to a toy you want online, download the model file, print it out and assemble? We’re at the point where stuff similar to “plastic model kits” could be printed out. That’s what we’re talking about here and that’s what I hope some Mel Brooks fans go out and do for the Spaceballs toys!
If I make any personal headway, I’ll be sure to post it here.