Monday, July 30, 2012

Well, shit.

I periodically browse the Entertainment Earth website, partly because they have so much cool stuff, but also to monitor when Twilight Zone merchandise becomes available.  I spotted the following last week:

My heart sank.  Followers of this blog are aware of my crush on Maya the Cat Girl, and I liked to believe that my championing of her to my contact at Bif Bang Pow! had something to do with their decision to create an action figure of her.  I wasn’t nearly as concerned about Henry Corwin/Santa Claus because, frankly, it’s an action figure of Santa Claus, which would look awfully strange on a display shelf eleven months out of the year.  I emailed my contact (hell, I’m gonna go ahead and call him a friend) at Bif Bang Pow!, and he brought me up to speed on a story that was even more far-reaching and tragic than I could have imagined.

Going forward, they’re essentially prohibited from using any human likeness in their Twilight Zone products.  Not just actor/actress likeness.  HUMAN LIKENESS.  This means that if a character has a human face, it cannot be adapted to action figure or bobblehead form.


We already knew that securing actor likenesses was both a legal and a monetary issue, which is why BBP! was focusing on CHARACTER likenesses (for example, the Three-Eyed Venusian action figure is easily identifiable as such without looking expressly like Barney Philliips, the actor who portrayed him).  I can only presume that an actor (or their estate) took issue with this approach and demanded remuneration despite the fact that their specific likeness was sidestepped.  It all comes down to dollars, kids, and Bif Bang Pow! doesn’t have bottomless pockets like Hasbro.  I am not privy to the details, of course, so this is only my presumption, but I’m sure I’m not too far off.

This effectively kills both the action figure and bobblehead lines, and here’s why:  there are hardly any Twilight Zone characters that don’t have human faces, even the aliens, and they’ve already done most of them.  I can (almost) count the remaining candidates on one hand:

Janet Tyler (with bandaged face) (from “Eye of the Beholder”)
Old Ben in Alien Disguise (from “The Fugitive”)
Emily Harper (from “The Masks”)
Wilfred Harper (from “The Masks”)
Wilfred Harper Jr (from “The Masks”)
Paula Harper (from “The Masks”)

And… that’s it.  Every other character in the series --- be them human, alien or monster --- has an identifiable human face, which makes them impossible to render in action figure or bobblehead form under the current restrictions.  This means Maya the Cat Girl and Henry Corwin/Santa Claus had to be cancelled (along with the delayed Clown from “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”), despite the fact that they were already in production.  This also means the quiet death of dozens of future possible items too.  Unless something changes, both the action figure and bobblehead lines have been effectively killed.

Here's Bif Bang Pow!'s official press release on the subject.  It's cool to see some of the figures they were planning but hadn't announced yet (including Anthony Fremont from "It's a Good Life" and Marsha the Mannequin from "The After-Hours"), but the tragedy of the whole thing wrecks said coolness.  Fuck, fuck, fuck.

However, we still have four previously announced figures to look forward to in the next few months, none of which have recognizable human faces:

Nurse (from “Eye of the Beholder”)
Alicia (from “The Lonely”)
Alien (from “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby”)
Cyclops (from “The Fear”)

We may also see reappearances of some earlier figures that are now sold out, notably Dr. Bernardi from “Eye of the Beholder” and The Invader, both of which certainly deserve another run.  And Old Ben from "The Fugitive" is in bold above for a reason:  an action figure is currently in production!  I’ve been granted first scoop rights, so pardon my gloating while I post the following:

That is a seriously amazing sculpt.  Of course it is.  BBP does great work.

This whole thing is just plain heartbreaking, not to mention maddeningly frustrating.  We can hope that something changes, but as things stand right now… the end is in sight.  Of course this wasn’t going to last forever, but to have these wonderful lines abruptly ended like this is just awful. 


Joel Benedict Henderson said...

Well so much for you Bif Bang Pow.

ColScott said...

BBP is not being straight with us- I contacted them and they said vague stuff like what they said to you. But Bill Mumy is all for a figure. So if he is, why no figure?