After 22 years, DC Direct/DC Collectibles is no more
Just two weeks ahead of DC Comics’ big online Fandome event, mass layoffs at Warner Bros decimated the entire company. As a result, it looks like streaming service DC Universe’s days are numbered. And collectibles division DC Direct, previously also known as DC Collectibles, is done altogether, per The Hollywood Reporter. The company’s recent most popular lines included a 6-inch series of Batman animated figures, and 7-inch DC Comics based characters dubbed Essentials. When DC Universe launched initially, it offered an exclusive line of DC Collectibles animated Justice League figures.
Part of the independent action figure boom of the ’90s led by Todd McFarlane’s Spawn figures, DC Direct initially made figures based on DC and Vertigo properties not considered big enough for mass retail. Sandman, Preacher, Swamp Thing, Promethea and more got the kind of collectibles no other company would touch. Initially unable to make Superman and Batman figures so as not to compete with big toy companies, DC Direct ultimately helped define the difference in market share between “specialty” and mainstream retail. Regaining the rights to the former allowed them to make the major characters so long as they only sold at comic and boutique stores. The company made Watchmen figures long before anyone else, though they also canceled the line before release back when Alan Moore’s opinion still mattered to DC and he asked his fans not to buy them.
Although DC Direct went all-in on six-inch scale for a while with its Icons line, 7-inch scale mostly stayed their thing. So when McFarlane Toys started doing DC in that scale, it seemed a warning sign. At the same time, DC canceled a proposed line of designer Lucha Libre-style figures. Rumors of the division’s demise began then, and sadly, they paid off this week.
By embracing comic-specific variant characters and animated styles in the same line, McFarlane has shown a tendency to continue DC figures in a similar vein. It’s not as if Warner Bros. will ever stop merchandising their top characters. However, it’s the secondary ones who’ll see less love. The likelihood of someone like Tom Strong ever seeing toy form again just went way down.
What was your favorite DC Direct figure or item? Let us know in comments below.