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Mezco Toyz: Special Report

A special report by Mike Drake.

Mike Drake here once again here at Toy Fair reporting from the newly redesigned Mezco showroom.

Seeing their curiously unnamed roach mascot's head crafted of stainless steel and mounted on the wall as I entered the gallery signaled that I was in for something different. Actually, I've learned that if there is one thing you can always expect from Mezco it is something different. This year Mezco has decided to eschew the complex layouts that many vendors favor and have redesigned their showroom to mirror a sleek art gallery. I know, you're thinking "That's nice Drake, but what of the toys?!". Great question. But before I tell you about the toys let me wonder aloud about the toy retailers. If you read the trades you are aware that smaller retailers constantly complain they can't compete against the big guys and that they need exclusive products so they can compete. About 50% of the Mezco lineup this year will be deemed to "hot" for most mass merchants. Chances are very slim that any stores whose names end in "mart" or have an anthropomorphic long necked leaf-eating animal as a mascot will be carrying these items. For smaller retailers this is good news. Mezco has great product that smaller outlets can carry without fear of them showing up on the front page of a mass merchant's sale flyer as loss leader priced below wholesale. I hope they recognize the opportunity and seize upon it. If they don't, when the obituary is written it will blame their demise on bad business decisions, not on competition. With that said, on to the toys;

HELLBOY: Wee doggies! This is a great lineup! When first I saw that Mezco was including a backpack and a bookbag in the lineup I thought it odd but once I saw them I fell in love. They both carry the sword in hand logo but no wording, no HELLBOY logo. It is simple and clean and the must have geek accessory of 2004. Now the figures; The Mez-Iz are cute fun. They capture the characters essence beautifully and as I overheard one astute buyer in the showroom say "kid's love having nazis in their pockets!". Truer words were never spoken.

The 8-inch figures are not only well sculpted but are surprisingly well articulated. Hidden joints and flexible materials along with sturdy construction make these perfect for collectors and kids. I adore the bendy corpse. Even saying "bendy corpse" is fun. What could be better? Nothing but the 18 inch Hellboy figure! This is a foot and a half of Nazi-stompin' fun. Magnificently sculpted, this piece is a must have for both Hellboy and rotocast fans. Given the choice between this and the 18 inch version being produced by another company I think I can predict which one will be sitting in more fanboy's cubicles by the end of April, factor in the fact that the Mezco version if 1/5 the price of the competition's 18 incher and its a no-brainer.

'Nuff said.

ALIENS MEZ-ITZ: The line continues with some great additions, the warrior and human host are a great team and the chest burster action is great fun. The Queen and egg sack base are nicely sculpted. The third set, Ripley and spaceship base, are a bit bland but her flamethrower accessory more than make up for any lack of excitement.

POPEYE: The line continues on to series 3 with some great figures! Alice the Goon looks as though she popped right out of the cartoon and deep-sea Popeye with his Mark 5 diving helmet so perfectly captures the essence of the character it's amazing. I always wondered why Popeye always favored a diving helmet while Bluto favored S.C.U.B.A. gear, and is dressed as such in this assortment. Odd that. Rounding out the assortment is also ship deck Popeye, classic Bluto, and classic Olive with the Jeep (the animal not the vehicle). Great as the figures are, the jewel in the crown for this year's Popeye line is the deluxe boat set with octopus. While not based on one specific boat (Popeye sailed many) it simply screams Popeye when you see it. This is a prime example of why Mezco is one of my favorite toy makers. The boat actually floats! Plus, it has uneven wheels on the base so if you roll it on land you get that "ocean motion" movement. Why am I excited the boat floats? Think how many toy boats we have seen in recent years that are not sea worthy, or tub-worthy as the case may be. Mezco is making toys for people who love toys; he's making toys to play with. That is worth applauding. Also, the playset comes with a great octopus (with a vaguely squid shaped head) that Elzie Crisler Segar would be proud to call his own.

TOXIC TOONS: Sweet googlie mooglie! Based on the work of Eric Pigors this is some twisted stuff. I don't even really know how to describe these. Siamese twins in a body bag, a worm/ human skull hybrid, a dead child or dwarf with a bottle of poison, a vaguely Bride Of Frankenstein nurse with an eye patch and jumper cables and a doctor with hooks for hands that looks plucked from a nightmare. I don't know what to say except that I must have these and I'm clearing off shelf space now. This by the way is a prime example of what I meant about certain stores not carrying Mezco stuff this year. Its clean fun but edgy. I pray this line continues so they can do Eric's Frankenstein type figure. Question is, whom do I pray to for such a thing?

TIKI MON: I'd love to see some guerrilla marketing on these because I know in my heart this line could become something. Mezco has had me waiting several years for these and I want them now!

ROBOCOP MEZ-ITZ: A three-piece set, Robocop, his partner and the ED-209 robot are well sculpted and the ED is a must have for robot fans as it has now become almost iconic (catch the recent appearance on The Simpsons as well as past appearances on South Park?).

JACK THE RIPPER STATIONARY SET: This is so wrong I need at least two of them. A leatherette case containing bloody stationary, envelopes, a journal, a quill (!), ink well, letter opener, sealing wax and seal. It is pure madness; proof again that Mezco is a labor of love.

JACK THE RIPPER ACTION FIGURE: Another great rotocast figure. Everyone's favorite Victorian homicidal maniac comes with cape, top hat, medical bag, and knife. Rumor has it he's been seen canoodling with a certain blonde doll who recently separated from her long time boyfriend. Hmm...

THE FAMILY GUY: If it was possible to use Realscan technology on cartoons I'd swear that is what Mezco did. Unlike the Simpsons, which can be difficult to translate (Bart action figures always look too bug-eyed) into 3d form, the FAMILY GUY cast has been magnificently done. Daughter Meg is curiously absent but who really cares, after all we get three Stewies! One in regular clothes, one in Pjs and one jumbo rotocast version that will be 12 inches tall. While in the showroom I noticed a toy buyer from a retailer that shall remain unnamed look at these and ask "who are they?". That person should not be a toy buyer and is the very personification of what is wrong with many retailers. You have to know the product you are in charge of selecting. It makes me angry. Luckily, I noticed many other buyers were hip to the Guy and recognized its potential.

THE BLUES BROTHERS: Given the dirth of BB product for collectors this should be a welcome addition. Far superior to those action figures made by that other company some years ago these rotocast beauties will sit proudly on collector's shelves. The sculpts once again capture the essence of the characters. Well done!

MONSTER MEZ-ITZ: Series two continues with mad Scientist, Grim Reaper, ghoul, and invisible man. Welcome additions all. I hope the series continues and series 3 contains a Creature figure. Also shown but not on the slate until '05 is the monster castle playset. I WANT THIS PLAYSET! A great castle with a themed area for each of the classic monsters (Drac, Frank, Wolfie, Mummy) along with a trap door, revolving wall, secret chamber, lab, gargoyles, tower, lightning rod, channel to spill oil on visitors at the gate and more this is the playset of my dreams. I pray that Mezco keeps it full size and doesn't shrink it down to fit the minis. This is a beautifully designed set that any aficionado would be proud to own.

Heck, I want it to be the centerpiece of the Christmas village underneath my tree.

NAPSTER KITTY: Well you know Napster and you know their mascot. Here he (she?) is in all his rotocast glory.

LIVING DEAD DOLLS FASHION VICTIMS: Series 2 sports resculpted bodies that sadly feature less boobage but are still hot. The assortment is great and my bet is that the Clockwork Orange inspired doll will be the best seller with the biker chick a close second. Sometimes I like to sit in my robe and have tea parties with the series 1 dolls. Series two will be a welcome addition. Would you cream with that?

THINGS I CAN'T TALK ABOUT: Sadly there are several lines that have press blackouts so I can't write about them, all I can do I is speak in hushed whispers in the dark of night. One line may or may not feature (edited out by RTM), one line may or may not feature a diminutive actor with (edited out by RTM), and another may or may not be what Rosemary was afraid of. All I can say is that they all look great and any retailer who passes on them is a fool. One like should do especially well, based solely upon what I have observed by watching MTV Cribs.

That's all for now. See you in the toy aisle.

See more from Mezco's showroom:
- Blues Brothers, Gangsters Inc, Napster, Jack the Ripper, Dark Carnival
- Toxic Toons
- Living Dead Dolls
- Hellboy
- Popeye
- Family Guy
- TikiMon
- Mez-Itz (Aliens, Robocop, Hellboy, Monsters)
- Mez-Itz Monsters Castle Playset

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