There’s few things more resistant to change than an action figure collector, especially if it involves a line they’re passionate about.
During Toy Fair weekend, McFarlane Toys announced its popular 5″ line of The Walking Dead TV series was being shelved and replaced with a less articulated 7″ scale.
We will be continuing the Comic line in 5″, but the TV line will be transitioned to a 7″ Collector Series after series 9. Although, the Daryl on New Bike will be in scale with the originals. There was discussion of continuing the 5″ for specials and exclusives, but nothing confirmed for that.
Predictably, the fan base was not happy with the news.
Honestly, had McFarlane revealed a more articulated 6″ or 7″ line that was superior to the 5″ version, I would have grumbled, but made the switch. Instead, they went the other direction that feels like a throwback articulation scheme that few collectors wanted.
For its flaws — the occasional caked-on facial painting and nearly worthless articulation from the waist down — this was a line that had its niche: excellent detailing, solid paintwork and was reasonably priced so you could army build walkers for dioramas.
I’ve gotten pretty gun shy about starting new lines. I’ve seen way too many promising lines (GI Joe Sigma Six, Funko’s Game of Thrones) fold just as they were starting to find a following. While I’ve been a fan of The Walking Dead show since it debuted, it took years later for me to get into McFarlane Toys’ Walking Dead line. The likenesses weren’t quite there and the action figures were more statues than anything else, but they improved dramatically and with a property as popular as The Walking Dead, it seemed like a safe bet this was a line collectors could buy with confidence.
Undoubtedly it’s frustrating for collectors to get into a line — and in some cases pay high back market prices to get figures they initially missed out on — only to learn they’ve invested in an incomplete line. What’s most frustrating is McFarlane Toys didn’t do a final 5″ TV wave beyond the already announced The Walking Dead TV Series 9 Action Figure Set (order here from Entertainment Earth). Getting a farewell Wave 10 could have filled in a lot of those gaps like Sasha, Rosita, Lori and Aaron with definitive versions of Rick, Carol, Daryl and Glenn.
In the end, customer confidence in McFarlane Toys has to take a hit here especially when it comes to new lines. After all, if a license to print money like The Walking Dead could get killed, there’s no telling which line could find its plug pulled next.