Niche status means premium items, it seems

erhanciseRoughly speaking, there is two sects in products that are offered to the customers; the cheaper, more common variety that everyone can afford to purchase and use, and then the highly expensive luxury products that only few and selected can afford. Video games and their merchandise should always belong to the first of the two, as they are by all means a way to entertain the masses despite what people may tell you.

That’s how it’s been with Mega Man most of the years, especially in Japan. The games were always standard price, and Inafune’s gang even decided to produce Rockman & Forte after realizing how many kids were still playing Super Famicom because of having no access to a PlayStation. The small toys, models, books and so on were not all too expensive either. On the contrary, at their time of release they were somewhat a bulk commodity that through time have become more uncommon.

The recent Mega Man merchandise that are coming up are like the Sun and the Moon.

On the other hand, CAPCOM’s pushing out pretty standard, small scale merchandise. Charms, few kinds of bracelets and tape. Next to this, Great Eastern Entertainment seems to have the license to produce few Mega Man themed phone accessories, namely Servbot iPhone 5 case, knitted Mega Man cellphone bag and a Serbot lanyard. They’re not any different from the Zero bags, wallets or Battle Network sweatbands CAPCOM offered in the past. Check Rockman Perfect Memories (the book, not the site) for some pictorial material.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these, to be honest. They’re all relatively inexpensive to produce as they reuse existing assets. The tape for example is basically just needed a certain pattern to be delivered and the company just prints the pattern. Plastics extrusion has become a sophisticated thing, and so producing these charms and bracelets is just as relatively cheap. One could call these extremely lazy, but they actually speak volumes. All these recent merchandises use Classic, X, Legends and Battle Network materials. I’ve spoken volumes for the iconic representation of Mega Man if the game series would make a return, and it seems that all these recent paraphernalia are hitting the spots even CAPCOM recognizes to make most money; Classic, X, Legends and Battle Network. We can always debate whether or not Legends really belongs to the iconic set of Mega Man, but surprisingly I would defend its position due to the status it has within the Second era of Mega Man. First era would be the late 80’s to early 90’s, second era starting from Mega Man X and ending with Third era’s Battle Network.

While these are sold via e-CAPCOM, I don’t think for a heartbeat that they would not sell on the larger market. Or they would, if Mega Man had any relevancy nowadays anymore. However, there is the other side of things a well.

Statues and collectors’ toys have always been relatively expensive in comparison to the one we argue to ‘kids.’ I’m just going to go straight in and say that the First 4 Figures Mega Man statues have been travesties in terms of sculpt and design. It doesn’t help that the X statue they have for preorder now for outrageous price of $260 looks awful in every single regard. For one, the skin colour is wrong and they managed to paint his neck with that rather than proper black. The streams that come from the legs are not properly positioned and there’s no excuses why they look like that either. X’s dull expression doesn’t help the matter either. They could have used existing promotional illustrations as references for dynamic positions, but the one they went with is unexciting and incredibly dull. Their earlier Mega Man figure faired a little bit better, but the face is just awful with that one too. X’s stand is pretty nice, and could be modded into an USB-hub. I highly hope the other three fair better than this one, but in actuality I’m already laughing at the Zero and Sigma they’re going to produce.

It all really tells two things; bringing Mega Man characters into physical three dimensions is incredibly difficult due to them designed to work only in 2D.

Both Mega Man and X are getting another treatments that fair whole lot better than the atrocities of First 4 Figures; a toy of the redesigned X from the April’s fools, and a 33cm Gigantic Series Rockman.

The Redesign X, or Rockman X Ver. Ke, will be expensive as hell. Promised stuff include things like diecast armour parts, LED in the X-Buster, changeable thrusters in the back, effects accessories and possibly then some. The thing is, the design is bad by any means but it does have all the problems of modern hi-tech sci-fi designs. I touched on this subjects when the redesign was originally revealed and I have to give it to CAPCOM for going through with this in the end.

The Gigantic Series Rockman on the other hand is gigantic. 8 424yen is no small price for a statue, even if this big, but at least it looks extremely well sculpted. It portrays the iconic Classic Mega Man the best it could. This sculpt shows how to handle Mega Man designs in physical dimensions while retaining the original look. The characters are not Gundams in terms of design on anything similar where shapes and forms are rigid. Mega Man characters, first and foremost, are cartoon characters and thus have the power to essentially warp their body shapes to the needed extent.

ThinkGeek has a full sized replica of Mega Buster, and all I can think really is Why. This sort of things should really be for kids for half the price. The Buster Replica really is as useless collectable as it gets, unless one is willing to produce a similar level of cosplay, which would fail because I know no Mega Man fan who would be 1.32m in height. I’m afraid most Mega Man fans, yours truly included, are just bunch of adult kids trying to live their childhood memories the best they can.

The three aforementioned items are premium items for sure. Well, it seems that outside the e-CAPCOM stuff all other products the fans of the series are getting are premium products, aimed at the long-time fans who are in their 30’s or over. Long gone are the halcyon days of Mega Man.

Which begs the question; when did it happen? When did video games lost their way of family entertainment and are there just to serve the 30+ years old? It’s no wonder a game franchise like Mega Man can’t thrive, when the industry is not willing to aim it to audience that made it a cultural icon for a time.