Sigma 6 - A Post Toy Fair Report
Even as I started taking pictures of the wide assortment of Sigma 6 product on display at the International Toy Fair 2006, the questions started brewing in my mind. We had gotten a press release a few days before with figure lineups listed for Commando and Soldier assortments in the 8 inch category, as well as the sudden announcement of a 2.5 inch category to expand the Sigma 6 line even further. As I snapped pictures of figures I'd seen listed (or thought I'd seen listed) I immediately began formulating some questions and concerns in the back of my mind.
Even with many pictures left to go, I asked one of the tour guides for some further information...but I was informed that the Joe Design team was hard at work continuing to develop the new 2.5 inch property and could not make the trip to New York. The very kind tour guide went through the press release with me, but that provided few answers and actually gave me a couple of more questions. As the guide very patiently and kindly waited for me to finish taking my pictures, I already mentally started the list of questions, and when I signed on to the boards that weekend I discovered that a lot of other collectors were having a lot of the same questions.
So, being the curious sort that I am, and wanting to help out the collector public as much as possible, I decided to go to work getting some answers to some of these questions. It took some digging, but here is what Sigma 6 Central has found out so far about the imminent future of Sigma 6:
Firefly: Yes, that is Firefly, and yes he is in a G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 uniform. He will be appearing in the cartoon in Season Two, and the current Sigma 6 design team is well aware of his place in the G.I. Joe mythos. They know the importance of the Firefly character to Joe fans, and are taking that into account when deciding exactly what to do with the character. Some liberties will be taken with his backstory, but rest assured, they are well versed in the popularity and history of the Firefly character and how he relates to G.I. Joe.
Did you say Season Two? Yup! Season Two of the cartoon has been picked up by 4KidsTV and will be another thirteen episode season. Scripts have been ironed out and they are in the beginning phases of working out Season Three.
What's up with that Lt. Stone figure? He looks an aweful lot like Hi-Tech. You mean this figure? There's a reason he looks like Hi-Tech. He IS. Hasbro was keeping some releases under wraps going into Toy Fair, and Hi-Tech was a little surprise thrown in there just to keep us guessing. The eight inch version of Lt. Stone has not yet been revealed. Labelling him as Lt. Stone was an educated guess on the part of Sigma 6 Central, but it turns out we were wrong! I'm happy to report it. The item on his back is a robotic sentry device.
When are all these figures coming out? Release dates are always a work in progress, but the rough outline is as follows:
Commando 2006 Wave 2: Heavy Duty Fire and Duke Jet Wing
Commando 2006 Wave 3: Destro, Hi-Tech, Other figures not yet revealed
Commando 2006 Wave 4: Lt. Stone, Zartan, Other figures not yet revealed
Tunnel Rat, Arctic Duke, and Jungle Commando Snake Eyes are also slated for these assortments, but full details are not yet known.
Soldier 2006 Wave 1: Sky B.A.T., Storm Shadow Crossbow
Long Range Desert, Snake Eyes Urban, Firefly, Spirit, COBRA Commander, are slated for release this year as well, but full details are not yet known.
Zartan's listed on the Press Release, where's the figure? Not all figures listed on the release were available in sample form for Toy Fair. Rest assured, Zartan IS coming, and his design will be based on his look in the Sigma 6 cartoon.
What's the deal with Scarlett/Baroness, etc.? The fact of the matter is, market research has shown that female figures do not sell strong with the young boys toys crowd. It's a simple fact. With tooling costs for eight inch figures being what they are (which is very expensive) it is very hard to justify creating a completely new tool for a female figure, at least at this time. Anything is possible down the line, but Sigma 6 needs to continue it's strong sales performance that it's had so far.
Why all the character repeats? The Sigma 6 team is a small, core group of G.I. Joes, and the toyline is being produced to reflect that small group. Tooling for the larger figures is quite expensive, and as such, they are working towards doing as much as possible with each available tool as it's made. I personally am pretty confident that regardless of how many Duke and Snake Eyes repaints we get, the gear and themes that surround them will be new and interesting enough to warrant a secondary purchase. Especially if that gear includes an articulated pet wolf... ;)
How are sales of Sigma 6? While no one knows any real concrete numbers, sales have been reported as strong from various retailers. They seem quite happy with Sigma 6 performance, and they feel so confident about strong sales that there is even the possibility of some store exclusives down the line.
So what's the deal with the 2.5 inch? One thing that has always carried the 3 3/4" Joe line was the vehicles. Obviously, the eight inch scale focuses on the great characters and gear that make Sigma 6 cool...but that scale is simply too large to produce enough effective vehicles. This new smaller scale gives them much more free reign for producing cool, exciting vehicles for the Joe line.
Why not 3 3/4 inch? This new scale is really designed as a focus on vehicles with the figures being complimentary items. Producing these at a 3 3/4" scale would require large, expensive tooling, which would translate to higher costs on the shelves. They want to find a middle ground between well detailed, exciting vehicles, but produce them at a price point that is appealing to everyone.
That Dragonhawk is cool! What's its deal? The Dragonhawk is designed to be the cog in the gear for the entire Sigma 6 vehicle line. It's magnetic housing works with a wealth of potential mid sized vehicle sets and mission battle sets. It's magnetic deployment action is only one small part of the interactive nature of these new vehicles, and I think we'll all be surprised with all of the cool stuff that these vehicles can do when working together.
Are the vehicles designed to work with 3 3/4" figures? No. The primary interaction point of the vehicles is with the existing 2.5 inch Sigma 6 figure sets.
Can we now expect focus to change from the 8" stuff to 2.5"? Absolutely not. The two lines are being produced side by side to focus on different parts of Sigma 6, the characters/figures/gear, and the vehicles. There is plenty of room out there for both.