DC Vice President Sales and Marketing Bob Wayne announced today that DC Direct will be expanding its simultaneous release program to include more releases than the Smallville figures previously announced (see 'DC Direct Will Do Smallville Action Figures').  This means that affected DC Direct products will be released through Diamond, its exclusive distributor to comic stores, at the same time as they are sold into other channels.  Previously DC Direct products were either not sold into channels other than comic stores, or were held from other markets for 90 days after release. 


The first two DC Direct products that will be released into all channels simultaneously will be two Mad products -- the Mad 50th Anniversary Box Set and the Just Us League of Stupid Heroes Assortment -- both being solicited during March for release in September.  Wayne pointed out in his announcement that most Mad Magazine sales are made through subscriptions or on the newsstand, so in order to make these products successful they must reach Mad fans through channels other than comic stores.  The Box Set actually includes three figures previously released plus an issue of Mad at a new reduced price.  The Just Us League Assortment includes four previously released figures and two new figures, also at a lower-than-normal price for DC Direct figures. 


According to Wayne, the lower prices are a reflection of the higher anticipated volume from selling simultaneously into multiple channels.  On the down side, Wayne said that if that volume does not materialize, these products will not be produced.


Two other products that will be handled the same way will be solicited in April.  One is the previously announced Smallville Action Figures; the other is the JLA First Appearance (The Brave and the Bold #28) Gift Set.  Both of these products were solicited in the Diamond Select showroom at the recently held Toy Fair, which is where we obtained the photos that illustrate this article.  DC is using Diamond to sell these DC Direct products into the other channels, as opposed to attempting to do so itself or using another sales agent. 


After we published the news in January that the Smallville Action Figures would be sold into all markets simultaneously, we published a comment from a retailer who was unhappy with the plan (see 'Retailers Respond:  To DC's Smallville Figures'), and there will undoubtedly be those that decry the expansion of this new policy.  But ultimately the degree to which this represents material new competition for pop culture stores will depend on the degree to which the affected DC Direct figures are embraced by chain retailers, and it's our bet that distribution will not be wide on most of them.  And while this is certainly a change from the way DC has protected its core market in the past, it's still a far cry from the situation on many toy products, which reach other channels before they're released to pop culture stores (for example, see 'Toy Biz Figures Continue To Improve').