April is a swing month. The weather gradually improves throughout the northern tier of states, but vacations are still a long way off and summer buying patterns are just starting to emerge. Trends that we have seen during the first quarter, such as the increasing dominance of the DVD format, the overall sales importance of high ticket items, and the continuing reign of CCGs as the prime source of gaming sales are even more apparent in the April numbers. Let's take a closer look:
Seven out of the top ten items are DVDs. The format is made to order for anime and has been eagerly embraced by anime fans. The number of DVD players is increasing rapidly (see 'DVD Sales Continue to Climb' ) and most of the companies that release anime films are only doing videotapes for their most popular franchise properties -- which explains why the videotapes in the top ten are from Dragonball Z and Martian Successor Nadesico, two very popular series. The third collection of Outlaw Star, which came in at number 10 is only available on DVD.
The top item is the expensive Green Lantern Archives, Vol. 3., which once again demonstrates the importance of higher dollar hardback and trade paperback editions of comic material. The second spot belongs to Green Arrow #3 which was definitely the hottest comic to hit the shelves during April. This Kevin Smith penned opus continues to pick up steam. With the release of Marvel's retooled X-Men and X-Force comics in May (see 'Blender Reviews New X-Men Titles') it will be interesting to see if DC will be able to maintain the dominance that it demonstrated in April.
Collectible card games make it a clean sweep this month except for the CCG-aping Mage Knight Rebellion Booster Pack (see 'December Product of the Month'), which continues to perform very solidly at the number two position. The game that started it all, Magic: the Gathering, though only a shadow of its former self, still has enough weight to dominate the listings. This game is not going away, it has a still sizable core group, and has been able to recruit younger players. The Dragonball Z CCG (see 'DBZ CCG: The Trunks Saga Sells Out' ) has pulled ahead of Pokemon, which surprisingly still has some legs left in the CCG format at least. WotC's sports CCG--Major League Baseball Showdown--makes its first appearance on the list. The potential audience for MLB Showdown includes a major portion of folks who play 'Fantasy baseball.' Though there is little crossover between the avid sports fans who play fantasy baseball and the fantasy-loving fans who play Magic, a high percentage of sports card stores also sell CCGs, which should give WotC access to sports fans as well as fantasy gamers.
Trading cards dominate this category, which may be a trend that will continue through the summer, since there will be at least one movie blockbuster with tie-in trading cards releasing per month starting in May (see 'Mummy Returns Boffo' and 'Shrek's Strong Opening'). But in April it is the TV-related cards that rule. Inkworks has taken over the X-Files franchise and managed to garner the top spot, while Rittenhouse Archives came in second with their first series for Xena, the Warrior Princess. Both X-Files and Xena were previously issued by Topps, but the properties slipped enough in terms of mass market interest that Topps dropped them. Smaller companies like Inkworks and Rittenhouse are able to make money on smaller runs, so they can keep producing cards as a pop culture phenomenon fades from a mass market supernova to a collectors-only red dwarf. Note that three DVDs made it into the top ten in this category as well.
ToysBig ticket, comic-related items dominate the list again. You have to go down to the number six spot to find a non-comic initiated product, the Futurama Action Figures (though Bongo does publish an excellent Futurama comic, the TV series came first). After that, aside from the anime-related Tenchi Muyo figurines at number 7, it's all comic stuff. Will any of the summer movie-related toys (see 'Best in Shows'), make into the list during the next few months? Stay tuned.