The ICv2 Awards are an on-line continuation of a tradition that began in Internal Correspondence, the print predecessor of ICv2, over a decade ago. These awards are given as a way of reflecting on the events of the year and to draw some conclusions from them. The ICv2 Awards are based entirely on the business impact of events on retailers, as determined by the editorial staff of ICv2.
Deal of the Year -- Jakks Pacific Acquires the Dragon Ball License
Our choice for Deal of the Year in the toy industry is the acquisition of the toy license for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z by Jakks Pacific (see 'Jakks Lands Dragon Ball License'). The three-year license also includes Dragon Ball GT, a series that will probably make its first appearance in the U.S. in 2003 (see 'The Future of Dragon Ball'). Jakks was able to obtain the license because of the bankruptcy of Irwin Toys (see 'Irwin Toys Files For Bankruptcy'). Irwin's DBZ toys have been bestsellers for years -- and have sold well in both mass market chains and independent pop culture shops -- so the acquisition of this license is a real coup for Jakks Pacific, a company which has come from 'bit player status with $8 million in revenue in 1995' to the position of the third largest toy company in North America (see 'Who's Third in U.S. Toys?').
This was a very tough choice since there were a number of landmark agreements concluded in 2002. One of the most surprising was Mattel's acquisition of the mass market rights to toys based on DC Comics characters (see 'Mattel Snags DC/Warner Licenses From Hasbro'). Hasbro had held the DC license since 1989, when the toy conglomerate scored a mighty coup thanks to the success of Tim Burton's Batman film and the toy associated with it. Eventually Mattel's acquisition of the DC license may have a huge financial impact, especially if DC's sister company Warner Brothers can get a Superman or Batman film made (see 'DC Superhero Movies Still in Limbo').
Another potentially huge agreement that should pay dividends much sooner is McFarlane Toys' acquisition of the rights to the two Matrix films scheduled to be released in 2003 (see 'McFarlane Toys Grabs Matrix License'). McFarlane Toys revolutionized the action figure industry with its highly detailed sculpts, so if any company can overcome the 'sophomore slump' that can affect sales of movie merchandise tied to a sequel, it will be McFarlane.
Phenomenon of the Year -- Divergent Price Trends in CollectiblesThe huge expansion in toys and figures intended specifically for collectors over the past ten years has led to some very interesting and often paradoxical trends. On the one hand prices for resin statues, which typically topped $100 as recently as a year or two ago, have been dropping to the point that some resin figures in the 10-to13 inch size are now selling for sixty to seventy dollars. A counter-trend involves high end collectibles and props, which are now retailing for $200 and above. Factory X's ultra-cool props such as Captain America's Shield or Thor's Hammer are selling for well over $200, while Dynamic Forces life-size Spider-Man and Green Goblin heads are clearly intended for the well-heeled collector. The porcelain 1950s Batmobile from DC Direct is yet another example of a very cool collectible with a stratospheric price tag ($195). Some observers believe that the proliferation of resin statues and busts has created such competition for the collector's dollar that the price trend will inevitably plunge even further downward, but this trend has not yet affected the more elaborate high end of the market which is buoyed by the use of more expensive materials (porcelain, bronze, etc.) and more exclusive items reproduced in life-size formats.