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From Stranger Things to The Walking Dead, Fortnite to Game of Thrones, Destiny to Major League Baseball, Todd McFarlane's toy company has done it all — well, almost. For years, McFarlane dreamed of getting a shot at crafting superheroes for the big two comic publishers and now, with a three-year deal with DC Comics to produce new toys, he'll have his chance.
Hot on the heels of news that McFarlane Toys will be creating a set of figures based on the Harry Potter movies and books, the company announced this week that a new deal with DC (through Warner Bros. Consumer products) will bear fruit sometime in 2020. According to McFarlane Toys, the company will create a line of 6" to 12" figures based on characters from DC's Multiverse, a stable of characters spanning comics, animation, movies, and video games.
Early in his career, McFarlane worked at DC, providing the art for Infinity Inc. and Detective Comics' "Batman: Year Two" storyline. In 1994, he launched McFarlane Toys with the goal of creating better, more realistic toys.
"Every toy fair I walk around and think to myself, 'Am I the only human being that makes toys who hasn't had a crack at Star Wars, Marvel or the DC stuff?," McFarlane tells SYFY WIRE. "You walk around and see that almost everyone else in the building has figured out how to carve those licenses up, so now you're even seeing Star Wars hamster sweaters, which is apparently a thing."
With more than 20 years in the toy business, McFarlane says he's eager to take the lessons he's picked up and apply them to the DC multiverse.
So what's he have in store for the new line? Although McFarlane says no character or design has been picked or finalized, his company will work with DC to come up with a character list for the new line.
"We'll go about it the same way anyone would, really. If I handed you the license, who would you choose? Hopefully, there would be an 80 percent overlap in the characters I would choose and you would choose, then we'd pick those five to 10 characters to do for sure," McFarlane says. "We'll mix in some new characters that have grown in stature, say, for instance, Aquaman with his hit movie, and take a look with what's happening in pop culture and the publishing end of things as well."
McFarlane says there's an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, if there happens to be an interesting version of Batman or Superman the DC Publishers come up with in the meantime. The Injustice version of Superman or Earth One version of Wonder Woman come to mind as examples.
"First and foremost, it's gotta look cool," he says. "But it would be a chance to deliver a key character while giving it a look that another group of people might like as well."
McFarlane explained he's only concerned with making a high-quality product that appeals to both collectors and average consumers.
Since the deal is still new, McFarlane says talks with DC and Warner Bros. are ongoing as they try to flesh out what stable of characters they'll likely create this year.
"I think down the line is where the fun beings," he says. "Maybe sometime later we do a McFarlane Batman. I don't know if it's been attempted but I'm the only one who knows that those capes are supposed to be doing."
Additionally, he reveals that DC has been open to the idea of McFarlane coming up with new character designs, playing around with a Superman, Batman, or Wonder Woman costume.
"We're not talking major redesigns, just a bit of a tweak here and there," he says. "So far, they've been flexible, saying it seems fun and that we'll talk about it."
As for the impact of the deal on his toy company, McFarlane says securing a contract with DC is a "very big deal."
"There are only a few evergreen properties and DC is one of them," he explains. "We're just looking to make each toy interesting and dip into our bag of tricks as we move forward. We've had a couple of lucky breaks over the past few years. Maybe, if I do a good job with DC, I'll get a call from the folks at Lucasfilm."