U.S. judge rules that Marvel mutants are not human
Despite their ongoing crusade to be accepted by the human race, the X-Men are not human according to one U.S. judge. At the end of a six-year court battle between Marvel Enterprises and the U.S. Custom service, Judge Judith Barzilay of the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York handed down a ruling that many Marvel comic characters are non-human, and therefore action figures based upon them do not fall into the category of dolls. The result of the ruling is that Marvel action figures imported from China in the mid-1990s should have been subject to a lower duty rate, and the company’s subsidiary Toy Biz will be retroactively compensated. According to the U.S. tariff code at the time, dolls were subject to a duty of 12% versus the 6.8% rate for toys. These duties have since been eliminated from both categories.
Marvel issued this statement intended to mollify fans upset by the idea that their beloved heroes are anything other than human: ‘Our heroes are living, breathing human beings – but humans who have extraordinary abilities. The court decision actually reinforces this point. Handing down a decision that the X-Men figures indeed do have ‘non-human’ characteristics further proves our characters have special, out-of-this world powers.’
TRU loses top exec following holiday low
Toys ‘R’ Us is hunting for a new president for its U.S. division after Gregory R. Staley announced his resignation for personal reasons last month. Staley joined the company in 1989 as VP and divisional merchandise manager for the U.S. stores, and was head of its international division from 1995 to 2000. He has been president of the company’s U.S. toy stores since March 2000. Staley’s departure follows a disappointing Q4 for the U.S. stores in which price cuts and an award-winning ad campaign failed to bring in holiday shoppers late in the season. Sales at toy stores open at least a year dropped 1% in the nine weeks leading up to January 4, 2003, though increased sales in international stores pushed overall revenues up by 2% for that period.