Hoping to latch onto the same momentum that saw Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card games (TCGs) become global phenomena, Seattle, Washington-based WizKids has come out with a hybrid that melds the popularity of TCGs, miniature role-playing games and comic characters. Marvel HeroClix: Infinity Challenge – the first incarnation of the game that features 150 figures based on the comic universe’s heroes and villains, including The Hulk, Spider-Man and Wolverine – sold more than 1.3 million units during May 2002, its first month on store shelves. It was shortly followed by DC HeroClix: Hypertime in September, which features characters like Batman and Superman and sold more than one million starter sets and booster packs within the first six weeks of release.
What makes HeroClix different is the combat dial built into the base of each figure. The dial keeps track of damage, speed, attack and other important elements, eliminating the need for charts and graphs and making game play easier for the eight-plus target demo. The game is also played on a map, which makes it more like a board game. ‘We were amazed at how many people have gotten into this. I think they love the detail on the figures and that the game actually feels like the comics,’ says company founder and CEO Jordan Weisman.
The characters, which average a little over an inch in height, are available in different experience levels – a veteran Wolverine is more powerful and rarer than a rookie Wolverine – which is indicated by a ring around the base. Starter sets (US$19.95) contain eight random characters, a two-sided map, game tokens and dice, while booster packs (US$6.95) have four randomly inserted miniatures.
Riding on the popularity spun by the theatrical release of Spider-Man last summer, Marvel HeroClix: Infinity Challenge went beyond the company’s expectations, says Weisman, and many retailers sold out their inventory within days of delivery. The Marvel HeroClix: It’s Clobberin’ Time game set was released in November, and Marvel HeroClix: Xplosion will roll out in March. Both the DC and Marvel characters can be used with any of the game sets. Weisman says the company plans to expand its licensed portfolio by tapping into indie comic titles next, and is looking at licenses in other categories as well.