Trading on the heat that collectible card games have generated at retail over the past few years, Playmates Toys is launching a new hybrid line called Battle Dice that tosses action figures and dice play into the mix.
Due out in spring ’06, the Costa Mesa, California-based company’s reinvention features collectible dice that are big enough to store one-inch action figures, and pitched battles are won using a combination of luck and strategy. Kids pick a character (numeric values for attributes such as speed and strength are carved into each one’s base), put them in a die and roll.
Whoever ends up with the lowest score decides which attribute the battle will be based on, and the outcome is determined by adding up the roll value and the character’s stat for that trait. Choosing which heroes to take into battle becomes very strategic as kids try to go with ones that have high values for traits they think might come up.
The initial product rollout will include 68 licensed characters from Marvel Entertainment’s roster of heroes and villains, followed by three more waves of 42 throughout 2006. A second big push for DC Comics characters will round out the superhero range in time for back-to-school. Starter packs with six die and six characters (four of which are visible through the packaging) run for US$9.99, with three character booster packs for US$5.99. Playmates will also release The Thing and Incredible Hulk dice-launchers and licensed battle domes in the fall.
According to Herb Mitschele, the company’s director of licensing and international business development, signing deals with Marvel and DC was a natural starting point because they have a wealth of characters with lengthy back-stories to draw upon – a necessity for standing out in the competitive action figure aisle. But Mitschele plans to pick up more licenses and launch generic characters as the line develops, and he’d also like to branch out from battle-driven play to target girls and preschoolers.
Mitschele adds that the Battle Dice line was created to cash in on the huge number of kids turning to interactive entertainment options like video games and trading cards. Since the level of interactivity in video games is pretty tough to replicate in plastic toys, Playmates targeted trading cards as a play pattern it could pick up on – with the right price-points and properties, of course. ‘It’s extendable, it’s collectible, and it hits exactly on what the trading card business has been doing well over the last few years,’ says Mitschele.
Editor’s note: The electronic version of this article has been edited from the original print version in order to correct or clarify some information that it contained.