Before I start, be sure to list all of this as "Rumor" until it is absolutely backed by a statement to real facts. What I can say is the info I'll post here has been leaking out bit by bit for some time now so consider this verification of some of that with some new bits thrown in. I've got nothing but love for DC Direct!
By now, most of the hardcore geeks who read my blog know about the LA move of a lot of DC Comics operations. As a part of that shift, DC Direct will be no more, replaced with the moniker DC Entertainment. What changes with the name? It seems we've seen a dose of it with Mattel's recent showing of upcoming Blackest Night and Brightest Day figures. In past months, Mattel's DC Universe Classics action figure line has been just that; a mix of classic characters, modern favorites and the occasional Super Friends character for die hard fans. Their newest lineup showing Blackest Night and Brightest Day themed characters put them head to head with DC Direct for the first time, causing collectors to wonder why Warner Brothers would want two companies producing identical characters? It's not hard to reason out, actually.
A new cartoon series (Young Justice) utilizes the entire DC Universe and a major motion picture (Green Lantern) pushes DC further into a spotlight seen by kids and adults simultaneously, on a global scale. It stands to reason they would want their most popular, most recent comic book event reflected on the pegs in as many stores as possible, and only Mattel has the power to do this. Further, I'm told Mattel has been given free reign to tap more characters from current story lines without DC Direct's competition. Basically, if Mattel call dibs, DCD must step aside.
So what does this mean, exactly for the future of DC Entertainment? All signs point to a gradual slow down in the production of action figures. I'd expect this doesn't effect the DC Unlimited lines that don't utilize DC Comics characters, but whose to say they won't want DCE to handle anything Mattel doesn't want to put on an already overflowing plate? With the short window of release for video game themed merchandise, I'd say DC Video Game figures could be regulated to DCE. As for what is written, we are told the 2012 production schedule includes mini busts, Batman Black and White statues and little else, all to be produced before the move. There are some items being planned for the next Batman movie, but we are told WB Consumer Products is leading that charge. It's obvious that Mattel want to focus on plastic and mass market items, so does that mean DCE will continue to make statues and busts as they see fit? With Toy Fair 2011 right around the corner (this February), we'll know the facts soon enough.