It was exactly one year ago today when Julius Marx of Action Figure Insider published an exclusive news about Mattel’s special edition “Holiday Gift” figure for 2005. Mattel, the makers of the very popular Justice League Unlimited action figures, decided then to release an ultra-limited edition Hal Jordan figure. This was its way of saying “Thank You” to some of the people at WB Animation, DC Comics and the Mattel team that has worked so hard on the JLU and DC properties all year. Only 100 pieces were made/released and each one had the cardback signed by Bruce Timm (JLU co-creator and producer).
Reactions from JL/JLU fans and collectors were mixed. Some were happy that an animated Hal Jordan figure finally got made, albeit near-impossible to obtain. But the majority’s reactions were nuclear to say the least. The words “what was Mattel thinking?” (originally with plenty of invectives) still echo even up to this day.
Texas Ranger (not his real name), who was then the brand manager for the JL/JLU line admitted on AFI that he was “the Idiot Exec from Mattel that did this whole project.” He explained that there was no hidden agenda (PR, piss the fans off, etc), and that this was “a simple holiday gift to the 100 or so people who have killed themselves over the past year to bring the huge number of JL toys, comics and animation to fans.”
For several weeks/months after Holiday Hal was announced, fanboys were in suspended animation – wondering whether or not this was simply one of Mattel’s marketing ploy to hype up enthusiasm and demand for something that would eventually be sold as a regular item. As with many other hopefuls, I am one of those who were clearly dsiappointed when harsh reality set in and made everyone realize that Holiday Hal was never going to be part of our collections.
A few of those who were lucky enough to be recipients of one of the 100 pieces lost no time and posted theirs up for sale on eBay. The first one sold for a whopping $3,500 (rounded off) and subsequent sales were also in the 4-digit price tags, though maybe not as high. I suppose Hal is worth that much to those who can afford him. Unfortunately, average Joes (or Juans) from 3rd world countries like myself will have to simply be content and just admire such things from a distance (and maybe blame our government for our poverty).
But, of course, there are alternatives. Whoever it was who said that necessity is the mother of all innovations must have either been a fellow 3rd world citizen or an action figure customizer. Several Hal Jordan customs have been made over the last year. This is probably a natural (or logical) effect arising out of the frustration of many from the seemingly unfair deal that fate has dealt a loyal fan base. Some of these customs even sold on eBay at prices you wouldn’t think one would pay for a copy. For many, myself included, these alternatives were just as good as the real thing. After all, what other choices do we have?
In retrospect, the Holiday Hal Jordan exclusive may have been viewed by many as one of the downsides of collecting action figures. As far as exclusives go, I think Holiday Hal was (probably still is) one of the toughest to obtain. To a certain extent, it’s much harder for collectors to accept the fact that there exists 100 official pieces of him rather than seeing prototypes that never went into actual production.
Grundy’s custom Hal Jordan with packaging.
So now I wonder, does Mattel have anything to ruffle up more feathers this Holiday season?
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