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Ame-Comi Batgirl photo
Ame-Comi Batgirl

Steamy new Batgirl joins Ame-Comi line

Am I the only one that finds her scalding hot?
May 13
// Scarecroodle
DC Collectibles has unveiled a new Ame-Comi Steampunk Batgirl. This radically different design features mask-shaped goggles, some very cool gauntlets, and... batwings. I applaud DCC for its creativity here, as the design cert...

SDCC 2012: DC Collectibles - Assorted DC statues

Jul 14
// Scarecroodle
DC Collectibles had a wide array of statues at their booth that consisted mostly of items coming out later this year. While much of the selection looks like previously revealed items (with many already up for pre-order), I ca...

C2E2 2012: DC Collectibles Ame-Comi

Apr 17
// Tianxiao Ma
Wait, don't click your back button! I know, it's DC's much-maligned Ame-Comi line but these are better than you'd expect. These designs are out there but somewhat truer to the characters than Ame-Comi figures of old. The buil...

Ame-Comi's Wonder Woman as Star Sapphire is ... well ... very pink and yellow

May 17
// Colette Bennett
So, we don't really care for Ame-Comi that much. There have been a few winners in the line, but overall we have felt as if there were more misses than wins. There's already been a figure of Star Sapphire, and it was ugly. Now...

Figuratively Speaking: Fixing Ame-Comi

Mar 27 // Brian Szabelski
So if there's a problem, we can all agree it's with the design of some of the characters. You can have  great design and an awful sculpt or paint job that makes it bad, but you can't turn a bad design into something great. And there are two relatively easy ways I can think to fix it: [Batman in your mangas? It's more likely than you think (image from Batman: Death Mask)] 1.) Go to the experts Seems easy enough: instead of putting all their eggs in the Udon basket (and at that, not with some of the more well-known Udon artists), why not reach out to the actual Japanese manga artists and illustrators and see if they're interested in designing a character? It's not as if the manga industry in Japan simply annihilates any bit of the American comic scene there and you'd be an idiot to think otherwise. Heck, the name of the series itself, Ame-Comi, IS the Japanese word for American comics (in typical Japanese fashion of taking two words and shortening them into one much shorter word like pasocon (PC) or eakon (air conditioner)). I don't think that would have happened on its own unless there was an actual use for shortening it, right? Surely, there must be some well-known artists or illustrators who are a.) fans of DC's comics along with the manga they may have grown up with and/or b.) are willing to take on the task of creating something to fit the Ame-Comi line. In fact, just a few months ago, DC Comics did something that pulled a bunch of Japanese illustrators and manga artists together. Secondly, as you might have guessed based on the first image after the jump, DC's reached out and had manga artists do series in the past based on their characters, most notably of Batman. (And as a side note, we're not talking about anyone needing to be fired here. No one needs to be fired in either of these options, and it's not a knock on people's art skills in general. Designing characters and costumes is an entirely different beast sometimes, one in which even the best can make a misstep or two.) Likely the biggest issue with this is going to be the participation factor and the fact that they can't just do what Koto's done. The Bishoujo line keeps the basics of the costume design while giving them a Japanese look; the Ame-Comi line blows that up to an extent and encourages its artists to redesign characters to an extent while keeping a few basics around. And that leads to possible problem #2: you don't have any idea if a popular artist redesigning a DC hero's look will turn out any better than what you've got. Yes, DC could just simply reject designs if they don't like them, but that could be a costly preposition, either financially or with reputation if they manage to somehow anger them. Word spreads in circles if there's a perception of poor treatment and it could turn off some people from working with DC at all, not just for Ame-Comi. 2.) Go to the peopleIf that doesn't work, then option number two is going to the people. Go out into the wide world to find new artists, looking outside of areas you've considered before. There's a ton of talent out there, and not all of it's been discovered, and some of it would love to show itself off for you.Here's where it becomes a problem, or perhaps, a concern: comic companies DON'T SOLICIT ANYTHING. And rightfully so, or Warner Bros. alone would have to have a sound studio (or two) on their lot dedicated to holding portfolios, illustrations and pitches from people sending in their ideas. Heck, you could probably fill one for Batman story ideas alone. It's ingrained enough into the comic industry that I don't think any company, much less DC, is going to be able to wrap their head around the idea of doing this. Or perhaps, more likely, will want to. But let's play the hypothetical game and decide that they're going to break with what they normally do. What exactly would this all look like? The answer is: probably similar to what other companies who've done these kind of things have done in the past. That meaning, of course, a big website calling for submissions with enough legalese to save themselves from any further headaches when they reject several thousand submissions for having nothing to do with the contest what-so-ever, plus your usual “you send it to us and we get all the rights to it” kind of deal.  [Batgirl redesign by Krome Studios co-founder Steve Stamatiadis, of Blade Kitten fame] Still, I really doubt they'd ever try something like that. Which brings me to perhaps a more palatable solution: go forth into the Internet to find artists who draw at a high enough caliber (and may do this kind of thing already) and bring a few of them into the fold. There are some that do that kind of work already (see above). Heck, you might be able to pluck 3 or 4 off deviantArt right now. And before anyone says anything about THAT: try sifting through all the terrible stuff on dA and you’ll find some incredible talent there, folks. It’s beneficial both ways. On one hand, it brings attention to some great artists right now that might not be in the spotlight. And what's more, DC has complete control over things, just as they do now. They get to approve the designs that are done and worry about way fewer legal entanglements than they would for a cattle call. [Power Girl redesign by CallMePo] Could it work? Hells yes it could work! Good Smile Company and Max Factory have made a living off turning various, popular Hatsune Miku illustrations (based off Vocaloid songs) into figures and then selling them for a pretty nice profit. My best guess is there has to be some level of communication and collaboration between those who made the original artwork (like BRS' artist Huke) and those making figures or kits or what-have-you based off them, or we’d be hearing a lot more about legal battles.    Or, for example number 2, look at the relationship between garage kit makers and PVC figure companies Chris Seto mentioned in his recent A Collector’s Take. It might not always be ideal from a money stand-point (one-time payment to garage kit maker vs. continuing profits for figure company), but it works, sells figures for the company and brings some level of fame/respect/etc. to the garage kit maker that might be looking to turn his passion into a good paying job of sorts. [Green Arrow and Black Canary redesigns by Joel Carroll] But the reason they probably won't take this advice is pretty easy, too: Ame-Comi still sells rather well as is, odd-at-times designs and all. For example, last month's Diamond Comics listings of the top 25 selling comics figures (by total dollar sales) saw the Ame-Comi Heroine Series 1 Mini-Figures slot into the #4 spot. Of course, there's an issue since Diamond's numbers are relatively comic book store-centric, but that's likely the target audience DC Direct's aiming for. Of course, it's worth noting that by actual sales quantity, the mini-figure set would have placed way down in 23rd. And it also overlooks that only two of the Ame-Comi figures were in Diamond Comic's top 100 for 2010 (at #61 and #99, respectively), with both bringing in less money in Diamond Comics' listings by the Bishoujo Psylocke and Scarlet Witch figures. In fact, there are four Bishoujo figures on the list (two of the Phoenixes are a little further down) compared to just the two Ame-Comi figures. But even so, my original point seems to remain that they sell well enough as is that changing the way things are done is probably not seen as something that needs to be done. There are more options, yes. I’ve only mentioned two because these are the two I feel strongly could possibly work, but they’re not the be-all, end-all. Heck, I’m sure you have ideas as well, and if you’d like to sound off on how you think the Ame-Comi figures could be designed better, that little comment box below does wonders in helping you do that. After all, what do I know? I'm just one complete, sad little clueless idiot in front of a computer. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Well, last time this popped up, it ... it did not go well. In part, that's because there was a whole, whole lot of criticism offered without ... well, without any solid way to fix the main problem facing Ame-Comi. And that pr...


New Cheetah, Zatanna Ame-Comi colorways on the way

Feb 23
// Brian Szabelski
If you saw our ToyFair DC booth coverage, then you might have seen these two hiding in the gallery. But here's a bit more info on the Stealth Cheetan and Halloween Zatana: both are 9" tall, will cost US$60 and are coming out ...

DC Direct's Ame-Comi, now available to wear

Feb 06
// Andres Cerrato
Last time we took a look at DC Direct's Ame-Comi line, it stirred-up quite the little debate. Throughout the line's history, the comments have ranged from interesting concept to a poor excuse for a slutty Halloween costume. S...

Figuratively Speaking: Ame-Comi

Jan 22 // Brian Szabelski
Let me start with the following statement: I'm generally a fan of DC Comics and I like a lot of what they do. The big goofy ass grin on my face as I've played through DC Universe Online lately is proof enough of that. And on top of that, those of you who already own Ame-Comi figures, there's nothing that's wrong with you or nothing you should be ridiculed over, frankly. What you buy is up to you and no one should ever be in a place to harass or pick on you because you might like something they don't.  Additionally, it's worth noting this: the Ame-Comi concept is not a horrific idea. At all. Yes, costume redesigns can be really, really bad to the point you want to just rage at the world (hello Jim Lee's Wonder Woman circa 2010; the infamous "Bat-Nipples" on George Clooney's costume as I make you remember that Batman and Robin was NOT just a bad nightmare), but if you put a good amount of effort and time into them, they can turn out great. And the idea of infusing anime elements into comics is nothing new, so why not the figures as well? If done right, it could be a big cash cow and something people are proud to display. That's just kind of the problem: for all the potential that was there, DC Direct went out and made the equivalent of motherf***ing Bat-Nipples. There are a few main reasons for why this happened, but the first and foremost has to be the design quality. About half of the Ame-Comi line, and most of the original releases, suffer from one of a few design issues: they're way, way too weird or they're way, way too unoriginal. Or they don't even fit what the line's supposed to be about. For example, look at the image above. That's the first Wonder Woman they did for the line. Now, tell me what about that design really signifies that it's anime-influenced? If your answer was "Nothing," good, have a cookie. Maybe that's why they went back and found an artists who did a tremendously better job with the second version instead of trying to copy a little bit of Frank Frazetta's style. At least that one kind of looked like an anime Wonder Woman from a design standpoint. The original Catwoman sure looked like she fit in the anime universe as well. But maybe that's because she also looks cribbed from the pages of Shunya Yamashita's sketchbooks. And on top of that, it's really just her regular costume with a bit more skin and an anime-style face tacked onto it.   And then things go from bad to worse, because the other issue is that Ame-Comi has a massive sculpt/paint quality issue. This is not the first time the words "quality control" and "DC Direct" have been lumped together, but in this case, it's because … well, some of the sculpting is not great and the painting can occassionaly be kinda sketchy, as in its not always consistent from one figure to the next. Or it could just be a bad choice of paints. Often times, when it comes to fabric, there seems to be little that's done you make you think it's NOT a piece of molded plastic. And when it comes to shading … it doesn't exist on at least a handful of the Ame-Comi figures. Both those combined are usually enough to deter any serious collector from adding these to their collection, but then again, sometimes the actual sculpt/paintjob itself is just that hideous. This was the original design for Black Canary. Make your Naruto comments now, people, but truth be told, for what the line is trying to accomplish, it is merely meh. Unique, yet somewhat forgettable This is what it became: Yikes. Just check out her hair for starters: the detail's severely lacking and it looks more like a lump of yellow-colored Play-Doh smacked upon her head. And just my personal opinion, but her face looks kinda derpy, too. Thankfully, at least in this picture, there's no real paint issues, but the trend seems to be with DC Direct that for every well-painted figure of theirs, you can find one that's been royally screwed up by whoever was painting them at the factory. The Ame-Comi figures, especially the early ones, suffered greatly from this. And we can't forget about Donna Troy, who looks like she fell into a box full of glitter and hair gel. I actually saw one of these up close and sadly, hearkening back to the paint quality issue, there was paint well outside the lines for her eyes. It looked very unprofessional. But those aren't the only examples. In fact, there are a few that are a bit more personal. Back when I was something of a neophyte in the figure world, I'd heard they'd done an Ame-Comi of Power Girl. Yes, Miss Boob Window is a favorite of mine (for reasons other than her tits, before you even say it), and an anime version of her with a “cool” new design? Yeah, I was definitely down for that. And this was pre-Amanda Conner getting the artistic keys to the Power Girl comic series, too (as seen above). So I had no real expectations other than it might be cool. And then I saw the finished figure: I cried for three whole days. Of course, it got worse. Substantially worse. Because they decided that doing Batman was also a good idea: That doesn't really strike fear into the hearts of men. It makes them wonder what S&M club Bruce Wayne likes to frequent. Ame-Comi Zatanna, though, has a special place in Figure Hell. It is, without a single doubt in my mind, one of the worst comic-related figured and one of the worst PVC figures I have ever had the utter dishonor of coming across. I think I remember what my expression was the first time I saw this: it's that face you make when you see a dead animal on the side of the road all ripped and shredded up with its guts everywhere and you want to puke. Maybe part of it is just because the costume design seems like there's too much going on. Maybe because really, the pose is so bland. And because of that blue shade for her hair when all the other black-haired DC characters in the Ame-Comi line have … well, BLACK F***ING HAIR. And when did she get those red eyes and that HERP DERP smile? I would almost welcome the destruction of every single one of these figures, but I do not. I want some to stay, like heads spiked through posts outside Castle Tomopop, as a message/reminder/warning to every other figure maker out there: This is what it looks like when you totally fail on a figure. Don't you ever, EVER do something this awful.  Worse off are the variants, in particular because they gave DC Direct a chance to fix some of the mistakes, but they kind of slapped a new paint job on them and sent them out. Granted, I do think the black/blue variant Catwoman looks better than the purple/green original that's based off the colors of her original costume. But are we really going to slap a new paint on the version 2 Wonder Woman and try to pass her off as an entirely new character in Artemis? Really, DC Direct? Come the heck on. And you didn't even bother to cover up the starts in Donna Troy's hair in her second Wonder Girl variant. To a lesser extent, but still somewhat painful, are the prices for these figures. Generally, they retail for around US$50 or slightly more, which when push comes to shove in the figure world, is not unreasonably high. But let's face it, US$50 or $60 is a big investment to make on something that could turn out to be utter crap by the time it gets into your hands if you're buying them online because your comic shop does not have them or you live hours away from any comic shop, period. At least you do have the option of buying them second-hand, but truth be told, I've seen some very bad things people do to their figures that I cannot unsee. Ever. The Ame-Comi line is such a sad story. It's a concept that still has a ton of promise and there's clearly a market for it, if Kotobukiya's twin Bishoujo lines have proven. There are even a few that are OK enough (most notably Cheetah, Poison Ivy and hopefully Big Barda) that I might consider buying just those ones. Hell, if they did this right, people would probably be fapping just as hard over Ame-Comi as they are over the similar yet somewhat different Bishoujo figures. And you know, it is fixable: better quality control, plus some better designers and sculptors, and suddenly, things go from bad to OK. But time's running out and major changes have to be made in almost every facet of production if Ame-Comi's ever, ever going to get out of the quagmire the series has been tossed into. As long as the status quo says, then there's no reason to believe anything will change. And in that case, it might be time for someone to take this line out behind the shed and put a few bullets in the back of its head just to put it out if its sorry little existence. Figuratively speaking, of course.

[The views in the following opinion piece are representative of the writer and not necessarily of Tomopop as a whole.] With the way things work now, almost anyone can have a voice if they know how to sit in front of a comput...


DC Direct unveils its Ame-Comi Heroine Mini Series 3 lineup

Jan 22
// Brian Szabelski
DC Direct have revealed the line-up for the upcoming Ame-Comi Heroine Mini Series 3, and while the characters might be iconic, the figures themselves are ... forgettable. It's Hawkgirl, Power Girl and Supergirl with Streaky p...

DC Direct's Ame-Comi line not quite dead, releasing two new figures

Dec 21
// Brian Szabelski
DC Direct's Ame-Comi line has been rather quiet ever since Kotobukiya launched their DC Bishoujo line. But as it turns out, it's not dead or reduced to just new colorways. There are two new figures coming out: a third Wonder ...

DC Direct's AmeComi line continues to remind me of 'How to Draw Anime' books

Oct 19
// Tomopop Staff
After seeing the latest offerings from DC Direct's AmeComi line, I'm completely baffled as to why this line still even exists. Featuring Batgirl and Catwoman (if you could even call them that) they moreso look like a girl wit...

Ame-Comi line adds Mera and Raven figures

Sep 21
// Colette Bennett
It's no secret that some of the Tomopop staff are no big fans of the Ame-Comi line. I likely would not buy the figures anyway since they don't really fall into my line of interests, but I have to admit these last tw...

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