The in-person Toy Fair 2022 event is not taking place this year. But that doesn’t mean there are new toys to reveal. We’ve teamed up with our friends at NECA to exclusively reveal three new figures from the Defenders of the Earth toy line! Previously, NECA has released figures based on Flash Gordon, The Phantom, and Ming The Merciless from the 1990’s cartoon series. The figures have been a huge hit with fans of the characters, but we all know that there are a lot of great designs from the show that everyone has been looking forward to.
Today we have new look at a two previously revealed figures, and an all-new figure for you to check out. All three of these items have been highly anticipated by fans. Kicking off, we have a new look at the Lothar 7″ Scale Figure. We’ve seen Lothar in a few previews since last year, but we have a look at the finalized figure, his art, and accessories. Lothar includes swap out hands, a blaster, a grappling hook, and two firing effects pieces. Next up, we have a look at the upcoming Mandrake The Magician 7″ Scale Figure. Like Lothar, Mandrake was previously announced, and we’ve had a few glimpses of him before. But today we have a look at the (near) finalized Mandrake, including his art. The figure includes swap out hands, a magic wand, a grappling hook, and two firing effects pieces. For the all-new reveal, we have a preview of the upcoming Garax 7″ Scale Figure! In the cartoon, Garax is in charge of the Ice Robots, the cannon fodder mechanical soldiers that would take on the Defenders of the Earth. The upcoming toy looks to be based specifically on his cartoon appearance.
To go along with the reveal, we were also given a chance to speak to Randy Falk, head of product development at NECA Toys. You can read our interview and see the new photos and a video after the jump.
We’re please to share our interview with Randy Falk of NECA Toys. We talked a bit about the new Defenders of the Earth figures, their plans for additional takes on the characters, and potential for more from not only the cartoon, but homages to other toy lines. For a refresher, they announced a licensing partnership with King Features back at Toy Fair 2020. At the event, they gave us a look at their initial line of Defenders of the Earth 7″ Scale Action Figures (see photo below from Toy Fair 2020).
The first figures announced were The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Ming the Merciless, Mandrake the Magician, and Lothar. Since the announcement, The Phantom, Ming, and Flash Gordon have been released. Variations of those figures, based on other appearances, have also been released (see the 2021 Visual Guide for all of the releases so far). This year, NECA hops to complete that initial line up, and expand beyond that. Below, you can see my conversation with Randy about the figures, and future of the line (JM = Joe Moore, RF = Randy Falk):
JM: These are three great looking figures for fans of Defenders of the Earth. The first thing everyone will want to know is, when can they expect to see Lothar and Mandrake on shelves?
RF: We are hoping they will be in stock this summer! Right now, we’re making some adjustments to Mandrake’s cape and final debugging is taking place. They look fantastic and we are so excited to complete the Defenders line.
JM: Since Garax looks to be earlier in development, is he coming out a little later in the year?
RF: Actually, if everything goes as planned, he should be able to join Lothar and Mandrake in the same assortment. But if not, he will definitely follow shortly thereafter.
JM: As we’ve seen with Flash, Ming, and The Phantom, can we expect alternate versions of Mandrake and Lothar?
RF: Perhaps! It’s a question that certainly needs to be discussed as we build out our “Original Superheroes” line, which started with the classic comic strip versions of those three.
JM: Following up on the previous question, Lothar and Garax had wildly different looks in the classic Defenders of the Earth toy line. Since we’ve seen classic toy versions of Ming and Flash, it is safe to say we may see classic toy versions of these figures?
RF: Variants for Lothar and Garax are definitely under consideration… it would make for a fun chase or exclusive.
JM: While playsets and vehicles can be tough to release in a line of 7″ scale figure, the old Defenders of the Earth toy line had some great vehicles. Are there any you’d love to tackle in the future?
RF: I’d love to do the skull copter – that would be amazing! — or the Swordships. But sadly, Defenders vehicles and playsets are unlikely due to the increasing costs of tooling and production. As extraordinarily cool as these characters are, this is still a very niche specialty line.
JM: Are there any figures from Defenders of the Earth you’d like to release that might be too obscure to work at retail?
RF: It would be nice to add the kids and Princess Castra to the line, but the main thing we wanted to do was celebrate the 35th anniversary with modern versions of the original Galoob line. We’re heading in different directions now with the Original Superheroes line and other concepts.
JM: Does the license actually allow for you to expand into some of the other characters from the cartoon, such as Kshi, Jedda Walker, Rick Gordon, etc?
RF: We would have to consider it on a case-by-case basis if we decided to expand.
JM: The licensor, King Features, has a large assortment of brands, such as Popeye and Cuphead. Do you anticipate expanding your licensing agreement with them to produce figures from their other brands?
RF: We are definitely looking at a number of other brands and IP that fit within the Original Superheroes banner as we build that line out. Expect to see a lot of fun stuff! This is a great area to play in.
JM: It’s clear there’s a huge fan base for figures from a wide variety of 1990s cartoons. Does the success of the Defenders of the Earth line, as well as the Gargoyles line, bode well for additional figures from that era?
RF: Absolutely. We have covered so many of the ‘80s icons and it was the right time to move into the ‘90s. The success of and response to our Gargoyles line has been nothing short of phenomenal! And while we have already identified a number of other properties that would be a good fit for NECA, we’re always listening to our fans, so keep talking to us and we’ll keep surprising you!
We want to thanks both Randy Falk, as well as Blaine Rodenbaugh of NECA Toys for the opportunity to join in on their Toy Fair 2022 reveals. As an added bonus, we have an exclusive video clip showing full turns of both Mandrake and Lothar together. After that, you can see all of our exclusive images for today’s reveals