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This Week in Comic Collecting: Cartoon and Toy IP On the Rise

Last week I talked about the Thundercats and the upcoming movie that had CGC 9.8 copies of Thundercats #1 at $2,000. But that’s only the tip of the nostalgia iceberg. Cartoon and Toy IP from the 80s and 90s has been red hot over the last year, with many properties seeing film and television series revivals in the works. This is an investment play I have been championing for several years. I think for certain generations these properties provide a natural connection that can provide ROI for Hollywood Studios and collectible investors alike.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)

When you think about cartoons, toys and feature films in the 80s and 90s, few come to mind like TMNT. Many casual Shell Heads aren’t aware that this IP actually originates in comic book form with a meager 3,000 copies printed of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. This book has always been a Grail to many in comic books, but is a rare book to even see come to auction. In 2019, a TMNT #1 sold for $90,000. Since then, copies have sold below that amount, but of late few have even come available for sale. The lowest listed copy on eBay for instance is a $175,000 Buy It Now. 

This property continues to see heat due to the IDW published current ongoing series from Tom Waltz and current writer Sophie Campbell. This series has had its share of groundbreaking moments, but none more shocking and potentially relevant to investors than the events of TMNT #95 from the IDW. This sees former Foot Soldier Jennika become a Turtle after a transfusion and eventually join as the 5th member. This gives the 4 brothers a sister and provides a sense of representation for female Turtle fans that had been lacking in the series. TMNT #95 sells for about $250 in a 9.8 and the mass public still is not aware of the Yellow Bandana-wearing 5th turtle. With two spin off series already in the bag, this character’s popularity has been proven and is only a Toy or Film appearance away from prices exploding.

TMNT: The Last Ronin #1

Also from IDW is the red hot mini series The Last Ronin. This tells a future story written by the TMNT co-creators Eastman and Laird about the last living Turtles. This story is a return to the Turtles’ gritty past and has seen record sales and popularity. Currently the 1:10 and 1:25 ratio variants are selling below Cover A, which is highly irregular. With some market correction, there could be some potential for profit there. I also believe we are amidst the release of a timeless classic comic story. The long term value of this series is something that intrigues me. 

With all of this in mind, we are due for a rebooted film franchise. Before we get more live action (which is supposed to be imminent), a CGI feature film is in the works from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This teen focused film has a real chance to break out the way Spiderman: Into the Spider Verse did. I am very bullish on the Turtles going forward. 

G.I. Joe

Another property currently published by IDW is G.I. Joe. The popular 80s franchise has seen its day in Hollywood and is coming back for more with a new GI Joe franchise on the way. This time, instead of a team movie, it seems Hasbro is taking the MCU route by introducing us to characters individually before putting together a team. It all begins with a Snake Eyes solo movie, due to hit theaters in October, and will be followed up with an Amazon Prime Series focusing on G.I. Joe team member Lady Jaye. 

G.I. Joe #1 from Marvel Comics (who formerly published this series) is the 1st appearance of the Real American Heroes and it is currently tracking at about $2,000 in a 9.8. Personally I am a huge G.I. Joe Fan and am stoked to see them build out this universe.  Other key issues in the Marvel run include #11, 14, 22, 26. 27, 33, and 49.

Transformers

The final piece of our currently published by IDW trio is Transformers. This is an IP that has stood the test of time seeing generations of releases in all forms of media. A new film franchise is on the way and what is most exciting is the reports that we will finally see Paramount crossover all of its Hasbro licensed IP into one franchise. That could potentially give us Transformers crossing over with G.I. Joe, Power Rangers, ROM, Micronutrients, and more. 

On top of all that, Nickelodeon announced it has an animated comedy series on the way. This type of announcement may be scoffed at as not relevant to adults, but programming skewed toward a younger audience is also essential to ensure these properties continue on to the next generation, securing future value.

Transformers #1 / Marvel

Transformers, much like G.I. Joe, was first published by Marvel with issue #1 selling recently for approximately $2,000. Recent asking prices seem to be pushing this book towards $3,000 plus. Now may be a good time to get in on this sleeping giant of an IP. 

Power Rangers

Published by Boom! Studios and previously mentioned as a Hasbro property with film rumors, Power Rangers has been a red hot IP over the last few years. First appearing in Sentai #2 in 1994, this book is a Grail to most Power Ranger collectors but not an easy book to find with a reported 4,600 printed. Current asking price on a CGC 9.6 copy is $6,500. 

The team then got their own series with Hamilton Comics shortly after. The first issue has seen drastic spikes in the last few months rising from $250 to as high as $650 before settling around $500 for a 9.8. 

Much of this heat has to do with the popularity of the current Boom! Studios Power Ranger releases. Boom!, along with writers Kyle Higgins and Ryan Parrott, really elevated the level of storytelling and brought a whole new readership to the property. This included the creation of two new characters who have been enormously popular with Ranger fans new and old with Ryan Parrot’s Ranger Slayer (1st appearing in GO GO Power Rangers #8) and Kyle Higgins Lord Drakkon (1st appearing in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #9). Both of their 1st appearances can be had in a 9.8 for around $150 each—if you can find one that is. I like these long term the same way I do Jennika. The mass public still isn’t aware of how cool these characters are. 

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #55

The same can be said for Parrots Mathew Cook, who first appears as a student and boyfriend to Kimberly in GO GO Power Rangers #1 before becoming the new Green Ranger in MMPR #55. I love #55 long term. This is a comics original character and a new Green Ranger has huge potential if done via movie or TV. These issues are still totally under the radar. The raw buy and slab play is probably the move here. 

Masters of The Universe

No list of 80s and 90s properties would be complete without He Man and Skeletor! This popular toy line has come and gone several times in the last 40 years but seems due for a big comeback. Kevin Smith has a Netflix Anime Series on the way that I am hopeful hooks new fans. We are only one Thundercats-esque announcement from a full on Masters of the Universe explosion. 

The important thing to remember when investing in MOTU is that, while the property as a whole and most of their characters debuted in 1982’s Masters of the Universe #1 (which sells for around 600 in a 9.8), He Man himself as well as Skeletor debuted in DC Comics Present #47. That issue is hitting about $2,500 in a 9.8 and is the one to get in my mind. 

One trip to your local big box store and you will see MOTU returning to the toy aisles. That makes me very hopeful for the future of this IP.

World Record Update

When I mentioned last week the $250,000 Daredevil #1 sales, I wondered what would happen when a GOAT type character would come to market amidst the current booming climate of the comic market. Well it did not take long as the exact same auction house posted a record 3.25 million dollars for an Action Comics #1 CGC 8.5 featuring the 1st appearance of Superman. This is the type of truly staggering number that is sending a shockwave through the community. This price could also motivate some other holders of high end keys to part with their grails. The coming months to years will be fascinating to see the market movement. 

Join me next week when we continue to look at licensed properties, but we look at Marvel Comics current Disney holdings like Star Wars, Alien, Predator, and Conan. That, plus Marvel changes comic distributors and what it potentially means for the industry.

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