Sunday, October 20, 2019
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Best of both worlds for comic book heroes

Dubai: You saw them first in the movies… now you can get their merchandise featuring popular comic book characters.

“The movies drive them primarily, but you have impulse customers that have just seen the movie and they want something to remember the movie,” said Munro Gow, business operation manager at Dubai based Hollywood Collections.

Gow was speaking at the annual Middle East Film and Comic Con (MECC) 2014, which is on at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre until Saturday evening. Retailers at the pop-culture event are showcasing a who’s who of comic book characters by way of figurines, masks, T-shirts and cups as well as, of course, comic books.

Demand for these merchandise is expected to grow further this year with the release of Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Amazing Spider Man 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The global industry for comic book memorabilia is valued at around $1 billion (Dh3.67 billion), according to Kishan Deepak Palija, managing director of Geekay Distribution in Dubai. Palija said the growth locally is helped by industry events such as MECC.

“In the past, it was not easy to license the brand and make a product… now I can go to a manufacturer and say I want the licensing rights and I can produce the merchandise for that brand [regionally],” Palija said.

Geekay’s revenue from sales of comic book-related merchandise in the UAE touched around Dh5 million and is expected to go up by between 20 and 30 per cent this year.

At Hollywood Collections’ stand, customers can find statues that are six feet tall, which can cost thousands of dirhams. Figurines, which are around 12 inches in height, are priced between Dh500-2,600.

Hollywood Collections sell merchandise manufactured by Hong Kong-based Hot Toys, with characters of such storied history as Spiderman, Iron Man and Star Wars. The retailer’s revenue from sales of merchandise featuring comic book heroes was around Dh2.5 million last year, and expected to grow by between 20 and 30 per cent this year, according to Gow. Comic book-related merchandise accounts for between 50 and 60 per cent of its sales.

Gow stated that both new buyers and collectors visit Hollywood Collections’ store at The Dubai Mall. The store will be relocated to a bigger area within the mall in May, given the demand for merchandise. The retailer also has a kiosk there.

While most customer demand is for comic book-related merchandise, that for from video games related characters is growing too, Gow said.