A couple things working against the companion-figure trend.
1. It is hard to scale-up. You start with the biggest version, then you make the minis, then the micros. If you start out making something small (companion figure size), then you have weakened your chance of that basic character becoming popular in a larger (and more expensive) version. There are occasional exception, especially when considering the sway of nostalgia and custom pieces. The general trend when introducing new lines of characters is that you can only capture new markets by taking the toys smaller.
2. For extremely popular A-list toylines, major toy companies will have different lines representing different collectible scales (and price points) running concurrently. One is not designated as less significant (a mere companion), explicitly by size or packaging. Hasbro is particularly great at this (Marvel, Star Wars, Transformers).
3. There is a great franchise trend where you (the consumer) can role-play as the main character and the collectible figures are basically your trophies or companions. (Pokemon, Bakugan, Monsuno, Slugterra, etc -- probably many, many more).
4. The blind-bag / blind-box trend dominates the basic scale and often the cheapest price point too.
5. Another trend where the toy-character is also collecting something -- some special jewel or accessory. Lego and Mega Bloks will often use this gimmick. (Ooh how meta -- my collection has a collection...)
6. The build-a-figure gimmick has taken some of the mojo that used to go to the companions. Its the same really, but instead of having a cool little mob of cheap figures, you have another whole premium figure. (Woo-hoo?)
7. Which also reminds me of these Super Hero Mashers Micros where instead of a companion or a piece to build a whole new figure, you just get these random heads to other characters. They never amount a new figure. Just random heads. And not an alternate expression to switch out on the figure you bought. No, you buy Captain America and you get Red Skull's head too. For, reasons? This may be one of the worst gimmick ever, but it's still the same basic principal. A figure plus something somehow seems more "worth it" than just the figure. I mean, I will eventually do something with the rando heads... right?
8. It's just the cereal premium principal really. Any cheap little bonus can be the companion. Just something to make the purchase a little more enticing. Aside from the obvious accessories and companions, some of the easiest things are game pieces, trading cards, or just some bio or stat card you are supposed to cut off of the packaging. That last one is sooo simple.
9. Oh yeah, everything has an app now. So, it's like you get some stupid virtual companion gimmick instead of something plastic and cool.
Edited by steverotters, 03 March 2016 - 03:51 PM.