Sometimes I have to wonder... do toy companies actually care about their final product? It seems like more and more companies are focusing on how nice their prototypes look. Do these people actually see their final product?
DCD to me is the most notorious for this. I just got the Alex Ross series 3 Joker, and I plan on reviewing it, but I'll give you this sneak preview: it's not a bad figure, but the difference between proto and product is staggering.
NECA also catches a bad rap for this, especially their female figures. Most of the accusers are McFarlane fans, which is ironic since McFarlane is practically the originator of the awesome proto/crappy product archetype.
Lots of things contribute to this syndrome. The most obvious is lighting and photography. If a figure is lit nicely, it can bring out details in a single photograph that may be harder to see with the figure in your hand.
However, there are some things that toy companies do that are more, for lack of a better word, underhanded. Hiding articulation breaks on prototype pictures is one. You get the figure and there's a big ugly joint somewhere.
What's even worse than that, is what comes across as a plain lack of effort in the final product. things like mold lines... not caring when a mold line is blatant and right smack dab in an important area. Why don't companies care about things like this?
Paint is another one, and this is something DCD really needs to reign in. Subtle details on the prototype often come across as gloppy and glaring in the final product. To me, it's comparable to seeing a nice, pretty young woman with subtle make up, and then you meet her and she's wearing whorish clown make-up.
So this is my message to toy companies, especially DCD, NECA and McFarlane: stop spending so much time on lavish prototype photos if your product can't measure up. I'm sick of being excited after seeing a prototype, then spending months in anticipation of the figure, only to find out the actual product is a turd sandwich.