Friday, August 19, 2011

Mattel Can Suck It

Well, Mattel keeps extending the sale on their 2012 Toy Subscriptions, because not enough fans have signed up for the DC Universe Classics Club Infinite Earths for them to go forward with it. Originally, I think they were only supposed to be available for two weeks, but they keep extending it. I think we're up to a month now. Not only that, but word has just bubbled up that the subscriptions for their flagship club, Club Eternia, the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe sub is at an all-time low and they are scaling back production on that line as well. I have no idea how their Ghostbusters and Voltron Clubs make the cut. Are you telling me that Ghostbusters, which is entirely based on two movies from 25 years ago, has a stronger fan base than DC Comics, which has consistently produced comics for like 75 years?! Not only that, but they're super heroes! Perfect for a toy line. The Ghostbusters are just regular guys in jump suits! How much fun can that possibly be?! And Voltron is in the same boat. It's a cartoon series from the 80s that, to my knowledge, hasn't been syndicated since. I know there's new Voltron stuff coming, which explains this toy line, but seriously?

One fan pointed out something, though-- why does DC have to have a certain amount of subscribers to even get a toy line, when these other properties don't? That doesn't seem fair, does it? I think it's because, for whatever reason, DC hasn't proven popular on They gave a big roll-out to their Justice League Unlimited four-packs only for sales of those to be sluggish and to be discontinued after the initial offerings. They also offered some exclusive two-packs for DCUC, but they were always of really obscure characters, so once again, they were discontinued. Their 12" movie-based dolls are just freakin' expensive. As nice as their Christopher Reeve Superman and Terrance Stamp General Zod looked, I wasn't buyin' 'em! No way! And their 8" Retro Action line just flopped all around, online and in stores. So, I suppose that's why they are being more cautious with the DC subscription.

Their handling of this was really botched, though. Basically, the news of this subscription was LEAKED, not even officially announced, just DAYS before it went on sale. Then they were very meager with the details of it. Fan speculation ran rampant. Mattel revealed the first three figures, the original Flash, Atrocitus and Starman. The reveal didn't exactly send fans into a tizzy. Most scoffed. Almost every collector only wants one of the three, Atrocitus OR The Flash, but nearly no one wants all three and NO ONE that I've seen online wants Starman at all. Because of this, collectors were saying, "If the sub doesn't happen, they'll just drop these figures into regular retail assortments." Mattel quickly announced that no, in fact, they would not. They would not make these figures at all, if the sub didn't happen.
Then word started spreading that the retail line was switching over strictly to DCnU, based on the upcoming relaunch which everyone is dreading. Fans were stating that the online subscription was going to be the ONLY way to get "classic" characters. Still a large number of collectors scoffed. Many expressed that they were "cherry pickers" and never bought full assortments and only wanted certain figures. "I only buy Batman-related characters." "I only buy the big name characters." I mean, I only buy certain figures, too! I prefer characters from the Silver Age through the 80s, roughly the Crisis on Infinite Earths period. That's not carved in stone or anything and I've certainly bought a number of characters I couldn't care less about because I wanted the Collect & Connect figure whose parts they came with. I don't want Atrocitus and am apathetic about Starman, but dammit, there are still characters I want that aren't part of this line, so I'm buying the sub on the off chance I get Vixen or Dr. Light thrown in the mix.

Still... sales aren't at 100%. Mattel then announced the highly-demanded Poison Ivy was being added as the fourth figure. Still not at 100%.

They've since explained that the retail line isn't switching over to DCnU, BUT that it was being retooled into more of an "all-star" line, meaning that "team builders" (the rest of the Metal Men, Doom Patrol, Legion of Super Heroes, Suicide Squad, etc.), females (read into that what you will) and more obscure choices like Killer Moth, would ONLY be available through the subscription.

Still not at 100%. Many fans are pointing out that Mattel's statement said "If this club doesn't happen, we will not be making this figures... in 2012." And someone from Mattel on Facebook mentioned something about 2015. How's that for not having your shit together? Basically, what a number of collectors have surmised is that if the club doesn't happen, Mattel will still make these figures, just not until after 2012. I personally don't buy that. They've all but flat out said so, yet cherry pickers are still clinging to that hope. I'm frustrated. I want more figures, but since it just doesn't seem like it's happening, I've resigned myself to that fact. Plus, I am happy with the figures I did get. This whole dramz has been going on for over a month now, I think. I'm kinda fed up with it.

Then there's Club Eternia. In a recent statement ToyGuru, Mattel's fan-liaison announced that their sales were at their lowest and as a result, Shadow Weaver, the club exclusive was likely to be the rarest figure ever in that line. Way to be, assholes, make a figure that fans have been clamoring for for 30 years and make her super insanely rare. They are also scaling back production on all of their figures. See what happens is, they release the figures to subscribers and they produce extra (I'm not sure how many, though) so people that don't subscribe can buy figures they want. The extras always sell out. In the beginning, they sold out in MINUTES. Then they upped production, but they still usually sold out the first day. (In relation, the DC product they were issuing online would still be available for weeks.) Sounds mighty damn successful if you ask me. But they're scaling back. Not just that, but for the past couple years, they have been regularly re-issuing earlier figures that some fans might have missed out on, not to mention they've made tweaks to certain aspects that fans complained about in the initial release. (For example, the first He-Man figure had reddish paint on his cheeks, making it look like he was wearing rouge, which is why I disliked that figure and stopped buying them the first time around.) They have officially announced that they would no longer re-issue figures, so if you miss out on them when they first go on sale, you're SOL.
My problem is, I definitely want anything related to She-Ra, Princess of Power. I'm DYING to get the Star Sisters three-pack coming out. As I discussed before, these were supposed to be part of a third (or was it fourth) wave of She-Ra toys in the 80s and the characters even popped up on the cartoon and as a poster in the She-Ra magazine, but retailers didn't order enough, so they were aborted and the entire line ended. I want Shadow Weaver and am really appalled that Mattel chose to make her such an exclusive figure, especially since I do hear that a lot of collectors of this line only want He-Man figures, not She-Ra. (My solution would be to make a She-Ra only subscription, which I would sign up for in a heartbeat! Or to even make She-Ra her own separate line, since some boys even as adults think girls have cooties.)

It isn't that I don't want ANY He-Man figures, it's just that I only wanted a handful and I have most of those, He-Man himself (the reissued one without the rouge on), Prince Adam and Orko, Teela, Evil-Lyn... I just added Skeletor, Battle Cat and Hordak. The only other ones I'll probably get are Man-At-Arms and the upcoming Sorceress. The problem with Club Eternia, then, is that those characters are already over and done with and now we're only like Sy-Klone and Snout Spout and Fisto. Um, pass. I don't even know who this fucking guy is!-->

Not just that, but they're including shit like characters from The New Adventures of He-Man, a late 80s attempt to revive the franchise in a sci fi setting... which FAILED and NO ONE LIKED! I don't want to be forced to spend $25 on some shitty figure from that collection! And they've done figures based on TV show characters I don't remember, unproduced toy concepts, concept art... and I think they've even started throwing in all-new original characters! NO THANKS!

This is the Fearless Photog. I BELIEVE (and correct me if I'm wrong), this character was designed for and won a contest in the 80s, where kids were invited to submit their own Masters characters. Okay, for die-hards, I can see where this is a cool inclusion, but SERIOUSLY?! Not just that, but Mattel is holding a NEW design-your-own-character contest, and that character will also be part of the toy line. So, they want me to spend like $255 roughly to get, like five characters I want.

Fearless Photog isn't part of the subscription. Oh yeah, did I mention that they also issue stuff that isn't included in the sub so even subscribers have to go online the day this stuff is released and try and fight for certain pieces that they want?! Ugh.

Then what do I do with the shit I don't want. No one is going to want that <--Flip-Shot figure (the New Adventures figure). I could see unloading some of the bigger names more easily, but dammit, I hate selling shit on eBay. It's so much more trouble than its worth!

So yeah, Mattel is getting kind of "strong arm" with these subscriptions, basically saying "If you want these lines, you have to subscribe." The problem is we're in like the worst recession in memory. Not everyone has $255 to throw at these collections and even if you did, why would you want to pay $25 for some figure you don't want at all?! Also, a lot of collectors collect multiple of these lines! How bad must that suck?! So, you know what Mattel... I think we should start seeing other people. We can stay friends, because I still want The Sorceress and the random She-Ra figures, but I think it's best if we spent some time apart. It's not me, it's you. XOXO

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