Mattel’s Scott Neitlich, a.k.a. ToyGuru, put up a post and poll on ActionFigureInsider, asking collectors what the company should do regarding chase figures in DC Universe Classics.
Got a question for fans around the world on the chase figures we are doing in the DCUC line. It is no secret that across the toy industry costs have gone up, manufacturing has risen and the overall cost to bring a 6 inch figure to market has skyrocketed in the the last year.
We are hitting a snag on our chase figures and want to run a possible direction by the fan base to keep the chase figures going.
The chase figures (because of the low quantity) are really making it difficult to keep the line at a low price at retail. We are charged a premium by our vendors for low run figures (which is why SDCC figures cost more to the customer).
One direction we have thought of to keep chase figures in the line is to put the chase figures up on MattyCollector.com about 2-3 months after the wave hits retail at a premium price (about 30.00 a figure).
$30 a figure? Woof…that’s $10 more than most online retailers are charging for chase figures in the earlier waves, and $10 more than already-controversial price for Masters of the Universe Classics.
I’ve never been a fan of chase figures, mostly because they’re hard and expensive to get, though most of the time I have no interest in them (gold Captain Atom, anyone?). Occasionally I do like one of a character’s outfits over another–for instance, the brown-pants Cable in Marvel Legends Series 6. I know Cable has worn the blue/yellow suit more often in comics since the early ’90s, but I was more familiar with the brown-pants version, so that’s the one I wanted, and I was glad it was available.
But I managed to snag one on eBay years after it came out for $40. Would I have paid $30 for it direct from the manufacturer a few months after the wave hits stores? Okay, I probably would have, but I would have been damn unhappy about it, and I definitely would never have bought a chase figure I kind of wanted at that price. Really, wouldn’t the end result of this strategy be to encourage scalpers and even honest online retailers to charge more for chase figures?
And before fans suggest “just drop the chase figures and make every figure in the same amount” keep in mind while this is an option as well, if we did this there would only be 7 figures per wave. We would not be able to do all the variants in the same quantity as a standard figure and have 9-10 figures per wave. 7 figures or less per wave is how we maintain costs so unfortunately that won’t help us out either.
This reads a bit confusingly, but I think Neitlich is describing an option that isn’t on the poll–namely, that all chase/variant figures simply be made in the same quantities as the other figures (not that the chase figures be dropped from the line entirely). This can’t work because Mattel needs to keep the waves to 7 figures or less in order to keep costs down, and if they made the chase figures in the same numbers as the other figures, there would be 9-10 figures per case.
The real question here is the value of chase figures. Mattel doesn’t just make the chase figures as an extra treat for fans; they’re also to help drive foot traffic to the brick-and-mortar retailers who support the line. So dropping chase figures entirely could, potentially, hurt DCUC’s sales at mass retail. Of course, I don’t have any statistics on how much foot traffic chase figures generate, so I have no way of guaging how much revenue chase figures generate for retailers.
So should Mattel drop the chase figures? I need more information to make an official recommendation, but it seems to me they should balance the production costs against the foot traffic that chase figures drive to retailers, and the degree to which retailers want chase figures/exclusives as incentives. I’m not sure collectors’ opinions matter in this situation.