Poe’s Point > Mattel reconsiders DCUC chase figures

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.

Comments now closed (18)

  • Personally, I’d be happier if they kept each wave to five figures, and shipped cases of ten, an even pack of each. Save the variants for like twopacks or something. Unmasked Deathstroke, for instance, could have come in a two-pack with an retooled Robin or Nightwing–I’d have bought that in a heartbeat. Heck, even if the Nightwing was the same as the standard release, I’d have bought it.

  • There you go–an exclusive TRU two-pack with a green/red Tim Drake Robin and an unmasked Deathstroke. Perfect.

  • It’s the exact same reason I’ll be buying the Orion/Lightray two-pack, even though I know next to nothing about the New Gods. Yeah, I have an Orion, but the removeable helmet is just enough to set it apart, plus we get a new figure in the bargain.

  • Agreed, two packs are a lot easier to stomach than singles at $30. I’d be quite willing to pay $20-$30 for a 2 pack, but significantly less so to pay $30 for a single figure.

    I almost skipped Lobo because $25 was pretty hard to handle at the time. This line is the closest I’ve ever been to being a completionist, I’m buying figures of characters I’ve never even heard of, because it’s such a great line. I’d hate to have to pass on some because they were too expensive. I’d almost rather they not do chases at all, if the only choice is $30 each.

    Most of the variants have interested me a lot, in most cases more than the regular figure (modern Red Tornado, SC Sinestro, Unmasked Deathstroke, Artemis…) so I’m sure I would still be strongly tempted by them if they were Matty.com exclusives, but I’d be a whole lot less able to buy as many.

  • ive got an idea: dont make the amount of figures per case bigger. the less figures they need to manufacture, the more they save, and collectors dont have to buy figures that they already have. Win-Win.

  • Why not just stick with the format for this year if they have to keep it at 7 or less: 5 figures + 2 variants = 7? (Or even 6 figures + 1 variant would be fine.)
    They’d just have to be a little more careful in selecting variants that people would want just as much as the regular figure.

  • I’m with keeping the waves to 5-6 figures. This 7th figure is only supposed to come with a base or something, right?

    Lose it, keep the 5-6 wave figs packed at 10 or 12 per case, 2 figures each, random repaint variants (SinCorps, Dr. Imp, long hair Sup) packed in.

    Then save the “new tooling” variants (unmasked Slade) for 2pks.

    and don’t get me started on that inane mess they’re proposing for w7 with Bats, WW, Firestorm, added to 2 screwball mixes.

  • Ooof indeed – I can’t imagine paying $30 for a chase figure.

    And “only 7 figures per wave” is a problem? Heck, that would be fine with me; particularly if it meant they would be more discriminating about what they produce (yeah… gold Captain Atom? Or that blue camo-whatever Aquaman that is planned? I know repaints are a relatively simple way for the companies to move more product, but please…)

    I don’t understand why they can’t do 50/50 randomly inserted splits of logical variants. The Sinestro costume variant being a good example. Or Firestorm. Those variants would have worked well that way. (A Hal Jordan/John Stewart GL figure split would have worked well, too, I think.) I know I didn’t really care about which Firestorm I found, I just wanted to complete the wave to build the CnC. And I was happy to find a standard Sinestro – but would have been just as happy to find the SC costume one (and will buy him, too – if I happen to find him).

    That way, they get to produce more figures for hardcore collectors to seek out; more variation and “fresh” product to keep retailers happy; more product to sell.

    I do wonder- have they done much, if any, market research to find out who is buying these? My gut tells me that adult collectors buy more 6″ figs than do parents for their kids or other random shoppers. I think the buying audience for these figures is skewed to adult collectors way more than the manufacturers (or retailers) believe.

  • I say go with the mattycollector idea, Scott.

    Make EXCLUSIVES rather than chases. The regular figures are hard to find as it is. It's as if EVERY figure except thousands of Orion and Etrigans are Chase figures.

    I've been going every morning at opening everyday at Target and all I see are adult collectors. Heck, I haven't even seen kids buying the JLU toon figures. This line thrives on the ADULT collectors.

    It's not mass produced as much as GI JOE or transformers.

    Go with the EXCLUSIVE idea. Turn your chase figures into exclusive figures. Makes more sense since …again…every figure seems like a chase. You would just be making a double chase repaint figure. LOL

  • I think putting them on MattyCollector is a good bet. That way the people who want them can shell out and it would be even better if Mattel can produce by demand but I guess that might be pushing it.
    I’m not sure I understand the rationale though. I see the Mr. Miracle wave and Dr. Impossible looks like an exact duplication with the only change being paint. Does a paint change that much of a relation? Artemis only has a new head over the WW figure (and accessories), but it has that big an impact? I guess it could.
    But I’m on the fence really. I can understand people liking a character so much that they want a masked and unmasked version. A gold Capt. Atom is stupid but maybe there’s a diehard fan or two who loves it and who’s to deny them if there’s enough demand?
    I’d be fine with no chases to keep costs down but having another means to purchase more figures is never a bad thing. Sounds like a two-tiered system but what’s wrong with options?
    I’m happy to have MattyCollector as another choice.

  • damn, is it so bad right now? I managed to find every variant out there so far, the most I’ve paid for a variant is…..crap, i don’t think I’ve paid more than $15 before shipping for a DCUC or DCSH figure that wasn’t an exclusive. call it good luck, call it relentless pestering, call it whatever you want. I know on Monday I’m gonna get an Artemis from ETC right there in my case. No fuss no muss. I imagine that anyone who doesn’t want the Gold Captain Atom ( or reversely, the Silver Captain Atom) will be more than happy to sell me one. Unmasked DS and both Sinestros were relatively abundant, and I don’t see a reason for any of this to change. I’m getting a full set of DCUC 6 with variants, A full set of DCUC 7 with variants. Why should anything change?

    Hell even the Movie Masters chases i managed to find after awhile. I got lucky with the Unmasked bats and then I traded for a Fear Toxin. Just took patience.

  • Drop the chase figures ENTIRELY. They can re-release them in later waves since Chases are for the most part REPAINTS.

    Sure, people would get POed if a chase was in a later wave and needed to complete a C&C but honestly Hasbro does that with ML all the time.

    Just drop chases all together. Who really likes chase figures? They’re had to come by, rarely worth the effort and if they’re the definative version of a character, they shouldn’t be a chase in the first place.

  • I've paid a lot of money on ebay for some chase figures, but it balances out when I find others at retail. If they made a kingdom Come Superman, they'd have my 30 beans. The point is, it'd have to be a helluva chase figure. No Killer Moth. And for the record, I like gold Cpt. Atom!

  • They could also quit making the terrible small figures and make this a non issue!

  • As for the chase figures being need for traffic to brick and motar stores.

    I disagree. There have been one or two full sets on the pegs. ONE if your lucky and two if you're in the twilight zone for a few minutes. lol

    Now…ppl that search for this grab up the WHOLE set..which is the whole case. They don't go to target, trus, or what not for the Chase figures…maybe thats the secondary reason but USUALLY the primary reason is because they just want to find the REGULAR figures in the wave.

    Because the regular figures are hard to find as it is, I don't think chase figures really help brick and motar stores like target.

    What's funny is that DCUC has "CHASE" figures when the ENTIRE line is a CHASE!

  • 5 New Figures in a BAF Wave plus the 1 “All Star” figure, then do 12 a case.

    So lets say:
    Captain Cold
    Modern Booster Gold
    Kid Flash
    Big Barda

    Then do the Aquaman Blue as the “all star” figure as its simply a repaint of the Classic AquaMan.

    And at the same time as this wave hits make store exclusive 2 packs like:

    Classic Booster Gold and Blue Beetle

  • I vote for lose the chase figures entirely. However since MattyCollector is for "Collectors" — how about this. Make heads so they can screw on and off. Sell unmasked heads, extra hands, capes etc. on MattyCollector. Think of it as upgrades for our favorite figs.

    We could even extend this idea to those large Hot Wheel toys. Sell mods on Matty so we can turn them into versions of Batmobiles or whatever for out favorite characters. That way we would get really incredible METAL die cast cars. Matty would also benifit by getting more mileage out of a product they are already producing.

    Surely this idea ought to appeal to them.