Stop worrying and love the flaws


Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer has a great editorial over on his blog about accepting the little flaws in our action figures. His experience is very similar to my own–little paint imperfections and loose joints used to bug me a lot, but I’ve come to accept them as a part of being an action figure collector. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love them, but I accept them.

(Note: the above photo is actually a bad example, because I did decide to replace this Sinestro when the opportunity arose, but it was the best photo of a flaw I could find.)

Read: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flaws

Comments now closed (50)

  • What the…


    I think i rebought and resold EIGHT Yellow Sinestros just to get TWO perfect loose ones with perfect paint and joints!

    I looked throught about 50-60 for about a whole month.

    So being super anal and believing that I should spend hard earn cash on crap quality figures, I'll have to respectfully disagree.

    Honestly though, I wish I wasn't so picky. I'd have saved a lot of cash which is why i collect only one line at a time.

  • My Shazam had a few problems with his boot paint, but who cares, one hell of a good action figure.

  • Seriously, isn't this article only ENCOURAGING Mattel's blunders?

    Hate me for saying this, but I think that article was the WORST toy related article I've ever read (skimmed actually because it made me nauseous).

    Granted, I am anal and I don't mind being bashed for being so picky but for example Poe's Yellow Sinestro Paint smudge….

    …You're kidding right? I mean I think I just landed on Bizarro world if you're actually saying…."Hey Mattel, don't worry…it's cool! I'm totally fine with this." lol

    Personally, I got out of dcuc BECAUSE of the QC issues. To encourage that (directly or indirectly) is the most mind boggling toy related issue I have ever read. ESPECIALLY when the economy is what it is today, we deserve to get our money's worth.

  • I have a feeling this blog might be a lengthy one. In advance, let's just all agree to disagree in the end because it may get a bit hot in here. lol

    I think Jason's blog is going to gather a bunch of ppl that say "stop complaining about your broken figures! Enjoy Mattel's Fu** ups! Let's give them our money for crappy made figs"

  • Again, I don't think the Sinestro mistake counts as an acceptable flaw, and I stated that in my post. It was just the only good photo of a flaw I could find at that short notice.

    I didn't interpret the editorial as encouraging collectors to forgive Mattel for significant QC errors. I think we can all agree the paint errors and other QC problems Mattel was making–like the one at the top of this post–are worse than the sort of thing Jason's talking about.

    He's more referring to minor things like loose joints, slight paint slop, loose grips and so forth. I think what he's doing is trying to encourage toy collectors not to obsess so much on little flaws and end up going broke trying to find that perfect, unspoiled figure. If you do, of course you're going to end up with mostly negative associations with the toys (and maybe question why you're a collector at all).

    It really just boils down to the old glass half-empty/half-full argument.

  • For me, it depends on the size of the company and the price of the piece. I expect more from a mass-run item _or_ a very expensive item. Not surprisingly, though, it appears to be the smaller companies — and the hand-made designer toys — that have the fewest flaws.

    I'm usually happiest when a toy is durable and I can play with it without fear of breakage. I'm most unhappy when a toy is so fragile that playing with it results in a broken toy.

  • Posted this on that site too:

    Yeah, just what Mattel needed: more apologizing on behalf of its fans. I see this constantly with DCUC reviews.

    “The paint doesn’t match, but it’s not a big deal.”

    “The biceps are switched, but you can hardly notice.”

    “The articulation is limited by the skirt, but I don’t mind”

    Sorry, I’m not nearly as anal as you were at your anal-est, but I’m not going to sit here and act like everything is hunky-dory. Mattel uses cheap plastic, the paint work sucks, the figures are the same over and over, and the QC is awful.

    Just yesterday I was lying in bed, marveling at how nice the Ultimate Rhino figure from Toybiz’s. It’s a completely unique sculpt, with little use as a “buck”, nice paint, and just a great figure overall. What a (negative) difference a few years makes.

    Which isn’t to say that Mattel never hits it out of the park–just that it’s the exception, not the rule. Still, DCUC Ares has to be one of the best figures EVER.

  • Although I like Toy Otter, I can't help but feel this blog post of his comes off as insincere. He uses nothing but Mattel toys as an example. He's a Mattel fan. He runs arguably a Mattel fan website. And he's saying that all figures have issues.

    But the reality is, 95% of the figures on the market DO NOT have the issues that Mattel's toys do. Give Playmates all the crap you want, but I have YET to buy a defective Playmates toy. (Granted some look like poop to begin with)

    A little error here and there are okay. My MU's Hulk has a slightly wonky eye.

    But the fact of the matter is, Mattel by and by in large makes toys with tons of glaring errors on them. Arms on wrong. Huge paint smudges. Two left feet.

    If Jason had provided some other examples other than Mattel toys in his post, than I'd believed he was being sincere. But I hate to break it to him, vintage toys did NOT have the QC problems that we have today. I never bought a GI Joe that was built wrong. None of my Super Powers figures had paint smudges. So no, we haven't "Come a long way" in terms of QC. Those poorly made toys wouldn't have hit shelves in the 80's or the 70's or the 60's.

    I appreciate what he's trying to do here, but this article might has well be written by Matty Mattel for it's insincerity.

  • For me, there are three stages of toy flaws; those I can ignore, those I can fix, and those that have to be replaced.

    Honestly, MOST paint issues don't really bug me unless they're severe (Poe's Sinestro example is a great one–my Sinestro only had a little bit of black slop on the yellow arm band, but had mine had his problems, I'd have replaced it too).

    Things I can fix fall in the slop area, and the occasional switching of limbs (which I actually sort of enjoy in a weird way, the DIY aspect makes the figure feel more like it's "mine"). Replacements are things like taffy joints that tear; obviously, a broken figure is completely unacceptable.

    The fact is, toy companies DO work hard to ensure quality control, but there are always going to be mistakes. It's unrealistic to expect a perfect figure every time, mass production being what it is. Do you call the government every time you get a deformed penny? No; it happens. What about a comic book with a typo or a misprint? Do we then complain to the publishers about this egregious error in our recreational pasttime? No, because it's not a realistic attitude.

    Action figures are made by companies. Companies are staffed by people. People are flawed creatures who make mistakes. We all do our best.

  • @ Newton Gimmick and Dead Man Walking: Well said.

    @ Poe: Yes…your right you did mention that Sinestro wasn't a good example. Sorry! πŸ™‚

    Although still…things like the mismatched biceps are the worst.

    My Bottom Line Opinion:

    Who cares if ppl complain about QC? Most of us the collects probably only make a little over an hour what the cost of a single dcuc figure is at our jobs (just a guess). And if you make more…still you have to get your moneys worth.

    Also…Toybiz's Marvel Legends had a few qc problems but they weren't as bad as DCUC.

    Again, I KID YOU NOT! lol

    I bought ALL 4 TRU 2Pk Exclusives and ALL OF THEM HAD STUCK JOINTS except batgirl.

    If they'd put a camera on me while opening these guys, a ton of ppl would get a kick out of me pulling the figure out and moving the waist only to have it break in half.

    A paint smudge her and there is fine but seriously it's all subjective.

    If there was a paint smudge on shazam's nose would that buy you guys? It would bother me.

    A paint smudge on his wrist band…not really a bad thing but depends how bad it is.

    Point is if you compare Mattel to Toybiz Marvel legends with joints and same paint quality..etc etc….You'd see that such similar products are not so similar QC-wise. Mattel definitely hires some crappy factories OR they're doing this on purpose to have ppl get multiple figures or replacements.

  • @Pete: Understood that mistakes happen but Mattel is OVER the CHARTS in mistakes compared to past companies.

    If fans were to be easy on Mattel and NOT be ANAL…then QC would probably be worse!

    Look at the current DCUC Giganta wave….I've been hearing the QC has improved greatly.

    I believe the COMPLAINERS are the people to thank. The Complainers keep toy companies in line.

  • The only flaw a figure can have that really bugs me is STUCK JOINTS. Especially STUCK JOINTS THAT WILL NOT BECOME UN-STUCK. This bugs the crap out of me!!!!! And i will never accept it as the norm. NEVER!!!! I run into this problem alot with DCUC and TOy Biz Marvel Legends. That is one problem Hasbro seemed to fix with their legends, and now they aren't going to make many more. Imagine that?

  • I think it's important to be fair here and point out that Mattel has at least improved–I had no significant QC issues at all with Wave 8 aside from some loose joints, and loose joints were a much bigger problem with Marvel Legends than they've been for DCUC.

    Wasn't Marvel Legends notorious for its flawed paint applications? I remember stories of collectors searching through dozens of figures for one with a good paint job.

    And finally, I'd like to reiterate I don't think Jason is talking about stuff like swapped biceps or smeared tampo symbols. What he's talking about are scuffs, scrapes, small bits of paint slop, flash–things you might not even think about, but can drive a particularly OCD collector mad. It's not an editorial about figures, it's an editorial about collectors and their occasionally obsessive mentality.

    Since your nausea caused you to skim the article, Jim, you might have missed this paragraph:

    Now, before I go further, let me clarify the difference between "flaws" and "bad decisions". I’m not talking about figures that look like bootlegs, or that can’t stand due to engineering mistakes, or ones that have clear mistakes, like two left legs. Those are problems. Scale differences are not flaws. Painted details instead of sculpted details are not flaws. $5 figures priced at $10 are not flaws.

  • @ Poe: yeah..that part I read. I started skimming towards the middle. lol

    As for Marvel Legends…my expereinces are different. I used to collect the toybiz marvel legends and yes…they had a lof of QC problems but for MY experience, i think DCUC was way worst.

    I think even IF marvel legends was worse than that of dcuc…dcuc beats ML in general bad qc due to switched parts and the stuck joints.

    I read a WHOLE HUGE list of people from other sites regarding the stuck joints issue. I think the worst was the TRUS figures.

    People were actually asking…is there ANY TRUS not without qc issues? It was that bad.

    I think the unfreezing method is genious Poe, but your smarts aside….I don't feel like I should be doing such an inventive method just so i can free my newly purchased figure from "joint paralysis".

    I agree that it is worth noting that Wave 8 has been a DRASTIC improvement.

    However admitting such an improvement goes against what the article is say…"stop complaining".

    The complainers are one of the biggest if not the SINGLE reason for DCUC wave 8's improvement.

    Will I return to dcuc due to such improvements? No, because it's too late in the game for me to start in the middle and i've already sold my dcuc figures.

    I just think that give Mattel praise for improvement is fine but I wouldn't suggest saying "Don't worry about the flaws"

    If we had that mindset to begin and said…Lets not fret over these qc issues… Wave 8 would've never had improvments.

  • Meh, my take:

    I don't get what he's saying we should enjoy. Obviously little tiny things here or there we all accept. But like I said before, his post seems like an insincere defense of Mattel's bunk product.

    If he's just talking about tiny minor things that no one notices, more power to him. But if he's defending the rest, he's crazy.

  • *******"I think even IF marvel legends was worse than that of dcuc…dcuc beats ML in general bad qc due to switched parts and the stuck joints*********

    **Edit**** I meant that even if ML had worse paint apps than dcuc, I'd still think ML was a lot better QC wise. Dcuc has a higher level of stuck joints more than ml from my experience and ESPECIALLY the switched parts….A LOT MORE>>>WAAAAY more than ML having switched parts.


    DC SUPERHEROES seemed to be made a lot better than BOTH ML TOYBIZ and MATTEL's DCUC. That's my exprience so I'm very confused why dcuc had so many issues. I'm guessing they switched factories when dcuc began?

  • @Newton: "If he’s just talking about tiny minor things that no one notices, more power to him. But if he’s defending the rest, he’s crazy."


  • @newton: Dude, u are a GOD! lOL I'm halfway reading through your article and I'm savoring each word. Best part I love so far: the PICS DUDE! The Pics! u got illustrations of every HISTORIC MATTEL FUDGE UP! BWHHAHAHAHAHAH love it!!!!!


    LMAO LMAO LMAO!!!!!!!

    And the award to funniest toy related picture goes to NEWTON GIMMICK!

    I'm setting this article on my favorites list.

    I just wish i didn't have to sign up a google account to post a reply to praise the article. Too lazy. lol

    EVERY statement ….EVERY sentence I agree with. From the playmates comment to your comments about the better technology of figures…it's like you're reading my mind man! πŸ˜€

  • I think some people are missing that the title of ToyOtter's blog post is a play on "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," and are taking things a bit to literally based only on the title.

    The basic idea of the piece was just that if you try to relax a bit, you can enjoy things (toys, life, whatever) more.

  • I am not a big DCUC fan by any means, I have Shazam, Batman, Superman and Ares. Shazam is my favourite super hero. Shazam has bad paint on his boot and his leg is a little bent and Superman has two of the same knee joints, aside from that, I haven't had any other QC problems. Bare in mind it is a mass produced toy at a standard price point, althugh I will say back in the 80's none of the figures had QC problems. Having said that just because its a mass market toy is not a good excuse to claim QC errors….high end toys like some Transformers Masterpiece and some of Yamato's early Macross toys are know for bad quality and big slip ups, and I will tell you its a whole lot cheaper colecting MOTUC than Macross.

    The QC problems with DCUC are nothing compared to some of Toynami's QC problems in their Robotech Masterpiece series.

    Standards are slipping, Hasbro's latest TransFormers Universe 2.0 has been full of QC problems…guess they were too interested in Animated.

    @Prfktr, fare enough Animated is better than Universe in some ways….in fact I am sad it is ending as there is some really cool characters they should make toys of, guess I may not be parting with all my Animated toys.

  • At this point, I wish Jason had used Marvel Legends or G.I. Joe figures as his example, rather than DCUC, because then I think his point would have come across better.

    In his editorial, he is not referring to broken or stuck joints, extremely bad paint applications, warped limbs, doubled biceps and so forth. As he states, those are problems, and should be addressed (and complained about) as such.

    What Jason is talking about in this piece are the little things. Let me give you an example. When I was about twelve, I was a huge fan of the Marvel character Cable (yeah, yeah, I was young, so sue me). I got the first Toy Biz Cable figure, who was pretty hard to find. One of his knee joints was slightly loose, and holy crap, did that bother the hell out of me. I actually considered spending my own allowance on a second one. This wasn't even a bad paint application–just a loose knee joint!

    That's the sort of OCD thinking I've grown out of as a collector, and I believe that's what Jason is referring to in this editorial.

  • @Jim: Thanks for the praise mate, as I said it may be slightly misdirected rage, but I think Toy Otter peeved me when he suggested that toys have always been this way.

    As for signing up? You can post as yourself using "Name/URL" or as Anonymous for future reference.

    Apparently you can also use your LiveJournal or AIM names as well.

  • ****I probably need to be banned for multiple posting but I can't help it****


    "Toys that have exploding butts right out of the package are NOT acceptable. Figures that look like they've been painted by Helen Keller are NOT acceptable."

  • I can forgive some flaws like loose joints. But when it comes to paint apps there's no way! Most of my figures are for display and the last thing I want to look at is a figure with a bad paint job. Let alone have to replace it till I find the "perfect" one.

  • I have to admit, I'm the kind of guy that will meticulously examine an action figure before I purchase it, and I'll go through each one on the shelf comparing them until I find the best one.

    When did we, as collectors, start expecting perfection in a cheap, mass produced item? When did toys stop being toys, and start being "works of art"?

    The fact is we're not buying works of art, we're buying hunks of plastic, painted & molded plastic. Is one little smudge on a boot or whatever going to mean the end of the world? I don't think so. For DCUC collectors, we've got about what, 50 or 60 figures now? I don't know the exact number, but my point is, we've got them all lined up on a shelf to display like it was the Mona Lisa or Statue of David. I don't think its reasonable to expect perfection.

    Mattel was pretty bad about QC (and again, remember this is only about paint apps), but they have improved, and I think those who made their voices heard did everyone a favor. But the fact of the matter is at the end of the day its just plastic.

  • @Poe: I also think Jason may have been talking about scale and such that some OCD people complain about. To that end, I totally agree with him. If it's a few centimeters too small, so what? (That's what she said)…

    But Unfortunately Jason wasn't clear enough with what he is complaining about and he only used DCUC as an example which is why it strikes to the core of come people's emotions. It also doesn't help given his connections at Mattel and it comes across as a tad phony.

    I'm all for not everything being perfect though. I'm often annoyed by the community as a whole harping on every little thing because it's not 100% completely perfect.

    But Jason probably should have been a bit more clear and use more examples. Because when you say DCUC flaws, the first thing that comes to mind is well, you know, DCUC flaws, like really bad paint, broken limbs, etc. Just my .2!

  • @Poe and domu: I understand what you are saying. I understand the point Jason was making BUT….

    ….regardless of the minor flaws Jason was referring to…

    1)Why make an article about the minor flaws that no one cares about? If they're so minor, theres no need to tell us to worry. If he's making the article SPECIFICALLY to anal collectors such as myself…THAT i can see.

    2)Regardless of how minor the flaws are, his point is we shouldn't worry and I think people should complain as much as they want.

    Again, Wave 8 would not have been improved without the feedback of the "complainers".

    @ Newton: Hmmmmm…I try that. Thanks!!!!!! πŸ™‚

  • @newton: "Jason wasn’t clear enough with what he is complaining about"

    Yes, that's another point i forgot to mention. He should have provided examples. The first thing that came to my mind was "Is he actually ok with the inncorrectly placed biceps, broken joints?"

  • @Poe

    What really surprises me is that the loose knee is what bothered you and not how incredibly useless the arms on the figure were. And they were designed to be like that. Stryfe was a better figure, sadly, but the placement of the peg that kept his cape in place was always slightly disturbing to me.

  • I can't say I love imperfections, but I'm willing to accept them if need be. What I can't take are fused joints and defects of the like. Just in the last few waves I've already broken an arm off of one Killer Moth and snapped the head off that ocean suit Aquaman. Theres just something about a joint that refuses to cooperate that makes me kinda crazy. I have to sit and work at it til either it comes loose or it breaks entirely. It's like the figure is challenging my authorty or something.

  • I've got to say, when I spent two minutes tossing up this rather throwaway reference to someone else's editorial, I didn't imagine it would engender this much discussion…

  • @Poe: I knew this would get A TON of attention just with the title. lol

    It depends on your experiences i suppose!

    It's cool though! I love this sort of talk! Hence the reason why this is my favorite site! πŸ™‚

  • my friend accepted his headless aquaman….until he found another one at walmart switched them out and sent mattel back a headless one sans a atom smasher piece….jerks

  • Being an Australian, i've purchased several DCUC over ebay, and so i've havent had the pleasure or the ease of being able to pick and choose. I spent an absorbant amount on a wonderwoman with her left leg stuck at the crotch joint, which i froze, heated, the works. i had to pry the mother open with a screw driver, and freeze it about two more times to get it to work, all the while risking severe damage to the figure. I dont like paying that much for a figure only to have to screw around with it for four hours, and i dont like having to hound Ebay sellers, asking them QC questions about the crap i'm buying off them. yes, it'd be fun to have 'perfect' figures, and i should relax and enjoy what i have, which i do. but when i choose DCUC over, say, food or clothing, i would like a little quality in the product, yes?

  • @Paul: I think it cause a bit of a ruckus simply because Jason was not specific. And even if he was specific regarding the "little things"…they would've been minor paint, loose joint issues that no one cares about to begin with.

    So if no one cares for the little stuff, I don't think an article should say, "good job mattel…we're cool with mistakes"…sounds to general and it works against what all the fights have been fighting for: better quality control.

  • @Newt Gimmick: If I were you, you should seriously send this link to Mattel and Matty

    You've provided the best illustrations of the different types of mistakes mattel had put out. πŸ™‚

  • I think the whole point of the article was missed by a lot of people. I read Newton’s counter-blog, and those are extreme cases.

    Now, before I go further, let me clarify the difference between “flaws” and “bad decisions”. I’m not talking about figures that look like bootlegs, or that can’t stand due to engineering mistakes, or ones that have clear mistakes, like two left legs. Those are problems.

    Obviously if you buy a figure that has two left legs or broken joints, those are problems, and should be fixed.

  • Man, I’ve never thought of it this way. Just buy whatever figure I can get. Availability is the key issue for me. Wish I had the luxury of finding 50-60 of the same figure to pick out the perfect one. That wuld be heaven.

  • We’re paying them money for something they produce. Why shouldn’t it be the best it can be?

  • I've gotten lucky and haven't had any DCUC breaks. I really haven't had any stuck joints this year. My Wave 4 was pretty bad and Wave 5 basically frozen, but 6-7-8 have all been excellent.

  • Yup…wave 6 had problems but that's when they started getting a bit better.

    wave 8 is doing pretty well so far. πŸ™‚

  • I've been collecting Action figures for, well…., more decades than it sounds sane to even admit but I have never had issues with a Toy Company in the way I have with MATTEL over the last couple of years. This is simply a fact. if there are those out there that don't appreciate this as a fact then too bad

    I've had plenty of defective product supplied by a whole host of differnet companies over the years (those Lady Death Toys from Chaos Comics come to mind) but never has one Compnay done so much across a host of different Lines to irritate, frustrate and downright enrage.

    JLU figures made of such crappy regrind plastic they cannot stand.

    Expensive MOTUC figures sold from a disfunctional, pre-historic website that turn up with the wrong limbs and nothing you can do about it because the product was made in such small quantities that by the time my overseas parcel gets back to them the stock is all gone.

    And DCUC. The best sculpted and most desirable DC figures ever (sorry DCD fans, they just are) and yet as poorly made and finished as any toy line IN HISTORY! setting aside laughable distribution and availability, once you have these things in your hands you have taken a gamble with your hard earned that they don't jam, break or just crumble right out of the pack. The TRU 2 packs must be the Worst made action figures ever. There are $1 bootlegs out there with a lower catastrophic failure rate than the Orion /Lightray Disgrace.

    Hence the strength of feeling being expressed here. There is an awful lot of pent up rage about Mattel, and well meaning articles (that I fully accept are not actually telling us this state of affairs is OK, but that we should all take a deep breath and calm down about lifes little imperfections) don't do much more than touch off the powder-keg that is rightly Mattel-rage.

    They freaking deserve it – make toys that don't do any of the above bad things and nobody will have to complain. It's that simple.

    And while small flaws are all part of nature, we should never, ever accept the crap that Mattel have palmed off on DCUC Collectors, nor apologise for complaining about it.

  • @motorthing: I totally agree. I don't think i've been collecting as long as you are since you may be older. I've been collecting for nearly 20 years and I agree…NEVER has a company had this many QC issues, or issues in general as much as Mattel has had.

    Also I agree with your comment on MOTUC. I was just saying….geeez the Heman is going for around 100 or over on ebay and Mattel produced all the hemans with incorrect shoulders. Horrible. We're paying $20 for crap? As much as I love MOTUC, it frustrates me when I get backward joints. The heman is the worst since EVERY heman has it.

    As for the DCUC TRUS twopacks being the worst…you are so on target on that!

  • @Poe – "That’s the sort of OCD thinking I’ve grown out of as a collector, and I believe that’s what Jason is referring to in this editorial."

    You can grow out of OCD? I didn't know that was possible.

  • It depends on how bad it is, but yeah, a certain amount of OCD behavior is often part of being a kid. I definitely had it, from when I was about ten to thirteen or fourteen. I'd do a lot of the tapping and going back to step on lines in parking lots and so forth. But I was able to stop doing it in my mid-teens.

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