Poe’s Point > Club Eternia & Bonus Figures

Scott Metzger, one of my favorite He-Fans, posted this fair question over on the Mattycollector forums:

Okay, the uncertainty with Keldor’s release brought up a question that I thought had been answered:

If a regular monthly figure misses it’s release date, one of the bonus figures is supposed to be plugged in for that slot on Matty. But we have been told numerous times, especially when the issue came up as the 2010 subscriptions were being hawked, that such a substituted figure would not be part of the subscription.

So, if Keldor had to take the place of, say, the September figure, there would have been no subscription figure for that month, if I’m interpreting the above right?

Here’s TG’s reply (text after the jump).

For the sake of explaining this, lets pretend that the September figure is Sweet Bee.

Keldor was planned as a “bonus” quarterly figure who would be ready for June avail. If “Sweet Bee” had slipped schedule, Keldor would become the new September figure and their would be no June bonus figure. This would not matter as the bonus figures are not tied to the subscription so no one is loosing out on anything committed to. “Sweet Bee” would then get slotted in down the road as either a monthly figure or a bonus figure when she was ready.

This is why we don’t announce who the monthly figures are until about 3 months prior to release (most of the time). Things change ALL THE TIME that are well beyond our control changing up the release schedule on us. It is the same reason we don’t do preorders. We often do not know when a figure will truly be available until very close to the release date.

Here’s what bothers me about this. The bonus figures have all been some sort of repaint/retool of an existing character —  Zodak, the Goddess, Battle Armor He-Man, Keldor. While they’ve all sold out, the fact that none of them are likely to be reissued anytime soon–except perhaps BA He-Man–is evidence of their relative unpopularity. Down the line we’re inevitably going to get some bonus figures that are even less popular–perhaps Thunder Punch He-Man or New Adventures He-Man, or Dragon Claws Skeletor (or as I call him, Sports Bra Skeletor).

Let’s say a regular monthly figure–which would most likely be a new character, e.g., Ram-Man–slips and is replaced in the subscription by New Adventures He-Man. Ram-Man meanwhile becomes a later “bonus” figure. Now subscribers are on the hook for yet another He-Man retool, while they’ll have to scramble to get Ram-Man.

That, suffice to say, would suck for those who don’t want every single figure (I do, but that’s not the point here). ToyGuru did say the slipped figure could become “either a monthly or bonus figure”–I just hope Mattel realizes it would have to be a monthly if it’s to come out in 2010, or they’ll have another Gleek/Battle Cat-level mess on their hands.

On a side note, yes, TG’s argument about pre-orders is weak. Collectors of other toy lines pre-order plenty of stuff  months and months in advance. (I pre-ordered the Diamond Select Creature from the Black Lagoon last week, and that won’t be out until September.) If, for example, Mattel is set to start production on a Ram-Man figure, they can offer pre-orders for a week just before the figure is scheduled to go into production (or a week before they sign the deal with the factory for whatever number of Ram-Man figures) and people will be happy to pre-order and wait. I bet they’d even be willing to pay up front, which doesn’t happen with the sub (outside of Wun-Dar).

That’s not to say I’m pushing for pre-orders–I’m fine with the subscription personally, and I hope the 2011 sub is all-inclusive. But I’m not against pre-orders either.

Comments now closed (36)

  • I think MOTU Classics a wonky roller coaster that we all know we shouldn't ride, but do anyway.

    The current "bonus" plan is weak, but after Keldor we might just have King Grayskull for Q4 (Keldor seems to be holding down Feb-Sep by himself), so it should end up okay.

    Next year's plan avoids that problem, but it still bugs me. I want all of the figures (I guess), but the all or nothing aspect still rubs me the wrong way.

  • I agree Poe. And the reason behind the lack of a preorder is weak. I'm sure nearly everyone would rather have a preorder and have it canceled than wait for a figure to sell out in minutes.

  • ToyGuru's basic message to collectors is, "You're not considered a serious fan of this line unless you sign up for a subscription." I for one don't think is very fair. I won't necessarily be purchasing any of the PoP or NA figures, but you can bet I was right there at noon EST for Battle Cat, Trap Jaw and Moss Man, the latter two I missed out on. A pre-order system would be nice, and would probably also give Mattel or more accurate number of how many fans there actually are for this line.

  • Pre-orders are such an obvious solution these problems. Why the hell can't they offer them 3 months before they are due? People would much rather have a pre-order pushed back, than to miss out on a figure entirely.

  • I want the subscription, but I can't get the subscription if it's all inclusive. I simply can't afford it. Given that next January through June are likely to be like this January through June, I'm really hoping to hear of tiered subscriptions or a non-all inclusive subscription so that there's equal opportunity for the vast majority of fans to be able to subscribe, but my hopes on that front are quickly dying.

  • @Dead Man Walking: A pre-order three months before the figure is due won't solve the sell-out problems, because they will already be well into production at that point. All you'd be doing is having the sell-out mess a few months earlier.

    Most people advocating a pre-order are doing so with the understanding that the pre-order would be used as the basis for the figure's production run size. So we're talking at least six months in advance (probably more).

  • yeah, the nebulous "might become a monthly figure or might become a bonus figure" is a terrible answer… if the fig was suppossed to be part of the "club eternia" figs, it should remain so… if production needs to get bumped back for some reason, fine, but keep a monthly a monthly… this is the kind of logic and reasoning that keeps me from doing the subs… you basically are at the mercy of a crew of folks who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. as per poe's example, if i got ram-man swapped out for NA he-man, i'd be furious… especially if i then missed out on ram-man

    plus, am i the only party who recalls mention in the past that the bonus figures are not produced to the full numbers that "club eternia" figures are? so how do you swap out (for example) 10000 figures for 7000 figures? and agian using poe's example, if they make 10000 NA he-men, i'm not overly worried… no figure yet has failed to sellout and the overage make keep him around for more than an hour… but if they then turn around and make ram-man in only 7000 qty? yikes my friends… YIKES! (of course, IF they decide on this "all-in" sub, and IF the bonus figs get added in to the sub, then none of that matters going forward, as they'll have to make equal qtys of everyone.)

    as for the idea of the pre-orders… come on guys, that's a SOLUTION… didn't matty already create a forum to ignore those?

  • to be fair, the new subscription for 2011 will include everything, so I wouldn't be too worried about getting any figure that's pushed back. Plus, he already said the bonus figure would be slotted in whatever month they run behind on; that's nothing new.

  • @Poe: 6 months is fine. Hell, I think most collectors would be fine ordering 12 months in advance, so long as it was guaranteeing them the figure.

  • As someone who isn't getting every figure I like the fact that the current subscription doesn't get me everything, and I don't think I'll be picking up the 2011 subscription if it does. Luckily, by then I should have a good number of my most wanted figures.

  • Hasn't he said this before though? About things always changing and they always have to shift stuff around? We don't know why they pick figures the way they do and this could explain why the MOTUC lineups are even more secretive than all the DC Universe lineup leaks.

    Also there doesn't seem to be a pattern (Universe Builder-Anchor-etc) for entire year, like there is with wave of DC Universe Classics.

  • Pre-ordering is the way to do.

    Anyway, yeah, what you and Scott Metzger have concluded I figured out a long time ago. If a figure is behind schedule, we're going to get a "bonus" figure in it's place. I think that's why we're seeing bonus figures start to get more tooling spent on them.

    I don't really care either way, since this is all hypothetical (Mattel has yet to miss a due date) but I'm guessing MOST people would rather just wait an extra month and get the subscription figure.

    Just my .2 naturally.

  • Pre-orders won't solve anything if something is already in production. If only 10,000 units of a certain product are made, whether you're pre-ordering months ahead of time or when its on sale, its still going to be a sell out.

    To me the option that makes more sense is to pre-sell them. Say pre-sales for "Sweet Bee" begin Jan 15th and end Feb 15th, so that way fans, scalpers, re-sellers, whatever, can order as MANY as they want, 1, 5, 10, 100. However, they HAVE to pay for them at the time of ordering. Skip ahead six months, the figures are produced and ship. A minute number is produced for regular sales for those latecomers or those who dillydallied or just couldn't decide. That way theoretically anyone who wants to get one can get one and there'd be no problems. Some characters are obviously going to prove to be more popular than others, like He-Man or Trap Jaw are definitely going to have more draw/appeal than Jitsu or Ninjor, so while maybe they'd take get 15,800 pre-sale for He-Man they only get 3,400 for Jitsu. They'll know exactly how to make, with few extras again for the stragglers, etc. I don't know if I'm articulating what I'm thinking, but just thought I'd lay that down there.

  • While I agree that they shouldn't, for example, throw BA Skeletor in the sub and have Whiplash be a bonus, it'll likely all be moot soon anyway. They're most likely going to do all-in next year, so it doesn't really matter which is which. If you get a sub next year, expect to see 4 Hurricane Hordak/NA He-Man/2002 Randor type characters.

  • The thing that makes the least sense is limiting the purchase of subs to a few weeks out of the year. What's the point of luring new customers if you're just going to push them back away by making them wait up to a year to get a sub?

  • @Scott: many of us recommended a quarterly opt-in or opt-out sub, but that got shot down pretty quick.

    nad i can direct this at Newton Gimmick… they have missed one already… faker/mer-man had to get reshuffled. faker was the first "bonus" figure.

  • @dayraven: Not really. Faker wasn't a bonus figure. Yeah, he was put into a different slot, but he was the next released figure. While I get your overall point, I don't think people would be upset if they just switched the lineup accordingly. Adding in a bonus figure (who could just be a repaint) instead of a actual subscription figure would upset some folks.

    And yeah, Faker is just a repaint, but he's also a seperate character and one that everyone knew was coming. But to be expecting say Hordak and getting Zodak would be very upsetting to some people.

  • @dayraven: They can't have a quarterly subscription offer! They have to determine production at least a decade in advance! You're talking craziness!

  • …and let's not forget that the sub is simply not sensible for some of us. I have no interest in a sub as I have only wanted a few of the new figures announced so far this year. (Mind you that Mattel led us all to believe that the sub was strictly an option and that we could reasonably expect to buy the figures one at a time as we had last year until after the Adora sellout, when it was much too late the weigh the buying options).

    Certainly an "all-in" sub just drives me even further away from the line–other than BC, I have absolutly zero interest in any of the large scale figures announced thus far, and will not have any interest in anything on the horizon until the release of Panthor.

    If Mattel wants to move to a subscription-only model, they need to say so flat-out, so some of us can weigh our options. What I suspect is stopping them is that I think a large number of us would just drop the line if we were bluntly told we had to buy every figure offered in order to get what we want. I know I would, particularly in light of the fact that I could probably sell off my meager collection with only a very small loss and call it a day.

  • Mattel's emphasis on the subscription model seems to strengthen the idea that MOTUC is not so much a genuine attempt to make money off the collector's market as it is a sort of prestige side project to keep the brand alive until the movie gets made.

    The fact that it's very profitable helps, I'm sure. But so far, the production numbers we're talking about (probably still less than 40,000 figures per character, not counting the DC vs MOTU 2-packs) are still very low for a big company like Mattel. And more and more I'm beginning to suspect that something about the nature of the deal that was worked out internally at Mattel to create MOTUC includes making sure there are no figures pegwarming at Mattycollector. The tone of ToyGuru's posts seems to suggest that as soon as there's excess product hurting profitability, or even a hint of it (see Zodak and the Goddess), Mattel's higher-ups might pull the plug.

    Now, maybe that's just scarcity marketing. I'm no fan of corporations and I wouldn't put anything past any of them. But Mattel does seem to be playing the line very conservatively. I think sell-outs and subsequent reissues may remain the norm for MOTUC indefinitely.

  • @Newton Gimmick:

    Actually Faker was a bonus figure. He was made to be sold only at NYCC, originally.

    When he was slotted in to replace the delayed Merman the production schedule all got pushed back by one month.

    This is why Scareglow the 'hallowe'en' figure came out in Nov instead of Oct and why Adora got pushed into Jan (although we were promised a POP figure in that year, she came out in the following year).

  • Pre-orders would be awesome. I've pre-ordered stuff a year in advance, I'm cool with that.

    What I don't like is the "Buy it all or get nothing" direction this line is going in.

  • @Croaker: They reshuffled the line up, but Faker was always going to be for sale on MattyCollector. They've never done a figure that wasn't for sale on the site (Variants aside) and Faker was ALWAYS going to be available at Matty. He was not a "bonus" figure.

  • @Newton Gimmick: I think, if you read between the lines of what was being said back then and what Mattel said in their year-end round-up a few months ago, that we can't assume Faker was always going to be sold on Mattycollector. Hell, they weren't even sure the line would last past Hordak.

    My point being, just because they may have vaguely planned to eventually produce Faker for Mattycollector.com if the line took off, there's no reason to think we would have seen him prior to this June.

    I know this may seem like a minor quibble, but I'm just saying, I do get where Croaker got that impression from.

  • @Poe: No doubt, I see where you can get that impression and I wasn't trying to be snotty to Croaker (re-reading it does seem like I may have come across that way) but very early on in Q&As and on He-Man.org they said that leftover stock of Faker was going to end up on Matty, just like King Greyskull.

    There's really no reason to believe that Faker would have been treated any differently than KG was. And I've been with this line since the very beginning and I think I would remember if Faker was ever going to be elusive. I don't recall there ever being anything said that Faker wasn't going to available and was a "bonus" guy for NYCC fans.

    Mattel still didn't know what they were doing back then (not that they necessarily do now) but they simply reshuffled the lineup. Did they maybe not sell as many Fakers at NYCC as a result of this? Perhaps. But I'm not beliving that Faker was never going to be offered on MattyCollector at some point anyway.

    Bonus figures are a new idea. So I don't think we can really compare what was going on in the line's infancy to what's going on now that it's a rousing success.

    Then again, we may just see things differently. I don't really subscribe to the theory that MOTUC is one failure figure away from being ended. I don't think this is a fragile side project. I think this is a carefully planned, poorly handled new business avenue for Mattel.

    But I do see where Croaker may have gotten that impression, I just don't believe it to be a reality.

  • @Poe: Reissues are fine, but I wish they would reduce the maximum limit. If the line survives solely because of scalpers then the line won't survive long; I doubt many fans will spend another year or two going through the same nightmare every month.

  • @Philip Reed: An excellent point. I am only really excited about getting Evil-Lyn and Count Marzo at this moment in time. There are other figures in the pipeline that I like, but those two are dealbreakers-if I cannot get them, and am told "It's fine because we will make more at some shadowy future date, even though we continously make mild threats to end the line entirely for a variety of reasons!" I frankly think I will be done. It just isn't worth the heartburn.

    I may be a toy collector, but I am also a grownup with serious grownup issues to deal with. Blocking out one morning once a month just in the vague hope that I will be allowed to spend some money on my hobby is simply not a good or logical use of my time. I cannot be alone in that.

    They are toys. It should not be this hard.

  • Actually, I believe Newton's correct. There was going to be a limited quantity of Faker available on Matty in Feb, just like they did with KG and He-Ro. Mer-Man fell behind, so they decided to move Faker so they'd at least have something MOTUC to sell in March.

  • It was posted on this very site on 10/2008, 2 months before the line officially began:
    "That’s right, in addition to the February figure Stratos®, Faker® will also be available at NY Comic Con (with additional supply available in March here at MattyCollector.com). But get him first at the show!"

  • @Scott: I still maintain there's a big difference between making Faker a monthly figure and selling the leftovers from NYCC, but fair enough, I was wrong–they did say from the beginning that they would sell them on the site.

  • You make a great point in your subscription argument. I agree Keldor is a figure every body wants and he should be part of the subscription and not a limited bonus figure. I want to get all the figures but I missed out on bonus figs Battle cat (sold out)and I am not a big fan of the New Adventures of He-man, Optik being part of the Subscription sucks. Iam not collecting these figures for profit or because they're rare, I am collecting them because of nostalgia