Mattel Updates > MOTUC, DC subs, Draego-Man costs

Lots of Mattel-related stuff to discuss today. First up is this addendum to Monday’s Q&A:

3.) Gasha168 asks: Does the 23″ Voltron contain any diecast metal components at all, or is it pure plastic except for the springs and pin joints?

The Lions that combine into the 23” Voltron do not have any die-cast parts.  At the scale that the lions are being offered, if they were die-cast, the overall weight of the combined Voltron would be too much for it to be secure or stable.  However, we do understand that die-cast is a big fan request so this is something that we’re looking into for the future.

Next, we have a bunch of updates from Mattel regarding the MOTUC and DC subs. There’s a lot to cover here–this appears to be one of those times when Mattel comes surprisingly clean with us. I’ll reply bit by bit rather than a long speech at the end.

First off is this post from the Mattycollector forums:

Hey He-Fans and She-Ravers,

With so much talk over the DC Sub (and if we have enough subscribers) I wanted to check in with all of you on the MOTUC sub.

First off, as expected we have well passed our min sub order to keep the line going. (MOTU fans are committed!) BUT, I do want to let you know that we are actually at our lowest sub sale yet. Which unless we get a huge bump in sales this week, this means Shadow Weaver will likely be the lowest produced figure in the whole line! Wow.

So it appears MOTUC’s popularity is indeed waning. I’ve been thinking for a while now that Battle Cat/Trap Jaw would represent the high-water mark for this line. The simple truth is that aside from a few characters like Ram Man, the most popular MOTU characters–the ones that even casual collectors would want–have been done.

The high cost of the sub, is probably part of it too. But at least they did get “well” past their minimum order. That suggests the 2013, 2014+ subs still have a good chance.

Also, as stated a few times, we will no longer be doing second runs of figures starting with Man-E-Faces. We still have quite a few older figures already slotted for re-release each month in 2012, but they are all figure originally offered before Man-E-Faces. This also means NONE of the 2012 figures will go into a second run.

I don’t find this as troubling as the lower sub orders. Mattel has been increasing their regular production numbers for monthly figures for a while, and I think now there’s just less of a need for reissues. The early figures had much smaller production runs and thus, much greater demand for reissues. As long as monthly figures are selling for $30 on eBay, I think Mattel is safe not doing reissues.

Finally, our overall production is going to be a bit lower in 2012. We still intend for product to be available for “Cherry Pickers” the day-of the sale, but 1: we will have overall a bit less, how long this will last is anyone’s guess, and 2: Because production is based on part on the sub sales, with lower overall sub sales than expected, this means the day-of product will be even slightly less then we orignally intended with the original planned”slight reduction” (to control inventory).

Part of the reason for the initial reduction in “day of” quota is to maintain the secondary market so that those who buy the sub but don’t want all of the monthly figures will have an avenue to sell them off at a reasonable secondary market price. We’re not trying to create “Scal-por” but we do want to help out fans who may be turned off by the high price of say, the Star Sisters, and want to know we won’t flood the market with this pack giving them the option of selling it off one day if it is not their cup of tea.

Has a major toy company ever acknowledged that they have an interest in maintaining the secondary market? That alone is pretty amazing.

I’m not sure what I think of their rationale for the lower post-sub numbers, though. That will work fine for the Star Sisters, who I suspect many subscribers will be looking to unload, but it will also mean that popular characters like Kobra Khan will be a lot harder to get, since most subscribers will keep him.

In any event, what they say here does negate the “they can only produce so many figures per year” theory. They’re clearly stating they’re reducing the overall numbers of each figure in 2012.

SO….What does all this mean?

While in NO WAY is this message intended to be a “you must buy the sub!” post, in all fairness, consider this fair warning that the sub is your best way of guaranteeing all figures without a sell out and the ONLY way to ever get Shadow Weaver. (and hey don’t forget about the awesome Preternia map!)

Whether the sub is for you is a personal choice, I just want to make sure fair warning and all the info is out there for you to make an eductated choice for your own collection!

Hope this helps!

Scott

Next up, is this post on Facebook. (Why do we have to go to two or three different places for this? Why can’t it all be on the Mattycollector news page?)

More updates for ya He-Fans and She-Raves,

So we know a lot of you have been asking us to add in the six 30th anniversary figures into the sub program to save on shipping. We do not have things finalized YET but it looks like this will be able to go through starting with the March figure Draego-Man (Photog may still need to be purchased day of).

Well, it’s nice that we’ll be able to get the rest of the figures easily, but that means Fearless Photog day will be a nightmare. And don’t forget the reduced production numbers! We can only hope the casual fans are so turned off by this goofy character that he doesn’t sell out in five minutes.

But if all goes according to plan, we hope to offer a special 30th anniversary series “add on” sub around late Oct/early Nov. The sub add on should ideally include the 5 remaining 30th anniversary figures after Photog which includes Draego-Man by the Four Horsemen, the two Mattel characters, the Geoff Johns character and the winner of the new Create a Character contest! (five of the six figs)

Additionally, it looks like an upgrade we have been working on will go into affect in Feb/March 2012 which will combine all sub shipping on all brands even if you bought them at separate times!

So if you have one brand’s sub and still want to add another brand’s sub in a second purchase order, the Jan/Feb subs may ship separate, but ideally starting in March (if all works out!) we will combine shipping in one order for all subs, including the new 30th anniversary sub we want to offer in a month or so. (As a refresh, currently, only subs purchased together in one order will combine shipping. The upgrade we are attempting should ideally combine all subs together in one shipment, even if bought at separate times!)

We are still getting our ducks in a row, but what does this mean? Well, if you are hesitant to buy a 2012 Club Eternia sub because you know you will be buying the 30th figures “day-of” anyway, this new “add-on” sub should (in a perfect world) allow us to combine all subs into one order and save on your shipping (starting with the Feb/March figures, it may not be in place in time for Jan figures, i.e. Photog).

There is a lot of hedging in there. But based on this, I decided to roll the dice and bought a Club Infinite Earths sub. I figure either it will go through and I’ll get a Poison Ivy, or it won’t and I won’t have to pay the money. If the sub goes through and I have to pay double shipping all year, I will be pissed.

But given Mattel’s terror of lawsuits, my hunch is that they never would have said this if it weren’t 95% likely.

We will confirm all the details at Power Con in late Sept and are committed to continuing to improve things with new process and logistics in place to save you on shipping!

See you in the toy aisles and on Mattycollector.com!

Then there was this little tag at the end of that post:

Draego-Man in March should ideally be the first figure included in the new 30th sub we hope to sell in Oct/Nov. Also, please note image is a PROTOTYPE. He is coming in way more expensive then expected and we are exploring possible deco and accessory changes (with the Horsemen’s blessing) to bring him into cost.

When the predictable fuss started on He-Man.org, ToyGuru chimed in with this:

Guys, don’t freak out of Draego Man yet. We are still exploring options.

Honestly, as soon as I saw the images from the 4HM my first through was, “crap that is a lot of accessories and deco, how are we going to afford that!”

It is basically due to the huge amount of surface area he has with the wings/tail which results in more paint deco needed compared to the average fig. Nothing is changing YET. Terry and the Horsemen are still reviewing and it also doesn’t rule out that if we have to cut one or two accessories we can always look at finding ways to release them with someone else down the road. We’re not looking at a huge change, it just may be lossing an accessory or two. No one is cutting the tail or the armor or anything. Minor minor changes if at all.

We certainly won’t be offering multiple versions or changing the price. It just logistically won’t work that way. Not to fear, this won’t be a huge change guys! Hang in their while we review all possible options. We won’t move on anything without the Horsemen’s approval.

Comments now closed (37)

  • As a CIE supporter I'm glad to hear you bought in – i'll be very curious to see if that combined-shipping thing significantly helps boost enrollment. Like you said there is A LOT of "asterisks" in his paragraph but considering the animosity of their fan-base they wouldn't announce anything without it being more than likely.

    I'm pretty worried about Photog because with the sub add-on i think more people will be buying into the 30th Anniversary line which will spike desire for the complete set. More-over, all the characters as "BS"/made-up ones except for Photog who actually does have some connection to the classic line, and would forseeabley be the only one of that series that some people would want.

    I hadn't seen that bit about Draego-Man, but come on… who could possibly look at that and think it would come out as shown. Yes that's partly Mattel's fault for showing more than would reasonably be released, partly the Horsemen's for knowingly going over budget (after, what 3 years of this line they don't know how much production costs?) and partly fans' for being too childish and "give me all the candy."

  • I don't see the lower subs this year compared to last year as a sign of MOTUC popularity waning. I think it's b/c this year the figures have been so much easier to get on both Matty and aftermarket, and so much after market product being marked up only slightly compared to previous years (due to the increased numbers) that people probably figured that this year would be the same. I guarantee that next year there will be more subs sold due to increased sell outs for next year's line up and the frustration it causes the 'cherry pickers' because Mattel will be producing fewer figures and them being harder to get.

    • I agree with DEADPOOL that this doesn't necessarily prove the waning of the line–just a decrease of subscription buyers. This really tells me that Mattel has finally found a secure number to make of each figure without selling out in 5 minutes and no longer than 24 hrs. (I can't believe I was still able to buy Man-E-Faces at midnight on the same day of the sale–sweet!!) After-market prices aren't too far off from Matty prices, too. I wouldn't count the line short until Mattel actually came out and said, "Total sales of individual figures are the lowest it's ever been." Then I might panic a little. 😉

  • I literally had to go back and look at the source of the quotes when I saw the sentence mentioning "eBay." In all the Q&A sessions for various toy companies, I don't think I've ever seen the secondary market for a line referred to so directly. But hey, if they want fans to know that they're being honest with them, that sentence is probably a good indicator that they're serious about that.

  • This was going to be the first year that I subscribed. I'm a completist of the figures derived from the vintage line, but I was OK with the occasional NA and PoP stuff in my collection. I figured that could be fun for my kids. But the most expensive pack in the sub being the Star Sisters? That killed it. And this isn't complaining about PoP in the line, because whatever, I accept the all facets thing. However, while an occasional $20+ toy I do not want was easier to swallow, I cannot spend $60+ on a toy I do not want. I still can't understand why they would do this. I mean, I know why they would do it, because they probably figured it wouldn't sell if it was outside of the sub. But I'm really convinced that this is the reason people aren't doing the sub. As stated, Matty days have gotten easier (MEF was still available a day later!) and with the lack of combined shipping for subs, why should people bother? It's disappointing, too, because this is a big year for MOTU! The subscription should be the highest number yet.

    I still wish they would do a tiered sub: one truly all-in with an exclusive and another that is just the monthly figure with no exclusive.

  • My first blush at the secondary market comment was it was Mattel’s admission that they know the sub forces people to buy crap they don’t want. They know there is a sizeable crowd of collectors who aren’t completists, perhaps the majority, but don’t want to explore other selling options, like pre-orders, as long as enough people will drink the cool aid of subs.

  • The logic behind reducing production for non-subscribers is completely backwards. Fewer subscribers probably means that there will be more cherry-pickers, not less, since collectors who were near-absolute completists before probably aren't going to drop the line entirely. Once more, Mattel demonstrates its limitless capacity to leave money on the table.

  • Check out Photog with his 2nd chance to not exist in anyone's collection!

    I think he'll actually be not too tough to get. Some people hate that guy, but I'm totally buying one.

    • I would be upset if I missed out on Photog. I’ve wanted him since I was a kid and saw him in the Masters magazine.

      • Photog is going to be very popular. Despite all the boo-hooing by fans, truth is, this guy is legendary. That alone will boost his sales. Just like Wun-Dar still commands a huge secondary market price.

        • I know. He is awesome. January contains two of my most wanted, Photog and the Sorceress. Unfortunately, It also holds my absolute, without a doubt, least wanted item to date, the Star Sisters. They may keep me from buying a sub.

          The problem is I really want Shadow Weaver.

          Rhetorical question, is it worth getting stuff like the Star Sisters to avoid the secondary market prices on Shadow Weaver; not to mention the loss on shipping when I want non-sub items or extra figures? I have always refused to buy from scalpers in the past, and occasionally I like to buy extra figures for custom work.

          On an earlier note, once again, I’ll be PO’d if I miss out on Photog because Matty will not include him in the sub. If they would it might be enough to push me into buying one.

  • January is overloaded as it is… Why don't they Move Photog far enough to get in with the other 5 figs of the 30th Add-On?

    • Exactly. I said it on IAT.net and I’ll say it here:

      Though I’m glad the 30th Anniversary Sub will possibly go through, I’m scratching my head as to why they can’t include Fearless Photog. If the sub kicks in around Feb/March 2012, why not delay Photog until after the sub starts? That way they can include all six figures.

      In terms of Draego-Man, I’d rather pay more than loose some accessories. I’d pay $25 for him; people did so for Adam/Orko and Queen Marlena. Due to his wingspan, he may need larger packaging which could qualify him as a beast.

  • I guess everything has an end! But reading this message the impression I had was MOTUC has an ending coming.
    For me, 2009 was a incredible year for the line, but, I used to like to receive only 1 figure a month, and sometimes 2 figures, but now we have 2 figures every month, sometimes 3 figures, giant figures,…, and this year we will have 4 figures in an only month !!!
    I´m a collector, and I like other lines too, like Marvel Select, Player Select of Neca, Dc Direct,…, how can I afford 2 or 3 monthly figures of MOTUC and the other lines together?

    I have a sub, but for me, they should sell only 16 figures during the year and 2 giant figures and let us now in the end of the year all the figures they will issue in the next year.

    And I thing they should urgent start a Castle Grayskull project to sell it for the subs, explore more 200X cartoon caracters and Filmation caracters!!

  • I have no idea why people are STILL complaining about the sub. Mattel has latched onto a formula that works. Look at season ticket sales to sporting events. People routinely buy in to those year in and year out, even though there are certainly games on the schedule that not everyone is excited to see, and preseason games are thrown in even though those are terribly unexciting. For those games fans don't care for, there are several ways to sell the tickets off in the secondary market. The advanced ticket sales go on to fund next year's expenses and minimize the possibility of a dreaded local television blackout (similar to killing the line ala DCU).

    Mattel's all in works in minimizing the overhead (second-tier figures have the same minimum sales as A-listers), stimulate a secondary market that creates more interest in the product and more incentives to buy-in, as well as making sure the product line is viable enough to continue (turning on the machines). Now, the problem will come in a year or two when the A-list figures are gone and sub and day-of sales drop dangerously low (the NBA saw this happening in the past decade, with teams hemoraging money). That will be when the line is in trouble, which might cause Mattel to rethink their strategy.

    • But at least I know the team's season schedule before I buy all-in or at least know what my conference teams are! 😉 A blind buy-in is always a difficult sell. I still don't understand why they can't list out the entire "planned/hoped" line as "subject to change"?? If I knew what it might be with a chance of change, I'm much more understanding and willing to buy. Just my thoughts.

      • To that point though, you may buy season tickets knowing the schedule, but you have no idea how well the team will perform. Maybe your team will go to the Super Bowl or win the Stanley Cup… but maybe they'll just fall flat on their faces from the start of the season…

        • Very true. But you still know the regular schedule, and they will play those known teams whether a good or bad performance. The playoffs are icing on the cake and are not included in your season tickets. 😉

  • Re: Voltron

    Is there any way you can get more information out of Mattel about Voltron? The Q&A forum at mattycollector.com is useless as Mattel just ignore 99.9% of the Voltron-releated questions (much as they do for Ghostbusters and DCUC). In particular, a LOT of fans have expressed concern about the "one-touch auto transformation" feature which basically appears to consist of spring-loaded legs for the Lions and the durability of those springs over time. No-one wants to end up with a $290.00 (plus shipping) Voltron which CANNOT be formed into Voltron because the springs have worn out and the legs of the Lions cannot be retracted to form Voltron.

  • Re: MOTUC

    I'm not overly surprised that the subscription numbers are falling. I think it's a combination of factors, but there does appear to be a LOT of content this year and with each year, the nature of that content becomes less and less certain. It's great that Mattel are looking to expand the MOTUC universe beyond the original MOTU, POP and NA toy lines, but thay cannot be surprised that people are wary about signing up for a subscription which includes characters like the Star Sisters who appeared in a single episode of She-Ra and as proto-type toys in a magazine many, many years ago.

    Mattel's shirty attitude towards collectors, including statements confirming their desire to "support the secondary market" can't be helpful either. Sure, at the end of the day, it doesn' t matter to Mattel whether they're selling to John Smith or to Scal-Por because Mattel walk away with $20.00 in their pocket, but surely they can understand people's desire to purchase the figures from Mattel for $20.00, not from Ebay for $40.00.

  • I don’t think people need to worry about MOTUC, they said they were well over the numbers necessary, that’s all that matters. If anything, they may see the price tag this year as the highest they can go and adjust future plans accordingly, but the economy I’m sure also plays a part in this. I don’t think people need to be concerned. The Star Sisters being so highly priced I think was a risky call, but I would have bought them anyway so I’m not worried about it. As long as they’re above the numbers, there’s no need for all the doom and gloom.

  • Is cherry pickers a bad thing? I mean, you'd think that there would be more cherry pickers than hardcore fans, but maybe I'm wrong. I kind of feel like I'm going to be the scum of the universe if I only want a couple of figures.

    • Haha… you're keeling teh lein!!!

      Anyone chastising fans for being "cherry pickers" is being immature and unrealistic. On the other side, I don't think "cherry pickers" should think that just cuz we sign up for the sub that we're gladly chewing on whatever is thrown at us. Sure, we have no choice, but there is the "secondary market" and we don't have to exactly like it. I'm trying to think of an analogy, but they're all just so cliche at this point… restaurants, menus, season passes to sporting teams…

  • …Not to rain on your parade, but thanks to X-Entertainment.com, Photog has a bit of a cult following who will buy him because he's Photog, this mythical character Matt's gone on about who's become a running gag of the website.

  • I do not like being called a "cherry picker" just because I don't feel like buying lame figures of characters I have absolutely no interest in. I also have no desire to be locked into a long term commitment with a company that has given me some of the worst customer service experiences of my life. FUCK YOU guy who said that.

    • Did you even bother to think about the meaning of the term before complaining? It's the least derogatory "derogatory" term ever. It's more offensive to people who buy the sub than those who don't, if you think about it. You're picking the cherries, the best of the line out of the rest of the slog and slag, whereas sub-buyers are happily paying the same amount for "inferior" product, the non-cherries. It implies on a base level that they are happy with inferior products.

      On a bad day, I can get four figures in a scale I like for the price of just one MOTUC. I haven't bought any since Carnivous and don't see myself ever doing so. Mattel is shooting themselves in the foot with all this hullabaloo and I feel truly sorry for those of you that can afford MOTUC and love it, because there won't be a lineup for 2013, dollars to doughnuts.

      • With you on the cherry picking thing. I don't quite understand the negative connotation with the term.

        But you're wrong on 2013. 2014? Yeah, I could see it, depending on how many of the big guns are left by then. But not 2013. Now, granted the production numbers may be drastically reduced. And there may not be a sub (although I doubt that honestly). But there will absolutely be 2013 product, barring something uncontrollable like a huge spike in the cost in plastic or an earthquake swallowing Mattel HQ.

    • Isn't that exactly what you are? How is it an insult? I refer tomyself as a cherry picker,I don't see the problem.

  • The problem with the sub for the sub for me is that it keeps growing every year. And yet, it's still never "everything", because there is always bonus crap the sinks in. Which just means MORE money you have to spend.

    I have been sitting on the fence with the sub this year because it's such a huge financial drain. I'm really not surprised that this y ear has the worst sub sales, because the price is very high. The character selection is decent at best (that we know of) there are a lot of unknowns and last year's sub was pretty full of so-so character selection as well.

    Mattel has made great strides with this line, no doubt, but they've been pushing the sub more and more. The sub just hurts a lot of people's wallets. With the QC issues this year, etc, it's tough to lay out that kind of dough on a blind faith deal… UNLESS, like Poe, you're only collecting a little bit here or there from other lines.

    I'm juggling 4 or 5 pretty solid commitments to other lines. Which makes me less inclined to agree to continue to buy MOTUC, sight unseen for the sub's pricetag. Once I have to start weighing MOTUC against other stuff that I collect, the MOTUC sub becomes less and less ideal in my mind.

  • F.Y.I. Poe; I just received a confirmation email that Mattel will be shipping all subs together, regardless of when they were ordered, so long as they ship at the same address & account number.

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