Mattel Gets Positively Chatty

Scott Neitlich, a.k.a. “ToyGuru” of Mattel was posting quite a bit on the Mattycollector forums last night.

First up is this new “director’s commentary” on the Masters of the Universe Classics line, starting with King Grayskull. This seems like a neat, fun idea. There’s no real new info here–most of this has been hashed out before in interviews and so forth–but I’ll be interested to see the discussions of later figures.

Next was a fairly extensive post about the ongoing MOTUC QC issues, starting with the Goddess and going straight through to the Wind Raider. I think there’s a bit too much emphasis on the idea that these errors occurred on “small percentages” of toys–something I’m not convinced is true, especially for Swift Wind. And the refrain of “human error” sounds like excuse-making. Just admit you screwed up and stop trying to minimize/trivialize the issue.

Small, neglected toy line or no, there’s no excuse in today’s competitive economy for treating your customers poorly and acting like returning a product for a replacement isn’t a huge pain in the ass, particularly when you’re dealing with misinformed and sometimes surly customer service.

Finally, Scott directly answered a question someone else asked about my Wind Raider:

But what about Poe Ghostal being told there were no replacement wind raiders? Was this a mistake by the customer service department? I don’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest, I’m just curious.

Yes, this is 100% incorrect info. We have CS stock available if you want to send back your incorrect WR for a replacement. If anyone knows POE please let him know to update his story.

Aside from not addressing the main issue–that Digital River’s CS department is apparently so misinformed they’re issuing refunds for items before they even get in touch with the customer–the main reason this bugs me is that Scott can easily contact me himself. I email him Q&As twice a month. I had a friendly, amicable chat with him at New York Comic Con. And he’s been quick to email me directly in the past to take down leaked photos. So this comment is just weird, and I’ll admit I’m a bit miffed he couldn’t take the time to send an email to me himself.

As for updating my story, I wrote that customer service informed me there were no replacement Wind Raiders and sent us a refund. I didn’t say I thought there were no more Wind Raiders, because that was obviously bullshit. I also didn’t think I should have to inform CS there areย Wind Raiders, or have to take my case to the Escalation Dept. because Digital River can’t do the job it’s paid to do.

Dr. Mrs. Ghostal was able to find an intact Wind Raider on eBay. It had been opened, but came with all its parts and packaging, and in the end we paid $5 less than we did for the original Wind Raider, including shipping. In the end, all Mattel gets out of this debacle is a little bad PR and the defective Wind Raider I sent back to them.

I want to add that Dr. Mrs. Ghostal was initially much more angry about this whole thing than I was–mostly because I’ve resigned myself to this sort of crap. She hasn’t had to deal with it personally until now, and she got pretty annoyed with all of it. And that did get me mad, because while I’m used to this sort of abuse, I don’t like seeing my family have to take it, too.

The end result of all this? Right now it’s 50/50 whether I get the 2013 subscription. I may just be willing to pay $30-$40 apiece for Mekaneck, Ram-Man, Spikor or Eldor and skip the rest of the NA/POP/Filmation characters I have no attachment to.

Comments now closed (36)

  • Ha! Oh Scotty, he’s quite funny sometimes.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had almost no problems with digital river and this line, the problem i did haver were 100% across the board and uncontrollable (reversed hiss shoulders, demoman delay, etc). And when a small individual problem occured, DR usually screwed up in MY favor, and i’ve received several free figures out of their mistakes. So while I have absolutely no reson to complain, I can fully understand why others do. Poe, i’ve said this before, and it’s still true today, the only way to send a message to Mattel about your unhappiness is to not subscribe, and just buy the select minor few off the second market or day of. Some people don’t seem to really understand that concept. Some people also dont realize that some people (like myself) have only had positive interactions, so to get fans to unanimously speak up in one way or another isnt going to happen, and what you get is people on the org fighting in every thread.

    In the end you gotta do what you gotta do, as a subscriber its said to see people dropping out, as i know it may not be good for the long run, but maybe itll also force mattel to get their act together. Again, if people have problems and still give mattel their money, mattel wont see a problem, and never change. Despite the complaints.

    Im just glad you managed to get a wind raider, and for $5 cheaper!

  • I respect this. And this is still one of the best lines of the past few years.

  • Poe, I was one of about three folks who asked that question, I hope I didn’t cause any headaches by asking it. That said, weird reaction by TG, he still strikes me as very defensive.

    • I certainly don't mind people asking about it. I wasn't bothering about it myself, because I was tired of the whole thing, but I did write about it publicly so as long as people aren't misrepresenting me or my views, ask away ๐Ÿ™‚

  • The only reason to continue a sub is if you want to feel you have the responsibility for keepin the line going so you feel obligated to support mattel directly. Personally I think it makes much more sense financially to cherry pick the figs you want on the secondary market, pay a little more for them, but not be on the hook for $80 star sisters and the like.

    However, as much as Mattel seems to adore and accommodate secondary market price hikers, this will eventually cause Mattel to blame the fans and drop the line if they don’t get enough subs. So if you want to send a message that you’re dissatisfied with matty’s antics, don’t renew your sub and get the figs you want on amazon or eBay. Just be aware that Mattel will blame you for killing the line when ultimately enough people are tired of their attitude and cancel their subs.

    Mattel’s thinking seems to be “we treat you however we want, and when things go wrong it is the customers fault for not being understanding enough. Now please, continue to give us money for figures you don’t want.” it seems that rather than listen to fan feedback and try to make its customers happy, they would rather just give excuses and place blame on fans for not supporting a system that is consistently against the fan/consumer.

    • That is the catch-22 at the heart of all this: boycotting/cherrypicking doesn't lead to change, it leads to the death of the line. Let it die and Mattel will learn no lesson other than "MOTU just isn't popular enough."

      I suppose measured protest is the answer. The question is, how to do that?

      • It'll die, anyway. if it's not Barbie or Hot Wheels, Mattel does not care. They will release shoddy product, milk the money thgey can, and then cancel it when revenues go down. It's just like the 2002 line, really.

        • And honestly, would it really be so bad to let it die if the line is nothing but disappointments, and has been so for a while?

  • I'm glad you got your Wind Raider. It is a beautiful toy after all. But I don't get Scott's comment. Seriously. All he had to do is be vague and say "if you know of ANYONE in this situation, then get them in contact with us." Then he couldn't be accused of being dumb.

  • And now Matty is offering a refund on broken Goddess figures, wonder if someone threatened to sue?…

    • We can only hope that this is a small step towards improving customer relations…

  • I bet the reason you got called out is because your opinion of them matters to a lot of people. which begs the question… if it was all a mistake, and he went through the trouble of calling you out directly, WHY DID YOU GO THROUGH ALL THAT CRAP TO START WITH? They should have just sent you a new one and called it a day.

    Turning the spin machine up to 11 does not make the problems go away…

    • I try very hard not to ask for or receive special treatment. If the whole process of returning the item and getting a replacement went the way it was supposed to, it shouldn't even be necessary.

      But I won't deny that taking the time to contact me directly and make sure I was sent a replacement Wind Raider would have been an awfully good PR move. However, it does not surprise me that it didn't happen that way.

      • The interesting part is not that he wanted to make sure you got a Wind Raider, but rather that you UPDATE YOUR STORY, which apparently was full of lies. You evil liar, you.

        • That was the part I was super confused about. It had nothing to do with updating a story, it had to do with customer service failing at a spectacular level. I think they're running out of ways to spin bad publicity. I'm trying to not let Matty piss me off anymore, but the whole thing sort of bugged me. I know people want to defend the company for being so forthcoming, but there's a huge divide between Mattel the company, Mattel's manufacturers, and Digital River, and they obviously have very little contact with each other for the state of Mattycollector and Mattel proper.

  • As long as you keep paying Mattel there isn't going to be any changes or improvements.
    ToyGuru- 'The fanboys are complainign about OC………….etc'
    Mattel- 'Are they still buying all our toys?'
    ToyGuru- 'Yes.'
    Mattel- 'If it ain't broke don't fix it,' (Evil sinister laugh)
    I don't understand how a lower produced 'adult collector' line like MOTUC can have so many QC problems when other mass market international toylines like Transformers, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, Marvel Universe, Doctor Who, Star Wars and Power Rangers hardly ever have any major QC problems……oh wait, none of them are made by Mattel. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Because Barbie and Hot Wheels don't have major QC problems. Those are their moneymakers. Everything else is just trash to Mattel.

      • True. I regret selling off the few MOTUC figures I had. I would really like to buy a He-Man and Skeletor again, but I am scared of doing it as I know Mattel's QC, and I am not risking £40 on each figure for them to be deffective.
        Its such a shame because Mattel used to be the best. Its only the last couple years I have experienced QC problems on several figures in MOTUC, DCUC and WWE.

        • I have very little interest in MOTUC but it has been piqued by a few figures and I've thought the same thing as you, do I want to go through all the hassle to get something imported to the UK only to find it has two left feet and disintegrating joints? Nope.
          I've had less issues with DCUC, but there has been the occasional stuck joint or warped leg. I wonder if the Club IE figures will no longer be 'dynamically posed' in the trays now that they are an online collectible? MOTUC never was…

        • Also if you tried getting them on Amazon or Ebay and they were damaged you would have 0% chance of getting a replacement.
          After all the problems I have had with Mattel's products the last couple years I have stopped buying any Mattel products. Its such a shame when look at the toys they used to produce.

  • Yeah, it's funny. About 99% of the time, I am inclined to take the side of the company over the loud and screechy whining customers who wouldn't be satisfied with free perfect product that gave them money. However, Mattel is the 1%.

    I am very much unhappy with the way Mattel is running this line, and even I can't find a way to be a Mattel apologist. The only thing I can think of is, "They have no incentive to do better. People complaina lot, but they're still shelling out money." Although I did kind of find it funny that the very first post after that Draego-Man pic was posted was, "Oh, great. Another thing for mattel to mess up on." And I'll bet that's somebody who isn't going to stop buying. Poe, if it continues to bug you, you won't really be missing out if you let the sub go.

  • The amount of cynicism that has crept into this blog is a disappointment. To call it "abuse," even when in the understood context of toy collecting, is just extreme. You're a good guy, Poe, and you do a great service to the community, but there is already such a loud echo chamber of miserable toy collectors for whom no amount of Q&As or quality control will ever be enough. I hate watching you fall down this rabbit hole.

    • Just about every statement TG releases convinces me I'm not nearly cynical enough about Mattel and Digital River. And I certainly think "abuse" is a reasonable way to describe the customer service ordeal with the Wind Raider.

    • What do they have to do before you stop excusing them…. sacrifice babies?

      Maybe if they actually MADE AN EFFORT TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY CONTROL OF THEIR EXPENSIVE COLLECTOR TOY SERVICE, people wouldn't b**** so loudly… Complaining about something that works is counter productive.

      And no one cares what they have to say if their statements don't amount to jack s***. Saying something is one thing, doing something is a whole 'nother matter entirely.

  • I understand your fatigue Ero, but at the same time Mattel did this to Poe, Poe didn’t do anything to Mattel. Maybe the negativity gets out of hand at times, but we also have to be able to call it like it is sometimes.

  • Scott Neitlich is a BS spouting middle man who, though I don’t dispute he’s a fan, couldn’t run waterboarding in Guantanamo. He doesn’t design and make the toys, his lie about writing all MOTUC bios himself has been exposed and he doesn’t oversee production in Asia. He does have a responsibility to get the toys too us on time, when we pay and as such one of his primary duties is one he doesn’t boast too much about – logistics. He should be on DR like flies on dog doo.
    His Deadpool rip off ‘Mighty Spector’ is the final insult this spoiled and deluded man has thrown MOTU fans.

  • Scott is coming off more and more douchey as time goes on. He is a marketing guy through and through. Not a "fan" but a PR guy. MOTUC has had problems for years and they're always "little hiccups." Well if 1 out of every ten sold has serious issues, it's not little hiccups. He-man and Skeletor *still* have QC issues even after being re-issued over and over again!

    Scott, if you stop lying to the fans – who pay for your car and your house, keep in mind! – then they don't get pissed at you. Remember all the "sky is falling! buy a sub!" crap this past summer? Well the sky wasn't falling. You just played all the fansites to do free marketing for you!

    It's the same old crap and I think you've lost thousands of subscribers over the last two years because of the QC, the BS, and the straight up lies. Ok so don't tell us the numbers in specific. We get that, trade secret. But please, let's stop with the whole "this line is not successful enough" stuff from now on, we all know that's not true.

    The QC sucks because Mattel uses child labor, or at best pays the assembly folks cents on the dollar. "Hand made" is a complete lie. If that was true then in 2008 these would have been $50+ a pop, like all other hand-made toys on the market. Machines do a lot of the work and to say otherwise is just a big fat lie.

    Whenever there's success, Scott takes credit. Whenever there's problems, it's someone else's fault. If the line dies, there's one person to blame…

    • You have no idea what you're talking about. Be unhappy but don't be ignorant. You don't know a thing about production processes or brand managing a toy line. Scott's a passionate dude who loves motu more than anything. If you are unhappy with the line, don't buy the figures. Donate the $30 to charity every month and make a difference in someone's life other than your own.

      • I'd say he loves Green Lantern more…
        But, The poor QC, the awful CS are issues that Scott has said time and time again that "have been resolved" yet they keep happening. On paper, the line is amazing, but the execution HAS Gotten worse!
        I WISH we didn't have to complain, but until Mattel doesn't do anything about fixing these recurring QC issues (which they probably won't as seen with the Still occurring DCUC leg issues) people will still complain.

  • I bet this guy wishes sometimes he had never thought about bringing MOTU back.

    • No way–nobody would know who he is and his terrible figure idea wouldn't be being made as we speak.

  • Well, they finally did it… Poe's upset.

    I never thought I'd see the day…

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