Mattel: Cherry Pickers Need Not Apply (& Could Ruin It for Everyone)

Scott Neitlich posted a lengthy update on the various Mattycollector subscriptions on the Mattycollector Facebook page.

The whole thing is pretty long, but the main takeaways are:

  • They had to raise the price because it was simply untenable to maintain the 2008 pricing in 2013.
  • There will be very little to almost no day-of-sale stock for many figures.
  • The early-access ordering for subscribers does not apply to other subscriptions you have not subscribed to (i.e., Watchmen subscribers can’t nab a Ram Man before the regular sale).
  • They’re working on improving the customer service.

But probably the most important part is this:

Some figures will still have EXTREMELY limited “day-of” stock (meaning our regular sales to the general public on the 15th of each month), but many figures for all the clubs will have none at all. This means the ONLY way to know for sure you’ll be able to complete your collection for all lines now is to subscribe for the full year.

Why do we need to do this? Basically, it is economics. High-end, fully detailed, highly articulated figures take a lot or resources to produce. In the “new economy” we are faced with many production challenges and the solution available to us (for the most part) is to only produce high end collector figures if we have locked in guaranteed sales (that is the whole point of the sub). In 2013, we are really in a position where we can no longer put out collector figures day-of and just hope that fans will buy them.

So what does this mean? Honestly, buy a sub. Seriously. If you are a fan of MOTUC, DCU 6” or WATCHMEN, it is decision time. Quantities of day-of stock will be (and I mean this in the nicest way) ridiculously low or non-existent. Many figures for all lines will not be offered day-of at all. […]

So if you are on the fence as to whether or not to get a sub, remember, day-of may not be an option anymore. DAY-OF STOCK WILL BE EXTREMELY LIMITED and MANY FIGURES WILL NOT HAVE ANY DAY OF STOCK IN 2013. It may not work for everyone, but in today’s economy, without guaranteed presales, we just can’t move forward anymore with high end collector figs.

Got it? Everyone on the same page? All right then.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Mattycollector without this:

PS: While we are only metering DCU’s sub, all of the subs are technically on the chopping block now (including MOTUC). If we don’t receive the minimum number of orders, any figures already tooled may be released quarterly but the full year can potentially be canceled (much as we unfortunately had to do for Ghostbusters in 2012). So again, if these are toy lines you love, the best way to support them and guarantee your figures (and that the lines actually go forward) is to subscribe. Without the minimum number of subscribers, none of our lines will be able to move forward. If you are on the fence and we have a toy line you love, subscribe to see it continue! Your sub purchase is your vote for more toys. Simple as that.

Translation: Club Infinite Earths is done for. I suspect Club Black Freighter will go through no matter what (unless the numbers are really bad) simply for the marketing synergy with Before Watchmen, but I have serious doubts about CIE.

I’d be curious to know how the final MOTUC numbers turn out for 2013, and whether they’re higher or lower than last year. Fans seem to like this year’s reveals more than last year’s (i.e., no Star Sisters).

For anyone who’s curious, I haven’t subscribed to MOTUC yet (definitely not subscribing to CIE). Still thinking it over.

Comments now closed (37)

  • I wish we had access to what kinds of numbers those perennial lines (like the new Batman one) sell at. Seems to me like they pegwarm far worse than any "collector-oriented" line.

  • This MIGHT work for a more focused line like MOTU or Watchmen… But how may DC fans want toys from ALL OF DC?

    How many are Bat-Fans, or JL-Fans, or Golden Age Fans? They really expect all those groups to sub to maybe get one or two characters they like?

    Just remember, its our fault when they line dies. Also the consistent insistence mattel makes High End Adult Collectible Action Figures is laughable at best. They, at best, good toys. Just because its for a license that interests mostly adults does not make it an adult collector item. Just because you charge a whole effing lot of money does not make it high end.

  • From what I see on Facebook, TG is considering putting a thermometer on Club Eternia as well, because it's not meeting its target. That might get cancelled too… or it's scare mongering. I have no idea which.

  • I just cannot fathom how bad Scott is at this part of his job. It is breathtaking.

    • I'm so damned tired of Mattel treating "cherry pickers" like the bane of their existence. They make a product, and people should be able to select which items they want. Plenty of their customers buy some but not ALL of the figures, and have put down plenty of money doing so. To expect everyone to be all-in is pure greed.

      • That's a major motivator in my skipping any of the subs next year. 2012 was the first time I bought a sub, and I bought 2 (Lion Force & CIE), but I've spent thousands of dollars on MattyCollector over the last 3-4 years, no counting the amount of their products I've purchased in stores and yet, Mattel is always quick to point out that it not enough.

        This year I thought the CIE '13 reveals were better than last year's, I even considered Club Eternia, but the fact is that Digital River and the QC does not justify me signing up for the subs. I sincerely feel bad for the diehards who want to collect everything, but that's way out of my budget and Mattel has done little to increase my (and apparently many collectors') confidence that they will get better.

        • What you mean the promise that it'll get better, you know the EXACT SAME PROMISE we've heard since 2008 with almost no changes whatsoever (except shipping now takes twice as long) doesn't instill you with confidence that this year is going to be different, really?

  • Sure, Mattel would love if we all subscribed. But I'm sorry, I just don't want nor am I willing to spend the money on every MOTU figure Mattel produces. And the figures sell out so fast anyway, thing just seems like more paranoia and arm-twisting from Mattel. Good job alienating your customers, Mattel. Again.

  • International customers are getting screwed (postage-wise, and "no refund for lost items"-wise)!! :@ Why should we support a company (and Brand Manager) who clearly doesn't respect us. He's lost the plot!!

    Govern through fear?!! o.0 Sorry Scotty… that doesn't work around here anymore!!

  • 100% scare tactics. TG played this game last year with CIE… now they are trying it across the board. How is it, last week at SDCC, motuc is doing great… now its on the chopping block? it seems MOTUC is almost cancelled every July/August… then a best seller every Oct-June…

    I worked for a record label for years… this is similar to the shell game we would play with sales numbers, and our “limited to 300 copies” game, which we would intentionally limit product (or create the illusion of limited supply) so retailers would order more the 1st month of release.

    shame on you Scott. When are you going to figure out that MOTUC doesnt need games like this to succeed, and that people don’t like it when you lie to their face.

  • …Jesus. Mattel is so fond of making idiot moves like this.
    why can't they just sell toys like everyone else?
    I love MOTU (And I did sub again) but at this point if this is the last year of the line…would that really be so bad? I feel like it wouldnt be

  • Fear-mongering and delusions of grandeur about the product aside, I do get the feeling that Scott just wanted to let people know how things are going to be. Mattel probably let him know about it, and he's letting fans know. For everyone who refuses to be "bullied" into buying a sub, enjoy not having your toys. You're really showing Mattel they can't push you around. It makes me sad for the end of DCUC, but in the end, it's just toys.

    • Because the lure of a sub got MOTUC started? To me, Mattel has their cake and they want to eat it too. Some people just do not want to be forced to buy Princess of Power figures, New Adventures, Millenium figures, or concept figures.

  • I'm sorry, but this is crap. I'm sick and tired of Mattel whining about low subscriptions and putting the blame on "cherry pickers." I bought the MOTU and CIE subs last year but I don't expect everyone else to commit blind. So people want to buy only what they want? How dare they??? I will get the MOTU sub for next year because I like what I've seen. CIE? Absolutely not – the figures they previewed for 2013 were horrible, plus considering they threw in a Flash variant (yeah, I know it's Wally but really this should have a retail release not a sub) makes me worried there will be more for the second half of the year – or worse, New 52 figures, so no thanks.

    Look, if toys get cancelled and you end up not getting Grodd in a beret – I mean Mallah – the only ones to blame are Mattel, not people who chose not to get subs. I thought the whole point of doing a web-only series and bypassing retailers was to ensure these lines would survive. Instead we get constant whining on their end about rising costs, low interest blah blah blah. You're a business Mattel. You're in the business to make toys. If you haven't realized by now what's going to do well with your audience (for the most part) then you need to rethink your strategy. Basically, it comes down to them not wanting to take any risks whatsover and maximizing profits – which I understand but bottom line, we're the customers and they should be bending over backwards to please us, not the other way around.

    Plus, I would also like to draw your attention to Hasbro which has managed to make several succesful Marvel toy lines over the years, both from movies and comics, with major and minor characters, in 3 inch and 6 inch scale, and AT RETAIL. So you know what Mattel, don't make any more toys; that's more money for me to spend on Hasbro's toys.

  • My personal wants that have yet to be announced, in order for me to consider this collection complete: Two Bad, Squezzee, Tung Lashor, Mantenna. Those are the final 4 that are truely important for me to feel like this toy line was complete, If i am missing any one of those, the collection will always have a gap in it. i am sure others have their own thoughts on this. With that said, i feel like we may actually get them, tho i do think that this line is not making it to 2015. 2014 will be hemmed short like ghost busters and 2013 will just barely make it. Not sure what the deal is with how we were “doing fine” last year to now

  • I love how in this "new economy" making money off day off sells isn't even considered profit…I mean if thats the case the sub already has gone through and "enough" subscribers have made it possible. Cancel the line dumbasses your only going to loose more money then gain it….purchase the new Watchmen license and not make money off of it hahah try again ridiclous.

  • I agree… I'm getting a sub for MOTUC… I have been dealing with Digital River hell this last year… All over a CC that expired mid year… I updated it 12 times over the phone and on their site. Never had such issues ordering a thing from a company. If it's the last year so be it. But we all know who will have killed the MOTUC Line… Mattel…

    They chose the factories… They chose the company to handle the products. And as for High Quality figures. Wow. Really? QC issues? Yeah….

    • Do not forget that Mattel owns their own factories. I have no idea how many factories are owned by Mattel, but a few years ago that was an argument they used to earn a special ruling on safety testing.

  • I wish I could trust Mattel and not just think of this as a coercion tactic. But Mattel has spelled doom and gloom before (remember when no MOTUC figures were ever going to be re-released?) and then gone back on their word, so why should I think this is different?

  • wasn't this the dude that, last year, was saying motuc was so strong as a brand that they were investing in more tooling this year, so we'd see cool new stuff? that same property is now in danger (meaning all product would be sold day-of, and thus, at their higher price point?) because what they've revealed thusfar of the cool new stuff isn't earning back the loyalty that the BM's douchbaggery has alienated?

  • Perhaps my memory is a bit hazy, but if i remember correctly, hasn't every single MOTUC figure ever put on MattyCollector actually sold out. Every single one. Some quicker than others but still regardless they have all technically sold out. Maybe i'm not that great at math but if you pay to produce a product and people buy it for higher than the price you paid to make it, and the item you created still keeps selling out it seems to that demand for you item is still high and your making more than you spent to produce it. Maybe Mattel is misleading the public when they say something has sold out? If not why would you stop making something that sells out every single month?

    • I doubt an item is truly sold out when it's listed as such on the site. How many times has the Mo-Larr been relisted on the site? I'm sure some items are truly sold out (like Fisto), but just because it's sold out doesn't mean it really is.

      • exactly, they keep some stock back for CS replacements, but clearly, the margin of that, if they still have vikors and demo-men and mo-larr’s lurking around is too high… so release more on day-of sales. doesn’t exactly seem like rocket science… then again, if the figures weren’t misassembled and mis-sonic welded, and mis-paint sealed, and mis-designed, there wouldn’t be so many broken ones to replace anyways.

        i would also like to say that the sales trciks are transparent… when they do a mad-matty day, they’re still at a profit point for the line, so day of sales are a huge markup…

        … which leads me to my final point on the topic… they’re STILL blaming day-of sales people cuz “they’re not consistant.” well, they are actually… they’re consistantly paying more for the same figure as the sub folks, meaning that mattel make more per unit on day-of sales than they do on sub figures. so the SUBBERS are the ones killing teh lein, not the day-ofers. the day-ofers are keeping the line alive. if they truly fear for the future of the line, go back to producing the 10000 units per like they did the first year, and let’s go back to the clusterflock years on day of… it sucked, but not as bad the public television style coercion and blackmail tactics they’re using now to try to move subs. make EVERYONE pay the 27 bucks, and buy only the figures they actually want, so we can once and for all put aside the loud but inaccurate pipedreams of an NA fanbase or a filmation fanbase… guaranteed, ram man will outsell fang man 1000 to 1, regardless of how loud the “get the filmation rights” crowd like to yell. the she-ravers can either buy netossa, or admit that they don’t actually care that much, that way, for 2014, we can actually just plan for the figures that ARE going to sell, like the vintage-hungry crowds have been begging for (so, like, two-bad, extendar, mantenna… figs that will sell. i like geldor probably more than most, but i can admit i’m likely one of 1000 or fewer people who could accurately identify the character from a lineup, so while i’d like him, i acknowledge he won’t be a huge hit… if more people did that, we wouldn’t be getting vykron)

  • Oh, I'm a long-time cherry-picker: I was kinda guessing I might have to pay a premium for Elasti-Girl (perhaps through Big Bad, for example) but was OK with that. She's the only one I really want; but I don't think I'd buy a sub under any circumstances.

  • People wouldn't "cherry pick" if the figures were in demand. Maybe Mattel needs to judge fan interest BEFORE prototyping a figure.

  • The "new economy" comment is hilarious, especially when you consider the fact that Mattel is the ONLY major toy company that produces "high-end, fully detailed, articulated" action figures according to this asinine business model. NECA, Diamond Select, and their main mass-market competition HASBRO manage to produce quality figures, some for extremely niche properties. Hell, even the Four Horsemen seem to have had more success with their line of high-end, fully detailed, completely unarticulated MOTU Stactions than Mattel claims to generate from a bona fide action figure line. How is it that I can walk into a ToysRUs and buy a "high-end, fully detailed, articulated" frickin' GREMLINS figure (a property based on two movies released over two decades ago and haven't had new media since!), yet MOTUC, based on one of the biggest boys' toy properties of all time and benefiting from THREE cartoon series (all available on home video and even still air on cable and some broadcast channels), a terrible (but now considered "cult") movie, and several comics series can't seem to sell enough to justify it's existence? Just once, I wish Mattel execs would wonder to themselves, "What are we doing wrong here?" rather than blame fans for refusing to purchase toys they don't want, sight unseen. Hey Toyguru: maybe nobody else relies on a subscription model because IT DOESN'T WORK. However, my favorite comment has got to be "we are really in a position where we can no longer put out collector figures day-of and just hope that fans will buy them." Gosh, putting out collector figures and "hoping" fans will buy them… what a radical idea. No wait, it isn't, it's just what every other major toy company, collector-focused or otherwise, has been doing successfully for years.

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  • Man, you all have said EXACTLY what I feel!! How have I, the cherry-picker, destroyed this line??? AGAIN, each figure sells out. I'm paying more than the subscriber. What gives??? On a completely different topic, thank you DC DIRECT for giving me choices each month as well as (fingers crossed) a possibly GREAT 3 3/4" potential line!!!! Great points to the unique low-production figures found at TRU, etc. I love the MOTUC line, but I CANNOT AFFORD $505 [+ s&h]. –sigh– Mattel reuses the most parts I've ever seen (and I'm perfectly fine with that from a cost-mgmt standpoint–I get it), so how are things so expensive???? Uhm, Marvel Select manages to pack in a monster figure base [Juggernaut, Abomination, Hulk, Rhino, etc.] for only $20!!!!! You al rock; thanks for letting me vent!

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  • Sigh! Good thing I'm not so conservative in scale compatibilities. I can finally say goodbye to collecting DC characters outside of Superman. The mixed DCUC and DC Direct collections in my cabinet will have to do. I'm glad I made the right decision not to wait for matty to complete the DC characters and grabbed the chance of getting the DC Direct versions to complete my DC roster. 🙂