Four Horsemen ride to the subs’ rescue

FOUR HORSEMEN logo

I find it interesting that the Four Horsemen are releasing a statement urging collectors to subscribe for established licenses like MOTU and DC Comics, while their own, highly transparent “thermometer”  for a project featuring a homegrown license with absolutely no media backing it up has hit 300%. (Statement after the jump.)

Maybe there’s a big difference between the numbers the Horsemen need, and the numbers Mattel needs. After all, the Horsemen’s project has a mere 1,000 participants, with an average pledge of about $200. The “pledge” for Club Eternia is $500 plus shipping, although you’re getting at least 8-10 more figures (albeit with fewer details and less articulation). I really wonder whether more transparency about the numbers needed would help boost the campaign. Of course, announcing all the figures for the sub would also help, and I honestly think that doing that isn’t nearly as impossible or legally complicated as Mattel makes it seem. Just add in some “subject to change” and “items may be delayed” text, and people will know what they’re getting into.

Anyway, here’s the Four Horsemen’s statement.

If you know who we are then you probably know about Mattel’s action figure lines – Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics, and you probably also know about our involvement with both of those properties. Both lines are very near and dear to our hearts as fans and we always try to remember how very blessed we are to have the opportunity to work on both of them.

So, if you know who we are and you know about MotU Classics and DCU Classics, then you probably know what this message is going to be about. Both lines are in danger of ending prematurely and they need your help to continue. We’re not going to beg you to buy multiple subscriptions or try to convince you that getting a subscription to either or both of these lines is more important than paying your rent or putting gas in your car. Those of you who have followed us for a while know that we’ve never been like that, and that if anything we’re going to do what is natural to us and come at this from a fan’s point of view.

First and foremost, there have been rumors floating about that this is some sort of scare tactic by Mattel just to sell more subscriptions than they really need and that the charts on MattyCollector.com are faked. These rumors could not be farther from the truth. What’s going on is that Mattel is being completely transparent about the subscriptions that have been sold so far and they’re letting you in on it just so you’ll be aware of the progress and consequently how much danger these lines are really facing of being ended. We’re actually floored that the MotU Classics subscription is only up to 35% at the time of this writing and the DCU subscription is only at about 20%!

From a fans perspective we see it like this…

With the DCU line there are still opportunities for all of us to finish off some hero and villain teams that we’ve all have wanted for a while and also to get characters that really need an update and an upgrade from earlier versions that were done of them, like Superman’s nemesis – Doomsday!

As for MotU Classics, there are still lots of fairly top tier characters that are from the original toy lines and cartoons that have yet to become part of the MotU Classics universe. Plus there are many fan-favorite secondary characters that may never see the light of day if the subscription campaign isn’t successful. Characters like Tongue Lashor, Rio Blast, Extendar, Squeeze, Ninjor, Dragstor, Sssqueeze, Flutterina, Angella, Blade, Entrapta, Saurod, New Adventures Skeletor, Evil Seed, Sweet Bee, Double Trouble, Flogg, Mermista, and yes – even Madame Razz and Gwildor ALL need to be made! It’s just plain and simple – without the subscriptions these figures just have no chance of ever happening.

So, it’s not a scam or a scare tactic. It’s just fact. Both of these iconic, history making toy lines are in danger of being cancelled and the only way we can all make sure this doesn’t happen is to subscribe to Club Eternia for Masters of the Universe Classics figures and to Club Infinite Earths for DC Universe figures before Monday August 19th 2013 to help ensure that these two truly classic lines stick around for a little while longer.

Comments now closed (46)

  • Well, I'm re-upping for MotU Classics. Among many others (Tongue Lasher, Extendar, Ninjor, Rio) I want Blade, Saurod & Gwildor BADLY!

    But I do have to wait for the 11th or later so it bills the next cycle of my credit card.

    Hopefully the sub goes through again this year & next. My wallet may be happier if it doesn't but my inner child won't!

  • Castle Grayskull said Subject to change on the initial blueprint, in addition Mattel offered a very long cancellation window, and yet people still cried bait and switch and "threatened" lawsuits. In addition it's pretty easy to guess which figures are coming in the next 2 years, I doubt Mattel releasing any info at this point will sway any one's personal opinion, which is quite frankly, what I think it comes down to. Mattel has annoyed a lot of people. Not myself. I have had minimal issues and all were solved relatively easy. (I have also had issues with Newegg.com, bbts.com, lego.com, amazon.com, ebay.com, and yet i still buy from all those websites) but obviously your mileage may vary when it comes to buying things online.

    i also know people buying raven variants because they look cool and they are kickstarter junkies.

    • I guess I'm of the opinion that people are going to cry bait and switch and threaten lawsuits no matter what you do (they've done it with the subs anyway).

      But it's less about revealing the entire figure line-up and more about just showing the numbers they have to hit. It would give people a better idea of the situation, what has to be done to get there, and also adds a certain level of "game" to the thing, i.e., people adding subs or trying to get more subs solely to see the numbers go up. Bring in those Kickstarter junkies, as you say.

      • of course people are going to complain no matter what, lol, this IS the motu-community after all haha. They complained about free figures from the Frosta debacle. But as an aside, I do agree completely with you about the numbers thing. The thermometer is, at best, incorrect and outdated information, and at worst a company scare tactic viewed as a demonic hell spawn that will eat your baby. Seeing the number would be great, 100% is a trivial number without hard evidence. Sadly The best we have is a fan made chart at he-man.org comparing the % numbers in terms of days ranging from the sdcc reveals to the close of subscription window. Heck, even daily thermometer updates would help, some people feel a surge of excitement and joy from seeing those numbers rise and limits get broken. Thats part of why people become kickstarter junkies.

    • I don't really like the people who threaten to sue and such, but in this instance, your assessment is completely wrong as it relates to CG.

      There was no CG period to cancel. It wasn't until Mattel completely changed the entire size of CG and people literally started calling to threaten lawsuits, that Mattel finally allowed people to cancel their orders. While it wasn't a true "bait and switch" it was as close as Mattel has ever gotten with it. Which is why they realized that they legally had to allow people to opt out.

      As for the Kickstarter comparisons, I find them asinine. Yes, people are spending upwards of $200 on Kickstarter, but they also KNOW what they're buying. Mattel's sub would definitely have more people getting into it, if they could pledge to certain levels and get certain figures, like a Kickstarter. But only knowing a few figures out of over a dozen, is nothing like a Kickstarter, no matter how many times they try to say it is.

      • yes but the point is still there that the castle grayskull design was always stated as subject to change since the beginning, whether or not you agree with the timing on the cg cancellation window, it is still a fair assessment, people will always complain, no matter what, when something is different then what they imagined. I see people saying, as poe did in his article to just say "Subject to change" or "items may be delayed" but the people looking for any reason to be negative will ignore those disclaimers and complain anyway, mattel is looking to minimize any and all fan backlash. I 100% believe NOT showing or mentioning the items is less backlash then showing something and it changing. Just look at the mess over horde troopers. They were never promised, only hinted at, and scott never said they were or weren't coming, and people threatened all sorts of things when rumors, just rumors, appeared that they may be moved to 2014.

        As for kickstarter… I don't think more people would sub just because they know what is coming for this line, its pretty obvious Over the next two years who is coming. If you're in it for 2014 i fail to believe you will be in it for 2015 as well. if you're not subbing at this point, i don't think knowing the full list would actually get people to sub. The logic is flawed. We all know what needs to get made and what has the chance of being made from pop, na, 200x and vintage. People not subbing is because they dont want pop or na or 200x…. or they just dont trust mattel, revealing a "subject to change" list wont gain trust, and the pop na 200x ratio will be equal to what has already been revealed imho as well as similar to past years. I just don't understand how people think knowing the line up will help things out at this point. The line up is already practically known for the next 2 years.

  • I hammered out multiple drafts of a comment here, but ultimately couldn't say it any better than Jackstatic. Nicely done.

  • Maybe Mattel should update their thermometers more than once every two weeks.

  • The only true conspiracy seems to be the one where people desperately try to get other folks not to subscribe by claiming that Mattel has a conspiracy.

    • I think there's a conspiracy behind your constant conspiracy comments.

      • Well, the CIA did put me on Mattel's payroll specifically so I could spread disinformation…

  • the problem here is, while i love the horsemen, and i do think they're fans, they're also vendors… and it's disingenuous of them not to say "hey guys, we admit right up front that we have a substantial financial stake in the continuance of the motuc and DCIE subs, so take the rest of this with a grain of salt." because, for instance, if mattel were "being completely transparent about the subscriptions" they'd offer a number on those thermometers. even if they didn't want to release the actual production run numbers (which would be best, but they're all "corporate espionage-y about them), they could put up a thermometer with percentage numbers and then update them in real time.

    this is also the second appeal year from the horsemen… so clearly, despite their urging people last year too, the customer base is growing bored with this line. perhaps it has something to do with the dropoff in execution, perhaps it has something to do with the higher price tag, perhaps it has something to do with the general fatigue from matty's dirty dealings, perhaps it has something to do with better and better competition in the same price range… or a combination of those traits.

    one need only look around a little bit and see that there are lines in the same price range that are just doing it better. hasbro is finally hitting on all cylinders with marvel legends, and star wars black appears poised to make marvel legends looks like tinker toys… and i won't even bring up the preposterous run that NECA has had lately. clamp champ looks like a melty dimestore knockoff held together by shelving screws next to muddy dutch. and of course all of this plays against the backdrop of the horsemen's own kickstarter campaign, which, for a MUCH smaller run line, features better articulation, more paints aps, and WAY superior sculpt detail, yet still manages to come out to less per figure, shipped, than motuc does. go figure that one out.

    • That's an interesting question I hadn't really considered – if CIE and CE don't go through, will it affect the Four Horsemen financially? Will their work for Mattel be halved or more? Or will Mattel simply have them work on other stuff, like Max Steel?

      • I hope the Max Steel line sees some change. The stuff out right now are just throw away figures which focus heavily on gimics. Most of the figures don't even have basic articulation. How can a toy company release an action figure that does not have leg articulation?

    • See, this is the thing I don’t get. Don’t get me wrong, Matty has done some SUPER bush league stuff, but why do Neca and Hasbro get free passes for using arguably the same tactics and having some of the same issues?

      NECA’s Predator line has been amazing and Aliens looks to be the same but how is it ANY different than Mattel’s buck system? It is the EXACT same Predator and Arnie and Alien and I’m pretty sure Marine buck retooled over and over and over again. (I’m almost sure the Xenomorphs aren’t even retooled, just straight redecos). And while I can’t speak on the Aliens series, the Predators are PLAGUED by loose joints (especially the hips). Meanwhile Hasbro has managed to produce not one, not two, but THREE consecutive series of Marvel Legends where their much boasted running changes never came out. Not “came out on opposite ends of the country” or “came out in minuscule quantities.” They don’t seem to exist.

      Again, I love all of these series. I just don’t get why Mattel is the whipping boy when they all do the same thing or have equally glaring issues.

      • It’s like asking why people hate McDonald’s, but give other fast good joints a pass. Or hate Wal-Mart but love Target. Or complain about Microsoft’s monopolies and invasion of privacy while supporting Google…

      • Maybe because by and large NECA and Hasbro product costs ten dollars less (at least) than what Mattel is asking for MOTUC once all their extra fees are considering. I flat out don’t buy that the best option for shipping is a two week journey that makes ten stops and costs more than priority mail. But that’s what you pay for. Mattel calls its figures “high end” and charges accordingly, whereas I can buy NECA figures for under $20 at toys r us. Also I can choose which ones I want and don’t want, so I can spend as much money as I choose, not be locked in to a bunch of figures I don’t want just to get a few I do.

        So this is why fans may be more forgiving of screw ups. NECA in particular also has a much more open customer interaction, which may be blunt and a bit terse at times, but never sounds like the smoke and mirrors toy guru subjects Matty buyers to.

      • I think the reasons are simple.

        1st I know way ahead of time what is going to be released…then there is either a built up or de-escalation of excitement for the figure. No matter which we know right from the start.

        2nd The figures are on the pegs in stores. Meaning It is an ah-ha x-mas morning moment that may let you fall in love with a figure you weren't excited about, had forgotten, or just did not know about and yes it may do just the opposite, you may be underwhelmed. However, if you don't love it or you're short on cash, or it doesn't hit you with an impulse buy, the figure still lives on the peg to fight another day. The process of built up or de-escalated excitement starts repeatedly every time I walk in and out of TRU and this works in NECA's and Hasbro's favor. Over time the figure is more likely to wear you down, maybe go on sale. Matte gives me one chance once a year and once I have made it, it's done.

        3rd They are cheaper. This is a big plus; combine that with on the pegs it becomes a whole lot easier to forgive a misstep, QC issue or in my opinion the buck system. I have never complained about the buck system, sure I like new sculpts but it is what it is.

        4th Neca and Hasbro have enough confidence and faith in their art (cause that is what figures are little pieces of art) to take chances and fail.

        5th And in my opinion most important Matty is too vocal, they get whiny, they point fingers, and they beg. All of this invites complaint. Because if you are going to beg, blame and whine about the customer on their end, you damn well better be near perfect on yours.

        That is why Mattel is the whipping boy and Neca and Hasbro get more passes.

        I have also had no problem finding all of the Marvel Legends running changes.

        • You’re telling me you’ve found Moonstar, Sentry, red Deadpool, Bulldozer, Iron Fist, Blade, and Savage She-Hulk?

          ‘Cause that would make you pretty much the first person in the world to claim that. :-p

        • Not the newest running change but that series just hit last couple of months, there was about a 3-5 month lag. :S So they should be on the pegs soon, if its the same as the last few.

          What I like and I'm sure others hate is that all legends series are on the pegs.
          I hated the day when you would see the toybiz/hasbro stuff once and that was it either you bought the whole series right then and there or you'd never see it again.

      • I'd say we're only waiting on variants for two series from Hasbro: the Epic Heroes and Hit Monkey series (RML 3, and 4 (or 5, depending on whether you count the Iron Man series as 4)).

        So, yeah, we're still waiting for: red Deadpool; FF Dr. Doom; Moonstar; and Blade from RML3; and Sentry; Iron Fist; Lyra; and the X-Force Archangel from RML4. Which is bad enough. It's premature, though, to include RML5 – the Rocket Raccoon series – in this argument, as that series has barely hit retail at all.

      • a couple things…

        even on the buck system, there are things that can be done, inventive color options, deco/packout changes, and of course, optional parts exchange, that keep everything from looking 100% homogenous. NECA has done better with that than virtually any company i've ever seen. i was bing into their gears of war lineup, and trust me, every COG got unique pieces, despite using a buck system, and they appear cohesive, not carbon copied. i'd wager for those w/ complete predator collections, the same can be said, and i know they've customized every colonial marine for the aliens line, as they bragged that they did because cameron did. that helps enormously.

        as for QC issues, i think a lot of forgiveness is extended because of the price difference. let's look at hasbro, i get one hyperion for 16 bucks vs 36 for he-man (if i were buying him off mattycollector today). hyperion could be found without shipping costs tacked in. he featured a new buck body (he-man does not). he came with a BAF piece, but no accessories. so if hyperion had reversed shoulders or floppy ankles, common motuc complaints, wouldn't i be likely to be more forgiving of the figure that was half the cost?

        worse still, compare he-man to say, muddy dutch. i can four unique accessories, plus some arrows, to pose dutch… i get a sword, half sword, shield and axe w/ he-man. i get in muddy dutch a unique sculpt (from the waist up), a badass paint job w/ more aps than i can count, and solid QC. in he-man, years after the pink eye and reversed shoulder incidents, i get fixed paint, fixed shoulders, and the same damned figure i would have bought in 2008. and i still buy a ton of those parts, all the pegs and posts, the shoulders, biceps, thighs, hips, crotch, lioncloth, boots, feet… how many times have we bought those parts? the only he-man parts unique to he-man are his head and his packout, and even those have been parsed out so that literally, if you've bought more than 1 motuc, you've likely bought that head/body/weapons at least twice. some pieces you've bought literally dozens of times. that gets old, on the eye and the wallet.

        last comparison, look at mattel's own WWE lineup. there are, in the elite class figures alone, over a dozen buck bodies, and parts variance that allows for costume alterations and size variance in the lineup so your shelf is FULL of unique looking figs representing a roster of superstars spanning some 40 years of wrestling… at 19 bucks per fig, findable on the shelves of every target, kmart, walmart, kohls, and TRU in the country. mattel hasn't thrown a third of those resources at motuc and it shows. THAT is why motuc takes such a beating, because mattel allows it too. it feels pampered and spoiled, except where it counts.

        one final note… the marvel legends wave containing the running change for piledriver/thunderball (the zola wave) i didn't hear of anyone having issue finding those running changes… not to say hasbro hasn't dropped the ball, but they've gotten it right too. now they just need consistency.

    • You're not taking in to account a few things, unique armor, weapons, misc unique buck pieces, which may affect the pricing, but overall i will agree with you, although if there is one group in the toy industry that I would be most willing to believe, it IS the four horsemen.

      I just think most people are tired with the line. It has been 5 years, through numerous problems (alot of which have been corrected, despite the common disbelief) and with a lot of new lines have emerged, all of which have stepped up their game and are now directly competing for collectors money. People want what they want so they can leave before the line dies, while avoiding the stuff they don't want. (It is also why i disbelieve knowing the full line up will get more people to sub, if it got revealed and the ratio remained as is, people would still be unhappy with 3 pop, 2 NA, and a 200x figure)

      • I likewise feel like revealing the lineup could hinder more than help as the reality as there simply is no way everyone’s favorites will be slated.

        Of course, I will then turn around and hypocritically say that I’d sure love to know WHICH of the two Snakemen is slated for 2014. He’s said that we’re getting one in ’14 and one in ’15. I’m in for both either way but curiosity is killing me lol.

  • I again say I'd like to see Mattel use KIckstarter. Then the transparency in the process is guaranteed and fans can once and for all know that the numbers they see are the numbers. No need for conspiracy theories or nonsense when Kickstarter handles it all.

  • It's just such a lot of money, and there are have been too many weak figures and designs in the last year that will be raw in the minds of most – and as well as some admittedly nice designs, there are a few stinkers coming up.

    Kudos to them for the quarterly shipping option, and I'd love a double trouble, but with the UK's draconian customs tax system allied with the processing charge of the courier ($18 onto the cost of a single figure at the moment!) and it's really not worth it. Especially for that crappy Egyptian geezer if you Filmation subbed, or that bloody rabbit!

    I'm sure there are other European collectors who will also be facing similar charges, and it is just too much on top of what is already an expensive figure. add to that the uncertainty of what "fan requested" or "core characters" might mean, and the subscription renewing notice can seem like an awful burden rather than something to be enjoyed and looked forward to.

    Perhaps the "road map" should have been shorter in the first place, with better signage, and possibly with a clear destination.

    That said, I'd love the opportunity to support the production of single figures I'd actually want via a pre-order system – a chance to cherry pick up front fairly, perhaps? Then I might be tempted to take a little hitch hike down that road again.

  • In other news, it looks like we’re finally at about the halfway point by the thermometer.

  • I still don't understand why Mattel can't show all the figures like the GI Joe Collector's Club does with their subscription figures, especially with Mattel doing the sub thing for so many years now. You think they'd be able to secure all that to show off for sub season. Maybe they wouldn't have to resort to all this begging each year if they did. The GI Joe figures aren't all winner characters, but at least you know what you're getting before you sub.

    • GI Joe club did NOT reveal all the figures up front, only 12/13. GI Joe fan club (fun publications) is a MUCH smaller organization with a lot less to loose/gain from doing or not doing something. in addition, they are only revealing 6 months worth of figures (as that is how long the subscription lasts since they are mailed out 2 at a time) motuc has also announced/heavily hinted at the first 5 months worth of figures. You also need to be a member of the gi joe club to buy the subscription, and pay the membership fee on top of the subscription fee, and they have NO day of sale for those items as far as I am aware, where as with Mattel, we can come and go as free as we like, and while they are phasing out some dos items, we still have some dos items you can buy. If you are going to make comparisons please accurately compare them. but to say the subscriptions are the same, they are not

      • I never said the subscriptions were the same and I was not comparing services. I, and many others, would just like to see the figures we'll be getting, or at least have them all announced, before we commit to $500 worth of product.

        And I know all of this information you felt the need to type. Yes, they only revealed 12/13 because the 13th figure is SUPPOSED TO BE SECRET until you have it.

    • Not even the joe sub shows all the figures. They show mock ups which aren’t final and can change. They also don’t tell you want the sub exclusive figure is until it shows up. Plus the now sub has almost no new tooling except for a head and the prices of the figures are nearly the same price as a motuc figure.

      • Yes, I am well aware that they do not announce the 13th figure because it is supposed to be a secret figure. I am also aware that the initial reveal are just prototypes and things can change, but that's the same with lots of figures when they are first revealed. I wouldn't mind MOTUC having a secret figure, as long as they at least announce all the regular month figures so fans know what they are committing to. I also know that the prices are comparable, which I was not complaining about in my initial comment.

  • To be somewhat fair to Mattel, the 2014 releases are reasonably transparent with the glaring exception of The Unnamed One.

    In addition to those which were fully revealed, we also know that Scorpia, Blade, Huntara and one of the remaining two Snake Men are due for release in 2014.

    And IF Toyguru is true to his word, then all of the other releases in 2014 will either be vintage MOTU, vintage PoP or A-Listers from N/A and Filmation.

    All that typed, there is absolutely no logical reason why Toyguru cannot reveal the line-ups for 2014 and 2015. The excuse about "internal approval processes" is ridiculous and has clearly been contradicted many times before, including by the confirmation of Huntara in 2014. The only reasonable excuse I can think of is that Toyguru plans to add on one or more other mini-subscriptions in order to be able to live up to his "promise" about fans having a complete collection at the end of 2015, whether it means another Filmation mini-sub or a PoP mini-sub.

    • Just curious, how do we know Blade is going to be there? People said his sword was seen at SDCC but I could never find a picture of it. I found a picture of a sword just laying there, but it looked nothing like Blade's.

      • Nevermind, I saw a picture of his sword from the movie. I was only thinking about the swords that came with his figure. I hope we'll be getting those too.

  • Honestly, at this point the "don't know what I'll get" excuse is pretty lame. We know what we are getting in 14 and 15, Scott and the 4 Horseman are being pretty upfront about what your expectations should be. No more concept, no more really obscure. Its all A-List from here on out, and that should be enough to get the numbers in there but people are still playing that game where they think they will get hosed.

    • I doubt you can really call whatever is left A-list. And while he's in the 2013 sub, Plundor would certainly have me skeptical of their promises about 2014 if I was thinking about subscribing.

      • Only figures left I would class as A list would be Two-Bad and maybe Modulok.

    • Perhaps the problem is now "I have a pretty good idea of what I will get".

  • I comes down to this: faith. Unfortunately, Scott has managed this line in a way that demands faith in him and his decision-making, and people have been increasingly less enthusiastic to do that in the last couple years. His decisions to use Digital River, his decisions on bios, his choices on character selection, to downsize the castle, to hold back stock for so long that his employer dumps it at Big Lots and kills the value of collector's toys, the stupid mystery releases of Spirit of Hordak; I could go on. His decisions, more than any other factors, have contributed to the difficulties this line has faced.

    I feel bad for the FHM. I wish them luck, and hope that this line is successful insofar as it keeps money rolling into their coffers, so they can continue to run their own lines that I can spend $100s on. For my part, I do not have the faith, and am very tired of people asking me to show it.

  • If the sub does not go through it will be because of Mattel and Scott. It's all their bad decisions and crap they force the fans of the line to put up with that has turned them away.
    Personally I think it's just another scare tactic for more subs out of greed….but if I am wrong and the subscription goal is not met then I guess Mattel and Scott should have read the 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'.

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