Poe’s Point > Breaking down the decline in MOTUC subscriptions

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For all the discussion of character selection, scare tactics, and revealing the entire lineup and all that, I think there are three main reasons for the decline in MOTUC subscriptions:

  • The most popular, iconic characters have been made;
  • The costs of the figures has gone up significantly;
  • The overall popularity of MOTUC is winding down.

I’ll break these down after the jump.

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The Main Characters are Done

As I’ve mentioned before, I barely subscribed to this year’s sub. I did so solely so I would not have to pay a fortune for Ram Man. I had visions of him commanding $300-$400 prices on eBay – something which has not come to pass. After Ram Man, there were very few iconic MOTU characters remaining – Clamp Champ, Two-Bad and Modulok perhaps, although none of those have the cultural cachet of a He-Man, Teela or Trap Jaw [1]. Except for Two-Bad and character variants (and the Stactions), every single Millennium figure (including exclusives) has been produced in MOTUC.

I’ll admit I was surprised we got Ram Man when we did. I was convinced Mattel would wait until they thought they’d reached the last possible year of the sub to offer him. In a way, I respect them for releasing him when they did; but in doing so, they should have had a plan in place to significantly reduce the size of the 2013 sub and stock it with well-known characters. Put more simply, as cool as many seem to find the Fighting Foe Men, perhaps Mattel should have been left on the drawing board (or saved for an SDCC exclusive set).

What Mattel could have done differently: I’m not sure there’s much more Mattel could have done, other than perhaps to space out the iconic characters a bit more. But we got a lot of the main cast in the first year because the staff behind the line had no idea how long it would last and wanted to give us as many of the must-have characters as possible. By the time the line had become an unquestionable hit, a lot of those main cast members had been done, so the opportunity of spacing them out a bit more was lost.

However, even if they’d spaced the main characters out more, I think the decline still would have occurred as casual collectors simply got tired of waiting while diehard fans became increasingly angry about the wait for their favorite characters.

Mad Matty

Figure Prices

MOTUC started having difficulties hitting its subscription numbers at the same time that the figures went up to $25 each. They balanced this out by eliminating quarterly figures, but subscribers were still forced to get the Fighting Foe Men three-pack. Like the Star Sisters, I think the Foe Men were a miscalculation. Yes, many diehard fans and some casual fans found them very cool and may even have subscribed just for them, but I have a hard time believing they’re the exception and not the rule, particularly with the $75 price tag. I think the Star Sisters and to a lesser degree the Fighting Foe Men hurt each year’s successive subscription, partly due to the characters themselves but more due to the cost. Too many collectors were forced to pay the greater part of $100 for toys they never would have bought otherwise.

To be fair to Mattel, the Star Sisters and Fighting Foe Men were revealed before the subs went on sale, so this isn’t a case of fans feeling like they’d been tricked. However, I do think a good number of them felt like they’d been extorted. It left a bad taste in a lot of mouths, and I’d be lying if I myself wasn’t thinking about the Star Sisters when I hesitated to subscribe this year. (Ultimately I thought I’d end up liking the FFM, but by the time they’d arrived I’d changed my mind again.)

That said, I want to emphasize that I think the issue with the Star Sisters and the FFM was less about the characters themselves and more about what people had to pay for them (including the ever-painful shipping costs).

What Mattel could have done differently: Scott Neitlich was open about the fact that they held off on raising the price on MOTUC figures as long as they could. I think a yearly $1 increase would have been more palatable to people, over time, than the big $5 jump the subs got in 2013.

That said, I must admit I’m still not sure about how the cost works out here. I’ve heard from people with industry knowledge that Mattel probably doesn’t make any money off these figures, and I’ve heard they make a huge profit. I’ve always assumed the situation was thus: the Mattel execs scarcely care about these collector lines, and MOTUC is suffered to live as long as it brings in a good-to-impressive profit margin.

As I’ve often said, I think Mattel could make MOTU into a Transformers-like franchise, with popular cartoons and movies and so forth, if they were willing to build the brand [2]. Part of that is maintaining good relations with the fandom, and part of that might be subsidizing fan-oriented lines like MOTUC to keep prices bearable. Alternatively they could keep the higher prices, or even raise them by $5 or $10, and produce as many figures as there are subscribers – none of this store-brand Kickstarter thermometer crap.

Unfortunately for fans, it seems clear that the higher-ups at Mattel are not serious about making MOTU, or any other popular brand they own, a major franchise. I guess they just go to Transformers movies while their kids watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

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End of the “life cycle”

This last point is related to both of the previous ones. Without popular media support [3], a decline in subscriptions was inevitable. The question was always whether or not the line could get through its entire roster before that happened, and this is something I think Mattel should have better planned for.

Hasbro seems to understand all toy lines have life cycles and they do their best to manage that, reinventing them every so often (sometimes perhaps a bit too quickly), putting some on the backburner for a bit (like G.I. Joe right now), and so forth. Star Wars evidently reached a point where a six-inch line seemed like a worthwhile idea, and even Transformers can have an off year or two while they wait for the new movie. Marvel Legends, once the undisputed champion of action figure lines, eventually reached a point where it couldn’t sustain itself without movie tie-ins, and that IP is much more popular than MOTU.

As for MOTUC – five years and what, eighty or ninety figures, plus giant figures and vehicles? That isn’t bad at all for any toy line. But if the 2014 (or 2015) sub doesn’t go through, a lot of us will look at some of the figures we got and wish we were seeing Rio Blast, Tung Lashor and NA Skeletor. While I always appreciated Mattel’s willingness to be inventive and try new things, there were too few hits (VikorDraego-Man) and too many misses (Demo-man [4], Mighty SpectorSir Laser-LotCy-Chop). [5]

What Mattel could have done differently: We’ve been hearing for over a year now that Mattel is intent on finishing off the “major” characters in 2014, but I think that should have been the plan at least a year earlier. The 30th Anniversary sub and concept sets like the Fighting Foe Men took valuable subscription dollars away from characters fans really wanted and demanded. Calling the FFM “fan-demanded” is silly; the majority of fans, while perhaps amenable enough to the idea, will probably not be happy if they have the FFM but no Extendar, Ninjor or Sssqueeze.

In short, I think Mattel should have been more thoughtful about the life cycle of MOTUC, taking into account rising production costs when debating whether to expand the line or add concept characters. I do think that part of the problem was that no one in the beginning anticipated how big it would become, but on the flip side, no one seems to have anticipated that popularity might dissipate, especially as prices went up.

I do think there are other factors at play here, but all of it – from many fans’ general mistrust of Neitlich, to the lack of a good plan for dealing with lower subscription numbers over time, to sets like the FFM – stem from a general lack of investment on the part of Mattel in the franchise. Whatever you think of Neitlich, he seems to be out there on his own, with little support, and that’s part and parcel of that lack of investment. I don’t think there’s anyone there to step in and say, “this Mighty Spector figure seems like a bad idea,” or “let’s spend a little cash on some market research before we produce the Star Sisters.” And so here we are, hoping that another subscription makes it through so that we can get those last few characters we need in what is otherwise a very comprehensive line.

—-

[1] I realize I’m neglecting much of the She-Ra: Princess of Power (POP) cast; unfortunately, with the exception of She-Ra herself, POP is simply nowhere near as popular as MOTU. Between this and the Star Sisters I’ve been hard on POP, but I can’t deny what I see.

[2] I’m not sure what Mattel should have done with the current comics. I was going to say they could exert more control over DC, making DC use more iconic costumes and minimizing the unnecessary violence and extreme character changes. But part – possibly a big part – of the problem with the Millennium era was Mattel exerting too much influence on the comics and cartoons. I’m not sure what Hasbro’s relationship to their various media productions has been, but it seems to have mostly worked out for Transformers, if not G.I. Joe.

[3] I find the DC comics so terrible I don’t count them. It can hardly help sell the toys when the writing seems to suggest the creators think the property is lame and needs the grit and gory violence of Game of Thrones to have any credibility. I’d like to point out that most of the Millennium comics were great without any of that (well, except for Icons of Evil: Trap Jaw). Plus, the designs in the current comics themselves don’t match the toys at all, so why would anyone who actually likes the comic want to buy the toys?

[4] Whom I liked, but many did not. “Too screamingly Ecto-Cooler green” seemed to be the main, and entirely fair, criticism.

[5] It’s true that most of the misses came as part of a separate sub, but rather than a sub of original characters it could have been, say, a New Adventures sub, or a POP sub, or a characters-who-never-had-a-toy-before sub (Fearless Photog, Eldor, Strobo, Goat Man, etc.) and I think fans would have been happier than they were with the actual line-up – yes, Draego-Man and Castle Grayskullman were great, but if you had to choose between one of them and your favorite unproduced character, which would you choose?

Comments now closed (61)

  • i still only have one figure from this line.. megator that was on clearance from BBTS… i love the line and have a list of about 2o figures i would really like! but i have never been willing to fork over the cash. maybe one day i will find them loose and at good prices.

    • should have mentioned i preorerded castle greyskull because i fell for the "we might not make it" ploy. but i will be glad to have that to accompany my oldschool one. i will be pretty aggravated when they put a shitload of them on sale around xmas. i'm sure it is bound to happen.

    • My experience has been similar; after a few years I procured a few MOTUC figures via sales and trades, but if the prices had been more reasonable I'd have many, many, many more figures than I do. As it is, I'll probably never have Classics He-Man, which is the one figure I had planned to buy back when I was very vocally critical of MOTUC at the start!

      • I've been wanting to pick up a cheap He-Man for the 6-year-old of a friend of mine, but I really, really don't want to pay $36 on Mattycollector for it.

  • These are all really good points… though I would've chosen Draego-Man over just about anybody except maybe Mer-Man. He's just too good.

  • I keep thinking that Mattel is shooting itself in the foot by making MOTU Classics a large-scale, very expensive, adult collector focused line. I've wanted GI Joe scaled MOTU figures since I was a kid, and as an adult living in a pretty small apartment and on a budget, I want them even more now.

    The 3.75 inch format is much cheaper to produce, allows for tons more accessories to be included (as some of the later Joe figs prove) and much easier to produce vehicles and playsets for. Plus, for me, they take up less shelf space.

    I wouldn't mind, in fact I'd prefer a drop in size if it gets cool 4 inch MOTU figures (and the awesome stories and characters that shape the figures) out to a wider audience. These toys should be marketed at little kids TODAY and in the price range of working class families, not exclusively marketed to 40 year old white dudes with too much disposable income.

    • I think there's plenty of room for both scales. Hasbro does it with Transformers, and heck, even Mattel's doing it with their new DC Multiverse line alongside the 6" figures they're still doing (and it should be noted, Mattel is making that stylized 6" DC figure line at a price – $9 – that's competitive with the 3.75" stuff out there right now).

      • Poe, I’m looking forward to the 6″, ten dollar DC line. It’s a perfect illustration of what a poorer collector wants- iconic characters at a great price. That’s a line that is going to sell both to collectors and to little kids picking up a random toy at the grocery store. And while appealing to adult collectors is important financially, you audience will just keep shrinking and shrinking unless you get the grocery store kids excited about the toys.

  • “Whatever you think of Neitlich, he seems to be out there on his own,. . . I don’t think there’s anyone there to step in and say, “this Mighty Spector figure seems like a bad idea,” or “let’s spend a little cash on some market research before we produce the Star Sisters.”

    I totally agree, but take it a step further to say that’s exactly how he wanted it. Ego got in the way, and we are left to wonder what the line would have been like had he solicited and heeded advice from any number of toy and comic professionals who were MOTU fans. People who would have consulted for nothing other than a chance to see a line succeed, grow, and then open up further financial opportunities.

    I got the sense he has done nothing other than begrudgingly react to fan complaints that he could have avoided all along. We’ll just have to wait for Scott’s version of the Sweet book in twenty years. . .

    • Keep in mind that he also has to constantly justify MOTUC to his superiors at Mattel, and apparently that's not an easy task…

      And frankly, he communicates too much with fans. He does it enough that the He-Fandom, by and large, feels such a casual level of familiarity that many also feel utterly entitled – if he doesn't answer EVERY question or answer the way people want, he gets lambasted. If he pulled back like the heads of other toy companies, or held back from the beginning, he likely wouldn't see so much hate.

      • Yep all the cash coming in at subscription time makes it so hard to justify.

        • Yeah, I'm sure MOTUC makes as much money as Barbie, Hot Wheels, Monster High, or any of Mattel's other lines. I'm totally certain that, as Mattel has actually been losing money, they aren't looking for an excuse to trim off some of their small-production small-run small-profit lines…

        • Obviously it isn't making anywhere near the same money as those lines but money is money. If Mattel (or any toy company) where losing money on a line they would have ended it a long time ago.

        • Money isn't just money. It has to make enough money to justify all the man-hours and workers who are on this project instead of boosting more profitable lines.

        • Well, yeah… But all of that overhead cost would get figured into the price of the figures and the subscription numbers they need to reach, wouldn't it? Either the line is making money, or it isn't.

        • Exactly, it has to make a profit, so if it was really losing money as you claim there is no way Mattel would be continuing it.

        • Right. I can't imagine that Mattel would pull the plug on a profitable line, no matter the size. I think proportion of Mattel's total business probably only matters when determining how much leeway a given brand has. A relatively small brand would have much less, of course. If Hot Wheels or Barbie sales dip, and the line loses money for a period, they're not going to panic and shut it down. But if MOTUC ever lost money, it would be gone. The mere fact that it has lasted all these years suggests that it has been profitable. If they don't have a sufficient profit margin based on the subs, it won't get made. If the profit margin is there, there's no risk to Mattel at all. So why would they pull the plug on a whim?

          Now, I'm sure Neitlich would have to do some convincing to get a project green-lit in the first place. But once a line is up and running, it should be a simple matter of determining whether it is paying for itself. Tales of Neitlich having to constantly convince higher-ups to allow MOTUC to exist don't make much sense. To me, that sounds more like Neitlich trying to drive up sub numbers. But then, of course, we are talking about Mattel… It is entirely possible the company is run by lunatics.

        • I feel compelled to point out, simple profit or loss isn't the single deciding factor for a business to invest in a particular product. Just because MOTUC might be turning a minor profit, doesn't mean Mattel would or should continue it.

          Why? Simply put: Opportunity costs. If another product is turning 30% profit while MOTUC is turning 10%, what would you put your money and invest in? This is especially true if it requires substantial front-end capital (molds, setting up a production line, etc.). Frankly, I don't see Mattel even wanting to invest in MOTUC without some sort of internal championing.

          I am not an apologist for Neitlich, but I can fathom the corporate situation facing MOTUC. I don't at all support the whole subscription model Mattel is using, where their corporate risk is completely removed, but I do suspect that can very well be the true situation at Mattel.

        • Yeah, you might be totally right; particularly if there is such disparity between MOTUC's profits and other lines. I find it hard to believe, though, that it would ever have been approved to go forward if it made less than the margin Mattel would expect of any line. If anything, I think a larger margin than usual would have been demanded, and factored into the required subscription numbers and price point. I would think the bare minimum for profit on the line would be at least 40%.

        • The issue isn’t whether they are making or losing money – as I said repeatedly – but whether they are making enough to justify the work, as opposed to what could be more profitable elsewhere.

        • Yeah, yeah, yeah… I get that. But my point is that Mattel knows what that number is. Whatever "enough money to justify the work" is gets factored into the [always secretive] number of subscriptions required and the price that is set for the figures. Unlike retail lines, a subscription line guarantees a given profit. If it doesn't hit that magic number, it simply will not get made in the first place.

          And sure- I understand that a manufacturer that is having a rough time overall might want to jettison relatively small projects in order to focus on their bread and butter. I just thought the world's largest toy company might have the wherewithal to carry on with multiple lines, and the stability to not abandon a profitable niche (that also has other promotional benefits, beyond its financial value).

          I just have a hard time believing statements like "he also has to constantly justify MOTUC to his superiors at Mattel." Sure, it could be true, particularly if Neitlich has screwed up the numbers or is somehow misleading Mattel (perhaps by setting too low a number for subs, banking on day-of sales to cover the margin). Or it might be true if one interprets "constantly justify" as drumming up the necessary annual sub numbers. But given Neitlich's track record of less than completely truthful- or, at least, completely accurate statements… Well, I take anything he says with a grain of salt.

    • "…we are left to wonder what the line would have been like had he solicited and heeded advice from any number of toy and comic professionals who were MOTU fans."

      I'll confess I'm a bit skeptical about the idea that taking in tons of fan input, especially at a higher, more intimate level, is necessarily a good idea.

      I think there were times Mattel (I'm not going to single out Neitlich, because honestly I'm not sure exactly what his role is and I think it's unfair to assume he makes every single decision at every single level) listened too closely what the most loudest, but not necessary legion, fans on He-Man.org were asking for. That's how we got stuff like Demo-man, the Star Sisters and Dekker.

      Input from "toy and comic professionals who were MOTU fans" most likely gets into a whole host of legal and financial issues. If I were a toy or comic professional, even if I were a MOTU superfan, I wouldn't want to give advice for free – and even if I did, I'm sure there would be a battery of legal documents from Mattel first, swearing that you had absolutely nothing to do with creating or influencing anything. So, no money and no credit. Why bother?

      Furthermore, taking advice from fan-professionals carries the same risks as Neitlich has been accused of, namely, personal favorite characters that may not be generally popular showing up in the line.

      That's not at all to say fan input should be prohibited or ignored. Hasbro seems to have a contentious but active dialogue with the fandoms of its various properties; sometimes that dialogue is better, sometimes it's worse, but the results have often been pretty neat, such as the Ice Cream Maker Guy in Star Wars, or the ten million special repaints and exclusives in Transformers.

      Mattel has definitely given fans what they want in some cases with MOTUC, but it's just oddly contrasted with some really bad decisions as well.

      • I agree with this utterly and entirely. The amount that this line has been "in bed" with the Org fans has definitely caused it harm. The Org fans wanted the all-in subscription, not the casual fans that wanted tiers. They've "demanded" characters I've never even heard of or ever had anything close to any interest in. And then, all too often, when they get what they demanded they complain about it.

  • Y'know why subscriptions are down? Because there is no way in for new collectors. They've essentially built a model based on 100% retention of previous business. That's never going to work, as that is an impossible feat.

    • That's an interesting point, actually. But I'm curious, what would you suggest as a way for new collectors to start? They have offered a few "year-round" items such as He-Man, Skeletor, Battle Cat and (I think) Panthor.

      • Maybe an additional "BEST OF" sub? No new characters, just the most requested figures in a new run?

        Otherwise, I don't know.

      • I think the offering of year-round He-Man and Skeletor was kind of too little too late. I didn't buy the first release, but as more and more cool figures came out I was kind of wishing that I had. By the time they did rerelease them, I had already missed so many figures that I just didn't bother to jump in. I think that He-Man and Skeletor should have been available from the start. Obviously though, that wouldn't have changed too, too much about where they are now.

    • Got to agree with that. I sold off the 10 figures or so I had years ago but recently bought Vikor….but there is no way I could buy back all the characters I had with the prices they are charging on the secondary market.

    • I'm a casual fan at best. Got the 2nd release He Man and Skeletor. Then Battle Cat and Panthor. I picKed up Tri Clops from the booth at a comic con. Bought a re release of Man At Arms and Trap Jaw at another con. Finally, I got Stratos from the DC pack and Ram Man from BBTS.
      A while back I asked Mattel through AFI if, since they constantly had bubble power She Ra for sale on the website, why not a core member like Teela? They flat out said there wasn't the demand for such a re release. That was a huge turn off for a casual fan such as myself. There are several more figures like this that I would love to add to my collection but have no way of doing so unless I want to resort to eBay. Which I don't.
      I'm contemplating getting one of the Evil Lyn figures and making a Teela custom.

        • Yep. I've been without one for quite some time. The lack of her and Evil Lyn are both the "lost" characters I most regret.

  • Good points. I just think the motuc fad is winding down. After 5 years it's bound to happen. We're all 5 years older and 5 years poorer from this line. There comes a point where saturation happens. I don't think I've ever collected a complete line. The closest I ever came was Irwin/Jaks Dragon Ball/Z line back in my college days. After getting all the main guys and many side characters there came a point where I was buying variants and obscure characters simply to be a completist. I literally would walk into TRU and ask myself or my friend "why am I buying this?" Now all those toys just sit in ziplock bags in a box. I suppose I can regret not getting Nail, Saiyan Spacepod, Trunk's Time Machine, the regeneration chamber, or Freeza's ship or I can rejoice I gave up. Because at the time it just seemed the lone was never going to end.

  • Awwwww. I really like PoP. I think ALL fans would have been much more enthusiastic about PoP's inclusion in Mattel if there hadn't been … mistakes like the Star Sisters and Frosta. Adora, She-Ra, Bow and Swift-wind all seem to have been generally positively received. And Castaspella is shaping up to be almost a home run.

    Maybe instead of the rather dull "poster" versions of the Star Sisters, the fans would have been more appreciative of the more dynamic proto-type designs. Or even better, if Mattel had released some of the more interesting or creature-based PoP designs like Sweet-Bee, Flutterina, Angella and Mermista earlier in the line then there would be greater enthusiasm for some of the plainer characters like Peekablue, Netossa, Spinnerella and Glimmer.

    • I do agree that Mattel probably should have gone for more POP sooner. My guess is the problem was a fear of stepping Filmation's toes, perhaps.

  • I agree with the point that new collectors can't really get into the line… I have always admired the design of the figures and have read this blog for a few years (although I have never commented until now). I recently lucked into seeing most of the "Big Lots" set at a local Big Lots and picked up all of the Princess of Power characters. I actually remember the She-Ra cartoon a bit better, and I was a big Sea Hawk fan as a kid. Once I opened the figures and played with them with my 3 year old daughter, I was hooked! I haven't been this excited about new toys in a while. So I go to the MattyCollector Web site and yep – you can buy She-Ra for $27 plus shipping, or He-Man or King Hiss. So, I turned to eBay, where you can maybe get some loose figures for about what they went for originally. It's just a little bit too expensive to collect that many and the source (Mattel) doesn't really provide any options for filling in your collection.

    • Thanks for the comment! Unfortunately this is exactly what I mean when I say that Mattel seems uninterested in building the brand. The executives have clearly told Neitlch, "As long as it makes X amount of profit, you can keep going, but the minute it dips below X we're pulling the plug." That suggests that MOTU has no champions among the upper order at Mattel.

      How they can look at the money Hasbro makes off Transformers and G.I. Joe and not want to try to build something like that themselves is beyond me, but I guess they figure they tried to do that ten years ago and it didn't really take, so let's just let this tiny collector line limp along until it dies.

      I have to wonder how the sales of Barbie/Monster High/Hot Wheels compares with the sales of TF/SW/G.I. Joe. If Mattel is still making equivalent or more money to what Hasbro's making, then I suppose why bother spending major resources on MOTU?

  • I agree too Poe,The most popular characters have been made,He-man,Man,Man-At-Arms,Teela,stratos,zodac,Battle Cat/Cringer,Adam,Skeletor,etc.

  • i do think there's a general malaise setting in, but they could have mitigated things better through any number of means. every suggestion i've read thusfar makes sense to me, and i think the overall roster release could have been better balanced between PoP, NA, 200x and 1983.

    that said, the line itself is showing it's age… while motuc has been coming out, we've seen a push in the general market towards more realistic, less cartoony types of action figures… at least in the collector market. and those have had nice success. motuc is just too "classic" and not updated enough for modern tastes. go look at even some of the toys made from comics and cartoons, and still, they're pushing textural detail and spray aps… and many of them manage to come out cheaper than motuc does. hard to compete when you don't understand your competition.

    • Agreed Dayraven. Also you would think Mattel would have started making a new slimmer body for those figures that require vests / body armour as on the current body it makes them look out of proportion and too fat….Sea Hawk, King Hiss and Preternia He-Man especially.

  • For what it's worth, Poe, I enjoyed this post immensely, and the discussion it's created suggests I'm not alone. Keep these kinds of posts coming! Hell, I know you're no Joe fan, but a one-paragraph elaboration on your thoughts regarding Hasbro's handling of Renegades would be a swell read.

    • Heh, always trying to build up me up, eh? 😉

      I don't really know enough about how Hasbro handled Renegades, other than they seem to have cancelled it pretty quick.

  • Good point regarding newcomers. If there was a way to get the other figures the 'mattycollector' way, I'd do it in a heartbeat. As it is, I only got into the line on CMonday, so I'm trying to pick what I can. I'm international, so not even getting the cheap ones off Ebay is an option (a 15 dollar icarius will end up costing double that, thanks to USPS). It's bad enough already that I had to get Orko for 30 bucks because I don't have access to a Big Lots. This Big Lots thing further aggravated buyers like me. I don't expect them to sell them on Matty, but at least when they offloaded them to gilt.com in January, there was the online shopping option for non-US people. But anyway, the line is definitely in its death throes, and Star Wars Black all set to take its place. With the latter, we'll be at least able to buy them from brick and mortar shops.

  • All good and fair points; well done sir!

    Now, everyone go buy four subs! 😉

  • There’s one thing I’m surprised you forgot to mention: Strobo. As someone who has bought every single MOTUC figure from day one, I cannot even begin to understand why Mattel would be so stupid as to handle that release the way they did this year. They were already afraid they wouldn’t get enough subscribers last year, and yet they handle the release of Strobo in a way that is guaranteed to piss off every fan of MOTUC other than the right people who managed to get one. I still don’t have one yet. And this is far from the first time Mattel has angered a majority of their fans, but I’d always managed to find a way to make it work before. They just can’t or won’t seem to stop going forward with these half-baked ideas that alienate so many fans, and they then seem to have no idea why the fans aren’t there for them when they throw these thermometers up every summer. I subscribed this year, the way I will every year the like exists, but this year was the first time I really acknowledged that I was doing it only because of the affection I have for the line itself, because as far as I’m concerned the best thing that could happen to MOTUC at this point would be if Mattel sold off the license. I know they never will, but the fact that every boy’s line they have seems to do well then swiftly nosedive down speaks volumes about their ability to run these lines. There’s way too much self-indulgence on their parts, and they don’t seem to appreciate the fan’s support. Their attitude suggests they look at us as cash cows, always there for milking when they need some money. I’m really tired of reading all these posts were Nietlich implys that things aren’t continuing because we aren’t supporting them, but no acknowledgement of the fact that Mattel’s practices and behavior towards their fans are responsible.

  • How come Mattel foots the bill for several con appearances a year for MOTUC, when it's been pointed out above that the line may not make a profit, is constantly under threat of cancellation, and has no real way for new customers to enter the line?

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  • Hate to nitpick, but every millennium figure has not been produced…what about Snake Teela? not that I care about MYP figures or Snake Teela, but she does exist and not even as one of those terrible stactions

    • If you're referring to my piece, it is not an obituary. I'm specifically discussing the decline in subscriptions, which I believe is self-evident.

      I actually think the odds of the sub going through, based on past experience, are still above 50%.

  • I love that Matty brought MOTU back. Yes, the figures are expensive… Yes, quality control is a problem… but it was such a treat to see figures from the past re-released in such a cool new style. But I agree, the line is dead. I think only the hardcore MOTU fans will stick with the line from here on out.

  • It's probably been said, but yeah, Mattel probably limited the life of the line by focusing on the subscription model and leaving the casual fans' money on the table. If your choices for getting Ram-Man are a $300 sub or not at all, a lot of people are just going to do without. By keeping at least a little stock for the non-subbers who just want (or afford) a character here or there, and then maybe adding characters to their permanent stock like He-Man and Skeletor, that maybe would've helped keep interest going. It would've opened the pool a little…

    But I just got Adora and Moss-Man (and my girlfriend got me the Faceless One!) from Big Lots, which pretty much shows how I roll: "MOTUC figures are $20+, plus postage." "I don't want any." "MOTUC for $10." "I'll take three."

    • the big lots thing is infuriating for many reasons, largely because it exposes a lot of problematic realities for mattel… like what they're charging us vs their cost to produce the figures, and more importantly, how stupid the faux "sell outs" are… you're telling me that the customer service stock was literally 20 to 30 thousand pieces? cuz big lots buys palates at a time, and these have now been found in what seems to be at least 20 states, literally hundreds of stores, who got an entire endcap of matty exclusives at a time… this a huge betrayal, and something that will be held against the matty apologists in the future, when we "conspiracy theorists" get called out… it's not a secret if we can see the bullshit. 😉

      • It's left over CS stock from years ago, it's really not a big deal. Not only that, but they're figures that Mattel put back up multiple times that still didn't sell out, so what they did was basically cut their losses and bulk sold them off to Big Lots. Mattel didn't even make their money back on what they sold to Big Lots, it was basically making the best of the situation to make room for new figures.

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