Poe’s Point > Frequent QC issues with Legacy Collection Game of Thrones?

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Quality control issues are nothing new in the action figure hobby over the last ten years. The reasons for this are obvious. The most significant problems are rising production costs. The cost of almost everything involved in producing action figures is on a continual and precipitous rise – the petroleum for the plastic, the petroleum for transportation, tooling costs, the labor costs for the factory. Thanks to a few high-profile toy safety crises, safety testing has become more expensive. Moreover, the most successful action figure lines today are licensed from large media properties which are increasingly expensive to obtain.

Meanwhile, many adult collectors (in my experience) unceasingly complain about the rising costs of action figures, unable to let go of the memory of paying $3 or $5 for action figures as kids. Put that all together and toy companies have a strong incentive – even a desperate need – to cut corners wherever possible to keep the price point reasonable. Sometimes they do so by reducing the size of their figures. Sometimes they do so by reducing the number of (larger) figures they make per year. Sometimes they do so by reusing molds as much as possible. Sometimes they do so by minimizing articulation. Sometimes they do so by going with cheaper plastic, or the lowest-bidder factory – or both.*

Mattel’s DC Universe Classics and Masters of the Universe Classics both went through some very bad periods of QC. NECA had QC issues for years, though they’ve gotten much better (although the recent ED-209 appears to have a few issues). And now, newcomer Funko appears to be having some significant issues with their 6″ Legacy Collector Game of Thrones figures.

IThe Thrones first aren’t even due for an official release until this weekend, and at that point they’ll be a 30-day exclusive at Barnes and Noble. The only Thrones figures available at the moment are at Barnes and Noble franchises whose managers have ignored the do-not-sell order. So we’re talking about a pretty small sample set here. And yet, we’re already seeing a number of reports of broken limbs, stuck joints and other QC issues – examples herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here. It’s still early, so perhaps these issues are only appearing on the first few shipments and will go away as the figures hit wider release in a month, but there are reasons to think that won’t be the case, as outlined below.

Collectors have advised that you use warm water or a hair dryer to warm up and massage the joints before moving them. That’s fine advice for diehard collectors like ourselves who know about that sort of thing, or frequent forums where they can find out about it. But you can hardly expect your casual GoT fans – the ones who will help drive this line’s success – to know anything about it. And of course it goes without saying that it shouldn’t even be necessary.

The culprit appears to be the transparent, brittle plastic used for the joints. Collectors have seen this before (I believe a recent example is DC Collectibles’ 3.75″ series), and it almost always seems to result in frequent breakage. An improvement would require a running change that swapped out the brittle plastic for more durable joints.

So what happened? Who knows. Maybe Funko deliberately cut corners in production – the transparent plastic used for the joints would seem to suggest that – in order to hit the $19.99 price point on a super-articulated action figure line based on what was likely an expensive license to obtain. Maybe Funko used a bad factory, or one with little experience at making action figures but will improve as time goes on.

Funko is new to the super-articulated action figure game, so some growing pains are to be expected. Fortunately, I think the license is popular enough they can overcome this if they correct the problem by wave two. I just think it’s important both to acknowledge the issues (and not blindly support the line) while also acknowledging such issues can be fixed, and that the line itself appears promising (at least in my opinion).

I wanted to write something up on this for a couple of reasons. I wanted to give collectors a heads-up – if you buy these, watch out for stuck joints and warm them up before trying to move them (the Fwoosh thread has a lot more on this). But the other thing I’m seeing is some collectors dismissing or even criticizing the complaints of others regarding the QC issues.

I know all about the inclination to forgive or minimize the significance of QC issues or other problems on something you love. I’ve been guilty of it myself, on occasion. But the problems are there, and Funko needs to address them. They may not be able to before wave two. I think the figures themselves look great (and the paint apps will likely improve with each wave), but bad QC can really undermine a line’s potential success. I still wonder whether DCUC would still be around today if it hadn’t gone through a bad QC period.

Oh, and for the curious – despite my coverage of the Funko line, I’m not actually a big Game of Thrones fan and have no plans to get the figures. However, I feel like I have a stake in the line since I’m very excited for their Firefly line in the fall, and I don’t want the same QC issues to crop up then.

* What won’t happen, at least among American companies, is a price increase that comes with a quality increase. Prices always seem to increase just enough to keep up with the production costs, which means the cost-cutting is still necessary.

Comments now closed (20)

  • Seeing as how Funko is pretty new to the articulated action figure game, I would expect a few stumbling blocks on the way.

  • Anyway, the line I got from DST when I expressed disapproval at the Battle Beast MiniMates' horrible lack of QC was that having to fix your toys is a good thing, because it's an introduction to the fantastic world of toy customization.

    • Just curious, from who at DST? I see their company rep Zach posting on message boards a lot, and I've never seen him be dismissive or dickish like that. I've emailed their customer service about the occasional QC issue with Minimates over the years, and they've always been happy to mail me a replacement part.

      • I think it was Zach, but this was over a year ago. And even though that statement is pure WTF, I can't really call it dickish, as he DID give advice on how to fix the toys. It's just… wow.

  • I received mine from the BN webstore yesterday but haven't had a chance to crack them open yet. Paint looks good though so I think I avoided any issues there. I'll be extra careful pulling them out of the package though, thanks to this heads up.

  • My Daenerys figure has problems with one elbow. It looked like it was glued in position. I boiled it and got it unstuck, but the plastic on her forearm is splitting (which is why they used the glue, I think).

  • I found the full set and not even on the shelf for 2 days before issues happened. I tried to repose tryion and Daenerys and they both had an arm breakage(tyrions at the shoulder joint). My white walker took a dive and the leg snapped. I really wanted to overlook the breakage since I love the show, but I don't want broken toys and will be returning them all because it seems only a matter of a bump of the display and the rest could go.

  • Opened mine and I have a few issues.

    Ned and one of my White Walkers are fine. A little stiffness in the joints but nothing a little gentle moving couldn't fix. The other White Walker has a VERY loose hip joint, like floppy loose. That's the one big issue I can see with these figures. They all have looser than average hip joints and I can see them getting worse with more movement over time.

    Jon Snow has two right upper arms which is definitely noticeable. I'll be trying to exchange him in a store this weekend when they go on sale. Otherwise he was okay.

    The Hound has all kinds of stuck joints. I have no idea how his elbows are supposed to work. The elbow armor spins with the lower arm but the angle of the elbow joint doesn't line up with the space in the armor. So I'm not sure if the elbow armor is supposed to spin independent of the upper and lower arms or if it's should be glued to the lower in the correct position. I'll need to heat it up (as the elbow joints are stuck) and see if I can get it to line up right. His helmet though is pretty nice. With some caution you can get it on his head but be careful as the thin rubber could tear easily. Oh and his strap on his belt to hold the sword sheath came off when I tried to put the sheath in it. A little glue and it's fine though.

    Tyrion perplexes me. Almost all of his joints were fine but his lower legs are odd. The knee joint and ankle joints don't line up with each other so the legs might pose unnaturally. I tried spinning them around and they still don't look right. I need to heat up his ankles though to unstick them and see if that helps.

    Honestly, I'm kinda kicking myself for impulsively pulling the trigger on these when they were on sale online earlier in the week. I wish I had waited to see the first reviews before deciding on getting them. But with all the issues I probably still would have gotten them. I just hope that Funko takes all of these issues into account and works to correct them because I really want some kick ass Firefly figures in this line. The thought of having Ned Stark and Mal Reynolds on the same shelf in the same style and scale it just too good to pass up.

  • Funko has issues with the stuff they do know how to do, quality issues with this line were completely predictable. The real question is whether they'll make any effort to do things better.

  • I've had problems on 3 out of four figures. Daenyres' arm broke, Ned's hand and the Hound's one foot. The other foot is completely immobile is well, but I don't want it to break. Any tips?

    • Hi David – if you visit the Fwoosh thread I linked to in the above article (there are a few separate links), there is some advice on what to do regarding the foot and other stuck limbs. I think the primary advice is to warm it up and then carefully move it, but I would review the thread or even ask for help on it.

  • Funko has been made aware of these QC issues and our factory has been informed of what changes need to be made on future waves of Legacy. Thanks so much!

  • Yes, does that mean producing new, problem-free versions of these wave one figures, Shawndra?

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