As with many hobbies, the rise of the Internet has allowed the average action figure collector to understand the intricacies of production, sales, and distribution more than ever before. Fans track and discuss case mixes, variant ratios and shipping schedules. They have favorite sculptors and designers. And with projects like the Four Horsemen’s FANtastic Exclusive, they even get to participate in the development process.
Of course, this heightened awareness also provides collectors with an insight into the sort of issues one would never consider. For instance, we’ve long known that most American toys are manufactured in Chinese factories (for better or, in some recent cases, worse). But what perhaps you weren’t aware of is the fact that, for a week or two in February, all those factories close for the Chinese New Year–meaning the toy companies have to push as much product through as possible before then to avoid serious delays.
In any case, obviously we’re not going to meet the deadline that we’d originally hoped for now, and we sincerely apologize to all of you for that, and any other inconveniences this delay may have caused. But if everything goes as well as we’re being told now, it looks like we’re going to be able to get all of our production finished through this new factory before the beginning of the new year, and we hope to have all of the stuff in our warehouses so we can ship all of it out to our vendors well before the factories overseas shut down for Chinese New Year.
The issue comes up again in a blog entry by Steve Murphy, creative director for Mirage Studios, who is part of the approval process for NECA’s upcoming Ninja Turtle figures:
To quote NECA: “In an effort to introduce the line early in the year and to be able to ship before Chinese New Year, NECA is going to offer the classic four turtles first. Plans are to re-fresh the line in Spring ’08 with variations on the turtles along with new characters like April and the Foot Soldier.”
Finally, the Horsemen mentioned the issue again in their latest production update:
This also means another unexpected a delay in production. Not much of a delay – probably only about a week or so more, but enough that we’re not going to be able to get our product shipped out to us before the factory takes its annual Chinese New Year break (which – if we’re not mistaken – is the first two weeks in February), as we’d originally hoped.
Can you imagine the U.S. closing all its factories for two weeks a year? Never mind the four-week break most European nations take during the summer. The Chinese New Year starts on February 7th this year and ends on the 15th. That means at least a week without any action figure goodness being manufactured.
However, I think it’s pretty cool that the Chinese take the time to have an extended celebration. Christians used to have twelve days and nights of Christmas–now we just have a song and an old Shakespeare play.