Following up on yesterday’s post, a few responses from the comments:
Stories like this make me very thankful for the always awesome guys (and girls) at Hunter PR who handle Hasbro’s PR stuff at Toy Fair and various other conventions. I have literally NEVER had a bad experience with them, and they treat even us small potato folks with respect and courtesy.
I think many collectors make comparisons between Hasbro and Mattel, and while Hasbro has certainly made its share of missteps, I think it’s demonstrably clear the company values the fans of its brands (particularly the homegrown ones, G.I. Joe and Transformers, but also Star Wars and Marvel). Mattel inevitably suffers by this comparison, which baffles me, since they’ve made it clear they want to establish a TF/GIJ-like media franchise in Masters of the Universe.
While I’ve never interacted with Mattel’s press, I’ve talked to many of them at conventions I’ve been through. While they do keep a slight bit of secrecy on some things, they tend to be very friendly and willing to answer questions.
I even once had the opportunity to speak to Scott himself a few years back when DCUC 2 was first announced at Wizard World Chicago— I think that was 2007? Different times back then, but very friendly and willing to chat to anyone.
I think, though, Mattel reps may get annoyed by the “collector community” at times, or at least the most passionate and loud people. How many times can you get asked about Ambush Bug until you snap?
I don’t know how much Paul’s article was addressing Scott Neitlich himself. It sounds Paul’s beef was more with the official PR people. But I’m not going to deny that the geek small press can be incredibly nitpicky, standoffish, and, yes, annoying – I remember the now-defunct Toy Bender’s (now The Robot’s Pajamas) recaps of the Star Wars Q&As, which typically highlighted one incredibly nerdy question each week. And I’ve experienced for myself the elbowing for position that goes on during the photo-taking at such events, with geeks fighting for position like bridesmaids at a bouquet toss.
While I’ve had my criticisms of Scott, I’ve always found him to be very outgoing and helpful in person. We had a great chat at NYCC last year.
Â Mattel treats geek sites this way because they can and the geek sites will cover its products anyway. The solution would be for anyone who feels slighted to simply stop giving coverage to Mattel products. There are lots of other toy companies out there that are much more deserving of coverage and would love to get the kind of press that Mattel gets. If the press starts dropping off, Mattel might change its tune. Even if it doesn’t, it wouldn’t deserve our interest anyway.
It’s absolutely true that smaller toy companies deserve more press, and Mattel knows they can put in the least amount of effort possible and still get coverage. I think any good PR person can tell you, though, that a little extra effort can do wonders for publicity; but for whatever reason (lack of a marketing budget or otherwise), Mattel doesn’t engage in that effort.
I think it is also possible that the people doing cons like SDCC and the people doing the traditional Toy Fair are NOT the same groups out of marketing at this point. The treatement of smaller press at SDCC is far, far better, and I think it’s because that marketing group gets it. The folks doing Toy Fair are likely to be the old school group that still thinks this whole internet thing is a flash in the pan.
It makes perfect sense that fan press should be swarming Toy Fair. Much of Hasbro’s and Mattel’s and Lego’s and so many other maker’s product is being bought up by Gen X and Gen Y, and if I were a retailer I’d watch very closely which products the fans lose their minds over and buy that. It might only be a few more years that these generations continue to plunk their money into toys, so get ’em while you can.
Definitely some truth there. And even if the older folks stop buying, their kids might start. Now that I think of it, it’s perhaps the biggest mistake Mattel has made with the MOTU brand. While they marketed the Millennium line and cartoon toward children, I’m not sure they’ve ever really made (and then nurtured) the connection Hasbro clearly has: happy adult fans pass that love on to the next generation.
I know it’s most likely futile responding here as I don’t get the sense myself or any of the AFi staff are well regarded over here, but there is actually a rational explanation of what happened to Paul and David… and when I have some spare time I’ll post it. I don’t think it will make things “better” but it will at least fill in some pieces. It’s not the conspiracy everyone is making it out to be.
First off, I want to state I’m saddened Julius feels uncomfortable here at PGPoA, though I do understand why he might feel that way. I’ve always tried to maintain as objective and civil a discussion as possible (at which I do fail sometimes – I’m only human).
I would be more than happy to get another side to this story, and welcome any information Julius or anyone else, particularly at Mattel, would like to offer.
I like Paul and all, but am I the only one the felt like his article was condescending to “geek” press? He basically made out like he was a big deal and runs an official website and that he shouldn’t have to spend time with the “amateurs” and their “crappy cell phone cameras”. I was more offended by his wording than anything in his story about Mattel, oddly enough. And while I wasn’t at Toy Fair, I know that not all the sites that were there were crappy fly-by-night blogs.
I think NG is right to point out that the tone of Paul’s article does come off a bit condescending toward the collector press; it’s something I should have mentioned in my post yesterday. I’m not sure it was Paul’s intention, and I prefer to give him (and yes, to an admittedly lesser extent, Mattel) the benefit of the doubt, but the post does suffer from a sense of entitlement and bitterness that somewhat undercuts what would otherwise be a fairly effective indictment of Mattel’s behavior toward its collector fan base.