April Q&A With Mattel For DC, MOTUC and Ghostbusters

by Jay Cochran
March 31, 2009
In an effort to get straight answers from toy manufacturers like Mattel to consumers like you, we presented the folks at Mattel with 10 questions regarding several of their action figure lines like MOTUC, DC and Ghostbusters this month. This will be a bi-weekly segment, and we ask you to keep in mind that we don’t get a chance to ask follow-up questions until the next session. So if you see a question asked here with an answer you would like clarified or just have a different question you want answered, let us know in our Forums.

TNI: Why exactly can't you reveal how many figures are produced for each MOTUC character? I believe you have said in the past that it was for legal reasons, but if so, what law prevents you from revealing this? Thinking of the collector lines, it seems to me that it is a pretty standard practice to reveal how many of a figure is made so collectors have a factual basis to determine how rare/valuable a figure is on the secondary market.

Mattel: There are a variety of reasons Mattel does not release production numbers on any of its toys (with the exception of “limited edition” Barbie’s and others things like that). How many units of any toy we make is also proprietary information we do not want to reveal to our competition.


TNI: On the upcoming She-Ra figure, will she have sculpted hair or real type hair like was used in the 2004 SDCC exclusive version? Will this figure be released in the MOTUC packaging or have its own unique Princess of Power packaging?

Mattel: All of the figures in the MOTUC line will have sculpted hair, male and female and beast and Kaligar etc…


TNI: You showed an early un-painted production figure at NYCC for Teela, any new updated sculpt images of it or the announced variant version?

Mattel: Not yet, but we hope to have one from the Horsemen soon.


TNI: Many fans are frustrated with the availability of the MOTUC figures; in fact many fans indicate they decided to pass on this line altogether, or if they started to collect now have said they stopped. Since there is no middle man here and the demand for these figures seems to be greater than the supply, why can't you just go back and make more of a figure when it sells out? I know it would take some time, but why not let fans know that you plan to offer more at a later date?

Mattel: As announced on Matty’s Facebook page, we will indeed go back into production on all of the sold out figures. Some sooner than later, others may be a while off. But we’ll make sure fans can get these figures. Just because a figure is sold out now does not mean it won’t be back a year from now.


TNI: I would like to go back to a question we asked in a previous Q&A where we asked about not being able to get MOTUC figures back to retail shelves and you said this wasn't a problem but instead Mattel chose not to sell them at retail because they wanted the MOTUC line to be their flagship line for Mattycollectors.com. Everyone I talked to says they would much rather go to their local retailer to find these (and likely at a lower price) than having to order these online. It's one thing if you couldn't get these to retail and opted to go the Mattycollector route as the only viable way to sell these to the consumer, but what is the logic of choosing this route over mass retail if retailer commitment is not a problem and may be the preferred method by your customers?

Mattel: MOTUC was always meant for MattyCollector so that we could create a core audience for the site and help establish MattyCollector as a premier website selling awesome collector aimed product.


TNI: I can't help but notice that I can go into almost any mass retail chain and find plenty of DCIH figures on shelves yet still find it very difficult to find the larger DCUC figures there. It has been said that it is distribution that is the problem for DCUC but why does this only seem to affect DCUC and not DCIH?

Mattel: A few of our retail partners ordered large quantities of early waves. We are working with them to get fresh product to shelves to speed up the sales on the newer IH figures!


TNI: When it comes to the DC stuff you are selling online, you have said many times on places like your Facebook page that the continued selling of these depends strictly on how much people buy. Since the continued success of the line relies so heavily on the purchasing habits of the collector, what steps are you taking to ensure you are getting those collectors the figures they want?

Mattel: We announce all of the sets about 3 months prior to the on sale date. Hopefully this is more than enough notice for collectors who want these figures!


TNI: Continuing along the lines of collector demand determining the success and longevity of these lines, what is Mattel actually doing to promote these and getting the word out? You started Mattycollector but then switched and started making all your updates on Facebook which many fans don't use. I've seen you display some print ads but every study I see shows that people use print media less and less and get their information online and on television. Besides trying to use word of mouth on message boards, are you doing any type of real online advertising campaigns for these lines on the major toy, video game, comic book, or movie websites where you would be able to reach millions of potential customers?

Mattel: We are also stepping up advertising for the lines taking out print ads in toy magazines and DC Comic books later this year. You will also see large promotions for MattyCollector at SDCC. Facebook will continue to be the place to read our daily blog. If you are not signed up, you might be missing out on the latest info. It is free so come on board!


TNI: You have mentioned starting to take pre-orders for future products; is that still in the works and can you say when that feature should begin?

Mattel: It is still in the works and we will announce more details and a start date in the next few months.


TNI: For your Ghostbusters line of figures, it has been said in the past that Bill Murray refused to give approval for his likeness to be used on action figures. Has this been a problem for Mattel and will we see a figure based on his character, if so when might we get our first look at the figure?

Mattel: We are very excited to do a figure of Peter and have indeed sent Sony sculpts. Once we get approval we will be able to announce a release date and reveal them to our fans.


We want to thank the folks at Mattel for taking the time to answer these questions for us today, and again if you have a follow-up question or a new question you would like to ask Mattel, let us know in our forums. It’s our goal with these company Q&A’s to try our best to get you straight answers to questions that concern you. The next Q&A session with Mattel will be posted on or about the 15th of this month. We also encourage you to go to Mattel's Facebook page and voice any praise, concerns or questions you might have for them there as well.



Comments...

Last 10 comments - ( Read All Posts )
Zor - 2009-04-03 @ 5:14 pm

Mattel and these other toy companies feel confident they could always have buyers for their products because of scalpers.

Unfortunately the same scalpers drive up the prices of these toys. No wonder thinking back in the 80's as a kid I could never find the transformers figure I wanted because some scalper have already beaten me to it buying multiple items. I would eventually find the toy in a hobby/toy specialty store (scalper) in a mall at an inflated rate.

There will always be buyers that is what scalpers are for because they will buy these products and sell them to the poor soul (usually a nice kid) for a profit on-line or on the street.

nonameshmo30 - 2009-04-02 @ 7:35 pm

Trust me i have said this befor i think we as collectors should band together no matter how painful and stop buying these figures for a while to show mattel or who ever how much of our money they get. I garentee the moms randomly shoping for toys for there kids wil not touch the gobs of money we put into it

But its so hard to get people to back up there barking.

Jeff - 2009-04-02 @ 4:25 pm

I think what history shows is that most fans are all bark and no bite. Take these SDCC exclusives as an example. People will #$#@#, complain and curse the ground Mattel walks on, but when push comes to shove those same people will be standing in line or waiting online to buy them and Mattel will sell them out in no time.

darthfoley - 2009-04-02 @ 4:17 pm
Quite a bit if I felt it was worth it.

None of it could counter what History has repeatedly proven.

You're right. Nothing that could be said on this forum could counter the historically proven fact that you can't please everybody every time...and, given my experience on toy forums over the years, toy collectors in particular.

Certainly there are things Mattel could improve, distribution probably main among them, but at the same time I think a whole lot of folks are pretty unrealistic in both what they expect and what they think Mattel 'owes' them.

nonameshmo30 - 2009-04-02 @ 3:23 pm
Man, Mattel can't win.

Sure they can. They just have to try harder.

I swear they could ship a solid gold figure of the individual's choice to each collector's house and somebody would still complain.

Now see if Mattel were to do this, this is how it would go...

1. Mattel would announce that they're going to ship a solid gold figure of the individual's choice to each collector's house. They would release fantastic looking pics and take amazing prototypes around to all the conventions.

2. A year and a half later, one guy in Malaysia and maybe another in the Philippines would get their figures and throw them up on ebay for a million bucks. Pics of the final figures are less promising than the prototypes. These figures are also noticeably smaller than other figures of this solid gold line. Mattel responds with, "Gold shrinks."

3. Collectors across the continental US would wonder where their figures are. On-line vigils are formed. Mattel promises in a Q&A that "they are aware of the problem and they are looking into correcting it."

4. Three guys in the Mid-west finally get their figures. Amazingly, all three solid gold figures have sloppy paint applications and break apart as soon as they're removed from their packages. Mattel responds to widespread grumblings with, "We're listening to the fans and we're looking into correcting the problem."

5. The wait for figures continues. Mattel announces that they're delaying any further releases because they're addressing the numerous quality control issues and "they want to get these figures just right!" Optimistic fans continue to wait.

6. Two guys in Nebraska get their figures. One breaks apart immediately after opening. The other has two right hands.

7. Frustrated fans continue to wait for their figures. Mattel responds by saying, "We're not responsible for distribution. The fans have to order these figures themselves."

8. Mattel announces a special limited addition solid SILVER action figure available ONLY through on-line retailers. There are no pics and Mattel announces that they'll only produce these figures if they get enough fans to blindly pre-order them at thirty bucks each!

9. Demoralized, the fans walk away from their expectations of these figures. Mattel cancels the program blaming a lack of fan support.

clapping and laughing... that pretty much hit the nail one the head but i will say this the QC issues have got some better the past 6 figures i have gotten have all been pretty good and the plastic feels stronger. But the rest of it right on

BigDawg - 2009-04-02 @ 3:13 pm
Quite a bit if I felt it was worth it.

None of it could counter what History has repeatedly proven.

darthfoley - 2009-04-02 @ 3:06 pm

Quite a bit if I felt it was worth it.

BigDawg - 2009-04-02 @ 2:57 pm

Yeah. I know. What can you say?

darthfoley - 2009-04-02 @ 2:49 pm
BigDawg - 2009-04-02 @ 2:38 pm
Man, Mattel can't win.

Sure they can. They just have to try harder.

I swear they could ship a solid gold figure of the individual's choice to each collector's house and somebody would still complain.

Now see if Mattel were to do this, this is how it would go...

1. Mattel would announce that they're going to ship a solid gold figure of the individual's choice to each collector's house. They would release fantastic looking pics and take amazing prototypes around to all the conventions.

2. A year and a half later, one guy in Malaysia and maybe another in the Philippines would get their figures and throw them up on ebay for a million bucks. Pics of the final figures are less promising than the prototypes. These figures are also noticeably smaller than other figures of this solid gold line. Mattel responds with, "Gold shrinks."

3. Collectors across the continental US would wonder where their figures are. On-line vigils are formed. Mattel promises in a Q&A that "they are aware of the problem and they are looking into correcting it."

4. Three guys in the Mid-west finally get their figures. Amazingly, all three solid gold figures have sloppy paint applications and break apart as soon as they're removed from their packages. Mattel responds to widespread grumblings with, "We're listening to the fans and we're looking into correcting the problem."

5. The wait for figures continues. Mattel announces that they're delaying any further releases because they're addressing the numerous quality control issues and "they want to get these figures just right!" Optimistic fans continue to wait.

6. Two guys in Nebraska get their figures. One breaks apart immediately after opening. The other has two right hands.

7. Frustrated fans continue to wait for their figures. Mattel responds by saying, "We're not responsible for distribution. The fans have to order these figures themselves."

8. Mattel announces a special limited addition solid SILVER action figure available ONLY through on-line retailers. There are no pics and Mattel announces that they'll only produce these figures if they get enough fans to blindly pre-order them at thirty bucks each!

9. Demoralized, the fans walk away from their expectations of these figures. Mattel cancels the program blaming a lack of fan support.

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