Earlier this week we posted Part 1 of our exclusive interview with Scott aka Toy Guru about Mattel’s Justice League Unlimited line. After it was announced that there would not be a SDCC exclusive for JLU fans had a lot of questions about the future of the line. We put together a list of questions that we wanted to know about the line. In this second half of the interview we try to get deeper into the ‘nuts and bolts’ of how the line works and why decisions of what characters end up in the line.
One item of note- In one of the questions I ask about the possibilities of repaints such as a Barry Allen Flash and Superman from the future/Batman Beyond universe and Scott does not mention that these are on the way. I submitted the questions three days before those figures leaked on ebay. This could be one of two things 1. Mattel was holding this information to announce at SDCC and didn’t know they would leak. Or 2. Scott just didn’t remember them because those figures were designed and put into production roughly 12-18 months ago and he’s worked on about one hundred other figures in multiple lines since then.
The other interesting news in the JLU world is that another unannounced production sample has emerged this week from overseas on Ebay. The sample was of Destroyer Darkseid as seen from the final episodes of JLU. There is much speculation in the collecting community as to where we will see that figure; single carded, 3-pack or 6-pack.
Here is part 2 of our Justice League Unlimited interview:
AFi: If you must do re-released of the “Big 7” and of there will be the same character released in the same assortment (such as the recent John Stewart) can we see more, different repaints that make sense?
We’re buying the same straight repaints over and over. New repaints (with no new tooling would be great, such as John Stewart in the Mosaic outfit, Kyle Rayner in other GL outfits, Superman from the Batman Beyond Universe, Superman with a lighter blue, Flash painted like Barry Allen. If we have to rebuy those characters can we get new paint decos we don’t already have? You have already started this trend with the new Martian Manhunter (with a new head! Thanks!), the new Atom, show accurate Dr. Fate, Green Arrow and Red Tornado.
TG: Even doing repaints costs money and time. It is often a lot easier to do a straight re-release to keep the line within budget. What is nice is that we now have some variety in the “Big Seven,” such as a new deco Martian Manhunter and a few new show-accurate Batman variants that we can re-release.
AFi: On that same note how much cost difference, in general, is just a repaint of a figure as opposed to a figure that would need new tooling? (Not looking for an actual number, just really is it more cost effective?)
TG: New tools always cost the most amount of money. The more new parts, the more expensive. Repaints are less expensive but still have a cost attached to them. Straight re-releases are the least expensive and are often needed to keep a line’s overall costs low.
AFi: Will we ever see a new head and longer legs for Superman? He’s always looking down and too small to fit in properly. He’s DC’s flagship character.
TG: This is a possibility. While we know new Superman parts and a new female buck are high on fans wish lists, we have such a limited tooling budget that we’d honestly prefer to invest money into 100% new heads and capes for brand 100% new character rather then make slight adjustments to existing figures that kids may not recognize; after all, this line must appeal to kids as well as collectors to remain viable at retail.
AFi: The Kandor, Wonder Pig and Plastic girder accessories are great! Will we see more of that? Things like Ace the Bathound, Krypto, Streaky, Bat-mite, Mr. Myx, baby Etrigan, and the JLU in their kid forms?
TG: Yes, we want to keep exciting accessories coming to help spice up re-releases. Most of the items you have suggested have come up at one time or another. Only time will tell if these get released or not.
AFi: Is there really anything to be done about distribution? We know you don’t control when Target stores put items on shelves but it has happened more than once that new product has been put out in December just as Target is clearancing out their holiday toy isles. That caused many collectors to miss out on recent 3-packs and 6-packs.
TG: Honestly, we were really hoping the online packs would be a bigger hit since this is the best way to get JLU figures straight to fans. At the end of the day not one pack did the numbers we needed to see. We are always working with retailers to get more JLU out to the aisles, but outside of Mattycollector.com even Mattel has little control over this.
AFi: Apart from buying new product when they can find it, what is the best way that fans can support the JLU line?
TG: Keep posting and spreading the news. The more fans we have of the line, the more products we can make and sell.
AFi: How do you decide which figures to put in the line? We have been getting a mix between in show figures and repaints and non show figures. What is the science? Why do some 3 packs have 1 new figure and some have 3? Can’t they all have 3?
TG: In addition to examining a line’s total budget, we also consider the total number of SKUs that need to be produced so that there are enough new SKUs on pegs throughout the year.
If we put three all-new figures in every pack we would be left with very little to showcase through the rest of the year. By including one or two new figures per pack, whether re-paints or new tools both of which still costs us money and time, we are able to create more packs for the year.
When it comes to selecting who goes in the line, we look VERY closely at fan lists online. We are making a deliberate attempt to get to all the in-show characters as well as
the top non-show requests. Keep in mind that if we did all 10 of the “Top 10” requested figures within a single year, who would we include in the next year? We are committed to keeping JLU going year after year and our deliberate attempts to spread out fan requests help us to ensure the line does not end anytime soon.
So just because you are not seeing your favorite figure this year does not mean it won’t show up down the line. I know a lot of fans are worried that every new pack could be the very last one, but that is simply not the case. We are huge fans of JLU and will do all we can to keep figures coming as long as fans are supporting the line!
Thank you so much to Mattel and Scott/ToyGuru for agreeing to do this for Justice League fans.
If you have follow up questions about the JLU line make sure you post them in our Mattel Q&A thread. I always find it a bit strange when after all the websites post their bi-monthly Q&A’s, inevitalbly some fan will post "Once again, No JLU questions!" If you have a question about the JLU line: ASK IT. We have a place just for your questions. It’s this thread here.
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