Another open letter to my friend Matty
March 15, 2010

Dear Matty,

You stopped getting my money last month, so this is for everyone who would still like to do business with you despite your best efforts.

People reported having Moss Man in their cart more than 10 minutes before the sale date.  The earliest instance I found was 11:48am EST.

Starting at 12:00pm EST, customers reported Moss Man as sold out.

At 12:05pm EST, your forum representative reported both versions of Moss Man were indeed sold out.

We all know the shopping cart mechanism on is meaningless.  You know it too; that’s why you posted a guarantee of FUBAR on 12 March.  So, that’s nothing new.  My questions to you for this month are:

Why were customers allowed to purchase figures prior to the 12:00pm EST on-sale date?

Why, regardless of when the figures are sold, are there so few Masters of the Universe Classics figures available to non-subscribers*?

Why, if there are as few figures available to non-subscribers as there appear to be, are individual customers allowed to order as many of 10 copies of a given figure?

Thank you very much for your attention.  I look forward to your answers below, or somewhere prominent on the Internet.

Your Friend,


*I will remind unfamiliar readers subscribers are people who committed to pay for 12 2010 Masters of the Universe Classics figures in August 2009, to be released monthly, sight-unseen, and, in the case of minimally half the figures, without any prior knowledge of what characters will be released.  That is, they paid in August 2009 for several figures they will only become aware of during the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con.  Subscribers have no option to pass on individual figures.  Subscriptions were non-refundable in the event a subscriber no longer wishes to receive figures.

Jason "JJJason" Chirevas
Jason Chirevas is a toy collector whether he likes it or not (and he often doesn't). This former Would've-Been Action Hero is as interested in the humanity, psychology, and psychosis of collecting as he is in the action figures themselves. Fun guy.
Read other articles by Jason "JJJason" Chirevas.





  • Newton says:

    I’m sure he’ll get right back to you on that. As sad as this is, you’re addressing a fictional character with your questions. I think that pretty much says it all. Got a problem with MOTU? You have to talk to a damned cartoon. So yeah, I don’t think they care. If they did they would have fixed this a YEAR ago when trouble first started brewing and they realized they had greatly underestimated the demand for the figures.

  • JuliusMarx says:

    I’m curious about the people who say they got to put items in their cart “early.” According to what clock? Their computer clock? Their watch? Some clock on the wall?
    I would think everything hinged on what time the server clocks at DR are set to for it to go live. So if YOUR clock was set early it would look like you put it in your cart early…but not really true.

    As for the “Why so few non-subscription figures” Mattel has said several times that they had SO many more 2010 subscriptions than 2009 subscriptions that it looked to them that most fans had bought into the 2010 sub. So they were conservative on the production of addition figures. They learned very quickly that there were still a LOT of non-sub fans. Figure production runs 12-18 ahead no, so the first 2010 figure they could really change the production numbers on was She-Ra.

    • Wes GRogan says:

      We live in a world where time on computers is consistently kept up to date thanks to internet time updating. I’m religious about updating mine, and five minutes before noon Eastern time, I was halfway through the process of buying my Stratos figure. It was early.

    • Newton says:

      My problem with this is that they had to have known that even though subscriptions were up, LOTS of people were posting on forums, blogs, etc that they weren’t going to be bullied into the subscription. Perhaps Mattel was attempting to prove those folks wrong, but if that’s the case it’s a silly practice. I’m mostly baffled that they are so worried about overordering when they’ve never even come close to meeting the demand. How big is the demand? We have no real idea because Mattel has never produced a figure to a quantity that has come close to gaging. They often complain that He-Man sold slowly at first, but from a business standpoint, he actually sold out very quickly. Not to mention that the site was new then and no one knew if the line was going to even continue, etc. Gaging the line based off of that was one thing at that time, but now they should be making a popular figure to test the demand… Or you know, TAKE PREORDERS so they could see what kind of numbers that would get. A lot of people would likely sign up to be spend $30 to be guarnteed one particular figure, but people are much more hesitant to lock themselves into a contract to pay $300-$400 on a set of figures that they have no idea what they’re buying.

  • abawaku says:

    I haven’t bought a single one of the new MOTU figures. Every time I see a review I think, Wow! Those look great! And then I think: Oh, of course. It’s not like you can REALLY buy them. They’re just as out of reach as, say, Hot Toys’ super deluxe figures that retail for $150 or more a pop. They’re just not for regular collectors. Sooner or later Mattel will figure out that they’re screwing themselves by not making their product more widely available (to the general public I mean–scalpers seem to be getting them just fine). And when they eventually mass market these, as they surely will, then they’ll be as hard to find as DCUC. In short, why bother?

  • blastman says:

    Why was mattel even showing He Man at toyfair in the first place, I thought that was where toy companies showed retailers their wares for the next xmas season. Makes me think this is all one big experiment to get the line into retail. I think all these rabid fans are in for a rude awakening, when someday soon big box retailers will have pegs and pegs of these figures much cheaper than what Matty is charging.
    Just my thoughts.


  • Jason Jason Geyer says:

    They showed a lot of exclusive/Matty toys at TF this year because that was a collector event for the press. In years past they’ve gotten slammed for not showing much new stuff at TF, so this year they showed a lot of new stuff.

    The only question that I think is really valid here (in light of how many times the others have been addressed, albeit maybe not to your satisfaction) is the one on limits; if you KNOW that each month you’re selling out and your quantities are so far below where you thought they’d be, why on Earth keep such a high limit? Especially when you practice limits at SDCC to prevent this type of hoarding?

    I think at base they are still terrified to NOT sell out, and so hedge their bets each month by letting resellers go to town if they can fill their carts. I think if they did a real limit (2 per customer) then they’d be afraid that the ebay crowd just wouldn’t show up and they’d be stuck with lots of extra product.

  • Hourman says:

    Well, regardless of whether its Matty’s fault, as JJJason suggests, or its my fault for just being too stupid to read a clock, as Julius Marx seems to imply, for the second month in a row, I ended up with nothing – this, despite me having been on the site before noon (my clock) waiting for the sale to start, having a figure in my cart at 12:04 (my clock, after waiting for four minutes until the little white courtesy screen perpetually refreshed itself) and when being told said figure was sold out at 12:06 (again, when the little white courtesy screen stopped refreshing itself). So if I *am* just too stupid to read a clock or if I’m too stupid to have had the foresight to subscribe to a dozen non-refundable, non-opt-out-able figures a year in advance, I still end up with nothing compared to the guys with T-1 connections who load up with 10 of everything so they can sell 9 of them and have the cash to buy 10 more of something else next month.

  • chad says:

    that is the main reason i have not bought the motu figures at all not worth the hassle since Mattel keeps proving they have not learn though they are trying from their mistakes since the last time with some fans not winding up with battle cat.looks like with the 2002 attempt once again Mattel seems to be sending the return of motu off the tracks and back to the grave its trying to come back from where at least if it ever goes to retail fans may have a better chance sine retails will want to keep stuff they know sells in stock. re order and order. Mattel is showing that its still putting band aids on motu wounds that need more power full patching.

  • Mario says:

    Prior to attending SDCC’09, I, like everyone else, had to worry every month about getting my MOTUC figs. I missed some figs & got annoyed, but I didn’t clamor for Mattel’s head. I waited patiently & bought the figs I missed when the fervor of their newness died down, quite often for cheaper. Then I saw the prototype for Trap-Jaw. I just knew that it was time to take things a step further, I.E, subscribe.

    Why? Because I knew that Mattel would not fix their “problems”, & I knew that Trap-Jaw day, whenever it would come to be, would be hell, which, as we all know, turned out to be just that. If a company of such standing can’t get it right after two or three months, with it’s in-house, flagship line, then it’s time to work around it, because it’s clear that they’ll never get it right using conventional means. Complaining, however satisfying it may be, amounts to nothing. Even when it sometimes does, people just find something else to bitch about.

    My point is this; if you’re a fan of the toys, wouldn’t you want to make absolutely certain that you’d be able to get your stinking paws on them? If the answer is yes, then why not subscribe? The subscription was the ONLY GUARANTEE that Mattel made that you’d get your figures. So again I ask, why not do it? Now, if you wanna tell me that you didn’t get a sub because you don’t like buying blindly, I say hogwash. First off, what blindly? The line already existed, twice, so you know what’s coming, you just don’t know when. Secondly, you know that you can re-sell unwanted figs at cost, & they’ll be off your hands in no time & none of your money will be lost. I’ll be doing that with Marzo & trust me, I wasn’t pissed when he was announced & I’m not worried of him being a “peg-warmer” in my collection. None of them will. So folks, put that argument to rest. Furthermore, I don’t see this line as a birthright. I see it as a privilege that one day may no longer be available, wether for the inadequacies of the company producing them, or for the fickleness of the “fans” deciding to no longer CONDITIONALLY “support” it.

    So folks, if you like the toys enough, you’ll deal with the difficulties of acquiring them, because the pleasure they give, in my own, & clearly, many peoples opinion, far outweighs the heartache they can, have & will continue to cause. If you don’t like them enough, then turn the page & collect something else. Save yourself the fucking aggravation. It really makes the online toy community look like a spoiled brat.

    • Wes GRogan says:

      You’re forgetting another possible reason for not getting the subscription. As a victim of the economy crash just now getting my feet back under me after being nearly homeless for almost a year, I couldn’t guarantee that I’d have the money to spare each month to buy one of the figures, so I had to pass on the subscription. I wasn’t worried about the blind buying. All of the figures are quality. I simply could not go for the subscription without running the risk of overdrafting my bank and incurring $300 fees because of it, as banks are wont to do. Now, strangely enough, I’m now reaching a point where I can be sure that I’d be able to afford a figure a month and I’ll have to wait until the next time Mattel deems it possible for me to sign up for a subscription, but rumors are that the new subscription will be for all figures AND bonus figures, which again I won’t be able to guarantee I’ll be able to afford. So yeah, there are other reasons to not get the blessed and almighty subscription.

    • Wes GRogan says:

      PS – Everything in this world is conditionally supported. That’s a tenant of the free market, capitalist system. The buyer votes with his wallet. Or so I’ve been told repeatedly over the past few years. I should continue to give my money to a company that forces me to jump through hoops to buy their products, or should I instead take that money to another company that provides it toys without those conditions on them? Thanks for the advice, but I don’t think I want to buy into so much of the sheep mentality that I thank companies for kicking me and then ask them to do it again. If they want my money and I want their product, both ends have to be satisfied that it’s worth it. I’ll happily keep it that way and continue to point out when there are problems with the system, and what aspects are keeping me from sharing my money, in the hopes that it might improve the system. If it doesn’t, I’ll move on to buying something else instead. That’s my right in the capitalistic system, and I’ll happily hold onto it if it’s all the same to you.

  • Shellhead says:

    I won’t use the subscription option because I only want certain figures. Plus, it’s ridiculous that you can’t combine shipping with other items that might interest you that particular month. Plus, some figures (like Battlecat) aren’t part of the subscription to begin with.

    How about a pre-order system? Show us something six months in advance and adjust the order up or down as the orders come in.

  • JSAvsINFINITY says:

    I bought a few MotU figs here and there but the difficulty
    outweighs the necessity for me so now if I can’t get them
    it’s no big deal for me.

    But I do feel bad for those that really want them and can’t get
    them off the Matty site.That’s just poor business planning on
    Mattel’s part.

    After all these years they really should have a better grasp on
    the collecting community and maximize their profits
    instead of just guessing and making deals that only
    benefit scalpers.

    This applies for both MotU and DCUC.

  • George says:

    There is no reason to have a limit of 10 figures. Limit it to two. There’s more for non-subscribers right there. I’d like to see Matty justify why 10 is suitable, especially when they know everything sells out & the demand is there. Limit it to 2 per individual & you’ll still get the sell outs.

    Off topic a bit, but does anybody have a pic of the “Map of Eternia” they’re talking about with Wun-Darr? I have no idea what that is & would just like to see what they mean.

  • GLsector666 says:

    They can very easily have the first 24 hour window be a limit of 2, then change the limit to 10 after that. That’s assuming Mattel cares about anything else besides making the sale…

  • KingYuk says:

    I bought into the subscription program because I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with this nonsense anymore. But had I known that they would be releasing an additional figure or figures at the same time I wouldn’t had bothered. Now I STILL have to sign on to their website at 12pm and try and buy other items and get an extra shipping charge for my subscription figure! Kind of defeated the purpose of the whole program.

    They should suspend new sales at until they get the bugs worked out. To keep doing this month after month just makes things worse.

  • Lightso says:

    Totally agree with Hourman and Wes GRogan. My instance with Mossman was a little different I guess. I clicked on the item when it said add to cart but it wouldn’t add it to my cart. I had to go back twice to try again and by then it was out of stock of course. Subscribers and non-Mossman/Trapjaw/Battlecat fans can bemoan the naysayers all they want but when a buying system online is as ridiculous as this one is you have to laugh. Without a doubt, Mattel lost money, not just in units they could have sold but they are breaking the spirit of buying the line in general.
    I have ordered a lot of Sideshow Toys collectables over the years and never had the weird situations come up that I have with Matty. Yeah, they sell out in seconds too, but if I get one into my cart, it stays there. Also they have a great little thing called a wait list. What Mattel doesn’t seem to understand and Sideshow understands very well, is if you offer a preorder sale, you give only a general time frame for release in case production gets stuck. Then, for unexpected sales above and beyond, you offer a wait list. Months later, when they’re produced, a lot of wait list customers get their figures. Sideshow has been very successful doing it this way for years now. Since Matty is acting like a small independant wing of Mattel, they could learn a thing or two.

  • woodchuckcouldchuckwould says:

    Man, I swear we complain but Matty loves us! Without us, Matty’s 4H lines wouldn’t be half the sucess that they are.

    Contacting them directly either through Digital River/Mattycollector Facebook/Matty forums, and they still don’t pay attention! This is essentially what happens with loss leader type lines. The company can take a hit not making a profit. Its only a small percentage of their business and the complaints get ignored. They can afford to make mistakes from a financial standpoint, and they still won’t care.

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