You might remember last year I made an appeal, followed by two of my infamous open letters in support of MattyCollector.com’s Club Infinite Earths, which was created to fill the void left by the de facto cancellation of DC Universe Classics at retail. I, of course, did subscribe. I also subscribed to Club Eternia and Club Ecto-1.
I left the Voltron sub alone.
Now, it’s time to subscribe again and I’ve decided against both the DC and Masters of the Universe clubs. My reasons are different for each club. Let’s handle the easy one first.
I’m not going to renew my Club Infinite Earths subscription because there are simply not enough characters I want coming out of it. I kept Jay Garrick. I kept Metron. I’ll keep Poison Ivy and Black Mask. That’s it. Everything else gets eBayed. Looking ahead to next year, there’s no one I want from the figures announced, so that’s pretty much that. I’m not going to subscribe again on the off chance there’s a character I want somewhere in the second half of 2013.
Plus, let’s be honest, the DC sub is as dead as Julius Caesar, so it’s a moot point.
Which brings me to, and ties into, the other Matty sub, the one everyone’s talking about, Club Eternia.
Before we go any further, let’s establish a few things. First, what you’re about to read is based on my experience and my opinion. Second, nothing I’m about to say is meant to harm anyone or anything.
Ok? Here we go.
I subscribed to Club Eternia last year and almost immediately regretted it. I didn’t like many of the characters coming to the sub and, after thinking about it long and hard, I realized what the hell kind of Masters of the Universe fan I am. With that in mind, I’ve eBayed every 2012 Club Eternia figure I’ve received and the only one I intend to keep is Procrustus. That’s not an attack on the line as a whole, it’s me deciding what I like and what I don’t.
That said, there’s more on character selection in a bit.
Looking ahead, the only figure announced for 2013 I want is, no surprise, Ram Mam, but I’m not re-subscribing just to get him.
So, I’m out. I’ll just get Ram Man on day of sale. Simple enough, right?
Well, not at all, as it turns out, and here’s where the real discussion begins.
The 2013 Club Eternia subscription sales are, to date, awful. They are so bad, in fact, we’ve learned this week the line will likely be cancelled outright if the threshold for subscriptions, which, from what I’ve read, needs to reach 2012 level, is not met.
That’s quite a precipitous fall from grace, isn’t it?
Why is this happening? I’ve just told you why I’m not going to renew, but where has everyone else gone?
Here is why I think people are turning away from Club Eternia, and Masters of the Universe Classics in general.
It’s fun if you read these in Plinkett voice, by the way.
But I digress…
1. The Price Increase
Single-carded MOTUC subscription figures are going up from $20 to $25. That’s a big jump, especially given the economic climate and diminishing disposable income. These are, essentially, useless hunks of plastic, after all, and $25 a go is a lot for any one figure. However, as you’ll soon see, I don’t think the price increase itself is driving people away, it’s the price increase in conjunction with every that follows below.
2. Digital River
I’m not going to go bit by bit here, you know what the problems are. Digital River has been an unmitigated disaster since MattyCollector.com opened its virtual doors. Ordering is hard, tracking is hard, shipping is hard, customer service is nonexistent, and Mattel has done just about nothing about any of it since 2008. Digital River, however they handle business elsewhere, has been awful in its marriage with Mattel.
3. Quality Control
He-Man’s shoulders. Roboto’s shoulders. Roboto’s torso. The Goddess’s imploding crotch. Stinkor’s forearms. And if one of your other figures ships with two left legs or an ass when its head should be, don’t bother to ask for a replacement. They’re gone.
4. The Subscription Itself
To me, this is the big one. Club Eternia started as a way for collectors to get every MOTUC figure without wading through the firestorm of ugh that is Digital River. According to Mattel, it is now the only way to get any MOTUC figures at all, and if you’re not willing to commit hundreds of dollars to unknown figures, some of which you quite likely don’t want, you get nothing.
That’s not fair.
You can’t take something that was conceived as a convenience, force people into it, and then tell them it’s their lack of commitment putting your product in jeopardy. The subscription was great for people who wanted to be all in, but now Mattel is telling people they have to be all in. Step back for two seconds and think about how absurd that is. While you’re stepped-back, ask yourself why this is the way things are in the first place. The Mattel spin is the subscription is the only way to get upper management to fund MOTUC. The only way.
It’s the only way!
Where was I?
So, you have to pay more to get the same figures, most of which are unknown to you at time of purchase, some of which you almost certainly won’t want, and, if something is wrong with any of your figures, yeah, you’re pretty much boned on a replacement.
Sound good so far?
Expanding on one aspect of the above a bit further; including the 30th Anniversary sub-line, 45% of the single-carded MOTUC figures released so far were never in the vintage Masters of the Universe line.
I think that’s a problem.
So, you’ve got cost feeding into all the technical problems feeding into all the quality control problems and now Mattel is telling you have to eat all that and commit to a full year’s worth of figures, largely unknown, right now if you want any further Masters of the Universe Classics at all.
What else could be bothering you?
5. Scott “Toy Guru” Neitlich
Let me say two things straight away. First, I don’t think Toy Guru would make this list is it wasn’t for the four items above. Second, I don’t know Scott, but he’s always seemed like a nice guy to me and I have no doubt he’s passionate about both Masters of the Universe and the toy industry in general.
I have never felt Scott was the best public advocate for the lines he oversees. His written communication is often fraught with mistakes, he’s been short, intentionally or unintentionally, with people on the MattyCollector message boards and, in times like these, he tends to be the source of a torrential flow of contradictory information. I’m sure the people over his head are not easy to deal with, and I know toy nerds can be impossible to deal with, but, and again, this is my perception, Scott often seems a few steps behind, or a few steps removed, from collectors’ concerns and product deficiencies.
I also think he’s entirely too visible and it’s rubbing people the wrong way.
Scott’s doing videos, he’s on TV, he’s got his face on MattyCollector, he’s got his face on a MOTUC figure, and he’s had a history of taking playful shots at the fanbase via tee-shirt. None of these things are inherently bad but, again, I think when you combine all of the things we’ve talked about above with a video this week in which Scott essentially says, hey, you’re in or you’re out, what can I tell you? I can see people thinking there might be a little more concern with celebrity than with getting any of a number of things right.
So, maybe it’s unfair, but I don’t think this is a complete discussion if Scott isn’t mentioned. I think he is a factor, however small, in this equation.
So, that’s about it. I hope all parties concerned can take something from this, but really I just wanted to share my thoughts with you in case you were struggling with the decision to subscribe. I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t subscribe, but now you know why I didn’t and why I think Masters of the Universe Classics is in the mess it’s currently in.
Gut feeling? The sub fails and Ram Man is put up for pre-order at $45 followed by other previously announced figures if Ram Man succeeds.
But we’ll see.
UPDATE: So, as you know, by now, both my predictions were wrong. The Masters of the Universe Classics and DC Universe Classics subscriptions met their minimums and will proceed into 2013. Enjoy your figures, everyone.
And get ready for the same exact thing to happen again next year.