The end of all things – a few words on the end of Mattycollector.com
Well. Here we are the end. I debated for a long time whether to write something like this. And as I kept coming back to the same thoughts over and over, I wanted a venue to get some ideas uncorked. I decided as this was the last day Mattycollector.com would be operating I would use the occasion to jot down one last blog on the subject.
First off, I’m writing this on Microsoft word since I know most of you love nothing more but to analyze every word I’ve ever written and identify the one type-o per paragraph. The lack of spell check on message boards as well as the quick nature of their use has lead to many a spelling mistake in my blogs over the years. I’m doing my best in my new and ongoing rolls to work on that (more on that in the end).
So. Here we are. The end of Mattycollector. What at a journey it has been. Without sounding like I am doing “revisionist” history, I’m proud to say Mattycollector.com was my baby. I pitched it originally to Tim Kilpin the SVP of Mattel back in 2007 when I brought in a giant box of NECA Staction MOTU “figures”, Legendary Heroes Savage Dragon toys, and a bunch of Indiana Jones figures I bought at Disneyland (before the 4th Indy film came out and we had “mainstream” Indy toys again”) as proof of market.
I was trying to make the point that there was a vibrant Adult Collector market out that that Mattel was not taking advantage of. It took 4 months to get that appointment on Tim’s calendar, but the meeting was a huge success. I think Tim saw a lot of similarities in me when I met with him. We both started out as writers for Mattel and much as he was plucked out of the writers room in the early 1980s to run marketing for the original MOTU line, my fate would follow the same path, guided by his hand.
I was pulled from my job in Hot Wheels copywriting (I came up with the names of basic cars and wrote the storylines on the back of track sets, so yes, I WAS/AM a professional writer and completely qualified to write those bios guys!) and was given 90 days to put together a business plan and a launch strategy. I was moved into Doug Wadleigh’s boys marketing group and given a fold out table and a really old computer literally against the back wall of the entire building.
Needless to say I was scared to death. A replacement had already been brought in for my Hot Wheels job, so I kinda knew that if this didn’t work I could potentially be ending my career at Mattel very quickly. But I really did believe in what I was doing and as an avid adult collector myself and a fan of many of the brands Matte owned or licensed, there was a lot of potential.
The main idea was that this new website could really help push the collectability of current Mattel brands at retail like CARS and Justice League. I LOVE Justice League and collected every single animated figure. At my job previous to Mattel in medical advertising I had the core team in a “butterfly case” pinned to my wall in my office. To be working on JL figures was a dream come true.
I was also a HUGE MOTU fan since childhood and since that brand was currently “dead” at Mattel I threw it in as a wild card that in between selling deluxe Lightning McQueens and obscure DC heroes to support the retail lines we might sell one or two MOTU figures too. The original plan was to keep the 200X line going (which I collector all of!). Tooling (toy molds) is incredibly expensive so if we could reuse parts from the 200X line it would help ensure the financial feasibility of this new line.
The first figures was going to be King Grayskull using the old 200X Ice Armor He-Man buck. But as fate would have it, while I was working in the marketing group in El Segundo to set up the site that would become Mattycollector.com, the Four Horsemen in New Jersey completely independently created a brand new “Marvel Legends” style body buck they felt could work as a new MOTU line. Once we saw it, all ideas to reuse 200X bodies went out the window and we switched over to an all new collector scale for MOTU that would complement the Pixar Cars and DC JL figures that would be 80% of this new site’s business.
Needless to say, things went a little opposite to that and MOTUC actually wound up being the backbone to the site and would go on to define Mattycollector.com for years.
It was a thrill ride to run the site for as long as I did, 2007-2014, but I also knew the minute I left Mattel the site would be on its way over. Basically because I was always running the site and all fan interaction, product scheduling and logistics in my spare time AFTER finished my regular job. Mattycollector.com was only my official job at Mattel for about 5 months of 2013. Other than that, it was always a passion project I was allowed to run in my spare time, as long as I got my real work done first (i.e. DC theatrical lines like Green Lantern and Superman Returns). I kinda knew that without someone willing to work late and run the site in their off hours and weekends that the chance of it continuing after I left was slim. While we all love Mattycollector.com, for a 7 billion dollar company like Mattel, it was just too small of an initiative.
But hey, for 8 glorious years we got some amazing toys. I think for me, the personal highlights (beyond the celebs and toy folks I got to meet and become friends with – I’ll tell the story of Stan Lee being in the room next to me at SDCC another time…) was getting to work on toys that I personally wanted to collect. Finishing the vintage MOTU line in Classics, getting Castle Grayskull made despite everything that we had going against that happening, and getting to make an affordably priced BTTF Hoverboard (despite fans being upset that it didn’t defy gravity) were huge highlights. I still get emails from fans with links to experimental mag-lift technology that costs thousands if not millions to make work. But they seem to miss on the fact that this was a $120.00 toy! Even the prop used in the 80's cost many hundred if not thousands each to make. And no two of the 30 made for the film looked exactly a like. So the idea that they could "make them in 1987 but not now" is an illogical argument. Making one-off hand made props and mass produced toys is a completely different process and cost structure and shame on those who could not see the difference. This was a tough one to please everyone but it is still one of my top three toys ever.
I know that over the years there were lot of issues with the site, a bit one being the shipping and costs. And honestly, while I found that frustrating too, it was kinda one of those, “well the other option is we could NOT make these toys” and I think A LOT of fans missed
BUT, on a happy note. We got a ton of amazing product over the years, we had an amazing community online and at cons that came together to talk, laugh, collect and enjoy product. It was some of the best times of my life. I got married to the woman of my dreams, had a beautiful brilliant daughter named after a Star Wars princess, moved into a real home; a lot of big life goals happened while I was running Mattycollector.com. Heck, and I will “go there”; I got to complete the action figure collecting version of an EGOT by getting a figure made of me, named for me and created by me. For all the hours and hours I put in my off time to make this site happen, I will happily say I deserved that. Mighty Spector lives! Screw the haters. ;-P
So where do we all go from here? Well, I did want to use this blog to also announce my latest move. I was recently contacted by the very folks who supported me in creating Mattycollector.com at Mattel, namely Doug Wadleigh from marketing and David Voss from design to come over to their current company and run a collector based online e-commerce site. It’s a little company you may have heard of, LOOT CRATE, and for the last month I have been their director of E Commerce overseeing the LOOT VAULT program which is where older limited stock from past crates is available and major new initiatives are about to take place. It is familiar ground and great to be working with many of the very talented folks who supported me at Mattel and lead to the creation of Mattycollector.com. Getting the band back together!
I’ll also finally be joining the world of Twitter as @therealToyGuru and I look forward to sharing more thoughts, fun and interaction on social meeting with all my toy friends and haters.
I hope you have all enjoyed your collections as much as I have. Getting to found and run Mattycollector.com has been one of the coolest professional experiences. And the best part is I am only getting warmed up. I couldn’t have been more excited to be contacted by my former co workers and personally asked to come over to LOOT CRATE to begin again. It’s a fantastic company and honestly I don’t think I have enjoyed myself this much in years. The best is yet to come.
May all your collections build high, your shipping remain low, and most of all enjoy what you collect. This is a hobby after all and should be fun. Thanks for hanging in over the years through the ups and downs. I wish Mattel all the luck in the world with all future endeavors. Huge thanks to Lou in Mattel’s IT group. Eve and Tara with Golden Summit, Scott at Digital River and Brandon, Terry, Bill and others for being some of the best design partners anyone could ask for. And of course the Four Horsemen for being amazing friends, partners and the most talented sculptors in the industry.
Mattycollector.com was a labor of love in every sense of the word. May it be remembered fondly and the toys it produced enjoyed for years to come.
Until next time, for now off to Violin Land....
Scott (@therealToyGuru) Neitlich