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 Post subject: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 1:21 pm 
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Reading through the Q and A that's just been posted about Mattels decision to make the Nu52 Shazam figure the SDCC exclusive, i was surprised that some of their answers were not immediately further addressed, so here's my take on their answers.....

Action Figure Insider: Why did Mattel choose a new 52 character as the SDCC 2013 exclusive as opposed to something “DC Classics?”

Toy Guru: Now that we offer DC Classic figures each month in Club Infinite Earth on Mattycollector.com, it just didn’t make as much sense to offer another Classic character at SDCC as those characters show up every month now. Before CIE, SDCC was a unique opportunity to offer a Classic character. Now we do this every month. For example, we just did Wally West in CIE. Could he have been a SDCC item? Sure. But it makes more sense to put him in the club. Offering a new 52 version of a character (and one never before done as a toy by anyone) made the SDCC offering different and unique from what we offer every month online now.

Me: Well, that doesn't actually explain why you didn't go with a classics character that 'wouldn't' be viable in the monthly sub due to it's size, tone, or randomness such as Doomsday/Swamp Thing (oversized, new tooling) or how Lobo was deemed to violent and unsuitable for retail and the Wonder Twins were niche characters.

AFi: In the past fans were told that the SDCC exclusive slot was for figures/characters that wouldn’t fit at retail (Lobo, Wonder Twins, Plastic Man, Swamp Thing), but it seems to most fans that New 52 Shazam would fit perfectly in the DC Unlimited retail line (he has enough media exposure being on JLU, Young Justice, several of the Direct to DVD projects). Why put a character that could easily sell at retail over another fan-demanded character?

TG: There are really two answers to that. One is that we did not have a retail slot for another DC figure in 2013, so there wasn’t a spot for Shazam at retail. The second answer harkens back to the answer to the first question above. Take for example a “fan demanded figure” like Huntress of Elongated Man. Both are offered in the club. Sure we could have made Huntress the SDCC figure, but she made more sense to offer in the monthly club. Offering a new 52 figure at SDCC was something different as New 52 figure are not in the online club and it made the SDCC item unique. Just as you mentioned in your question, Shazam is a figure that wouldn’t fit in the online line (because we don’t do New 52 in CIE) or the retail line (because no available slot) this year. Hence an ideal SDCC item.

Me: If you didn't have a retail slot for Nu52 Shazam, then why not wait till you are choosing your next wave and slot him in there? There was no online rush by fans that I'm aware of to have this version of the character available ASAP! Huntress and Wally West Flash are ideal for the Sub, but even those, as highly demanded but still regular figures wouldn't have been SDCC worthy as the Con exclusive should always be 'more' than what we get each month.


AFi: Many fans were hoping for an oversized figure that would require new tooling such as an oversized Doomsday or Granny Goodness. Were those characters ever considered for this slot?

TG: We’d love to do both Granny and Doomsday! The issue is they are both fully tool’d figures. We just don’t have enough current DC customers/sales currently to justify the logistics and cost for a fully tool’d figure either in the sub or at SDCC. Last year when we sold in the subs we noted a meter showing two levels. Level one was the bare min number of sub holders we needed to keep the lights on and actually do the 2013 sub as planned. Level two was the sign up level to explore more tooling and more skus for the future. We barely hit level one which is why you don’t see fully tool’d figures this year. Until we have the customer base to justify the tooling, fully tool’d figures will continue to be a challenge.

Me: I can't believe that the SDCC exclusive now has less of a budget than what was granted for the likes of Lobo or Swamp Thing. Both were new sculpts, and Swamp Thing took it even further by using new materials/technology. Since when has the number of people buying the Sub dictated the budget for SDCC exclusives? A highly fan requested figure like Doomsday would sell enough units to pay for the unique/higher tooling costs.

AFi: With the launch of the DC Unlimited retail line we are starting to assemble a Justice League with Batman, Superman, Hawkman, Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. They are all original sculpts with the costume lines etched into the figure. Shazam has that detail tampo printed on the figure. Why that change?


TG: It was a cost saving. As noted above, we are at the bare min for sub holders in 2013 and that means we have to be very conscious of our tooling and expenses to deliver product. The lower the run (of any consumer product) the higher the cost to produce. The more sub holders we have, the more tooling and resources we can apply to figures. It is a direct correlation. Fans really do vote with their purchase.


Me: But you state this is not part of the sub, so how does the sub budget effect your tooling costs on what is basically a retail item offered at a convention?


AFi: This year there doesn’t look to be any sort of “SDCC Only” element to any of the exclusives (Gleek, Plastic Man suitcase). Why that change across the board for all the 2013 exclusives?

TG: Basically the ever increasing cost of producing collector figures. Doing SDCC only versions of characters, or adding extra accessories continues to add costs to figures. As much as we love doing that, delivering a product at a reasonable price came first. The toy industry is a lot different than it was 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. Labor and raw materials continue to be two factors we have very little control over and continue to rise.

Me: Fair enough.

AFi: Does this mean we will be seeing more New 52 characters in the DCSC subscription either in 2013 or the possible 2014 line?

TG: We will not be doing New 52 figures in the online club.

Me: Great news, keep the sub for classics!!

AFi: There seems to be some figures that were not “fan demanded” in the DC sub this year such as the Red Hood. Some would argue that New 52 Shazam also falls into that category. What goes into to making the decision to fill SKU slots with characters that have never appeared and any fan’s wish list for the lines?

TG: I wish we could just run a poll and produce the top 12 fan requested figures as the monthly selection and call it a day, but it just doesn’t work that way. A lot comes down to tooling. As noted above, in 2013 we are at the bare min to keep the lights on and produce the online subscription program for DC figs. That means we have the bare min amount of resources and tooling. Huntress for example had a lot of new tooling and was very expensive. Figures like Red Hood or Wally West help balance that out with characters with min new parts. We would love to do more “fan demanded” figures like Granny or Doomsday as noted above, but we just don’t have the tooling with the current level of customers/sub holders. That being said, it you look at the 2012 and 2013 offerings to date, both online programs are overflowing with fan requested figures. We finished the Doom Patrol and Metal Men, offered fan demanded figs like Poison Ivy, Wally West, Elongated Man, Huntress, Freddy Freeman etc… We do listen to fans and try to make as many figures “fan demanded”, but tooling and resources also play a factor. Not every figure will be for every fan, but as a whole we are really proud of the lines ups. (and for the record, Red Hood does come up quite a lot on the forums! Maybe not as much as some others, but he isn’t exactly a character that no one has ever asked for.)

Me: Yeah the red hood does come up in many fan polls, but it's never been THAT version of the Red Hood, and all quite clearly state as such! And if tooling is your main factor in choosing which characters to produce, then you should look at some of the online lists of requested characters that use little to no new tooling by fans. We could list a whole years worth of figures that only require pre-exiting parts and new paint freeing up tooling cash for one fully tooled figure per year.

AFi: Any chance that this year when you announce the 2014 sub that fans could at least get a list of names of who you are considering to be in the line up? Even if we don’t see sculpts or know which version of the character we might get?

TG: We wish we could! The problem with that is things in the toy industry change all the time. One of the things fans/customers tend to find the most frustrating is when we announce a figure or accessories and that figure doesn’t make it to market. Heck, fans are still asking for Modern Red Tornado, Nekron’s weapon and Wonder Woman’s spear (a dropped accessory that was sculpted but not tool’d for the Wave 4 figure in 2009). We just don’t feel comfortable announcing the name of a figure that could potentially change.

Me: Sorry but BS. You always tell us how the toy industry works about a year and a half ahead of itself. Well it either does or it doesn't. You either hit that point of no return where all cost's and licensing agreements are accounted for and your locked in or you don't. If you don't know what your going to make and have ready for production by the time you announce subscriptions for the next years sub then how are you able to make them in the time frame that you state you work to?

AFi: Anything you can say to fans about the remaining figures in the 2013 sub and the proposed figures in the 2014 sub?

TG: I can tell you we probably have some of our hottest most demanded figures of the full year still to reveal for 2013! (at SDCC) And 2014? Boy is it an amazing line up. We will have the Jan-March figures to reveal at SDCC as well as our sub only 13th oversized figure. We will also be running the meter again this year noting level 1 as the bare min to hit to get the 2014 line to move forward “as is” and a higher level 2 that will let us potentially explore additional skus and more tooling for the future. As always, it is in the hands of fans. We can only make collector toys when there is an audience to purchase them. A few years back we had to cancel our Ghostbusters sub when we didn’t hit enough sub holders. We have an amazing line up for DC figs in 2014, and still some mind blowing figures to reveal for the rest of 2013. If we have enough sub holders to keep the line going, the best is yet to come!

Me: So you already know your 2014 line up? We are in May 13 now, so at what point in the year would January 14's figure be getting produced? We all love reveals, but being given the list of names ahead of the subscription dates would surely attract my sub buyers than it would turn away? I for one would love to see the line up listed, before I buy in, even if I didn't get to see a mock up of the figure until the various toy shows come around. Also, I still don't see why you can't run polls on your website allowing fans to pick their most demanded characters from a list complied by yourselves based on what is within your tooling budget.


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 2:03 pm 
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You have very valid points there. But as a whole, toy collecting now is not what it was 3-5 years ago. At the same time, I never would have thought to have the DC assortment of figures we have now.


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 2:37 pm 
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Wildcard wrote:
You have very valid points there. But as a whole, toy collecting now is not what it was 3-5 years ago. At the same time, I never would have thought to have the DC assortment of figures we have now.


True. I am well aware of the shift in the way figures are produced/costed out now compared to when I started collecting. I just felt when reading the answers above they sidestepped a bit too much, and just highlighted the issues more with their replies.

Toys are never going to be as cheap as they were in the past, I accept that. Costs have gone up, so prices will follow. But I still feel people that are as far in to DCUC as we all are will meet that price if the correct character choices are made and the quality doesn't decline.

We all spend what is essentially disposable income on these things, toys are not a necessity, but we should get the stuff we ask for made if they expect us to still give this money to them rather than spend it on something else.

This is not about feeling entitled, it's about delivering to your customers requests. If a shop ordered in the brand of cereal I specifically asked for, then my money would go to that shop and not the one that ordered in the brand they wanted to sell me instead.

I still have a long list of classic DC characters, mostly Batman allies/villains that I hope to see made. It would be interesting to see what the supposed drop in collectors of this line is now compared to when it was DCUC waves at retail.
As, to my mind, most of those who collected then would still be buying the sub and at least cherry picking from the two retail unlimited lines. And if those numbers are still the same, then I can't see why we get told the line is only scraping by when we know it did great as DCUC at retail.


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 3:55 pm 
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Quote:
TG: I wish we could just run a poll and produce the top 12 fan requested figures as the monthly selection and call it a day, but it just doesn’t work that way. A lot comes down to tooling. As noted above, in 2013 we are at the bare min to keep the lights on and produce the online subscription program for DC figs. That means we have the bare min amount of resources and tooling. Huntress for example had a lot of new tooling and was very expensive. Figures like Red Hood or Wally West help balance that out with characters with min new parts. We would love to do more “fan demanded” figures like Granny or Doomsday as noted above, but we just don’t have the tooling with the current level of customers/sub holders. That being said, it you look at the 2012 and 2013 offerings to date, both online programs are overflowing with fan requested figures. We finished the Doom Patrol and Metal Men, offered fan demanded figs like Poison Ivy, Wally West, Elongated Man, Huntress, Freddy Freeman etc… We do listen to fans and try to make as many figures “fan demanded”, but tooling and resources also play a factor. Not every figure will be for every fan, but as a whole we are really proud of the lines ups. (and for the record, Red Hood does come up quite a lot on the forums! Maybe not as much as some others, but he isn’t exactly a character that no one has ever asked for.)


Actually, yes...to a certain extent, it is that easy.
You guys (mattel) have a list of characters you can make that don't require new tooling. As I have suggested before, TELL US WHO THOSE FIGURES ARE AND LET US VOTE...but don't necessarily say you'll produce all 12. Take 6 of them and guarantee them, and then the others can be moved to the following year...knowing what we are getting, I think, would bump the sales #'s, and if we get those then you can surprise us in those other 6 slots with some figures you (mattel) want to do, and maybe 1 or 2 new tooled figures.

I don't see what is so hard to understand about that concept. Obviously it can be modified as needed so the fan demanded characters aren't all gone at first, but I'd be much more willing to buy it if I knew who was available to be made and had a greater say in it so we could get what we wanted out of the sub.

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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 4:07 pm 
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Bunger43 wrote:
Quote:
TG: I wish we could just run a poll and produce the top 12 fan requested figures as the monthly selection and call it a day, but it just doesn’t work that way. A lot comes down to tooling. As noted above, in 2013 we are at the bare min to keep the lights on and produce the online subscription program for DC figs. That means we have the bare min amount of resources and tooling. Huntress for example had a lot of new tooling and was very expensive. Figures like Red Hood or Wally West help balance that out with characters with min new parts. We would love to do more “fan demanded” figures like Granny or Doomsday as noted above, but we just don’t have the tooling with the current level of customers/sub holders. That being said, it you look at the 2012 and 2013 offerings to date, both online programs are overflowing with fan requested figures. We finished the Doom Patrol and Metal Men, offered fan demanded figs like Poison Ivy, Wally West, Elongated Man, Huntress, Freddy Freeman etc… We do listen to fans and try to make as many figures “fan demanded”, but tooling and resources also play a factor. Not every figure will be for every fan, but as a whole we are really proud of the lines ups. (and for the record, Red Hood does come up quite a lot on the forums! Maybe not as much as some others, but he isn’t exactly a character that no one has ever asked for.)


Actually, yes...to a certain extent, it is that easy.
You guys (mattel) have a list of characters you can make that don't require new tooling. As I have suggested before, TELL US WHO THOSE FIGURES ARE AND LET US VOTE...but don't necessarily say you'll produce all 12. Take 6 of them and guarantee them, and then the others can be moved to the following year...knowing what we are getting, I think, would bump the sales #'s, and if we get those then you can surprise us in those other 6 slots with some figures you (mattel) want to do, and maybe 1 or 2 new tooled figures.

I don't see what is so hard to understand about that concept.


There's nothing hard to understand about that concept, in fact it's a win win for them!! They know who they can make, they know who would be the cheapest to make, and if they let us choose from their list they know we will buy what we've asked for.

With all the sites devoted to toy collecting, all the collectors voicing their requests, Mattel are in the best position ever to give their customers what they want. It's seems to be just pure old fashioned pig headedness that stops them from doing so. The phrase, 'cutting your nose off to spite your face' springs to mind with Mattels mentality.

Like a classic Perez Nightwing.. New head (or the smiling wave 16 Robin head with painted mask spikes) on a Legion male body with Deadman collar and new paint would be awesome and cost next to nothing tooling wise. And thats just one example of hundreds of cheap and easy repaints. Geo Force would be cheap, as would Halo.


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 5:08 pm 
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I was with except for that last line. The last 3-4 waves of dcuc did not do all that great as retail. I still find the occasional super friends character on the shelves (not to mention golden pharoh).

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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 3:28 am 
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Shellhead wrote:
I was with except for that last line. The last 3-4 waves of dcuc did not do all that great as retail. I still find the occasional super friends character on the shelves (not to mention golden pharoh).


Two Walmarts in my area have several waves of DCUC on sale for 11 bucks...the one with Toyman, Bronze Tiger, etc

I also still see a ton of Hawk, Dove and that wave (minus Green Arrow) laying around too.

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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 4:30 am 
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Getting 1 Doomsday is not worth a year of repaints and new masks on figures we already have unless you want this line to be dead.


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 4:51 am 
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j1h15233 wrote:
Getting 1 Doomsday is not worth a year of repaints and new masks on figures we already have unless you want this line to be dead.


Well for me, the Wally West Flash is pretty much a repaint with just a new head. One or two unique parts or smart reuse of existing parts can create a brand new character. Like Ras AlGhul, he could be made from all existing parts with just a new head, and I don't see how getting characters like him would kill the line.


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 5:32 am 
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I just want to know why he keeps spelling "tooled" as "tool'd." Is there a joke that I'm not getting, or is this just the new way of spelling regular verbs in simple past tense?

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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 6:45 am 
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Here's what I don't get. What do sub holders have to do with what's being offered at SDCC? SDCC items were offered prior to a sub even being in existence & they always sold out.

And more importantly, if the sub is for us to get Classics...and that only classics will be offered...then why would those same sub holders want a New 52 Shazam figure? There is absolutely no logic in offering a New 52 figure to a demographic, i.e. sub holder, that are buying Classic characters on a monthly basis.

What am I missing?


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 8:02 am 
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They probably didn't have much of a SDCC exclusive development budget. I'm still amazed that is wasn't a Superman tie-in. Even an original Superman with the old logo makes more sense.

Or DC might have simply said "There has to be at least one NEW 52 character offering this year."

It's a bit of a head scratcher. :?

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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 11:47 am 
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j1h15233 wrote:
Getting 1 Doomsday is not worth a year of repaints and new masks on figures we already have unless you want this line to be dead.

That's all that JLU was. Getting the rare Toyman when every other figure was just a new head with a new paintjob on an existing buck, and I've been told over and over again how successful JLU was up until the very end. ;) At least there are usually some additional new parts included with the Horsemen figures.

I'm with elvis8batman. DC has so many spandex-clad characters that can be made - and made accurately - with just a standard buck plus a couple new parts that I don't think anyone would have a problem with it. If a figure like Wally West or Red Hood can get me a Larfleeze or a Huntress, I'm fine with it.

jamiwa3 wrote:
I just want to know why he keeps spelling "tooled" as "tool'd." Is there a joke that I'm not getting, or is this just the new way of spelling regular verbs in simple past tense?

The same reason he always that "their are no plans..." I'd very much like to proofread all of his posts for him so he comes across as more intelligent. I don't know how smart he is, but when your primary mode of communication to people is through typed messages, it's not the worst idea to try to spell correctly.


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 12:19 pm 
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I am actually starting to feel sorry for Matty with all this endless bitching I keep seeing. The people who subscribe to this line are the whiniest fussiest pickiest bunch I've ever seen. I don't know how they put up with it.

I've never signed up for the sub, because I don't want to blindly buy action figures ever. I picked up Starman when he went on sale, but the sub thing is just asking for trouble - there is no way they will ever make everybody happy every time. If they could make Doomsday or Granny who you guys keep harping for and have it be a success, why wouldn't they? No matter why they do it's always a bunch of whiners up in arms!


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 Post subject: Re: When answers create more questions....
PostPosted: Thu May 16, 2013 5:21 pm 
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j1h15233 wrote:
Getting 1 Doomsday is not worth a year of repaints and new masks on figures we already have unless you want this line to be dead.


As far as I'm concerned, the line is already dead. What % of people are absolutely thrilled with what all comes out?

They lost me with the horrid selection in year 1, and what they announced in year 2. Add that to the ever increasing prices and poor QC, my decision was made.

BUT...like so many DCUC waves...I was willing to risk rising prices and poor QC on figures I wanted, with the option of not having to purchase them if I didn't want too.

I understand where TG is coming from when he says he can't just let us decide. BUT...they know what characters they can make that would require minimal to no tooling, and they can give us the option to choose from those figures. We get options on who we want, more people vote, more people buy, the thermometer goes up, and new tooled figures are made.

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