Kalibak and the Forty Bills
August 19, 2009

KalibakOkay, so not quite $40, but $38.70. That’s what you want from me for a Justice League Unlimited four-pack, Mattel. And that was cool, at least until you dove headfirst into the deep end of the crazy pool with some of the character selections.

For a team that was so concerned about the sales of a pack with a JLU Clock King and TNBA Harley Quinn, Bane, and Scarecrow, you guys really made a couple of odd choices with the Doom Patrol and Justice Guild sets. Even an army builder pack of four identical Parademon figures would have made more sense (especially on your end, since you’d only have one new figure to tool). I bought two of the Gotham Criminals sets, and I bought your Legion Of Super Heroes set, even though the Legion has never had much appeal for me. Captain Marvel and Mary Marvel are winners; the Doom Patrol is okay. You can get forty of my dead presidents there. Could have had it for Jonah Hex, Bat Lash, Ohiyesa Smith, and El Diablo from "The Once and Future Thing". Even young Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern from "Kid Stuff" would have been fun. I have some news for you on the Justice Guild set, though: I ain’t buying it.

You keep insisting that the future of the JLU line is in our hands, so I’ve decided to be proactive with the responsibility you’ve thrust upon me. What I’m going to do is give you the Matty Collector strategy for JLU in 2010. Unless the next groupings you have planned consist of 1) Toyman, Killer Frost, Vandal Savage, and Livewire, 2) Gypsy, Speedy, Crimson Avenger, and Dr. Mid-Nite, and 3) Granny Goodness, Desaad, Steppenwolf, and a Parademon, then knock it off with the four-packs. And sure, I’d love to personally suggest the Joker’s Royal Flush Gang from "Wild Cards", since I want Ace as much as any character from the show. I refrain from doing so, however, because 1) there are five of them, and 2) they would have limited appeal just like the Justice Guild. See? Pragmatism before selfishness.

These are four-packs that would have broad appeal for collectors of the line and feature prominent characters from the animated series for which it was named. If that’s not the direction in which you’re headed, though, I’d like to remind you that it’s been some time since you released an oversized character. We paid $20 for Solomon Grundy. We paid $20 for Giganta. In fact, she is the only JLU product to sell out on your site thus far. We paid a combined $40 for Doomsday, Grodd, and several figures we already had. If you’re not too busy working on a four-pack of Deimos’ Dino Troopers or the Newsboy Legion, maybe it’s time to revisit the idea of larger figures at a premium price.

Start with Kalibak, and if sales are good, you can continue with S.T.R.I.P.E., Clayface, Mongul, Despero, Metron (with his chair, or else he wouldn’t work in this format, and preferably with a clear stand to elevate it), and maybe even (yeah, but it’s worth mentioning) Lobo. I know I’m not alone when I say I’d rather give you my scratch for one oversized character than for four superheroes from a comic book that a superhero from comic books I read as a kid read when he was a kid. See? Just putting it in print looks stupid. And sure, someone would inevitably complain if you priced Kalibak at $30, but without the additional sales an SDCC logo or Big Box retail support would generate, and with the weakening dollar, higher price of oil, and increasing cost of labor in China, maybe that’s what it would take. But hey, if you can meet them halfway and sell a figure like this for $25 plus shipping, even better.


You want my forty clams, Mattel? Gonna have to do better than the Justice Guild.

But something has to give, Mattel. If the line is in our hands, as you keep repeating, give us a reason to part with a couple of Jacksons every few months. Not for nothin’, but there’s a lot of collectible competition out there for my hard-earned simoleons. I don’t know if you keep track of other companies’ releases, but Hasbro has been knocking them out of the park with their Marvel Universe and G.I. JOE lines. DC Direct’s Blackest Night figures can satisfy my craving for DCU characters if you can’t deliver something more worthwhile than the Justice Guild.

If, "the best place for the future of this line is on MattyCollector.com," as you said in your recent Facebook note, do you know what that makes you? My retailer. So here I am, taking the advice you’ve shared so many times, and telling my retailer: Cut it the hell out with the Justice Guild stuff. Unless you’re ready to commit to those three sets I recommended above (which, aside from Steppenwolf to fill out an Apokolips pack, I didn’t just pull from thin air; check the latest JLU poll here on AFI), maybe you just need to get over the, "through the 4 packs," bit.

Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards
Born in April of '77, Jon quite literally grew up with STAR WARS. His mother took him to see it barely two months later and started buying him the figures before he was even old enough for them. G.I. JOE and Super Powers came along in the '80s, and an action figure addict was created. The moment he decided he was "too old" to play with his toys, he started to collect carded figures, beginning with Super Powers. No longer in possession of the toys or comics of his childhood, he rediscovered collecting with The Phantom Menace, and has moved on from STAR WARS to JLU, DC Direct, G.I. JOE, Marvel Universe, and various characters from movies, television shows, and comics.
Read other articles by Jon "Caped Crusader" Edwards.

 

 

 

44 Comments »

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    What HE said. Read it twice, Scott.
    :-)

  • I agree. However, I wouldn’t pay $40 for one figure if that’s what you’re suggesting.

    A Kalibak four pack with three Parademons would work.

    Lobo with whoever would work. I’ll settle for a two pack, but I won’t pay $40 for one oversized figure.

    Seriously though, MAKE A LOBO ALREADY! I need a JLU style Lobo.

    • I’m suggesting $30 + shipping (same as a Justice Guild four-pack) for an oversized character if that’s what it takes. $25 would be nice, but realistically, this might be the only way to ever get these characters. We paid $20 for Grundy in 2006, so a price increase is a no-brainer, especially when all of Mattel’s mass retail releases cost more heading into 2010. If they were released quarterly, there would be maybe two years worth of them. Surely you can manage to set aside $12.90 a month for a JLU Kalibak or Mongul.

      • I think if they make them sets, then they’ll sell. Two figure packs perhaps. But very few I think will pay more for JLU than they will MOTUC and Ghostbusters. If they didn’t have the other figures up there, it would work but people will immediately realize they’re paying more for less and just opt to stick with their GB or MOTUC purchases.

  • xrmc20 says:

    The word has been delivered, and it needs to be received.

    Step up to the plate, Matty.

  • I don’t think oversized figures are going to happen. Mattel seems content to reproduce figures and pain them different aps with new heads. Same thing happening with Ghostbusters, minus the paint aps. The prices keep climbing and we aren’t getting anything more for our money. I know I’ve publicly expressed my annoyance with the way i was treated at SDCC this year (my first away from a major toy site) but my frustration comes more from being a frustrated fan who is being mistreated and is about to quit on certain lines all together. New 6 packs with new figures and new outfits for old ones? Fantastic. Bought them. New 18 dollar price point for DCUC? Not worth it. If Matty is for the fans, its time Mattel starts acting like it.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    In case Mattel needs help finding the Poll results, here is the link.

    http://www.actionfigureinsider.com/blog/superfriend/afi-2009-jlu-poll-results/

    And I agree, the line needs to follow the wishes of the fans if it is to survive. So, the next time Mattel decides to go outside the JL/JLU tv cast, it better be to make Blue Beetle Ted Kord, the only non show character to score highly in the poll.

  • Brainlock says:

    Preach on!
    Like I said in the regular Mattel forum here, this would have made sense YEARS AGO when the show was still on and people wanted them! I even attempted a few customs of the JG, that I never did finish, as I got bored with them not being the REAL Justice Society.

    Now? Another die hard collector here scratching his head as to who thought these would sell.

    I still have yet to buy anything from MC, and if it does turn out to be the ONLY outlet for JLU? well then, it was a good run while it lasted.

  • j1h15233 says:

    Jon, how dare you write something that makes so much sense!

    Seriously though, the formula for success regarding JLU and Matty Collector is really simple. Give us the most fan demanded characters. Yes there’s a lot of secondary and background guys we’d all love to have in our collections but the time has come to deliver the real goods and then get back to those characters until you feel the line is just not financially feasible anymore.

  • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

    Gotta be honest, I the Justice Guild episodes and I’m pretty ho-hum with the 4 pack. Clever, I guess, but like you point out -> not what we want. I’d rather pay the money for an oversized figure. (At least those stand!) I love all the oversizeds: Grundy, Ultra-Humanite, Grodd, Darkseid, Doomsday, Giganta. Hey, I just realized that all the oversized figures are bad guys! Time for STRIPE!

    • j1h15233 says:

      The oversized characters are easily some of my favorites. Too bad they didn’t take the time to do Atom Smasher, Killowog, Amazo, Barda and Bane in the right scale too.

      • xrmc20 says:

        I’d love to have all those scaled up. A bigger Amazo would be really awesome. I’d buy a bigger one in gray, gray with wings, and gold.

  • Fallen Eldor says:

    You know what bugs me MORE then getting the Justice Guild…Not getting the full team! Is there any chance in HELL that we will ever see Cat-Man?
    That is to say nothing of the Injustice guild or Roy Tompson who are equally important to have…Why start something that isn’t going to be finished? Another example is the Chief from the Doom Patrol! Another example are the Femail Furies. Lashina is worthless without Mad Harriet, Stompa and Granny Goodness…

  • GreatWhite Customs says:

    Preach it brotha!! Common sense prevails!

  • bnjmnrlyr says:

    For the record … I like the idea of the Justice Guild 4pack. I will be buying it. BUT, I agree with your point that it has a VERY LIMITED appeal.

    Your suggestions for future 4packs are extremely solid and show strong evidence of paying attention to the fans wants.

    I would love for Matty and ToyGuru to take notice of the thought and effort that you (and Chip and all those others I am forgetting) have put into the continued success of JLU. Much more so, seemingly, than Matty itself.

    Make it happen Matty. You want us to make it succeed. We want it to succeed, but it needs to be a partnership for it to happen. We will do our part, can you do yours?

    • I absolutely believe that Toy Guru has put a tremendous amount of effort into the JLU line, probably more than it warrants. I just don’t think the team makes the best of decisions at times.

  • Captain Cold says:

    count me and my legions of followers in.

  • Howard the Duck says:

    Do ya think that Mattel has been taken aback by the reaction to the Justice Guild set? Or will it take low, low sales to get them to notice their somewhat strange decision?

    • My concern is that the, “low, low sales,” of this pack will be the final nail for JLU. Unless four new figures are already tooled when they start taking orders for the Justice Guild, I’ll be surprised if we see any further reveals. I’m sure they’ve noticed how underwhelmed the fanbase is, though.

  • elvis8batman says:

    Yep this blog is spot on! It’s like myself and others have said before, give us the characters we’re asking for and we’ll give you the sales and cash you want in return!

    To be honest though, (and I know I shouldn’t be giving them ideas like this) but I’m surprised Mattel haven’t been a bit smarter/sneaky in their 4pk choices. I mean I would divide teams up so that there was one character from each team in each 4 pack. That way fans would be pressed to buy each set to get a whole team/group instead of picking and choosing which to buy and which to skip. Here’s what I mean:

    PACK 1:
    Harley Quinn, Brainiac 5, Black Adam, Mento

    PACK 2:
    Bane, Lightning Lad, Shazam, Robot Man

    PACK 3:
    Scarecrow, Cosmic Boy, Mary Batson, Negative Man

    Etc, etc… if they were splitting them like this you would have to buy each set if you wanted Legion figures, or Bat villains or Marvel family characters. But doing them the way they have has meant people have picked and chose which to buy or skip.

    I agree they should do any future 4 packs as an assortment of OUR MOST requested, that way there is something for everyone in each set, and more people would be inclined to pick them up. But like you say, any character choices from here on in must be those WE HAVE ASKED FOR, otherwise its not fair to kill a line based on poor sales.

  • Darren says:

    Interesting. Myself, the Justice Guild was one of the sets me and my friends were hoping for. A lot of the choices you stated make sense, and certainly Stripe and Kalibak were also high on my list. I do love the idea of JSA and non-canon figures like Firestorm – but I really put precedence on figures that appeared in the cartoon, so the Guild has a special place for me – as one of the best episodes in the series. At least they made these fans happy.

    This was also probably likely that the creation of oversized new molds is a lot more expensive than reusing the ones they already have in tool and die.

    Like you, I also have committed to buying the line as it comes out – I’m not a particular Legion fan either, but I bought them. Advising people to not buy the Guild I think is a bad idea. This line needs more support not less. The hal jordan pack isn’t even sold out yet. Shazam pack either, which we thought would be a big winner. The way I look at it, they are taking an expensive risk making this line, and for us to not back their play when they are trying very hard to give people what they want, is risky.

    As for the price, look at the dc direct prices – between 15-20 per figure in some comic stores. Paying 40 for 4 figures is reasonable to me.

    Oops sorry. A little ranty, but my .02$ for what it’s worth. ;)

    • Advising people to not buy the Guild I think is a bad idea. This line needs more support not less. The hal jordan pack isn’t even sold out yet. Shazam pack either, which we thought would be a big winner. The way I look at it, they are taking an expensive risk making this line, and for us to not back their play when they are trying very hard to give people what they want, is risky.

      Who’s “advising” anyone not to buy anything? I’m saying that I won’t buy them. That’s it, me, myself, and I. If by, “back their play,” you mean spend money on stuff I have absolutely no interest in owning, it ain’t happening. I’m glad you and the six other people who wanted the Justice Guild will be able to buy them, but considering the state of the line, it wasn’t a very sensible decision. If Mattel wants to, “try very hard to give people what they want,” they can check my recommendations against the poll results (see the link provided by superfriend) and get to work. Otherwise, I have absolutely no reason to, “back their play.”

      As for the price, look at the dc direct prices – between 15-20 per figure in some comic stores. Paying 40 for 4 figures is reasonable to me.

      First of all, the $15 each for DC Direct gets you a figure of substantially higher quality. A combo meal at McDonald’s costs less than an evening of fine, Italian dining, but that doesn’t make it the better deal. Secondly, $40 for four figures is perfectly reasonable (and as a matter of fact, I’m proposing figures that cost more), but only if they’re figures I want. $40 for four figures I wouldn’t add to my display if they were given to me for free doesn’t strike me as a bargain.

  • Jason says:

    Great piece. The only four pack I purchased or plan to purchase is the Batman Villians pack. I might buy the Justice Guild 4 pack cause I enjoyed that episode back in the first season. They need to make Kalibak, Clayface, Killer Frost, Toyman, Parademons, Vandal Savage, Mongul, and Lobo in my humble opinion. If the line is our hands, why not make figures garunteed to sell well???? It almost seems as if Mattel wants this line to die because they keep pushing mediocre figures and the few good figures they do put out are impossible to find at any Target. There is so much potential for the JLU line its a real shame Mattel isnt coming though.

  • Batman says:

    I think it’s a little silly to say no one would want Justice Guild because they’re too obscure and then in the same breath say “bring on Bat Lash and Ohiyesa Smith!” :)

    • Except that I didn’t say either thing. I said the Justice Guild has limited appeal (and they do), not that “no one would want” them. I also said that I would have personally bought a “Once And Future Thing” pack, but I absolutely didn’t say Mattel should “bring on” those characters. In fact, I very specifically listed the twelve characters that should be included in their next three sets, should they choose to continue with that strategy. I don’t know how that could have been any clearer.

      • Batman says:

        Okay, fine.
        2)Gypsy, Speedy, Crimson Avenger, and Dr. Mid-Nite. How is this group less obscure? They’ve been in plenty of comics sure, but were simply in the background on JLU. Out of those 4 , Speedy had the biggest role, and that was for 2 minutes.
        And as for “superheroes from a comic book that a superhero from comic books I read as a kid read when he was a kid”, why does that matter? They’re all imaginary. They still had a much larger role in those 2 episdoes than several of the characters you mentioned had throughout the series.
        You’re giving your opinion, I’m giving mine. There’s nothing remotely crazy about those choices IMO.

        • 2)Gypsy, Speedy, Crimson Avenger, and Dr. Mid-Nite. How is this group less obscure? They’ve been in plenty of comics sure, but were simply in the background on JLU. Out of those 4 , Speedy had the biggest role, and that was for 2 minutes.

          Here’s a thought: Take a look at the poll results, and see what the most requested characters are. “Obscure” was your word, not mine.

          You’re giving your opinion, I’m giving mine.

          Except that I’m really not interested in the whims of one collector. If I was, I’d be campaigning for Ace, Cassandra Cain as Batgirl, and Ambush Bug, all of whom I want in a Timm-style figure more than Gypsy, Speedy, Crimson Avenger, or Dr. Mid-Nite. Those are the most requested heroes from the show, period. That’s not an opinion or my personal preference; it’s a fact.

  • Batman says:

    Except that you just before said you were giving your own personal opinion. Is it that I’m not an almighty blogger like some people? Fine, noted.
    You obviously have the pulse on what the people want. After all 126 whole people voted in that poll. 53 people committed to Kalibak alone! That should be enough sales to keep the line running for years. I’ll get out of your way now, and take my “whims” with me.

    • Except that you just before said you were giving your own personal opinion.

      No, I didn’t. “Opinion” was your word, as was “obscure”. I’ve given my reasons for listing the characters that Mattel should include in their next four-packs from the very beginning. I said I would have personally spent money on “Once And Future Thing” pack, but I never used “opinion” as a reason for any suggestions.

      Is it that I’m not an almighty blogger like some people? Fine, noted.

      Now, now. There’s no need to pout. The internet is a big place, and anyone with a computer can have a blog.

      You obviously have the pulse on what the people want. After all 126 whole people voted in that poll. 53 people committed to Kalibak alone! That should be enough sales to keep the line running for years.

      You don’t have to be a statistician to understand the results of sample polling. You can, of course, be obtuse and ignore the results if it suits your personal preferences, but that won’t make them any less of an accurate representation of what JLU collectors want.

  • Batman says:

    You said you personally would have bought stuff. That is an opinion, whether you used the word or not.

    Trust me, I’m perfectly happy without one. You, I’m not sure if you could live without one.

    The poll is completely unscientific. The only people who voted were people who happen to go on this site and chose to vote. It’s not like you went to Targets around the country and gave people questionaires.

    I’m not saying there aren’t some good choices on your poll. I’m saying that it would be a mistake to assume that there aren’t some other perfectly viable characters that didn’t even make your poll.

    BTW, my first post was firmly tounge in cheek, which I thought was made perfectly clear with the :). You’re the one who chose to get defensive and condesending with your “I don’t know how I could be any clearer” and “Here’s a thought:” and “I’m not interested in whims”, etc.

    • Darren says:

      I agree with bats, it’s a blog dude. Your opinion. The responses – our opinion. No need to get so defensive.

      The only point I was trying to make is that the figures appeal to some people (as noted by myself and others in this chain) or they wouldn’t have made them. Despite the mini poll of 126 people, you can bet the people at Mattel have done extensive research as to who to make next that has led them to it. Watch the SDCC video again. Note the applause on that reveal.

      As for supporting the line – i meant exactly that. Of course you don’t have to buy what you doesn’t appeal to you – but if is even somewhat appealing (like the legion pack you and I bought) then i say do it. IMO. ;) I would like the line to keep going so i can get a Kalibak!

      - Me and the 6 other guys

      • No need to get so defensive.

        Defensive is, “almighty blogger like some people.” ;) My intent has been to clarify what I’ve said, since both of you seemed to read something that wasn’t there.

        Despite the mini poll of 126 people, you can bet the people at Mattel have done extensive research as to who to make next that has led them to it.

        No, I bet they haven’t. Have you noticed the amount of votes Justice Guild members received? If you reach out to all the other collectors who are into the line, the results aren’t going to vary much. The fanbase as a whole wants Toyman; the fanbase as a whole wants Gypsy (I personally wouldn’t care if she was never made). The fanbase as a whole is not hyped over the Justice Guild.

        Watch the SDCC video again. Note the applause on that reveal.

        Seen it. Heard it. It’s a few guys. The set won’t sell well.

        Of course you don’t have to buy what you doesn’t appeal to you – but if is even somewhat appealing (like the legion pack you and I bought) then i say do it. IMO.

        And I plan to do just that with the Doom Patrol figures. I like them, but I could have lived without them, you know?

        • Hourman says:

          If you’re interested in building an audience for your blog, you might want to explore a less argumentative and confrontational style of interacting with your readership.

  • And for the record, it’s not “my” poll. It’s the site’s poll, and superfriend is the one who put forth the effort to collect and count the votes (again and again). AFI’s polls have been used to gauge fan interest in the past, and wtih great success. All I’ve ever done was vote in them.

  • Mikey Wood says:

    I dunno, man…I think the DOOM PATROL set is fantastic and the JUSTICE GUILD figures are pretty damned cool, too. I know I may be the ONLY one who thinks that but…I do.

    Now, a “Once and Future Thing” set? THAT would be great.

    • Oh, I agree that a “Once And Future Thing” set would provide us with some great figures, but just because you and I would love them, that doesn’t mean they’d be a big seller. As I said above, I’d rather have Ace, Cassandra Cain, and Ambush Bug than just about any other characters, but I know they’d collect dust in Digital River’s warehouse. :)

  • j1h15233 says:

    For the guys who think the poll is pointless, you should go back and check older poll results and see how many of those characters have been made. Mattel listens to those polls and all 126 people who voted represent a very vocal and passionate group of fans for this line.

    • Batman says:

      Coincidence (at least in most cases). Most of the items in the polls were logical choices so some of them were bound to be produced anyway.
      The 126 are without a doubt vocal and passionate. That does not equate with them being representative of the entire buying public.

      • j1h15233 says:

        The bottom line is that Mattel and Toyguru look at our polls and try to give us what we ask for. If you don’t think they serve a purpose then ignore them.

  • curock says:

    Why is there such hate for the Justice Guild….I am looking forward to them. To complain that they are not giving you what you want by filling the needs of fellow collectors is short sighted. As for Market research I know for a fact that they do use a lot of different resources. A website with a vocal following (of 126 fans) is just one avenue and a SMALL SMALL percentage of the the actual units they need to sell in order to make production profitable. Couple that with the vocal outcry of the set by some the number of paying customers is not even that. I’m actually curious to know what other characters would cause a negative response here.

    • As for Market research I know for a fact that they do use a lot of different resources.

      Great, so you can tell us all what market research “resources” led the Mattel team to choose four Justice Guild characters for that four-pack. I’m sure everyone else would be as curious about this information as I am. Do share.

  • abawaku says:

    I hate to be that guy who says it, but I’m gonna say it: crap like this is why I’ve totally stopped buying JLU. It was hard enough to put up with them falling over all the time, but the difficulty of getting so many of the figures, plus all the repetition in the multipacks, has just driven me away. Sorry guys!

  • red Ricky says:

    “Hear, all ye good people, hear what this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say!” (a.k.a. “Hear, hear!”)

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