Mattel Addresses QC issues in MOTUC
January 29, 2012

Earlier this week Scott AKA Toy Guru took to the MattyCollector message boards to address some long standing discussions about Quality Control issues and Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line.   He takes each figure in question and answers each issue and what was done to correct it.

MOTU Classics fans,Toy Guru here. Last week I posted an update covering many of the recent issues on the MOTUC line. A few (okay, more than a few) customers have written to me to clarify issues about quality control (QC) that were not addressed and explain how we will be improving on this. I am happy to address this and to do so, let me go back and cover some previous issues we have had to shed some light on why certain figures have turned out less than perfect.1: Green Goddess – Breakage Issues on the torso despite constant rumors, this issue had nothing to do with “cheap plastic” or even the use of translucent plastic. A small percentage of Green Goddess figures did have issues with the lower torso cracking. This was the same issue we had with retail DCUC Wave 3 and Wave 4 produced at around the same time. The sonic welder used to fuse the joints together was causing microscopic tears in the plastic which would later lead to breakage. We quickly tried to inform customers that this was a joint issue and not a plastic issue (although for some reason many didn’t believe us and customers continue to rail about cheap plastic which I assure you is not the case as noted above) What is key, is as you may have noticed, this issue has not come up in ANY other figure since then. Fans and customers like to use this as a bell cow for QC issues, but it only happened to one figure and we quickly resolved the issue by recalibrating the sonic welder. So it hasn’t and won’t happen again. ISSUE RESOLVED!2: Backwards Shoulders on Roboto and King Hssss

Okay, this one we messed up. Both figures were assembled wrongly from Day 1, but the catch is that not a single member of the team noticed this issue. I am 100% to blame just as much as design and engineering as I personally had both figures on my desk for weeks and never noticed this swap. As a frame of reference only, this issue was so minor in the details that it was missed by the Horsemen and all of the fans at NYTF, as well as by all the reviewers who received a PR sample. Not that that is an excuse, it is just a point of reference for how easy it was to miss this issue! Yes, the shoulders were attached wrong and it kills me that we missed it. We now take extra care with any new parts to ensure it is assembled correctly. It hasn’t happened since King Hsss almost a year ago and shouldn’t be an issue going forward. ISSUE RESOLVED!

3: Inverted Legs on Swiftwind and Missing Missiles on the Windraider

While on the surface this seems like a similar issue to the shoulders on Roboto and Hssss, it is actually not. For Roboto and Hssss, Mattel was sent early samples to review and we (myself included) completely dropped the ball and didn’t notice the fine detailing that differentiated the two shoulders.

For Swiftwind and Windraider, a very small number (but just as important) of customers received horses and vehicles with errors. All of the pre-production samples we received at Mattel were assembled correctly. So this is not a case of us missing QC problems with review samples. This is purely a case of human error at the vendor.

What looks like happened is a small batch of Swiftwind figures was hand-assembled incorrectly against our review instructions. The same for the Windraider, a small number were shipped without both projectiles. This was a case of human error. It does happen sometimes.

I know that is not an excuse, it is an explanation. All MOTUC figures are assembled and painted by hand. Sometimes (ideally rarely or not at all) mistakes will happen.

We do have a return policy where any product may be exchanged free of charge (for 30 days) for a correct product. But you do need to return the defective toy to get a new one. So in a sense, this issue is resolved. There will always be that small percentage of human error in any product line. It is regretful when it happens, but it does happen some of the time. To compensate, we have a return policy in place to ensure customers get a corrected figure. We can’t stop human error, but we can compensate for it with a return/exchange policy. HUMAN ERROR.

I hope this sheds some light on some of the issues we have had. Of course we are committed to eliminating all QC issues, but at the end of the day, when you are running a very small online collector line, there will be QC issues on occasion. I hope the fact that the breakage issues with Goddess and the shoulder swap issue with Roboto/Hssss has not repeated itself is a sign that we are working on things. We can never fully eliminate human error, but we can put a policy in place to ensure returns and exchanges are possible on the occasional — but hopefully rare — human error.

Nothing is more important to us than our customers and delivering the high end product you expect and deserve. We are committed to constantly improving QC issues and hope to continue to deliver the highest quality figures possible!

For the role I have had in maintaining or dropping QC, I personally and humbly apologize. Things like the swapped shoulders are absolutely my fault as well, as I had those figures on my desk with the wrong assembly and never noticed. Other issues like human error in China are hard to control from my desk here in El Segundo. They do and will happen from time to time, but we will do all we can to prevent or correct them.

I know fans continue to bring up QC issues a lot. But really, to take a step back, except for the repeat of the reversed shoulders on Roboto and Hssss, other issues such as the pelvis breakage have never repeated themselves. Even smaller issues like tighter joints, softer loin clothes and better paint ops have improved over time. Ideally the fact that customers have not seen the same issue pop up again is proof that we are addressing issues. But we can certianly solve one issue and another unrelated one does pop up.

Yes, QC issues will always be there (as with ANY consumer product line) but we are working around the clock to fix things and improve things. Human error (like what happened with Swifty) does happen from time to time and is unavoidable. But as I said, we have a policy in place to replace items at our cost if this happens.

The future is nothing but bright for all of our collector lines. We are committed to eliminating as many QC issues as possible and will keep working to bring you the best product possible.

Scott Neitlich

Daniel Pickett
Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since. In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features. He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced. In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com. Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s “Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com, Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows. But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.
Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.

 

 

 

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