Every year Mattel asks us to blindly sign up for 12 figures of which we usually know 3 or 4. Every year they say they need people who are willing to buy any character in the DC Universe. I think the problem with that is that fans of the DC Universe are fundamentally NOT like fans of Masters of the Universe. Why? Because Masters of the Universe is a very small set of characters. 50 at most. I am not an MOTU fan, so that number is a guess. The DCU by comparison has hundreds of characters with costumes. Even more if you count characters like Alfred and Gordon, Lois and Jimmy. The sheer number of characters tends to make people fans of certain areas of the DCU.
You might get someone who would buy everything Batman related. Or everything Superman related. If you look at the success of the DC Animated Movies, you can see that Wonder Woman and Green Lantern did not do as well as hoped, but the Justice League as a team does well enough that they continue to make movies based on the team. That is my area of the DCU, the Justice League. I also fall into the typical retail consumer who buys way more heroes than villains. I’m just not as interested in Amazo as the Atom.
Then there is the factor that I’ve been collecting for a long time. I bought DC Direct figures in a similar scale before Mattel’s DC Super Heroes line started. I already have a number of DC characters. There is also impatience. When Mattel seemed to not going to get to Wally West and the Elongated Man before the line ended, I bought the DC Direct versions. And then there is money. I cannot justify buying characters I do not want or buying again characters I already have.
Plain and simple, the current model of blindly buy 12 characters does not work for me. So what about another model? One where Mattel does not have to risk a lot of money investing in characters that not enough people want? What about a Kickstarter style model for each proposed character. Something like this.
1. Mattel comes up with a character and a version of that character they think has a decent demand. They have a pretty good feel on this.
2. Mattel mocks up a current sculpt with changes to make this new character / version.
3. Mattel submits it to DC for approval.
4. Let’s assume DC approves it.
5. Mattel puts up a picture and description of the character on a page and asks for orders giving a cut off date.
6. People go to the website and order the figure using a method like paypal which allows for payments which can be returned.
7. If enough people order the figure, the people get billed. Right then. Using the money collected, the figure gets sculpted, sent to DC for final approval, created and 9 months later it arrives.
8. If not enough people order the figure, Mattel moves on to the next figure.
This would minimize effort on characters without enough demand and allow the line to focus on characters with high demand. I may not be interested in Robin based on Stephanie Brown (I would be interested in her as Batgirl). But there might be enough other people who do want this to justify the figure’s inclusion in the line.
Erik Skov “superfriend”.
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