Looking back on 2007, I think the number one complaint of most collectors has not been a lack of product range being produced, but the near impossibility of finding many, many figures. Although all companies are to blame, Mattel probably comes of harshest in the eyes of collectors for the crazy distribution and bizarre case packouts that we’ve seen in the past year.
JLU was all but non-existent on shelves (and Wal-Mart dropping the DC lines didn’t help) and certain DCSH characters like Two-Face, Blue Supergirl, and Batgirl were only seen sporadically. While it is understandable that some product shake-ups are inevitable, delaying the handful of new figures until later in the year and shipping huge amounts of Batman & Superman is just…odd.
Hasbro had its own issues, as recently seen by the dearth of Transformers toys at retail this holiday season. You’d think that someone would have thought that putting in a huge buy for the biggest toy tie-in of the year would be a prudent decision, but I guess the economy fears have played havoc with toy prognostication. The Star Wars lines suffered from a stranger fate: some waves were overly plentiful, and yet the McQuarrie figures continue to be in high demand with low availability.
Will these issues be fixed this year? Probably not, but the backlash has been heard loud and clear at Mattel at least. Hopefully it has made enough of an impact to trickle up to management and they can streamline the supply chain for a smooth roll-out of product year round, just in time for the launch of DCUC and the relaunch of JLU. If they can’t fix the problems, though, I’m placing a bet for these lines’ early demise, much like the similarly distributed He-Man relaunch.
Look, we all realize it can be tough to get everything just right. But 4 years into a license is too long to not understand your audience or retail channels. And everyone wants to see a fifth year…they just don’t want to buy the 30th Superman figure to get it.