So the other night, just before Thanksgiving, I decided to hit Walmart around midnight. It’s been many years since I made a late night toy run, for a variety of reasons. But mostly because I usually have much better things to do with my time than to make a special trip just to turn up empty-handed at the usual dearth of new toys on the North Texas shelves. But for some reason, I felt like this would be a good time to take a break from working and drive the 10 miles to the nearest Walmart. Plus, I needed a few groceries and things, so the trip wouldn’t be a total waste.

And lo and behold, they had new pallets of merchandise on the floor, waiting to be stocked. And right on top of the toy pallet in front was one box of DCUC Classics. And when the very nice stocker opened the box for me I found one complete set of DCUC Wave 14. Which is the first time I’ve found any of an exclusive Walmart wave in Dallas at all, let alone in the first week or so of shipping! FYI, the box had doubles of Zatanna, Alan Scott, and Hourman. And it was lucky for me, since I haven’t seen any of them since.

What was unlucky for me was that I didn’t realize until I got home that my Tyr was all jacked up. Of course, at first I was too busy being mad that my Obsidian had two right biceps, until I realized that he actually did have a left bicep, it was just bent so badly it looked like the wrong one. A little hot water and rubber bands holding it down fixed that one overnight. But Tyr is a different story: his chest piece thing is completely malformed. And by the time I figured it out (at first I thought they had changed it from the package images for some reason, since it looks like a new chest piece, not necessarily a deformed one)  I had thrown away the receipt and package. And have I mentioned that I’m kind of a big Super Powers fan, so this was a figure I’ve been looking forward to more than most? So my choices are to try and find a new one, switch packages and try to return the bad one, live with this one and forget about it, or just eat the cost, buy a new one, and go to my blog to rant about Mattel’s consistently crappy Quality Control.

Guess which one I’m choosing?

So yeah. Mattel just can’t seem to keep these things from having defects. I don’t mean flaws (Zatanna has a paint smear on her boob, but whatever, it happens).  But QC at the factory should be catching these kind of malformed pieces and throwing them into a bucket to be regrind. These things happen throughout the run, and someone is not doing their job when one goes through. And for $16 a pop now, I’m not that forgiving when it costs me even more money and time to replace this because of Mattel’s mistake. This isn’t the first time this type of mistake has been made at the factory level: in Wave 15 Martian Manhunter and Jemm figures both were released with no one catching that they had the wrong bicep pieces. This was corrected in a running change, but woe betide you if you got one of the mistake versions, because Mattel does not exchange bad figures for good ones. Once again, the consumer pays for poor QC, with no consequences for Mattel.

Of course, that’s not the only reason to be miffed at Mattel. Let’s take a look at their upcoming DCUC wave 16, which on the surface is one of the better overall waves, especially if you’re a Batman Family fan. I’ll overlook the Robin variant being a tad weird by having a kid’s head on an adult body, and zero right in to the baffling decision to add extra elbow and knee joints 3 years into a line. Actually, the knees I could live with. They are nicely sculpted, and don’t ruin the flow of the figure too much. But the elbows, especially on Robin, look horrendous! And even worse, these figures now don’t match the rest of the past line. And if there was one big prop I’ve been giving Mattel on this line that other lines just don’t have, it’s a relative abundance of consistency, that makes for a very cohesive collection.But you know what makes the extra joints an even worse idea than the flawed appearance? It’s the amazingly low quality plastic that keeps showing up on this line.

Look, I realize that costs have gone up. That the license costs money. That Mattel needs to pay their CEO huge amounts of scratch every year.  But if you know you’re going to have to use prophalactic-grade PVC on your toys, why wouldn’t you engineer them to compensate for the low durometer, instead of adding joint that REMOVE stability and thin out areas of stress? These guys are hard enough to stand without their limbs acting as if they were made of spaghetti. Of course, the crappy plastic causes them to be deformed right out of the package, so even with the old joints getting some of them to stand was a major, if not impossible, challenge. Hey, you know what would help them deform even further? Posing the figures unnaturally in a tight vac-formed shell! Yep, even though this line is ostensibly for the "Adult Collector",  Mattel still insists on trying to make it eye-catching on shelves for the kiddies and pose the figures in all kinds of goofy arrays. Except go back and read what I wrote about not planning for your limitations, etc. etc.  I don’t even feel like going into the fact that their new packaging for 2011 is twice as big as it needs to be, probably for no other reason but to steal shelf spaces from other toy lines in Walmart. Way to go green, Mattel!

That’s the end of the rant. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go hunt down another Tyr.

Posted by Jason Geyer [16] Comments