Redistribution of Wealth
December 26, 2007

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.


Jason "ToyOtter" Geyer
AFi Editor-In-Chief Jason Geyer has been part of the online pop culture world for nearly 20 years, having founded some of the very first toy sites on the web including Raving Toy Maniac, ToyOtter, and now Action Figure Insider. Along the way he helped pioneer online coverage of industry events such as San Diego Comic Con, E3, Toy Fair, and CES. He is also a former toy designer who is now a marketing genius. If he does say so himself. And he does.
Read other articles by Jason "ToyOtter" Geyer.





  • Veil1 says:

    Amen to that. Preach on Brother Otter!

  • Poe Ghostal says:

    Hear hear!

    I do think Mattel is beginning to understand that they can make some money if they’re willing to back off their child-based, mass market ideology and diversify into the collector’s market. The first three waves of DCUC show that–there are no lame gimmick figures (Bruce-to-Batman), no lame repaints (Joker, camo Bane)–and each case comes with all five of the wave’s figures and one extra figure (preferably a variant). Because of this pack-out, I’ve preordered cases of all three waves already.

    Now, I haven’t been to the retail stores recently, so I don’t know about distribution. But assuming the retailers are getting the same cases as the comic shops, there shouldn’t be too many extra Batmen clogging the pegs (though I’m a bit worried about Superman Red/Blue in wave 2).

Leave a Comment