Young Justice 2.0
May 5, 2012

If you are a fan of the Young Justice TV show, like me, you might wish you could collect some form of figure of the characters on the show that reminded you of the show.  Mattel offered this in 2 forms, 6 inch and 4 inch, both of which the general public rejected.  Before they can offer something else, they and the mass market retailers – Walmart, Target, Kmart, Toys R Us – need to know why we rejected it.

I can only offer my own reasons.  Price.

The 6 inch line.  The price was too high.  While the diorama bases were interesting, they did nothing for me.  They did not influence the buying process.  In my gut, I felt that the diorama was a way to try to justify requesting a higher price for the item.  Now I perfectly understand that any good execution of a license offers both high end and economical product.  But the price asked was just too high.  At the same time, the price for the similar DC Universe classics product had jumped to 15.99 in my area.  This was also too high.  It forced me to skip buying waves at retail and to buy the characters I wanted on eBay, opened and without the CNC part, for a more reasonable price of 11.99.  I only bought the 6 inch line when Mattel offered it at a cost of 34.00 for 4 figures on their website.  This showed me that I was interested, but not at the original price requested.

The 4 inch line.  Again, it was the price.  The thing that hurt the 4 inch line in terms of price was comparing it to other Mattel lines of the recent past.  JLU for the longest time was 5$ for a single figure.  DCUC started out at 10$ for a figure.  Asking 10$ for a 4 inch figure is a hard sell with those memories.  Then there was the fact that McDonald’s offered Happy Meal toys based on the show before Mattel’s toys were available.

Beyond that, I have been collecting a long time.  It takes something to spark my desire to collect a new line.  It felt like Mattel was trying to market Young Justice not to YJ fans, but to fans of the JLU line.  As a JLU collector, I had been angry that the initial offering of Infinite Heroes was full of characters I wanted in my JLU collection.  I was not interested in starting a new line then.  So appealing to the JLU fans made sense.  And the CNC Hall of Justice was intriguing.  It seemed like a good idea.

There was also the economy.  Many who had previously bought a ton of unnecessary things like comics, music, toys, cut them out because they are unnecessary.  I know I cut back.

A number of collectors have talked about the style of the figures, about the hand positions.  But history shows us that even though Mattel never fixed the one leg shorter than the other problem in JLU, many of us continued to buy the line, not letting the fact that the figures could not stand on their own stop us from buying the figures.

Hind site is 20/20.  I think the KEY is offering a product that people want at a price they are willing to pay.  For me, the KEY problem was the price.  Adding value is not the criteria here.  It is the actual price per product.  Unless Mattel and their retail partners can come up with a way to offer a product at a cheaper price, I think any retail line will fail.

Erik "Superfriend" Skov
"Gathered together from the four corners of the universe." Oh, wait, that's the show, not me. Erik "SuperFriend" Skov never actually got to appear on the show, although he did watch it every week. Erik spent 6 years working for Hasbro in Pawtucket, RI before leaving for a job that paid more (Why else would a collector leave the company that was making Star Wars, Transformers, and while I was there Batman). I used to post all over the net. These days I tend to hang my hat at AFI.
Read other articles by Erik "Superfriend" Skov.





  • Dunkin says:

    Thanks for your honesty. I agree, not going to pay 20 dollars for a diorama I’ll throw in the junk bin…overall the cost of Mattel’s lines have gotten to high and indulging in “theme” waves for DCUC only served to bring the line down. If you happened not to be a fan of that particular group (Superfriends, Rainbow Lanterns, JSA) why buy the wave? Too easy of an out if you don’t fit in that niche.

  • Ed Stanton says:

    Completely agree. Price was the #1 reason I didn’t pick up this line and I have every JLU figure minus the last two Target 6 packs.

  • Shellhead says:

    While I would have been happy to pay a little less for the 6 inch figures, I liked many of the bases and enjoyed the figures.
    The smaller figures never caught my eye because they lacked articulation (like JLU before them). Until Mattel can do a small scale line with the same level of quality as Hasbro’s Marvel Universe line, I won’t be collecting DC at that scale.

  • terrjack says:

    I too agree…I wanted so badly for Mattel to up their A game and make great figures like Hasbro’s Marvel Universe…
    I’d kill for figures in the same scale, articulation and price point.
    But now Mattel’s overpricing and lack of quality figures have soured me
    on buying anything they produce.

    Simply put, it has been real easy for me to cut back on action figures and just buy what I want when I see something that meets my criteria.
    I’ll buy the Static/Micron/Aquagirl JLU 3 pk, but that’s it.

    Here’s a tip Mattel: Cancel the DC lines and let Hasbro take a stab
    at it. My Last favorite DC figure : Bronze Tiger.
    My last favorite Marvel figures: ( Marvel Universe) Luke Cage, Black Panther, and Falcon. (Marvel 6 inch) Black Panther

    Mattel has got to step up.Don’t be surprised when Dark Knight Rises figures sit on the shelves after everyone has gotten Bane and Catwoman……

  • Mossey says:

    Superfriend, you hit the nail on the head. The pricing on the Young Justice line killed it. I bought a few of the figures but only when I found them on sale for $9.99 at Target. The bases did not justify paying $20-$25 for the same style of figures that I could buy in the DCUC line. The increase to $15-$17 for the DCUC line also ended my purchases of entire waves. Instead, I only bought the figures I was interested in or found on clearence.

  • My biggest issues with the YJ and DCUC lines have been Price and Design. The YJ 6 inch figures were horribly designed. Robin for example looked like a 80’s MOTU figure it was so horribly proportioned. Little head Huge chest and upper arms with tiny legs and lower arms. Most of the DCUC figures had this issue as well. Basic proportions were always off to one extent or another.

    Looking at the Green Lantern Movie 4 inch line explains my issues with price. At my local wal-mart when released the 4 inch like was $6.99 with in 2 months they were $7.99 for the same figure and by the time they were moved to clearance isles they were $8.99 per figure. WAY to much for a 4 inch figure that has no real articulation to speak of beyond neck shoulders and legs. I could see paying $7.99 per figure if it had jointed waist, elbows, knees, and ankles. But not for what amounts to a plastic brick.

    Young Justice figures had the exact same price fluxuations as they were put on the shelf. Given they were ever in stock. The Ashland Kentucky Wal-Mart only ever had the SDCC labeled “Preview” figures for YJ and never got the full line.

    That Wal-Mart currently does not have a single DC Comics based toy line in stock at all and no peg space allotted for said lines. Yes they have a Ton of Marvel based lines.

    Mattel needs to realize their producing Peg Row figures for the kids in the stores with parents. Not the Collector. I’m sorry collectors but we make up maybe…MAYBE 15% of total in store purchases. So designing and pricing these figures for collectors is a mistake. When your products are priced outside the general target market your going to lose money and your product lines will fall short of expected life times.

    Mattel needs to update its figure technology, and make the toys kids are buying. Marvel based figures are more articulate and they do it while keeping the prices in a reasonable range that make it easier for parents to pick up multiple figures for their kids in a single store visit with out breaking the bank.

    This is something Mattel hasn’t been able to do. I haven’t bought a single Mattel product in well over a year because they priced me out of the market. I bought the basic 4 inch GL figures and that was all. A Line I might add that was never finished. Again Price and Design limited it’s marketability as well as desire for kids to want the products.

    The Guardian 2 packs which was supposed to have 6 installments only had 3 released. To the best of my knowledge the first wave of 4 inch figures was the only wide release wave and the second wave had limited release to the areas that had the highest sales.

    While I know the movie wasn’t as big as expected if the toys had been good enough the line would have been able to stand on its own. They weren’t simple and sweet. The same with Young Justice. The toys weren’t widely available (In Stores) and what was available was priced to high for what the toy could do. Poseability and playability is the key to action figures in today’s market.

    If A kid buys a super hero toy they want to be able to put that toy in the iconic poses and positions that hero is known for. If you buy a superman you can’t put in a flying position that looks like the cartoon or comic kids will be disappointed and will often pass it by on the shelf.

    The 4 inch robin figure, the fighter and acrobat of the team couldn’t be posed in even a simple fighting stance because it had no joints. Superboy couldn’t be put in a pose like he had just jumped into the battle, because he had no joints. The ability to put your toys in dynamic poses when playing or displaying is critical for many. That glaring lack in Mattel’s products is the main reason their DC based lines fail, or fall short of expectations.

  • Temple says:

    Price is indeed a factor at 9.99 for the 4″ line I bought them when they were on BOGO sale, however my main concern for the 4″ line was trying to find them, I was able to find series one easily and could go to stores now and pick up all of series one including the walmart exclusives, series two was pretty easy to find when it finally showed up however series three has been imposable to complete (I have still not seen stealth Aqualad or Stealth Kid Flash). I was told by the manager of a local collectors shop that when they received their case of series three it had NO Stealth Aqualad or Stealth Kid Flash in the box but instead was Sportsmaster, Stealth Robin and series one figures. So distribution has been my biggest problem once Target reduced the price to 8.49. I did not even consider the 6″ line completely due to price.

    PS: is the 4″ series with Artemis going to be released or the series with Shazam?????????????????

  • H. G. Martin says:

    Three reasons, in my case, and by the way, I was only interested in the six inch line.
    1) As everyone is mentioning, the price was too high and we didn’t need the bases if they meant prices had to be that high.
    2) The first wave character selection. The only one I might have been interested in, if he’d been sculpted accurately, would have been Robin. They should have saved the lesser-known characters for after the line was a success.
    3) The sculpting on Robin and Kid Flash looked like they were on Venom or steroids. At this price point, I insist on accurate sculpts, at least.

  • Dave Aikins says:

    okay… so price is a given. As a near-40 year old collector with a 4 year old son, I need to watch my own budget for collecting, as well as the cost of buying toys for my son.
    So yeah… that’s not a price point I’m happy about.

    So.. let’s talk about the show:
    Thankfully (from a toy collecting viewpoint), my son doesn’t care that much for the show. He’s a bit young for it, so that’s a bullet dodged. No “Daddy I want Aqualad!!!” No, my son loves the Teen Titans cartoon, and he has some of those figures. We also loved the Brave & the Bold show, but Cartoon Network killed it. Thanks.
    Now, do I like the show? It’s grown on me, and really, it’s taken until now for me to dig it. So….now I really like the show, and now the toyline is dead. So sorry Mattel. The creators of the show, for whatever reasons, wasted time getting me hooked. And that time cost Mattel money. In fairness, I’ve loved the Avengers cartoon from the start, but I’m not sure I’d start a new collection of those figures either.

    Okay, now lets talk space. I’ve been collecting action figures since I realized not to destroy my Megos. I have very little room left for any new additions to the collection. I often look around and think “what the heck am I going to do with the next 40 years of toys?” Well, I’m going to get picky. Very very very picky. So, not only am I going to be picky about price, I’m going to be picky about what the toy line offers me that I don’t already have. The Young Justice line didn’t offer me enough in value or characters. All I wanted was the Hall of Justice, and there was no way i was going to pay for that. How do I get sucked into a toy line? When I see a figure (like a Kirby WonderMan, or Ultra the Multi Alien, for instance) that has never been made before. Or, a figure that’s never been made as well before. I’m also a bit old school with my tastes, so a show like Young Justice has too many new-style characters to really get my interest. In comparison, the Teen Titans cartoon had (to me) new characters (in new designs) and I actually bought those. They also cost around $5 for a 2 pack of small figures. That’s impossible to do today. I’ll make the space for that kind of value. And, I instantly liked the show more, even though the figures weren’t very good.

    So anyway… long time DC toy collector and also toy-buying dad… and all I’ve purchased from the line was a 50% off Captain Atom (I might get the new Batman, and I would’ve bought a Captain Marvel figure…maybe a Flash).

    That’s sad. Mattel got $5 from me.

    I can’t be alone in this demographic, so if there are many more like me… of course the line died.

  • geoffdude says:

    Price was the main reason I’m sure for most of us and parents. And, for any kid that had cash, or a gift card, I would bet they didn’t spend it on YJ toys. (Especially since most under 12 probably don’t know who Speedy, New-Aqualad or Icicle is. Let alone Capt. Atom, Black Canary, etc. I would assume, if we tested ten 12 year-olds, that they would buy Video Games, Legos, Roll-playing items, Board Games, Candy, Balls, Hot Wheels, Trading cards (yugio, etc), Transformers, rocks, sticks or just about anything other than action figures of Heroes/Villains they don’t know. Where was the single carded Robin, Batman, etc. to get them started on the line? Well… they were in a two-pack that most stores didn’t carry (And we can’t blame the stores for being gun shy on multi-packs after so many JLU 3-packs hung around forever, and Infinite Hero 3-packs became land-fill fodder). Fundamentally, Mattel doesn’t understand the boys-toys market for the new retail landscape. They think they do, but they don’t. And just because they’re “Mattel” doesn’t mean they do. Obviously.

    The primary factor here is to first make a well rounded toy line with varied characters that will sell to both Mom/family and Collectors. Target one over the other and the line will die quickly. Get both groups to buy the figures, keep the stock moving off shelves to trigger reorders and restocking or any new toy-line will be still-born in a heart beat. Second is to have a price point that doesn’t piss people off… forget trying to bump up the CEO’s year-end bonus, just make the price point fair enough to make a profit but not so f’n high that it’s either groceries for the week or a Red Arrow action figure for Dad’s collection. (Food wins BTW). Third, don’t let the current in-store product stagnate. After 6 months of no new figures anyone who was buying the line will probably move on, basically just give up, because they view the line as dead. And stores will stop ordering refresher cases due to inactivity. Keep the product fresh and keep new supplies (distribution) on schedule.

    This is not Rocket Science, but it does seem Mattel doesn’t understand that the retail landscape, and consumer’s mind-set, has radically changed. They continue to operate the same way they did 10 years ago… and THAT more than anything is what doomed the line. IMHO.



  • Had they offered the Young Justice line in the same or similar price and presentation as the Justice League figures, things might have been a lot different.

    I know I would have bought them right away, but I just couldn’t afford them.

    …Plus, from a nitpicky collector’s point of view… the blisters were just too big. I want the figure for the figure, not because of the transparent plastic around it. And even if I want to collect them still mint in their cards/blisters, I appreciate small packaging, since it saves space.

    If the Young Justice figures were to come back in a reduced price and smaller packaging, that would just instantly draw me to the nearest toy aisle and get all of them.

  • GUAPO says:


  • Paul Falana says:

    The 4 inch figures were lacking articulation. The 6 inch where lacking accurateness to the show, and the main characters should have been released first. The price was ridicules.

  • boner says:

    I agree with all above in the fact that the price and lack of articulation hurt the “value” we consumers are looking for. That said, my two sons STILL bought every figure they found, but this is the 3rd issue with Mattel…distribution! We often never saw or found figures at retail. Most recently the stealth characters. They desperately want to finish their Hall of Justice displays but can’t. thanks for that.
    It’s hard to buy something not in stores Mattel.

  • SA says:

    I loved the JLU lines to bits. My collection got cut short when the economy got hit hard.Plus Mattel was shipping irregularly, Matty collection happened and I couldn’t continue to afford any figures. It makes me sad sometimes to let it go but I do hope one day I’ll buy ’em all from someone.

    I liked Mattel but in recent years all I hear is people complaint about them. I don’t know what they are upto with the DCUC line as well. A hiatus for a year is a bit long. (I don’t count online exclusives)

  • Scott Hall says:

    I’ll just link to something I wrote about this instead of highjacking this thread by posting the entire thing.

    I agree price was a huge part of the problem but there were many others. Packaging design, price, sculpts (turned up arms?!), character selection, lack of value etc etc.

  • DaveB says:

    Priced too high. Sculpt quality too low. Shortest way to say it. It’s sad. I love that show.

  • demoncat says:

    have to go with price for given the economy the kid base mattel was trying to grab with the 4 inch line mattel wound up making them way to expensive making some not buy the line plus making the 4 inch not being able to use any of their assesories at all. plus making the four inch line more like statues then figures no movement. price the same with dcuclassics and character selection. like the rainbow lantern stuff

  • Joe Acevedo says:

    For me it was the 4.5″ scale and the price. If the figures were 4″ instead of 4.5″ I would have bought them.
    The $9.99 price point is just too much for these figures even though you were getting a piece of the Hall of Justice.

    Mattel could have improved on the number of figures in each wave assortment, considering there were over 100 DC characters featured in the first season of episodes. Instead of 4 figures per wave, I would have bumped it up to 12 and put them in 3-packs sold for $15 to $16.


    Now if Mattel had marketed Young Justice the way they did the JLU, it might still be going.

    Young Justice only had 4 figures per wave. I would have made the entire core team available in wave 1. I would have also gone with the JLU format of 3 figures per package and made the Hall of Justice a separate accessory for those who wanted to buy it. If you can only hook a retailer for 1 wave, you best make it a great one.

    Young Justice Wave 1 in 3-packs
    Kid Flash + Batman + Robin
    Superboy + Superman + Miss Martian
    Aqualad + Aquaman + Artemis
    Speedy + Green Arrow + Icicle Jr.

    Young Justice Wave 2 in 3-packs
    Stealth Kid Flash + Flash + Stealth Robin
    Clone suit Superboy + Martian Manhunter + Stealth Miss Martian
    Stealth Aqualad + Sports Master + Stealth Artemis
    Red Arrow + Ras Al Ghul + Cheshire

    Young Justice Wave 3 in 3-packs
    Kid Flash (semi translucent) + Batman (repaint blue & grey) + Robin (repaint green legs)
    Superboy + Green Lantern + Megan (civilian outfit)
    Aqualad (repaint) + Black Manta + Artemis (civilian outfit)
    Captain Atom + Vandal Savage + Black Canary

    Young Justice Wave 4 in 3-packs
    Polar Stealth Kid Flash + Mr. Freeze + Polar Stealth Robin
    Polar Stealth Superboy + Killer Frost + Polar Stealth Miss Martian
    Polar Stealth Aqualad + Captain Cold + Polar Stealth Artemis
    Dr. Fate + Zatarra + Zatanna

    • Joe says:

      Repaints at the price point of a 3pk which in this case would be around $27 would be a disaster. Also some the packs have only one new character minus the repaints, that too would be a huge disaster with a lot of peg rot.

  • Keith says:

    The price was definitely a deterrent in my case. I got Miss Martian/J’onn after much debate in the store because those two figures were just that good. Kind of ashamed back at home explaining why I spent so much on two 4″ figures (though he did agree that the figures were excellent).

  • TC says:

    Focusing on the 4″ line, everything was wrong with these figures, and that’s why they seemed so expensive. Where to start? The packaging was boring and generic. compare the 4″ YJ figures to the similarly scaled Marvel figures hanging 5 feet away in the same aisle: Marvel’s got a cool picture of the character you’re about to buy right on the front, drawn by actual comic book artists. The hasbro package is in a smaller bubble, not a giant, square thingy that makes the already skinny figure look even more pathetic. Marvel figures come with hammers and swords and guns. Kid Flash had a Happy Meal. Speaking of Kid Flash, kind of hard for the kiddies to make him run when his damn knees don’t bend! How about some articulation, Mattel? Hasbro does it. Why don’t you? And for the record, the guy that sculpted the YJ arms like that should’ve been beaten with a sock full of nickels. Completely stupid looking. Zero playability, and limited pose-ability. The Marvel figures are about the same price (I’m not gonna haggle over a couple bucks) yet they sell constantly. Those pegs are always being replenished. so if you make ’em right, Matty, people will spend their money on them. We’re collectors, and we’re just kind of goofy that way. We will find the money if the product is worth buying.

  • Animateted says:

    I think cost and design go hand in hand, great design, justifies higher cost. Substandard design canning justify the cost.

    4″ – the fact that Captain Atom was in wave one, when there are still wave one infinite hero Captain Atoms sitting in clearance bins leaves me aghast! Who made THAT decision? The lame arm movements, the comparison to same scale super articulated chock full of accessories Marvel figures 2 feet away, and the weak character selection (Icicle Jr?) was a swing and a miss for this line. HUGE potential. Horrid management.

    6″. What. Is. The. Point? These figures, in the DCUC scale, should have been in the DCUC style. Plain and simple. Use the characters and designs of the show, but style them to fit into the DCUC line and you’ve doubled your interest! Shoot from the hip, launch with the iconic Superboy costume, Miss Martian, and Artemis, but styled to fit in DCUC – Who wouldn’t buy that? Wave two is Robin, Aqualad, and Speedy – again, it would be a win across the board! The fact that a 6″ YJ red arrow came out the same week as a 6″ DCUC Red Arrow leaves me baffled. Do people not talk to each other there? Huge potential, horrid management. Bad decisions all around. It’s called Synergy people.

    It’s a damn shame.

    • Dcfett says:

      6″ -Yes very good point! This was one of those “keep it simple, stupid / keep it stupid simple” moments that Mattel is dastardly famous for not taking advantage. I believe these too should have just been in DCUC style to maximize the target audience and offer the base some new reimagined product. I would have taken it a bit further and simply canned the bases for a DCUC alt head approach. This guarantees that all “bases” are covered. What’s really so sad about that too is that they f’ing learned this lesson already LONG ago with the PE offering, yet they moved ahead and did the EXACT same thing, in terms of the base figure, while expecting different results = I N S A N I T Y

    • TC says:

      Looks like we’re on the same page, my man. And I totally forgot about the two Red Arrows dropping simultaneously. I mean, it’s like they WANT their lines to fail…

  • J W Larsen says:

    The 6″, it was the price. The 4″ I probably would have bought more than just Batman & Robin if they had been in scale with the JLU figures. I couldn’t invest in collecting yet another scale.

  • Miguel Valdez-Lopez says:

    …Now, something else comes to mind. Tv shows are sometimes created to boost toy sales.

    I’m not saying this is entirely YOUNG JUSTICE’s case, with their tight scripts, great animation and awesome voice acting, this is one of my all time favorite tv shows (yes, tv shows, not merely animated series).

    Back to my comment: when tv shows are created to help sell a toy line, and then said toy line doesn’t perform as well as intended… what happens to the TV show?

    Should we start worrying about YOUNG JUSTICE’s future on the small screen?

    • TC says:

      Man, I hope not because it really is a cool show. I’m wondering if Cartoon Network can’t also shoulder some of the blame here. First off, didn’t the toys start showing up while the show was between seasons, or am i remembering it wrong? For little kids, it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” If there’s no show on Saturday morning, they may not even care about the toys. And Guru always says he needs kids and moms to support the lines. And how many times a week is Young Justice airing? When “JLU”, arguably the best action cartoon ever, was on the schedule, I think it only aired twice a week. And yet they would marathons of “Ed, Edd, and Eddy” for what seemed like days on end. How ’bout a little help CN? And I’m sorry, but two shows does not make a “block.” DC Nation should be a Teen Titans, Batman (any and all series), Superman, JLU, GL, and Super Friends (why the Hell not) Friday night/Saturday morning Funfest. Doesn’t the same company own all this stuff???

  • Joe says:

    Price but also design and paint app and quality. Also repaints and 2packs with only one new figure in it. No way i’m paying $20 for one figure in the two pack nor am i paying $10-$20 for a repaint. The other thing is character selection and case breakdown. They needed to have characters that excited people. TRU got wave 2-3 before anyone else. I barely saw one case at Target and walmart of wave 2 and none of wave 3. Invasion is when this line started appealing to me. The sculpt was also really bad. If they hope to have success with a 4″ line they need to make sure price, paint apps, quality control, design, character selection, case breakdown and distribution are spot on. Throwing in a stand is cool too. The other thing was mattel’s reputation of burning the collector leaving me with incomplete teams. I was just trying to get the main team this time around and that did not even happen. They should release the last wave 5. Mattel has got a go a long way before i can trust them again. Money does not grow on trees and having been burnt now 3 times i am cautious.

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