As I’ve said, I hate the post-SDCC subscription period. It’s a study in frustration. First comes the uncertainty of if we’ll even hit the minimum. Then we transition into anger & fighting, bargaining & bullying, and depression. Strangely, some folks want pre-orders, so that we can party like this all year.
Some folks, many of whom I have a lot of respect for are talking about having Mattel go to a pre-order system for MOTU Classics. I disagree.
I can understand why collectors want it. It’s been frustrating being a MOTU Classics collector. We’re somewhere between being big enough to bother with, for Mattel to invest in and profit from, but we also don’t really contribute much to Mattel’s bottom line, no more than a fraction of a percent of gross sales and even less in net profit. We know that MOTU is worth Mattel’s time. We know that we’re worth the time. And yet, we’re very rarely made to feel like it. That’s probably the one thing we can agree on.
We’ve had the subscription debate ad nauseam; I got my fill of it last year. It’s well established that I’m pro-subscription. I want to explore the franchise, learn to love new characters, experience MOTUC as I experienced MOTU when they were all new, all concept characters. I’m not in this just to get my childhood favorites updated, to see MOTUC become a pastiche of the vintage line. I know that I’m not alone in that desire, but as outcry to turn the line into that pastiche seems loud and clear, I know that like-minded folks are in the minority.
And it’s from that minority that I have to unequivocally shout down the idea of individual pre-orders.
On the surface, the idea seems good for collectors. The risk and burden reverts back to Mattel and choice has been restored to the consumer. It’s not that great for Mattel, they would have to risk the money invested in developing a pre-order figure instead of asking us to pre-order the entire subscription. Collectors would no longer be subsidizing figures like Ram Man by purchasing Jitsu. The figures would each have to rely on their own individual merits which, in theory, would mean Mattel would have to “do better”. In almost sounds okay, but for two things.
One, that the subscription itself is a pre-order. In years past, MOTUC collectors haven’t had to deal with much stress this time of year. Over the years, there has been some in-fighting, some pressure to sign up, but nothing terrible. Last summer was downright awful for DCUC collectors as we moved from retail to subscription. A lot of us turned on one another. It wasn’t pretty and it made for a really long, stressful extension-filled few weeks. Would we even get the figures? How would we complete our JSAs? And that was just individual worry, then the fighting started, the bullying, the cajoling, the idiotic attempts to define what a “real fan” was.
I might’ve thought it was an isolated incident brought on by Mattel’s foolish handling of the DC transition. It wasn’t. MOTUC fans have been having a go at each other for weeks now. I’m a regular over at the Org because I love it so, but reading through the primary subscription threads has been frustrating to say the least. For the first time in a decade of being a member, I started using the Ignore feature.
I don’t know. Maybe some of you have been having a cake walk of a time these last few weeks as the gnashing of teeth has raged on. I’m unusually involved due to the site, the reviews, the checklists, and the e-mails… ugh, the e-mails. But think about the consternation this one pre-order causes. The worry. The in-fighting. The arguments between fans. We don’t do well when our favorite line is on the chopping block.
Now think about it happening every other month when each individual figure is on the pre-order chopping block. Sure, we already argue plenty over if something should have white gloves or disbelief that a certain character was even chosen, but there are few consequences in those debates. That figure is coming. This would be very different. If the pre-order comes up and doesn’t pan out, the folks who buy-in get nothing. The stakes will be this high all year long. The chopping block would be year round instead of three weeks in July and so would all the crap that comes with it.
And the other thing? Well, it’s about what we’re willing to sacrifice to that chopping block.
We all have our favorites; some of those favorites put us in the majority and others the minority. The minority ones are the problem. Let’s assume the vintage MOTU figures are safe, even the movie ones. That a Rio Blast or Saurod pre-order will hit the minimum. Though it is kinda funny to say that, “oh, Rio Blast, there’s a safe pre-order”, isn’t it? We’d never really know. Putting vintage MOTU aside, are POP fans really wanting to see what happens when Madame Razz or Sweet Bee are on the chopping block? Are NA fans curious to find out just how many people want Crita or Hydron? Would Calix make the pre-order cut? I don’t know, but I’m a ‘better safe than sorry’ kinda guy.
The truth is that I don’t know who the “too obscure” characters are. I also don’t want to find out. I don’t want to be shown an awesome Darius and watch him fail at 88% of the minimum. Heck, I don’t want to see it happen to any character. I don’t need the stress.
Basically, I don’t want MOTU Classics to turn into a Kickstarter Popularity Contest where the handful of figures that get made are the only ones we can agree on. Much like the old farts and the new kids had to come together last year to get that DC sub working, the so-called MOTU “factions” need to stop this nonsense and make theirs MOTU. Hydron & Mermista could make for a fun pair on your shelves. Calix can chill with Mantenna & Dragstor when the Horde is a little more filled out. The specific examples don’t matter though, because I’m positive that everyone reading this has at least one character that they would worry about running through the pre-order gauntlet. And that right there is what makes it not worth it. The risk that reverts to Mattel is only financial. The love we have for the franchise, the desire to see certain characters be made, that emotional investment? We’d run that risk every month. I’m not asking anyone to buy a subscription in this or any other article, but I personally would much rather run the risk of getting a character I may not immediately want than see a character I want and may never get.
Finally, that pre-order gauntlet is an issue too because you have to ask yourself how many pre-orders would be allowed to fail before Mattel pulled the plug. Even if you disagree with me and are confident that a pre-order system would be better, even if you promise to be a tight-lipped, tough cookie when one of your favorite characters goes down in pre-order flames well south of the minimum, do you want to see what Mattel does if two or three pre-orders fail? Heck, if one pre-order fails? I don’t.
Personally, I don’t think pre-orders are in our future. First of all, I think the 2013 MOTU subscription will go through before the time allotted. I know that Toy Guru has been bringing pre-orders up, but I just don’t see it happening. Yes, they have done it for the Hoverboard, which was a slam dunk, and now for a Young Justice 2pk (I want it too, but I don’t think it will happen). But Mattel also released all the Ghostbusters on their own recognizance this year. I don’t know where MOTUC is numbers wise, but I know for damn sure we’re better than Ghostbusters.
We’ll see what happens when the time comes, but I wanted to get this out there. I don’t think individual pre-orders will help us or save the line. I think it will just drive us further apart and bring the conclusion of Classics about that much faster. The subscription isn’t perfect and I’m not trying to pimp it with this article, but a pre-order is the wrong direction for MOTUC. I don’t need to watch the line languish as we find out just which characters can’t capture the imaginations of MOTUC collectors. I don’t want to see how limited some folks imaginations might just be. I don’t need the stress & heartache, none of us do.