Ask Mattel September 1st
& Link Round-Up

Ask Matty – September 1st Edition

DCClassics.Com Asks: In regards to the Dark Knight Returns Batman, the shoulders (or whatever parts) he shares from MOTUC were stressed as part of a one-time deal. What needs to happen to push Mattel into making – at least – a second exception for a Dark Knight Rises Superman?

Keep posting requests online and let us know at conventions!

MOTUClassics.Com Asks: In regards to the “new” surprises, triggered by the 135% sell-thru, are we talking simply new “skus” or possibly new, short-term “niche” subscriptions like Watchmen?

You’ll just need to wait and see!

MOTUClassics.Com Asks: When Mattel re-uses a MOTUC mold, or part of a mold for another line (like Max Steel), does that help extrapolate the costs of that mold more effectively?

It saves Max Steel money but there is no effect for MOTU.

MOTUClassics.Com Asks: With subscription dynamics dictating that 2014 be focused on vintage characters, what should subscribers who have enjoyed the blended line be looking forward to beyond vintage updates?

Toy Guru: This a tough one and it all comes down to how many customers we have. Now that the 2013 sub sold in at barely above the min, it is most likely we will not be able to do as robust a 2014 line as we had in 2011-2013. So with very few slots (comparably) the question to fans is “how would you want Mattel to use the few slots we will get?” Would you want only vintage or would you want concept figures still? My best guess is if we concentrate on vintage figs and key animation figs, we will do the best by the fans.

DCClassics.Com Asks: Will any of Plastic Man’s parts be compatible with Elongated Man?

We actually do not know yet as we don’t have a sample to check.

We need your questions for the next round!
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42 thoughts on “Ask Mattel September 1st
& Link Round-Up

  1. RE: Max Steel/Battle Cat question- I wish I knew where to point you (going to say the Matty forums), but I remember reading a post asking about the Max Steel cat and the response was that it was a modified 4H sculpt but it wasn’t the MOTUC Battle Cat tooling as the Max Steel version was not fully articulated (going to say it’s just at the shoulders, neck and tail if I remember right). That said, I still wish that there was an easy way to get that thing in the States…

    1. I’d love to have a shot at it for my MOTU shelf. I’m not big on the added fangs, but it’s a great cyber-cat. Plus, the simpler mold would be easier to cast for some custom cats too!

  2. quick, someone… find me the quote shere scott says “we could lose half the subsrbiers from 2012 in 2012 and still be fine.” i think it was from a roast gooble… but i ask because apparently:
    “the actual sub numbers for 2013, which was just a smidge above the bare min (and about 50% lower than any other year)”
    so that statement would have been a lie… or a dare, which we apparently accepted. not that it changes anything at this point, but does anyone wonder if scott’s bravado almost egged on the exodus? cuz damn… loosing half of one’s customers in a single year, that really is the rats fleeing the ship. i don’t think they’re lying to us about losing that many customers, but man… it takes more than a price hike to make that happen. that kind of mass exodus is a combination of factors, ones that we at IAT have well speculated on, i’ll just be curious to see, in the future, how mattel spins that precipitous dropoff. they’ll say “it’s the fan’s fault” which is kind of true, we did stop buying, but i wonder if they’ll ever come clean about their own internal BS that led to us not buying… “fans” don’t just stop buying after all, we are compelled to stop by outside forces, many of which are playing out inside mattel.

    1. I think on a more recent gooble, TG said he shouldn’t have said it that way.

      I’ve decided that since each year has differed somewhat on the number of skus (I think 2011 to 2012 matched up subwise) and differed moreso on the amount of new tooling needed, that any comments about the minimum from one year to the next shouldn’t even be made in the first place.

      It definitely was an “icarus statement”, but I’ve since found it to be a case of not extrapolating out what you’re saying. “We could lose half the subscribers and 2012 would’ve gone through” was what he meant because clearly had they lost half the subscribers 2013 would be the punk year and would be far from fine.

      1. they just worry me w/ this “round out the vintage” talk for 2014… there’s just so much potential in this line that “vintage” doesn’t cover… i loves me my NEW characters, even the (visual) duds like adora brought something new to the table. just saying, i know there are folks out there who like their gwildor, but if i get offered gwildor but never get eldor, i’m going to go have a nice cry.

        1. I have a long list of “fears” for the the line. 😀

          TG has either inferred (maybe outright said, I don’t recall) that he doesn’t consider Eldor a concept figure.

          The problem with the concept character “backlash” is that Vikor went over well, Demo-Man went over well, Gygor went over well enough, and Vykron picked up steam once he was in-hand. Most of the people upset over concept figures are mad at the Star Sisters and the Monogram Riders, neither of which are concept characters. The Star Sister backlash is particularly amusing as they’re Filmation figures.

          The good thing is that TG appears to narrowly define concept characters (unlike some fans and the keystone mods at Mattycollector) and his saying “no more concepts” surely doesn’t apply to Eldor, likely doesn’t even apply to figures like Oo-Larr & Darius eitehr.

          The people who feel they’ve had a victory in killing the concept characters off may have only spared themselves of the only one that I know of that Mattel can acutally make: Red Beast.

          Which still sucks, cause Red Beast could be awesome.

          1. The “Concept Hate” and my thoughts about it:
            While there have not been that many concepts. (Vykor, D-man, Vykron, Gygor) they are being used as scapegoat… The Real issue is the FILLER Characters, which these concept guys, hyper obscure characters (like the Sisters, Wun-Dar, He-Ro, The Monogram 3 out of 4 pilots), cheap-ass variants (BGEL and SMAA) were delaying the Ram Man, Glimmer, Hydron, Tunglashor, Flogg, Two Bad and Mantenna… Now don’t get me wrong… I’ve loved most of these “filler” guys cause they’ve EXPANDED the line beyond the stagnant re-release of the 12 back… What BOTHERS ME is the ass-backwards way in which Mattel has managed the character distribution.
            we pretty much have all the Heroic and Evil Warriors who had Cartoon appearances (Ram Man comes in January and I suspect 2bad is coming soon…) Meanwhile the Great Rebellion lacks its true leader (Glimmer) The Galactic Protectors have no Leader (Hydron) well, The Galactic Protectors are The Galactic PROTECTOR… while the mutants are leaderless.

            Ram Man, Mekaneck and Sorceress were used as carrots since the line started… and TG blew it by tossing all carrots in less than a year. Also, If they burned out through the MOUTV A-Listers and all they have left is Heavy tooling D-Listers and the NA guys… Had they squeezed in 1 more POP and NA a YEAR, maybe, just maybe, the POP and NA fans wouldn’t feel ripped off. (Also the faster they can get rid of POP and NA, the sooner they can get to those D-Listers…)

            Now on 3 packs. I LIKE The Sisters… I would have preferred the Toy Proto versions better, but they’re not that awful…(BGT Teela thighs being the exception) but if People Whined and complained about a 3 pack for 2012… WHY OH WHY would you dump a 3 pack on 2013 ESPECIALLY when dumping a “Dramatic Cost increase” on the customers!?

            Sorry for stepping on a soapbox.

            1. I’ve never really understood why we go so long in between the Great Rebellion & New Adventures characters. I understand that there were far more vintage characters, but the ratios still seem whack.

              1. personally? i think they expected the PoP and NA fans to be more potent in the market place… so like, when they acquired filmation, hoping that that would breathe life into the franchise, i suspect they expected that NA & PoP would do that, each, and when they largely failed to move out the door as fast as the vintage stuff, a quick scramble was had to re-draw the battle lines.

                to me, the ratios say that, when most of the vintage rosters were complete, the intent was to shift heavily towards NA, with PoP as your “pleasant surprises” every few months, and then the one or two stragglers from the vintage roster and the random concept, unreleased, or MYP variant filling out your year. that did not transpire as planned, and honestly, as far as i can see, acquiring the filmation rights was likewise a circle jerk (from a corporate standpoint.) despite all the chatter over filmation, they get the library, they slot in filmation variants and characters, and what happens? the fanbase largely shrugs and goes home. by 50%, not only do new customers not come on board, but HALF the existing customers are hemorrhaged out the door. that has to be seen by the bean counters as a waste of expensive licensing and for scott in particular, that’s money that (he hopefully) could have spent on the existing figs rosters they already had…

                as far as the designation of who qualifies as what… there’s a difference between the monogram pilots and the pilots on box art. wind raider guy was not on a monogram model box, so it would be silly to consider him the missing component of a 3 pack… and regardless of the price tag, the intent to add these characters into the mythos is cool, and proper. eldor and he-ro had unreleased protos, true, but they were unreleased, and so was the larger story to which they belong… they’re only nominally “more real” than dare is right now. scott can call that how he likes but for me, that’s a concept right there. wund-dar was not a concept, he was a rare variant like LP he-man. red beast was a concept, draego wasn’t even that and he’s fantastic… i hope you’re right noisy, and that eldor is still on the table… honestly, depending on how you execute the fig, he doesn’t represent nearly as much tooling as for example extendar, or dragstor, or even mosquitor… there’s no reason he couldn’t occupy a slot already for 2013. he’s no clamp champ, but he’s certainly doable as a standard monthly figure. i just want my old guys, dammit!!! 🙂 and veena, i want veena.

                1. I can’t find the quote on Eldor, but I’m positive I read/heard TG say Eldor isn’t concept. I think I heard it, he was on three RGD’s in short order and I listened to ’em all. And yeah, I don’t make any qualms about what is or isn’t concept usually. TG can call it whatever he wants if it’s going to get me figs I want. Typically, the only time I pipe up about it is when folks were angry over the Star Sisters as concept characters. One-shot filmation characters sure and they did have unreleased protos that look nothing like what we got, but they’re not concept in any shape & form to me. I’ll only give out that moniker very narrowly though.

                  I mean, they were all concept once. The main difference between a figure like Eldor & Clamp Champ is that Clamp Champ squeaked out before the line died and Eldor didn’t – to place a velvet rope between those figures just annoys the heck out of me.

                2. Good sir, I must say that I think much of what you say makes very valid sense.

                  I find it especially funny because when the line first started, people were complaining about the prospect of re-buying figures they’d bought less than 10 years ago, and they were assured this wouldn’t be the case.

                  Now they’re mad because Mattel *didn’t* go that route, and only want the heavy hitters from the vintage line, NA, and POP…at least from my understanding.

                  I really wish the original roadmap Toyguru had come up with were still in effect; I really enjoyed seeing where he was going with everything.

  3. I am with Pendragon’s post about the BS about kids not knowing who Huntress, Alfred, James Gordan, and Oracle are. JLU is back on basic cable, the batman (timmverse and the “the batman” ) series are on the huband the movies so there is exposure to these characters for kids to know them. Heck any kid can go in a library today and pick up a non nu52 trade of Birds of Prey and get to know Huntress and Oracle. I think matty is just scared of these two characters. I say make em and see how they sell.

      1. This saturday block called the Vortex on the cw. Todays was the black mercy ep wih Mongul, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. Next week is the hawk and dove ep. They also air PR Lost Galaxy and that CG Iron Man series.

    1. The rumor mill has long chewed on Huntress having been cut from Wave 13 at DC’s request. And I don’t feel like DC would green light an Oracle figure right now even if Mattel suggested it.

  4. Follow up Q for Elongated Man: With the announcement of Plastic Man last year, most assumed that his basic body would see slight alterations (new head(s), stretched limbs) and re-used for Ralph Dibney. Why is this not a fact? You also comment on AIT that you do not have a sample on hand to comment, but tell AFI that there can be no alterations, suggesting you do know what the final product will be.

    Mint Condition: I’d like to know where they see S/B/WW figures “widely available at retail” other than DC Direct at comic shops! I would also like that DC Weapons Pack, too!

    1. I don’t find the two answers incongruent because we were asking different things. They were asking a new piece be included whereas I’m just asking if the piece I have will work.

  5. Here you go Dayraven

    Follow Up about completing vintage updates

    Matty Member
    Posted May 10, 2012 03:26 PM
    In my earlier question about a contingency plan being in place should the performance of the line start to drop you really didn’t answer what I was wanting to know–namely should the line go south before you reach your plotted out release schedule through 2016-17 will you make sure there is a back up plan to get out characters like Ram Man, Two Bad, Mekaneck, Mantenna, Scorpia, the Pop ladies etc etc.

    I realize now you are working under the assumption the line will go until the end so you are interspersing non vintage items to fill out the line which is fine if the line continues but if it doesn’t I don’t want concept characters or 30th anniversary newly invented figures in my collection if it means no Ram Man, Mekaneck, Jitsu, Two Bad, Modulok, Glimmer etc. I’d much rather you err on the side of caution and get these highly sought after figures to us rather than dragging their releases out even if it could mean the line prematurely folds because there are no A-listers left only 200x or concept characters or NA stuff to be released.
    Posts: 183 | Registered: February 02, 2010 IP

    Collector Supreme

    Posted May 10, 2012 04:49 PM Hide Post
    The line is doing great and their is no indication of it going away anytime soon. There always seems to be a lot of doom and gloom on the boards, but even though the 2012 subs sold just slightly less then the 2011 subs we are SO FAR above and beyond the min number of units/subs that even if subs dropped by half we would still be fine.

    DCU has sold the bare min to keep the sub going. GB did not sell enough and the sub was canceled.

    MOTUC is selling fantastic and I can’t imagine we won’t get another few years if not many many many years. And at a rate of 25-30 figs per year, even after just one or two more years their really won’t be too many MIA characters. Remember when everyone was afraid we would never get to Sorceress? It is much more important that we spread out figures vs. try to cram everyone into “one last year”. We just aren’t at that point and I doubt we ever will need to be.

    Lets wait until after the SDCC reveals and all the info we will discuss concerning changes in price and skus is announced. I think after SDCC 2012 a lot of fans will have a big sigh of relief. The line has honestly never been healthier and has a long life ahead. This isn’t a retail line like YJ that needs moms and kids. Collectors have proven they will support MOTUC to the point that we have grown the line well and beyond 12 figures per year. The line is doing great. The doom and gloom is just rampant speculation and honestly I think some of it is uncalled for. We’re doing just fine!

    1. That last paragraph is awesome. The first sentence their is the absolute right answer. And I’m fine with all the enthusiasm that comes after, but what a difference a few months make.

      One thing that I have to point out in the original question though. Mattel has, to the line’s detriment, burned through the vintage characters much too quickly. Character selection cuts both ways. When you’re focused on what you don’t have and/or have had experience with toy lines where market forces and attrition killed the line dead before rosters were complete, it’s understandable. But character selection works the other way too, making the key characters too quickly also causes attrition. With MOTU, it seems much more like that folks have been more apt to leave the line because so many of the favorites are done versus being upset about the 4-6 concept characters that were included. For the vintage fans, we’re sitting on Rio Blast & Two-Bad toppoing the list of heavy hitters – I’m not surprised Mattel is selling less and less as we go along.

    2. AWESOME!!! thanks scorpion… do you see what i mean there? his “tone” (i know it’s the internet, but we read w/ tone in our heads, and we write w/ tone in our heads) was almost mocking, like he was daring us to cut subbers by half… and we took the challenge, didn’t we? it’s amazing to me, that was may… by july he was begging for subs already. i think we should immortalize that post as “scott’s folly” and send him a plaque w/ that post inscribed on it. the first IAT Derp Award or something.

  6. Ok So I don’t want to be a complaining Carl or beat a dead horse or anything, but what the heck is Mattel Smoking and where can I get some? I don’t understand, they say sub sales were “high” enough to warrant some “new surprises” in the 2013 line up then they say ” Now that the 2013 sub sold in at BARELY ABOVE THE MIN, it is most likely we will not be able to do as robust a 2014 line as we had in 2011-2013.

    sooo which is it? Seriously

    1. I’ve been trying to figure that one out too and I think it’s just the ridiculously compartmental way Mattel does business. They sat down and planned 2013 and said “here’s the minium, here’s what we’ll do we’re a 25% over, here’s what we’ll do if it’s double, etc.” and since we’re at 135%, anything at the benchmark is triggered per the plan.

      Meanwhile, when they all sit down to plan 2014, that same 135% will translate into something not good. The biggest problem for next year’s subscription is trying to discern how many more subscribers they’ll lose. After we have Ram Man, Jitsu, and who knows else. TG’s answer kinda dances with that. It’s really, “What can we offer for 2014 that will keep most of that 135%?” I don’t disagree with their assessment I just think it kinda sucks.

      1. more importantly, their internal math reveals that they anticipated the attrition, if your compartmental thinking is correct noisy (and it sounds plausible to me). that means that the 100% margin for 2013 was anticipated as being 50% of the 2012 numbers.

        1. It’s entirely possible. We’ll have a better idea by next August. I’m working on a project that examines their tooling budget. There’s no correlation with expense per se, but we can compare one year to the next when I’m done.

          1. Also, one thing I haven’t really seen anyone talk about is the number of skus in the 2013 sub. That sub is said to have one of the highest tooling budgets, but it did drop 4 skus. The “we could lose half” sub numbers dictated that loss of 4 skus.

  7. Yeah, put me in the constantly confused section.

    It’s almost as if the staff above Toy Guru, ALL the management, changes on a regular basis. Continuity of workflow and direction seems to be happenstance at best.

    Such as the balance of figure releases. One doesn’t need to cost out some of the figures to just KNOW they’re going to require more development and higher tooling costs. Pushing all (or most) of the ‘difficult’ figures to ‘later’ is just foolish. It’s just going to cost MORE later, and thus there’s a de-incentive already in place dragging things down.

    Is there a lot of demand for Two-Bad? I dunno. I’d play it safe, call him a ‘beast’ to access more development and get him done just to clear the way. I would also tell the 4H that he (they?) needs to be compatible with the Trap-Jaw/Roboto/etc. accessories plug.

    ah, whadda I know? 🙂

    1. would the “beast” and “multi-packs” (2-3 figure sets) be considered the same level? I would liken Two-bad to something more along the lines of the Palace Guards than the large Cats (BC, Panthor, even Griffin and the still possible POP pink one…Clawdeen?). EPG’s are basically one figure with two heads packed together, with most of the tooling cost going into heads and accessories. 2B is going to require an all new one-off torso (and waist?) sculpt plus the usual new head (x2!) and accessories costing, so there’s that to factor into Mattel’s considerations. I’m not planning on getting him, and if this “bare minimum” fiasco is true, I wouldn’t hold my breath for him, to be honest.

      1. You know, I am just red faced with embarrassment. While my comments for Two-Bad still hold, I was thinking Mod-U-Lok! (or however its spelled). THIS guy would need totally new tooling pretty much top to bottom, right? And being able to swap parts with Trap-Jaw and Roboto would be a nice ‘added play value’ bonus, yes?

        I really don’t know how ‘beast’ and ‘multi-pack’ are costed out, and of course none of us know, but I would think ‘beast’ tends to have more money (development) tossed at it as usually it’s going to be a one-time thing with limited parts re-use potential.

        At least that’s my view on it. 🙂

        1. The beasts do factor in at least one reuse I think. Battle Cat brought Panthor, Gygor the Shadow Beast, Tytus & Megator share parts and both lend different parts to Procrustus. Swift Wind is the only solo use so far, but he did lend parts to the Griffin (along with Battle Cat) and he’s a horse. There’s more use for that mold should things perk up.

          Modulok just needs to be a con exclusive.

          1. No! Please not a Con Exclusive! I’m bloody sick of Con Exclusives, and I hate the idea behind them!

            1. I don’t say it because I want to be so… I just don’t know know if Mattel can do him any other way now. Toy Guru seemed to think he wouldn’t get 2014 approval for anything beyond 14 skus (12 monthlies, the sub exclusive, & the SDCC exclusive). I don’t think they can do Modulok as one of the monthlies and the sub exclusive is dirt cheap, so… I’d love to be wrong.

              1. I know he won’t be cheap to develop if they try to preserve articulation, but I’m hoping for Modulok and Multi-Bot taking up “Beast” slots.

                Apart from Orko & Cringer, most of the Con exclusive items seem to have had a lot of parts re-use, with just heads, weapons, and armour being developed. I can’t think of much (or any) retooling that could be used for the Horde multimorphs.

                Stridor / Night Stalker could help out in the budgeting for the Horde freaks, I would imagine.

      2. What I really hoped for and will never happen as 3pks are currently DOA after the FFM, was a Two-Bad 3pk with Tuvar & Baddrah. Think about from a tooling standpoint. The only thing Tuvar & Baddrah need is the opposite limbs (if there is a need for them to be character specific) and then unique armors. It woulda been a super cheap to do 3pk and I think it would’ve gone over really well.

        1. the more I think about it, I’m not sure a 3-Pack would definitely be required for Two Bad, cause technically it’s only two characters, but with the *parts* to make a “combined” character.

          We shall see how they tackle it. I really do want Tuvar and Baddhra.

          1. Seconded! If they made Tuvar and Bhaddra, they could then re-use the limbs for Two Bad . . . and have the tooling necessary to make a transparent “Stealth Cloak” Tuvar from when he did that Predator thing in the MYP cartoon. };D

      3. Im not sure Tow bad really needs a new torso so much as a clever armor system like Slush head had, which would allow them to use the basic buck still saving at least a little money

        1. nah… new torso. not to nitpick, but the hallmark of the figure was that dual torso and heads. asking for a standard torso two bad is like asking for TPHM to be a red repaint of normal he-man.

          and honestly, he’d likely need new hips and one set of new scaley finned limbs. then weapons, and a good bit of paint deco (if rattlor was that pricey, imagine how hard it would be doing two-bad’s irregular color blending, especially over the scaled limbs.) it’s also worth note that given how big two bad was, in the torso, added mass in the limbs would look better. look at how odd leach looks w/ the slightly largey torso, but normal hips and limbs. i don’t want that for two bad.

        2. True, but I was looking at 2B pics via google and it looks like even the vintage version had a new torso piece to accommodate both heads and the arms were on top of the shoulders, as opposed to the usual side where they should be. Granted, IF Matty does do him (them?), they would only do a wider upper torso to accommodate the heads. the tooling would be unique, as the only other two headed character I can think they would have access to is DC’s LoSH reject, Doubleheader, who doesn’t need a muscular torso. Or is there another MOTU character like that? I only had a few early figures and by the time he hit I had definitely focused my attentions elsewhere.

          Modulok, however…with the stories we’re being told, he would definitely be Beast level and a way bigger *IF* on him/them.

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