Over the weekend, Toy Guru let us know that the 2nd Whiplash head caused a bit of commotion in the Mattel offices and that 200x-esque heads can no longer be included in the line. By itself, this might not be big news, but I think it’s part of a larger issue. I think 200x slowly being stripped out of MOTU Classics.
As part of his latest “state of the union” update on MOTU Classics, Toy Guru let fans know that the Whiplash figure, which included a 200x inspired alternate head, had caught some unwanted attention. Earlier in the year, Count Marzo’s sculpt didn’t sit well with the higher up folks at Mattel and some issues arose – fans were only able to get that great figure because the folks in charge at Mattel bowed to the almighty schedule. But, now Whiplash and his 200x inspired alternate head has brought a new edict. According to Toy Guru: “after the second Whiplash head, we were asked to pull back on second heads that are purely 200X inspired”.
Now, we hadn’t been getting many 200x inspired heads in the line. Whiplash was really the first one, though an image of Grizzlor in ToyFare indicated that he might have been a second. I also contend that, tooling costs aside, Roboto in October and Buzz-Off in December were two missed opportunities for 200x alternate heads. But, since Whiplash was the first, Toy Guru has referred to this new rule as stopping a “trend of one”. I don’t disagree with that, but it seems that the only edicts we keep hearing about when it comes to Classics is “no 200x this” and “no 200x that”. It’s starting to get to me.
For my part, I view MOTU Classics like I did Marvel Legends and DC Classics before it – an inclusive line that sets out to celebrate an entire franchise. Figures from all eras. Figures from different interpretations. That’s what I want from MOTU Classics – all the eras & all the interpretations packaged in the ‘Classics’ style. But 200x seems to being picked out piece by piece. This current rule – no 200x heads for 200x sake doesn’t even make much sense to me. Toy Guru says that the 200x Egyptian Sorceress is still on the table, yet she would have to come with a 200x head would she not? I’m confused by the ambiguity. And right now, I fear that the 4H would send in the 200x Sorceress, or perhaps even Lord Dactus, only to have this same Mattel Management object and say “no, you didn’t remove enough of the 200x”.
In the Classics line, we already know that all non-vintage elements must have their clock turned back. I’m all for this. I want the line to be cohesive and I don’t mind the missing “hyper anime detail” (as it’s been called) because I don’t find the 200x figures to be all that hyper-detailed or anime-inspired. The “turn back the clock” edict only bothers me in instances like Skeletor’s 200x swords. The idea that, once classicized, they would revert to the old looking sword irks me. Many fans have created wonderful vintage style dual-bladed swords to disprove that notion, and yet the rule persists. And I have to ask, looking back, was the turnaround on the Skeletor sword the first sign of a “too 200x” sticking point?
After that, we got word that Marzo’s head was deemed by Mattel management to similarly be “too 200x” and that, going forward, future figures would ambiguously have to avoid too much detail and/or windswept hair. This is ironic because it looks to me like Whiplash’s vintage head is the more detailed of the two, yet the “no 200x” policy has reared its head again.
Whiplash’s head has changed the rules of the game a bit more. Characters like Grizzlor or Buzz-Off, who could make use of a second, 200x-esque head, can no longer have that option. What I thought was going to be a fantastic way to include more fans in the fun of MOTU Classics while giving collectors incentive to buy doubles must be stopped per Mattel’s insistence. Alternate heads will keep coming, but the 200x element mustn’t be part of the equation.
Even though we’ll never get a straight answer, I have to ask why?
Who at Mattel is so afraid of 200x? It’s not the Four Horsemen – a lot of that work is their design. It’s not Toy Guru, he seems to truly love MOTU and when he doesn’t have to defend the anti-200x policy, you get a sense that he loves all eras of Masters of the Universe. It’s someone higher.
It’s someone that, frankly, doesn’t get it.
I’m not sure what their reasons are. If it’s simple dislike, well… I don’t have pleasant things to say about that. No one individual at Mattel owns MOTU and no one person at Mattel should be able to make the decision to marginalize one segment of the fan base that way. I’m okay with fans having their favorite eras, but I think when you’re put in a position of authority – having say so over a toy line with a myriad of fans – you have to check some of your wants at the door. Everyone at Mattel should be trying to be as inclusive as possible with this line. It would mean more sales, more success, more MOTU. Nothing good will come of treating one segment of the fan base worse than than another. Speaking of, Optikk still appears to be the lone representative of New Adventures – he could use a buddy or two.
If it’s not personal dislike, then I have to ask if “Mattel management” believes that the 200x era of the property deserves to be stricken from the record? While there have been a few titanic toy lines in the last few years, I don’t view 200x’s brief run as a failure. And if Mattel Management does, they have to understand that they have only themselves to blame – whichever of the lot worked there years ago – for that line ending prematurely.
In fact, Mattel has only themselves to blame for mismanaging He-Man since the beginning – the other tent pole properties of my childhood – G.I. Joe, Transformers, DC & Marvel Superheroes – have scarcely left the shelves in the intervening years. There’s hundreds of Snake Eyes, Optimus Primes, Spider-Men, and Batmen. Mattel has continually strangled MOTU to the best of their ability. They let the line die in the 80s, left it dormant in the 90s, and mismanaged it to an early death just this decade. It should be obvious to just about anyone that Mattel doesn’t know what to do with Masters of the Universe.
So, to you, the nameless individual(s), who keeps stepping in and saying “don’t do this” & “don’t do that” to the MOTU team.
You’ve struck gold.
You’ve got some of the greatest sculptors in action figure history making these toys. Let them do their work.
You’ve got a real MOTU fan as Brand Manager. He has already rescued Masters of the Universe from your death grip. Let him do his work.
They’ve made this success. They’ve charged the fan base. They’ve put together a toy line that keeps fans coming back month after month – ordering through a hellportal of a website, no less – to get the next awesome figure whether it’s straight from the original or has some elements thrown in from one of the other eras. When they bring you windswept Marzo or a 200x Whiplash head, they know they’re doing.
So step aside.
You will only break it.
You will only screw it up.
You will only send Masters of the Universe back to where Toy Guru & the Four Horsemen found it. In the vault. Unused. Not making money.
Whatever your reason for these edicts, we (the collectors) don’t care. Let Classics celebrate all eras of Masters of the Universe. Let all fans be included. Put your trust in the Scott Neitlich and the team he’s assembled. They’ve given you this opportunity. Let them run with it.