Hey gang, Scott “Toy Guru” Neitlich here…
A lot has gone down in the last 60 days or so and it being 2012 (the 30th anniversary of the brand!) I want to try and clear the air, squash some rumors and move forward together with all of our customers and fans for a great 2012 and beyond.
So first off, the line is doing FANTASTIC! Yes, we have had some shipping delays that pushed Demo-Man into January and Sorceress into February (more on this below) but this is not the Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse for the line. I know customers were caught off guard by the recent schedule changes and apologize for that. We are all very passionate about getting new figures as soon as possible. But Mattel also wants to deliver the best product possible and that means delays will happen from time to time. Expect them on all Mattycollector.com lines (the LOSH 12-pack shipped over 14 month later than originally announced, but it did make it out there!). Shipping delays do and will continue to happen – they are not something Mattel is in a position to “compensate” fans for. There are just too many variables, from vendor issues, to weather conditions on the ocean, to simple things like human error. This is a case where I urge fans to take a different mind set and just assume there will be delays every now and then in our effort to get you the best product possible. Better to except delays leading to schedule changes ands expect from time to time as a part of collecting an online toy line.
As for the big elephant in the room, let me try to clarify what happened with the Demo-Man delay:
Demo-Man was (and is) tied into the 2011 subscription, so we needed to “sell” him in 2011. At the last minute, we found out that he was not going to be 100% in stock by December 15th so we made the call to sell him, but not ship him until he was in stock. In hindsight, this was not the best plan.
The result was mass confusion, only enhanced by the fact that I did a poor job communicating what happened to the fans and customers. We never intended for this to spiral out of control like this. To add insult to injury, additional unexpected delays happened in early January which then pushed him from shipping in early January to mid-January Again, not what we intended, but it happened and it was not something we wanted to happen.
To correct this, going forward we are committed to communicating better with our customers and explain issues/delays like this upfront. We also changed our policy so that we will not sell a figure until it is 100% in stock.
This is why we needed to move Sorceress and Fearless Photog out to February. We may need to move other figures around in 2012 (for many brands) as well. Moves like this should be expected and are a normal part of business for an online collector toy line.
Another bug in the system has been quality control. Obviously, we constantly do everything we can to put out the best product possible. When running a high-end collector line at EXTREMELY low quotas, there will sometimes be production problems. If you do receive an item that is damaged or incorrect, please call Customer Service and send it back for a replacement. Please note that Mattel's policy is that we do not replace product until the original has been returned. You must return the defective item to get a replacement. We will not be replacing items without a return (yes, we will pay for shipping!).
I also want to address our absolute commitment to improving customer service. Yes, there has been some poor communication in the past and customers have had difficulty with things like changing addresses or credit cards and finding out the status of orders. We are 100% committed to making these things an issue of the past and are actively working with our partners at Digital River to make massive improvements. For example, we hope to announce soon a new functionality to the site that will give you much more control over changing your address, credit cards, etc. Please continue to let us know how we can improve and what the biggest issues are. We want to fix them and constantly improve. Thank you for your understanding as we keep working on this to make the buying and shipping process as smooth as possible.
Also, to hit a few other small points floating around the net:
1: Yes, Wind Raider “sold out” but it still only did okay for us. This is due to the extremely high tooling of an item like this. We “sold out,” but we were very conservative on our quota. Taking 3 days to sell through an extremely small number of Wind Raiders is why it was judged as only doing “okay.” For the very small number of units we produced, we needed to see a slightly faster sell-through to convince management that a fully tooled vehicle is the right expansion for the line.
Future vehicles are not off the table, we just need to relook at how we offer them and the price points and quota. There will not be a vehicle in 2012 (not due to Wind Raider sales, but rather due to offering Granamyr, the giant dragon!) and we will wait to see how the 2013 subscription sells before announcing any more larger fully tooled items like vehicles. Honestly, supporting the sub is the best way to tell upper management there is a robust customer base and larger items should be considered.
MOTUC is absolutely transitioning to a much more subscription-based line going forward. We need these sub holders to maintain the minimum production quota we know will sell ("day of" sales are more like icing on the cake). So when the 2013 sub goes on sale in July, your purchase is your vote for more MOTUC toys and more large items. I'm not trying to make you spend more, but we highly encourage you to purchase a sub, not only to show your interest, but day-of stock will continue to go down as we concentrate on sub quotas only. There will be some day-of product in 2012, but not as much as we had in the past. There will also not be reissues going forward of any figure past Man-E-Faces. (Older reissue figures may still be available from time to time, and He-Man and Skeletor will be up throughout 2012 for new fans or those who want to celebrate the 30th with the core characters!)
2: Some fans pointed out they would prefer a revised hip piece on the new females to make the legs higher. I did check with design and indeed the change between the prototypes and the final product is 100% the logistics of translating a non-articulated prototype into a fully articulated plastic toy. Fans see the Horsemen sculpts at cons with small pegs and more deco opts, and expect this to be reflected in all the final product. But when we have to cost out a figure and physically translate a non-articulated statue into a movable figure, adjustments have to be made. This is why the toys don’t always match the prototypes. Mass producing plastic, movable, articulated figures is A LOT different from hand-painting and sculpting a one-of-a-kind prototype.
Design has also confirmed that the current 2.0 female pelvis piece also has to accommodate 3 different types of female legs. This universal nature of this piece is one of the reasons the legs ride lower. We can absolutely look into developing a new female hip piece in the future, but this won’t happen with the next female in the line. Figures are costed out months, if not years, in advance. We can’t just “add” a new tooled piece this late in the game for any 2012 figures. It takes 12-14 months to develop something like this. But we will certainly look into this in our effort to always improve product! Thanks for the great feedback.
3: Fans overwhelmingly asked us to ship Shadow Weaver in February, so we will not be moving her to March. Thank for the feedback!
4: The Create a Figure Contest entry period is over. Please do not send in more entries, they will be discarded and not judged. Also, please note that all entries remain the property of Mattel. We will not be returning any entries to the creators (even if you included a return envelope). For legal reasons, we are required to hold onto all entries whether they win or not.
At the end of the day, (and I know I have said this before), despite shipping delays and the occasional quality problem, we are all flipping getting new MOTUC figures every month! Seriously! Do you ever take a step back and just look at your MOTUC shelf? It is so easy to be negative and point out things we want different (I do this all the time and drive our design team nuts!) but man, just to take a look at that ever growing MOTUC shelf… did you really ever think we would get a Griffin figure or the Star Sisters? Man, how cool is this line shaping up?!
A few years ago there was no MOTUC product at all. The very fact that new figures come out every month is really an amazing thing, especially when you take into account this is only sold online with no entertainment support. MOTUC really is the little line that could. I know we are all very passionate about MOTUC (me too!) but for Mattel, MOTUC is not Barbie or Hot Wheels. We put everything we can into it and, for the very small audience and customer base MOTUC has, we try to get as many resources as we can.
There will always be nitpicks here and there - that this figure could have been different or that this figure could have shipped at a different time. But at the end of the day, man, what an amazing line MOTUC has become and show no sign of stopping anytime soon. As long as these figures are selling, we will do all our best to continue growing the line. With so many awesome figures on tap for 2012, the future has never looked better for MOTUC!
So in conclusion, I personally apologize for the Demo-Man delay. Communication was handled poorly (by myself) but delays do and will continue to happen. Expect them rather then get angry over them (you’ll feel better and not be angry all the time!). But by no longer shipping product until it is 100% in stock, we shouldn’t see a Demo-Man issue again.
Our next big reveal will be at Collector Night at New York Toy Fair on February 12 from 3pm-6pm ET. This is a press-only event but expect at least four \new MOTUC products to be shown. And I’ll be on hand to do a live Q & A and clear up any remaining issues.
Happy 30th anniversary, everyone. With so much great stuff on tap for the rest of the year and beyond, MOTU is ready to take the world by storm!