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Thread: How did the original line drop from 400 million in sales to 7 million in one year?

  1. #76
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    Hello everyone.

    I was 10 years old when Motu arrived in my country Spain. I remember it perfectly as the stream line to all the toys of the time. It sold without stopping and we all had motu. It was the main toy for everyone. The second wave remained very popular, also the third and fourth. From the Horde the following waves did not give the size, reissues of He Man and Skeletor that do not convince and it was impossible to acquire the original He Man and Skeletor and the most popular figures of the first waves. They produced antiquity of figures that did not get to convince the children of the time, I lived it because I have Menksres brothers who engulfed Ninja Turtles and Gi-Joe. The next and overnight Motu disappeared from the toy stores. Mattel has never known how to redirect this line, always obsessed with short-term profitability and whether to give time to its products, other brands have done well, Turtles for example.

    Regards

  2. #77
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    Larry was one of the most talented writers in the industry and a true gentleman to boot. When I sent him the series bible for NA, asking him if he'd like to write for it, he took the time to thoroughly read it, then called me back and graciously said it just wasn't for him -- no slamming of the concept, no pompousness; just a graceful turndown and sincerely wishing me and Jetlag the best of luck on it.

    What a guy. Class. He's missed...terribly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris85 View Post
    I wanted to like it, but no. When Larry DiTillio left Filmation, the writing for She-Ra went downhill.
    - - - Updated - - -

    Amazing information. Thanks for it, Penny.

    Quote Originally Posted by Penny Dreadful View Post
    It always cracks me up when I see this.

    According to my interview with Mark Ellis, former Mattel Director of Marketing, it was discovered that 30-40% of the customers collecting MOTU in the 80's were girls: "Girls loved Masters of the Universe and we were blown away when the first purchase study came back and said 30 - 40% of the purchases were for girls. That result set the girls side of Mattel in motion and they developed and launched the She-Ra line."

    I think it might have been Jill Barad or Janice V. Hamlin who put the number a little lower, at 20%.

    However, in 'Mastering the Universe', Roger Sweet basically corroborates what Mark Ellis said: "Worth noting here is that girls accounted for an incredible 38 percent of the sales of all Masters figures."

    So, technically, you could argue that MOTU was already a "girly" thing. Ha!

    The interest from girls in the MOTU toys and the cartoon led directly to She-Ra, which was also very successful in its own right.

    Re: the reason things went down the tubes for MOTU...
    As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I have it on good authority from someone who was at Mattel during this time that it came down to the following - "despite warnings to the contrary, Glenn Hastings and Tom Kalinske at Mattel utterly flooded the market with MOTU in the Spring (after the Holidays). It was compared to shipping out massive amounts of Winter coats to stores in the middle of Summer. Retailers still had product and couldn't handle the huge influx which glutted the market during a time when people weren't buying as much."

    Whether that's accurate or not is a matter of conjecture at this point, but they were very clear with me about why it happened, and even said several people tried tried to warn Kalinske and Hastings not to do it.

    I think there might have been another component as well.
    It could be that the brand itself didn't age along with its audience. The subject matter and tone probably should have matured a little bit, sort of like how the Harry Potter books did as Harry and his friends got older and progressed through their years at Hogwarts.

    I know when things shifted to New Adventures, the Italian comics got into themes and stories that were more in keeping with what I imagine a teenage audience would have liked. There are some storylines with political overtones and gray area moral dilemmas along with more serious dialogue and extremely detailed and somewhat psychedelic artwork.

    An evolution into slightly more mature or complex stories for MOTU/POP might have kept more of the first waves of fans, who were in their early teens or pre-teens going into their teens at that point, onboard. As much as I love that stuff now, I remember feeling kind of like MOTU was skewing more to a younger demographic as we went from '85 into '86. But maybe it was more that I was getting older while the brand was “staying the same age.”
    Last edited by Heeeere's Olesker!; December 29, 2020 at 04:49pm.

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lich Leech View Post
    I do think the 1986 wave is the weakest. The Snake Men are very good, most of the rest of that wave, not so much, at least as far as the figures go.
    ^This was the biggest factor for me.^
    The 1986 figures are stupid (Ooh! Extendar is my favorite MOTU! nope.), don't fit well into the fantasy theme (Rio Blast looks like Bravestar or even a C.O.P.S. toy rather than MOTU), and most are gimmicks in action figure shape (squirt gun shaped like a elephant guy, really?) rather than the other way around: cool action figure with a feature (nifty twist punch or rad karate chop.)
    I think only the addition of She-Ra baddies such as the Horde or Snake-Men in MOTU packaging prevented 1986 from killing the toy line outright. Adding unrelated material like the orbs in MOTU packaging when clearly they were designed as an unrelated different toy concept not originally in the Master Universe was a stupid idea.
    Coupled with overstock inventory problems, new blood having trouble finding or buying 1st tier characters such as He-Man, the cartoon tie-in over with, and competing retail products for Christmas/Birthday present dollars such as Nintendo dominating, the writing was on the wall by 1986. A handful of cool figures in 1987 (King Randor, Sorceress, ScareGlow, Ninjor) couldn't save it and a movie that didn't match the toy line or cartoon definitely didn't help.

    Aging out of the original fans is definitely an issue, kids went from kindergarten to Junior High School with that toy line and their interests matured or changed to newer toy lines. My little brother had Barney the Dinosaur toys, stuffed plush, lamp, bedsheets, even a play table; a true Barney fanatic and one day simply came to my mom and said, "Barney's gotta go mom I need Power Rangers."

    As for my personal data point for why Masters of the Universe failed for us as consumers:
    I was 5 in 1982 the perfect target demographic for the toy line debut. Mom bought the entire 1982 line for my brother and me. Same in 1983 and 1984. 1st and 2nd grade we were rushing home for school to catch the cartoon, were wearing the jammies and toting the lunchboxes; completely all in devoted to the brand.

    By 1985 our parents had buyer fatigue. Plus these toys are big taking up a lot of toy box and bedroom floor space, so they start to get a lot more selective in their purchases. By contrast several fist fulls of 1980's G.I. Joes or Star Wars takes up far less storage or play space. They didn't buy variant He-Man/Skeletor gimmick weapons versions, any new vehicles or the Fright Zone; two castles are enough for two boys.
    1986 they see the first direct negative feedback from us, "this guy is dumb, so is this one" without any real winner awesome figures on Christmas and the parents who are buying these this say, "Ah ha! it's done."
    1987 at 10 years old Nintendo was taking much of our time and interest away from MOTU coupled with G.I. Joe, Karate Kid, Chuck Norris and Thundercats toys competing directly all with current cartoon support, so MOTU was nearly forgotten about. A few figures showed up as presents but we were no longer heavily invested or devoted or collecting the line so even if it had kept going in 1988 in the U.S. we likely wouldn't have cared. Our 1987 Christmas wish list was loaded with Nintendo games not action figures. By the time the movie was released we saw previews and didn't even want to go, although my mom did buy the three movie tie-in figures.

    in 1988 Ninja Turtles cartoons became fun to watch, but because the toy line was extensive and a large investment in emulation of MOTU our parents who were keenly aware of our current interests didn't buy, it was a product for the younger kids at 5-8 in 1988 not as much for 11 year olds, so we never got into that line. The 1989 Batman movie created a totally new mania for us. We had to have shirts, candy, posters, toys, cereal, vehicles, costumes, etc. of Batman at 12 years old, and didn't even seem to notice mom giving all the MOTU figures to her buddy's younger kid as hand me downs.
    The transition to Jr. High by 1990 and toys became an after thought a few G.I. Joes or Marvel Super Heroes toys were bought but by then toys were no longer the go-to presents or purchases for 13 year olds.

  4. #79
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    A lot of good points have been made above but I'll add my observations anyway. Being in my early 20s and an avid toy collector when the line went "belly up" I remember stores just being overloaded with product, enough to fill a semi-trailer or two at every major store and the stuff didn't seem to move once things were over and it hit clearance (or the clearance aisle just kept getting restocked) then one day it just all seemed to disappear from everywhere. I didn't collect MOTU but I was an avid Star Wars collector and even with all of the product that Kenner pumped out it never really seemed overwhelming to me. It seemed like they had a handle on how much and how fast to release, Mattel just seemed to be cranking out figure-after-figure and vehicle-after-vehicle year round. I look at the archives here and I'm floored by how many different items were released in, basically, a five-to-six year period. I had flashbacks to those vintage MOTU days when I was collecting Monster High a few years ago. Each year Mattel would just keep pumping out more and more MH product and it all just became way too much. I was an adult with a lot of disposable income but I found keeping up with the line as a whole with all of it's various sub-lines and store exclusives to be a nightmare even in the internet age, I can't imagine trying to keep up with something like MOTU with no collecting websites or collectors' toy press back in the day.

  5. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft View Post
    ^This was the biggest factor for me.^
    The 1986 figures are stupid (Ooh! Extendar is my favorite MOTU! nope.), don't fit well into the fantasy theme (Rio Blast looks like Bravestar or even a C.O.P.S. toy rather than MOTU), and most are gimmicks in action figure shape (squirt gun shaped like a elephant guy, really?) rather than the other way around: cool action figure with a feature (nifty twist punch or rad karate chop.)
    I think only the addition of She-Ra baddies such as the Horde or Snake-Men in MOTU packaging prevented 1986 from killing the toy line outright. Adding unrelated material like the orbs in MOTU packaging when clearly they were designed as an unrelated different toy concept not originally in the Master Universe was a stupid idea.
    Coupled with overstock inventory problems, new blood having trouble finding or buying 1st tier characters such as He-Man, the cartoon tie-in over with, and competing retail products for Christmas/Birthday present dollars such as Nintendo dominating, the writing was on the wall by 1986. A handful of cool figures in 1987 (King Randor, Sorceress, ScareGlow, Ninjor) couldn't save it and a movie that didn't match the toy line or cartoon definitely didn't help.

    Aging out of the original fans is definitely an issue, kids went from kindergarten to Junior High School with that toy line and their interests matured or changed to newer toy lines. My little brother had Barney the Dinosaur toys, stuffed plush, lamp, bedsheets, even a play table; a true Barney fanatic and one day simply came to my mom and said, "Barney's gotta go mom I need Power Rangers."

    As for my personal data point for why Masters of the Universe failed for us as consumers:
    I was 5 in 1982 the perfect target demographic for the toy line debut. Mom bought the entire 1982 line for my brother and me. Same in 1983 and 1984. 1st and 2nd grade we were rushing home for school to catch the cartoon, were wearing the jammies and toting the lunchboxes; completely all in devoted to the brand.

    By 1985 our parents had buyer fatigue. Plus these toys are big taking up a lot of toy box and bedroom floor space, so they start to get a lot more selective in their purchases. By contrast several fist fulls of 1980's G.I. Joes or Star Wars takes up far less storage or play space. They didn't buy variant He-Man/Skeletor gimmick weapons versions, any new vehicles or the Fright Zone; two castles are enough for two boys.
    1986 they see the first direct negative feedback from us, "this guy is dumb, so is this one" without any real winner awesome figures on Christmas and the parents who are buying these this say, "Ah ha! it's done."
    1987 at 10 years old Nintendo was taking much of our time and interest away from MOTU coupled with G.I. Joe, Karate Kid, Chuck Norris and Thundercats toys competing directly all with current cartoon support, so MOTU was nearly forgotten about. A few figures showed up as presents but we were no longer heavily invested or devoted or collecting the line so even if it had kept going in 1988 in the U.S. we likely wouldn't have cared. Our 1987 Christmas wish list was loaded with Nintendo games not action figures. By the time the movie was released we saw previews and didn't even want to go, although my mom did buy the three movie tie-in figures.

    in 1988 Ninja Turtles cartoons became fun to watch, but because the toy line was extensive and a large investment in emulation of MOTU our parents who were keenly aware of our current interests didn't buy, it was a product for the younger kids at 5-8 in 1988 not as much for 11 year olds, so we never got into that line. The 1989 Batman movie created a totally new mania for us. We had to have shirts, candy, posters, toys, cereal, vehicles, costumes, etc. of Batman at 12 years old, and didn't even seem to notice mom giving all the MOTU figures to her buddy's younger kid as hand me downs.
    The transition to Jr. High by 1990 and toys became an after thought a few G.I. Joes or Marvel Super Heroes toys were bought but by then toys were no longer the go-to presents or purchases for 13 year olds.
    One of the nicest and insightful post i read here. Thanks for sharing.

    And you have cool parents.
    You should have noticed the hands me down moment. I never did when mine was handed down too.

    Sent from my vivo 1718 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by motogp_fanatic; September 13, 2020 at 12:07am.
    By the power of Grayskull!!!!

  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penny Dreadful View Post
    It always cracks me up when I see this.

    According to my interview with Mark Ellis, former Mattel Director of Marketing, it was discovered that 30-40% of the customers collecting MOTU in the 80's were girls: "Girls loved Masters of the Universe and we were blown away when the first purchase study came back and said 30 - 40% of the purchases were for girls. That result set the girls side of Mattel in motion and they developed and launched the She-Ra line."

    I think it might have been Jill Barad or Janice V. Hamlin who put the number a little lower, at 20%.

    However, in 'Mastering the Universe', Roger Sweet basically corroborates what Mark Ellis said: "Worth noting here is that girls accounted for an incredible 38 percent of the sales of all Masters figures."

    So, technically, you could argue that MOTU was already a "girly" thing. Ha!

    The interest from girls in the MOTU toys and the cartoon led directly to She-Ra, which was also very successful in its own right.
    First let me say for the record, I love the idea that girls love He-Man and always have loved that mindset. Not just because I see no reason not to value every fan equally, but also because simply: More fans means more success for a beloved franchise.

    That said?

    Young boys don't seem to have that attitude....and frankly some OLDER boys don't either.

    Ya know... when they were marketing the first Maguire Spider-Man movie, there was a big studio-mandated push to say: "This isn't a superhero movie... it's a romance movie and the girls will love it!"

    But there was still alotta "web-slinging/costumed hero" type promo....AND the name of movie, after all, was still "Spider-Man" (not to mention, on top of all that, the Spider-Man film's audience skewed older than the younger more fickle MOTU children to begin with)

    I was thinking that possibly, the debut of the She-Ra cartoons (and the accompanying merchandise) possibly triggered the worst fears in the same young boy fans who, if the SAME Spider-Man movie (or its sequel) had the title "Mary Jane" would have wanted to avoid the movie because now, just because of the title, it was undeniable... the SECRET WAS OUT: Girls like Spider-Man!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

    And, to continue the analogy, on top of all THAT^^^, She-Ra definitively made He-Man second fiddle. And how about the girls who liked MOTU without MOTU going too far in the more feminine direction She-Ra went? You'd think they'd lose a few of those fans.... or maybe not.

    All I'm saying is, it's possible that the "boy MOTU fans being disenchanted by She-Ra being introduced and hurting the brand" theory could still be valid even IF pre-She-Ra MOTU fans were as as high as 50/50 boys/girls.

    If ya lost half of that half in the first year...it could cause a total collapse.
    This is a link to a YT channel "Dez360" --- a toy-related show I help with... and here's a link to a He-Man parody video Living In Eternia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPmYGVhilGw&t=68s
    GOOD JOURNEY, ORGERS!

  7. #82
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    I think it may have come down to timing.

    MOTU action figures were released in the early 80s, while technology/computers/game consoles weren't readily available yet. So MOTU (and all other action figures/toys) had a head start on computer/video games.

    Mattel captured a generation of young kids - all at the right time. There wasn't a whole lot of other competition in terms of what kids would be interested in at the time. It was all toys, comic books, playing outdoors with eachother and playing with action figures.

    But fast forward just a few short years, and then we had computers and game consoles like Atari, Commodore 64, Nintendo, Sega, etc.

    I think this particular form of entertainment stole the kids away from action figures. Plus, these kids were now a few years older, and ready to outgrow playing with toys.

    And fast forward again to today, and action figures for kids are way down on the list of things they like to do. It was all video games in the mid 80s and still is today.

    The MOTU action-figure era was designated to that one, single generation of the early 80s and was timed perfectly. They cashed in on it. But the video game era quickly came next and put an end to the "playing with toys" era. Now, their "toys" are Xbox, SmartPhones, Tablets, etc.

    I'm proud to say I was a part of it, as I wonder if we'll ever see that same era again.

    Just my 2 cents on it
    Last edited by tpi; September 13, 2020 at 01:24am.

  8. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpi View Post
    I think it may have come down to timing.

    MOTU action figures were released in the early 80s, while technology/computers/game consoles weren't readily available yet. So MOTU (and all other action figures/toys) had a head start on computer/video games.

    Mattel captured a generation of young kids - all at the right time. There wasn't a whole lot of other competition in terms of what kids would be interested in at the time. It was all toys, comic books, playing outdoors with eachother and playing with action figures.

    But fast forward just a few short years, and then we had computers and game consoles like Atari, Commodore 64, Nintendo, Sega, etc.

    I think this particular form of entertainment stole the kids away from action figures. Plus, these kids were now a few years older, and ready to outgrow playing with toys.

    And fast forward again to today, and action figures for kids are way down on the list of things they like to do. It was all video games in the mid 80s and still is today.

    The MOTU action-figure era was designated to that one, single generation of the early 80s and was timed perfectly. They cashed in on it. But the video game era quickly came next and put an end to the "playing with toys" era. Now, their "toys" are Xbox, SmartPhones, Tablets, etc.

    I'm proud to say I was a part of it, as I wonder if we'll ever see that same era again.

    Just my 2 cents on it
    It was a different world in that era of video games. Although we had arcades, home consoles and even handheld games, and video games were THE BIG NEW THING kids were still outside playing most days and playing heavily with toys. Very unlike the screen zombie kids of today that rarely venture outside to play, mostly connect with friends online rather than in person, and spend significantly more time with game screens than toys.

    I had an Atari 2600 and was playing video home console games about the same time I was introduced to He-Man at 5 years old. Both video games and toys occupied my free time. However by 1987 and later the incredible Nintendo Home Entertainment System took up much more of our available play time, although I still played with several kinds of action figures regularly:
    MOTU, G.I. Joe, Star Wars, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Clash of the Titans, Dragon Riders of the Styx, A-Team, Sgt. Rock, G.U.T.S., M.U.S.C.L.E.S., Thundercats, Karate Kid, Chuck Norris and the Action Commandos, Remco Universal Monsters, Batman, D.C. Super Heroes, Marvel Super Heroes, Secret Wars, X-Men etc.

    Over time the shift from playing with to merely displaying toys happened and Nintendo, Comic books, interest in girls and skateboarding occupied the free time slot completely.

    While video games certainly had a huge impact on our overall action figure use, specifically we weren't asking for them as presents anymore because we wanted Nintendo games, the biggest factor for our action figures use decline was we simply aged out by Jr. High School. He-Man isn't as appealing to 13 year olds as it was when they were 5 as far as actual use of toys goes.
    The resounding success of the wildly popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a popular cartoon, toys, cereal, pajamas, movies, comics, etc. (a full multi-media marketing campaign) during the height of Nintendo mania prove that though video games were a significant factor in the decline of MOTU toys it was not the sole cause; and a toy line could be very successful despite stiff competition from video games for the consumer's time and dollars.

    As for the decline of MOTU toys specifically, it was multicausal
    Age of the line
    age of the first fan toy consumers by the end of the line
    unpopularity of the MOTU character toys in 1986, especially gimmicky characters or strange additions to the line such as orbs
    End of the Filmation cartoon in 85
    corporate marketing decisions resulting in overstock of MOTU figures off season causing retailer ordering to cease or shrink and current shelf stock to be discounted in efforts to move product giving the impression consumers weren't buying and causing retailer interest to decline sharply
    advent of Nintendo and the revitalization of the home console video game industry
    Different design team from the original that had made early He-Man popular
    New customers having difficulty locating early main figures causing failure to expand the fan base with younger groups much
    A movie that dissatisfied many if not most of the core fans that didn't resemble the toy line, comics, or cartoon
    size of the toys and playsets themselves, a large multi-year collection takes up a lot of space compared to other toy lines
    Theme change from darker barbarian sci-fi fantasy to a lighter campy mollified kiddie version which alienated some fans
    She-Ra additions toys and cartoon which moved marketing more towards young girls for the shared MOTU universe
    multiple successful competing boy toy lines later in the MOTU run compared to the few competing toy lines during the start of the MOTU run
    Last edited by ravenloft; September 13, 2020 at 04:03pm.

  9. #84
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    Two words: video games.

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    Guys, lets keep this discussion on topic and NOT about each other. Please keep things more respectful. Thanks.

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    Has there been any talk about the production cost of the figures? First couple waves were all about the reused parts and a cohesive (if weird) line... By the end of the line I remember a LOT more unique characters that weren't reusing ANY parts. That had to be expensive on Mattel's part AND it took away from the 'cohesiveness' when we got to things like Snout Spout and rio blast (even though I LOOOOOVE rio blast)

    Also I think Eternia was killing blow. That thing was SOOOO big, and SOOOOOO expensive that immediately signaled an end to the 'collect it all' phase. It was never even an option for me and I imagine most parents wrote it off the first time they saw it too. Then the mini-comics were going away from Castle Grayskull and the Powers of Grayskull wanted to leave He-man behind... and it was pretty much the death knell for MOTU...

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    I think cancelling the animated series had a great deal to do with the death of the MOTU line. Those of us at the right age in '82 were beginning to grow out of playing with toys by '86, and/or getting bored with MOTU. There was nothing to grab that next generation of 5 and 6 year olds to get into these toys. The live action movie came too late and was a total flop. No one who did see it recognized anything on screen as their beloved MOTU from childhood. I think had Mattel invested in a new after school cartoon instead of the motion picture, things would have gone differently.

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    "No one who did see it recognized anything on screen as their beloved MOTU from childhood. I think had Mattel invested in a new after school cartoon instead of the motion picture, things would have gone differently"

    I get the impression that my friends and myself enjoyed the movie despite it taking liberties with the property , it feels a lot more MotU-eque than NA if you ask me

    I never grew out of toys and my love for MotU never went away

    Of course some figures like Extendar doesnt excite me much but you cant dig em all , i guess. Snout Spout is a bit corny and yes , Rio Blast belongs more in Bstarr

    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Take an example : one of the best selling comics in Norway for boys was The Phantom : in '86 they sold 100k copies.....by mid 90s they were struggling , some think video games were to blame - could be cuz the stories were still decent. From 1964-91 it was printed in b/w , the change to color turned off some fans. By '18 the comic was on its death bed , sold less than 10k copies or something , it wasnt profitable enough and kids have no idea who The Phantom is , hes a relic....sad but true. 1212 (!) issues were printed , not bad.......
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    I recently happened upon the Toy Masters documentary that never got an official video release but was put out partially in a podcast form. Episode 4 brought up some points I haven't seen specifically discussed here before. The entire episode and podcast is worth checking out, but particularly the first six minutes or so of this Episode 4: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcas...=1000473400643

    As discussed prior, we know there was a glut of older product at the market. What's interesting is that the international market came into play and was the reason for the extra manufactured releases. I always wondered why Mattel over produced these characters. According to Paul Cleveland, after Mattel produced around 150,000 units of a character, they would make extra for the future international market as it was cheaper to warehouse them than restart manufacturing.

    Mattel executives of the time supposedly wanted bigger bonuses, and used the warehouse of older characters meant for international sales in the States instead, which fulfilled the overage order by domestic retailers creating millions for Mattel, but left the stores with unneeded older product and ultimately hurt the viability of the line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The All American View Post
    Mattel executives of the time supposedly wanted bigger bonuses, and used the warehouse of older characters meant for international sales in the States instead, which fulfilled the overage order by domestic retailers creating millions for Mattel, but left the stores with unneeded older product and ultimately hurt the viability of the line.
    That's a good anecdote that I've never really heard pop up before. It's funny to think America was drowning in figures they couldn't sell while Europe was starved for those same figures. I wonder if the internet had existed then if there would have been some type of "equalizing effect" that could have potentially diverted the figures where they were wanted, and thus staved off defeat for a couple of more years.

    The MOTU vibe in Europe was definitely longer lived than it was (in my experience) in the US. My family bounced back and forth a dozen times in 10 years between the US and Europe due to my father's job. MOTU was still a force to be reckoned with in 1989 in terms of public kid conscience, whereas all my American friends had moved on to leaner, greener, fighting machiner pastures. I think it may have been in part due to the staggered releases and droughts in availability.

    I remember walking into a toystore in Stockholm in early '89 and seeing a big MOTU display of the '87 figures, all marked "NY!" (new). That was where I picked up my POG dinosaurs, which for years I thought were Europe-only releases simply because I never saw them for sale in the US. Tower Tools, Cliff Climber and Scubattack were purchased in Germany in the fall of '89. Tytus and Megator were purchased in France in early 1990.

    New Adventures is the one that really confuses me. I never saw a single NA figure in the US at either K-Mart or Wal-Mart. My family rarely went to toystores or really anything without the word "Mart" in its title. I was wholly unaware of the line's existence until I saw a bunch of filthy, dogeared, taped-up cardbacks circa 1993 at an Ame's store. They all had a Zayre's pricetag on them which meant they must have been sitting there for a few years.

    The last time I recall seeing MOTU on the shelf in the US was December '87 at K-Mart. My dad handed me $10 and told me "Merry Christmas." There were a couple of Eternia Playsets marked down to $49 and some random figures marked down to 2.99. All the Meteorbs, Blade, Sssqueeze and Gwildor were in pegwarming abundance, along with Stilt Stalker, Megalaser and Jet Sled. I kinda figured then the line was dead. I purchased Blade and Snake Face, and those were the last two I remember buying in America.
    Most wanted Origins figures: Mighty Spector, Fisto's Cousin's Babysitter, and Mer-Man's Seventh Grade Crush.

  16. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by The All American View Post
    I recently happened upon the Toy Masters documentary that never got an official video release but was put out partially in a podcast form. Episode 4 brought up some points I haven't seen specifically discussed here before. The entire episode and podcast is worth checking out, but particularly the first six minutes or so of this Episode 4: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcas...=1000473400643

    As discussed prior, we know there was a glut of older product at the market. What's interesting is that the international market came into play and was the reason for the extra manufactured releases. I always wondered why Mattel over produced these characters. According to Paul Cleveland, after Mattel produced around 150,000 units of a character, they would make extra for the future international market as it was cheaper to warehouse them than restart manufacturing.

    Mattel executives of the time supposedly wanted bigger bonuses, and used the warehouse of older characters meant for international sales in the States instead, which fulfilled the overage order by domestic retailers creating millions for Mattel, but left the stores with unneeded older product and ultimately hurt the viability of the line.
    I just listened to that recently. Such a shame that a short-sighted quest for a slightly bigger bonus killed off an entire toyline.

  17. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night Stalker View Post
    That's a good anecdote that I've never really heard pop up before. It's funny to think America was drowning in figures they couldn't sell while Europe was starved for those same figures. I wonder if the internet had existed then if there would have been some type of "equalizing effect" that could have potentially diverted the figures where they were wanted, and thus staved off defeat for a couple of more years.

    The MOTU vibe in Europe was definitely longer lived than it was (in my experience) in the US. My family bounced back and forth a dozen times in 10 years between the US and Europe due to my father's job. MOTU was still a force to be reckoned with in 1989 in terms of public kid conscience, whereas all my American friends had moved on to leaner, greener, fighting machiner pastures. I think it may have been in part due to the staggered releases and droughts in availability.

    I remember walking into a toystore in Stockholm in early '89 and seeing a big MOTU display of the '87 figures, all marked "NY!" (new). That was where I picked up my POG dinosaurs, which for years I thought were Europe-only releases simply because I never saw them for sale in the US. Tower Tools, Cliff Climber and Scubattack were purchased in Germany in the fall of '89. Tytus and Megator were purchased in France in early 1990.

    New Adventures is the one that really confuses me. I never saw a single NA figure in the US at either K-Mart or Wal-Mart. My family rarely went to toystores or really anything without the word "Mart" in its title. I was wholly unaware of the line's existence until I saw a bunch of filthy, dogeared, taped-up cardbacks circa 1993 at an Ame's store. They all had a Zayre's pricetag on them which meant they must have been sitting there for a few years.

    The last time I recall seeing MOTU on the shelf in the US was December '87 at K-Mart. My dad handed me $10 and told me "Merry Christmas." There were a couple of Eternia Playsets marked down to $49 and some random figures marked down to 2.99. All the Meteorbs, Blade, Sssqueeze and Gwildor were in pegwarming abundance, along with Stilt Stalker, Megalaser and Jet Sled. I kinda figured then the line was dead. I purchased Blade and Snake Face, and those were the last two I remember buying in America.
    I often think how awesome but different it'd be back then if eBay and such existed. I know my sister and I would have been begging our parents to get certain figures. However, we were lucky in that my father did a lot of travel for work, so I got a lot of releases I wouldn't have just locally. He told me that Indianapolis, Indiana of all places usually had a nice stock of rarer stuff my sister and I wanted. We also got a lot of figures from California (likely Los Angeles).

    Around late 1987, yes, the line felt like it was dying. The cartoon was just in re-run and things felt in limbo, especially by 1988. I was just waiting for something to pop back up but it never did. Well, New Adventures did...but that's another story. I have no idea how I would have reacted to the Powers of Grayskull line with He-Ro, but I do think the concept could have been a winner if done correctly.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lich Leech View Post
    I just listened to that recently. Such a shame that a short-sighted quest for a slightly bigger bonus killed off an entire toyline.
    Totally! Maybe it's just my own bias, but I think the original Masters of the Universe line could have lasted several more years. G.I.JOE: A Real American Hero started in 1982 and lasted until 1994. They had a mostly ongoing cartoon and refreshed characters. To get new kids into a line, I do think it's important to have access to older characters. Usually that happens through repaints or variants than straight re-releases, but if Mattel was more judicious in how they sold older tertiary characters, I think that would have helped rather than dumping them all domestically to make quick profits.

    As mentioned in earlier in this thread by Kreuger and the podcast episode, if the movie had come out a year prior, it may have helped.

    There were a lot of things going on at Mattel that probably played a big role in them being desperate. It was stated here and in the podcast too that the death of Mattel Electronics really hurt the company in 1982. I'm sure Secret Wars, Barbie, and Hot Wheels did good business, but it was interesting that they said about 95% of Mattel's profit growth came from Masters of the Universe from 1982 to 1986 I believe. They leaned too heavily into it.

    I'm guessing they thought of it as the new boy's evergreen brand like Hot Wheels, but there was so much competition for boy's action figures back then. I realize interest in Masters of the Universe would have waned regardless, but again, G.I.JOE was able to sustain itself in the same style size for 12 years. Some new colors, re-releases, cartoon episodes, and additional heroes/villains could have helped to bring in new kids/customers.

  18. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by The All American View Post
    I often think how awesome but different it'd be back then if eBay and such existed. I know my sister and I would have been begging our parents to get certain figures. However, we were lucky in that my father did a lot of travel for work, so I got a lot of releases I wouldn't have just locally. He told me that Indianapolis, Indiana of all places usually had a nice stock of rarer stuff my sister and I wanted. We also got a lot of figures from California (likely Los Angeles).

    Around late 1987, yes, the line felt like it was dying. The cartoon was just in re-run and things felt in limbo, especially by 1988. I was just waiting for something to pop back up but it never did. Well, New Adventures did...but that's another story. I have no idea how I would have reacted to the Powers of Grayskull line with He-Ro, but I do think the concept could have been a winner if done correctly.
    That makes sense. Indianapolis was one of the big test markets for Mattel back then, so I assume they got a wider variety than most areas. I'm guessing LA would be the same due to Mattel's Hawthorne offices.
    Most wanted Origins figures: Mighty Spector, Fisto's Cousin's Babysitter, and Mer-Man's Seventh Grade Crush.

  19. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night Stalker View Post
    That makes sense. Indianapolis was one of the big test markets for Mattel back then, so I assume they got a wider variety than most areas. I'm guessing LA would be the same due to Mattel's Hawthorne offices.
    I never knew that about Indianapolis. Where did you hear or read that? What were all the test markets for Mattel?

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    Some really interesting points made here!

    My impression, also from watching the odd documentary, was that Mattel failed to recruit the next generation of buyers. When you start a line aimed at 5-7 year olds, unsurprisingly, they will have outgrown your product in 3-4 years time. So as a company you are trying to keep those customers attached to you as long as possible - by releasing new waves of increasingly obscure characters. At the same time, you have to figure our how to attract the next wave of kids, getting them set up in that universe you are trying to create and sell to them. Add to that the lack of meda-tie ins (the Filmation show had wrapped up, so it couldn't help expand the product line). Seems like a hard balance to strike - surely it would run the risk of neglecting one group or the other, while also diluting your product protfolio with too many characters. Probably not an easy challenge to coordinate production while making sure that your audience finds what they are looking for when they are looking for it.

    Actually, I think this really does sum it up best so far:

    Quote Originally Posted by ravenloft View Post
    Age of the line
    age of the first fan toy consumers by the end of the line
    unpopularity of the MOTU character toys in 1986, especially gimmicky characters or strange additions to the line such as orbs
    End of the Filmation cartoon in 85
    corporate marketing decisions resulting in overstock of MOTU figures off season causing retailer ordering to cease or shrink and current shelf stock to be discounted in efforts to move product giving the impression consumers weren't buying and causing retailer interest to decline sharply
    advent of Nintendo and the revitalization of the home console video game industry
    Different design team from the original that had made early He-Man popular
    New customers having difficulty locating early main figures causing failure to expand the fan base with younger groups much
    A movie that dissatisfied many if not most of the core fans that didn't resemble the toy line, comics, or cartoon
    size of the toys and playsets themselves, a large multi-year collection takes up a lot of space compared to other toy lines
    Theme change from darker barbarian sci-fi fantasy to a lighter campy mollified kiddie version which alienated some fans
    She-Ra additions toys and cartoon which moved marketing more towards young girls for the shared MOTU universe
    multiple successful competing boy toy lines later in the MOTU run compared to the few competing toy lines during the start of the MOTU run
    Last edited by Lasastard; January 29, 2021 at 11:04am.

  21. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by The All American View Post
    I never knew that about Indianapolis. Where did you hear or read that? What were all the test markets for Mattel?
    I had a friend/associate that works for Mattel, and their mother worked there in the eighties, so a lot of my info comes from personal anecdotes.

    Each region had one or two test markets. Indianapolis and Toledo were the upper Midwest. Southeast was Atlanta and Meridian, Mississippi. Northeast was Mechanicsburg, PA and somewhere in NJ. Not sure about the western territories. I believe Plano TX was also a test area.

    These were specific to MAF (male action figures). GAF/Barbie usually had different test regions, but surprisingly She-Ra/POP was tested alongside the MOTU/MAF line.

    CEL (Intellivision/Electronics) had testmarkets in Lawrence Kansas and Charlotte, NC.
    Most wanted Origins figures: Mighty Spector, Fisto's Cousin's Babysitter, and Mer-Man's Seventh Grade Crush.

  22. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lasastard View Post
    Some really interesting points made here!

    My impression, also from watching the odd documentary, was that Mattel failed to recruit the next generation of buyers. When you start a line aimed at 5-7 year olds, unsurprisingly, they will have outgrown your product in 3-4 years time. So as a company you are trying to keep those customers attached to you as long as possible - by releasing new waves of increasingly obscure characters. At the same time, you have to figure our how to attract the next wave of kids, getting them set up in that universe you are trying to create and sell to them. Add to that the lack of meda-tie ins (the Filmation show had wrapped up, so it couldn't help expand the product line). Seems like a hard balance to strike - surely it would run the risk of neglecting one group or the other, while also diluting your product protfolio with too many characters. Probably not an easy challenge to coordinate production while making sure that your audience finds what they are looking for when they are looking for it.

    Actually, I think this really does sum it up best so far:
    The age of the customer base cannot be denied. I was born in 1982 so my whole life was Masters of the Universe, I was good for more product for another 5 years or so by 1987. But we have a lot of people on here born in the 1970's and they were the ripe age in 1982 for new product, with many falling off around 1986.

    I wonder if Mattel had capitalized on the Powers of Grayskull line a tad earlier, if that could of helped make the line evergreen like Yoshi did for Mario or what Mario did for Donkey Kong.


    Quote Originally Posted by Night Stalker View Post
    I had a friend/associate that works for Mattel, and their mother worked there in the eighties, so a lot of my info comes from personal anecdotes.

    Each region had one or two test markets. Indianapolis and Toledo were the upper Midwest. Southeast was Atlanta and Meridian, Mississippi. Northeast was Mechanicsburg, PA and somewhere in NJ. Not sure about the western territories. I believe Plano TX was also a test area.

    These were specific to MAF (male action figures). GAF/Barbie usually had different test regions, but surprisingly She-Ra/POP was tested alongside the MOTU/MAF line.

    CEL (Intellivision/Electronics) had testmarkets in Lawrence Kansas and Charlotte, NC.
    Awesome information! Thank you!

  23. #98
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    Hmm....

    Worth noting more than anything is probably what comprised those shipments that led to the 'record 400 million dollar year.' From toys that made us, toy guru and the power of grayskull, it seems that mattel flooded the market with stuff everybody already had. I'm also pretty sure the retailers wanted new characters and were generally pretty miffed they basically got flooded with rereleases, too. I just cant recall which of those 3 docs said it.

    I mean, for as hot as motu was, for as long as it was, at that point in time, there was such a thing as market saturation. Not to discount 'new kids' potentially jumping in on the line to replace older kids who hit puberty or found something else, but the eighties were all about hand me downs and getting awesome deals at garage sales and stores like goodwill.

    Especially back then, the LAST thing in the world that was hard to come by was heman stuff in good condition for super cheap. Hell, they didnt even really get scarce on ebay until a few years ago.

    In my mind, motu died then for the same reason it died in 200x. And origins is already falling victim to it too. Stores want --and are ordering-- new product full of new characters, but are getting old product with old characters people already bought. or finding nothing but the pruces on the pegs at all.

    It truly is mind boggling. I can go to any retail store i want and find the barbie with the shape, color, AND accessories i saw advertise on youtube, but i havent EVER been able to go to a store to buy motu anytime a variation of this line has allegedly been at retail.

    Especially when exclusive.

  24. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by cminc View Post
    Worth noting more than anything is probably what comprised those shipments that led to the 'record 400 million dollar year.' From toys that made us, toy guru and the power of grayskull, it seems that mattel flooded the market with stuff everybody already had. I'm also pretty sure the retailers wanted new characters and were generally pretty miffed they basically got flooded with rereleases, too. I just cant recall which of those 3 docs said it.

    I mean, for as hot as motu was, for as long as it was, at that point in time, there was such a thing as market saturation. Not to discount 'new kids' potentially jumping in on the line to replace older kids who hit puberty or found something else, but the eighties were all about hand me downs and getting awesome deals at garage sales and stores like goodwill.

    Especially back then, the LAST thing in the world that was hard to come by was heman stuff in good condition for super cheap. Hell, they didnt even really get scarce on ebay until a few years ago.

    In my mind, motu died then for the same reason it died in 200x. And origins is already falling victim to it too. Stores want --and are ordering-- new product full of new characters, but are getting old product with old characters people already bought. or finding nothing but the pruces on the pegs at all.

    It truly is mind boggling. I can go to any retail store i want and find the barbie with the shape, color, AND accessories i saw advertise on youtube, but i havent EVER been able to go to a store to buy motu anytime a variation of this line has allegedly been at retail.

    Especially when exclusive.
    Mattel gonna Mattel. They're the kid that keeps wondering why his hair catches on fire each time he sticks a fork in the power outlet. A lot of it gets down to the way they're structured and the lack of communication and synergy between departments that are more often in competition with one another rather than working in harmony. Their way of doing business is archaic in many regards.

    It's almost worse that they've only been shipping He-Man and Skeletor. Most people that wanted those two have already purchased them, so when you walk into a store and the pegs are loaded with 40 He-Man and 40 Skeletors and nothing else, it makes the entire Origins line look like it's not moving. If they weren't shipping any product at all, it would at least look like the line is sold out consistently.
    Most wanted Origins figures: Mighty Spector, Fisto's Cousin's Babysitter, and Mer-Man's Seventh Grade Crush.

  25. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night Stalker View Post
    I had a friend/associate that works for Mattel, and their mother worked there in the eighties, so a lot of my info comes from personal anecdotes.

    Each region had one or two test markets. Indianapolis and Toledo were the upper Midwest. Southeast was Atlanta and Meridian, Mississippi. Northeast was Mechanicsburg, PA and somewhere in NJ. Not sure about the western territories. I believe Plano TX was also a test area.

    These were specific to MAF (male action figures). GAF/Barbie usually had different test regions, but surprisingly She-Ra/POP was tested alongside the MOTU/MAF line.

    CEL (Intellivision/Electronics) had testmarkets in Lawrence Kansas and Charlotte, NC.

    Quote Originally Posted by The All American View Post
    Awesome information! Thank you!
    Just wanted to add, I talked to my father and he said that Seattle, Washington was another area that tended to have rarer figures my sister and I wanted. Perhaps Seattle was one of the western test markets.

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