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Thread: Why Mattel Produced Stratos in Two Alternate Variations: A Hypothesis

  1. #51
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Huh. I've only got three armbands in front of me to examine at the moment: Two Stratos Malaysia and one weapons pack Taiwan. As far as I can tell, none of them have batch numbers.


    Next to the Stratos are two early release Beast Man figures. The one I am holding up to the camera is a white dot eye, and you can see the 1 marked on the band. The other band is a 2 batch. The other figure in the background is 2 and 2 batch for both arm bands.
    Assuming your theory on batch numbers is correct (and I have no qualms against it), then armbands 1 and 2 were produced on different machines simultaneously; they had to be labeled "1," "2," "3," or "4" because they shared exactly the same mold, and there would be no way to track their machine of origin otherwise. The lack of a batch number (regardless of product number) on the wings indicates that wings were not produced simultaneously on separate machines - nor were jetpacks. As jzguitars suggested, it would seem likely that one day a factory would be producing a red wing Stratos, and the next day they would produce a blue wing Stratos (or blue first, and then red). The lack of label on the wings still gives me the impression that the wings were on the same sprue as another product, but that sprue may have been either the jetpack sprue or the armband sprue - without a label on the wings, there's no way of knowing.

    Does this all track?

    Edit: I do wonder why they would have used two machines to produce armbands of the same color, however. Whether jzguitars is correct or not that Mattel had machines which could automatically remove items from a sprue, wouldn't it have been more efficient to have one machine producing a set of armbands since both armbands are going to be put on a single figure?

    Edit 2: I may have answered my own question: The wings were probably on the same sprue as their armbands. The machine would pop out a left wing and left armband together and then a worker would glue one armband to one wing and pass it on down the assembly line. If this scenario is correct, then we'll probably see a pattern of left wings being associated with either a 3 or 4 armband consistently, and right wings being associated with the other armband consistently.
    Last edited by Universe; May 4, 2021 at 03:04am.

  2. #52
    Heroic Warrior Springor Spanior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    Huh. I've only got three armbands in front of me to examine at the moment: Two Stratos Malaysia and one weapons pack Taiwan. As far as I can tell, none of them have batch numbers.
    I pulled my Malaysia Stratos out of storage, and the arm bands both have batch 4 numbers. Notice that the batch number is etched inward into the arm band itself, rather than protruding outward. This is true of the Taiwan arm bands as well, and could be a reason why you are not seeing the number, as it likely has faded over time. This suggests that the etching might have been done on the arm band rather than on the mold, because otherwise the number should protrude.

    As for the weapons pack armbands, gently pull the armband away from the pad, and the number will appear. And as you can see, the weapons pack bands have higher numbers (which protrude outward, thus the numbers were etched into the mold). Same with the pads. Mattel seemingly commissioned a bunch of additional molds to produce the weapons pack items.

    FYI: Taiwan Beast Man's arm pads also carry batch numbers 1 and 2, suggesting there were two molds initially. Take that for what you will.
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  3. #53
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    Apols for deviating and I'm sure I missed the memo on this many years ago....but just wondering why does Stratos need a jet pack if he can fly??

  4. #54
    Heroic Warrior Springor Spanior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night Ghast View Post
    Apols for deviating and I'm sure I missed the memo on this many years ago....but just wondering why does Stratos need a jet pack if he can fly??
    Perhaps it's not a jet pack after all. Maybe it's a bomb pack, and those are warheads on the back of that thing. Who said Stratos doesn't come with a weapon?

    Since we have drifted afar from the original topic, does anyone remember Micronauts? I had a ton of them as a small child before He-Man took over my imagination. The reason I mention them is because they came with spring loaded missiles that could shoot with such impact, they would put dents in my wood panelling basement walls. They could seriously take your eye out. I remember there must have been a lawsuit regarding their safety because at some point, I recall getting a new one as a gift, and upon opening, I was disappointed to see the spring-loaded missiles were glued into the figure to prevent discharge. Some of the figures shot missiles out of their stomachs, and still others had fist missiles. It's too bad Stratos' missiles weren't spring-loaded.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    Assuming your theory on batch numbers is correct (and I have no qualms against it), then armbands 1 and 2 were produced on different machines simultaneously; they had to be labeled "1," "2," "3," or "4" because they shared exactly the same mold, and there would be no way to track their machine of origin otherwise. The lack of a batch number (regardless of product number) on the wings indicates that wings were not produced simultaneously on separate machines - nor were jetpacks. As jzguitars suggested, it would seem likely that one day a factory would be producing a red wing Stratos, and the next day they would produce a blue wing Stratos (or blue first, and then red). The lack of label on the wings still gives me the impression that the wings were on the same sprue as another product, but that sprue may have been either the jetpack sprue or the armband sprue - without a label on the wings, there's no way of knowing.
    I think that captures what I've been thinking. I've been saying that the batch number corresponds to the mold, although it may be more accurate to say it corresponds to the machine or unit which produces a batch of, say perhaps, twenty identical pieces at a time. Each of the mold cavities in the same unit should be etched with the same number, so that if there is a defect in production, it can be traced back to that machine. That, I think, is the fundamental purpose of the batch number. And as for a part that does not carry a batch number, the thinking is that there was only one machine producing that piece, thus there is no need for the batch number. I have absolutely know first hand knowledge that things were done this way; rather, I am offering this for discussion and response to see if it stands the test of scrutiny.

    The Grayskull weapons that I mentioned to start this thread may serve as a useful illustration. The original Grayskull weapons were made in the USA, and came still attached on large set of runners and sprues. These weapons do not have batch numbers, presumably because there was only one machine unit that punched out these weapons. Thus, if there is a defect, we would know the source.

    But then, Mattel made some new molds of these weapons for Taiwan production. They were first put into use for the maroon brown promotion weapons that came with MEF. If one looks at the back of the maroon shield, it is apparent that it was made from a different mold than the Grayskull shield. Same for the large laser gun. All that being said, these Taiwan weapons do not carry batch numbers, either. However, the inquiry doesn't end there. When Mattel started to produce these same weapons in silver for the Weapons Pack, they not only re-used the molds commissioned for the maroon weapons, but they also added new molds. Why do I think this? Because if you look at enough weapons, you will see that they can be organized as follows: Set 1 without numbers (which represents 1-6: shield handle, laser, sword, mace, axe and shield, all of which are made from the same molds as the maroon weapons). The next set is actually numbered and goes 7-12 in the order shown above, and the third is 13-18 in the same order. Thus, for example, the swords in the numbered sets are 9 and 15, while the laser is 8 and 14. What I'm not sure about is whether Mattel had three different machines producing batches 1-6, 7-12 and 13-18, or whether there were in fact 18 different machine units. But regardless, my point is that as Mattel added molds, they needed a numbering system to serve as an identifier.
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  5. #55
    Heroic Warrior Universe's Avatar
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    Just to clarify, each and every mold sprue has it's own product number (as far as I'm aware). On each of those sprues, most but not all items have their own product numbers.

    For instance, Castle Greyskull has a product number on each of the mold sprues, and I believe this is true for every mold sprue all the way through Eternia. It seems likely this pattern holds for mold sprues we've never seen, such as those for Stratos gear.

    Most but not all items on a mold sprue have their own product number apart from the sprue number. The Greyskull laser gun and halberd, for instance, have product numbers, whereas the handle for the shield does not have a product number. My earlier hypothesis about the lack of product number on Stratos' wings indictates that the wings shared a mold with another product. This may be incorrect, however: it occurs to me that early Teela accessories also do not have product numbers, so I currently have no guesses as to why some accessories have their own product numbers and some don't.

  6. #56
    Heroic Warrior Springor Spanior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Universe View Post
    Most but not all items on a mold sprue have their own product number apart from the sprue number. The Greyskull laser gun and halberd, for instance, have product numbers, whereas the handle for the shield does not have a product number. My earlier hypothesis about the lack of product number on Stratos' wings indictates that the wings shared a mold with another product. This may be incorrect, however: it occurs to me that early Teela accessories also do not have product numbers, so I currently have no guesses as to why some accessories have their own product numbers and some don't.
    I also do not understand why some parts have part numbers and others do not. I wonder if every part has a number, even if not necessarily stamped. Skeletor's staff, for example, has no part number stamped on any Taiwan production, but does carry a part number 5042-2239 on one Hong Kong production. Likewise, the arms generally only carry a batch number on the Taiwan productions, but have part numbers on the Hong Kong productions.

    The part number stamping also detracts from the beauty of the piece, particularly in the case of the havoc staff and Teela's staff. The smoother the piece, the better, in my view. Not sure if that was a consideration.
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  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Springor Spanior View Post
    I also do not understand why some parts have part numbers and others do not. I wonder if every part has a number, even if not necessarily stamped. Skeletor's staff, for example, has no part number stamped on any Taiwan production, but does carry a part number 5042-2239 on one Hong Kong production. Likewise, the arms generally only carry a batch number on the Taiwan productions, but have part numbers on the Hong Kong productions.
    Could be. By comparison, Mattel produced instructions for the battle armor figures that we never saw in the U.S. - we only know of their existence because they were included with the French figures. Might be a similar situation where Mattel simply didn't feel the need to have everything labeled for consumers, even if they actually had product numbers for Mattel's internal use.

    battlearmorskeletorinstructions.png

    The part number stamping also detracts from the beauty of the piece, particularly in the case of the havoc staff and Teela's staff. The smoother the piece, the better, in my view. Not sure if that was a consideration.
    If beauty was a concern, I'd be very, very surprised.

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