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Thread: The History of collecting Classics

  1. #1
    Heroic Warrior
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    The History of collecting Classics

    As someone who missed the boat, I'm intrigued as to how it all went down at the time. I say this in light of the fiasco of trying to get the Power Con exclusives this year (even though they're not really comparable I know) and the mortgage equivalent of trying to buy a classics figure of an ebay scalper these days.

    What was the average price of a figure at the time?
    Could international fans buy them?
    Was it just one website that you had to buy off?
    As I believe they were 'made to order', could you still be left disappointed and not get your figure?
    At what pace were the figures released and did you you know what was being released next month or the month after?
    Did everyone who wanted a figure get one, once they paid?
    Were scalpers flipping them on ebay soon after release like nowadays?

    Thanks!!

  2. #2
    Liberty, justice, peace. The All American's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Night Ghast View Post
    As someone who missed the boat, I'm intrigued as to how it all went down at the time. I say this in light of the fiasco of trying to get the Power Con exclusives this year (even though they're not really comparable I know) and the mortgage equivalent of trying to buy a classics figure of an ebay scalper these days.

    What was the average price of a figure at the time?
    Could international fans buy them?
    Was it just one website that you had to buy off?
    As I believe they were 'made to order', could you still be left disappointed and not get your figure?
    At what pace were the figures released and did you you know what was being released next month or the month after?
    Did everyone who wanted a figure get one, once they paid?
    Were scalpers flipping them on ebay soon after release like nowadays?

    Thanks!!
    Answers to your questions....


    What was the average price of a figure at the time? $20 initially for a single figure the first few years. Then I think it went to $22 then $25 over time. When Super7 got the license, their figures were more expensive.

    Could international fans buy them? Yes. However, there were issues. I believe Digital River was chosen to handle the orders since they had an international operation.


    Was it just one website that you had to buy off? Yes, just MattyCollector.com during the Mattel days. At retail, Masters of the Universe Classics vs. DC Classics two-packs were sold at Toys"R"Us and the TRU site. Some Mattel MOTUC overstock made it to Big Lots and other retailers later.


    As I believe they were 'made to order', could you still be left disappointed and not get your figure? Prior to subscriptions, yes. Quick sellouts were common. Also, there were non-subscripton figures that could sell out.


    At what pace were the figures released and did you you know what was being released next month or the month after? New releases typically came out on the 15th of every month. Usually we knew what was coming several months in advance. Sometimes surprises would show up suddenly.


    Did everyone who wanted a figure get one, once they paid? Yes in most cases, but there were times when MattyCollector did not fulfull some sub orders (I believe) such as with Fisto and Sorceress?


    Were scalpers flipping them on ebay soon after release like nowadays? Yes.

  3. #3
    Heroic Warrior
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    Thank you for that very informative answer. Interesting for someone who like me to get an insight as I wasn't there at the time and in light of the way the collecting scene is nowadays. Could the process of Classics ever happen again, it seems to have gone smoother that I would have initially thought.

  4. #4
    Anti-Bot oansun's Avatar
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    What makes you think it was smooth? there was nothing about it smooth, Mattycollector was a nightmare we all had to suffer. All of this information is at your disposal on this very website. Just read the archives, its easier than discerning information from this thread. Nothing about the Power-Con exclusive compares to the day of sale for Battle Cat. Surprise Spirit of Hordak is somewhere! Oops, Digital River sent your package to the ocean! They printed the wrong address! Nah, nothing about Mattycollector was easy. They had a terrible shipping partner that made a decent concept into a nightmare. They did reissues and that was nice, sometimes figures randomly showed up at Big Lots or Ollie's maybe? Idk.
    Then when they ended Classics there was a huge inventory sell off that ruled and was easy and the Mattel shop site was just 1000 times better than mattycollector and we were left scratching our heads.

    I'm sure it could be improved today but given what happens with Pulse: probably not. I promise, you dont want Matty, just read the archives. You'll see.

    - - - Updated - - -

    kind of a weird thread idea anyway as the history of collecting classics is this entire site

  5. #5
    +2 Against Harpies Sword2Blanket's Avatar
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    Mattycollector had some serious drawbacks, absolutely, but I always felt like people were a little dramatic about it. Granted, I had a job where I was pretty much guaranteed to be on my computer at the appropriate time each month for when the figures went on sale. If you were in a situation where you couldn't reliably be at a computer at the specific time (I think it was 10 a.m. central time, but it may have been 11), then it was just a terrible system for you, because you could conceivably miss some figures on the initial sale. That said though, if you were able to be on a computer like me, it wasn't as impossible as everyone makes it sound. It was certainly a heart-pounding experience, don't get me wrong, but you didn't have to have bot-like reflexes. I didn't order every figure for the first few years, but I did order over a dozen between 2008-2011 and I never missed a single figure that I tried to buy when it was originally on sale. Even the fastest sellouts were minutes, not seconds. For all the shipping horror stories, I never had an issue; not even once. I subbed for three years from 2012-2014 and never had a problem (it is true though, as The All American pointed out, some people who subbed didn't get their Fisto and/or Sorceress) . I bought figures that weren't included in the subs, and several figures after 2014, never missing out on one I was trying to get. I even got figures like Loo-kee and Kowl who didn't have a set sale time and just showed up randomly for very brief periods. MattyCollector also had great Black Friday sales over the course of a week (and I think other times too) where you could buy left over stock, and often at amazing prices. Those were fun times!

    Even outside of the Matty experience, collecting Motuc (at the time) wasn't as bad as people make it out to be. As I became more all-in on the line, I went back and bought a lot of figures (or doubles of certain characters) on ebay. Pretty much every figure I ever bought was very close to retail price (some I even got for less than retail). There probably were some scalpers, of course, but it was very possible to buy most if not all figures at or near retail price if you missed them. It was not like, say, G.I. Joe Classified today, were you're doing good if you can find a Cobra Island figure for double or triple the retail price. Even Origins on ebay is probably going to run you a 33%-100% markup for anything other than wave 1.

    Btw, if you're interested, this site has each figure listed with its corresponding sellout time on Mattycollector, just to give you some perspective:

    http://www.itsalltrue.net/?page_id=9193

  6. #6
    In Stereo Where Available Dynamo of Eternia's Avatar
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    I was pretty much completest with MOTUC from the beginning (with both Mattel and S7, and also including the Filmation figures in the same scale, which some consider a separate line, but I don't).

    I very rarely had to resort to ebay/the aftermarket, and the only time that I paid a large amount above cost was for the Bronze King Grayskull variant from SDCC 2008. Anything else I bought was not substantially marked up.

    When the line started, figures didn't sell out instantly to begin with. But with each release in those first few months, they sold out faster and faster until eventually things were selling out within minutes of going up, necessitating being online right when they went up for sale.

    I've been lucky enough for years to have a job with a decent amount of vacation time, so as needed I started arranging vacation days as needed to be online when things went on sale (sometimes I would order from work if things were slow enough or if I couldn't arrange the days off).

    In the early days of the line I was in a local MOTU fan club that has since disbanded, but we were often able to help each other out. It wasn't entirely unusual for me to order the max of 10 figures to get what I wanted and help others in the group out.


    MattyCollector/Digital River was a mixed bag. Some issues were exaggerated, but others were pretty bad. And when it was pretty suspicious some of the things that they could fix quickly and ones that they couldn't.

    For instance, often times issues with the ordering process were either never addressed, or addressed in a way that completely misses the point. At one point they introduced what fans called "The red screen of death," which was meant as a queue to let people in to buy the figures, but it never truly worked in order of when someone entered it (I would often be on the site on two different browsers at once and there was no rhyme or reason as to which one got through before the other - it definitely wasn't based on which one I logged into the site on first). After people complained a lot about this, their "solution" was to change that screen from red to white, as if the color was somehow the thing that was upsetting people.

    But then sometimes fans would discover things about the site that they technically shouldn't have been able to. Specific stock numbers weren't meant to be known, but some fans found ways to determine how many were in stock. When they caught wind of issues like this, there were fixed pretty quickly.



    It also seemed like anytime a real solution to a problem was created, it generated a new problem in it's place. For instance, early on a lot of fans actually requested to have something like the subscription option to lock in the items and not have to be worried about being online at the "zero hour." They finally gave that to us with a sub that covered the last few months of 2009, and a separate one for all of 2010. The problem? At the same time they introduced this, the also introduced "quarterly bonus items" like additional figures (usually a variant like Battle Armor He-Man), beasts like Battle Cat, etc. Up to that point, it was only one figure per month. And the subs only covered the main "monthly" figures, plus the sub exclusive bonus figure.

    Apparently part of the supposed "logic" behind this was that it was still guarantee MOTU fans some MOTU figure each month. And in the event that a standard monthly figure were to get delayed in production, they could make the bonus figure the figure for the month.

    To explain that better, for whatever reason (I'm sure this had to do with Mattel's crazy legal department), the subscription agreement was always based on a very specific number of items that would come out throughout it's duration. So if the sub is for 12 monthly figures, it is written in a way that does not leave any wiggle room in the event of an item being significantly delayed for some reason. I get not wanting to give fans a general, non-specific subscription where suddenly they flood the fans with a ton of unexpected extra items that they now have to pay for, but they could have easily written so that it is "no more than X number of figures/items", so in the event of a major delay, fans would hypothetically get 11 figures instead of 12 , for example. As long as fans are not being charged for something they did not agree to pay for, there would be no problem.

    But because of this, fans still had to be online to not miss out on the bonus items. And because they are being placed in a separate order from their subscription order, they are paying two separate shipping charges instead of a combined one that is lower than the two separate ones added together.

    Anyway, as time went on, they eventually included most of those bonus items in the subs. There would still be occasional items that were outside of the sub. Mainly the occasional weapons packs, vehicles, and things like SDCC exclusives.

    With regards to exclusives, those were something of a mixed bag, but more often than handled reasonably well (minus the issues with MattyCollector/Digital River). For instance, He-Ro was the first SDCC exclusive. He was also made available online. The main difference between the ones sold at the con and those sold online is that when you removed the armor from the con version, he had the SDCC logo printed on his chest. While I was mostly completest, this was one variant I could live without, so I avoided that version (though both versions came randomly packed with 3 different stone colors, so I did collect all 3 colors).

    When Orko with Adam came out as an SDCC exclusive, they did a translucent color changing version for the show, and a standard one from MattyCollector. In that case I did want both, but it was nice that the standard version was the easier one to get (still required being online though).

    As time went on with con exclusives, it got even better IMO in terms of how they handled them. Usually you were getting the exact same figure with no notable difference once removed from the package. But the pack-out was different. Marlena was handled this way, with the version on Matty being her in the Captain Glenn outfit, and the version at the con being in her Queen outfit, but both including the other parts as well. Obviously this could be frustrating for MOC collectors who wanted to display things a certain way, but at least fundamentally the same item was reasonably attainable.



    As time went on, the subs became more controversial. Early on there were a lot of major characters being released. And even some exclusives and bonus figures like He-Ro, The Goddess, and Zodak (in 200X style) were well received because they were very recognizable by most of the fan community, with He-Ro and the Goddess being topics of discussion for years.

    But as more and more obscure items with not as high of a profile were coming out and being included in the subs, and as the subs went from "a nice option" for completists to the main driving force keeping the line going, frustrations grew for some and sub sales started to drop off.

    Another down side that the subs had all along, even for completests, is that if you want additional quantities of just a certain item or two in the sub (and don't want to sign up for multiple subs), you had to order on the day of. The reason this kind of stunk is that some people may have reasons for wanting multiples of a different figure (customizing, displaying the same figure with different heads, army building). It would have been nice to be able to specifically preorder items in additon to the subs - especially for something like the Horde Troopers. While they did eventually do a single carded release, which helped, at the time of the two-pack coming out of the most demanded army builder in the line, they sold out in a few minutes. I was lucky to get a few in addition to the sub, but not everyone was as lucky.

    Also, as time went on, in addition to the specific subscription exclusive figures (i.e. Wun-Dar, Shadow Weaver, Preternia He-Man), they would make other standard figures essentially exclusive to the sub and not have a general sale. Two-Bad was one such figure. So non-subers didn't have a chance to get him through Matty. And that was a figure that I would have bought a second of if it had been available outside of the sub.


    As time went on, they tried to add more "benefits" to the sub, which still proved to be a mixed bag. For instance, they started "early access" for sub holders. This mainly applied to items outside of the sub like weapons packs, vehicles, con exclusive figures, and the occasional random bonus figure that wasn't in the sub for one reason or another (Bubble Power She-Ra would be an example of a figure randomly produced outside of the sub, though I forget if early access was a thing at the time of her specific release - it has been a long time). What would happen is the day before the general sale for anyone and everyone, Subscribers could log in to a specific portal that they had access to, and place an order for these items before anyone had access to them. Items sold this way at least had the potential to sell out during early access and not be available for general customers.

    This was a great idea - in theory. While I never ran into this problem myself, some subscribers had issues where even though they had active subscriptions, they would occasionally get locked out for no apparent reason (at least I seem to recall people complaining about this). The other kind of goes back to the issue of paying multiple shipping fees...

    While non sub items would have to be purchased separately with their own shipping fee no matter what (whether through Early Access or just the standard day of sale that anyone could purchase from), it was ONLY these non sub items included in Early Access, and not the items in the sub that would also go up for general sale.

    So let's say for example, someone has a subscription, and that month wants a non-sub item that is going up for early access, AND wants to order a duplicate of a figure included it the sub. They are paying the shipping fee for the sub items no matter what. But then they have to either buy the early access item one day, and the extra of the sub item the next, paying 2 additional shipping charges (for a total of 3), OR hedge their bets that the item available for early access will still be available during the general sale, and put both the non-sub item and extra sub item in the cart together and make the purchase.

    The intentions were good, but it often seemed like one step forward, two steps back. And sadly Digital River was never able to make multiple orders places around the same time combine for one shipping charge.

    Then at some point they started the "surprise" figures, like Spirit of Hordak. These figures would just pop up sporadically for sale with pretty much no announcement. There would be several opportunities to get them, but there was rarely any warning. There were times when some of these items later in the year (after months of the random pop ups) would be included in a specifically announced sale, but it was still a pain in the ass.



    It is nice having the collection, and I am a HUGE MOTU fan. But I will be honest. If I had to do it all over again.... if tomorrow morning I wake up in 2008 with all of my knowledge about the pain that collecting this line would collectively be...
    I'm not sure that I would do it all again. At least I don't know if I'd be completest, but given how necessary the subs became and the number of items I probably would have wanted to skip that were included in them if I hadn't been a completist, I might not bother or be REALLY selective on what I buy.




    To be honest, this is why, despite imperfections of their own, a lot of delays and (continuing with their other current Ultimates lines) questionable prices, for the most part I didn't mind Super 7's approach to the line. Yes, I might have to preorder well in advance, but it was a nice "set it and forget it" method for ordering these things that didn't create a lot of stress in terms of just trying to place a damn order for the items. I'm so glad to not deal with as many headaches in this regard.




    One thing that I will say is this....


    Scott (aka Toyguru) got a lot of flack during the course of the line. I wasn't his harshest critic, but I did have a few criticisms along the way. What I think most fans never fully realized (and I wish has been better communicated at the time), was that he was running this line almost exclusively in his free time. I think it was known that his main job was working on DC Universe Classics, and MOTUC and Mattycollector were more of a "side project" that he was allowed to work on. But I don't recall it ever being fully, properly expressed that he was almost never working on it during his standard work hours, and it was almost all done on evenings and weekends. He was basically burning the candle at both ends to keep the line going.


    This has become more apparent in the Youtube videos he has been doing recently.

    While I'm sure he still would have gotten plenty of criticism regardless, I think if fans had been more fully aware of this issue back when it was happening, some would have laid off of him a bit more.

    I'm not saying that none of the cirticismsw ere valid, but now I better understand why even some of the issues and errors that he did have control over (there were plenty that he didn't) occurred at times.
    Last edited by Dynamo of Eternia; June 11, 2021 at 12:40pm.
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  7. #7
    Heroic Warrior Stygian360's Avatar
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    Gosh, the topic of the heady days of Classics takes me back! Not so much due to figure pricing or the more mundane day-to-day, but due to sweating day of releases prior to the sub service going live, the absolute nail-biter that securing the sub each year represented, and figuring out how I was going to secure a 2nd or 3rd sub and actually pay for it to help guarantee the line each year! The figures are of course timeless and I love them all--- even the more obscure stuff--- but for me the memories are mostly about the subs. The process was fun but so very difficult emotionally. You just never knew if the "kickstarter" would fund each year and that not knowing really lent an air of specialness when it did go through. That and Scott's enthusiasm and manic interactions with the fans really made the line something unique and all its own.
    Harken the coming of Dragstor!!

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