Action Figure Xpress

Masters of the Universe Classics – Subscription concerns and my thoughts

 By now I think it’s no secret that there has been a lot of discussion on the future of Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics line, which all started because of a post by Scott “ToyGuru” Neitlich stating that subscription sales were down, and therefore MOTUC may potentially be “on the chopping block.” This thread on He-Man.org sums up everything said by ToyGuru relating to this issue nicely in the first post.

Many of you have been contacting me via e-mail, PM, Twitter, Facebook, etc asking for my opinion on this situation, and/or asking me to relay messages to Scott. I feel I must apologize that I have stayed pretty quiet on this whole thing so far. I didn’t want to jump the gun. I wanted to get as much information as possible on this whole thing before I made any sort of comments. After talking with Toyguru on a recoding of the Roast Gooble Dinner podcast for a few hours this past weekend, I finally broke my silence and started posting updates and thoughts.

I was live-tweeting during the podcast recording, as I felt Scott was giving us a lot of very important information that fans needed to know. If you don’t follow me on Twitter or you missed it, here is a summary:

Talking with ToyGuru for RGD right now. Good info: 2014 will NOT have a price increase. So 2013 increase will hold for a few years.

ToyGuru has 2013 mapped out. Legal wont let him announce all of the figures. He would if he could.

2014 promises to complete the vintage MOTU figures and core PoP and NA. Its already figured out. Does NOT mean 2014 is def the end though.

It all depends on how sales are.

2013 subscription sales are about 60 – 70 percent less than last year st this time. That’s the reason for his posts.

However, ToyGuru is sure that they will hit the minimum, and 2013 will be fine. But subscribers are needed. So that’s the best way to help.

ToyGuru: “Best way to say it, if you invest for 2 more years, you’ll have pretty much everyone.” He three out names like Scorpia.

After 2014 they can go down to 6 figures a year to get out the more obscure or fan demanded figures.

ToyGuru: “When Classics does finish, MOTU as a brand won’t go away. It will continue, possibly with new toy lines.”

Mattel realizes MOTU is an important brand. It’ll be like Transformers, Star Wars, etc…ToyGuru promises MOTU wont go away.

 This episode is set to go live on He-Man.org by the end of this week. I’ll let you all know when it’s up. It’s a must listen episode for fans of this toyline, as Scott goes into a lot of great detail on why things are the way they are, and what we can do to help.

Scott seemed pretty sure that the 2013 subscription will be fine, despite the current low sales. So that is certainly refreshing. I tend to share his sentiment. I feel that we’ll be OK for 2013, and probably 2014. But, I will say this: if you have an interest in this line, and you want many or most of these figures, do not hesitate to subscribe. The subscription numbers are the “guaranteed” sales Mattel needs to see in order to keep producing this line. I know there are many fans who do not like that method, but at this point I think we just have to live with the fact that that’s how this line works. It’s not going to change. MOTU Classics is a small line, and it’s subscription based. If we want to see it keep going, people have to subscribe.

Now, please don’t think I’m here to bully you into buying a subscription. That’s not my intent whatsoever. I understand it’s too expensive for some people. I know that a lot of folks don’t want everything. I also understand that some don’t like the idea of buying blindly without knowing what’s coming. I don’t fault anyone who does not want to subscribe. But if you can afford it, want these figures, and want the line to continue, then you should definitely subscribe.

MOTU Classics has always been known as a line that encompasses everything, with a mixture of vintage figures, Princess of Power, New Adventures, Concept, Mini Comics, 200x, Filmation, etc. I have always loved that diversity. I understand that there are a lot of people out there who don’t really care for the unknown characters, though. I really feel that the folks like myself who want everything are now in the minority. And I feel our group is continuously shrinking.

With that being said, I agree with Mattel’s decision to rework the 2014 line to only include vintage figures. This way, at the end of 2014, per Scott, we will have received EVERY vintage MOTU character and MOST of the core PoP and NA characters. I think that is really the best we can hope for at this point, and I think that is a smart move on Mattel’s part. That way, if the line cannot survive past 2014, at least we can feel pretty good about the collection we were given. And if the line can still go forward in some fashion after 2014, well that’s just icing on the cake!

I have faith that we will at the very least get through 2014. I have a good feeling about that. And if we make it through 2014, and Classics comes to an end, I will still be very happy that we received 6 years worth of amazing action figures.

Keep the hope alive! Good Journey, my friends!

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  • Brett says:

    Well said Dan….I really hope this line continues for many more years. I want the whole universe before the end….sigh.

  • Jyrki_Piirainen says:

    Well said, Dan.

  • Andrew richards says:

    TBH, Mattel really only has themselves to blame for a reluctance by people to pick up the 2013 sub.

    Yes Mattel has been forced to raise shipping and production costs and the rises in production costs are completely out of their control. To cover themselves, they've also instigated a policy where items will only be covered under tracked shipping. All of these things are fair enough.

    HOWEVER, the same is false regarding shipping. Some international fans have done the math on this and while the cost of getting a single figure shipped via DHL is $30; the cost of getting 6 figures shipped is only $58. Furthermore that's the threshold point where DHL actually becomes cheaper than International Post.

    If Mattel instituted Quarterly bulk shipping drops where there were 5 or 6 figures or the equivalent thereof; the shipping issues would go right then and there. Yet despite the money spent on some top notch distribution centre in Sweden dedicated to all international customers and despite their software already being able to combine sub-based orders; the whole thing has been thrown in the two hard basket.

    Honestly, considering how hollow Scott's claims of "we're all in this together" are (if he was serious about that, he and Matty would be using these 5+ months to MAKE bulk shipping possible); it honestly reminds me of that famous line attributed to Marie Antoinette when the people of France were starving and needing bread of "well let them eat cake."

    Scott needs to wake up and realise that actions speak louder than words.

  • TMC1984 says:

    great post dan – thanks 🙂

    i agree – i think we are good for 2013/2014 … i know that's not a given but i think that mattel will hit their target, thanks to some awesome fans out there … trouble is for me – as you know – i'm a vintage guy … and i just can't justify subscribing for over $500 worth of toys (before international shipping) – half of which i will have no interest in or no use for …

    it does pain me to say that, because i know guys like scott and yourself are driving this line in the right direction – i don't care what people say about scott, he is a fan first and his passion for MOTU is amazing, he is a great guy … i'm just really sorry that i can't help the subscription situation that might guarantee some more fans some awesome toys that they actually want …

    i truly hope that all MOTUC fans – be it MOTU, POP, NA etc. get everything they want in the end – and i'm sorry i can't help the push for subscriptions! …

    good luck to everyone

  • I stopped my sub after the second year is was available. I only want the original 80's characters from MOTU and POP, so I had to constantly sell all my other characters (of which there are far too many, in my opinion) on e-bay, usually for a loss. I just found it cheaper to buy the figures I wanted either from Matty or from the secondary market.

    I think that Mattel's plan to add these other characters to the line to excite a handful of fans and drag out the amount of time it would take to get to all the characters most of the fans want might have seemed like a solid one in the beginning (given the popularity of the line), but I think it's come back to bite them in the butt.

    People started to realize that half their committed money (which can be hundreds of dollars a year) was going to figures that they otherwise wouldn't buy or want. Are Optikk, Chief Carnivus and Slush-Head cool? Yes! Very cool looking figures! But would I want to commit to dropping almost $100 on them– no. Not at all. I can live without them. Just give me Ram-Man and Mantenna and all the other characters I loved as a kid!

    I know that they're trying to ADD to the line with new characters and ideas– and if we could chose what to buy via a better method– then that might be a great idea. But asking the collectors as a whole to commit to THEIR plan? People will eventually get tired of losing money and having to re-sell stuff at a loss all to commit to 6-10 characters a year that they DO want.

    I hope we do make it through 2014. I'd love to have ALL the classic MOTU characters in my hands, as these are probably the best made modern action figures out there and everyone involved does an AMAZING job! Even at $25 a pop, I still think that they're worth it.

    Anyway, that's my two cents.

  • @vertigoink says:

    I almost wish Scott would remove a bit of uncertainty and just come out and tell everyone that while it would have been nice, THERE WILL BE NO CASTLE GRAYSKULL IN CLASSICS! I keep seeing this brought up verbatim since this news hit and perhaps addressing it head on would cause some of the tension to go away.

  • philip northen says:

    they should sell them at retail and not force everyone to pay for ones they don't want in an subscription, like japan does with figma and s.h.figuarts.

  • Dom says:

    Big problem with international Shipping is customs charges. For us guys in the UK its $25 for the figure and $30 to ship. Then its $11 VAT and another $13ish for charges. Basically if we get hit for the lot its $80 for an individual figure. I love MOTU as much as the next guy, but im going to feel that in the morning.

  • I'm subscribing. I don't mind the secondary characters. It makes we look them up and find what was cool or not cool about them in the past. This line is about nostalgia for me and the characters I've never even heard of just add more to that.

  • Dwaine says:

    How much did Thay pay you to say all that???

  • Toyman says:

    There is no way this line is going to continue into 2014. My guess Mattel has already planned out 2013 and has figures for 2013 already in the pipeline, therefore they aren't going to pull the plug now. All these posts from Scott about the line possibly ending now is to scare people into signing up so they can get the most subscriptions possible. The simple truth is most people only want the remaining core MOTU characters and not interested in all the other ones. The prices are now going up, prices that were already extremely high to begin with, and so people are deciding more and more that its not worth it. Mattel has done nothing to bring new people into this hobby and now the ones they have been milking for the last couple years are dropping off. This line like most of Mattel's "collector" lines is on it's final legs and the diehards might as well face that. If that wasn't the case we wouldn't be having these discussions. It's Mattel's and Scott's fault cause they did nothing to bring new blood to these things and now that strategy is going to bite them in the butt.

  • personally i'm not subscribing, i never have and dont see a point now. i know i had to limit my purchases with this line at the start and have done so, its simply i just can not afford or have space for all the figures. i truly wish i had and would be subbing if these problem did not exist, but as an old saying in N.ireland goes is my granny had balls she'd be my granda

    whats really annoyed me with this whole SAVEN TEH LINE campaign is the underlying message from a large group of supporters that unless you subscribe you have no place in saying you are a "true fan" of the product. this hasn't made no subs ok ohh sorry here take my money. all its done is get people back up and cause fights, yet its the people who dont buy the sub or criticise elements are the villains. look i'm not saying there are not haters out there looking for a fight but people who speak intellectually and actually put forth well thought out opinions are just labelled as nuisances or the colourful hate-ors

    hell people have resorted to insulting peoples income saying if you can't afford it get a better job or even that no sub no org membership. it seems unless you worship at the shrine of matty and the guru you have no place and are not wanted in this fandom

    this line is great and i love the property as a whole not just the toys, and will be extremely sad when the time comes that it does end, but there has to be a balance in the fan community but the recent changes(prices, product sold out before general release, pressure selling and over doing really obscure characters) along with extreme opinions from both sides seems to has hastened the end and really tore one of the few united fan communitys apart

  • Rich says:

    I'm actually excited about the new characters, bios and story lines. While I haven't purchased a MOTUC sub, my habit of buying only core characters has expanded to the point where I buy nearly all of the day of offerings (and have backtracked to pick up items I missed). In fact, I am buying a sub this year because of how my affinity for the line has evolved and how amazing the reveals at SDCC were. There's no denying the sculpts are fantastic and I am enjoying how Mattel is intertwinning the stories into the universe. With that, there are always going to be some duds and I wonder how much sub sales are directly related to the sub exclusive being the underwhelming King He-Man, as opposed to the Filmation King Randor? I'd be curious to know if that would have made a difference in sub commitments.

    One thing I do want to mention is the energy surrounding MOTUC at SDCC was infectious and unmatched by any other brand, license or toy company (collectible/ action figure related). The booth was always bustling, there was a positive buzz surrounding the figures on display and this went on every day, without cessation. In comparison, the Hasbro booth was relatively quiet with handfuls of people shuffling through from time to time. The Hasbro Star Wars panel was stoic and subdued, while the Mattypalooza panel was rowdy and lively. Mattel obviously has the right energy, but don't seem to be capitalizing on it… that or the interest in toy collecting as a whole is waning and there really isn't much anyone can do about it–gadgets, phones & electronics are becoming the new "toys."

  • Steve Giblin says:

    The only figures I've disliked so far are Sir Laser Lot and I’m kind of on the fence with Netossa. I've loved this line from DAY ONE! I've got 2 of every figure except Battle Cat and zero of the first King Grayskull. I'm saddened by the fact that things like QC and bad customer service and I guess price hikes are the things that are killing the line. It's really hard to blame anyone or point the fingers because honestly we don't know what goes on behind closed doors. Maybe Scoot really really really tried to get things changed for the better, maybe Mattel figured these guys will buy it no matter what so let’s go cheap on CS… We don't really know. The truth of the matter is we have a line that is amazing. We as fans love all or most of the figures. They cost a lot to make and in the end it's a business. They have their rules on how we have to buy their product and sadly that’s the way it has to be.
    I say we give this line a second chance not because of the things that they have been saying, but simply because we love this line. If you’re able to afford a sub or two or whatever please buy one. If you feel you’re getting stuck with figures that you don’t like or want then resell them on the secondary market. I know there are people out there who do want them and I’m sure there are customizers who would love to have the parts too. Plus you could make a little scratch off it at the same time ;). Lets just stop with all the negative talk and blame and move forward. 2013 is looking like an awesome year and it looks like it’ll continue to be awesome.
    Thanks for your time in reading this and lets all share in the power of Grayskull. 

  • Ari says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been all in since the beginning, and what I love most about this line is the diversity. I had no idea who Optikk or Icarius were when this line started, but now I own volume 1 of the New Adventures. MOTUC has given us so many amazing figures that I really never believed would ever exist in toy form (Horde Prime and Granamyr, for example) that the thought of the line ending really depresess me.

    Also, if I don’t get Extendar, there will be blood.

  • @srattigan says:

    When I was growing up I had every figure put out in the vintage line, I never collected any of the PoP or NA line because to me they weren't MOTU. I came upon the Classics line too late to sign up for the first sub and suffered through many a WSOD on the 15th of each month to get the figures I wanted, and I want them all. Now years down the road I've managed to bring my collection up to date as well as pick up several figures for my son who is now the same age as I was when I first started collecting in the 80's. I see the way he looks at these figures and doesn't care what faction they belong to or how obscure they may be, he simply likes them all and I'm sure at that age we all felt the same.

    Like pretty much everyone else I've had my various issues with Digital River and Mattycollector and I don't necessarily agree with all the decisions that Mattel has made, but I also don't let that affect whether or not I buy the sub. At first $20 a figure seemed like a lot, but I found a way to afford it. The $5 price hike could have been worse but in the end I found myself buying two subs this year, one for myself and one for my son. Regardless of what ever happens with this line (I expect it will last through 2014 and hopefully longer) I plan on continuing to pick up 2 subs each year and share my support.

  • gtitus76 says:

    I understand what Scott is saying and it's not so much the price increase that I'm upset about, I just plain ol' couldn't afford it. It's been with the character selection choices and some of the things that Matty has done in the few years that I have been collecting MOTUC figures, mainly making Shadow Weaver a sub exclusive and the Fighting Foe Men. I just think that what they are planning for 2014 is what they should have done all along, and then after all the figures that were based off of the three main toylines MOTUV, POP, and NA, then started creating the figures off of the prototypes and concepts and Filmation cartoons… I will be able to finally afford a sub for 2013 and have many friends on both the He-Man.org forums and the Matty forums and we have our own little trading group going on for the fig we want or need and the ones we don't want.

  • Litshttam says:

    If in our heart of hearts we really want the line to survive, then it will – we'll afford them, somehow.

  • He-Maniac says:

    I almost skipped the sub this year. SDCC helped push me over. I have to admit if they didn’t hit me hard with some good figures I would have skipped it. I won’t be getting the sub next year though. Even though I can afford the sub I can’t justify spending the high price for toys. I have to get Granamyr and Masterpiece Soundwave at the end of the year and the price is becoming an issue. Although I love MOTU Classics I do have other interests (other toy lines) and I just have come to the point where price and interest in the line are converging. I’ll suck it up for 2013, but that will be it. I’ll just have to hope it will continue without my sub dollars.
    As far as the various problems people have had with the subscription, I have to admit I have never had a problem since day one. My first figure was SDCC Grayskull. I’ve been with Mattycollector since they started up the website. Not once did I have a problem with changing my info for payment or shipping. Other than 2012 shipping speed I have 0 complaints.
    I’m sure 2013 will be fine, but I really have reservations about a 2014 sub continuance, at least in its current definition.

  • Binks says:

    Dan I love you! This site is great but if you don't believe the "scare tactics" that's going on at Mattel and by Toy Guru i have a bridge to sell you. They have no one to blame but themselves for their lack of and poor subscription sales. I understand them raising the costs of figures to match the quality they're putting out but it's become really ridiculous. They had a great thing going now it's blowing up in their face. Mattel never gave a damm about the fans! All they care about is $$$$! They got Greedy and now it's the begining of the end for Matty Collector.

  • Binks says:

    Why don't they offer Castle GreySkull as a Club-Exclusive? I bet the subscriptions would go through the roof! I know I would subscribe just to get the Castle.

  • jayare says:

    Im confident they will squeeze MOTUC in but im worried about DCIE.
    Im not one of these people that can afford 5 subs.
    If I could, I would but 1 of each is it for me.

  • FigureFan says:

    I'm in the same boat as you, jayare. I didn't sub MOTUC this year, as there were too many figures I had little to no interest in and I won't be subbing next year.

    I did sub CIE and Voltron this year and very happy I did. I'll be putting my subs in for CIE again this week, but at this point I don't see it happening and I'm pretty sad about that.

  • Steve says:

    There is some good news-

    If the Sub doesn't come through,We will still get 4-6 figures next year at higher prices.Hopefully Ram Man and Jitsu is included in that…So the Classics isn't ending,it will just get much smaller in 2013…..I really want Ram Man and Jitsu to feel good about this line coming to an eventual end

  • phoenix4flame says:

    i've been an all-in completist since the line began. i have had nothing but one headache after another with this line and ALWAYS because of the lamebrain jackasses at DRI. mattel has had more than enough time to drop them and fix the QC problems. they have chosen not to and for those reasons, i won't morn the demise of this line, no matter how much i love it. it's been a nightmare since day one. i know because i was one of those who recieved the first run of he-man and beast man figures. i still have them downstairs. they are carded without the plastic hangers attached to the back. these were the first off the boat and i haven't missed a single release since (included the god aweful star sisters). if mattel were a competent business they could keep this line going much stronger for much longer. they should have dumped DRI and that shitty shipping policy years ago. there.

  • The Rook says:

    If 2014 does end up being the last year with a full subscription and figures every month, I don't see MOTUC just ending. Look at the JLU line. Hasn't that line been "over" for a while now? They still put out 3-packs of figures every so often. And those things don't sell out near as fast as MOTUC items. I imagine we will see Classics figures sprinkled throughout the year after subscriptions done and the line is "over". And if Classics continues to trickle long enough, maybe a movie year could bring it back to life to see even more figures.

  • Jim says:

    I'm just wondering if you actually subscribe, Dan. I do and I know you love the line, but you get figures early for review. Do you actually pay money for MOTUC?

  • Pixel Dan says:

    Guys, just a heads up. Now that I'm starting to get notifications that posts are being reported, I feel I need to pop in and ask that we please keep this conversation civil.

    I won't tolerate name calling, bashing, cursing at eachother, etc. If that continues, I'll simply close the comments for this post and move away from this discussion. We are all adults here, and we are discussing a line of action figures. Let's all understand that everyone has their reasons for subscribing or not subscribing, and we should be simply discussing this. We should NOT be attacking people for their decisions.

    Please try to keep our cool. We're just talking about toys, after all. 🙂

  • Andrew richards says:

    dreadedskin, you do understand that Mattel, TG and DR are not your friends, most likely don't know you from a bar of soap and have no likely interest in you beyond being a consumer don't you (either that or the scare tactics just got worse)? The fact is that we are consumers, they are the business. As businesses they have a right to offer products/services in exchange for money and to try to entice people into purchasing said products/services (within certain grounds), however businesses conversely have a responsibility to effectively process customer feedback or their right to says may be negated. They also have a responsibility to ensure that their products/services are of reasonable quality – both through the implementation of high quality control standards and high customer service standards. Failure to do so may not only result on loss of sales but possible criminal charges depending on the circumstances.

    Consumers on the other hand have a right to pay for products/services they want and get an acceptable level of value for the money they spend on said products/services. The flip side of that is that they have a responsibility to be vocal and vote with their feet when companies fail to deliver products/services of an acceptable level of quality and/or accompany it with a poor level of product support (customer service). Failure to do so results in their right to getting value for money being revoked.

    In short dreadedskin, people like you who are clearly confused about the nature of things, need to realise that you are not in a friendship relationship with Mattel, TG and DR, but a business-client relationship and that therefore what you are doing is not defending a friend but distrupting the entire business-client process.

  • Lex says:

    I personally do not subscribe, but have a contact here in the UK who has 10 subs and I get one set of figures from her – so in a sense I do sub I suppose (It just works out better for me this way) I agree with everything you said Dan and I am one of those people who wants everything just like you… I think the main issue we have is that we are a small community, I see everybody squabbling on The Org and on the Matty forums and see all the posts here going back and forth about why this is happening and what they could do to fix it but the fact is that its just us lot talking about it. we need to promote this line wherever we can and get NEW sub buyers interested.

    On a side note, I understand Scott says 2013 is locked… but I wonder if he could put the Fighting Foe men as the SDCC exclusive next year and then just shift that exclusive to their slot? might make people happier… or just start work on those Horde Troopers right now…

  • MegaGearMax says:

    I've already subbed, as I do every year.

    The worst is the in-fighting between vintage fans and everyone else, when it should be a time where fans come together. Everyone from Vintage fans to NA fans wants their favorite characters and everyone buying the sub contributes to all of those figures eventually coming out. People are thinking about what they don't want, and it's preventing them from getting what they would want. If the sub doesn't hit it's mark, then those figures will never come out.

    I wouldn't want to start this mess all over again. Same vintage figures all over, same arguments as to who should get made. We're past that now. Let's stay that way.

  • joe says:

    I don't think you're a shill. I've disagreed with your reviews at times, and I don't have the affection for Mattel properties you do, but I don't think they're paying you for positive reviews. It's great to see someone talk up the positives of a given toy and not obsess over the negatives. If I wanted to watch some mouth breather rant for 20 minutes from behind the lens about how the orange paint used on a piece of hand armor ruins the entire figure, well, there's a million dudes on Youtube doing that. I'm not a big MOTUC collector, I bought some that looked neat. All in all, I think they are nice, durable toys. However, I have friends who are insane for the MOTUC line and so I've been following the craziness the past week since Toyguru Neitlich put up his infamous post. The way they told me about it I couldn't believe all the drama. It's nice to see someone not have a knee-jerk reaction and instantly go into "BURN IT DOWN! BURN IT ALL DOWN!" mode. Thanks Pixel Dan.

    PS-I'm guilty of being negative sometimes, but I work on not to be too big of an ass about it.

  • Jarrod says:

    I got my sub earlier this week. The 2013 sub will actually be the first Club Eternia sub I've purchased. I've been a huge MotU fan since the 80s, and the 200X series was one of my favorite lines to collect while I was in college. Once Classics started coming out I'd always considered buying a sub when they started offering them a few years ago, but knew I couldn't commit the funds to it because of other lines I was collecting heavily at the time. Now, a lot of those same lines are falling out of favor with me due to disinterest in what is currently available and/or other frustrations. So, I've started working on catching up on a lot of the past MotU Classics figs that I missed out on by not being able to afford subs at the time and having to be very choosy about the few I'd buy during the monthly MattyCollector sales. I found myself super excited by the 2013 MotU stuff I was seeing from the Matty panel at SDCC via Twitter and toy sites, and it just worked out well that I could make a sub for 2013 work. It's so frustrating to see so much negativity and uncertainty surrounding this line now that I'm finally able to commit to it like I want to, but despite all that, I'm still very excited for what we'll be getting and I'm going to try and remain hopeful that this line can still get to where it was eventually headed in the coming years.

  • Aaron says:

    I love MOTUC but I dislike the subscription service. I hope MOTUC has a future that does not include subscribing.

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