Mattel

Mattel
Oh Matty, you cruel temptress, you.

For those who’ve been following along, MattyCollector and I have had a torrid relationship from the beginning. While I originally loved the idea of the subscription (back when I never imagined crap like the Star Sisters), I soon waned on the entire program as I’ve become saddled with toys that may be decent, but aren’t what I want. Last year, Mattel swayed me at the last minute by holding Ram Man hostage. The whole experience soured me to the point that I still haven’t even opened my Ram Man.

Finishing up the sub, this year, I opted not to renew. I knew it was a risk, as Two-Bad is one of my favorite MOTU characters and I fully expect to pay out the nose for him. Even so, I just couldn’t agree to a subscription one more go around. It just isn’t worth it to me. I did decide to “go out with a bang” and ordered Castle Grayskull, despite the enormous price tag.

This week is a perfect example of how Mattel and I have a crazy Rhianna/Chris Brown style relationship. Matty beats me down, but I keep running back. I’m a glutton for punishment. I know I’m part of the problem, but I just can’t help it. The allure of a bargain (even when it’s not) is just too much for me.

Earlier this week, Mattel went all Matty on me and randomly canceled my Castle Grayskull order. Mattel has come out and said that this happened because of “credit card failure” and blamed it on me and the hundreds of other people who’s Castle Grayskulls they canceled. It was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me, as I thought for sure I was done with Mattel entirely. Yes, for the record, apparently I can get my Castle order fixed if I call and speak to some Indian guy for 20 minutes, but it sure seems like I have to do a lot of work to give Mattel $300.

So I decided I was done with them… Right? You’d think so, but I’m still torn on Castle Grayskull. A big part of me wants to just let it go, while another little devil on my shoulder is telling me to work it out and re-order it. Whatever the case, I shouldn’t be throwing such an incompetent company any more of my hard earned dollars.

With Mad Matty Cyber Monday (which oddly doesn’t begin or end on a Monday) I was sucked back in. I spent another whopping $141 on their site. Mostly picking up odds and ends I’ve skipped for various reasons. In a lot of ways, I got them, as I was able to pay significantly less than if I’d ordered during the year, but we all know it’s Matty who gets the last laugh. Once again he sucked me in, and whatever he’s losing on the Cyber Monday sale, he’s more than made up in forcing me to buy the Star Sisters and various other things.

Of course the kicker is, I used the very same credit card that’s on file that Matty claimed was the issue with Castle Grayskull. Should I really be surprised? And so, the love-hate relationship continues…

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Mattel has just announced that the popular Two-Bad figure will not be available on MattyCollector for day of sale purchases. This is apparently a last ditch effort to try and get more subscriptions for the 2014 Club Eternia. It remains one of the most interesting tactics that Mattel has tried, but it comes as no surprise to me. Despite the fact that Mattel recently said to me that logistics prevented them from revealing this stuff. If anything, I’m more shocked that it took them this long to announce it. I suspect they thought keeping this secret until now would help drum up some last minute sales. Unfortunately, it has the potential to backfire.

The whole purpose behind limiting day of sales for certain figures, in theory, would be that Mattel makes X amount of each figure and believes that certain figures aren’t popular enough to have any more than the bare minimum that the subscription is required to produce. Naturally, this is not the case for Two-Bad or anyone that Mattel has limited in DOS purchases up to this point.

Thus far, three people have been banned from day of sale purchases. Fang Man was first, and as one of the debut Filmation characters, he was very popular. He made no sense being produced in smaller quantities, but Mattel did it anyway. Next was Clamp Champ, who while lower on the vintage MOTU totem pole, was still a fairly popular character. Now we come to Two-Bad, arguably the most popular fully tooled vintage character left.

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Why didn’t Mattel limit the production of Icarus? The figure that’s lining Big Lots shelves across the nation. What about those often unpopular She-Ra characters? Nope. It seems that the only figures that can be produced in smaller quantities are the popular, “fan demanded” toys. Mattel limiting DOS purchases of popular characters is flat out, a strong arm tactic to get people to buy the subscription. Continue reading

He-Man Mini Comic
Who exactly created He-Man may just be a mystery for the ages. Through the years no less than half a dozen different people have laid claim to being the creator of the mighty Master of the Universe. And now it’s at the center of a lawsuit as a new contender has sought to wrangle Eternia’s greatest hero in the courts. Donald Glut, author of the first few Masters of the Universe mini comics, claims that he is the man responsible for creating He-Man. Glut’s claim have some merit, as he definitely fleshed out some of the early mini comic mythos, that many consider the definitive He-Man.

Of course, Mattel quickly abandoned most of that history in favor of Lou Scheimer’s animated storylines. Currently Mattel’s brand manager Scott Neitlich is rewriting the mythos of He-Man to his own whim. Even if Glut was the sole creator of He-Man (and he most assuredly is not) he likely signed away any rights he ever had by doing “work for hire” in the 1980’s with Mattel. Essentially that means that he was never entitled to the rights to the creative input he had. It was the deal going in and he would have known that.

Glut has made comments in recent years that he deeply regretted ever working for Mattel in that fashion, basically indicating that he felt He-Man was stolen from him. He’s certainly not alone. Roger Sweet vehemently claims he created He-Man. Some within Filmation claim that Carol Lundberg is responsible for He-Man. Mark Taylor also claims to have created He-Man when he was just 11 years old. Then of course there’s plenty of Mattel executives who claim to have been instrumental in the creation. The Toy Masters documentary that may or may not ever see the light of day, was built around the argument between Sweet and Taylor, who most believe share credit in creating the character.

What makes Glut’s most recent lawsuit against Mattel interesting is that it’s taking place now. If Glut truly thought he was owed a stake in He-Man’s monetary reward, he probably should have tried to cash in during the 1980’s… You know, back when He-Man was a license to print money. I’m sure Glut has stewed over this for decades, but letting all that time pass has most assuredly destroyed what little chance he may have had in the first place.

Who’s up for a new MOTUC character named Liti-Gat-Or?

New 52 Batgirl Review

Batman Unlimited
New 52 Batgirl
6 Inch Scale
By: Mattel
$15.99

Greetings once again true believers! Your friendly neighborhood Batced back again after a bit of an absence. Hope you, dear readers, have been healthy, wealthy and happy during the interim as I hit you over the head with another figure review.

Inspired by Batman, Barbara Gordon fought Gotham City evildoers as Batgirl. But when the Joker shot her in the spine, she was confined to a wheelchair indefinitely. Determined to walk again, Barbara trained intensely and was able to resume her work as the crime-fighting Batgirl. Although her traumatic memories will not easily fade, she can once again be seen fearlessly swinging over the rooftops of Gotham City as a sign of hope and perseverance.

First and foremost I’d like to dedicate this review to Carmine Infantino, Batgirl’s co-creator and a titanic talent during the Silver Age, along with being a brilliant editor and publisher during the Bronze Age for DC Comics and Marvel, who passed away on April 4. The comics industry is still feeling his influence sixty years later.

At first announcement, I thought DC was going to retcon “The Killing Joke” in order to make Barbara wear the cowl again. The story needs no introduction or much mention of the name; I’m sure the readers of Infinite Hollywood have read the story numerous times by now, its importance nothing to sneeze at. But DC editorial assured that certain things would still be in continuity in the New 52, especially in regards to the Batman universe. Thusly, Barb still felt the Joker’s bullet knock her down. She also still became Oracle, and was a member of Birds of Prey. Since the New 52 relaunch, Batgirl’s solo title has been a pretty moderate seller; the new title’s first trade paperback “The Darkest Reflection” was also a New York Times Bestseller. Not too shabby for a character who hadn’t been in the cowl for twenty years.

As one of the prominent members of the Batman family, Barb has seen several incarnations as a figure under many different corporations. Under the Four Horsemen’s watchful eye for Mattel, we’ve had two previous versions of Barb, one in Silver Age appropriate colors, the other coming from late in the Bronze Age (when she ditched the black bodysuit and dark blue cowl for a gray bodysuit and lighter blue cowl). And now we have one for the New 52 Age (if anyone’s calling it such a thing) courtesy of the new Batman Unlimited series from Mattel. Swing a bat-line with me and we’ll go over its finer points. Continue reading

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DC Infinite Earths Subscription
Elongated Man
6 Inch Scale
By Mattel
$18.99

The “Identity Crisis” mini-series in 2004 was brave in taking characters that comic book fans hadn’t cared about in some time and making them relevant again. It positioned Green Arrow as the guy who knows everyone (and everyone’s secrets), and brought a level of darkness to the sheen and quaint simplicity of the Silver Age. But one of the things that can’t be forgotten about the mini was its bravery in depicting a brutal murder…and it didn’t even happen to Batman or his supporting cast.

Ralph Dibny created and consumed a highly concentrated version of the rare Yucatan “gingo” fruit, which granted him the powers of extreme elasticity and malleability. Known as Elongated Man, and a model member of the Justice League of America, he was unprecedentedly open open to the public about both his secret identity and loving marriage. Tragically, his wife Sue was murdered by Jean Loring, ex-wife of the Atom, Ray Palmer. News of the murder rippled throughout the community of masked heroes, shaking the Justice League to its core and irrevocably devastating Dibny.

The tragedy about that bio is that it seems as though the most significant thing to happen to Ralph was the death of his wife. A case could be made that that is true, since they were virtually inseparable, but given the character’s forty-five year existence there was a lot more that could be said about his career. A secondary character that came from backup features in the Flash and Detective Comics to membership in the JLA in 1973, Dibny was the longest serving JLAer, bouncing around until 1995 in the main title and its spin-offs.

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He was never truly forgotten even afterwards: he was reunited with his Justice League International teammates in two mini-series from that titles creative team, and later appeared in animated form on Justice League Unlimted and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. He was good friends with the Flash (Barry Allen) and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), a friendly rivalry with Batman, and was a much loved character. Even his wife had a unique distinction: Sue Dibny was the only non-powered civilian to ever be granted official membership in the JLA, something Lois Lane can’t lay claim to.

Elongated Man has had several figures surprisingly: DC Collectibles (formerly known as DC Direct) released two: the first came in the second series of the JLA line (with Atom, Firestorm, and Adam Strange). The second was in the “Identity Crisis” line, based on designs by the late Michael Turner. Mattel followed suit and made a Ralph in the Justice League Unlimited line, and now that is joined by the DC Signature Collection/Club Infinite Earths exclusive 6” figure. Let’s see how he measures up.

Continue reading