This is a double pingback story. I saw over at Poe Ghostal that he had linked a story from Jason “Toy Otter” over at AFI. Originally I was content to just let it slide, because I enjoy upbeat stories like this that put collecting into a more positive light. I’m really not one to get up in arms about what is afterall, toy collecting. But the more I thought about it, the more it stuck in my craw.

Although I like Toy Otter, I can’t help but feel this blog post of his comes off as insincere. He uses nothing but Mattel toys as an example. He’s a Mattel fan. He runs arguably a Mattel fan website. And he’s saying that all figures have issues. Saying this he’s acting almost as a de facto representative of Mattel telling us to enjoy our f-ed up toys.

I’m not super anal about my toys. It doesn’t have to be a level of “perfect”. It just needs to be acceptable. Painted decent, no broken parts. However I usually give them a once over in the store, because of one company… Mattel.

I really wasn’t aware that toy quality had went down so much in the past few years. I collected toys through the 80s-90s and never ever bought a bum toy. NEVER. I gave up collecting for several years and eventually came back.

At first I had no issues, but then I started to notice in packages, that if I wasn’t careful, certain Mattel toys were very poorly painted. This seemed to be a JLU exclusive problem for a bit and not one that was too bad so I never gave it much thought.

Now I currently buy a lot of toys. I mean a lot. I buy Hasbro toys, I buy Mattel toys, I buy Playmates toys, I buy Character Options toys, I buy import toys, movie toys, you name it, I’ve bought one in the past few years. And do you know how many times I’ve had to put a toy back on the shelf because it looks utterly ridiculous? A lot.

But you know what I’ve never had to do? I’ve never had to put a Hasbro, CO, Playmates, etc, etc toy back on the shelf because I couldn’t find a decent version. That distinction goes to one company only… Mattel.

But the reality is, 95% of the figures on the market DO NOT have the issues that Mattel’s toys do. Give Playmates all the crap you want, but I have YET to buy a defective Playmates toy. Granted some look like poop to begin with. A little error here and there are okay. My MU’s Hulk has a slightly wonky eye.

But the fact of the matter is, Mattel by and by in large makes toys with tons of glaring errors on them. Arms on wrong. Huge paint smudges. Two left feet.

I’ve bought some GI Joes with minor paint flaws, but out of the hundreds of GI Joes I’ve bought, I probably own 2 with major flaws. And even those flaws pale in comparison to the kinds of flaws on Mattel’s toys. Just last week I had to buy a flawed JLU figure because he was the only available in town. Either I have a poorly painted JLU or no JLU at all.

Sorry, but all toy flaws are not created equal and Mattel’s toy blunders are not something to be accepted or by god, even praised.

I’ve waited years to have a decent Captain Marvel mass market figure and apparently I’m still waiting, because every time I’ve seen one in store it looks terrible. I’m not talking minor issues, I’m talking paint all over the chest, cape nearly ripped off…

It’s just not acceptable. And you know what? That didn’t happen on vintage toys. The idea that this “always” happened is just plain false. Sure, there have probably always been examples of flaws in the manufacturing process but QC used to kick those toys out. Now they make it to the shelf.

And there is something fundamentally wrong with that. Technology has gotten better. Prices have went up. And yet the toys now are worse. You constantly hear companies complain about how they have to live up to new safety standards, but the QC has went into the dumper. The sad thing is, I’ve seen it permeate all of Mattel’s lines. DCIH figures that look like they’ve been ran over with a forklift and then put into the package. The aforementioned DCUC. The new JLU figures all look like they were painted by watercolors (Cept the ones from Matty’s website, naturally).

This is a NEW problem and it’s almost a one company exclusive problem. Minor flaws, little errors can have some charm. A slightly loose joint sucks, but life goes on. Toys that have exploding butts right out of the package are NOT acceptable. Figures that look like they’ve been painted by Helen Keller are NOT acceptable.

Would you buy a CD with a scratch in it? Would you buy a shovel with no spade? Would you buy a car that’s got four drivers side doors? Would you buy a telephone that’s missing the #2?

I’ve said it a 1,000 times in a 1,000 places but when I paid $30 for King Grayskull and the first thing that happened to me when I pulled him out of the package was his foot broke off, it was a disgrace. The fact that dozens of other people suffered the EXACT same problem and the only response we ever got from Mattel was basically a “suck it up fanboy at least you got a King Grayskull, consider yourself lucky” is an absolute atrocity of a way to run a company.

If toys are for kids, (which clearly several of Mattel’s lines are not) then shouldn’t our kids deserve more? No wonder kids want to play video games instead of toys. Toys from my youth can STILL endure hours of play and the new toys can’t. At least the video games don’t fall to pieces when we take them out of the package.

When did this happen? When did we, as collectors, start expecting perfection in a cheap, mass produced item?

When we started getting this crap.

All Toys Credit to their original owners… And Mattel!

10 Responses to Do NOT Enjoy Your Broken Toys

  • Dead Man Walking says:

    Excellent commentary. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to read something that isn’t your boiler plate DC and/or Mattel fanboy extolling the incredible virtues of DCUC and MOTUC, or brushing all of problems under the rug.

    I too have collected figures since the early 90’s and I have NEVER seen the volume of problems that these two figure lines have–not from Toybiz, not from McFarlane, not from Hasbro. It’s sad that my 4 inch GI Joes have better (and more) paint applications.

  • jim says:

    The BEST toy related article I’ve ever READ!

    Regardless of what Jason’s motives were, Wave 8 would not have been “improved” had it not been for the people that suggest to mattel what they should improve upon.

    Articles like Jason’s give too much slack to Mattel. Its enough to note improvements but if you make Mattel think you’re ok with SETTLING…then you loose that protective “cushion” for Mattel to set high standards for their figures.

    ILLUSTRATIONS were VERY WELL MADE! You provided a historic illustration of the various MAJOR QC issues that Mattel is NOTORIOUS for.

    I’ve been collecting for almost 20 years and never has a company shocked me this much with such a large amount of MAJOR Quality Control issues.

  • Brandon says:

    I agree with your last paragraph about a car with 4 driver’s side doors–Mattel should be ashamed for not attempting to replace knowingly defective figures.

    I love the DCUC line (it is the only one I collect), but if you go to most of the sites dedicated to the line, you’ll see a lot of angry posts (mine included) about how Mattel’s quality is bad, their distribution is bad, and their attitude towards collectors is atrocious. It’s a shame, because it’s been a long time since well-sculpted, mass-market, DC toys were available.

  • Andrew says:

    Uh . . . I’ve had Christmas presents turn out to be misassembled Transformers back in the ’80s, and the only toy I’ve ever had break on me was an Ultimate Captain American Marvel Legend (not the Hasbro one, the the guys before that). There was a couple others from the same company that would’ve broke if I’d tried to force some joints but I stopped forcing after that Cap.

    None of the Mattel toys I’ve purchased have broke.

    Furthermore, it’s sad to see you try to twist the article so badly so you have fodder for an anti-Mattel rant.

  • Anonymous says:

    LOL!! Thanks for the comic relief. The photos are excellent.

    I think the sentiment expressed by POE is that you shouldn’t let a few flaws ruin the joy of toy collecting.

    I also think you seem to have atrocious luck when it comes to getting defective figures.

    You should try fixing that Dancing figure with a hair dryer. Exploding butt Sinestro also looks like an easy fix.


  • @Andrew: I didn’t twist anything. It’s not an anti-Mattel rant, it’s a response to the notion that all flaws are created equal.

    If in your entire life you’ve only had one toy break on you, then you’re the exception, not the rule, so you can’t have a very valid opinion.

    As far as Toybiz goes? Yeah I think they made pretty crummy toys too. Not as bad as Mattel obviously, but they were prone to issues.

    Anywho the original post was fairly obviously a defense of Mattel’s toys, so if this one focuses in a bit on them it’s because they’re the company that produces the most broken or “flawed” toys on the market today. Not really an assault on them, just the facts mam.

  • Diamond Select’s Buffy line was horrid, too; lots of wrong limbs and the like.

    Good write-up, man; I grow weary of all the empty hype so many toy bloggers produce.

    Don’t be afraid to be the last angry man!

  • Anonymous says:

    ToyBiz had a LOT of Problems…
    -Ultra tight joints that break figs. Spider-Man Classics Scorpion was kinda (in)famous for having ultra tight joints and crappily made pegs.
    -On some of the HYPER ARTICULATED figs (ML8 Iceman, Spidey from the Sinister Six Box Set) the Shoulder pins were prone to breaking off.
    -Warped pieces (Mostly the legs) *cough* Hawkeye, Ugly Scarlet Witch*Cough*
    But at least ToyBiz’s Costumer service were eager to help.(and usually sent a Replacement fig ASAP. just by sending them the UPC)

    Even the awesome NECA has had its share of problems… I’ve bought 5 Turtles (The Four TMNT and a second Raph to replace a Sai and turn it into a Slash Custom) And all had some problems (Kneepads that fell off. Mega tight joints. badly placed pins.) Although a bit slow on the response, NECA’s Costumer service is ok.

    But Mattel’s QC is kinda awful…
    I missed on a couple of DCUC chars that I want because some of them were BROKEN IN the BOX… (This has happened to Toy Biz as well…) and it’s kind of a pain in the neck to deal with costumer service…
    Add the chaos that is every 15th and on the 20th-25th the people are complaining about their broken MOTUC figs… (Which you can’t inspect before buying…) and you have to PAY for returning a fig that’s BIP (Broken in Package) or a Completely messed up card that looks like a car ran over it… (Sometimes its tough to be a MOC collector… good thing I’m not.)

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