MOTUC is ending

So believe it or not, this article and it’s title I had planned a few days ago before all this brouhaha over MOTUC ending started. In fact I had to change some of the original article I’d started because of the recent controversy. In a nutshell, though, the premise here is that I am pretty much done with Masters of the Universe Classics. Ram Man is the finish line.

I’ll confess that I was afraid Mattel was going to make Ram Man be the incentive figure for the 2013 subscription (and I’m shocked they didn’t make him but I assume that’s because they’d have to charge more) and I was relieved when he wasn’t announced as the subscription exclusive. Why is Ram Man the goal post? Because he was one of my favorites as a kid and he’s the last figure I feel I truly have to have to complete the line.

Apparently I’m not alone in this. Yes, there are lots of figures I would also really like. In fact there are likely lots of figures I’ve never heard of or seen before that I might would like to buy. However for too long Mattel has come to depend on the subscriptions and people’s willingness to blindly buy whatever the heck they decide to put into the sub and that’s it.

I pretty much knew 2012 would be the last year of the MOTUC subscription for me, because they said last year that it was the final time we could get the subscription at the $20 price tag. I jumped on MOTUC from the beginning. I bought King Grayskull immediately and joined the first sub, no questions asked. I loved it.

Each year I feel the subscription program has become more of a burden. They’ve added extra figures which raise the cost, they made it so that if you ordered anything else from MattyCollector you have to pay separate shipping and let’s not even go into all the issues with the site itself. The price hike seemed to indicate that this was a good time to get out.

Likewise, the figure selection has gotten somewhat bizarre and this year I was forced to pay $60 + shipping for the Star Sisters. It was very much a camel back breaking moment for me. In December, they’ll release Granamyr and if you want him, you’ll be paying $140 BEFORE shipping to get him and sub items. Don’t forget, those items won’t ship together, so you’ll get hit with double the shipping fees.

These are the kinds of things that make me wonder why on Earth I would continue to subject my pocketbook to that sort of abuse. I know at times it feels like the only time I ever mention MOTUC on this site is some sort of rant, but the truth is, they constantly keep doing things that make collecting the line a burden. This year’s SDCC reveals left me very cold. I already knew I was out, but aside from Ram Man, I just wasn’t feeling it. I liked the vintage characters who appeared and I think Fang Man looks cool. I would buy him for $20, but probably not for $25 and almost certainly not for $28.

This is the inherent problem with the line at this point. It’s not necessarily that I can’t afford it, it’s just that I don’t want to buy this stuff at these prices. There are other toy lines out there that I’m really excited about. I can buy THREE Ninja Turtles figures from Playmates at the price of one non-sub figure from Mattel in 2013. In fact I may be able to buy four Turtles figures when you factor in shipping. Are those figures as “adult collector friendly”? No, they’re not, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re a much better value.

Now Scott Neitlich has come out and said the line is not doing well at all. First he said that there would potentially no longer be day of sale figures. Essentially saying that if you don’t sign up for the subscription, you won’t be able to get the figures. People didn’t like that, naturally, since day of sales still seems to be going good for MOTUC. Mattel still routinely “sells out” on every figure, but who knows with the way they operate.

Apparently every year the subscription hits it’s mark in about 48 hours and everything else is just extra. Scott previous said that the 2012 subscription numbers were down considerably from the 2011 subscription, but noted that if even half the people from 2012 subscribed, the numbers would still be great. So now we’re led to believe that less than half of that previously low number, have subscribed.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s true. While I have no doubt that the MOTUC subscription will continue on throughout 2013, the writing is on the wall. Neitlich now has added to the paranoia by saying that if things don’t go well, they’ll only release the one or two figures they’ve previously tooled up and that’ll be the end of the line. That seems a bit far fetched. The line will continue in some fashion, no doubt, but it may not be able to ride the current model anymore.

In addition, he’s said that 2014, should the line make it that far, will contain the rest of the unmade vintage figures. This also seems like hyperbole to me, when you consider how many vintage figures are left who would need unique tooling, but it’s a nice promise. If true, 2014 sounds like a good year, but I doubt I’ll buy a sub then, either.

I’m done with the subscription model. If Ram Man is the last MOTUC figure I get, that’s fine. If Ram Man someone doesn’t get made, oh well. If they continue to roll out good figures and make them available to purchase I will continue to buy them… IF they interest me and the price is right. This is how I operate with every other toy line and frankly, I’m tired of holding Masters of the Universe Classics to a different standard. I love the toy line, I really do.

But MOTUC is coming to an end for me. Whether the subs sell through the roof or they wither on the vine, I’m for all intents and purposes, done. I’m content with where my collection is at and while I may add the occasional $28 figure to the collection, I will no longer buy figures I don’t want.

14 Responses to MOTUC is Ending…

  • Mark says:

    I'd far rather collect the new TMNT figures. In all honesty if these figure were for sale at retail I would buy them, but with international postage to the UK figures range from £30 to £46 on ebay etc and I can't justify that for one figure.

  • stack32 says:

    "…frankly, I'm tired of holding Masters of the Universe Classics to a different standard."

    From reading a lot of other comments online I think this is pretty common. Mattel has counted on nostalgia to cause us to gloss over the line's shortcomings again and again. These are good figures (maybe even a few great ones) that have had a high proportion of quality issues and lots of parts reuse. I certainly like the ones I have, and there's a few more figures I'd like to see, but I don't think these can realistically be considered the truly outstanding, exceptional figures some seem to want to make them out to be.

  • Wes GRogan says:

    People forget what made He-Man a successful line in the first place. There were two critical issues that He-Man had going for it that MOTUC doesn't. (1) They worked. They might have only had the Big Five for articulation, but by god that articulation worked! There were no swapped parts, broken action features, or ridiculous paint errors. What you saw was what you got, which brings up point number 2. (2) They were easy to get. You could go into darned near any store and pick up a He-Man or a Skeletor. They were competitively priced (and in some cases downright cheap), packaged so that you saw exactly what you were getting, and Mom or Dad could easily just grab one of the shelf and be pretty reassured that the kid would like it.

    MOTUC violates both of these. There are too many broken figures. Cracks in Roboto. Broken hips with the Goddess. Snout-Spout's snout. Stinkor's forearms. The MULTIPLE backwards shoulders. Paint is hit or miss, and quality control is either really good or completely non-existent with nothing in between. And they are DAMNED hard to buy.

    When Mattel stated it was only going to be an "all in" subscription, they lost me at that point. See, I remember the lessons of Pokemon. "Gotta Catch Em All" just means they can throw more and more at you. The way the line is so bloated now with repaints and fill in figures, I'm surprised the die-hards didn't get pissed off before this year. Add in Digital River, incredibly high costs vs. the amount of tooling done, and it just gets ridiculous. Mattel depends too much on the bucks, whereas even Hasbro can use bucks for Marvel Legends but hide it really successfully. Using bucks is great when you have multiple designers. Not so good when you have the same Four Horsemen designing everything. They are very, very good, but they have one specific look.

  • Zach S. says:

    Honestly, I hope his promise for 2014 comes true. I don't give a crap if they raise the price again…if they burn through the remaining vintage figures in 2014 I will buy every one and be happy. Then the line can die.

  • Mark says:

    I agree 100%.

  • Yeah it sounds like International fans are totally priced out. Too bad for Mattel, because I'd say at least half of their MOTU fanbase is international.

  • Yeah, I mean they are better than most average figures on the market, but this perception that they're some sort of premium figures that require you to subscribe to a deal that costs hundreds of dollars just on the off chance you might like some of them, seems a bit much.

  • Nice points all around. I think there's plenty of varying reasons why people don't want to subscribe anymore, so it's good to hear other thoughts as well.

  • You and me both!

  • Tarman13 says:

    I can't say i'm happy with Mattel's decision to end the MOTUC line but i'm kinda glad it's over since most of the time trying to get these figures was hell— most of my collection i got so far is from Ebay and i didn't have to put up with this crap with the Mattycollector's shopping cart BULLSH**!!! and every year at the SDCC was the same crap— Why couldn't Mattel sell these at Retail like the old days…

    Finally a RAM MAN— how long people— right from the Beginning I always rant about "WHERE'S RAM-MAN!!! and now my prayers have been answers— but for what cause!!! the End of the MOTUC– I was really biffed that i couldn't get a SHADOW REAVER— hell it's going to take a long time to get the remaining MOTUC but hey it lease now that the line is ending NO-More New figures.

  • Col. Joe says:

    This is not mine, I didn't write this. However I saw it on the Org and thought it was worthy of a post here. It really sums up one of the problems with the MOTUC line and the current model. Credit to the guy who originally wrote this:

    ToyGuru, what's the product you're trying to sell here? Is it the subscription or the toys? Your acting as though Mattel is a subscription manufacturer instead of a toy manufacturer, and if demand isn't high enough you're not going manufacture any subs.

    Remember, the toys are your product. The toys, not the subscriptions. Selling subscriptions is merely a distribution method for your product, and as the 2012 and 2013 sales demonstrate they are not very effective when focused on exclusively.

    There are three great benefits to subscriptions: (1) They provide convenience to customers who want the entire product line; (2) they provide incentive to people who would buy most of a product run to go ahead and buy the entire product line; and (3) they provide manufacturers the assurance of guaranteed sales. Because of these benefits, subscriptions can be a valuable supplement to other distribution methods.

    However, when relied upon as an exclusive method of distribution, subscriptions have some crippling disadvantages.

    (1) They guarantee that supply will be insufficient to meet demand. Customers are forced into an artificial "buy everything or buy nothing" dilemma, and the sales that are gained by those who move up to "buy everything" are a mere fraction of the sales that are lost by those who move down to "buy nothing." The revenue lost is not insignificant.

    (2) They dissuade new customers. Very few people become so instantly enamored by their first exposure to a new product that they commit to the entire product line. Whether its toys, magazines, or cosmetics, that type of consumer loyalty is built gradually, one product at a time. The subscriptions so restrict access to the very products they are intended to promote that a potential new customer has almost no opportunity to build loyalty before deciding between "buy everything or buy nothing".

    (3) They prevent growth of your product. Even if a significant number of new customers want to subscribe to a line, production numbers are fixed and cannot respond to the increase in demand.

    (4) They enhance customer dissatisfaction with niche items. Because customers have to get everything in order to get anything, customers expect that most product offerings will appeal to their taste. Because these customers don't have the choice of simply not buying products that do not appeal to them, their only recourse if too many of these offering are presented is to stop being a customer.

    When looked at side by side, the negatives of a subscription-only sales model far outweigh the positives, and adoption of such a model will inevitably lead to a decline in overall sales. It's the only possible outcome. You cannot grow your sales when you adopt a model which deliberately produces beneath demand and alienates customers substantially easier than it attracts them.

    I want to know why Matty doggedly insists on basing production off of subscription sales rather than actual demand. Surely enough sales data has been collected since 2008 that a competent analyst could reasonably predict how much to produce without even factoring subs in.

    Matty, your subscription is much less marketable than your action figures. Regardless of their love for the toys, your subscription has many features and limitations that consumer just don't like. Stop equating dissatisfaction with subscriptions with disinterest in your real product, the toys. Make enough to meet demand, and have confidence that your product will sell. That's the only way to keep any of your lines alive, much less see them grow and prosper.

  • Wow Joe, I hadn't seen that before but it's a very intelligent analysis of Mattel's problem. Thanks for posting!

  • StrangePlanet says:

    Good for you. Your point can be summed up in the last phrase you typed: "I will no longer buy figures I don't want." I have always felt that way. I have never bought a figure I don't want, and that includes figures that I don't know about. Can't want it if I don't know what it is. And therefore, have never bought a subscription of Matty's. That Buy Everything or Buy Nothing model = Buy Nothing very easily.

  • Rexplode says:

    I was actually shocked to see Toyguru's statement about MOTUC being "on the chopping block" following the bully sales tactics of excluding some figures from day of sales. Shocked, but not surprised.

    Anyone can click through my MOTUC reviews on this site and see how much I love the toyline, so much so that I was subbed up for 2012 AND the 30th line, and yet Mattel managed to sour me on MOTUC and toy collecting AS A WHOLE only 2 months into the year!

    After committing blind to a whole year's worth of product and then almost immediately being screwed out of the main reasons I subbed (Sorceress, Fisto and Shadow Weaver) I was never going to sub again for 2013 but I was hopeful I'd be able to buy Ram Man at least. Now it looks like Mattel is trying their darndest to keep the casual fan from even that!

    I feel very strange about this whole situation. It's baffling how much it has aggravated me to see Mattel treat people this way!

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