It was pretty much a given, once Mattel announced that they were canceling Club Ecto, the subscription based service that provided fans with first crack at unique figures, but Scott “ToyGuru” Neitlich, Mattel’s brand manager in charge of the license, confirmed a lot more details today, outlining exactly why the line was shut down. You ready…?
There aren’t enough of us.
After we did not receive enough sub holders in 2012, we could not get additional development resources for more figures so we move the most fan demanded figure that was already in development to the SDCC slot. Fans really do vote with their purchase and the sub not selling was a big red flag that we don’t have enough customers for the 6″ GB line right now.
Mattel was already worried about the line when sales of the figures showed that the main interest was in the original four busters, and of those, Peter was the most popular. None of them – the later figures (which would be of more interest to more serious fans) were worse – sold anywhere near the numbers of Mattel’s best two licenses, Masters of the Universe and DC Universe.
Honestly, had GB sold in the realm of MOTUC or DCU we could talk more figures, but at the end of the day, we just don’t have enough customers to keep the line going. Only the core movie 1 figures sold at the numbers we needed, and really of these, only Peter did well. After that, all figures, including fan demanded figures like Vigo, just did not sell the number of units we needed to produce more figures. We can only make figures when their is a customer base buying them.
There’s a lot of fan recrimination over the whole affair, with a lot of them pointing at the increase in figure prices (from $20 to $22 dollars) and corner cutting (variant heads on recycled bodies), but going by what Neitlich says, that’s not exactly fair. Production costs have been increasing dramatically over the last four years, and when you combine that with soft sales and a negligible profit margin, you begin to see why Mattel opted to reduce costs as much as possible (as with new heads on previously released bodies) before finally having to increase the price on all 6″ figures on all their licenses.
That said, there is some good news; Neitlich has confirmed that Mattel is still working to refund fans that bought faulty SDCC Stay-Pufts (the soft outer layer has a yellowing issue on some figures) and those fans that held 2012 Club Ecto subscriptions will still get an unannounced exclusive (plus, there’s one more SDCC figure to be announced for this year.)
More importantly, Mattel still holds the license and is still looking at their best prospects with it – presumably the props – and has confirmed they are still looking at new products for 2013. As well they, like a lot of license holders one imagines, have high hopes for the announcement of a third movie, in which case Mattel would have lot’s more development resources available. Stay tuned.
[Nods to GBFans for the heads up, head pats for the Proton Charging web monkeys for digging up the relevant links and quotes]
[UPDATE] Some people on Facebook were hoping that we might see one figure or another as the Club Ecto freebie for cancelled sub holders – According to Scott, it’s something that fits into the 6″ line, but isn’t a figure… Hmmm. Terror Dog? Nobody say Ecto-1 – that’s just wishful thinking. Any guesses?
Info on getting a refund for a faulty Stay-Puft will be up in “a couple of days” according to Scott, and this was a couple of days ago, so I expect it likely we’ll know more by the week’s end.