Mattel’s “Much Higher Safety Standards”

Interesting discussion here with Mattel in which the company offers this explanation for its relatively high prices compared to other toy companies (Mattel answer to question is in bold),

5.) As many fans have noticed, smaller companies such as NECA offer licensed action figures with extremely detailed & unique (i.e., no re-used) sculpting and equivalent or greater articulation than DC Universe Classics for the same price or, sometimes, even less. Many collectors don’t understand why this should be the case, as economies of scale would suggest the higher production numbers of DCUC figures, plus the tool re-use and generally less detailed sculpting, should make them cost less than the figures from these smaller companies. What’s the reason for the high retail cost of DCUC?

Mattel has much different price structures compared to other consumer good companies and much higher safety standards compared to other toy companies. Both of these contribute to our suggested retail prices.

Higher safety standards? Okay, this is the same Mattel that had to recall millions of toys in 2007 due to high lead content and was subsequently fined $2.3 million by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for violating the Federal lead paint ban.

This is the same Mattel that turned around and successfully lobbied to be exempt from third party lead testing (essentially, the CPSC ruled that Mattel’s internal testing labs were good enough and sufficiently independent to earn the company an exemption).

I can understand a lot of reasons for Mattel’s “different price structures”, but I’m not buying high safety standards at all.

Mattel’s Ghostbusters’ PKE Meter Replica

At times it seemed Mattel was never going to get around to releasing it, but last Fall the toy company finally released their replica of the Ghostbusters’ PKE Meter. All the reviews I’ve seen on this peg it as being very well done, with the sounds, flashing lights, and opening wings (and probably about as reliable at detecting ghosts as those idiots on Ghost Hunters). Unfortunately, that level of detail will also set you back $150-$180.

Frustrations Over Collecting Mattel’s DCUC Line

Phillip Reed recently vented his frustrations at attempting to collect Mattel’s DC Universe Classics line of action figures,

I want to love the DC Universe Classics* series of toys, but too many times the frustration of finding a specific figure is just more than I’m willing to deal with so I basically just ignore the entire line. . . .And time and again Mattel shows a complete lack of concern for the fans — kinda like the Masters of the Universe Classics line — and way too much love for retailers like Wal-Mart.

I think I’ve got every figured from the DCUC line through about Wave 8 when I gave up on it. I’ll still occasionally  by figures I happen across, but trying to get a complete set of even a single wave is becoming ridiculously hard and expensive.

But as one of the commenters to Reed’s story notes, a big part of the problem is the sheer popularity of the DCUC line. Bottom line is that if the Toys-R-Us near me puts a new case of figures out overnight, by 5 p.m. the next day most of the figures in that case are bought and already listed on EBay.

My local comic book store always gets a small number of action figures that also show up in mass retail chains, and usually there’s a 40-50% markup at the comic store as compared to the mass retailers. On DCUC, however, I’ve seen figures marked up 200 to 300 percent immediately — that’s not the store being greedy, but rather a recognition that this is what the market price for this figures really is. If they put them at MSRP they’ll be gone in a day and up on EBay.

For the most part, if I really want a DCUC figure these days I’ll just preorder online. Otherwise, I just don’t worry about it anymore.

Mattel’s Retro-Action DC Super Heroes

Beginning this month, Mattel begins releasing its series of Retro-Action DC Super Heroes based on the Mego line from the 1970s. These aren’t straight up copies of the Mego toys. For example, the initial Green Arrow toy available directly from Mattel on Dec. 15th is billed as a “a more accurate Green Arrow.”

Mattel currently has an initial three waves of four figures planned for sale at Toys R Us, with the initial set going on sale in early 2010 featuring Superman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Sinestro and Lex Luthor.

No word on whether they plan to also produce any of the vehicles such as the Green Arrow Car or the awesome Justice League playset.

Retro Action Green Arrow

Form of . . . an Action Figure!

Mattel’s been announcing its SDCC exclusives, and at the top of the list has to be this DC Universe Classics rendering of Wonder Twins 2 pack with Gleek. The Wonder Twins 2 pack will be offered for sale later at MattyCollector.com, but the only way to get Gleek is at SDCC.  Hmm . . . a Wendy and Marvin 2 pack might not be far behind.

Wonder Twins with Gleek SDCC Exclusive