Thursday, December 17, 2009


Mattel and their collectors site, Mattycollector, continue to go from strength to strength in terms of pissing off their customers, and the most recent Matty offering (on December 15th) has taken the crown as the worst offender ever from the previous record-holder, August.

Please note that August was only 3 months ago, so expect more shenanigans in the near future – like on, say, December 23rd when their first fake Mego and the real site-crasher, DCU 11, goes on sale.

So what happened this time? Well, first the site went to shit within minutes of the noon EST launch time. Customers couldn’t check out, quantities greater than one weren’t being recognized, error messages were the norm and many encountered what has become affectionately known as RSOD or the “Red Screen Of Death.”

15 minutes into this clusterfuck the Matty Facebook page was updated with a message that stated they knew there was a problem and were working on it. Then, nothing.

Customers were forced to spend upwards of an hour trying to place orders that should take seconds to complete. Many had to order each item individually as a workaround to the uncooperative shopping cart, incurring extra shipping charges (and why does Matty charge tax to everyone, even when they do not operate in every State?).

By the time the problem was fixed (about two hours in) the message boards were on fire with horror stories and the re-release of Skeletor was sold out, which further aggravated already pissed-off customers who had wasted two hours trying to simply buy Mattel product.

The comments ranged from Mattel apologists on one side to enraged customers who vowed to quit the lines.

How did this happen? Good fucking question.

Mattel has been running this site for nearly a year, and it has been plagued with issues the entire time. In August, lots of orders were lost, cards were charged and customers were left frustrated trying to get a response, many of which remain unanswered.

Mattel’s e-commerce partner, Digital River, is a huge company whose slogan is “Nobody Offers More Ways To Build Your E-Commerce Business.” Apparently, Mattel chose the "shitty" option from the Digital River menu.

Certainly Digital River deserves plenty of blame, but Mattel is the real problem.

First of all, after nearly a year of class-a clusterfucks, why are they still using Digital River? Of course Mattel has a contract with DR, but this can easily be broken if the partner fails to deliver, unless they signed the worst contract ever, which, considering the way Mattel has operated over the last few years, may be the most likely answer.

Second, after nearly a year of class-a clusterfucks, why are they making their largest product offering ever without solving the problems first? We’re not even taking into account that Mattel was planning to offer DCU11 and the Green Arrow Mego on the same day - until they suddenly realized that either a) they would not have product in time (the official story) or b) that shipping is a profit center and that they could improve their margins with two offerings in one month, causing the same customers to place twice as many orders and pay twice the shipping (our guess).

Of course Matty knob-polishers like Julius Marx and his ilk (who would never criticize the company because their free product pipeline might get cut off) failed to address the issue at all in their toy news sections although their message boards were on fire with angry customers who rightly called it like they saw it.

Speculation ran rampant, mostly focused on cart issues. Did scalpers buy up all the Skeletors because the cart wasn’t functioning properly (not honoring the limit of 10 pcs per customer)? Did the cart artificially tabulate a higher number of sales, meaning that there really were fewer sold than the faulty cart indicated?

Instead of addressing the disaster, Matty & his human nerd puppet “ToyGuru” were busy “answering” fan questions on various collectors websites, an exercise that makes as much sense as eating twinkies while working out. And why not? After all collectors don’t want you to tell them if their money has been hijacked when they could be getting informative answers like these instead:

“Q4. Is there any chance we might see small villain groups for the DCUC line such as Royal Flush Gang, Brotherhood of Evil or Fearsome Five? Each of these have a build-a figure character potential (Ace, Mammoth, Monsieur Mallah & the Brain) that would be awesome to see 4horsemen style!

A4: Definitely a chance, but nothing we can confirm right now.

Q5. Whenever the Legion of Super-Heroes are released for the DCUC line can we expect to see them have a whole wave like wave 8 was for JSA or will they be peppered into other waves?

A5: We have some great plans for LOSH but it is too early for us to get into these specifics. “

While he was busy not answering questions (under the guise of answering questions), ToyGuru was ignoring the growing anger of his disenfranchised customer base.

Finally, the Facebook page was updated with a message stating that Mattel hadn’t gotten their full allotment of Skeletors from the factory and that the figure would be re-offered in the spring.


Mattel has been crying foul on production issues for three years now. Initially this was justified as Chinese factories closed and product and parts vanished without notice. This cost Mattel a small fortune and sent the company scrambling for excuses as they pissed off vendors and fans by failing to address the issue in a timely manner.

But they have been re-using the excuse to cover up other failures and passing the cost of the loss onto their customer base by increasing the price of their products by 30%. Other companies suffered similar issues at the same time and were able to overcome them, why not Mattel?

It’s difficult to imagine that this Skeletor shortage was a surprise to Mattel unless they are even more incompetent than they have demonstrated themselves to be over the last few years. It’s hard to imagine with a bar set this high, but certainly not implausible.

So were they trying to meet a year end number to justify the ongoing Mattycollector site experiment? Are they, as has been whispered in El Segundo, looking for an excuse to throw ToyGuru out on his inexperienced ass?

It’s impossible to know, because, as usual, Mattel remains tight-lipped and unhelpful in addressing any of their ongoing issues that affect their dwindling customer base, but they plan more releases through this frustrating and ineffective system.

Clearly they are in over their heads on a number of levels, including manufacturing, distribution and line management. It’s too bad that this potential profit-center is being destroyed by poor execution.

PS: Look for our long-in-the-works upcoming series “Why Superhero Toys Suck Part One: Mattel” coming soon!

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