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SDCC 2013-Discussion Thread


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If it's between the fans and Chuck as to who has a better feel for what is worth making, I've gotta give it to Chuck. He actually has sales and cost data to work with. And there are lots of fans who have a really skewed sense of the popularity of whatever property they choose to get behind. Which isn't to say DST gets it right every time, but I think they get it right more than we think. Universal Monsters, for example, probably could have been broken up in a way that would have helped it sell a little better. But how much better? If we're talking about minor changes that wouldn't have increased costs I find it hard to believe there's much they could have done that would have made another wave viable.

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I would love to see classic PoTA, but in all honesty I think it would only be slightly more successful than LiS due to a shrinking fan-base(though I'd admittedly buy the Hell out of them if they tried!). Besides, without horses the line would seem like "GhostRider-without-a-cycle" all over again.

Personally, I think pop culture awareness of POTA is way, way higher than LiS. And while Minimate horses would be great, I don't think they're that core to the main Apes characters -- I mean, with Ghost Rider the bike is part of his power set, and part of his name even. Even the Eastwood mates being horseless didn't ruin that line.

And I'm not a Apes superfan or anything, but I do think a set or two would really sell.

You're right, that was a bad analogy on my part. Perhaps I should have said something like "slightly less than TOS Star Trek" (*dodging barrage of Tribbles thrown by Trekkies!). You see, I am a big fan of the Apes-anthology and would hate to see a line fail due to DST's accountability. I want a comprehensive line covering all five films and the TV series, but I sincerely doubt that the support is there to satisfy Chuck's definition of "success" regardless of public awareness. That said, 2-packs (and TRU support) seem unlikely, but you're correct that a few boxsets are doable. In fact, it would have to be at least two (Taylor, Nova, Cornelius, Zira/ Zaius, Soldier,...another Taylor or perhaps Lucius and Julius:the jailer, Landon, Dodge, Milo, etc.) to cover the first (and most iconic) film (though I reeeeaally want a Gen. Ursus, but that's "Beneath" the realm of possibility at the moment. See what I did there?LOL). But one Gorilla Soldier ain't gonna cut it for me personally (I'm terribly selfish and passionate about this franchise!), which leads me to my comment about the horses. My intention wasn't to say that lack of 'mate-horses would "ruin" the line per se, but rather that the inclusion of of one would greatly increase it's chances of success. If they were to commit to a "vehicle-pack" with a Gorilla Soldier and Stallion it would serve as an army-builder and likely ensure a few extra purchases by customizers and those not supporting the sets. While they don't have recognizable names like say, Lone Ranger's Silver, if ever there was a time to tool a horse for Minimates, this would be it IMHO. We all know they can do it, the real question is would they? I have to say that I have my reservations.

*Sorry, I didn't mean to hijack the thread, I just tend to "go ape" on this subject!tongue.png

Without sounding rude, your thoughts on Chuck's opinion of things is pretty much how I think also monkeycrumb. I think with any job that you have where you are making decisions about what the public wants, whether it be through media, merchandise, food, whatever, that there is a tendency to lose perspective of the publics mentality. Whether that translates to studios thinking it's a great idea to make a movie like Green Lantern or whether it's DC not seeing a market for more Minimates, it's just a matter of people making decisions and being out of touch with their fanbase. My fear is that is too much the case in most toy companies and that it's starting to affect DST. I think hiring someone like Zach has helped them tremendously with how things are marketed and how they as a company relate to buyers, but am unsure how much influence that has in reverse when it comes to feedback of what line/products would be marketable or why certain products failed. And I say all of this knowing that anyone from DST might read this and also know that it's not my job that's affected by whether or not this stuff sells. I just wish there was a way for there to be more interaction for Chuck to guage what's really wanted or if there's better ways to present the product. I know I've said it before, but the interaction that Palisades Toys had with their fanbase was amazing and it truly showed in how successful some of their lines were (yes, I know they're no longer in business, but it sounds like it was a completely different set of circumstances that led to that and had nothing to do with listening to their fans). Just adding my $.02.

Preach-on brother!!!Clapping%20Hands.gif NECA is the best present-day example of how a toy company should handle PR. Randy Falk is amazing (not to take anything away from our resident guardian angel Zach. We greatly appreciate your presence!).

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Random Thoughts:

- So they're planning on taking advantage of the 35th anniversary of Alien by putting out product based not on that film but its sequel? Any chance they could offer a boxed set that features the crew of the Nostromo to tie in to that anniversary?

- If DST's hanging their hats on anniversaries, 2013 was the 40th anniversary of Star Trek: The Animated Series and the 20th anniversary of Deep Space Nine. It's also the 45th anniversary of Planet of the Apes. 2014 is the 30th anniversary of The Search for Spock and the 20th anniversary of Generations.

- "It's been done before" is the worst excuse ever. Planet of the Apes enjoys a better Q-score than other properties DST chases and has a new movie coming up. Seems if they can squeak out classic Trek 'mates in a movie year they'd be able to do the same with PotA.

- First impressions are a big deal. As much as I like Lost in Space, I'm only getting that 2-pack to support the franchise in the hopes of getting more in color. DST/AA should know by now that black & white sets just don't sell as well even when they're based on a black & white property (IE - Walking Dead, Universal Monsters). Did DST even show any other LiS merchandise? Banks, busts, bottle openers? Anything?

- I'm really disappointed that nothing new was shown for Star Trek. Hopefully NYCC will feature something but from what I've read, it sounds like DST (or at least Chuck) doesn't expect the line to do more than a series a year. (Maybe even a series a movie year.)

And one more question: Did anyone ask about that Captain Pike Minimate that showed up at C2E2?

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IMHO ,Chimpimates would be great for about a box set or two,no more.......whilst UM were stretched out way too far to succeed long term, why on earth all the big guns weren't brought out early is a travesty. Love my 'angry villager' ...........wouldn't ever miss my 'Invisible Man' rolleyes.gifmad.gif

'Long term' is where Minimates (other than Marvel) struggle........either get in for the long term or don't bother is my best advice but who's listening?

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If it's between the fans and Chuck as to who has a better feel for what is worth making, I've gotta give it to Chuck. He actually has sales and cost data to work with. And there are lots of fans who have a really skewed sense of the popularity of whatever property they choose to get behind. Which isn't to say DST gets it right every time, but I think they get it right more than we think. Universal Monsters, for example, probably could have been broken up in a way that would have helped it sell a little better. But how much better? If we're talking about minor changes that wouldn't have increased costs I find it hard to believe there's much they could have done that would have made another wave viable.

I think there were a few ways to help it sell better. Bottom line is I think they got greedy by splitting the same figures between specialty & TRU. Notice how all of the TRU exclusives are sold out? That was likely around the right number to manufacture. Notice how Trek doesn't have the exact same figures in both markets right now? That's the way DST should have gone if they wanted to split markets. Not many people were going to buy both of the same Draculas, Frankensteins, etc in both the 4-packs and again in the 2-packs. DST way overshot their market and overproduced more than the market could bear. All of those "impulse-buys" they were counting on at TRU were likely hurt by the 1-star online reviews as to the shoddy quality. I highly suspect the molds were due to be replaced at the time these were manufactured, as the parts don't hold together very well and fall apart constantly. We know what we're getting into, not every impulse buyer understands when they see loose parts floating inside the package.

I think if they had even changed expresssions on characters between markets it would have helped a bit. Preferably different characters or variants. Lord knows they do if for Marvel, but UM is expected to sell well this way? Nope, gotta be the license's fault!

I'm sorry, but if you're having trouble making a profit on Dracula & Frankenstein, there's a problem. And Chuck told me they still plan on getting out one more wave of the UM action figures. But sure, blame the license Chuck! Stack32, feel free to side with Chuck, but they are not without fault on the decisions made. I gave plenty of concessions to them having all of the data, but data alone isn't any guarantee of success. I respect the guy, but nobody is perfect, nobody is infallible.

The Mummy wound up being TRU exclusive, and those sold out. Turtle, I'm sorry you have UM still hanging around your area at $2. Why haven't you snatched those up for fodder? :) Seriously, Marvel's been clearanced plenty of times, and it's not the license's fault. More have been manufactured than the market can bear.

As for Star Trek - TOS is the only great seller huh? How much recent data do they have, exactly? Back in the heydey of Trek, there was so much product, it was overwhelming. They did very well with their TNG figures and multiple variants, they should know TNG product will sell. DS9 and their 7" Enterprise figures came at a time when a lot of people were feeling franchise fatigue. There are a lot of people who won't spend $15-$20 on a single figure, but would be happy to buy a 2-pack of minimates for under $10.

I rather thought the whole selling-point of minimates from a company's standpoint is that the block figure means minimal tooling. The reason we never got a 7" scale Quark was because tooling was too much for profitability. It's practically asinine to think that a production run of 3000 box sets (the number of LiS 2packs made, just using the same numbers here) to complete a few crews (especially TNG!) can't sell. It's mostly minimal tampos and barely any new tooling! Again, compare to Thundercats! The license is already paid for, and production costs would be far cheaper than Thundercats.

But the main thing is that DST finally got Trek product back into TRU after the Playmates crapfest from 2009. And instead of maintaining that foothold, they've taken a wait-and-see approach instead of striking while the iron is hot.

I've said all along, I don't have all the info, I don't know all of the specifics. But it's easier to armchair-quarterback after the fact. My concern is that Chuck was placing the fault in the wrong direction, and to me that is troublesome reasoning. I would have been happy to buy Playmates 2009 Star Trek stuff but it was garbage. I'm not saying that about DST's stuff, but while UM isn't as hot of a property, it's not the license's fault entirely that the line didn't sell as well as it could have. Look again at Knight Rider - a variation for each market. I don't see those on clearance.

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Maybe we look at it this way: TRU tells DST what and how many to produce, because that's what and how many they'll buy. TRU doesn't give a crap if they're hogging all of the good characters from some other venue, and TRU also probably isn't looking to build a sustainable long-term line plan. TRU is looking to move units this quarter. Done. If they feel like moving units again next quarter, yay! If they don't, sorry! We all love Minimates and everything, and I think we're really fortunate that someone at TRU does, too, because in the grand scheme of shelf space and product planning for a corporate their size, they are utterly insignificant. They are a loss-leader, a relatively inexpensive upsell like those little plastic zombies in the trashcans or the Ring Pop whistle necklaces or what have you. They're one more cheap thing a kid might talk mom into throwing into the cart to shut him up while she's shopping for something profitable.

So, no, I don't think this is a case of Chuck bungling a line plan or not knowing how to run a business. He's making what his customer asks for, and his customer is TRU.

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Personally, I think that we as fans often overvalue the appeal of a property (which is why I often roll my eyes when reading AskDST's). I don't think Universal Monsters or Star Trek are slam-dunk properties in 2013. That said, I also think the same thing about Pulp Fiction, Sin City, and the Kevin Smith canon. Sometimes, DST seems to pass on things (or at least publicly express little interest in) properties that would probably have at least the same appeal as ones they've made product for. Chuck has said in before that he thinks the time has passed for both Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer... which might be true, but then what about freaking Clerks? I like Chuck a lot, and I think he does a great job, but I don't think he's the most plugged-in guy with what's going to find an audience.

EDIT: put in the correct year. blush.png

Edited by hellpop
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I hear you, and I agree TRU is the 800-pound gorilla. But a few years ago they managed Star Trek for 5 waves without TRU involved. I think any property is sellable IF the numbers can be worked out - even Golden Girls would probably sell 10 sets total if the price was right (of course it's not going to be to only manufacture 10 sets :) ). And yes, TRU killed off Calico Jack wave 2.

I want a bunch of properties, but I also know most of them aren't financially viable (Babylon 5) in terms of needed sales. The reason Universal Monsters isn't "viable" now as minimates is because it was bungled enough to begin with. So retailers aren't willing to take a chance again with more right now. Same thing happened to Star Trek after wave 3 backed up at retailers as well. It took DST years before they admitted their character selection was not up to snuff and part of the problem.

And DST tells us Thief of Thieves is expected to have better sales than Star Trek or Universal Monsters.

Sorry to keep going off on rants here, but I know denial when I hear it.



Chuck has said in before that he thinks the time has passed for both Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer... which might be true, but then what about freaking Clerks? I like Chuck a lot, and I think he does a great job, but I don't think he's the most plugged-in guy with what's going to find an audience.

Yup. Clerks is "timeless comedy" or "holds up well" or something like that, isn't that what Chuck said? But not Harry freaking Potter? Which one has multiple theme parks again?



You know what I find most off about Minimates at SDCC? That so far there has only been one showing of the bag o' stands on ebay so far (sold for a BIN of $5.99). I truly expected the market to have several people trying to sell those.

Probably because most people buying were keeping for themselves? The clears were almost all gone on Sunday, black bases were plentiful, and the mix & match action bases were still plentiful.

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Given the lack of major success for anything Universal Monsters related, maybe it's a little presumptuous to be saying it's Chuck that's in denial?

I would be interested to hear how DST decides to approach various properties. Obviously the expectations for Clerks are much different than those for Aliens, but they must see a way to make money off of both. I'd also guess licensing plays a big deal in all of this. Didn't Zach say Thief of Thieves is getting made basically because it came with all the other Kirkman properties?

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Given the lack of major success for anything Universal Monsters related, maybe it's a little presumptuous to be saying it's Chuck that's in denial?

I would be interested to hear how DST decides to approach various properties. Obviously the expectations for Clerks are much different than those for Aliens, but they must see a way to make money off of both. I'd also guess licensing plays a big deal in all of this. Didn't Zach say Thief of Thieves is getting made basically because it came with all the other Kirkman properties?

Sure, decades worth of successful merchandising, and you want to imply I'm the one in denial here? Over a conversation you weren't a party to and are reading about second hand? That's kind of presumptuous, isn't it? Because placing the blame *solely* on the license is just BS, since there's several sides involved here. If you want to argue what side has more share of the blame, that's fine and perfectly debatable. And when someone blames the license in one sentence then states they're doing another wave of a different type of toy with the same property in a different sentence, doesn't that strike you as contradictory?

And as for Thief of Thieves, DST has the license for multiple CBS properties, you don't see them making them all do you? Why should ToT get made just because they have the license? They obviously feel like it's economically viable for them to do so. And just because they can, does not mean they will or should in every case. It's a case of DST keeping Kirkman happy.

Edited by monkeycrumb
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From the outside looking in with no particular interest in the debate, I gotta say that it seems like you're taking the death of UM line a little personally, monkey. I picked up a few of the sets, but there do seem to be a lot sitting around at my local TRUs. It stinks that we'll never see the Invisible Man, but I think they got the heavy hitters of that line out. Is Thief of Thieves a more viable line? Probably not, they're not really in direct competition. UM had a good run, honestly, not being a huge fan, I'm surprised it got more than 1 wave and boxsets (undoubtedly more than ToT will get). It was good, but it's over. I agree with almost everyone in that the minimate brand appears strong and I'm grateful for that. With that, the creators get some benefit of the doubt, even if I don't always agree with their moves or reasoning.

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Not taking it personally re: death of UM, Zombie. And I've been giving the creators plenty of benefit of the doubt. I just have too much intelligence to accept a contradictory statement from anyone when they are ascribing 100% of the blame away from themselves. It's just jarring to hear someone in that position make such a bold claim. Just like the statement about avoiding POTA just because Kubricks already did it. Not because it might not sell enough, but because Kubricks already did it.

I'm not here to complain that UM is over, I'm taking issue with what was specifically said to me. And it seems like what I'm relaying keeps getting twisted here.

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As someone who works in entertainment retail I can almost guarantee that Thief of Thieves came as a package with the Walking Dead mates. Companies do this all the time. For example in order to get either more copies or a price break on a certain release, you have to take a certain amount of a lesser dvd. It's a balancing act for sure. So DST probably had to make a few concessions to get the Walking Dead license.

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Maybe all of these little answers Chuck gives are his way of saying "no comment" without saying "no comment" because most people wildly speculate when people say that. In the end, we may not be allowed to know the inner business workings of what goes on to make certain series of Minimates. There has to be a money / business / legal end we don't hear about. So, maybe these quick-convention and Q&A answers are a way to say yes or no to things without getting into the politics of it all when he isn't allowed to.

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Well, in the case of Thief of Thieves, we know what happened, more or less: the deal is for all of Kirkman's books, not just Walking Dead. Making ToT is kind of like giving a scholarship to the girlfriend of the quarterback you're recruiting. Just the cost of doing business. It is frustrating, though, that DST has stayed mostly away from indie comics, but they've given us the likes of Tarot, Dawn, Lady Death, and now Thief of Thieves. Not exactly the Mount Rushmore of indie comics.

Oh, I did want to add one thing to the ongoing Universal Monsters discussion: I do think you are overestimating the potential of UM, Monkeycrumb. I agree that mistakes were made (namely, making too many supporting characters from the various films, and not leading off with the two best known characters, Dracula and Frankenstein), but I don't think UM would have ultimately reached that many more people then it did. Chuck says "it's the property", you say "it's the people", and I think the truth is probably a combination of the two.

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Not going to justify all of Chuck's statements, but every indication of success or failure, and every prediction of the performance of a future line, needs to be filtered through one variable: cost. The Harry Potter license is probably still incredibly pricey, and the last Kubrick box set recently went on deep discount through Diamond. The Planet of the Apes license is probably a big investment, as well. If a license is not able to perform at the level of its monetary guarantee, it's far worse than BB simply not selling well. We need to pay no matter what.

Thief of Thieves was part of a package deal, and I don't even know if production is guaranteed yet, but once you factor in reused parts, tooling is probably going to be far cheaper for a set like that, versus Munsters, Star Trek or virtually any other line.

And Lost in Space was a license we got so we could make some cool robot stuff; Minimates were a bonus. And we did the B&W set because, if we do a color set down the road, we didn't want people to have trouble collecting the full color line. We wanted the SDCC set to not be a required purchase, but perhaps that did more harm than good. That said, we knew the LiS set would be the straggler in our offerings.



Also, I still have UM series 1 sets at my TRU. Wolfman/Creature, Dracula/Frankenstein and Mummy/Quasi are all hanging out together. I don't think you can completely blame the box sets for a series underperforming at TRU. Maybe there were multiple factors at play, but I certainly understand TRU not wanting any more.

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Hellpop, I think UM should have been more limited in quantity. Selling out would have easier if they weren't backing up at retail and LCBS. And I am NOT saying "it's the people", I've BEEN saying it's a combination! I've been saying that all along and everyone keeps misreading me and arguing with me against something I'm not even saying!

I was actually not a UM fan until minimates, believe it or not. But even the regulars here were talking about passing on the duplicates. It was grossly overproduced and exceeded what the market could bear. I've been saying this all along and people keep talking about leftovers at their TRU like it's supposed to defeat my argument. The quality of the product was also noticably lacking. When stores are drowning in an excess of older waves, stores aren't going to order the newer waves. What happened with the begining of Marvel minimates, when things like Ultimate X-Men and all of those other first wave mates were shared between TRU & LCBS? They backed up and went on clearance. Did that mean the license was no good? Was no longer viable? So if DST has learned, and Marvel, and Star Trek, have different versions between markets, why is it so hard to expect that possibly UM might have better luck following the same strategy?

I'm just floored that people are holding some lines to different standards than others. If Marvel can't work with the same exact figures shared between TRU & LCBS, why are we expecting other lines to be successful with that strategy?

I'm not going to do this again. I'm not going to ask questions or share answers or observations from conventions. This has been incredibly frustrating to make my point only to have people misinterpret what I say or make arguments for what was said when they weren't part of the conversation. This has been incredibly disappointing and I really wish I hadn't bothered. I'll ask questions at cons for my own enlightenment, it's just not worth sharing when people choose to attack the messenger just for relaying the message.

And Zach states it best. I never would have stated my case like I did if those were the answers I had received at the con. Zach's answers make sense. Chuck's were contradictory.

I'm done with this thread.

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The Harry Potter license is probably still incredibly pricey, and the last Kubrick box set recently went on deep discount through Diamond.

In no way am I trying to stir shit up but you cannot compare Minimates and Kubricks. Minimates are much more accessible, not to mention affordable. I have no idea what the Harry Potter license costs, and I believe you when you say it's pricey, but they would be HUGE.

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Rocky,Street Fighter,Kiss,Universal Monsters,Terminator,Marvel,DC,Bruce Lee.Halo,Disney & Back to the Future..... all appeared as kubricks before they were Minimated .

Planet of the Apes are some of the easiest & cheapest kubricks to acquire ,they had horses & carts & Liberty & spaceships.... & still are some of the easiest & cheapest kubricks to acquire

Universal Monsters Minimate box sets ....about 2000 of each made from what I can see .

What happens in SDCC stays in SDCC ...........I found that out, to my cost, when I went the first time . TBT rebuked me publicly for quoting (on here) some AFX 'hot info' .......I of course flared up & we had our usual tiff for all to enjoy & I slunk away into a corner calling him bad names verymad.gif

He was right.....he was very right.....he was spot on the money .......I was wrong* blush.png

* I think it is the only time ever glare.gif

I enjoyed the reports from SDCC,my thanks to everybody for them .

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The Harry Potter license is probably still incredibly pricey, and the last Kubrick box set recently went on deep discount through Diamond.

In no way am I trying to stir shit up but you cannot compare Minimates and Kubricks. Minimates are much more accessible, not to mention affordable. I have no idea what the Harry Potter license costs, and I believe you when you say it's pricey, but they would be HUGE.

...and don't get me started on $10 blind boxed HP Kubrick's..... for the record, Professor Snape is not an army builder, in spike of what the case ratios suggested

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You guys are forgetting that Kubricks are a Japanese product designed for the Japanese market by a Japanese company (MediCom). Japanese toy collectors LOVE hard-to-find chase stuff, and extremely limited hard-to-find rarities, and Medicom capitalizes on that marketing tactic with the Kubrick line. While that technique doesn't translate well in the US (well, it does for some collectors), Kubricks ARE the closest thing to Minimates on the market today. Kubrick is a niche toyline targeting a niche audience, that is loyal to line to the end. While I don't collect Kubricks (the design aesthetic never appealed to me), I do appreciate the line and respect what they have done for block-figure collectibles. Without them, we probably wouldn't have Minimates or even Funko Pop. Hell, even Lego decided to capitalize on the Block figure craze by releasing blind-bagged Minifigs.

That said, Harry Potter has seen both Lego sets and Kubricks, and neither toy/collectible really set the world on fire. Maybe Minimates will be in the cards one day, but I think Zach is right, the license is probably cost prohibitive to DST at this time. Maybe 5-10 years down the road, when Harry Potter nostalgia rears its head, the license will be more cost effective, but not right now.

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