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The end is nigh? Talk amongst yourselves.

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So in another thread people have been kind of discussing whether or not we are in the end times.  I don't know.  I consulted the Book of Minimates, but it was silent on this apocalyptic scenario.  

 

So what's everyone's thoughts?  Are we in the end times?  Are we in a lull?  Where are Minimates sold these days and where are they marketed?  If Minimates are circling the drain, is it the natural and probably consequence of TRU closing or is there more DST could be doing?  With the rise of other similar designer/vinyl/deformed toys has the Minimates brand lost its footing in that niche?  How has the rise of the MCU and its popularity affected the brand?  Is DST doing enough to pursue new licenses and new retailer outlets?   Has DST grown complacent?

 

Discuss.

 

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I think Minimates are sold at Walgreens and through Luke's and that's about it.  I buy a lot of my action figures from Gamestop and Think Geek since Toys R Us shut down.  I'd love to see Minimates make their way back there.  (I think at one point there were blind bags sold there of a videogame license that I wasn't familiar with .)

I would definitely like to see new licenses and new retailer outlets.  I was really disappointed when the 80's TMNT and that Bruce Lee set were scrapped.

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I’d like to see a new lynchpin license. Something that can grab the imagination of consumers and last a few waves. Something like Alien or TMNT or Ghostbusters which isn’t necessarily going to hold up for 78 waves or so but also isn’t gonna lie incomplete like my precious Godzilla minimates. 

Nintendo comes to mind of course. We’ll never get Star Wars or DC I’m sure. Rick and Morty could possibly fit as well. But Marvel was something of a one in a million success story. It can never be topped. But another line like Alien would be welcome. 

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FWIW, I think pushing the idea that the line is ending is a surefire way to kill it all together.  Be it through negative thinking or just the powers of persuasion, it's a dangerous thing for the longevity of minimates to put those ideas out into the world.

That said, I honest think we're in a lull.  Right now reminds me of that mid 2000s era after the New Avengers/Astonishing X-Men waves when the line seemed to be in definte jeopardy;  The designs were lacking, the character selection was dismal, and a wave got cancelled.  It was really bad.  But somehow, DST held on, refocused the line and rallied for 12 years and 60 waves.  And now the world of retail is changing, so we need another reinvention.  Plus, I've seen other long-running brands near the end and they rarely go out with a whimper.  I guarantee that if Marvel Minimates cease to be, it'll be with a grander attempt than a nostalgia bait team line up from the early 90s (no offense to that X-Factor wave, but... come on).

The world is weird right now and it's easy to fall into the idea that it's all ending.  It's important to push against those easy ideas, hold onto the hope things will continue, and celebrate the releases when they come.  Here's hoping for a big announcement at SDCC, lots more minimates in the back half of 2019, and a return to the normal gripes about character selections in 2020. 

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3 hours ago, funkguerilla said:

FWIW, I think pushing the idea that the line is ending is a surefire way to kill it all together.  Be it through negative thinking or just the powers of persuasion, it's a dangerous thing for the longevity of minimates to put those ideas out into the world.

I couldn't disagree more strongly with this. If the line is so far gone that a little speculation will kill it then we can't save it anyway. It also directly leads to the idea that any criticism of minimates or DST is dangerous to the life of the line which is one of the worst things in fan culture.

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i went to a soccer match this weekend and they were giving away bobbleheads of a player to the first 5000 people.

apparently a bunch of people get into collecting bobbleheads through promotions like that.

i'm thinking a movie event like this would be cool.  just throwing it out there.  i know they do freebies at sdcc and nycc but i can't remember the last freebie (other than donatello and no one got that one).  but looking back, it was a freebie at toyfair that was my first minimate (the black larger one).  from there i bought a few here and there but then a free comic book day one got me really hooked.

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I hope that MiniMates keep going on and on. It is just a matter of finding the proper distribution method that will get them out there better than Walgreens has been.

There are six Walgreens in my metro area.  I have found Captain Marvel MiniMates at only one of those six locations and still no sign of Endgame.  However, Walgreens is partially to blame as they have the same sku code for the Animated Mates and the same sku code for the Movie Mates so they can't clearance out their lines to make room for the new stuff.  My metro area has not seen the last three waves of the Animated Mates due to so many past waves just hanging around and not selling.

I would love to see Target start selling MiniMates again along with Walmart.  I have ordered MiniMates from Walmart.com and Target.com but they are from a third party vendor who works with the two retailers for the online sales.

I just got my nephew into them as Toys R Us died.  While he is not into Star Trek like I am, he is liking the Marvel and Aliens Lines.  I would really hope that MiniMates can rise up and from the loss of TRU and re-establish their brand in the toy world once again.

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7 hours ago, stack32 said:

I couldn't disagree more strongly with this. If the line is so far gone that a little speculation will kill it then we can't save it anyway. It also directly leads to the idea that any criticism of minimates or DST is dangerous to the life of the line which is one of the worst things in fan culture.

You're making a big jump there.

By all means, complain about the decisions DST makes in terms of the line.  Hell, I'll toss out a few for you: 1- That 'first appearance' Miles is a wasted slot; 2- the MCU lines were terrible because it was just rehash after rehash; 3- DST should try to do another comic themed con exclusive and get back to their roots.  All complaints, all from a place of love, and we both know none of those thoughts might kill the line.

However, saying "This line is dead" is an entirely different magnitude of complaint.

Years ago, I went to a Grant Morrison event where he spoke about his career, his life, and his philosophies.  Among his stories of being visited by extra dimensional beings, he told the story of how The Invisibles nearly killed him.  He said the book was a sigil, an object that he put so much energy into that as he pushed it out into the world, those things started coming true.  He said as he wrote about the characters getting sick or being depressed, he would experience the same thing and when he wrote about positive things they happened too.  Essentially, the power of thought and what we put out into the world is what shapes our reality.  Yeah yeah, I know, it sounds - scratch that, IS - a bunch of metaphysical mumbo jumbo, but I think the nut of it is true.  You put out good thoughts, you'll get good stuff in return; put out bad and expect the same.  

So listen, by all means, if you want to push the idea that the line is dead or dying go ahead, but be aware that you are probably hastening the end while you do it.

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Walgreens, on paper, should be a great retail option. Because every city has so many of them. I'm pretty sure there's 7 or 8 in my hometown, but the distribution to the stores is terrible and really hurts the line.

@nandoninny That's a great idea! I think had there been some sort of exclusive Minimate given out for Endgame, DST would be able to get more people interested in the line! I can't tell you how people I see that collect other Marvel figures that don't know what Minimates are but are immediately interested upon seeing them.

Also, why aren't Minimates more prominent on Amazon? Considering Amazon has taken over the world, getting items up on there just seems like smart business.

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Minimates are a great product: they're small, relatively cheap, and can come with a load of accessories. With proper outreach, I think a lot of retailers would definitely sell them. I just think DST has gotten a bit lazy and is focusing its energy on the statues and whatnot. We only got one wave of endgame and nothing for far from home. Even look at the John Wick box set, it comes with the same standard guns that we've seen a million times instead of any new ones. I don't know about the end of Minimates, but it sure doesn't look good.

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Personally I don't actually feel that Minimates are ending just yet , there are several factors that give me hope ,the main one ....believe it or not.......is the Vinimate . I have no idea if these are selling well but one thing is for sure ,the Minimate design team are still in action on licenses some of us Minimate fans might only dream about .  

Distribution outlets for Minimates is .....currently......a big problem . Personally I've never bought a Minimate pack from a B & M store in my life , I live in the UK & every pack I have in my collection has arrived at my house . I'm the last person anybody should ask when it comes to suggesting new 'outlets' because ol' butt won't be going there ,love it or loathe it 'online' is here to stay ....embrace it .

Mistakes have been made by DST but what business doesn't make them ?  Believe it or not I've run a business & I made plenty .  Overall DST has done a magnificent job but ironically the major mistakes ,once made, seem to compound themselves .  I'm not here to list those mistakes because over the years I've more or less said (here) what my feelings were as & when those mistakes were being made & I often took the flak for saying them :) 

11 years ago I travelled to SDCC to acquire the EU/UK distribution rights to Minimates , I think the conversation lasted 5 minutes & you know the guy I spoke to .  Minimates became my hobby rather than my business & I'm kind of glad that's the way things turned out but maybe I'd get 10 minutes next time :wink:

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, funkguerilla said:

You're making a big jump there.

By all means, complain about the decisions DST makes in terms of the line.  Hell, I'll toss out a few for you: 1- That 'first appearance' Miles is a wasted slot; 2- the MCU lines were terrible because it was just rehash after rehash; 3- DST should try to do another comic themed con exclusive and get back to their roots.  All complaints, all from a place of love, and we both know none of those thoughts might kill the line.

...................

So listen, by all means, if you want to push the idea that the line is dead or dying go ahead, but be aware that you are probably hastening the end while you do it.

That jump is the logical, if extreme, conclusion of suggesting bad thoughts could kill the line. It's also the next stop on the road if we don't see some dramatic improvement, some fans will turn into rabid DST apologists (it's already slowly happening), attacking anyone who criticizes them because... they're killing the line. It's ugly but it's the way things go when a line is struggling. If the line does get canceled and you want to blame bad vibes though, feel free to put my name at the top of the list.

 

10 hours ago, PrinceCuseCuse said:

Also, why aren't Minimates more prominent on Amazon? Considering Amazon has taken over the world, getting items up on there just seems like smart business.

Amazon did sell minimates, or at least they sold boxsets. They stopped some time ago, right around the same time the price was increased if I remember correctly. So the answer is they aren't more prominent because Amazon and a lot of third party sellers decided to stop selling them.

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I’ve been collecting since I first picked up wave 1 of the Marvel series at Suncoast, and the clearanced Trek ones at Target. I’ve been able to get 99% of them at retail - up until Walgreens. Wave 8 and up - lost me. I’ve only seen Avengers BC and Captain Marvel since then. 
Walgreens doesn’t seem to know what to do with them. If they had an online presence beyond that one wave, I’d probably still be all in. But my interest in the past year has barely gone beyond buying Luke’s customs. I’m just too busy with life and family to make the fruitless retail runs anymore. 
If anything kills this line, it will be undoubtedly distribution, not interest. I’d love to find any of those missing waves. But time spent with my family and daughters is too precious to waste on “the hunt”. Give me an online presence and I’ll bite. But I’m not chasing them into every Walgreens with an open wallet while they run away from me, daring me to catch them just for the privilege of buying them.

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I don't understand why lines that have an established fanbase who are actively asking for more product (Aliens, Predator) end without a replacement tentpole line already in development.  

Sonic, John Wick, Kingdom Hearts, Bruce Lee, are not long-term licenses.  They are "fill in the gap" products that are offered in conjunction with tentpole licenses to help bring in new customers to a brand.  The Man with No Name trilogy, Platoon, Expendables, Plants vs Zombies are other examples of these types of products.

Think of the other tentpole licenses that were being offered during these products, Halo, BSG, Ghostbusters, Walking Dead, those products helped cross sell the smaller licenses.

Castlevania had the potential to be a new tentpole license, providing the video games were included in the license, but that appears to have not gone anywhere either.  Who wouldn't want to army build fun colorful monsters for their Minimates collection?

Minimates needs a Game of Thrones (too late), Harry Potter (LEGO), Star Wars (LEGO), type of high profile line to bolster the brand and bring back both retailer and consumer interest, and without that type of interest, confidence in the brand is going to continue to be rightfully tested.

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1 hour ago, youbastards said:

Sonic, John Wick, Kingdom Hearts, Bruce Lee, are not long-term licenses.  They are "fill in the gap" products that are offered in conjunction with tentpole licenses to help bring in new customers to a brand.  The Man with No Name trilogy, Platoon, Expendables, Plants vs Zombies are other examples of these types of products.

Think of the other tentpole licenses that were being offered during these products, Halo, BSG, Ghostbusters, Walking Dead, those products helped cross sell the smaller licenses.

Castlevania had the potential to be a new tentpole license, providing the video games were included in the license, but that appears to have not gone anywhere either.  Who wouldn't want to army build fun colorful monsters for their Minimates collection?

Minimates needs a Game of Thrones (too late), Harry Potter (LEGO), Star Wars (LEGO), type of high profile line to bolster the brand and bring back both retailer and consumer interest, and without that type of interest, confidence in the brand is going to continue to be rightfully tested.

Youbastards...you are right on the money.

I always thought a Mortal Kombat or a Power Rangers line would also be great for Minimates.

I think it would be a great idea for DST to try and jump on stuff before it blows up.  As a teacher, I had students talking about Minecraft, Roblox and Fort Nite at least a full year before clothes and toys started showing up in stores. 

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13 hours ago, buttheadsmate said:

Mistakes have been made by DST but what business doesn't make them ?  Believe it or not I've run a business & I made plenty .  Overall DST has done a magnificent job but ironically the major mistakes ,once made, seem to compound themselves .  I'm not here to list those mistakes because over the years I've more or less said (here) what my feelings were as & when those mistakes were being made & I often took the flak for saying them :)

As the topic has been discussed I've been trying to decide if I think DST's mistakes are any greater than the average toy or collectible company. They may not be but I think some of the decisions at times have seemed so inexplicable from the outside that you can't help but question the decision-making process. They've definitely made an above average number of head-scratching lineup choices. For me that's probably compounded by the marketing spin that not only were those decisions correct, it's silly to even question them. I certainly don't get the impression they ever critically review those decisions, I hope it happens internally and they don't like to talk about it. To be fair that seems to be pretty common among collectible companies which I suppose isn't surprising since it's easy, and often accurate, to blame the fans instead.

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Like many of you, I have been collecting these things since 2003.  I have seen many a post about the demise of the line and what AA/DST are doing wrong.  First, I think many of the ideas, suggestions and insights provided here are valid and this is an open community to discuss these things.  That said, I can say with absolute certainty that Minimates are in a far better place now than they were before DST bought AA and I also feel confident that DST wants the line to succeed and they listen to us.  

What I believe to be keeping Minimates out of more common retail outlets is the POTENTIAL for profit on individual sets (both 2 packs & box sets).  Retail outlets want a high profit margin based on MSRP and if they don't find it in a product, they pass.  What that means is either higher per pack prices or fewer outlets for the retail buyer.  I could be way off, but this is my speculation on the issue of retail availability.

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I guess I'm kind of the one that started all this with my offhand comment in the other thread, so...you're welcome? Anyway, this has been a thoughtful discussion so far, so thanks to everyone for that.

I personally think that Minimates, if not dying, are in decline. I don't think they will ever fully go away, if only because DST owns it as an intellectual property, so it's in their best interest to keep it alive in some fashion. But the signs have been there, from the dwindling of the direct market to the disappearance of convention exclusives to recent cancellations. None of these things are good. I know that a lot of people want to lay these changes at the feet of DST as mistakes, but the realities of the market make Minimates a tough sell. They are a niche of a niche of a niche (collectible action figures> minifigures> Minimates) that peaked in popularity a decade ago. More than anything, it's pretty amazing that DST has been able to sustain Minimates while nearly every other minifigure has disappeared.

I think YB is right that the lack of tentpole properties is huge. It's been basically Marvel and only Marvel for years now, with a couple others (Walking Dead, TMNT, and Kingdom Hearts) all looking like potential compliments, but all petering out. DST needs something other than Marvel to keep the line afloat, because (let's face it) they've more or less exhausted the Marvel character library.

TRU's closing has had a drastic effect on Minimates, which I think we all could have predicted. It was clear years ago that the direct market wasn't going to be enough to sustain Minimates, and the failures of the classic animated TMNT and Kingdom Hearts lines to generate enough orders to go into production is the last word on that. Walgreens has been a nice complimentary partner, but as the primary retail outlet they have been lacking.

Of course, it's easy to say "DST should just sell Star Wars Minimates to Target, problem solved!" Of course they know that. It's easy to second guess and make assumptions from the outside, but we're not privy to all the information that goes behind DST's decisionmaking. I don't always agree with the choices they make, but I do know that they always have the wellbeing of the line in mind.

Anyway, I think this is a challenging time, probably the biggest since DC Direct cancelled DC Minimates. I don't know if DST can sustain it, frankly, but I'll be happy to get as many releases as we have left.

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lets not forget how DST shot themselves in the foot when they expected LCS to carry the same products as TRU but receive them later and make them have to charge more for them.

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I think one can only judge tentpoles in hindsight. In another reality, Plants vs. Zombies, Mass Effect, Sonic, Muppets could have run for a long time, they just didn't catch on for reasons I'm sure I'll hear. And Aliens, GB, Predator could have petered out sooner. I think it's all a crapshoot. We usually plan out at least two waves of every line assuming they'll be successful.

And the X-Factor wave isn't simply "nostalgia bait", it's a legitimate attempt to give collectors what they want. Wasn't this a demanded wave? I think so.

 

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Ive definitely asked for Peter David's original X-Factor. I only hope I can scrap up enough funds to get myself a set...

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Tentpole properties .......  The Walking Dead line was enjoyable..... 16 waves ,3 box sets & an exclusive or two ,spanning three or so years did 'Peter out' :sarcasm-1: but whilst there was much to be praised ..... far too much repetition IMHO .

TMNT .....I wanted to hate them but I just loved them but ....er....far too much repetition ...... much like this post  .

Marvel is far from exhausted IMVHO , I do however believe that comic Marvel Minimates are the major way forward & despite my liking for certain movie mates I have ,for many years, barely tolerated the necessity for mundane civilian characters that make the numbers up........give me costumed characters ,I can make the others myself . 

Whilst I'm at it .......Bruce Lee Minimates ? Seriously ?  A ( just one) Bruce Lee Minimate would be a great addition to any Minimate collection. 4 :no:?  

There is a massive market for Minimates in the UK & Europe but as I alluded to earlier (above) there appears to be some reticence for DST to get their passports out again. People 'here' wouldn't necessarily be begging for View Askew Minimates but I reckon a certain 'Gaul' or Time -Lord license would be well-received . Product-testing for EU certification has long-been mooted as 'the obstacle' , all I can say is that every conversation & all the correspondence I have had over the years with 'them that know' shows that there is no major obstacle .

Zach mentions The Muppets & there is much that I could say about Muppet Minimates , I'll say that they're nice to have in my collection but am I the only one left wondering why some of the characters look so great whilst many of them look unfinished . Who nose?  Muppet Minimates ,design-wise are all over the place & many characters fail as a Minimate , a Muppet or both.

There are many great things to say about Minimates but cynical bastards like me harp on about the bad things , in my case it is sheer frustration that the brand isn't up there where it should be . It's not too late .

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Maybe it's time to get creative and bring M.A.X. back out and take a break from soliciting licensed products if there is a significant level of uncertainty they will perform well.  

I still maintain that a line of unlicensed cryptozoic Minimates Monsters and Monster Hunters would sell well and help bolster the brand.  Bigfoot, Skeleton, Ghost, Werewolf, Mummy etc with Van Helsing-esque hunters with fun accessories.  Do a wave with a build-a-figure deluxe "Boss" monster to encourage buying the full wave and include some alternate parts to encourage multiple purchases to build your own army of Monsters that are compatible with other existing lines.

M.A.X. still has plenty of potential too, I would love to see DST spin this line to offer something comparable to Playmobil and not focus so much on Military.  New variations of the M.A.X. Police/Rescue people, paired with criminals and people to rescue.  Offer packs with random hobbies or professions like a fisherman, bowler, clown, artist, etc.

Maximum Zombies....it's time.  Just focus on unique and creative Zombie designs and don't worry about pairing them with humans.  Include some new weapons and accessories in each pack and promote the Mix and Match play and encourage consumers to build your own heroes to fight the zombie hoard!  Maybe include some alternate human parts in each pack to turn any one of the Zombies into a human.

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