What Matty Collector (specifically MOTUC) Can Learn From AMC (specifically Breaking Bad)

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by Howie Decker @HowardTheDeck

in Nerdy

With less than a week remaining in Mattel’s Masters of the Universe Classics “Subscribe or the Line Dies” campaign, you can find marketing manager Scott Neitlich (AKA Toy Guru) in various places on the internet looking to drum up support.

If Mattel wants the Masters of the Universe Classics line to survive thrive for two more years, they should take a cue from AMC’s Breaking Bad.

This past Sunday, Breaking Bad’s season 5b premiere drew the biggest audience in the show’s history. After a few month hiatus, the show returned to more viewers than it had ever previously captured in its entire run. Why? How does something that debuted five years ago gain such momentum just prior to its final act? It gave people the chance to become fans.

Breaking Bad debuted January 20, 2008. It would be ludicrous to think that every person on Earth who possesses the genetic code and entertainment preferences to potentially be a fan of Breaking Bad had the foresight to tune in on that night and watch the show from the very start. While many of the show’s die-hard fans did get in on the ground floor, many more have jumped on at some point over the past five years.

Betsy Brandt, Jonathan Banks, RJ Mitte, Anna Gunn, Bryan Cranston, Dean Norris, Emily Rios, Bob Odenkirk, Aaron Paul

Breaking Bad’s showrunners haven’t reinvented the wheel as far as making past episodes and seasons of shows available to new viewers. The show just happens to be a textbook case proving why it’s good to make the entire run of your product accessible. People get turned on to it at different times. When someone’s interest is piqued, have your best stuff front and center, ready to be consumed, and boom- you’ve got a new fan.

Mattel eschews this strategy in favor of an elitist, “if you missed out the first time, shame on you- good luck catching up” attitude toward fan-building.

Binge-watching is the newest fad in television, and is responsible for thousands of new fans for countless shows. At this point it seems like everyone has done it at some point, and it’s not just the Netflix Effect. You find something you’re into, and you consume all of it in mass quantities until you’re caught up.

In 2002 I got a taste of the hit FOX show 24. I bought season 1 on DVD and burned through it in time to watch the premiere of season 2 live. I had access to the complete story, which resulted in a new obsession, and the show had a new fan.

Matty Collector doesn’t give potential new fans “access to the whole story”. When you discover the beauty (and there really is no other word for it, it’s a gorgeous line of action figures) of Masters of the Universe Classics, you’re easily hooked. It’s an adult collector-targeted toy line based on one of the most beloved toy and cartoon properties of the 80s. The figures are well built and sculpted by the best in the business.

The problem is, if you didn’t hop on the MOTUC train when it was leaving the station in 2008, you’re admiring the essentials of this toy line from afar.

motuc beast man_opt

image courtesy MWC Toys

For most non-rabid MOTU fans, there are 8-10 characters that could be considered essential figures a potential MOTUC collector would want. Of that 8-10, two of them (Beast Man & Teela) sell for roughly $200 on the secondary market (the only place you can get them), and the others go for a minimum of $50 each. Matty Collector offers some “Collection Essentials” on their website, but it’s a far cry from making the true essential figures available to potential new fans.

Where Breaking Bad invites you to their party with a wax-sealed, gold-embossed personal invitation on that kind of parchment paper you feel bad throwing away, Matty Collector waits until you find out about it through a mutual friend and gets kind of defensive when you call them on it.

If a very generous friend of mine hadn’t sent me a Masters of the Universe Classics figure last year, I’d still have little to no knowledge of and certainly no passion for the line, and I blog about these types of things EVERYDAY.

Breaking Bad is such a good show, and is so accessible, that when a few friends recommended it to me, all it took was one episode and I was hooked. Mattel’s MOTUC line is an equally good product (albeit in a vastly different industry), but its full “backstory” is so inaccessible that I don’t have the time, energy or money to become a fan (as much as I’d LOVE to).

So how can Mattel learn from AMC and take action? Offer two different current subscriptions. One for continuing subscribers, who had the foresight to be on board since the beginning (more power to ya), and one for new fans: people who have the genetic code (ie. are children of the 80s) to be fans of the line, but missed out on it until now (because no mutual friend clued them in about the secret party).

The subscription for new subscribers wouldn’t have to follow the exact release schedule as the original sub, but just give new fans the opportunity to acquire the “Collection Essentials” such as Beast Man, Teela and Trap Jaw, for less than an arm and a leg. Current owners of those figures might cry foul on the strategy, citing decreased value on the figures they’ve been collecting since ’08, but true fans aren’t ever planning to sell those figures anyway. Keeping the molds to these essentials locked in the vault forever rewards the secondary sellers (or Scalp-Ors, as MOTU fans lovingly refer to them).

As the deadline approaches, I hope Mattel garners enough subscriptions to keep the MOTUC line alive. At its core, it really is a beautiful line of action figures, and the collectors who have been on board since the start deserve a proper ending. I just wish those of us who missed the bus initially would be given the opportunity to catch up.


READ ALSO: 5 Masters of the Universe You Want on Your Side in Case of the Apocalypse

roboto underscoopfire.com


Howie Decker green lantern batmanHoward Decker (@HowardtheDeck) is the chief blogger and editor of UnderScoopFire. He takes fantasy baseball & taco night very seriously. You can read his Letter from the Editor here.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Danny Cooper August 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

I could not agree more with you. I am a hardcore transformers fan and collector but for the past couple months I have been stretching out what I watch and collect I decided to get into MOTU and some other franchises. I fell in love with MOTU and decided I was going to get some figures. I have been getting some vintage figures as well as the basic classics figures on mattycollector.com. I want to sub to MOTUC but I am not as interested in getting the final figures as much as I am interested in getting the major A list characters. I would be 100% interested in seeing a sub for the old figures or even see them try and put figures like beast man in retail stores.


Howard Decker August 16, 2013 at 9:55 am

Thanks for the comment Danny! Over on Twitter there do not seem to be as many like-minded MOTUC fans, perhaps they already have their sought-after figures and prefer the feeling of exclusivity. I’m with you though, why would the company not take advantage of an obvious money making/exposure increasing opportunity?


Count Marzo August 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm

From Mattel’s business POV this is a bad idea.

From everyone else’s POV this is an excellent idea.

I wish people just discovering MOTUC could jump in and buy what they wanted. It sucks that they have to limit the line so much, but that’s the way collector lines go in this day and age. I’d love to see more people jump into the MOTUC addiction. The best, most vast adult collector’s toy line on the market today. The top toy line of the 1980s. ♥

Sadly, this deep into it, it’s hard for new people to jump into it. I’m in over my head in white mailer boxes for the past 5+ years so I HAVE to subscribe to every MOTU sub they do.

Still wish they would at least do a minimum re-issue of Teelas, Beast-Mans, Fistos, and whoever else goes for 1 or 2 bills on ebay.


Howard Decker August 16, 2013 at 9:58 am

All good points. By the way, you started all this. 🙂


Count Marzo August 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Sorry about that. 😉


Howard Decker August 16, 2013 at 5:38 pm

In true Count Marzo fashion, you provided me with enough of a hit to get me addicted. Push-Or!

You must’ve heard me singing Huey Lewis “I Want a New Drug” when you sent that Mer-Man!!


Count Marzo August 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

lollll! Love it.

I’m glad He-Man/MOTU became my “drug of choice”. I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun with any other (awesome) 80s property.

I can’t even say “drug of choice” for it, I was like a MOTU crack baby basically. What I remember most fondly is those colorful FILMation letters appearing on the tv screen with their trademark sound effect. I instantly knew I was in for a half hour of #Power.

Basket Of Kittens August 21, 2014 at 3:09 am

I have never subscribed before and I ummed and ahhed for many weeks about Subbing for 2015. And I have made the decision not to. I’m in Australia and only once prior to Scorpia did I manage to get a figure on the 15th of the month when released (Tri Klops) as they were always sold out about 5 hours later when I was up out of bed. And with Scorpia I got her by accident as I wanted her SO badly I jumped on line to get her the moment she was released, then noticed they weren’t selling out within 15 mins or whatever like they used to but I’d already been conditioned to believe it was not worth the bother.

I personally believe had there been enough figures available to buy every 15th (and I’m talking only wanting them available for 12 hours minimum so anyone anywhere in the world could get them without having to camp out by the computer at 2am) I’d have amassed a much bigger collection and probably signed on for 2015 simply to support it and help it reach quota. But no loyalty ever built towards the line for me simply because there was no guarantee I would ever complete the collection I wanted (the 1980s remakes) and if you don’t believe you are capable of getting the collection you’re pursuing what motivation is there to jump in full force?

Subbing didn’t become attractive as by then I’d missed two years of figures pretty much and it was too much ground to try and make up with eBay prices. I definitely think once I’d built up a formidable collection I’d have at some point ended up subbing and remained loyal but as it is I only have 11 figures – in spite of my first one being Tri-Klops years ago! It would have been 50+ figures had they actually been able to buy a within a 12 hour time frame of release though. That to me was where they stuffed up, and once the damage was done it was too hard to try and collect having already missed so many figures with the ridiculous sell out times (I also think allowing scalpers buy 10 at a time was completely ridiculous!) I believe they cost themselves a lot of customers by doing that and through that move there not being enough figures for actual collectors to buy.

When I was a kid I was into Star Wars, I didn’t get into He-Man until about 15 figures and two Castles had come out. But around 1985 the original line came back into stores – He-Man, Teela, Man-At-Arms, Mer Man etc and I was able to collect them as I’d missed out first time around. If Mattel have any brains they’d make some of these essentials available again as I’d jump on them now having missed out on them in 2008/2009 etc. Figures I didn’t really obsess over when Classics were new, but figures I now want due to fullfilling my most desired wish list and wanting to collect more.


HowardTheDeck August 21, 2014 at 7:30 am

Couldn’t agree more, Kittens.


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