This is the first in a short series of articles covering a number of serious missteps that Mattel has made concerning some of their top properties.

Today I wanted to take a look at the Masters of the Universe Classics (MOTUC) Club Eternia 2010 Subscription. First let me explain what this subscription is.

Currently, once a month, at noon, a MOTUC figure goes up for sale on Most months, the figure has sold in about one hour, despite continually increased production numbers. This has angered many fans of the line because of the inconvenient time of day to order and the inability of Mattel to ensure better availability.

The Subscription
To help assuage some of the on-going frustration from the fast sellouts, Mattel has introduced a subscription service. Purchase the subscription upfront and guarantee yourself each ‘figure of the month’ for the rest of the year. Cool idea, but keep in mind, you don’t save yourself any money on shipping if you order a single subscription because they send the figures out once a month with all the others. There is no option to save them all and ship them together at the end of the year.
You do have the option of ordering two subscriptions at once and combining the shipping on the two. This is a risky maneuver. You would be committing yourself to buying two figures you may or may not want. In fact, you won’t know the entire makeup of the 12 figures until, at the very earliest, half way through your subscription. Mattel only announces 3 or 4 months worth of figures at a time.

At SDCC, Mattel announced an attempt to sweeten the deal. If you order the subscription, you will not only be guaranteed the 12 figures for that year, but you will also be guaranteed an exclusive figure available only through the subscription (as far as we know) and a poster showing a map of Eternia. The exclusive figure is called Wun-dar and is based on the fabled Wonder-Bread He-Man figure and comes with a loaf of bread accessory.

Types of Collectors
Lets ignore for the moment the option of buying a second subscription and saving on shipping. I’m going to lump collectors of this line into two categories; Casual fans and Collector fans. Casual fans don’t buy every figure. They choose to buy only the figures that interest them and usually only one of that figure. Collector fans are very much into trying to complete their collections, purchasing every figure on sale, often purchasing two of each. One to open and one to keep in package.

The subscription is a bad choice for Casual fans in this regard. It will lock them into purchasing twelve figures, of which, they do not know the identity nor the look.

The subscription has significantly more merit for Collector fans. They already know that they will be purchasing all twelve figures. They also want the exclusive Wun-dar figure. Sounds like a good deal for them especially if they buy two subscriptions at once. In theory, that would be a good idea.

The Catch
Mattel has decided to expand their monthly offering to more than one figure a month. “Bonus figures” will be available for purchase in certain months. These figures will include re-releases of figures that were fast sellouts, repaints, oversized vehicle/beasts, troop builder 2-packs, and also accessory packs. Its all a little staggering. These bonus figures are not included in the subscription and must be purchased on once a month. You will be forced to pay separate shipping charges on bonus figures you choose to buy from the site without the option to combine it in with your subscription figure shipping that month.

This shouldn’t affect Casual fans because casual fans shouldn’t be buying the subscription. Collector fans have just been dealt a poor deal though. If you are a collector, you now have a choice. Sign up for your subscriptions and guarantee your figures and Wun-dar and pay at least double the shipping you would normally pay each month. Your second option is to not buy the subscription, risk the sellouts on the site and save a substantial amount in shipping and use that savings to find Wun-dar on the after market.

This is all ignoring the fact that all the other brand exclusives go on sale at the same time as the MOTUC figures. This includes Ghostbusters and DC Universe Classics. There is a great deal of crossover interest in these lines among the Collector fans.

So who is the subscription really a good deal for? Scalpers. Or resellers as they are referred to by some. Since one may order as many subscriptions as she or he wants without limit, scalpers are free to save greatly on shipping for the monthly figures and get multiples of a rare exclusive that will have high demand among the collectors stuck in this quandary. The savings in shipping derived from these economies of scale may even be enough to offset the extra shipping on the monthly ‘bonus’ figures, especially when those are ordered in multiples as well.

As a possible sign that many people are holding off on purchasing the subscription, Mattel has extended the deadline for subscription sign ups. It could mean that demand has been far lower than they expected. How will that affect Wun-dar’s production numbers? Mattel surely has to put in a minimum order for Wun-dar and if the subscriptions fall far below that number? Will this mean another Gleek disaster? (post on Gleek forthcoming) If Mattel matches the number of Wun-dars to the far lower than expected subscription sign up numbers, his after market value could sky-rocket. Or it might not. These are all risks Collectors are currently weighing and voicing loudly on other forums.

Mattel, in trying to help fans, and squeeze more product sales in at the same time has effectively put Collectors between a rock and a hard place.

The easy solution? Have the subscription apply towards months and not figures and adjust the price accordingly. 12 Months of figures. Not just 12 figures.

I have included a listing of what is currently known for releases on below. For an up to date view of whats in the pipeline, check out, a fansite helping us keep track.
Images of Wun-Dar are from TNI.
Known Releases thus far:
Sept. 15th
Webstor (Monthly)

Oct. 15th
Teela (Monthly)
Zodak (Bonus – 2002 Repaint)
Ray Stanz

Nov. 16th
Scareglow (Monthly)
He-Man (Bonus – Re-release)
Egon Spengler

Dec 15th
King Randor (Monthly)
Skeletor (Bonus Re-release)
Green Goddess (Bonus – Teela Repaint)
Winston Zeddemore

Jan. 15th
Princess Adora (Monthly)
Battle Armor He-Man (Bonus)

Feb. 16th
Trap-Jaw (Monthly)
Battle Cat (Bonus)
MOTUC Display Stands (Bonus)

March 15th
Moss-Man (Monthly)
Wun-dar (Bonus – Subscription only)
Walter Peck