One of the surprise announcements out of SDCC 2011 for Mattel was the discontinuation of DC Universe’s distribution to retail in the form of connect n’ collect/build-a-figure waves. No more build-a-figures would be offered at retail and instead the line would shift to more popular character selections shipped on a unique schedule. That left a hole for to fill by selling the figures of characters the line had not yet gotten to along with the more obscure character selections that tend not to do well with retail, but are popular among collectors.


In theory, this wasn’t a bad idea. Mattel set up a 9 month subscription that would feature nine monthly figures starting in April of 2012. There would also be three quarterly oversized figures and one club exclusive oversized figure as well. The latter, of which, would be decided by online fan poll based on a selection of revealed characters including, but not limited to, Black Lantern Swamp Thing and Shaggy Man.

The linch pin of this subscription, though, was that a specific number of subscriptions would need to be sold to make it viable. Mattel setup a thermometer to keep track of the relative number of subscriptions on to give people an informed view of how close they were to the goal.

Read more about the state of the subscription after the jump.

The subscription was announced about a week and a half ago at Mattel’s Mattypalooza panel at SDCC 2011. Two days ago, on Monday, MattyCollector’s twitter feed updated with the following update:

#DCU Infinite Earths Update: The thermometer’s at 24%. Sale ends Fri & there’s still a way to go, but it can happen!

That last statement doesn’t sound very optimistic. In what seemed like a panicked response to the low purchase numbers, Mattel reacted by updating their MattyCollector facebook account with a picture of Poison Ivy and the following message:

Hey DC Universe fans, you asked for it, you got it! Here is the reveal of another 6″ character in the DC Universe Club Infinite Earths subscription program…Poison Ivy! To get this figure, as well as the other subscription figures, sign up for the club:

As Friday approaches and the deadline to sign up for the subscription looms, it looks less and less likely that this line will get past this phase and into production. Today, Wednesday, two days before the deadline, MattyCollector tweeted:

#DCU Infinite Earths Update: The thermometer’s up to 28% today. Only 3 days to go!

With only two and a half days left, 72% of the subscriptions needed for the line to survive still have to be bought. Further, after another figure was revealed only a 4% boost was seen.

Shortly after that tweet, the DCNation twitter feed tried a little cross promotion:

The new home of the DC Universe Club Infinite Earths is @MattyCollector. Sign up before 8/5

Many fans simply wait until the last opportunity to sign up for opportunities like this, so its not unusual to see a large increase in the last day of the offer. 72% of subscriptions is an awfully large number to fulfill, though. Additionally, now that Mattel tried to do damage control by revealing another figure, many fans are now waiting to see if they reveal any more before the deadline.

Mattel partially shot themselves in the foot by keeping this secret as a reveal at their SDCC 2011 panel and then taking subscription orders immediately after the panel and for a two week period thereafter. A very dedicated fan base will know of the news immediately, but if you really want widespread adoption, you need to allow some time for the news to propagate.

A DC Universe subscription can also be a tough sell with the approach they have chosen. The MOTU Classics subscription is an automatic buy for most MOTU fans that don’t want to deal with MattyCollector. DC Universe is another animal though. While MOTU character selection can vary greatly, chances are very likely that you will want a grand majority of the figures chosen for release because the overall MOTU univese is finite and after thirty years a great majority of fans are familiar with most of the characters despite obscurity. The same cannot be said for DC Universe. The sheer number of characters to choose from is daunting and the likelihood that a character that you will want may be good, but can the same be said of all nine figures considering that the selection will need to appeal to a wide gamut of fan interests? That is not an easy question to answer and one that many fans are struggling with while considering this purchase. Knowing only a definite 4 of 13 figures makes this a risky investment at best for the non-completist collector.

Last year, Mattel ended up extending the window to order subscriptions. I would be surprised if Mattel chose not to take the same action after seeing all of this information laid out in front of them. We’ll know for sure on Friday, until then…get your subscription orders in while you can.