What Comes Next For Mattel’s DC Universe?

By bill - August 22, 2013

doomsday-contained-featDC’s Club Infinite Earths will come to an end in 2013.  We’ve seen six figures that would have seen release next year, along with several other Classics that have gone unreleased… so where does Mattel’s 6″ DC Universe go from here?

Monday marked the end of the 2014 Subscription drive for Matty Collector’s Masters of the Universe and DC lines.  While MOTU made it in the end, DC’s Club Infinite Earths just couldn’t move the needle far enough, ending at a mere 63% of the total needed to go forward.

We have seen four figures Mattel had planned for the now-cancelled sub– 90s Aquaman, Ice, Conner Kent and Damian Wayne.  We also saw the sub only incentive figure, the scale accurate Doomsday, both in and out of his containment suit.  On top of that, I’ve heard rumors that 2014’s sub would have also delivered Golden Age Mr. Terrific, modern Hourman, Miss Martian and a pack in Mister Mxyzptlk… plus we have long-finished DCUC figures like Atomic Skull and Mera that just never found a home, who may have finally surfaced… so the next step clearly isn’t being restricted by a lack of characters… there’s plenty.

Mattel has said they don’t know what comes next for the 6″ DC Universe, and I believe them.  They are meeting with Warner and DC to determine how to proceed, but Matty’s Scott Neitlich does mention that monthly or quarterly releases on the website are a possibility, likely at a higher price point.  I think this would be the most likely move– the issue is, how much is TOO MUCH when it comes to DC Universe figures?

I feel it comes down to what each collector really wants.  Personally, I’ve been at the point for a while where I would pay more if it meant I got figures I like a lot– I’d bite for 90s Aquaman, because I love that look and I dig Total Justice.  I’d get Ice to match 2013’s Fire.  And I would absolutely pay top dollar for that Doomsday.  In fact, I’d probably be just as happy paying the same amount overall for the half of the lineup I want, if it meant I wasn’t being roped into lots of figures I don’t care about.  That freedom to choose is what the subscription model prevents against, and without that in the way I think a lot of negative feelings would melt away.  This year’s collection has had some gems like Wally West and the upcoming Huntress, but the fact that we’re ending the year– and maybe the whole line– with a waste of a figure like Batzarro leaves a bad taste in my mouth, one that makes me forget the good times.

I’d bet even odds on quarterly releases for the four figures we’ve seen, on Matty Collector sometime next year.  But in a perfect world, I agree with what Sanchez said about a new voting model being needed, not unlike Kickstarter.  If I were Mattel, I’d put all the cards on the table– lay out all 12 figures you had planned right now, and put them ALL up for preorder… whatever figures hit the minimum number of preorders, those get made and sold one by one.  The rest just weren’t meant to be.  It’s a populist approach, that will prevent people from being stuck with figures they don’t want, and championing the ones they do… so, half Mattel’s job would be done for them– when you have a well as big as the ENTIRE DC Universe, everyone is going to have their favorites… I don’t need any more Golden Age figures, but I’d happily take some 90s dudes like Prometheus, Zauriel and Kyle Rayner.  If enough people share my sentiments, they get made… If more people opt for the Golden Age classics, good for them if they get made– I’m not out anything, because I didn’t want them in the first place.

Regardless of the standard figures, when it comes to Doomsday, I think Mattel should look into repackaging him as a deluxe “final figure” for their long running series, a collection topper on par with MOTU’s Castle Greyskull.  Even if it didn’t equate to enough sub sales, internet buzz clearly proves people are excited for this figure.  If it were up to me, I’d feature both Doomsdays– or the swappable parts needed to make both Doomsdays– as a box set on Matty Collector.  But the big caveat here is, it would have to be a somewhat reasonable price.  The Ghostbusters Ecto-1 didn’t fail because it wasn’t awesome, it failed because it was GROSSLY overpriced.  Doomsday would be the same way– if they can get all the parts for a suited and unleashed Doosmday in one package for $60 or less, I truly believe he would sell like crazy… offering the swappable variant parts for both his looks would motivate collectors to pick up multiples (I have only a little shame admitting I’d happily drop a c-note to get both versions).

It’s equally possible that this really is it, and there is no future for the 6″ DC Universe.  It’s definitely not coming back to mass retail– we have the two new “kid friendly” lines for that.  The writing has been on the wall for a while now anyway– the retail model no longer worked, and Warner is too all over the place with their DC movie plans for Mattel to keep up (bear in mind, Matty is NOT the only DC affiliate who is scrambling, an important fact to keep in mind)… this means a Hasbro model– with their Marvel Legends piggybacking on the themes of that year’s movies– is not a strategy Mattel could follow either.

I was ready to let go of the 6″ DC Universe before Comic Con.  Then, the figures they revealed had me inspired to keep going, and I bit on the sub once again.  It’s more of the same emotional roller coaster this line has been since the beginning, with an inordinate amount of ups and downs along the way, and the exhaustion I feel looking back at the past five or so years has me once again ready to let it end.  Would I love that Ice and Mxyzptlk and Doomsday? Absolutely.  But if they never see the light of day, I can’t say it would ruin my collection, either.

At the end of the day, this will play out however it plays out.  I really hope Mattel can see these figures through to release in some manner.  I’d love if the DC Universe did NOT end with Batzarro… but after dealing with this much drama year after year, all I can end with is saying I hope I eat crow when I say Mattel’s DC Universe is finished.

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