This Labor Day, we’ve got the second part of the interview with Mattel Associate Brand Manager Scott Neitlich that I got to sit in on with the Fwoosh’s VeeBee. So, whether you are enjoying the extra day off of work or are chained to your desk because your boss is a jerk, read on to get the scoop on what Mattel is working hard on for their collector lines, including Masters of the Universe Classics, DC brands and Ghostbusters!
This article is reprinted from TheFwoosh.com, and there’s a discussion thread here: Fwoosh Interview with Toy Guru!
You can read part one of the interview here: Interview with Mattel Associate Brand Manager Scott Neitlich – Part 1
Fwoosh: Okay, we will circle back to DCUC, but what about Infinite Heroes – what has been the reaction to the Anti-Monitor raffle?
Scott Neitlich: It has been phenomenal, we filled half of an arrowhead water jar with little proof of purchase points so there are a ton in there.
F (VeeBee): 25 of them are mine!
SN: Yeah, we had a gentleman win one the other day that had like, 2000 points.
F: He is a Fwoosher.
SN: Yeah, so am I -really glad he won one, a lot of people were really dedicated to it, so it has been fun.
F: So, just a fun thing for the con or is there larger interests at work with it, to get a gauge to see if maybe, just maybe super-sizes figure can be an option?
SN: We have no plans at this time. So all of them were hand made and hand painted, we did not actually tool it.
F: Is he all roto-cast?
SN: No, not completely. We actually have some production photos of them being made in El Segundo that we are planning to put up on Facebook of all nine of them being painted. So we gave 8 away and one we will keep to have at the office to bring back for future convention displays.
F: So just a few lucky people out there.
SN: Yep! Not me, I don’t get one. But we will try to get some of that stuff up on the internet, either on Matty or Facebook.
F: Speaking of Matty, do you have immediate plans to expand your Matty stock to include some of your retail product?
SN: A little bit. You will see DC Universe figures coming to the site. Matty is the home of Mattel’s collector products. However, we are going to be launching an online Mattel store that will have most Mattel product from many, many different lines.
F: Oh, really?
SN: Yeah, so between that and Matty you are going to be able to get a lot of your toy needs right online.
F: So like a DCUC series, that would be on Matty?
SN: Right, even our retail collector lines will be on Matty. We are going to have DC Universe series 9 on there.
F: Will that drop on the site at the same time as retail?
SN: It will be at retail first, for about a month and then it will be on Matty. Also, with wave 9 we will be selling those open stock which means individual figures, but with future waves we will also be selling case packs so you can by a case that has all of the figures in it.
F: I think that will make a lot of people happy, especially for the variants. So you will be giving a definite date for release like the current Matty product?
F: That is great, usually after a series has been out for about a month, people that have not been able to find it start to get antsy so this might be the perfect outlet for that. A safety net in case distribution fails them.
F (SamuRon): Yeah, in my area it is pretty bad.
SN: Yeah, and we are working on that. Distribution is a big issue for us as well. We want to get all of our stuff out there. We are really working on that.
F: Has there been a noticeable change in volume with the online guys?
SN: The open stock plan has been very successful
F: I think that was a big benefit to sellers and buyers, I know I bought a case of Parademons from Enchanted Toy Chest.
F: Well, online is the only place that you can get your hands on another little line, Masters.
SN: Yes! Masters, the little toy line that could!
F: It has been a year now since we last spoke about them at SDCC and it was still a few months away from He-Man releasing, can you give us a little postmortem about the the first year or so? Success?
SN: The line has been doing really well.
F: Sell outs seem indicative of that. With the buying online, the last couple of months with Hordak and Man-At-Arms, those figures have only lasted about an hour-
SN: Yeah, they have been going fast month after month, but they will all be back. He-Man will be back in November and then throughout 2010 you will see a lot of the sold out figures will be reissued with slight packaging changes.
F: So the changes will be in the packaging?
SN: Yep, just a slight package change. We think people will like it though.
F: Have you had good reaction to the subscription so far?
SN: Definitely. That is why we are continuing it under the new title of Club Eternia, with an exclusive bonus figure that comes only with the subscription. Wun-Dar!
F: And his loaf of bread!
SN: I don’t know why there is a loaf of bread… [laughs] but we are really excited about that. There is a massive map of Eternia that is also coming in poster size that we’ll mail out with Wun-Dar.
F: So the subscription will include Wun-Dar, the map and the regular monthly figures, but not the bonus figures?
SN: No, figures like Battle Armor He-Man will not be included in the subscription.
F: But they will go on sale at the same time as the monthly figures?
SN: Yes. So in January, Adora, Battle Armor He-Man and I think Beastman will all go on sale at the same time.
F: What was the big push for you guys to Adora her before She-Ra?
SN: I think part of it was that there has never been an Adora figure, so we wanted to do that. Also, if you do She-Ra first, that might take away some of the excitement for Adora, which is a really great figure.
F: So does that mean that She-Ra is pushed out now?
SN: She-Ra will come out in 2010. We promised that so we are going to deliver on it.
F: Does that mean we can also expect to see Princess of Power figures coming down the pipe as well?
SN: Are you kidding? Peek-a-Blue, Mermista, Frosta, Sweet Bee, even Bow done by the Horsemen? We want to do them all and we will get to them in time. Masters of the Universe Classics from day one were always meant to be about everything.
F: So, there were some people that were confused about some of the early comments about 200x, but now with Zodak...
SN: Yeah, let me clear that up. The prime example is Zodak, that is what we mean by a 200x figure. Or King Grayskull. It is a 200x character done in the Classics style. All of the figures will be in the Classics style, but Zodak is a great example of how we took the look from 200x and used the boots and loin cloth from He-Ro to blend him into the Classics style. But there are also some original characters from 200x- characters like Pravus, Carnivus, Lord Dactus that we will get to in time too in a Classics style.
Let’s use Chief Carnivus as an example, again, not that we are doing him immediately- if we did him, he would not be done in the 200x style.
F: So without the distinct style and hard angles?
SN: Right. We would do him as if he had a figure in the 1980s, so he might get the Beast Man body with a lion head and the furry shorts. Like Hordak had furry shorts in the original line, but not in the 200x designs, but he’s back to the shorts in the Classics line, so that is how we would approach an original character like Chief Carnivus, as if he had a figure in the original ‘80s line.
F: So, at the panel you said that Teela was going to have a secret accessory, much like Man-At-Arms and Tri-Klops. I did notice that Zoar was flying around in the display case downstairs…
SN: [laughs] Yeah! There have actually been a couple in there if you have noticed, each day we have changed them.
F (SR): So, is it too soon to ask about Jitsu?
SN: [laughs] It’s never too soon to ask about Jitsu! He is an awesome guy! You know, Fisto, Jitsu, Clawful- they are all cool!
F (VB): Spikor is a big one for me, especially since he has not had anything since the 1980s.
SN: Yeah, Scareglow was another one like that, that is why we wanted to do him so early on.
F: Yeah! What’s the story behind his accessory with the key? Is that the key of Grayskull?
SN: That was something that we asked the Horsemen specifically to make sure that every figure had at least two accessories or an alternate head.
So with Scareglow, originally he only came with his Scythe of Doom so we asked the Horsemen to come up with a new accessory. I was expecting them to do a power burst or energy ball, but they came up with this Grayskull key holder chained to him. They had a whole story as to why it was there, and we LOVED it. We worked it into the bio and you will see it soon. There is definitely a really cool reason for that.
F: Wow, sounds like another success of your continuing partnership with them. We all know that they deliver awesome figures, but are there other intangibles that they deliver on that the fans might not be aware of?
SN: Oh yes. From what we originally request from the Horsemen, they are notorious for doing so much more. Sometimes we have to cut out extra accessories that don’t get tooled, but they surprise us all the time. For instance, we did not ask for the ring that comes with Tri-Klops, that was just something they did, so we knew when we saw it that we had to include it!
They are obviously huge fans of the lines, just like we are and in the same way though, sometimes we surprise them. Sometimes we will take some figures that they have done and add more paint deco.
F: Like Chemo? The final figure has those cool bubbles sculpted into his “shell”, the prototype at New York didn’t have that.
SN: Yeah, exactly!
F: Whose idea was that?
SN: That was all Bill Benecke, our lead designer. He LOVES Chemo, he is absolutely one of his favorites. You will see Chemo in so many lines this year [laughs]! He’s in Brave and the Bold too, he loves him.
F: So let’s switch to the new big Matty property – Ghostbusters. Since making the announcement shortly before New York Comic Con, what has the reaction been like?
SN: Unbelievable, on all fronts. We finally have six inch scale, movie accurate Ghostbusters figures- it has never been done! Honestly, having them in the case here, that is the first time I have personally seen them all lined up- we had to hand paint them this week to have them all ready for the show.
We could not be happier with Ghostbusters right now, and Sony is such a great partner to work with.
F: Do you guys have a system of how you are releasing the four Ghostbusters? First we have slimed Egon, then regular Ray and Winston and then slimed Peter.
SN: Yeah, the reason slime Egon is first at Comic Con is because we wanted the first figure to be at Comic Con with Slimer. We have the line planned out about two years in advance at this point so we have a road map.
F: The logo ghost that is coming with Ray is a fun one, I don’t think there has ever been a figure of him.
SN: Yeah! We wanted to always do a cool accessory with each figure, be it a ghost, or the trap that comes with Winston, or Walter Peck comes with the Containment Unit.
SN: [laughs] Yeah! It actually turns out the actor that played Walter, William Atherton, lives on the same street as one of the marketing people at Sony, so that is how we were able to do that one so fast- he just had to go right down the street to talk to him! He was really surprised we wanted to do a figure of him.
F: Future possibilities – “Marshmallowed Walter Peck”!
SN: Oh yeah! But I want to remind everyone that the mock-up figure is not the actual Walter Peck body. It is the Arkham Asylum Scarecrow body, but we will have an all new Ghostbusters suit body that we will use for the line. There are several versions of characters that we can do in suits- like the courtroom scene in the second movie. So we are tooling up a suit body too.
We have been really lucky because a lot of Ghostbusters fansites are wonderful. They pick apart the equipment and know all of the most minute details. Certain things change color from movie to movie- like the packs have a brown knob in one movie and yellow in the other so they know. They have diagrams and pictures for the backpacks.
F: A lot of the guys that come to Comic Con dressed as the Busters have some amazing costumes and Proton Packs.
SN: Yeah! They make those from very detailed diagrams and you will notice that we did the same for the packs on the figures. The accessories on the 12-inch and the 6-inch are very, very detailed.
F: I was looking at Egon right before I left for the show and all of the rainbow-colored cords are there and the scuff marks. That reminds me- will all of the Proton Packs on the Ghostbusters figures be non-removable?
SN: Yeah, the 6-inch are not removable, but the 12-inch are. The reason for that is because the straps on the current 6-inch body are sculpted on.
F: So, the focus right now seems to be on the movie versions of all of the characters, but what about The Real Ghostbusters cartoon? Is there a current direction and time frame for those possible figures?
SN: Well, nothing that we can announce right now.
F: Would you integrate those into an overall Ghostbusters Classics line?
SN: We have some plans and the fans will know soon enough. We are actually looking at the old toy line for some inspiration on things like ghosts and equipment.
F: I always loved those clear PVC pack-in ghosts from the animated line.
SN: Absolutely. Ghostbusters is still really early so we can’t divulge too much information right now, but it is going to be a lot of fun!
Thanks for reading part 2. Check back soon for our final installment when we have a free-for-all attempt to pull information about all of the lines that Scott oversees. Not to be missed!
For more pictures, check out: San Diego Comic-Con Mattel Masters of the Universe Classics Pics (more of them!)