Author Topic: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?  (Read 961 times)

Offline Brian

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Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« on: March 9, 2004, 12:55 PM »
After reading the MOTU news this morning, it got me to thinking about Mattel and toy companies in general?  What are some of your opinions on the companies that you collect from, and the job they do?  I don't know that any company is perfect (at least from what I have read), but who is "on the right track" in your opinion?  I don't really buy from many other than Hasbro (Star Wars), but here's a few opinions to start things off:

Hasbro (Star Wars):  Although they have had their problems in the past, and still have their issues now, I think they have been much better as of late (particularly 2004).  It seems they have done a much better job of listening to collectors and fans, and really (aside from the re-releases), I don't know if there is much to complain about this year.  In 2004, they have done a lot of requested characters, much wanted resculpts, made the packaging more vintage-like for OTC (or exact for VOTC), and are making "ultimate" versions of main characters that we have wanted for years.  Like I said, not perfect, but I think they have done a very good job this year.

Toy Biz (Marvel Legends/Lord of the Rings): I am not nearly as knowledgeable on these lines as many of you, but have dabbled in both.  I'm thinking about stopping the ML for now, just because I don't have room and I'm leaning more towards Lord of the Rings if I do buy figures from another line.  It seems, especially now that they have the chase figure thing figured out a little better it sounds, that they do a pretty good job too.  I don't see quite as many complaints about not being able to find certain things...and if they do, later on they seem to be more readily available.  They keep their prices pretty low, especially with the "Trilogy" assortment of LOTR.  Marvel Legends seem to be a good value for the price as well.  And, overall, from what I have seen, they do an amazing job on both of these lines...and I don't see too many complaints about their product for the most part.

Mattel:  Wow, these guys stink it seems.  I have been interested in a few of their lines (Batman, Justice League, and MOTU)...but they seem to be driving all of them into the ground.  We all know to well the trials of the MOTU line, and even though they had tremendous figures (courtesy of the 4 Horsemen)...they found away...with endless variants and HTF secondary characters to basically kill this line.  I'd like to collect a Batman line, but it seems that they do the same type of thing to this line.  I have a Zipline Batman, and that might be all I ever have because of all of the variants (and I wonder if this line will last much longer, with another one coming in the fall).  I really enjoy the Justice League show, but the figures are almost too simplistic (for what they cost)...although they are very true to the show designs, and I guess animated figures aren't usually too articulated.  But, again, just like the Batman line...endless variants and a complete lack of villains (2 in the whole line now, 3 with the Ultra-Humanite later this year).  I really wish they could get a good Batman line off the ground (or improve Justice League for that matter).  When I was a kid, I know I always wanted bad guys for Batman (or whoever) to fight, not just endless versions of him.

Anyways, what are some of your opinions on the toy companies (these or others)?  I hear good things about Palisades Toys with their Muppet Line too, but I don't collect it so I don't know how easy it is to find things.

Offline inadvertent imitation

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #1 on: March 9, 2004, 01:23 PM »
Hasbro-- Good. I may not like repacks, but the rest of the line is amazing. I can't wait to see what they have in store for Episode III. I don't buy anything else from Hasbro anymore though. G1 reissues and Alternators simply cost too much.

Toy Biz-- If it wasn't for the Lord of the Rings, this company wouldn't have my money. I quit Marvel Legends because I simply hate chases and this whole one-per-case idea, not to mention the joints on the figures aren't tight enough, so it felt like a complete ripoff. I dig the LOTR line though, and wish the action features were never brought into the line. And, they really need to stop making Gollums/Smeagols now. Right now.

Mattel-- Heh. Forget it. Anything I can type here has been said many times before.
I hope they choke.

Moore Action Collectibles/Diamond Select Toys-- I'm ecstatic DST has full control of the Buffy line now. All MAC does is sculpt them. They have exclusives in this line, but they aren't that hard to get (World Tour Willow nonwithstanding.)

Neca, Palisades, McFarlane-- I can find their stuff when I want to buy it, so kudos.
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #2 on: March 9, 2004, 02:12 PM »
Habro.  Ok, I don't mind the repacks so much, but a lot of their selections are really questionable (HOF Anakin, PT Obi, Tatooine Luke, 600th rehash of Han, etc.).  Hasbro Canada sucks, but that's a separate issue.  I think they're aiming at the collector more now.  LOTR has the kids dollars, recognize what yours is.  

Toy Biz.  Really tempting with LOTR, but I'm staying away.  Not sure how to react to the trilogy stuff.  Had I been collecting early on, I'm sure it would piss me off to see the same figures for $6 less (Cdn).  
I like Marvel Legends and if (I'm still waiting for proof) the Phoenix and subsequent chase figures come with a companion regular figure so you don't miss out on the character, I think the line has redeemed itself.  I am not a fan of announcing boxed sets down the line with subtle changes to already released characters and only a single new character (Invisible Woman, Rogue).  Like the early LOTR releases, that smacks buyers (collectors, serious and casual alike) in the face for supporting early releases.  The quality and quantity kicks Hasbro's ass all over the place for the price though.  Up here Trilogy figures are a buck less than SW figures ::) >:(

Palisades - I barely collect Muppets but these guys seem like winners.  A collectors club to get all the exclusives (save wedding releases) for a minimal cost.  A strong line of very high quality figures with good accessories and neat playsets.  I find them expensive up here but more worth that price than say an Ultra SW figure.  

Mattel - sucks.  One villain per Batman series with one per case.  Now chase figures.  Poor villain selection (IMO).  Same philosophy applied to MOTU as I understand it, though don't collect it.  Justice league suffers same problems.  Wonder Woman 10", Hawkgirl. And why more superman, GL, Batman and no villains, save Darkseid?   Kids need bad guys to play, collectors need villains for variety.

McFarlane - Very high quality for the price, but hardly action figures.  Sportspicks are nice, but player selection is lacking (opinion) and rehashes of both sculpts and players are becoming too common.  Chase figures are easier to find, but interest is dwindling.  Damned if you do, damned if you don't.  
Other McFarlane stuff is, um, questionable in my mind?  I'm just not the target audience for most of their stuff is probably the easiest thing to say.  A good company, but seems to be falling.

Playmates - good case assortments, good availability until lately.  A limited line in most respects but they did the Simpsons very well.  A good deal of variety,nothing too hard and they understood their audience.  The B-sharp promotion should serve as a model for how to do things (though maybe it was too succesful and lent to the eventual downfall??) to pay back your audience.  Bravo.  

Kubrick/Tomy - neat company IMO.  The Kubrick side is a hit and I have to wonder how many more sales they'd have if located in the US.  The figures are well done, high quality.  They seem to understand their market as well.  With respect to Star Wars, they select figures intelligently and surprisingly.  A Droids R2?  Didn't see that coming.  But bounty hunters right away?  Early bird set to mimick the vinty offer?  They...just...get it.  

In general, I think toy manufacturers need better market research.  I'm always baffled as to why they don't haunt boards like this or RS or GH or others.  Yes, they are populated with freakish, insane geeks like us.  But c'mon, while being absurd characters, we tend to reflect sales pretty darn well.  Tanus Spijek?  Who the hell is that?  No one knows for sure but you won't see many warming the pegs.  The same could be said for a Catwoman figure from the Batman line.  blah, blah, blah
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Offline Brian

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #3 on: March 9, 2004, 03:19 PM »
Quote
Toy Biz-- If it wasn't for the Lord of the Rings, this company wouldn't have my money. I quit Marvel Legends because I simply hate chases and this whole one-per-case idea, not to mention the joints on the figures aren't tight enough, so it felt like a complete ripoff. I dig the LOTR line though, and wish the action features were never brought into the line. And, they really need to stop making Gollums/Smeagols now. Right now.

Good point HMI, that is something I have noticed as well with the Marvel Legends line.  At least with the figures I have gotten, many of the joints seem quite loose right out of the package.  I'm scared to try to pose/repose different figures, thinking that I will create even more looseness :).

Offline Morgbug

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #4 on: March 9, 2004, 05:16 PM »
So far I haven't had this problem at all.  Granted I don't play with mine much and the ones I don't let my daughter play with are perfectly fine.  Some have actually been absurdly stiff and difficult to move, the Thing being one of those.  

My daughter has her own Elektra (red, I have the white) and she pretty much owns Daredevil, Cap and Ironman.  All are still fine and hold poses well.  She's a typical three (almost four) year old and they've held up well in my opinion.  She also plays with Batman from the Mattel line and it has held up better, but has much more limited articulation.
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #5 on: March 9, 2004, 06:03 PM »
I think it depends how you're looking at things...

If you're looking at overall quality/value in product, I'd rank Hasbro as lower on the totem poll for Star Wars, higher for G.I. Joe, etc...

For how they handle their business, I'd say Hasbro's great on G.I. Joe and mediocre on Star Wars.  Star Wars hasn't sold like they wanted, but it's remained steady at least...  Enough to stay alive.  Joe on the other hand seems to do stellar at retail.

For overall quality in product/value, I give the nod to 21st Century Toys...  Not that the company is run well, but they make great toys.  Downright fantastic toys actually...  Hasbro could take some notes from them, and actually they have taken many notes and ideas from them.

BBi's not doing to swift after they started with a bang, so I'd hold off on passing judgement on them right now...

Dragon's got great product at a great value and in good quantities.  They're high on my list...

I tend not to include companies that make things I'm disinterested in here, but I can say from experience with the company's various histories that Mattel's a really strong player, as is Ban Dai...  Playmates handles itself semi-well in the industry as well.

Hasbro's probably the most dominant company overall though as I see it...  They do well overall, they just don't always do as well with our beloved SW line as they should be.
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Offline MisterPL

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #6 on: March 9, 2004, 06:51 PM »
Palisades. I don't buy any of their products, but based on consumer satisfaction and my own observations, they're the company to watch going forward.

- They've already got their foot in the door with key retailers in the specialty AND mass market.

- They've proven with the Muppets line that they can do authentic variants of popular characters as well as offer more obscure figures hardcore adult fans enjoy.

- Their Muppets playsets not only offer the kind of play value one expects from a toy, but the DISPLAY value collectors truly appreciate.

- The Palisades Collectors Club is a testament to the company's dedication to the consumer base. A one-time, LIFETIME membership fee and you get access to almost every exclusive they offer.

This company has their finger on the pulse of its fanbase, something every collector-driven property deserves and demands.

The only problem I have with them is that they retire their figures. So far, they've yet to reissue Muppets figures, leaving newbies stuck paying secondary market prices for vanilla versions of key characters. But you never know, they might just offer "catch-up" multi-packs sometime down the road if the demand is there, especially for the right retailer.
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Offline Mainland05

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #7 on: March 9, 2004, 08:30 PM »
I totally agree with HMI on the Toy Biz line.

Hasbro - This is by far the best toy market that I love, even if they did not have Star Wars they would do great.  Although Star Wars does give them lots of their dough.  And I do think they do a great job on Star Wars, but do wish they would give us alot more SW figures, but besides the point.  I give Hasbro an A-.

Toy Biz - I think Toy Biz does great on Lord of the Rings figures, they have so much detail on every figure it is a little remarkable.  Marvel Legends is a great line for these guys, but as I HMI said, they do get all their money from LOTR.  

Overall - Keep up the good work, and succeed at giving us the figures we want, for we do buy them all, and if we didn't these toy lines would go bankrupt! Right?
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Offline SiteC

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2004, 01:09 AM »
Well, heres my take (Various lines i collect next to co. name):

Hasbro - (SW) Good company for the most part, but over produces during movie years.  Also after so many 1995 figures are re-released it gets old...

Toybiz - (LOTR) Although there are alot of repacks, for a loose collector, like me , this means for every figure released, I can skip this or that and go for new ones. also the price is low and you feel as if your getting your $5's worth of a figure..

MAC - (Buffy) TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE COMPANY.  Thank god DST pulled the buffy line out of their literal hell.  Between delays and the secrecy regarding the figures, and the utter lack of care for the fans, i have no respect for them.  sure, they put out some great sculpts, but if you cant deliever to your customers on time, you dont deserve to be in business.  At all.

McFarlane - (MM/Aliens/Pred) ASTOUNDING sculpts, although a little pricey and can be difficult to find, especially  in a town with only a TRU and Walmart and a Spencer's that doesnt carry them anymore and a KB that still has Austin Powers figures from them...Would gladly spend the extra dollar for these though because the sculpt is usually dead on.

Mattel - This is where lisences go to die, unless your name is Barbie.

NECA - i have never seen a NECA product in person, but their Ghostbuster figures are fantastic looking, as well as their gremlins.  Looking forward to both lines in the future...

Offline Brian

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Re: Toy Companies: Who Does the Best Job?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2006, 04:25 PM »
Old thread.....anyone's opinions changed on this?

Of the lines I collect:

Star Wars - Hasbro - there are always complaints that could be made, but overall, not too bad I guess.  Finding stuff can be a bear sometimes, and this "Ultimate Galactic Hunt" could be a nightmare for those interested in it, but they do make some stuff that I really like.  Aside from the obvious issues of repacks/lack of articulation, things like the VOTC/VTSC lines, and also the "new" figures from the TSC (and ROTS) lines really look nice.  I still think they dropped the ball with the large Unleashed scale figures.  The basic line isn't too bad though, although things could be handled better.  Prices are going up, its harder to find things, and the repacks are becoming more prevalent.  One of my biggest complaints this year is the fact that they are flooding the market with some crappier lines like Choppers and mini-Unleashed, and not focusing more on supplementing the basic figure line.

Marvel Legends/Spidey Classics - ToyBiz - Overall, I think they do pretty good with their Marvel lines.  Availability can sometimes be an issue, but it seems lately as time goes on things start to show up in better numbers.  I can't speak for the chase figure thing, as I haven't really actively looked for any of them, but I could see where that would be a pain for people.  I don't recall really seeing any of the variants, at least not for a long time.  The figures overall are done very well, and although there are always more characters people are looking for, when you look at the lines as a whole, we've really gotten a lot.  The pricing even seems fair when you compare it to other figure lines now.  Overall, I'm happy with the job they are doing.  There are quite a few characters I never thought we'd see figures of that are out or coming up, and it might be the most popular line out there right now.

DC Superheroes/JLU - Mattel - Mattel seems to be one of the more common names thrown about when lines are ruined or killed.  The only figures I really buy from them right now are the JLU figures.  I can't complain too much about these, as the figure selection has actually gotten pretty broad over the past couple of years....surpassing what was seen in the Super Powers days.  That said, the figures are pretty simple and many are just repaints/retools of other figures, so I think it is an easier line for them to maintain and put out.  I'm interested in the DC Superheroes line that is starting up now, and from the pics of future waves, they do look pretty nice.  It sounds like DC hasn't given them the "ok" to tackle characters outside of the Superman/Batman worlds, but that's not necessarily Mattel's fault I guess.  For now, things look good with the line, but I wonder how long it can go (or maintain a high quality) with only Superman and Batman to choose from.  Can neon Batmans be that far off?  I've been less than impressed with the DC movie figures that they've put out as well, although there have been a few here and there that have been ok.  Its hard to know what to think of their future, since they've killed so many other collector lines before it seems.