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By AJ Quick

I don't normally post editorials like this, but I firmly believe now is the time to say these things and bring these issues to direct light. Mattel is the company that we have deserved to handle the Ghostbusters license for the past 28 years, but I think (certainly now that the action figure line is dead) that it is the company that we just didn't need.

Mattel had been selling Ghostbusters action figures for the last two years, and when they first came out we were ecstatic. We accepted everything that was given to us as pure gold, and restrained as a community to make any negative remarks in terms of accuracy, price, and quality. In hindsight, I was extremely naive to have accepted what we were given, as I'm sure many of you would agree. In the end we were blamed for the demise of the line, due to poor sales, by a 'cash strapped company' complaining that the fans were unable to keep the line alive. Mattel, you may know is the #1 toy company in the world, with revenues of more than six billion dollars in 2011, and net income (profits) of over $750 million dollars in 2011 alone. Is it really our fault Mattel has exhausted the Ghostbusters community's buyer pool? Let's look at some of the horror stories that Mattel (and have done to some of the fans...

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By AJ Quick
(Continued from above.)

The "White Screen of Death" (WSOD)
When we first started buying figures from MattyCollector, we were all faced with a battle with other fans to fight and see who could purchase their figures first. On the monthly sales, we were having to wait a long time to get through due to a site imposed waiting screen. After 30 minutes or so after the start of the sales, the screens would finally go away and everyone would be able to make their purchases. Why is this a big deal? I read that MattyCollectors shipping service, Digital River ships approximately 27-30 million packages each year (if that number is accurate, I don't know. I personally think it is a little low). That's 82000 shipments per day, or approximately 1 every second 24 hours per day. Now, that number doesn't represent the number of Mattel's packages they ship, but for all of Digital River's customers. Why is it that a fulfillment company of this size is unable to handle a few hundred or thousand customers at one time? (Heck, even Ghostbusters Fans had a record breaking 9,400 users on in one 30 minute period on our rinkydink server. The servers at Digital River should be able to do much better, especially given that there are no doubt hundreds of them in the Digital River cloud. One of Digital River's taglines is after all: "No business is too big or too global for Digital River's premiere commerce solution." The wait screen was self imposed by MattyCollector in an effort to instill fear in the consumer. You saw that screen and thought: 'I better buy one now, heck I should buy two!' No Ghostbusters figures have ever sold out in under 24 hours. In 2010 the Peter Venkman figure sold out in approximately 26 hours, the other figures lasted days even weeks. The PKE Meter and Ghost Trap were also both available for several days to several weeks. This fear was created by MattyCollector in an effort to sell more action figures and props. Since the line began, the WSOD has almost completely gone away due to (no doubt) complaints from MattyCollector's customers, and a decrease in sales.

"Sold Out"
MattyCollector has been manually listing items as "Almost Gone" and "Sold Out" in order to drum up further sales through fear and scarcity. Mattel has said numerous times that an item was completely sold out, only to make the item available at a Halloween or Thanksgiving sale at a price 40% off or higher. Those that purchased early on, were rightfully screwed. Prices and value dropped significantly. Now , I do understand that Mattel must keep extras on hand to handle replacements, but not in the quantity they made available at later dates. The "Sold Out" tag was just added to make sales look better than they actually were.

Price Increases
Despite Mattel making over $700 million dollars in net income (profit) the first year the Ghostbusters line was active, Mattel cited increasing costs as the reason to make the already high priced $20 action figures, $22 in 2012, with the final figures costing $25 each. Meanwhile other toy manufacturers were making better quality products, at a much lower price. And let's not blame the prices on the fact that they were "limited collectors' items". The Real Ghostbusters MEGO figures from Mattel were $27 each, WITHOUT a pack in Ghost or accessory, AND were sold at retail stores in higher quantity. Once again however, they were figures that were over priced and extremely low quality. They didn't actually sell very well, and now (2 years later) you can still walk into your local Toys R Us and find them on the hooks for under $12. I personally sold dozens of them for $10 each in an online sale, taking a loss of approximately $8 per figure, just to get rid of them.

Quality and Repetition
I will be the first one to admit there isn't a lot you can do with 4 main characters, that wore typically the same outfits during the movies. The first figures that came out, I loved, we all loved. They looked very good and were sculpted by the elite "Four Horsemen" team. Once we were presented with the four main characters, we were given a multitude of variations each one using the same bodies, the same heads, and re-used outfits from other lines such as Batman (despite Mattel denying this). It was lazy, the quality of the figures and the collectability of the figures was poor and eventually the line was taken over by Mattel's in house team of designers. The figures, while were still good, suffered. The likenesses (mainly due to rights) suffered on the Louis, Dana, and Vigo figures. Quality and sales went down as prices went up, and yet it was the fans who were blamed.

Overpriced Shipping Costs
I wrote a lengthy topic on the shipping costs from MattyCollector a few weeks ago, that can be read here. To summarize the findings, I found that Mattel (Digital River) shipped all UPS packages regardless of where they were going, as if they were going to the furthest location in the United States away from them. I was able to prove that Mattel not only overcharged by a minimum of 16% but as high as 919%, not factoring in any UPS discounts or surcharges. Everyone should be upset about this. Over the course of the Ghostbusters line, most fans have overpaid by $40 or $50 on shipping alone, that's 2 or more figures you could have gotten for free. It gets even more grim with an item like the PKE Meter, which has the shipment calculated at 3.5lbs per box, when in reality the weight is closer to 1.5 to 2lbs. This overage has resulted in me personally having been overcharged by 500% on two separate shipments. Another shipment pricing disparity can be quickly seen by adding a large number of items into your cart. Mattel's shipping calculator breaks, and starts charging astronomical prices for shipping for no apparent reason, usually with a jump of 80% by just adding 1 more item to your cart. When contacted about this Mattel denied these allegations, even though anyone can go directly to their site and verify this information.

Billing and Shipping Problems
We have seen firsthand a number of problems with MattyCollector (Digital River) in regards to billing and shipping practices. Mainly having to do with subscriptions, and the now dead Club Ecto-1 subscription service. Some fans have reported that MattyCollector would ship orders to old addresses, despite having updated the address on file. Some were charged for subscriptions even after they were cancelled, or after the credit card had expired. We even saw reports of fans having received opened boxes with the action figure completely removed, or used (open) items sold as new. Most spectacularly and recently when Mattel shipped out the green Slimer "rewards" for having subscribed to Club Ecto-1 for 2012. They shipped them to addresses on file from July 2011, when the subscription was created. They didn't as much as contact subscribers to ensure the addresses were correct, nor bother checking their customers' current addresses already on file. When contacted about this, MattyCollector (Digital River's customer service) said it was the buyer's fault for not having the correct address already updated... and that is despite some fans having ALREADY updated their address. And regarding those Slimer rewards that were mailed out at the end of 2012, which had come far later than they had promised, Mattel only shipped one Slimer independent of how many Club Ecto-1 subscriptions were purchased. Mattel stated that they wanted to get the Slimers out before 2012, and would be sending the remainder out at a later date. I believe that this was a complete mistake on Mattel's fault, and they didn't have enough Slimer's to cover all the subscriptions. The replacement Slimers were sent out 1 month later, which is just about exactly the amount of time it would have taken to produce more. Those that had their Slimers shipped to the wrong address are left with nothing, as MattyCollector will not send replacements to the corrected addresses on file.

Fan Treatment
When the line first started, Mattel was great to engage with the fans and were actually doing some phenomenal work. I was personally involved with some decisions regarding the 6" figures in terms of accuracy, and was contacted to help on the Vigo, and the 6" Slime Blowers a full year before they would be released, and provided input on a Gozer character. Ghostbusters Fans was seen as a resource for Mattel to use to improve their products, and also as a great marketing channel. We were given special information, even figures for review, well before they were released to the public. Once the line was decided to be officially dead in 2011, we were cut off completely. Despite having basically been the go to resource (aside from the archives at Sony). Once the line was on its way out... so was our community as far as Mattel was concerned.

The poor treatment of the fans didn't stop there. I was actually banned from MattyCollector's forum in 2011 for simply participating in a discussion about what Ghostbusters figures I had personally purchased, and for defending our website against the flock of rule breaking former members that migrated to MattyCollector's website. Another fan reports having been banned from MattyCollector's Facebook page for merely pointing out a grammatical error on one of their posts.

Through all of this, Mattel has always blamed the problem on the fans. 'The fans didn't buy enough products. There wasn't enough interest. Not enough fans purchased subscriptions... etc.' All of that was poor planning and marketing on Mattel's' part. They were doing things as cheaply as possible to make a buck as easily as possible, and viewed the Ghostbusters license as something they could do easily, while making a premium amount of money. Ghostbusters fans are more frugal than that.

The Hoverboard Fiasco
While not directly related to Ghostbusters, the Hoverboard from Back to the Future is a great example of Mattel's poor business practices and possibly fraud. A year ago, Mattel set out to build a prop replica of the Hoverboard from Back to the Future. They offered them for pre-order early last year and finally shipped in December of last year. The fans were promised a high quality prop replica on par with the PKE Meter and Ghost Trap that Mattel had previously released. What fans got was an inaccurate plastic pink board with stickers, despite being promised so much more. During previews at San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con a "prototype" was shown which was promised to be only a prototype, and that the final version would be much better. To ease fans' minds, they allowed orders to be cancelled after NYCC, but still promised that the fans hadn't seen a final version yet. The fans were promised the special holographic lenticular film would be used, and on the final version it was absent. Mattel promised the hoverboard would be as accurate as possible, but neglected to say it would be as accurate as they could afford to make, while still generating a large profit. Once the pre-orders were in, they dropped the ball and coasted with a 'good enough' attitude. Customers are left with the closing opportunity to return their hoverboards for a refund and to be left with nothing.

Meanwhile... NECA, McFarlane, Hasbro, Diamond Select Toys and others are making higher quality action figures and prop replicas for more obscure franchises at a lower price.

I personally believe that at this point in time, the only competent company that can release anything up to the standards set forth by the community is NECA. Not the NECA we knew 10 years ago when they last had the license. But the current NECA that is now producing amazing prop replicas, and amazing action figures and displays. We as Ghostbusters Fans should stand up and ask Sony Pictures and NECA to work together to produce the next level of Ghostbusters props and action figures that we DO deserve and we DO need right now. Sony should allow the license to expire after the lackluster Ecto Goggles are released, and shop it to a more competant company like NECA.

Do you have a MattyCollector horror story, or want to add to this story? Post in this thread.

Please share this was as many fans as you can. Ghostbusters fans aren't the only ones to bring these problems up, nor will we be the last if the company does not change.

-AJ Quick
Webmaster of Ghostbusters Fans
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By Rye Guy
I rarely post on the forums but you caught my on the twitter. This is something I have been tweeting about for some time. Matty dropped the ball hard. Not only in quality and price but in opportunity.

I would have loved to see a fancy sculpt Real Ghostbusters line that were not MEGO style. Imagine if we finally got Peoplebusters sculpted by The Four Horsemen. Even Extreme Ghostbusters would have been fun to see.

More Ghosts! The Video Game alone had some great designs. Too bad we didn't see much of it in 3D.

Lastly, I would have loved to see a toy line based on the current comic that looks like the comic. Dan Shoening makes every character design toyamatic.

So much possibilities but no effort given.
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By cowbybill
I can add to the poor treatment the hover board buyers are receiving, the owner of a comic book store in Union City Ca. called, "Comic and Figure Addicts" purchased 2 of the boards.
The boards were shipped to Switzerland, The owner contacted Matty/Digital River and was told that they would have to see if there were any hover boards left and that if there were they would reship them. If there were none he would receive a refund.
He called them in the beginning of January and has continued to call them several times a week but is simply getting the run around with them.
I know it's not my personal story, but I thought you guys might like to see how they are treating other, non-Ghostbusters customers as well.
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By Bativac
I don't know if NECA is going to do that much better than Mattel. How much money is there to be made in high-end Ghostbusters products? How much is the license to produce this stuff?

NECA has had issues with lines like, say, the Ninja Turtles, producing cool stuff at first but letting the line peter out before producing highly anticipated (and promised) figures, and blaming sales. Maybe this stuff really doesn't sell as well as we all think it should?

That and I really don't think we need anymore movie Ghostbuster figures. I think that well is dry. What's left? A full scale Proton Pack? Can anybody mass produce a toy - err, collectible - like that, of the high quality that the fan community demands, for anything close to an affordable price? Is there something everyone wants to see that I'm just not thinking of?

I agree that Mattel isn't doing anything to excite me with the Ghostbusters line, but I don't know that NECA would be able to do much, either.
By Aaron Norton
As a collector of both the GB line and the Masters Of the Universe line, I've had my fair share of Matty disappointments-- Bobble heads, stuck joints, cracked plastic-- but nothing as bad as when Club Ecto was canceled. When the cancelation announcement came down I expected a speedy refund of the club fees. It was a long wait. In fact, I'm still waiting. Despite getting in contact with the Matty "escalation department" three different times I've yet to see either my club dues or the money for the exclusive figure refunded. At this point I've given up the chase.
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Wow, AJ I am so glad you wrote this. This company has no interest in being fan-friendly. They are greedy excuse makers who honestly have backed themselves into a corner. What kind of idiot genius who has any knowledge of Ghostbusters would have decided to release the MEGO style Retro Action figures. News Flash...the majority of GB fans were born in a time where MEGO style figures did not exist anymore. Why the hell were they so against releasing Real Ghostbusters Classics. I am a firm believer that they could have used the same approach as they do with the MOTU line and would have sold a ton of toys. They should have started with that and than eased into Movie Style figures. It's a shame too, because they really do put out SOME nice products.

PS: The odds of castle grayskull turning into another Hoverboard fiasco are about 100%
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By Some_Guy
AJ Quick wrote:NECA has shown to be able to produce HUGE and accurate prop replicas at a price even lower than the lackluster Ecto Goggles are.

A few examples!

While they're not 100% accurate, they're very close and still cost less than the Ecto Goggles; though the Lancers up top are a bit of a rip for just making noise. Mostly for display purposes, but I'm a big Gears of War dork and bought them both! Ha HA!

Also the Gravity Gun is $140 but it looks like it's actually WORTH $140. (My mistake on that.)
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By Troy
As I look over at my shelf with four film-accurate Ghostbusters, Louis, Dana, Vigo, Walter Peck and all the other toys that I wish I'd had as a kid... I find it hard to take up arms and shout.

Remember that time we all pre-ordered a book that we never got? Yeah, that sucked more.
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By Kingpin
Here's a few more bulletpoints from the Ghost of Mattycollector past that weren't covered in AJ's Editorial:

* Slimeblower Winston: Were it not for the clammering of the fans, we would've ended up with another "that's good enough" from Mattel, where they would've just slapped the Slimeblower on without bothering to sculpt the harness... something they should've been doing the first time around.

* PKE shipping and availability: It's a sure sign of poor organisation and a severe lack of professionalism that a very short time before the PKEs were supposed to go on sale, Mattel realised they'd dropped the ball in ensuring that the PKEs had all of the important warnings on them that they needed in order to sell them to the EU and United Kingdom.

Furthermore, after the PKEs sold out the first time around, fans were told there wouldn't be replacements for defective ones they'd received... and yet before the end of the year, Mattycollector was giving them away in one of their blind-boxed special sales.

* Vigo's demon head: When pictures of a prototype of Vigo with a demon head surfaced, the subject was brought up on the MattyCollector forum. Despite the unquestionable proof that was posted:


-Matty denied that such an accessory existed.
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By AJ Quick
Troy wrote:As I look over at my shelf with four film-accurate Ghostbusters, Louis, Dana, Vigo, Walter Peck and all the other toys that I wish I'd had as a kid... I find it hard to take up arms and shout.


As you live in California, I will drop some numbers on you that might make you upset. If you purchased those items individually from MattyCollector, AND had UPS Ground ship them. This is a reasonable guess at what you paid and overpaid on shipping:

4 Figures ($80), Dana ($25), Louis, Vigo, Walter Peck ($60) = $165 (I admit this price isn't too bad, but if you had snagged any of the figures when they were 40% off, you could have saved $66, but lets talk shipping here.)

Assuming 8 separate shipments. You paid approximately $79.20 in shipping. (This is just based off what MattyCollector just spit out at me, and is based on $9.90 zone 8 shipping).

What MattyCollector should have charged (given that you are in Zone 2 along with them) is $6.35 each.. or $50.80 total for shipping. That's a difference of $28.40 on 8 figures alone for you.

If I paid $244.20 for something, when I could have paid $149.00 or less. I would be upset. (The fact of the matter is I paid a lot more than that with my dealings with MattyCollector). I probably overpaid and was overcharged into the $1000's.

(All numbers exclude tax, and are based on 2013 numbers, not 2011-2012 numbers).

Troy, I know you work on production stuff in Hollywood, so you're in a similar position as those individuals that worked on the line at Mattel. You've probably got a different feeling toward produced stuff like this than most others. You have a budget and a timeline and you get the things done with as much dedication as possible. Let me state that the individual workers probably did the best they could with the money and time that was given to them by the company. That being said way the whole company operates is corrupt and deceitful, and that's just the way of big corporations. I shouldn't and don't mean to direct this topic at any single individual at Mattel.
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By Garvin Ghostbuster
There's more than one of the Vigo heads around,I had my hands on one at a friends house in LA this past Christmas,along with a few more prototypes from the GB line. I was done with Matty a year ago! He's here on the boards and can "if willing" can let you guys in on a little more.
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By Razorgeist
Good article AJ. I dont really collect figures (I have an old NECA Vinz Clortho figure but thats it) and only really took interest in the prop replicas. But from what Ive seen Matty does indeed suck.. The availibility of the GT and PKE were ridiculous to say the least.
By Dr.D
Wow AJ, that's an amazing piece of writing. I really hope someone of consequence gets to see that, at either Mattel or another manufacturer.

As for Mattel's business practices, just look at how ToyGuru handles the criticism from the He-Man fans. Threats of cutting things out of the line or ending it entirely. I don't understand how such a large company would need to resort to such tactics. I hope that Mattel let's the license go and someone else picks it up. If not NECA then perhaps Diamond Select. I too was very blinded by the mere existence of these figures that the questionable practices were shrugged off. Ghostbusters had never seen a proper toy line based on the films, and it is sad to know the one we finally got was rushed into a grave so quickly.
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By DarkSpectre
Extremely well written Mr. Quick. Even though its nice to have a full set of movie styled busters, PKE and trap, the fact still remains that Mattel figured that since this fanbase is prone to drop big bucks on our uniform and equipment builds that we'd gladly pay for whatever in most cases regurgitated products they spewed at us. Not releasing vital character specific accessories (regular Egon being the exception) was a step in the wrong direction. Also the variants could have easily been packaged as Toys R Us exclusive sets (Ready To Believe You, and a full courtroom set) and would've left the online release dates for more second tier characters like Janine, Louis, Dana and Janosz and Gozer. Having variants dominate the line, Mattel showed that they didn't in fact have have the fans in minds. If they were as in tune with our fanbase they would've given us a full roster of characters instead of variants. By my count we didn't need 5 Venkmans, 4 Egons, 6 Rays, and 3 Winstons when there are more deserving characters that ultimately would've kept the line fresh and kept our interest peaked. The 12 in figures and retro figures were nice additions but as with everything in this line overpriced and so-so quality. The PKE was amazing and the trap was also very nice but the grossly overpriced, inaccurate goggles ruins the integrity and quality of the previous 2 props and makes me extremely glad Matty didn't attempt a pack. Overall, as AJ pointed out Mattel started off right, but dropped the ball so tremendously that they can't even own up to their failures and pin the lines failure on the us who all intents and purposes tried our best to keep the line going in hopes that a fully fleshed out line would come to fruition.
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ToyGuru comes off as a know-nothing douche. All he ever talks about is the figures that did not sell as well as the first Peter. Maybe these figures should have never been an internet exclusive, because Ghostbusters does have a broad appeal to people who might enjoy collecting, but do not necessarily know about mattycollector etc.

I am pretty sure that there are more GB fans out there than Robocop fans, yet i see amazing Robocop figures by NECA at Toys R us
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By AJ Quick
JL52020 wrote:Does anyone know if Mattel's rights to the GB license has an expiration?
..Or do they just own it indefinitely until they decide to sell it off??

No no. They expire if not renewed. They could also probably be revoked. And every item sold needs to be approved by the rights holder.
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By TheBigGuy
I tell my PKE shipment story all the time. Digital River threatened that because the item was limited, it would be returned to distribution and I would be refunded if it wasn't able to be delivered. I had to meet my UPS guy (Thankfully got dispatch to contact him on his cell) at a burger joint to get it off his truck because it happened to arrive during a week while my office closed.

THIS ARTICLE IS FANTASTIC! I look forward to a new generation of GB toys someday. It'll happen; we've seen it before. I just hope it's sooner than later.
By Cosmic-Riptide
Eh, my only real compliant (aside from the cancellation of my club subscriptions) were the batteries being pre-installed in the 12" figures.

The boxes were marked "Adult Collector". ..."Adult" as in someone who can install their own batteries, and "Collector" as in someone who doesn't want to worry about whether or not their expensive collectible will self destruct if left in it's non-resealable packaging.

The club exclusive figures and the GBII 12" figures were pretty lazy... I don't know if that's a legitimate complaint or my inner fan nit-picking. Ray's pack-in Ecto-Goggles were pretty ridiculous though (especially considering they were molded for a figure line that was 1/3 the size of the 6" figures).
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By lolodrummer
Supporting Member
Thank you so much for writing this AJ. I agree 100%. I am so sick of talking to digital river for missing shipments, broken items, yellowing staypuft and non function PKE meters. Thank you for crunching the numbers and discovering the shipping charge scam. I would gladly sign a petition for Sony to offer the rights to a different company that could and would produce better quality memorabilia. Thank you again I/we really appreciate you writing out what a lot of us have been thinking.
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By lannyjack
I was an avid collector of the first wave of the GB toys, and most of the Masters of the Universe Classics. I have since sold my collection of both lines for these reasons:

1.Poor quality control - I had to exchange 3/4 of the GB1 team for horrible paint apps. (around 15 returns when talking about MOTUC - 3 of those were for Skeletor alone). Picky? Absolutely. When I am paying anywhere from $20-$25 for a figure, it should be perfect. If the figures were at retail store, I would pass up the one that had one eye painted and an arm so loose it can't hold the accessory. Plus, when you factor in shipping, the cost of the figure is around $32. Which brings me to . . .

2. Cost - Mattel's DC figures sold in stores were $15 compared to the $20 -$25 for lines sold online.($27 and rising now!) After shipping, you are paying double for the same amount of plastic.

3. Digital River - Lost packages, overpriced shipping, bad customer service - the list goes on and on.

4. The inability to admit a mistake - There were numerous times when a figure would miss a shipping date, even after being promised it would never happen again. Parts were assembled incorrectly - 4 of the Masters characters had backwards arms or shoulders. Instead of manning up and issuing an apology, it was explained away as a "design choice". Taking down to people / blaming the fans / treating people like they are dumb gets old fast.

Collecting / buying toys should be fun! Unfortunately, Mattel has really worked hard to take all of the fun out of their products.
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