Editorial: Breaking Up (With Exclusives) Is Hard to Do

MattyCollector, what have you done to me?

Last year, you seduced me with your wares, and I dove head-first into the world of Comic-Con exclusive pre-orders. I was nervous and trembling, but you took my hand and led me through the process so gently. Then, I found it: Leonard Nimoy in his Spock costume leaning against his 1964 Buick Riviera. Even at 1:64 scale, he looked so cool and confident. My eyes dilated, my breathing became heavy, and my heart began pounding. I reached for my debit card, and in just a few clicks, it was done. I treasured your confirmation e-mail like a next-day “thinking of you” text.

When July finally came, I eagerly made my way to Comic-Con to see your promise to me fulfilled. I had your e-mail and your schedule, so I knew where to meet you. I walked into the hotel and made my way to your room, but you weren’t there. I double-checked the time. I double-checked the room number. I checked your schedule and resolved to come back again later.

After several other tries that week, I took the hint. You weren’t going to show. I saw from others that your appearances were brief, infrequent, and fleeting. You promised so much to so many of us, but unlike before, you didn’t deliver. You had changed. You weren’t yourself anymore. I thought that we were exclusive, but you began offering your wares to every Tom, Dick, and Harry online. I was devastated. I thought we had something special, something unique to our time at Comic-Con, but it turned out to be something else.

In all seriousness, when it comes to Comic-Con pre-orders and/or exclusives, I had a lot of faith in Mattel. I grew up with a huge Hot Wheels collection. I cried when my wife sold my Masters of the Universe action figures a few years ago. Mattel’s reputation at Comic-Cons past was exemplary. For such a Comic-Con mainstay to change as drastically as they did surprised a lot of us.

But something did change. Last year, MattyCollector changed their online pre-order game. Instead of offering a Comic-Con-only exclusive sale, they opened up their “exclusives” to anyone who wanted to order online. Those of us who participated in the “exclusive” pre-order expected to pick up at the Marriott, but when many of us tried to cash in, we found empty chairs at empty tables. The MattyCollector table left many Comic-Con goers disgruntled on Thursday and into Friday.

During this time, when MattyCollector did show up, they managed to keep people waiting up to 2-3 hours to redeem their orders:

If you waited those 2-3 hours and didn’t have all of your paperwork IN HAND, there was potentially more frustration.

In what could only be explained as poor timing, MattyCollector also announced just as Comic-Con was getting underway that they were shutting down as of December 31. Super7 would still carry MOTU and “adult collector lines”, but that was it. They also shut down the “Ask Matty” customer service line.

As Friday during the convention progressed, however, they seemed to get things figured out at their table in the Marriott. Reviews began to mix, and people were starting to post positive news. Either someone at MattyCollector was reading our angry tweets, or they were getting tired of hearing us complain in person. Either way, it was a refreshing change for all those involved. The transition was slow and staggered, but improvements were made and welcomed with open arms.

By Saturday, things seemed a lot more positive and upbeat. MattyCollector seemed to get things together and was able to fill everyone’s order who came by the Marriott. Feedback coming from customers did a complete 180. The staff manning the Marriott rooms was beefed up, which helped tremendously.

For me, it was too little, too late. My attempts on Thursday and Friday left a bad taste in my mouth. Since Friday and Saturday are my big panel days, I decided to skip Mattel from then on and just try to get my money back. I was disappointed, but I would live.

As a last ditch effort, some of us tried on Sunday to swing by the Mattel booth on the Exhibit Room floor. The staff there was extremely helpful and patient. By the time I got there, my tale of woe was all-too-familiar to them. Denise, the booth manager, was especially helpful and went above and beyond to fill our orders. All I had to do was show her my confirmation e-mail. She was definitely not paid enough for her job that weekend, which should not have included listening to angry, disgruntled nerds vent their frustrations. I hope she got a substantial raise and extra vacation time. She deserved both!

Thus, MattyCollector’s end for me at Comic-Con 2016 was met not with a bang, but with a whimper. OK, a lot of whimpers from a lot of angry, disappointed customers (myself included). With MattyCollector now defunct, we’re not sure what Mattel’s presence at San Diego Comic-Con will look like in 2017 – or whether Super7 will be taking over that side of things at the convention.

For me, I’m happy to say that Leonard Nimoy looks awesome leaning against his 1964 Buick Riviera on my entertainment center. After all I went through to get it, I think I’ll stick to eBay or Kobey’s Swap Meet to look for SDCC “exclusives” this year.

About Andy Wagner

Andy Wagner

San Diego local born and raised in PA. His loves include SDCC, Penn State, and writing.

  • Alpha_Ryvius

    Heard rumors that Hasbro might not show up this year and instead focus on their con, HasCon, in Rhode Island for the month of July. Do you happen to know if there is any truth to that rumor.

  • perc2100

    Weird. I went Thursday morning and had zero issues. The wait-time was longer than previous years, maybe 15 or so people in front, and things seemed to move slowish, but generally no problems. We got all the stuff we pre-ordered and left with no worries.
    Sucks others had so many issues; I wonder if they were short-staffed Thursday or something

  • Aloki

    It took me four trips to Mattel to get my pre-orders. So frustrating. Everyone was super rude until the last trip and they were great – like Jekyl & Hyde.

  • Sean Thordsen

    Honestly I would be very surprised if they did not attend SDCC because they are such a major exhibitor there. That said I would not also be surprised if they have gotten tired of the crowd and dealing with what has become an out of control situation for them at Comic-Con with their line and ticketing system and all. From a business standpoint I do not believe it make sense for them to abandon SDCC – but from a personel standpoint I can see everybody wanting out at this point.

  • raybdc97

    I’m STILL disgruntled about 2 FACTS:
    1) These weren’t true “Exclusives”. (if anyone can order them online)
    2) Why were MattyCollectors punished to wait in ginormous lines taking hours away from our Comic-Con experience if I could have bought them online then SHIPPED them home!!!

    Indeed my Spock is coooool…but its quite a bit less cool when you didn’t actually have to be AT Comic-Con to get one. #FAIL #GREED

  • keeleon

    Hasbro makes up good 5% of the whole show floor just by themselves. SDCC would practically be begging and paying them if they said they weren’t going to show up. I like seeing all the displays, but purchasing from Hasbro has been pretty pointless the last several years, so it wouldn’t really affect me. But it would leave a noticeable hole that lots of people would be unhappy with.

    Of course SDCC probably doesn’t care, since disenfranchised badge holders just means more tickets for other people…

  • keeleon

    I didn’t have issues per se, but it did take longer than it seemed it need to. I was there to pick up 4 things, and everyone in front of me was standing by literally DOZENS of crates of items. They were obviously all vendors who needed to get their product on the show floor to scalp the less fortunate (which is pretty gross of itself).

    Perhaps they should walk the line and move single item purchasers to the front? Don’t pretend that just because you found a loophole and placed max orders with multiple member IDs, we don’t all know that you are purchasing mass quantities to resell on the show floor.

    What’s most frustrating are their hours. Don’t they realize that there are actually things going on during the Con? Like why not be open AFTER the show floor closes? Or even during lunch when people are actually taking a break. They are offering a service, not bankers. When you work retail, your schedule is opposite of the real world.

    When I have to try and fit visiting a completely separate building into my SDCC schedule, it means there are very few times I can go. This means there are a LOT of people who will be there during those times. Meaning that yes, you can find some dead time to easily pick up your stuff, but that must come at the expense of something else. I’m not going to go pick up toys I already paid too much for on Saturday afternoon during Comicon…