Monthly Archives: February 2008

Mattel Disney Pixar Cars: “More Coming …” Toyfair 2008 Part II

mcq-doc.jpg

Mattel didn’t spend a great deal of time showing off CARS 1:55 (the Mini Adventures line is another story – our more indepth coverage of the Toy Fair Mini coverage is coming separately).

We still have no word as where the “missing E to J” “new” CARS are … from the display at Toy Fair they are clearly ready to go and not prototypes they are showing off. New CARS shown at Toy Fair are incorporated into the main 2008 SEALED CASES post.

What else can we gleam from the CARS display?

pit.jpg

There are actually different types of “Pitty” bodies (including a more correct-sized tire) and Pitty’s to come not announced …

tank-coat-pit.jpg

Perhaps there will be more configurations in Gift Packs assortments besides this one … while it’s cool to get Crew Chief Leak Less & Stacy Pitty … not so much on the 19th version of Leak Less.

leak-less-gift.jpg

And the Pit Row Race Off “launchers” get refreshed with some old …

prro-rpm.jpg

Um, RPM? I think I might have him, let me check …

Will they release every Piston Cup racer as a launcher? So, instead of charging us $29 a box for 6-7, Mattel will just charge us $7.99 times 36? (of course, above & beyond the $199 + tax + shipping + RL membership for the Speedway of the South entire set?)

prro-truck-fresh2.jpg

Trunk Fresh Pit Row Race Off actually was on a card marked NO STALL so presumably, No Stall will be a launcher relatively soon?

So to speculate further, this could be Mattel’s new plan going forward – they could be dividing the line out to:

“Average Collectors”
“Serious Collectors”
“Completists”
“Ultra Completists”

Until December 2007, CARS were really only essentially available in two ways – on blister cards and in box sets. So, of course, whether you only collected the CARS you really liked or were a completist, buying them on blisters cards were your only choice. With the exception of Rollin’ Bowling Mater’s game/BJ Warehouse set and the Dinoco 400, the box sets only appealed to: openers trying to catch up, gift givers or ultra completists. For the average buyer, spending $2.97 to $3.49 a CAR was a great price point. The CARS were interesting looking and a good value as a “casual” reward or gift for their kids, the neighbor kids, the grandkids, etc … the Movie Moments were a little more but as a blister, it still represented a “casual” buy. A box set always appears as a more serious gift even at $9.99 – that set the bar a bit high as it were, box sets usually only sold well during the holiday seasons …

(The ultra completists do NOT count into this as they will buy anything as long as Mattel makes some effort … Ultra completists have the holiday ornament even though they were essentially a car re-released for the 10th time on a flimsy plastic tray along with a cardboard ornament :-) or ;-( ).

Average Collectors
So the singles & Movie Moments will still be geared towards the casual buyers – a quick cheap way to pick up a CAR. This line will mostly comprise of the CARS that hold the most general appeal and eye-catching interest. That’s not to say that Mattel is abandoning “new” CARS inserted into here but rather, only the CARS that will are appealing to everyone whether they are rabid CARS collectors or not. Of course, this includes most of the townies of Radiator Springs who most everyone knows by now but also obvious CARS such as Dale Jr., the Elvis RV, etc … who cross all barriers of interest … and while we fanatics want all the Pit Crews and maybe we’re even willing to buy 5 of each, for the average fan? They would definitely want My Name is Not Chuck but would they want Trunk Fresh Pitty or Mood Spring Pitty? That’s not to say they’re not going to buy any of the other configurations but they will carefully weigh spending anymore than $3.49 on a CAR on a case-by-case basis.

Serious Collectors
Serious collectors are going to buy up everything within reason. They are mostly completists with some exception. They are going to buy any new CAR in the single pack but they’re not complete completists … for instance, they obviously bought Leak Less as a single a while back but might be willing to buy Leak Less again in the Gift Pack since it includes Stacy, Leak Less Pitty & Leak Less Crew Chief … for Mattel, that’s an extra $3.33 in sales since if the other two were available as singles, the serious collector would of course buy them as singles and skip buying Leak Less again … of course, Mattel is going to try to push this as far as they can … witness the Charlie Check CAR with yellow tail-lights bundled in the gift pack with King & Lightning McQueen. Some serious collectors will skip it but for others, Mattel makes three times what they might’ve sold before. This is where the launchers (Pit Row Race Off) CARS are also an opportunity for Mattel to re-sell the same CARS. These collectors MIGHT buy the launchers or not but these collectors are definitely NOT going to buy the singles again of the racers already out … so for Mattel, they’ve doubled the odds on CARS already out in re-selling to serious collectors.

ll-ss2.jpgleak-ss.jpg

Completists/Ultra Completists
This audience, Mattel knows is pretty 100% on board. They only thing they have to be careful in is in not explicitly driving them away like a box set of 6 Lightning McQueen’s with the #84 Mac iCar for $29.99 …

So, if we don’t get the “missing CARS” as WM exclusives – we might start seeing a revised Gift pack & launcher collection.

MORE

And of course, beyond the Mini’s, Mattel is still trying to get us buy another line since the PULLBACK line is dead, how about a larger quasi-pullback with more options and directions?

The Movie Stunts lineup – hard to tell the exact scale but maybe 1:43ish? Or something between 1:43 & 1:55. Looks all plastic – not that interesting to me but there ya go:

Looks like the initial lineup will at least be McQueen, Chick Hicks & Boost.

mcqueen-ms.jpg

chick-ms-2.jpg

mcqueen-ms-display.jpg

PART I of the Toyfair post is here.

19 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Checklist, Film, Financial, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Retail, TV

Mattel Pixar Disney Cars: Where Be the CARS?

mcq-mater.jpg

There might not be many CARS on the store shelves but there are plenty at SF’s WonderCon comic book/toy show convention/exhibit which runs until tomorrow night. (They also run Comic-Con).

cars-wall.jpg

There were at least 4 of these rack-cages … okay, the inside weren’t CARS but there definitely was not a shortage of them at the show. Most older ones were $3-$4. Some of you might lament to know that Dale Jr. could easily be found for $5 … as could Tow, My Name is Not Chuck & Race Official Tom. Dudley Spare was $7 and the real spendy was Dinoco Mia & Tia & Gold Mia/Tia at $15 …

For those who are still missing a few or don’t mind paying a few extra bucks, remember to check out your local comic/toy/diecast car show and when the weather turns nicer – flea markets. You want to make sure it’s one of the larger ones – walk around to look for the best deals and remember, you can always haggle … or for the truely dedicated, show up late on Sunday and really haggle, remind them everything they sell is money in their pocket and they don’t have to carry their inventory home :-)

Of course, at your local toy/comic show, you can also pick up one of these bad boys …

tri.jpg

2 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Checklist, comics, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Retail, Toys

Mattel Disney Pixar Cars: Costco Carrying Case

multi.jpg

This might be the carrying case that fits a lot of needs, you get 4 “Compartment Boxes” that get clipped together by that front piece and handle. It looks deep enough to hold everyone except maybe Barney Stormin’ and probably Al Oft … you can probably fit about 65-ish CARS if you modify some of the dividers as reader Amanda notes (my original estimate of 100 was a little too optimistic) … but still not a bad deal for $15, most other cases seem to start at over $20 and it seems nice that you can easily see all the CARS since it’s semi-transparent.

storego.jpg

Amanda/Dragoness managed to fit 68 CARS in there – and sent along some great photos. As Amanda notes, “(the case) only has “half” spaces and not “quarter” spaces to place the dividers.”

emptycase.jpg

Here Amanda placed them on top as pre-planning … better than my plan of throwing them all in a heap and shaking it – whatever falls out goes into the next box :-)

plan.jpg

tray.jpg

And yes, Al Oft & Dinoco fit just fine …

tray2.jpg

“Also, each case holds 12 regular/large size cars, but the smaller cars fit in the half spaces so I guess if you have a lot of cars you COULD fit more than the original numbers, but the average “as is” is 12-16 cars each, and as modified 16-18 cars each.”

fullcase.jpg

Thanks Amanda!

Our other post on displaying your CARS is here.

And while you’re there, pick up some of Glad’s Press ‘n Seal (no, they’re not a sponsor :-) and I don’t usually rave about pieces of plastic but they work great on meats you’re putting in the freezer or like luncheon meats in the fridge. You wouldn’t think that just using your fingers to seal something would be any different than throwing it into a plastic ziploc bag or even wrapping it in foil and throwing it into a ziploc bag? But it does. I had some steaks that got pushed back to the back of fridge and two weeks later, they are still red with virtually no freezer crystals … so while not as 100% waterproof as vacuum sealing, it works pretty amazingly well for something just using your fingers to seal … how does this relate to CARS? Um, you can Press ‘n Seal your CARS and then put them in the Store ‘n Go … along with some steaks?

prodshot_pressnseal.jpg

So get some Mexican Coca-Cola with real cane sugar, some Press ‘n Seal, some Store ‘n Go CARS cases and some steaks – there’s your first 15 minutes of shopping at Costco then all you need is an aquarium, some cheese and something really inappropriate

13 Comments

Filed under Checklist, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar Cars: “More Coming …” Toyfair 2008

multi.jpg

Well, the show doesn’t officially open until tomorrow.

tf08-3munchkinsheader.jpg

Here’s an interesting quote,

“Disney’s “Cars,” which, despite no new film or TV content, generated $2 billion in retail sales in 2007 and has become a major priority for Disney that it plans to support with additional content in the future.”

HUMM …

“The biggest trend industrywide at Toy Fair — where toy manufacturers display their 2008 lines to the media, Wall Street investors and retailers — is the increasing number of toys being sold that connect to Internet play and, with the inputting of special codes found on the toys, unlock virtual worlds.

“Clearly, every single toy that is coming out now seems to have a Web site linked to it,” Samet said. “WebKindz was the first one.”

Disney on Monday will unveil its first line of Internet-connected toys, called Clickables. Developed in collaboration with its licensee Techno Source, the toys will be based on Disney Fairies and unlock an immersive virtual world that will be launched in the fall. Robert Marick, vp and GM at Disney Toys North America, said the technology goes beyond what’s already out in the marketplace and takes Internet-based toys to the next level. He said the technology will be applied to other Disney properties in the future.

Other toy lines that hook up to Internet worlds on display at Toy Fair include Mattel’s Barbie Girls, launched in 2007; Hot Wheels, launching this year; U.B. Funkeys collectible vinyl figures; and Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop. Warners said Mattel would be launching Funkeys to connect with a Speed Racer virtual world.”

An online world for CARS?

HUMM …

Meanwhile Mattel will be also be busy on ‘Speed Racer.’

“Mattel, the master toy licensee for the film, said all its Speed Racer toys will be co-branded with its Hot Wheels brand.”

Official SPEED RACER movie trailer:

Or if you prefer the HD version to download.

Toys, yea, just a few – here are some released photos …

Mattel is doing the CARS in different scales, here’s the 1:18 scale one …

mattel-speed-racer.jpg

Speed Racer Legos (nice) …

speed-racer-lego.jpg

(much cooler …)

speed-racer-race.jpg

Speaking of toys & the internet, you can check out the Legos Indiana Jones sets coming out next summer and start playing the online game.

Or not exactly up my alley but for once, Ken does not look like a dork or as the clearly-gay beard of Barbie …

speed-barbie.jpg

Christine Ricci plays Trixie – not a bad likeness of her.

Of course, in case you hadn’t noticed, they sculpt and reproduce figures not just for kids anymore … if this were the Supergirl of my youth, I think I might’ve read her comic …

supergirl.jpg

(this is the DC Direct / Kotobukiya Supergirl Vinyl Statue)

But of course, some things never change – they will nearly license and sell anything …

hannah-montana-hair.jpg

If you’re a girl between the ages of 4 and 9, okay … if you’re a guy with a 5 o’clock shadow, please step away from the box …

Part II, the CARS part is up.

15 Comments

Filed under Advertising, comics, Design, Film, Internet, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, TV

Mattel Pixar Cars: NEW Mini Adventures Target Easter Eggs

mcq-doc.jpg

Looks like Target has a new exclusive for Easter and it’s ACTUALLY an exclusive! … Yes, no more crappy re-packagings and it’s even reasonably priced (last year’s mock ornament was almost 80% more than regular pricing for what? A 1-dimensional hanging cardboard circle they called an ornament? …)

mini-logo-s.jpg

It’s three different MINI ADVENTURES Cars sets.

lm-mater.jpg

(this looks like the ‘rainbow’ Mater shown at Comic Con last year … though it looks like they did not paint/add a design to the roof)

cc-mater.jpg

Thanks to reader “Sarah”, she says the other two are:

Fillmore’s Festival; a red, white, & blue Sarge with Fillmore
A light blue Ramone with a purple & pink Flo.

sargefillmore.jpg

flo.jpg

Completists might note, reader “Kdippong22″ notes that the Ramone/Flo set & the LM/Mater set come with BLUE or GREEN eggs but that the Sarge set only appears with a RED egg but perhaps time will tell if you find the Sarge set in different colors eggs.

UPDATE: Now, we’re not so sure LM or Flo comes in BOTH colors. I have visited 4 Target’s and where they have them displayed, I have only see the three packages in the three eggs as show in the photo above … and I looked about 10 sets selling on eBay and they all match so we’re waiting on photographic proof so for the time being, don’t drive yourself crazy trying to find them – they might be a rare error set … and until we turn up a batch for them, it’s just an error – amusing and interesting but otherwise, not consider a color variant.

UPDATE #2: Well, they’re pretty real to reader, Kdippong22 who was kind enough to snap a few pics for us …

minieaster.jpg

He loaded the other pics online – links in the comments, thanks Kdippong22.

Here’s what the bin position looks like & the tag – some stores are still loading Easter stuff since technically it’s about a month away …

bin.jpg

upc.jpg

Or you can pretend to be a spy and try and decipher my low res blurry photo … okay, here’s the number below and reader John recommends calling and having them set them aside for you. Here’s the Target store locator webpage.

Thanks to reader Susan, the Target code seems to be 087-07 1795.

Our original CARS Mini post & the follow-up.

And these don’t appear to be on the regular schedule of Mini’s coming out … so finally, an exclusive that’s really an exclusive … though, of course – not the 1:55 scale CARS.

And resistance is futile …

24 Comments

Filed under Checklist, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Toys

Mattel Pixar Disney Cars Checklist: September 2007 to Today

multi.jpg

Just to avoid any confusion, yesterday’s checklist is for those of us who are willing to buy a 3rd Lizzie or a 15th Lightning McQueen but not two WOC Bling Bling McQueen’s!

DO NOT WANT!!!

:-)

So, to avoid any confusion, this list is EVERYTHING NEW from the post recall embargo CARS era – about September 2007 to today.

I only listed the “new” CARS or CARS Mattel has marked ‘new.’ For multi-packs or boxes, I only listed the ‘new’ CARS you’re should be looking for. In the case of the Movie Moments, I listed the last two Supercharged MM’s who left the stage and returned a few weeks later as World of Cars Movie Moments – since they’re the same CARS and the two Supercharged ones are harder to find for most people …

There were also some questions about what CARS were available as NEW and as “blank” so there are two check-off/bubble-in areas.

For collectors who open everything, you can ignore the check-off/bubble-in choices but for those MOC or MIB collectors (mint on card or mint in box), here is your checklist to be certain you have 2 of everything … or in some cases, 4 of everything – just likes Mattel likes it.

(TJ, Fred & Kori) – each available 4 different ways if you count CAR variants and packaging variants.

The just released GHOSTLIGHT RAMONE on WOC card comes in a ‘new’ and blank card version. And yes, you can argue until you too are blue in the face that’s it’s a lot of things but not new … though technically, it has never appeared on a WOC card so it’s “new,” to Mattel.

The Gift Packs (aka: 3-packs) do not have the “overall” interstate-design NEW like the individual cards but it does have the phrase “New Model” attached to the ‘new’ CAR within each 3-pack. And yes, there is a version without the mini banner “New Model.”

Confused? Now you get why Mattel does it. When in doubt, just buy it …

Speaking of which – when you get all dizzy from deciphering CARS, wouldn’t a t-shirt make a great soft pillow?

Buy a t-shirt from us :-)

Of course, the main 2008 post is here.

Rest of posts are here.

Of course, the CARS packaging that do not come with both versions are listed with only one check-off/bubble-in area. Enjoy!

(PNG graphic file – just copy or drag off onto your desktop and PRINT)

newsnipe2007-2008.png

5 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Checklist, Design, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Toys

Mattel Pixar Disney Cars Checklist: The Been Here-Done That List 2008

mcq-mater.jpg

Now, this list won’t be very useful to many – this is simply a list for the ultra completists who will fight you to the death for a WOC Lizzie … well, okay, maybe not ‘fight to the death,’ – maybe just a simple “ACK!”

For the ultra completists who have to have every CAR on card, it’s a little hard to keep track what’s out and what they already have …

… so this is just a list of Supercharged & WM Speedway of the South Exclusives REPEATS that are returning as World of Cars.

… most on this list are already out … the second column indicates it’s already out and on the store shelves …

Good luck!

For those who are Ultra-Competists in name only can buy a t-shirt from us :-)

Of course, the main 2008 post is here.

Rest of posts are here.

(PNG graphic file – just copy or drag off onto your desktop and PRINT)

scwoc.png

8 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Checklist, Design, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS

Underwater Internet Cable Cut-Funniest WSJ Drawing Ever

shark.jpg

This is the funniest drawing I’ve ever seen in the WSJ … okay, not exactly much of a competition but still …

Some conspiracy theorists have ideas why India & parts of the Middle East have lost most of their internet connection as several underseas cables have been severed.

It could be sharks with lasers … though I guess, the proper description is frickin’ sharks with lasers :-)

And in case you’re unclear on the concept …

Rest of the article from the WSJ – though not as many laughs.

Is this the new WSJ under Murdoch? Did he send out a Homer memo?

BE MORE FUNNY!

Signed-Rup

Here’s a reasonable and level-headed discussion by ABCNews … so probably just part of the conspiracy. :-)

Turns out it could be the 5-ton anchor left at the scene … humm, you think?

Though this might be your last opportunity this century to see shadow stock art of parellel ports used to indicate high technology and internet over fiber …

3 Comments

Filed under Computing, Internet, Media, Politics, Science, TV

Microsoft & Yahoo – Yep, We Can Say Goodbye to Both

Why MS buying Yahoo will not change anything.

INTERNET SEARCH is the purest form of customer service & “sales” EVER.

There are virtually zero barriers to entry (there are over 300 by our count).

Users/customers can switch in the time it takes to type and bookmark a new url.

So, if you can’t deliver results that are satisfying to users – they type a new url and you’ve lost them perhaps forever. Some brick & mortar stores get customers coming back merely because it’s convenient and others get customers by buying up all the competition or by driving them out of business.

For internet search, there’s no discounting, no free shipping, and not even an easy to use web site really makes that much difference.

The bottom line is results and at no cost to the consumer, they can switch at any time.

Google wins this purest of competition hands down for a reason.

They deliver what people want & expect fast and accurate enough. Of course, it’s not perfect but it’s what people want today, right now and the results are enough so they come back. That is why they are still growing while their main competition has stagnated.

You can test this out yourself. Pick a random topic and do a search on Google, MSN, Yahoo & Ask … Other than very specialized searches (see our link above) – Google wins by a landslide in better results 90% of the time.

That is why MS buying Yahoo will matter very little – combined, their market share will be 30% of so to Google’s 65% but I am willing to go out on a limb and say if MS actually buys Yahoo, their market share will actually drop 10% to about 20% or perhaps to the % that MS holds now – about 12%.

Because 50% of Yahoo users loath MS

MS’ search function is so weak that they’ve tried to pay people to use it! And still it’s a failure (program started last summer) … in fact, 66% of Microsoft EMPLOYEES use Google for seaches … surprise – at the EXACT same percentage as “normal” people.

The only real reason MSN and Yahoo still have search numbers are that people are lazy about changing their home pages (or don’t realize they can change it) … I know someone who still has an Excite Start Home Page (yes, I was surprised to see that Excite still actually existed) … and Yahoo of course has dozens of home page & useful features that people who like them just for convenience sake, they can just scroll up and types in a search bar instead of going to Google.com but if MS were to take over Yahoo, MS would slowly chip away and force you to sign up for their ID or a Hotmail account to access anything and people would switch in droves. Everytime MS buys an online community, the first thing they insist on is that you sign up and get an MSN/MS ID to access anything.

Yahoo already had enough trouble in annoying FLIKR users when they insisted that people log in with a Yahoo ID name & password – MS will only be that much more annoying. MS doesn’t seem to have realized that is why hardly anyone wants anything to do with MSN Groups or MSN Forums, etc … because of having to sign up for all things MSN to read and sign up for it – while Google & Yahoo want you to sign up for email and be registered for many apps & features, for the most part, they do not care if you want to continue to use another email address as your signin one – but not MS, if we can’t track you 100% of the time, you can’t come in.

MS doesn’t trust you the user and wants complete control. Case in point – in Apple’s iTunes, you can click one button and the iTunes store is NOT listed and out of sight, out of mind. To Apple, of course they want you to buy tracks on iTunes but hey, if you’re not going to, you’re not going to – you’re an adult, you can decide for yourself what you want. With MS, it’s our way or the no way. This attitude is fine if you’re selling server software or even software 10-20 years ago – there was no internet, no open source, you had to look at the fearure set and decide if it’s what you want – just like digital, your choice was YES or NO. And MS won that battle by controlling your choices either directly by undercutting competition, buying them up or indirectly by buying up their distributor or locking in exclusive deals.

So, if MS buys Yahoo, they will pretend to play nice for a few days, then point out Yahoo is a stupid name and start changing things to LIVE! (as if that was not an idiotic WTF name already?) – so Yahooligans will start to leave the company in droves leaving only those who nod silently … and pretty soon it’s all folded into Redmond’s control.

Well, maybe higher than 50%.

Steve Ballmer might be a billionaire but he had lots of help …

Steve was the right guy 20 years ago. Bill Gates needed a sargeant who could yell at people and who could talk up the sales game to the troops in going out and selling DOS, Win 1.0, servers, Office, etc … and someone who could help gloss over ethics (see the hundreds of government indictments & settlements) in getting things done. He was fine for a time when you could control distribution and the marketplace through aggression, assertion and cutting some legal corners but now in the age of the internet-open source-linux-open distribution, he is still trying to fight the last war of 10-20 years ago. He is the old general (now) who only fights what he understands. I’ll buy up market share and then tackle Google by cutting them off.

Only problem is now he’s standing at the mouth of the Mississippi with ONE MSN sandbag but he’s convinced if he shouts loud enough and throws enough money into his one sandbag, he can divert the users.

10-20 years, if you spent money to implement Windows server, you’re not going to switch after building your network and system … but the internet and in particular internet search is not that battle anymore. Anyone can switch in 2 seconds to another search engine but why don’t they? Buying Yahoo & Ask and a dozen others won’t change anything – typing http://www.yahoo.com and typing http://www.newsearchengine.com takes about exactly the same amount of time. No rewiring, no software to load, no apps to buy, no one for MS to undercut, no one for MS to underbid … but Steve Ballmer doesn’t realize that – instead he wants a legacy other than BG’s bad cop character. He think merging with Yahoo will get him into striking distance of Google and then if he pays enough people, he can claim the greater piece of the $50-$80 billion dollar online ad pie and retire to eat some real pies. He can in theory control 30% of the outlet where people buy ads to place on internet search BUT for that to equate to an ongoing business of 30% of the ad dollars, he needs people to continually visit MSN/Yahoo search and that is simply not going to happen. If MS buys Yahoo, there will be an immediate chunk of users who leave just to protest MS … then there will be another mass exodus when MS really takes over and insists that people have a Live or Hotmail address to access anything … MS will simply muck it up and the problem is people can switch very easily.

Gee, where else can you find a free email address? Or TV listings? Or the weather? Or stocks? FLICKR is great but still great under MS or should we switch to Picasa or about 25 other choices? That’s something that Steve Ballmer doesn’t understand -what he doesn’t get is that people on the internet can switch at the drop of a hat … GeoCities? Friendster? … Or that popular sites now like Digg or Fark or ArsTechnica are built on the rubble of companies/sites that people abandoned like SlashDot and dozens of others … if MSN weren’t part of MS, they would be considered abandoned already.

MS Couldn’t Integrate a Company If It Really Tried

MS’s culture used to be arrogant & aggressive alpha males (even the women) which while annoying and sometimes illegal is at least a path that can lead to success … but that time is gone because they’ve all left for greener pastures or fresher kill … leaving the remaining employees? Those left have successfully navigated the walls of corporate fiedom and politics … leaving only the arrogant bureaucrats … so not only do they believe they are smarter than you, they will show you with their filing system and forms in triplicate. This is why it took MS 6 years and $6 billion dollars to come with Vista, the WG authentication and the monthly virus program – that is the creativity of a bureaucrat. Can you merge these guys with the DMV?

More Bad News For Shareholders

Being an MS shareholder is already tough enough – here’s a company that throws off cash from two divisions to the tune of $12 billion dollars, their other divisions randomly lose $2 to $6 billion a year on Microsoft’s attempt to be hip & cool in automobile technology, video games and portable mp3 players. The Xbox division would require selling 1-billion XBoxes to break even but hey, it’s only the shareholder’s money … but now for the first time, MS is going to spend $20 BILLION in cash and either throw in equity as in stocks or borrow the rest to pay $45 billion dollars for a whisper of a whim.

It was actually smart of MS to pay $240 million for a sliver of a sliver of FaceBook – valuing the company at $15 billion because MS has essentially set the price to prevent Google or anyone from buying it cheap. $240 million to own .2 of FaceBook is much better use of corporate funds than the quarterly loss at the Xbox division.

But to pay/offer $45 billion for Yahoo? This is as if Hugo Chavez decided to invite Britney Spears to be his first lady … it is not only not going to end well, it doesn’t even sound right to begin with – if it smells like duck s***, is that how the saying goes? Steve Ballmer would be better off trying to marry Carla Bruni.

ZDNET Might Be Right, This is the Beginning of the End

Sure, it took ZDNet 753 feature articles where they are scarily off-base but this one might actually be right.

As the article points, the online ad fight is about money but no one questions why MS has to chase it – as the author points out, why not buy up platnium futures – there’s huge money in that but the bigger problem is this …

Because after 9 months, there won’t be a Yahoo – MS will chase away all the non bureacrats at Yahoo and merge all the sites into MSN/Live. 50-75% of the regular users at Yahoo will pick up and leave and while MS might hold 30% of the online “potential capacity” of internet search, they’ll have spent $45 billion to buy maybe 5% more users and more ad dollars … at what cost? MS will have tapped all their reserves and go into long-term debt for perhaps the first time since their early days – not a smart way to spend $45 billion. But try telling Steve Ballmer he’s not smart about technology is like trying to convince a 3-year old he should eat the lollipop later.

Other Suitors?

No, Apple is not going to buy Yahoo. Apple could fling open the doors of .Mac and replicate most of the features of Yahoo – no need to spend $45 billion to buy a LESSER name. While the name Yahoo is nice, other than maybe one of the Chinese search engines coming on board or maybe India’s Tata who will buy nearly anyone … no, there really aren’t a lot of suitors because Yahoo is a unique brand who’s main appeal is that it’s not MS or Google. Yahoo shareholders probably want the deal to get max value but if MS buys Yahoo, that is the end of Yahoo and probably MS … so I suppose if you hate MS, here’s your chance to root for the carnivorous fungi that devours the ant from within before shooting outward and killing the ant (close up footage from Planet Earth TV series – not safe for the easily queasy :-) ).

fish.jpg

17 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Computing, Financial, Internet, Marketing, Media

Mattel Disney Pixar Cars Checklist: Winter 2008 Major Changes & Where to Look for the NEW Ones …

mcq-mater.jpg

On top of the changes to Box E (outlined here), as suspected, more changes were announced for Boxes F, G, H, & J (no Box I) and Mattel has basically announced that what was is/might be no longer for the rest of 2008.

They have replaced most of all the “new” in each box with the same old-same old.

In the next 5 boxes, including the changes to Box E, we have “lost” Pit Crew Member Sarge, Richard Clayton Kensington (Security Van), Dinoco Crew Chief, Trunk Fresh Crew Chief, Marco Super FAV-18 (Jet), Octane Gain Crew Chief and the return of regular Sarge (missing since last August).

sarge-pit-stop.jpg

richard.jpg

dinoco-crew-chief.jpg

trunkfresh.jpg

(color scheme example)

marco-fav18.jpg

octane-gain-ms2.jpg

(color scheme example)

In place, we get the return of CARS like Sheriff (first time on WOC individual card), re-releases of recent popular CARS such as Dinoco Helicopter and of course, the ever popular Dale Jr. so for relative newbies and new collectors (your post is here), it’s all pretty good news as you’ll get a chance to catch up on any of the CARS you’re missing … for longtime collectors, the news is not so great as new boxes with TWO Green Ramones is not particularly exciting news. For those stores with mostly empty pegs (unless you count 50 Boost’s as a full shelf), it’s a way to bring in new CARS customers as much as we think the Pit Crew Guys are cool, if you’re missing Lightning or Mater, it’s hardly a CARS collection … however, if your stores are peg-full – not much good news as they might order as many.

And of course, the un-knowing question – will it be harder or easier to find the two news ones in each shipment? I would have to guess harder since instead of having to budget for 6 new CARS, now people can just hoard up the ONE/TWO ones in each shipment … TWO Bug Mouth McQueen in Box G, why, Mattel, why?

Speaking of which, the big question is why?

I would say the answer is WAL*MART.

The only real logical reason for pulling 5 new CARS in the next 5 shipments* is because WM wants another set of exclusives.

The recent floor/shelf plan for WM’s around the country clearly indicate they are willing to set aside a huge chunk of space for Mattel’s CARS including the Mini’s … and WM does not just do you a favor by expanding or ordering another couple million CARS just for the sake of being a nice guy.

They want something in return.

Exclusives.

They want the pell-mell rush of late last summer/early September when thousands if not millions of people ramgaged through their stores to secure the 8 CARS … and of course while you are there to buy up soap, DVD’s, bait and lard (well, that’s the reason I shop at WM ;-) ).

And because WM can giveth and taketh away, Mattel is willing to comply. Yes, they know exclusives are annoying to some customers but the other side of an exclusive is they know a retailer will order a set amount and agree to promote it … so Mattel is keeping one new CAR per shipment but moving everything else “new” to WM for the next couple months.

I have no idea if this set of WM exclusives will be 6 or 8 but I would find any other reasoning for Mattel suddenly pulling back on the “new” CARS lacking – I simply do not believe (as some have speculated) that Mattel decided just to go cheap by not releasing these. We know from the charity set & the leaked photos from Hong Kong that several of the CARS are in production including the Security SUV so not only has Mattel already paid for the molds and materials, any “new” CARS released are still flying off the shelves – has any Mia & Tia lasted more than 5 minutes on store pegs?

There were also rumors that CASE G would be a WM exclusive – well, clearly Case G just wasn’t exciting enough for WM … I’m sure they said something to the effect of,
“Case G just doesn’t excite us … what would excite us enough to order 1 million CARS?”) (WM seems to have ordered around that last year for the 8 exclusives).

It is obviously a little risky for Mattel as other stores might cut back but if your Target’s are like mine – they’re not ordering more than a case or two anyway and while TRU’s tend to order more, both of them combined do NOT equal WM’s 3,800+ stores. So, for Mattel – it was not a difficult decision. WM is buying enough to make it an “event,” presumably with an ad in the flyer also – so the promotions of the line will bring in new kids and collectors … and/or the situation might not be so benign – WM might’ve said to Mattel, we want to corner the market on “new” CARS. Play ball with us or we’ll cut back to one box per store so Mattel had no choice … and of course as part of the agreement, Mattel cannot publically discuss the situation … either way, what’s done is done.

For Mattel, it’s not the worst situation. WM’s interest is ultimately beneficial to Mattel. Because of WM’s size and ordering power, if they lose a little interest in you, you as a manufacturer loses so whether you like it, loath it or whatever, WM matters and you have to keep them happy. While Target is interested in the latest toys to bring you in week after week, CARS is not a critical part of their business. It’s nice but they are simply not as interested in toys overall to strike a deal like WM’s or WM doesn’t allow them the opportunity and will make pouty faces (along with not writing you a check) when you offer exclusives to other companies – however you look at it. As for TRU, it’s a strange relationship where toy manufacturers try to prop up TRU as best they can to offset WM such as offering TRU the playsets as exclusives … but again, TRU has a little over 580 stores and Target has some 1,500 stores … about 50% of the number of WM stores … Mattel has to simply accept the situation – their rationalization is that CARS continues to sell for the most part, whether it’s Lightning McQueen, Chick Hicks or King, people continue to buy the CARS some of us have been looking at for nearly 20 months … they do not fly off the shelves like PCM Guido but it is steady. And who knows, the frenzy of the new WM exclusives might ignite a whoel new block of collectors who wonder if Lizzie is out …

Of course, for a consumer, the perspective is different – when your choice is narrowed to one store – no matter how large, it all depends on where you live and how much time you have to keep driving up to WM, personally, it’s much harder on the West Coast for me :-(

But, hey, it’s never dull collecting CARS, eh?

*(in reality, it’s more since shipments tend to spill onto to the next ones and new ones are included in the shipment following so by pulling 1 new one, it’s a cascading domino effect down the line in what you will see “new.”)

This is the chart showing Boxes F through J (no Box I) and what was announced before, what’s missing in red and the new assortment on the right.

Revised & Original 2008 listing here though after Box J, everything is up in the air now.

(While Mattel is at it, I think they need to save the launchers by trading out the race CARS for one or two Pit Crew members – I think most everyone knows where they can find Lightning, King & Nitroade …)

2008changes.jpg

Your local Wm should be switching out this pallet of the new “green” Dale Jr #88 Mountain Dew AMP-National Guard car & merchandise …

dalejr.jpg

For the new CARS one … technically, it’s not supposed to go up until 2/15/2008 – how compliant are most WM’s? In 2 of 3 stores around me, it’s already up and stripped bare of everything new but if it’s not up yet, look for it on the 15th and in another week, will it be restocked with the second wave of exclusives? Only time will tell … since WM’s backrooms leaks like a sieve, once we see CARS on eBay, we’ll know it’s another week or so before it’s supposed to hit. Guess we jumped the gun on guessing President’s Day … so the next weekend?

wm-new-pallet.jpg

Some other people have brought up an interesting point – how long does Mattel have the license for a RED Dale Jr. #8 CAR? Is 2008 the last year and last time we’ll see the Pixar Dale Jr. #8? Is a “red car” trademarked and “trade-dressed” by DEI and or DEI & Budweiser? Though now DEI seems to have emptied their museum/store of Dale Jr’s red merchandise, does that technically mean they are “abandoning” it? Budweiser is now sponsoring the #9 Kasey Kahne car with what looks like essentially the same paint scheme though … so it will be interesting to see how this is all handled. It’s presumed most licensed-merchandise contracts are for a set period of time so it’ll be interesting to see what that period might be … so maybe the Dale Jr. CAR will be the next to be quietly retired (like the white rim FHH)?

REST OF CARS posts are here.

109 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Checklist, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Retail, TV