Tag Archives: Mattel

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Motor Speedway of the South Sneak Peek

Yes, we are are edging closer to an actual release date for the Motor Speedway of the South set with REAL evidence of the set. The “Sneak Peek” photos are up at the Hot Wheels Collectors Club (in the Red Line Club Sneak Peek section). Only PC users can see the photos so they are provided here before you sign up – info on how to join are in our post link at the end.

NO PRICE.

NO ACTUAL RELEASE DATE YET.

As we only in the ‘sneak peek’ phase of the sale.

For those unfamiliar with the normal process for the Red Line Club. During the year, Mattel sells 10-15 exclusive cars (or sets) to Red Line Club members. Often, they will put up ‘sneak peek’ photos (not always) but then about 11-12 days out will announce when the item will be available for purchase and start a countdown counter.

As of right now, there is an exclusive ’67 Ford Mustang with a countdown counter that ticks to zero on April 29th so what does that tell us about when the Motor Speedway of the South will go on sale?

We can do an additional process of elimination. Since there is a Hot Wheels car on sale to members on the 29th of April, and there is almost always 10 days from the announcement of “what’s new & exclusive” to the day of the actual sale process – the earliest the set will go on sale is probably May 13, 2008.

Mattel almost always lists the start time on a Tuesday and the 13th is a Tuesday.

So on May 3rd or May 4th, the official announcement, the price and the countdown clock should go up … IF the on-sale date is the 13th.

The subsequent Tuesdays are May 20th and May 28th.

It would highly unlikely to stretch into June as the “sneak peeks” rarely if ever go up more than 2-3 weeks out before the official price & release date announcement. (They also mention ‘time to go racing in May.’)

And it’s not likely to be the 6th, the first Tuesday in May since that sort of crowds/clouds the preview & selling period of the current car (the 2008 RLC™ sELECTIONs™ ’67 Ford Mustang) – every once in a while though, the cars offered will overlap, not likely but possible.

And no, we don’t know if there are any exclusives AND of course, they will not announce if the CARS will be available in another configuration or when.

The only real mini-surprise is that they are not on cards but that makes sense, it makes for a nicer display and it saves Mattel money – since some of the Piston Cup racers barely make it on screen and Mattel can apparently only use ‘official’ artwork rendered by Pixar (for instance, their Rollin’ Bowlin’ Mater card featured regular Mater), there would be a lot more work on their part to come up with card art for all 36 racers.

Any other questions – presumably, they’ve been answered in our recent & older posts so good luck everyone!

(the link shows photos & names of each CAR but the sneak peek from Mattel also included some more officially shots of the Piston Cup racers)

All Photos © Mattel Inc, Mattel RLC Club & Disney/Pixar.

By the way, for international customers – in an older post of ours, we have some suggestions on getting a US pre-paid credit card (scroll down to middle of post). Now, I have NOT tested this out for the Mattel Red Line Club purchases so I am not saying it’s 100% guaranteed but it’s a suggestion you can test out or try if you’re interested in trying to avoid eBay. Good luck

ALSO NOTE: To sign up for the Red Line Club, you must FIRST be a member of the Hot Wheels Club (which is free) so sign up in the HWC first – then click on SHOP and add a Red Line Club membership to your cart.

Un-boxing UPDATE POST here.

mcq-doc.jpg

Advertisements

88 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Apple, CARS, collecting, Film, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: Carrying Case II

mcq-mater.jpg

I’m not often in the CONTAINER STORE since my goal is to digitize anything but was wandering around one and ran across another CAR carrying possibility. It’s not cheap at $49.00 but it’s solidly built.

What’s classy is if you depress the dark blue bar, it “unlocks” it and removes as a tray.

What’s nice is the thing is solidly built so if you remove a drawer, it does not feel like it’s about to tip over or fall apart. The drawer is also pretty thick plastic and of course, once snapped open, reveals 10 compartments within each drawer you can customize the storage area within with the slats (ignore the non-related plastic shelves in the back of the photo).

You can view the item online here – with some other photos.

So, probably not the cheapest carrying solution but probably the nicest plastic carrying one – heavy plastic, solid built and with solid drawers that lock and in a apparatus that won’t tip over and is definitely not flimsy.

And also plenty of room on top to add stickers … let us know if you get one or if you looked at it and what you thought.

The Costco alternative.

8 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Film, Gadgets, Marketing, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: What’s Next After Box J

From the Toyfair photos and setups, it’s somewhat safe to presume they’re moving all the pit crews and most if not all the pit guys to the three packs (Gift Packs) and going by the recent shipments – they seem to going to two of each of two new CARS per sealed case … (though, keep in mind Mattel counts re-releasing the WM8 on WOC cards as “new,” along with many of our our old favorites … of course if you’re started collected CARS, yea, finally Fillmore … if you started in 2006, you might not be jumping for joy.

So, what’s coming next?

Well, Revised Box J has been announced which is shipping in this & the next 2 week timeframe:

After that, there has been no official announcement – Mattel will be at New York’s Comic Con in a few weeks (April 18) so maybe we’ll get more official word or see more forthcoming displayed.

The following is what WAS SCHEDULED but is now considered ALL CHANGED. But based on the theory that most Piston Cup Crew Chiefs and Pit Crews are moving to the Gift Packs, here’s what’s most likely still coming in BLACK … what’s most likely NOT coming in GREY and what’s “new” that may or not still be coming:

Here’s what’s being reported as in BOX K (unconfirmed but presumably correct):

Bug Face McQueen (2)
Chuki

Crusin’ McQueen
Darrell Cartrip
Dinoco Helicopter
Dinoco Pitty (2)
Ferrari F430

Lightning Ramone
Octane Gain Pitty
Pit Crew Member
Fabulous Hudson Hornet
Pit Crew Member Guido*

Race Official Tom

Ramone
Tongue McQueen
Van (2)

(RED – NEW, BLUE – NEW TO WOC)
*Just listed as Guido but most likely PCM Guido.

We will probably get Van and maybe another of the “MISSING” CARS (list at end) or more likely, another WM8 CAR as one of the “new” CARS.

This looks like a catch-up box so it’s probably safe to say that this shipment probably isn’t going to change much – the Dinoco Pitty will probably be replaced by whatever else was considered “new” in Box K.

Box M of course is of greater interest to someone who did not find all the WM CARS last autumn but based on the new box configs, I highly doubt we will see all the RED “new” ones in this box. The blimp is also coming out as part of a Gift Pack so Mattel might put the blimp in CASE L …

For some odd reason, Mattel seems intent on not re-releasing Sarge so one of the “new” in Box M might get moved to here since this is really just a ‘catch-up’ box.

I might even venture that by here, Mattel might be done with Speed Racer & Batman and back to giving full attention to CARS. I might even be willing to go out on a limb and say this case might be mostly accurate. One other reason is that for some oddball reason Mattel loves helicopters and blimps (blimps are all plastic so that makes sense $ wise).

So, here are the CARS originally promised from Box E to Box P (around mid March 2008 to Summer 2008) that are still “missing” (other than Piston Cup crew CARS which again we’re presuming are part of the Gift Packs now). Though if Sarge really returns, Mattel should pack 4 to a case but that might be too logical ;-(

Of course, 4 of these are not really new (Sarge, Barney Stormin’, Al Oft the Blimp & Kori, but Mattel thinks they’re new) so 10 “new” and 5 boxes to come (not counting case P) … which of course, works out to 2 “new” in the next 5 shipments … which should bring us to the the end of summer. July is Comic Con also …

So, the heavy action (other than the Speedway of the South set) might be on the Gift Pack, launcher side of things until the end of summer.

multi.jpg

43 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Film, Marketing, Media, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Pixar Disney Cars: Visual Checklist 2008 (CARS 1-4 UPDATE)

multi.jpg

What do you think? I’ll start a visual checklist of each CAR in numeric order every few days – you can drag off and bubble in as a checklist. You can paste it into a journal/moleksin? One side for OPEN and one for SEALED. There’s no real way to add all the cards without making it too massive so it’ll just be the first card the CAR appears? What do you think. Give me your feedback and I can fix, I can quit or better yet, tell me your stories about the first time you saw the CAR or some reminiscing and I’ll add it to the bottom. Let me know what you think?

mcqchecklist2.png

Part II of ______

book-ad.jpg

Here’s PART/CAR #3 & 4. Instead of starting a new post, I’ll just tack it onto here … otherwise, seems too short to start a new post.

Again, be glad to add European info, send me any lists, even a partial and I’ll try and assemble some semblance …

20 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Film, Marketing, Retail, Toys, TV

Mattel Pixar Disney Cars: Motor Speedway of the South Non-News Update (Now With Date Prediction :-) )

mcq-mater.jpg

Since we still get questions about the forthcoming Motor Speedway of the South set, here’s a recap of where we stand. Let me know if there any other questions.

What is the “Motor Speedway of the South” Set?

This seems to be the current official name of the 36 Piston Cup Race Set. It will be a giant box that includes all of the Piston Cup racers seen in the movie, CARS. Yes, this will include the Piston Cup Racers already out including:

Lightning McQueen
Chick Hicks
Dale Jr.
Gasprin
The King
Leak Less
Nitrorade
No Stall
RPM
Octane Gain
Tow Cap
Vinyl Toupee

So, the set will include 24 “new” Piston Cup racers and 12 “old” ones.

(Official Sneak Photos here).

When is the set coming?

There is no official word by Mattel but that would be like Apple announcing when the next iPod will come out or which Ivy League university Jessica Simpson will be attending so as official as it gets, one of the moderators on the OFFICIAL Mattel Hot Wheel Forum had this to say:

“It is temporary planned for release here on the site sometime at the end of Spring/beginning of Summer. When we get the rest of the information, I will let you know…

Thanks,

HWC Chris”

Additional post by Mattel Admin on Hot Wheels Board:

So that could mean as early as end of April or by early June.

disneycarsmotorspeedway.jpg

Is it absolutely positively going to come out during those three months (April, May or June 2008?)

Likely, yes – absolute guarantee? No. Why?

listing.jpg

Until it’s on the shore and ship shape, why take chances?

Where Can I Buy One?

ONLY at: HotWheelsCollectors Club

And more specifically, RED LINE Club members are given 24-hours priority online to buy one.

But when will it go on sale?

Again, in the next three months most likely AND Mattel will give us fair warning – either 7 or 10 days notice. So, it’s not a sneaky surprise.

Is this RED LINE CLUB an exclusive club?

Anyone who lives in the U.S., and has a credit card with a credit line of $29 – you can sign up. And of course, you’ll need internet access.

Do you have to live in the U.S.?

Technically no but you MUST have a U.S. mailing address (military FPO should be fine).

International out of luck?

Directly yes. If you can find someone with a U.S. mailing address and a U.S. credit card, you’re obviously okay. Using an international credit card is iffy as Mattel might insist that the billing and shipping addresses match. You can also try and buy a U.S. prepaid credit card (or you can send a friend/relative money to buy a prepaid credit card).

What’s the Mattel Red Line Club, how is it different than the Hot Wheels Collector’s Club?

Bigger shrimp at the parties … okay, just kidding … The Hot Wheels Collector’s Club is FREE. Sign up to get emails and you can join in some of the forums.

The RED LINE Club is $25 a year + ($4 shipping).

The two big differences are:

You get a “free” Hot Wheel special limited edition diecast car AND
You get a 24-hour priority window to buy things at the Mattel store.

The car this year is quite nice and even if you want zero Hot Wheels in your house, you can pretty much sell it on Ebay for $15-$30 dollars, essentially making your membership free … (each color was limited and in order of signups – they are on the last batch – purple).

hwc-cars.jpg

What is this priority window thing you speak of?

Every so often, they announce an “exclusive car” such as this one coming up on April 8th:

hwc-offer.jpg

As you can see, when I took the screensnap, there was a little over 10 days left – it usually goes on sale at 9 AM Pacific Time of whatever day. So at some point in the next three months, the counter will go up for “Motor Speedway of the South” and you’ll have 7-12 days before it gets to zero and goes on sale.

RED LINE CLUB (RLC) members get 24-hours where only they get to decide if they want to buy something. AFTER 24 hours, if there is any inventory left, it will go on sale to ANYONE who is the regular Hot Wheels Collector’s Club member (aka: general public).

Are there on occasion Hot Wheel cars left over after 24 hours that others can buy? Yes.

Do I think the Motor Speedway of the South set will last more than 24-hours?

UM, NO.

It’s NOT going to be a cheap set but I doubt it will last much longer then 4-6 hours.

How much will it cost?

Mattel priced the 27-CAR 2006 Factory Set (also a RLC exclusive set) at @$5.51 per car and really, every CAR was available elsewhere at $149 (there was some packaging differences) or about $200 after shipping + tax + RLC membership … since this is 36 CARS, if you presume based on the same cost scheme, it will be @198 + shipping + tax or @$250 … (+ the RLC membership) though now with the recent price bump by Mattel for retailers, I think we might be looking at $249 + tax + shipping (+ the RLC membership) putting the final cost probably closer or over $300+ … but that’s just a guess. That might be too scary for Mattel to try and sell so they might fiddle with the numbers until it’s closer to $260-$275 “out the door,” (not counting RLC membership costs) so perhaps $229 or $239 + shipping + tax.

I’m getting my economic stimulus relief check so I’ll be loaded, can I buy four?

Each RLC member is generally entitled to buy only ONE of whatever during the priority window so if you want more than one, you will need a second PAID membership and another email address – your shipping address is okay, you are allowed 5 memberships at the same mailing address.

To recap:

If you want to buy a second membership, that’s another $29 + a DIFFERENT email address (same shipping as membership #1 is fine).

If you want a third membership, that’s another $29 + a DIFFERENT email address (same shipping as membership #1 is fine).

After FIVE memberships, you will need a new credit card and a new shipping address but if you’re willing to spend $1,400 buying 5 sets, you can hire someone who can help you buy more sets.

So, of course, on ordering day, you’ll have to buy, log off and then log back on.

Can I just wait until eBay?

If you’re the gambling type, good luck! This will be an interesting freaknomics test – how much premium can a $300+ dollar item fetch hours or days afters it goes on sale at Mattel? Consider that you’ll be paying for “his/her” shipping + shipping to you so why not just buy it yourself as a RLC member.

Should I sign up now on the RLC?

In theory, membership to the RLC is limited to 22,000 members, that’s how many of the Hot Wheels car Mattel has readied for 2008.

DIRECT FROM MATTEL:

First 4,000 to join or renew: Boss Hoss in chrome with red stripes!
Next 5,000 to join or renew: Boss Hoss in Spectraflame® red with white stripes.
Next 6,000 to join or renew: Boss Hoss in Spectraflame® ice blue with black stripes.
Next 7,000 to join or renew: Boss Hoss in Spectraflame® purple with white stripes.

They are on purple so we know there are already 15,000+ memberships sold – leaving less than 7,000 memberships left. Will Mattel turn away the 7,001st person? I can’t imagine they would on some oddball principle (aka: Mattel turning down money?) but do you want to test out the theory if you’re 100% sure you’re willing to pay $275 to $300 for the Motor Speedway of the South set?

As I noted, the car is really nice this year and people are willing to buy it on eBay for 50-100% of the cost of a RLC club membership so why not?

hw-rlc-blue.jpg

How many will be available?

The rumored number is 2,000 … even if the RLC is maxed at 22,000 members, clearly most are Hot Wheels fanboys* so they might not care … of course, I’m sure there are hundreds of eBay powersellers with a dozen memberships … so if you’re going to buy this, take the day off or book a conference room with a fiber optic broadband when this goes on sale to get in the queue.

*If you’re a noob to the HWC Club or the RLC forums, note, there are a majority of Hot Wheels citizens there who think of CARS as johnny-come-lately and that we’re horning in on their club … there was an undercurrent of resentment when the Factory set was offered last year but some are coming around …

Also

As part of your RLC membership, you also get the “badge” and a poster which I forgotten all about until I just got this the other day.

redlineclub.jpg

As you can see next to it, it came in not just a tube but a giant box with foam peanuts via UPS so a $2 box, a $1 tube, $.50 worth of peanuts and $5 UPS shipping to mail me a slightly wrinkled poster of er, questionable value – no wonder RLC membership costs $30 … I guess I do appreciate Mattel going back to press to mail me this poster but honestly, I’d much prefer a coupon.

See ya’ll in the cyber line …

Final Predication

I’m going to say it’s going to go on sale May 20, 2008. Why? First, it’s a $300 item and you want to do it after tax season and this year, a bunch of people will also get the economic stimulus check by then. Second, if you want to sell an item for $300, you want to do it after payday – people feel flush and rich. If you have a “higher” priced item, you never want to ask people to buy it a few days BEFORE the paycheck arrives and a lot of people pay rent/mortgage on the 1st so middle of the month is generally better. It’s a Tuesday and everything from the RLC goes on sale Tuesday. So, my guess is previews will go up before the 8th and the countdown will begin 10-12 days beforehand. Again, good luck!

The original post and individual photos.

Singles?

Will they be (re)-released as singles? Here are some things to weigh and consider. Of course, $250-$300 for a bunch of CARS you will presumably only get to look at and not even get to play with is a lot of money – I totally understand if you are unable or unwilling to make a financial commitment this large (or you live overseas), that’s a choice you’ve made – it’s just a bunch of CARS, no biggie but you’re thinking, maybe I do want them but I’m just not willing to spend $250-$300 or about $6-8 a CAR all at once … keep in mind 12 of the CARS are already out and while Gaspirin & Tow Cap are a little more work, presumably you have the other 12 already. Now, all you need is the other 24.

My feeling is that Mattel is not going to walk away from you – we have already seen Gift Packs with Piston Cup racers not out yet (from Toyfair) so if the set is $300, that’s about $8 a CAR, conveniently about the same price as a “launcher.” And while there are only 5-6 molds for all the Piston Cup racers, there is no way Mattel is going to only paint 2,000 Mood Springs, Mattel is clearly going to re-release most if not all as launchers or in Gift Packs.

BUT and note that it’s in caps, that does NOT mean you might see them all in 2008 or even in 2009 … and while the line is assured in 2008 and probably most of 2009, ONE NEVER KNOWS. NOT EVEN MATTEL …

No one knows what will be out in 2009 … maybe the line is so slow they are back to the 14 townies … or as Mattel has hinted, that there will be exclusives in the set available no where else BUT AGAIN …

What Mattel considers “NEW” and “EXCLUSIVE” are not necessarily the dictionary definition – now, it might actually be but it might be like seeing Ghostlight Ramone on a WOC card with the snipe NEW. Technically, it is new and Marketing-wise, it is NEW but in the strictest dictionary sense, no. Or the WAL MART Exclusives … appearing in Sam’s Club (same company, different division) a few months later – again, technically at Sam’s Club, you had to buy an entire box to get some of the WM CARS but to the average person, exclusive means ‘exclusive’ as in the actual definition of UNIQUE and UNAVAILABLE elsewhere BUT Mattel has their own dictionary.

So, they say the Motor Speedway set will contain exclusives – but how exclusive?

I believe it will be exclusive as in packaging or maybe it will not appear until 2009 in a box set or some other configuration … however, the caveat to keep in mind is that Mattel INTENDS to release them in another configuration but will it actually be guaranteed on the store shelves? Impossible to predict – so while Mac iCar might be out on a single blister card, maybe it’s 2010 before it appears … so how does this affect whether you buy the Motor Speedway set in 2008? Will you open the set?

So, while the odds are pretty good ALL the Piston Cup racers will eventually appear in Gift Packs, Launchers, Box Sets or even as singles – when and IF is another question.

Mattel gets your money either way:

You either buy the Motor Speedway set and never open it to maintain its maximum value and buy the various re-releases in order to open & play with them …

OR

You buy them individually at $8+ (as Gift Packs, Launchers, Box Sets, etc …) eventually.

Mattel does not lose money either, it’s just whether you pay them $300 upfront and continue to buy them to open or whether you buy them in smaller gulps.

APRIL 18, 2008 UPDATE HERE.

book-ad.jpg

18 Comments

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

Mattel Pixar Disney Cars: Spring 2008 at Target

mcq-doc.jpg

At the lamest in stocking toys Target nearest to me … hanging on the pegs like your average pegwarmer, Dinoco Mia & Tia and regular Mia & Tia … I didn’t even staged this … as you can see, barely any regular solo CARS on the shelf … no Mater, no McQ, no Sally, No Lizzy … but both sets of Mia & Tia Movie Moments … of course, there is still Woody & Buzz and Sally & Crusin McQ MM if you need those … but some normalcy.

pegstarget.jpg

Look like another two weeks before Chuki hits the shelf (along with Lightning Ramone for those interested) but otherwise, a time of stillness in the kingdom of CARS.

Though Mattel might wait until the Speedway of the South set release (late April?) to re-launch, re-stock, re-vise the sealed cases and re-energize the CARS market?

The test will be be … has the ‘mo’ been lost?

Will it be April madness?

Will it be like, “everytime I try and walk away, they pull me back in, woohaa,” (okay, I might be mixing movie quotes 🙂

And ‘CaseStalker,’ the Leak Less on the pegs looks clear, bright eyed (though not bushy tailed – now, that would be a variant! 🙂 )

So, see you all in a couple fortnights!

book-ad.jpg

30 Comments

Filed under Advertising, Checklist, collecting, Financial, Marketing, Mattel Disney Pixar CARS, Retail, Toys

Mattel Pixar Disney Cars: Spring 2008 What’s Next?

mcq-mater.jpg

Well, it was sweet while it lasted. From mid November 2007 to early January 2008, it was a nice 8 weeks of CARS, CARS & CARS. Shelves were brimming with new CARS and hard to find CARS – Pit Crew Fillmore, Dale Jr., Pit Crew Hornet, Dinoco Helicopter … and while not exactly brimming on the shelves, they were possible to find – Rusty/Dusty, Mrs. The King, and while not the best of value – they were also new and mostly available – Dirt Track Doc, Lightning Ramone, etc, etc …

And it was all going to get even better – Box E was brimming with new CARS: Pit Crew Member Sarge*, Richard Clayton Kensington (Security Van) (2), My Name is Not Chuck (2) & Tow (Piston Cup Tow Truck) (2) plus a bunch of recent hard to find ones.

Ultimately we did get some new ones: My Name is Not Chuck (2) & Tow (Piston Cup Tow Truck) (2) & Ghostlight Ramone (2) (for completists) but of course, that was just the beginning of the change for the worse (recap below):

2008changes.jpg

The BIG question is why? What happened to all those CARS announced and seen not only at Comic Con but also at the CAAF Auction?

And now to speculate:

WAL MART EXCLUSIVE?
Probability? 75%

That was our initial guess that WM had decided they wanted to play ball but only by their rules. I still think the astounding success of the promotion last year means we’ll see it again but it makes more sense later in the year. Between now and August, WM will be brimming with summer movie toys from Speed Racer to Batman to Indiana Jones to Wall-E so it does make sense to do it in late August, or Autumn when the “toy” movies of summer are gone and before the winter/holiday movies arrive – just like last year. So, while the CARS originally planned for Spring and early Summer will still be out, some of the original late summer ones will presumably be pushed back for another WM exclusive … or perhaps a tie-in to a 2-disc CARS DVD with bonus features which would make it around early November following the recent releases.

COST SAVINGS?
Probability? 65%

I think when commodity prices, inflation, crude oil prices, & dollar fluctuations started getting more serious late last year and early this year, it made Mattel go back and rework all the numbers. They realized they are going to be commiting a lot of resources in plastic & metal to support Speed Racer, Batman and of course, non-diecast lines like Barbie and the Disney hot properties – Hannah Montana & HS Musicial, I think Mattel decided CARS could take a little breather on their part without hurting the collectibility that much. A major part of this is also related to the amount of stuff Mattel is shipping to the stores now with the summer movies coming (especially with Speed Racer & Batman), there are literally only so many pegs a store is willing to commit to a manufacturer and to a type of product … and of course, Mattel is not going to turn over Hot Wheels and Matchbox pegs and space … they’d rather lose a couple or 5 CARS pegs until June or July when Speed Racer or Batman has had its main run and cuts back to a couple pegs – and then “take them back” for CARS

Of course, Mattel is not really giving up the space entirely, they are only re-configuring and adding in CARS MINI ADVENTURES for two reasons – as they present it to retailers.

First, they present it something like this for metal diecast cars – let’s say there are 60 pegs in a store devoted to diecast cars that Mattel is able to control (others are ERTL, Johnny Lightning, etc …) so Mattel presents it as such. 30 for Hot Wheels and Matchbox because parents and buyers have been coming into your store for 40 years expecting these … 10 pegs for the hot kids movie of early summer, Speed Racer, 10 pegs for Batman, the teen & adult collector movie of summer and 10 pegs for the line that two years, they keep coming back, CARS … this of course is a generality and will vary from some stores that might have 60 pegs for diecasts and others might have 200 pegs …

Part of retailing is to constantly present new and how much marketing they intend to back it up with. Stores like companies to come up with line extensions because people like new – hey, Oreos Cakester and anything that creates the aura of hip & new (otherwise, you’re mostly a big square box store that sells shampoo, diapers and motor oil), we have the perfect spin-off in CARS MINI Adventures, a few dollars cheaper but a “part” of the biggest hit lineup of toys since Star Wars – these are all plastic, smaller than 1:64 so completely different! (well, that’s how they sell to retailers – NEW but not so new – different but not that different! – new but really old new!) SOLD!

HOOKED?
Probability? 85%

Of course, that’s always difficult to manage – other than the Star Wars line, there are not a lot of collectibles that are equal parts rabid collector/completists (to some degree) and also the casual/gift giving buyer but honestly, Mattel realizes that with CARS, they stumbled upon the everlastinggobstopper diecast line … if they decided to stop making anymore new CARS, CARS would still continue to sell – certainly at a much slower rate but still at a huge profit. It’s a self purpetuating line because kids are turning 2 or 3 EVERY DAY and parents will buy CARS on DVD as the natural course of raising kids in our culture today. It would be like denying them chocolate milk 🙂 And it’s not like CARS is some obscure pop culture thing where you cannot walk more than 4 aisles without seeing some CARS thing so EVERYDAY if not every minute, some kid is being introduced to CARS the Movie and of course, who wouldn’t buy their kid a $3.50 diecast to play with?

The evidence of this and why those who think Mattel should ‘retire’ some CARS is wrong. Yes, there are stores who seem to be full up on CARS and never sell any but if you look closely, while there are always a few long-time pegwarmers, eventually they ALL SELL. Of course, Boost or Lizzie is not going to be as popular as McQ or Mater but eventually they all sell because everyday, kids are turning 2 or 3 and ready to play with CARS – and if a new to CARS parent can’t find a McQ or Mater, why would they start?

So, they have to keep shipping the “townies.” If you started today or a month ago, you’re more worried about getting the townies first and then you start thinking about Supercharged versus Desert Art … for those who got in at the beginning or a year ago, at this point in the line, you’re either all-in or you’re dropping out but Mattel realizes this – there is no way to convince 100% of (quasi) completists to stay in 100% of the way … people are going to drop out either way – if they had released all the “missing/more” new CARS or so of 2008 (about 10), a bunch of people might’ve dropped out because they said enough is enough, what do I want with more than 100 CARS and with gas nearing $4 a gallon, not worth driving around for naught … and conversely, since there are a lot fewer CARS to buy the last few months, some people have dropped out because they grew restless or bored that the frenzy is down. I’m not saying either is wrong or right – they’re your feelings – go with them. Search your heart 🙂

Mattel hopes that if you drop out temporarily, you’ll be standing in a store in 2 months and realize, how many CARS am I behind now? And curse the day you thought you could drop out 🙂

And meanwhile, everyday, some kid is going to see CARS for the first time or some Hot Wheels collector will realize – there are 99 CARS I don’t have – do I have it in me to start now? Can I get caught up in weeks? months? Welcome to Hotel CARSIFORNIA … where you can never leave 🙂

And is Mattel scientifically separating the herd? From the Toy Fair 2008 photos, we can see new launchers and new Gift Packs with mostly Piston Cup Racers.

So where as we speculated Mattel might bundle 7-8 CARS in a box for $29 to resell us the 36-CAR Piston Cup Speedway of the South set, maybe it’s a smaller chunks that hurts us like a pirahna bite? Because they know there is a limit to the number of people willing to pony up nearly $300 for the set (with taxes & shipping – presumably).

So maybe it’s $7.99 at a time as 36 different Launchers? Or in combination of $9.99/$10.99 Gift Packs?

Just look at the Gold Mia/Gold Tia & Bling Bling McQueen** Gift Pack for $10.99 – instead of selling you a Movie Moments twin-pack with just “the girls,” Mattel has gotten you to buy one other CAR that you would not have bought.

gold-mia.jpg

Or this forthcoming Leak Less Gift Pack with his Pit Crew & Crew Chief … instead of selling you two individual CARS (Pit Crew & Crew Chief for $3.50 each), they will have re-sold you Leak Less along with 2 other CARS for $10.99 …

leaklessgp.jpg

Here’s RPM on a Launcher for $7.99 – will you buy it again? Or Mood Springs with a Launcher for $7.99?

prro-truck-fresh2.jpg

Some people will wait and hope that they get released on a solo card but of course, the main collectors won’t. BUT if they do get released on a solo card, many completist will buy him again … cue Mattel’s manical laugh.

It’s also smart in that they don’t have to make as many – the % of people who want the entire & complete pit crews is much smaller than the people who want Fillmore. Just look at the sales of Pit Crew Fillmore – lagging while you never really ever see any Fillmore’s pegwarming for very long so this way, they make it more valuable by making fewer and essentially selling it to you at a higher price.

So, I think that might be the gameplan for 2008. The single cards will be used to release “new” CARS that are of general interest, Chuki and of course, a car like the Elvis RV and while the sealed boxes will contain new CARS, they’re not going to make it 50% new like we thought. They are going to keep re-stocking McQ, Mater, Sally, etc … as people are still buying enough of them – not enough to knock over people and strip the shelves clear but to Mattel, that only serves to force them to ship faster – this way sales are steadier … and of course, do you feel like there’s less pressure to be completist, or will you just leave? That’s the balance Mattel is going to try and strike and your call.

Meanwhile, they will try and stack the deck the other way – with launchers/multi-packs that serve to sell you at least one CAR you might not have wanted to buy.

As for the Movie Moments continuing? Hard to say what’s going on there but it seems to be a store by store issue – some smaller stores might not get an new stock until the older ones are completely gone – especially at stores like Target that use one UPC for all Movie Moments – while larger stores might replenished automatically once stock is low – but then a department manager might not be willing to put them out. So as of now, I don’t believe they are canceled but beyond summer of 2008, that is much harder to forecast (HAZY. TRY AGAIN).

Also of course, sell Mini’s until they get the pegs back from Speed Racer & Batman.

We might have more answers at the NYC comic con on April 18th.

* I was always suspicious that PCM Sarge was only 1 to the box … as if Mattel was not really serious about that …

** Okay, technically, this Bling Bling McQueen is sporting the eyes of Dinoco McQueen, yes, really but 90% of buyers won’t really care …

ADDITIONAL RETAILER NOTE: AS EM & BMW brought up in the comments, there are always extraneous factors – for instance, one thing most consumers don’t really think about is retailer-manufacturer relations. We sort of tend to think that manufacturers offer things for sale and retailers buy them if csonumers want to purchase them. This is true of small retailers and was mostly true 20-30 years ago. But now, for instance, a retailer might not want a particular brand of fabric softener because it’s the 3rd best selling in America and they only want to devote shelf space to two because they’d rather carry palm trees … even though the 3rd best selling in that category is still a huge brand, they just decided two is enough and then they go back to #1 and #2 and say, we’ll only choose you two if you give us more advertising rebates and cut prices 2%. That’s the clout WM has … so while toys are more short term products, it’s essentially the same … as many have noted, Target’s seem mostly empty of Mattel diecast products – who is “boycotting” whom? Hard to say – maybe Target wants more $.99 Hot Wheels and less $2.49 Hot Wheels, clearly the $2.49 Hot Wheels are nicer but certainly there is not $1.50 extra raw materials in the $2.49 Hot Wheel, it might have another $.25 of materials, design and overhead but of course, it makes Mattel more money … or perhaps Mattel wants Target to guarantee X hundreds of thousands of cases of Pixar CARS for 2008 and Target is balking because who needs another 200,000 Boosts? Or perhaps Mattel is only willing to commit so many resources because honestly, it’s hard to tell how much “frenzy” is left in CARS (popular yes, crazy popular – always hard to gauge when the boom is lowered) and if Speed Racer bombs or Hannah Montana & HS Musical slows? Perhaps WM has told them, you have to ship to us first, “we insist” so Mattel has to decide, to not annoy WM with a 40% market share of toys? And let slide the relationship with TRU (#2 in toys) and Target (#3 in toys)? TRU clearly needs Mattel but WM can always cut back an aisle of toys to hold a buy 2-get 1 box of ammo sale 🙂 . And of course, commodity & crude oil pricing plays a factor … maybe Mattel cuts back on production a little so they can bunch them closer together and use up more a ship to save a little on shipping? Unless the four parties involved in this actually come forward and say – it’s all just a guess and it might be all the scenarios here. WM is telling Mattel to make us your BFF (at least for 6 months) and perhaps Mattel is saying Target, “I’ll call you.” or is secretly telling Target, “Buy up another 100,000 and I promise to text you 10 times a day! … No, 15 times a day?” And Target is like, “Me’h, we got 100,000 tangerine chaise loungers to display at $39.99, who cares about you sending us more Buzz & Woody’s?” Meanwhile, the giraffee is just looking for a hug.

So, yea, it’s the real world intruding upon on our little paradise … blame it on the suits … or what we need to do is to form citizen commitees saying WM can only open 120,000 square foot stores if they only sell diecast CARS.

book-ad.jpg

27 Comments

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