Friday, November 12, 2010

Reality check - why I allowed my He-Man.org membership to be "banned".

I've tired of the alternate universe they live in.

Read this, if you dare:
Stupid debate about how much a new Castle Greyskull should be sold for.

Here is something I posted a few months ago to show them REAL examples of non-toy items and mold costs. Forgive the references to "your" and such - contextually, this was in reply to some guy saying "Why can't we get Ram Man - Mattel is lying to us about mold costs!":

molds cost the majority of the money on these toys.

"The total investment in tooling for mass-produced consumer items can quickly become prohibitive. For example, in the case of a telephone housing molded in a single-cavity molding tool...[the] average cost is $50,000 per molding tool."
SOURCE:http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6782940.html
A telephone housing has no moving parts, so we cannot get a direct comparison from this mold to the mold for a toy, but it gives you a general idea of mold costs.

So, concept #2 - the cost for a mold is spread out over the number of units created with the mold, under standard accounting procedure. This practice is called cost allocation.
So, the very first cell phone casing created with a mold, if we use the mold cost above, not counting the cost of an artist to sculpt it, is $50,000; the cost of the second casing out of the mold splits that cost to $25K each, and so on. If we can get fifty-thousand casings from this mold, then the cost of each casing becomes $1.
(here is a super-detailed example using manufactured hand holds used in rock climbing:
http://makehandholds.com/Cost.cfm)

To answer your question:
"How is it possible that action features were not too expensive in the 80's or even in the 200x line, but that suddenly, Mattel cannot (edit : DOESN'T WANT) to make them ?"
Molding costs.
Ignore the "no action features" mantra of the new line. Webstor's backpack is a simple example. The mold cost x. It can only be used for Webstor. The cost of the backpack with the mechanism inside cost 2x, which then means each Webstor backpack cost 2x over the allocation of cost per unit. If it follows standard business procedures for costing, Mattel as a specific number that an item has to cost to make it economical for them to produce; if the backpack mechanism puts them over that per-unit cost (or a paint application, or an accessory, or a new head, etc), they will see if alternate means can be used to produce it or omit it from the product pre-molding process.

Another poster brought up WWE figures from Mattel. More tooling is allocated for those figures because more figures are produced. Some outlets have reported that the run of MOTUC Classics is in the 10K-20K per figure range. There might be 100,000K WWE John Cena figures run for that one assortment.

When we look at King Hiss, how many of those parts can be reused? Or how many parts can be reused from other figures? Since we don't know what the exact cost of the molds are for these figures, an example would have little meaning - but knowing that the actual cost of materials for the steel mold is a high part of it, the smaller the mold, the lower the cost. So an individual head made later would probably cost less than a full limb that was a larger size than the head, unless the machine could only run the full-sized mold...there are many factors involved. I can tell you from panels heard first-hand at Transformers conventions and SDCC that Hasbro has no budget to make new heads for exclusives and repaints (in most cases - the upcoming Grappel is one that obviously falls in a new budget year and could utilize new money for remolding), BUT now, they are pre-planning to tag that cost into the original mold creation. This way, the new head is merely a different piece on the existing mold, even if we don't see the second head for months.
SOURCES: http://www.sme.org/cgi-bin/find-arti...&&SME&#article
http://tfwiki.net/wiki/Mold

In the end, think of this: Mattel has some budget number for each year of MOTU mold creation. You might be able to figure it out by going back over the 2009 year and determining how many unique pieces were made after looking at each figure, assuming it hasn't changed. They will make as many new pieces as possible until that budget is exhausted. A combination of King Hssss, Ram Man, and Horde Trooper might spend the entire budget for the year, leaving the opportunity to do only repaints; I'm sure that no POP fan would be happy with two characters that were completely repainted from She-Ra and Adora parts. Spacing out those 100% new, non-reuseable molds over a number of years allows the line to continue giving the maximum number of new parts per figure.>>

People have to forget that these are TOYS and look at it as a business. Everything costs money and that is why we can't just get anything we want.

Specifically, regarding the Castle Greyskull, people have to understand that it is not "the cheap plastic castle" that makes the damn castle approach the $300 range. It is the STEEL MOLD that is made to create the castle.
Here's the cost for a six inch by six inch piece of steel - $41.00. Extrapolate that out - the cost just for the steel to make a mold for something like Greyskull is massive! This doesn't take into account whatever Mattel is being charged to create the mold itself.

Okay, so now they made the mold. Just as I previously mentioned, the less you make, the more cost each of those units carry! This isn't sorcery - it is basic economics and accounting. There is currently a Barbie Dream House selling for $150 retail cost at your local Target store. It was made in a massive enough quantity to be available at most, if not all, of the nearly 2000 Target stores in the US. Without knowing the exact quantity of those Dream Houses, I guarantee you that it is many, many more than the number of Castle Greyskulls Mattel would make available through Matty Collector. Thus, the cost goes up.

If anyone wants to have a RATIONAL discussion about this, post me a comment and we can talk there.

4 comments:

Hotspot17 said...

You got "banned" from a forum for being logical and realistic? Then that forum is really filled with man child/children.

BahGlenn said...

Ah the He-man.org boards...never will you find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy...unless you consider the 4Chan boards (or so I hear).

I rarely try to debate anything on that board anymore, but after hanging out with Matt & learning how much things cost to make toys I have a much better understanding of how the toy world works. It amazes me how we were able to get unique molds/designs in the 80's line all the time once 1985 hit, how much $$$ must they have sunk into molds to just use them once??

Charlie said...

"This isn't sorcery - it is basic economics and accounting."

Perfectly said - I love it. And your blood pressure will be much improved by avoiding that place.

John K. said...

Thanks for the comments, guys.

To clarify (since I missed it in my original post), the banning was due to "e-mails bouncing". There is something weird on the .org forums - you need to have certain domains for your e-mail address, or they won't register you. I received an e-mail from them saying "you need to pay us money to reinstate your account." Uh, no thanks. I would just go there an be sarcastic - and just be lost in the crowd of the hundreds of posters already doing so.

BG, the 1980s were a time of higher quantities. Just reading the Tomarts of the time will give you some indications, but for something concrete, check out the comic book sales numbers. A comic in the 80s that hit 100,000 in sales would be canceled. Now, 100,000 would be a top-selling book. Overall, the quantities of toys produced then was probably higher.

If you read the examples I gave on plastic production, it makes you wonder why anyone would try to do it on an indie level.