Back around July of 2011, I was young(er) and stupid. I had been doing "Action Figure Friday" with my daughter (to be) Chloe for a couple of months and was really getting into the collecting of action figures. I had a relatively small collection, mainly focused on Batman and other DC Super Heroes, with a couple of Marvel figures from the Thor/Captain America movies that came out that year. It was around this time that Mattel announced their "Club Infinite Earths" subscription. I knew nothing of the Mattel subscriptions, but the idea of getting a random DC figure each month sounded rather appealing. So I signed up for the subscription. I knew that not every figure would be someone I was interested in, but I thought maybe I could re-gift them to other friends and family.
First of all, I bought the subscription in July 2011 as I stated above. The first figure didn't even ship until almost A YEAR LATER in April 2012. Then, the subscription period ran until here recently, when I got the last figure in December. So from when I bought the subscription to my last figure received was a total time frame of a year and 5 months. In that time, the following items occurred:
- Bought a new car
- Got married
- Ashley changed jobs
- Bought a house
All of which contributed to my free spending money being far less than it was in the past. Yet, once the subscription kicked in, there was money that I had promised to pay every month going to an action figure. I tried sending an email to Mattel, saying that I just wasn't in the financial situation that I was when I bought the subscription and would like to cancel. Yet would they let me get out of the subscription? NOPE! Asking people to make that big of a financial commitment every month when we are in this economy is a bit nuts if you ask me. There was no way for me to know what my finances were going to be like when the program started.
The sad part is that if I could easily rationalize these figures if they were characters I was interested in. Yet, a year of figures later, there is maybe only 3 or 4 that I actually would want to keep. I was hoping there would be more, but some of these characters I haven't even heard of! This was also the first year of the DC Subscription. I would think that for the first year, you would want more recognizable characters to entice people to continue their subscription for another year. Not only that, I had no idea how much my credit card would be charged each month. Some months were normal figures, but some months had "deluxe" figures, and some months they doubled up on figures since the program didn't start until April!
As messed up as the program is, I do think that it could be really great with a few minor tweaks:
1) Allow people to cancel their subscription: The only real reason to get a subscription is that you get guaranteed the figures and you get the special "Club Exclusive" Figure. All they'd have to do is make the Club Exclusive figure the last figure of the year, then if you stayed with it the whole time then great - here's your figure! If you cancel your subscription, then oh well you're out of luck until next year - but if you couldn't afford to buy the figures anymore, this would really help you out.
2) Require everyone to buy all the figures in advance: Just like magazine subscriptions, you put up a bunch of money in the beginning and then you get the reward sprinkled out throughout the year. This way, if you've got the money then you can buy the figures. Then if your situation changes, you're not out any extra money because you've already spent it. Also, this would help people new to these subscriptions (like I was) to better understand how much this would cost overall.
Basically, the point of this article was to warn people who aren't as familiar with these subscriptions like I was to be careful. Make sure you fully understand what you are committing to before you sign up for them. Honestly, its probably easier to just buy the figures you want individually from Mattel's website. If you really HAVE to have that Club Exclusive figure - go get it on Ebay. It's probably cheaper than buying all the other figures you won't want.
Having said all of that....when I heard the first figure for 2013 was the Blue Lantern Saint Walker, my first thought was "Ooooo I would actually want that...."