With this year making 14 years of going to San Diego Comic Con, I like to consider myself a veteran of this particular convention. Furthermore, I like to consider myself a veteran of the exhibit floor, as this is where I spend most of my time. I know what to hit up, when to do it, what to avoid, and what to look for. In past survival guides I have always said, if you’re not a major collector avoid the Hasbro and Mattel booths- they’re a mad house.
In the past few years I’ve had luck with getting into the Hasbro booth, and some sheer dumb luck with Mattel- enough luck, and enough experience, that I like to attempt these booths every year but it isn’t a make or break experience for me…..generally, speaking.
Let me make this perfectly clear: I am a personal collector. Meaning, I do not buy multiples of the same item so I can sell them on eBay. This year, I wasn’t a big fan of anything Hasbro had to offer and I don’t scalper any exclusives I buy at Comic Con; so I passed on Hasbro. However, Mattel had a lovely Happily Ever After High Doll I was obsessing over (I have a thing for Red Riding Hood themed stuff), and I REALLY wanted it.
So, naturally, every morning I’d get up pretty early and get in line for the exhibit hall to open. By the time I would reach the floor and Mattel’s booth, the line would either be capped, or my doll sold out for the day.
As a veteran Comic Con attendee, I know you can’t make EVERYONE happy at this convention. Some people have all the luck, and some don’t; but let me tell you a few BULLSHIT things that Mattel likes to do to make your experience from purchasing with them a living hell.
I understand that the line has to be capped because of safety issues; but the way you have to get INTO the line for Mattel is one of the dumbest things I’ve seen.
The folks who handle the line at Mattel are in favor for something called a “random picking.” They resort to this when convention goers rush the line once they see it moving. Basically, they line will look full and be capped the entire time, because the Mattel line pickers are randomly choosing people from the crowd to enter the line. You have to make circles around the booth for quite some time till the line pickers notice you and say, “Hey, you! Yeah, you! Get in line.”
This is a good and bad thing. Good, because its suppose to help filter the traffic coming into the line. People who REALLY want to get something from Mattel will continue to show up. Bad, because you don’t know WHO the line picker is out of the entire staff managing the line (and they won’t let you know who it is). You can be making eye contact with the wrong person who does not have the ability to put you in the line. Bad also, because god knows how long it will take the line picker to notice you. It took me over 40 minutes of walking around in circles for the line picker to call us out.
And though the random picking is a hair pulling process, I know why they do it, and most of my frustration is not directed at the people who monitor the line- they really are trying their best and working with the space that they have.
My frustration is directly at Mattel for their poor distribution of their products. Sunday, the last day, I managed to get into line really early (about 9:40am) and cleared the random selection; unfortunately, by the time I got in line my exclusive was sold out for good. How can Mattel make this better, and make a few more people happier?
First, let’s take some lessons from other exhibitors and sellers at Comic Con. I understand why Mattel handles the line the way they do, but that does not mean how they are handling it is the most efficient. Look at Hasbro, you get in line (up in the Sails Pavilion) to get tickets for a return time of purchase; one ticket per person in line. This helps eliminates traffic jams happening on the sales floor and you can be done away with the random picking; it also helps with line saturation- only the people who should be there, are there.
But I think the most aggravating part about Mattel is their distribution of their exclusives. Sure, they try to filter in the correct people to buy their products, but it sure as hell does not help personal collectors- people who just want one thing for themselves or a family member- get their desired items. Mattel has an idiotically high limit of how many of a certain item a person can purchase. Ive never hit that limit myself, mainly because I only buy one or two things, but I think the limit per item at Mattel is 6.
Do you know how frustrating it is to watch a 40 something year old male walk away with 6 Happily Ever After Dolls? I totally get he may have a lot of daughters at home- but I seriously doubt that’s the case a majority of the time. Mattel KNOWS when someone asks for six of something that that product is selling for triple on ebay in the next hour.
How should Mattel fix the problem? Easy. Again, they can learn from their counterpart, Hasbro. Your limit shouldn’t be some high number, keep it at two. You can only buy two of the same item- and NOT every day, only ONCE. Hasbro has gotten into this great habit of checking IDs with name badges, and marking the BACK of attendee badges as an inventory checker. So it doesn’t matter if you have a return ticket/buy ticket for each day of the convention, if your badge already says you bought two of everything, you cant buy anymore.
Unlike Mattel. If you manage to get in line every day, and buy the max cap of an item each day….So, let’s see that’s four days of Comic Con times the item cap of 6 (4×6)- a scalper can walk away with a count of 24 of the SAME EXCLUSIVE. Yet, myself or other personal collectors, can’t score just a SINGLE exclusive?
Another awesome work around resellers, is to not only limit how many they can buy, but WHEN they can buy. Hasbro does not allow exhibitors to purchase from their booth until later hours of the day. Other exhibitors, Disney with their Big Hero 6 booth this year, would not allow exhibitors to buy their exclusive Bayamax figure until late in the day SUNDAY; ensuring personal collectors had a better chance of buying the exclusive at retailer price and not a scalper price.
This helps make sure more people get what they want- more personal collectors, and less scalpers and resellers.
Long story short? Mattel really needs to get their heads out of their asses when it comes to distribution of their products. They’re catering to scalpers- not to their fan base and personal collectors.
By: Stephany Brown/Scarlette
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