June 6, 2008
What Happened to Quality Control?

Eventually we’ll get off this toy kick and get back to slightly more diversified content (more old video game reviews are in the works, not to mention multiple food pieces that have been on the back burner for quite sometime), but for now it continues. This latest article isn’t a review, though — as you’ll see, What Happened to Quality Control? is more of a rant slash observation slash nostalgia piece in the vein of some of our older articles. And like many of those, it began as a Wesoteric blog entry before I decided to add a few images and give it to Scary-Crayon. 🙂

Other notes regarding today’s piece? I’ve been wanting to write about Spider-Man’s extended outdoor adventure for quite some time, so I particularly appreciated the opportunity to work it into this feature. (Heck, I’m even tempted to write a short story about the things he might have seen and done during his six-month stint in the gutter. Hmmm…) And I’m totally serious about Treasure Island Sports, Inc. — the customer service rocks. Well, at least if you contact them by e-mail. I didn’t have much luck calling the phone number (if I can, I tend to call online stores first rather than e-mail them when I have complaints and/or problems, if only because it assures me that someone was made aware of the issue), but when that didn’t work out I went ahead and sent an e-mail. Not only did I receive a response within an hour, but they shipped me a replacement the very next day at no additional cost. Really fantastic, completely unexpected, and certainly enough to get me to recommend TISInc to anyone in the market for some toys. Check ’em out and tell ’em Scary-Crayon sent you! They won’t have any idea what you’re talking about, but still. 😉

Alrighty, that’s it for now — hopefully I’ll have the review of that Mai and Chun-Li 2-pack ready before too much longer. Until next time!

-posted by Wes | 9:47 pm | Comments (15)
  • video games reviews AND food articles?

    i’m stoked.

  • also, what are your feelings on the upcoming DC versus Mortal Kombat game?

  • Jester says:

    I hear ya Wes, I have bought 2 ML Icemen which both broke in the same place, and now I can’t find a reasonably priced replacement. I’ve been reduced to using a awful kit-bashed version I made with an pieces of a Captain American figure and an old Wolverine. It’s sad. That and the NECA TMNT that I’ve lauded in the past few weeks, are supposedly riddled with packaging mistakes. *shrugs* Who knows, maybe it’s just THE END OF THE WORLD!

  • Wow, this is quite a problem!

    I wasn’t aware of this problem myself because the only toys I’ve bought recently are dollar store Ninjas.

    For the record, aside from one of them having a broken foot, they were all in excellent condition, and those are just generic dollar-store toys!

    Anyway, here’s hoping you do review those Chun Li / Mai figures (because anything involving those fighting-game beauties is always a good thing. And, that you eventually did get that Sailor Moon DVD.

  • Wes says:

    Brian: I didn’t know about that game until you tipped me off to it just now, but I only have one word for it: ugh.

    The Marvel vs Capcom crossovers sort of made sense because, with Capcom making SF-like Marvel fighting games, the Marvel characters were arguably already part of the greater Capcom universe. And while there are enough parallels between the Mortal Kombat and DC universe to suggest that they exist in the same continuity (Outworld might as well be Apokolips, for example), the defining element of MK is pretty much incompatible with the values of the vast majority of DC universe superheroes.

    It’d be a pretty cool homebrew game — a la the crossovers I’ve reviewed in the past — but an official MK vs DC title sounds pretty lame to me. (Not to mention that they’re about a decade too late — I’m sure it would have been way cooler if they’d done this back when Marvel vs Capcom was all the rage.)

    Jester: With them releasing an official MK vs DC game, it freaking must be the end of the world! Still haven’t gotten one of those NECA Turtles, but you’ve just made me a little reluctant to do so. If a toy can break on me these days, there’s pretty much a 60% chance it will. 😐

    Tetsu: You and your dollar store ninjas! But yes, the Mai and Chun-Li 2-pack review is on the way — it’ll probably show up next week.

    And they did let me exchange the empty case for one that actually had a Sailor Moon DVD inside. I could tell that they were skeptical, but that all changed when I showed them the section and it turned out that many of the DVD cases there had been emptied! Apparently someone had made tiny slits in the plastic covering of many of the DVD cases and managed to slide the discs out. It was barely noticeable, and given that this was Family Dollar a little wear on the covering wouldn’t have been out of place anyway… so it pretty much went unnoticed until I had the misfortune of buying one of the empty cases. How many unsuspecting customers ended up with empty cases and just took the loss? Only the Shadow knows for sure.

  • RADIX says:

    Broken toys, eh? You aren’t the only one with this problem. A whiles back I received Jazwares Napalm Bomb Megaman and Quickman from eBay. Quick was fine, but when I was testing Megaman’s joints (something I instinctively do now, his right leg came off. Mercifully, I was able to pop it back on with ease, though now I’m still pretty careful with him.

    This was because the joints were simple enough to do so: they’re just balls that the limbs, which have appropriate depressions for (here’s to hoping I got my terminology right–probably didn’t), can fit over. If it snaps off, just snap it back on. Same thing happened to a small Racer X Movie Version I’d recently received, and I could pop it back on (and continue to move his arm around) no problem.

    Unfortunately, it seems not all manufacturers have caught on to the limited hassles of these types of joints. I can understand if more complicated joints that can’t just be popped back on are supposedly “better”, but what’s “better” about having to break out the screwdriver? Though, I have toys that don’t use those “easy” joints and are still fairly durable, so…I dunno what’s up with the manufacturers of those toys YOU got. Maybe they got broke during packaging and no one spoke up?

    Dunno if I should be complaining–I’m the kind of person who would be happy with a scuffed-up, half-broken toy found at a thrift store (provided I couldn’t find it anywhere else), so I guess I’m more lenient about these kinds of things.

    On the other hand, that review of Mai/Chun-Li does sound interesting. 🙂

  • Albert says:

    The only problem I’ve had with this in recent years is that a Spider-Man statue broke, leaving his feet on the stand, and the 2002 He-Man lost a leg.

  • Tresob Yr says:

    The main difference I’ve noticed between vintage action figures and today’s toys is the new softer plastics. I’ve heard that they are meant to be safer for kids since they don’t create sharp edges when they break…although I can’t imagine having toys that disassemble so easily is such a hot idea either.
    I mainly collect Star Wars and G.I. Joe, and those lines are having an awful time with kids losing their figure’s wrists and feet , not to mention any kind of accessory like Boba Fett’s range finder.
    And paint jobs are pretty much a joke anymore, especially on the small facial details like eyes. On the other hand, if you’ve ever tried to actually paint eyes on a figure, you develop a whole new appreciation for what those Chinese slave laborers do.

    Speaking of SW and fighting game crossovers, don’t forget the Star Wars Edition Soul Calibur IV featuring Vader and Yoda…

  • Wes says:

    RADIX: I like true ball joints too, but they just don’t look all that great on a lot of figures due to the more apparent gaps that they create around the limbs. And where these gaps are covered, the movement tends to be limited — thus hindering the range of the joints. They work great for robot characters (and have been used to excellent effect in Transformers figures), but they can detract from the look of organics quite a bit.

    That said, both Mai and Chun-Li in the upcoming review use ball joints to pretty decent effect (and the gaps are covered up by their outfits), though their range of movement isn’t quite as good as the swivel-hinge-type ball joints employed on many figures these days. Of course, more on that later. 🙂

    And it’s one thing to be happy with an unexpected, rare, and inexpensive find even if it’s broken (I was pretty happy when I got a Dalung Master as a free “bonus” in an eBay auction, even though its tail was broken and its mouth was caked with dried toothpaste…), but it’s another thing entirely to have an expected figure for which one paid retail price to end up breaking fresh out of the package. Especially when it’s Chun-Li. Broken Chun-Li figures make the baby Jesus cry.

    Albert: Lucky you!

    Tresob: Ah, the point about softer plastics being less dangerous for the kiddies when broken makes sense… except a) as you note, making toys easier to break seems counterproductive and b) most of the problem toys I’ve encountered lately have been marketed towards adult collectors rather than the children. The thing about SW figures and easily lost smaller accessories surprises me, though, since Hasbro has been doing a great job of giving Transformers places to stow their weapons these days. The SW universe needs more belts and shoulder straps.

    And you mean to tell me that those poor workers paint all of the toys we get by hand?! Here I was thinking that they had some really complicated machinery for the task! Well.

    I thought the SW characters in Soul Calibur was kind of cool, actually, but since it was like a bonus thing rather than the entire premise for the game.

  • Tresob Yr says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention the fiasco with the first release of Movie 2007 Bumblebee. Apparently, if you tried to transform it by hand rather than pressing the “automorph” button, you permanently broke a spring guard that kept the hood of the car in place. In other words, Bumblebee could never be completely transformed into a car again.
    The only way to “fix” the figure once broken was to jam a tool in his innards and intentionally break the spring.

    As for accessories, I agree with you that they seem like easy choking hazards in themselves.

    According to Hasbro Q&A, they really think that the Galactic Heroes line is what the youngest kids are playing with, and those don’t have any accessories that aren’t molded onto them.

  • RADIX says:

    Wes: True. That reminds me, I have a figure of Fei Yen from Virtual-ON (Xebec Toys) whose feet broke off not long after removing her from the packaging. (To be fair, the box itself was damaged, presumably by a fall, but that was how we were able to get her for ten bucks rather than twenty.) My solution? Blue tack. Maybe one day I’ll have the damn things superglued back on, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was pretty pissed off when that happened.

  • Fauna says:

    Aye Wes, I know how that is. Looks lile everybody’s getting toy troubles these days.

    I just got a Revoltech figure of Rei Ayanami, the kind with the super-posable bodies. Her left arm snapped right the hell off, like a Crash-Test Dummy figure…it goes back on, but unlike her right arm, it always comes off. ALWAYS!
    And that time I got some Macross toys, and Minmei’s head popped off while getting her out of the box. Seeing her grinning, severed head staring back at me, I had mixed feelings.

    And WHOA, you crazy Americans can find Sailor Moon DVDs? At dollar stores?! The closest thing WE have is crud like “Space Thunder Kids”.

  • Rha says:

    Unfortunately, with the modern era of “superposeable” figures, more joints = more opportunity for breakage. back in the days of old school ninja turtles and toybiz marvel figs of the early 90s, we were only looking at five or six moving parts per figure and very little paint detail to go along with it. modern mass market action figures have grown to the expectation of specialty market statue-type paint and detail, and that just sort of lends itself to slop when you’re trying to put out quantities of these figs in the hundreds of thousands.

    i do think the big boys could do a lot more to tighten up their quality control. but for me, i’d far rather have to exchange a broken fig here and there than go back to unpainted plastic men with five points of articulation.

    the thing that concerns me most about lack of quality control isn’t paint slop or breakage, it’s loose joints and miss-matched pieces. if i get a marvel legends fig and his leg snaps off, i’m bummed but oh well. if i get a figure with two left feet or two of the same bicep piece then i’m really frustrated. because that is something that clearly should be picked up by QA. and if you have an entire run of a figure with floppy legs or shoulder joints, at what point do you halt manufacturing and try to fix the problem? The answer for most companies is never. heck, the big boys will even reuse flawed bodies from previous waves for future releases and not fix the outstanding issues.

    stupid toymakers!

  • Blue (aka Matto) says:

    YES! Finally, someone agrees with me on quality control in toys now-a-days! Toys these days absolutely disgust me since they are now so breakable. I stilll have an 80’s Donatello figure, and that thing is impossible to break.

    And more old video game reviews? Awesome! Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to start a video game article for you… if I ever get off my ass end and write the damn thing, I will e-mail you about it, Wes.

    Awesome article.

  • dohopoki says:

    That’s odd, my Slashes’ head broke off too, rather quickly after getting him. Mine just fell off a table, which shouldn’t have been that big a deal. Must have been his unique hunch. I didn’t bother finding a permanent way to keep it back on there, I just used to have Leonardo decapitate him a lot.

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