If a company is lucky, they score a hit every now and then with one of their products. And if they are really lucky, that product ties in with an even bigger success from another company's product.
So it is this summer with Mattel and their line of die-cast cars from the movie of the same name. Based on the characters found along the way to and from Radiator Springs, these toys have quickly become a favorite of fans, collectors and kids alike.
The curious thing, however, is that once again it appears that either the manufacturer
or the retailers simply under-estimated the appeal of these products. You have to wonder what market focus groups they missed out showing these products to, as it seems they just won't stay in stock anywhere.Talk about a retailer's dream, if only they could have been ready for the demand…
Since those first trips to the stores in late May and early June, I continue to be amazed every time I visit the bigger stores such as Walmart, ToysRUs and Target, in search of more cars. It seems that all I manage to find is empty racks where once products hung for sale. And perhaps the most amazing thing is that every time new product goes up on those racks, it manages to go home with shoppers.
You might remember how I shared my own tale of acquiring a good collection of them a while back. Since then, there has been a great sharing of information among other collectors using the Jim Hill Media site as a springboard for information about these products. Over 450 comments at last count and still going! And it even led to the establishment of an EZBoard discussion group and a Yahoo Discussion group where even more information is available to folks.
During my visit to Disneyland for the Pirates premiere event in June, I did my own checking around the resort for Cars merchandise. Two things were conspicuously absent. The first was cloisonné pins with the Cars characters, and the second was these Mattel die-cast cars. It seemed that they had just sold so well that none were to be found.
"Cars" pins, including a logo pin, Lightning McQueen,Mater, Doc, Sally and RamonePhoto by Roger Colton
As far as pins? I did eventually manage to find a few of the open stock of characters from the film; but not a complete set of those released (or shown above) by any means. And the die-cast Cars? Would you believe only one place in all of the Disneyland resort had any of them in stock? Perhaps fitting with California being the home of the car culture, I found them in a small quantity at California Adventure's Enginears Toy Shop. And small was definitely the word. Maybe less than ten individual packs all total, of which I purchased three.
Perhaps a more curious note was the price. Even Disney Shopping has joined the retailers in selling these products. Sarge, one of the harder characters to find in stores in some markets, has been for sale here off and on over the last few weeks. Interesting to note, both online and at Enginears Toys, these were marked at $5.95 each – with the suggested retail price being $4.99 each.
A check of eBay has interesting moments in store for collectors as well. One seller even has gone so far as to offer unopened cases of product and has no shortage of bidders wanting to take advantage of that opportunity.
And it's not just the Cars! The accessories don't stay on the shelves either. The playsets seem to disappear almost as fast.
So? Where does the product line stand now? Well, thanks to the folks from the EzBoard group, here is a list of what has been released so far, along with a sneak peek at some of the 2007 line coming along in September.
According to a public relations contact for Mattel, this image appears to be from a sell sheet for some of those 2007 products:
However, official photos of the 2007 product line have yet to be released, so who knows what more may be in store?
That's not to say that we don't have some new products to tide us over until September. A quartet of new Cars was released in mid June and were quickly snatched up by the public. They included:
Nitroade and Leakless, two of the Piston Cup racersPhoto by Roger Colton
A metal flake green RamonePhoto by Roger Colton
The fantasy blue, Dinoco Lightning McQueenCan a Dinoco Chick Hicks be far behind?Photo by Roger Colton
It's interesting to note that these are all repaints of previously released cars. Nitroade is a repaint of Lightning McQueen and Leakless is a repaint of Chick Hicks. And note that three of the upcoming cars are repaints as well. Not that this is a bad thing, as it may open the door for other cars (such as the Apple car #84) to join the product line soon. I hope to be able to share more of what we can expect from Mattel in the coming weeks.
One thing is for certain. As popular as these "Cars" have proven for retailers and fans of all ages, we certainly have not see the last of this product line. Come the holiday shopping season, they could be another big hit, if only retailers can keep them in stock. And it wouldn't hurt if the public stops by the Mattel Consumer Relations website and keeps asking for more "Cars", too … Demand drives supply, or so we're told.