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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS: The UK/Scotland Report


From reader, jackdaddy2008 who has thoughtfully agreed to give us a report on CARS availability in the UK, specifically – Edinburgh, Scotland … If anyone else wants to report in from anywhere else on Earth, send it via email – make sure to include a couple photos …

SUBTITLED: So Who Really has all the Disney Diecast Cars in the UK?

On Thursday April 24th, I visited every retailer of Disney diecast Cars in Edinburgh to research their availability. For those of you who do not know, Edinburgh is the Capital city of Scotland and fourth largest UK city. It is very similar to London in regards to retail and has all the stores that most if not all towns and cities in the UK have. Chances are that you can buy more Disney diecast Cars in Edinburgh than you can in most American towns and small cities of similar size and demographic. Not as good choice or variety, but probably more units.
I visited –


(MET COMMENT: Humm, a slightly nicer building than the one we house our retail toys in …)

I must have looked at over 1000 die cast cars. Yellow Ramone, Green Ramone, Fred, Buzz & Woody, Sally and Dinoco McQueen are in abundance. Most stores had dozens of each. But not a lot else.

(John Lewis stores)

(MET COMMENT: UK Disney Store – the US Disney Stores do not carry this much stock of anything, let alone CARS … though now that the stores are coming back in the Disney fold, that might change however).
The much anticipated ‘new’ releases Anime Chuki and Lighting Ramone were not on any shelf. NOT ONE!

Ghost light Ramone, Pit Crew Fillmore, and Pit Crew Doc were not anywhere to be found either. Considering they have been out since February, this was quite surprising.
Only a few of the more recent releases (November) like RPM64, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mario Andretti etc. were available.

Sainsbury’s (probably the best retailer for Cars in Edinburgh) had all the pit row race launchers. Considering Octane Gain has never been released over here (Target is not in the UK),I found this surprising. Then I saw the price. £7.99 ($14) each! A movie moment is £5.99 ($12). Why are we being asked to pay this? I bought all of mine from the states for half that including insured shipping!

After looking at over 1000 die cast cars during all my visits, I only found 1 car that was worth buying. I bought a Mr. and Mrs King Movie moment that my son doesn’t have open. The same store also had the other 4 cars that would have been worth buying to sell. Rusteze movie moment and red Mia & Tia. I decided to let someone that needed them have them.

The Manager at Toys R Us revealed that they have 16 cases of new cars that are on a delivery pallet in the warehouse cellophane sealed! According to him, the rep from the seller (MATTEL?) has to give them clearance to open it. Basically they won’t until the other cars have sold! I half considered buying all their peg warming stock to flog at a loss on eBay just to get access to all their cases, but obviously I woke up and didn’t ask! It occurred to me that he was talking crap, and that most probably, the staff open all the cases and take the good ones. If we have to wait until they sell 32 yellow Ramones, then we should get those cases when the second movie comes out. That will be a nice bit of nostalgia!

I have watched staff meddle with cases before. It was in Jenner’s last year. An assistant was putting new cars out (Tex,Ferrari etc.) but pulled all the newer and rarer ones back and took them away? I wonder where?

When I was consulting a big retailer recently, all their staff used to get first choice on newer cars, and although not as blatant and dishonest as Jenner’s way, the cars would still be gone before the average consumer had a chance to get them.

So why do the staff open all the cases and take ‘the good ones’ before the consumer gets a chance to buy them. EBay obviously!

Recently, ALL of my Cars purchases have been on eBay. I have spent over $1000 this year alone. Shouldn’t that money have stayed in Britain? When I got home from my research I looked up eBay and found Chuki – dozens available from UK based sellers at a starting price of £5 ($10). Her buy it now prices was £10 $20) and there wasn’t a live auction with under a day left that hadn’t secured £7.50 ($15).

Maybe, there is a financial agreement involving eBay? They probably make more in listing fees than retailers do in sales/profit margins? And they don’thave a stock holding or delivery process.

I used to buy Cars to sell on eBay, but I have decided not to anymore. It’s just not morally right in my opinion, GROSSLY profiteering off someone else’s desperation for a child’s toy doesn’t help me sleep at night! If I was buying cases as a business, then yes I would, but going to the shops and clearing the shelves won’t happen anymore. I think it is lowlife stuff.

So why is it that the Cars are so scarce that we can only get them on eBay? Apparently if you look for them in America (go to one or 2 shops twice a week) you find new cars.

(MET: It varies from place to place)

The movie was a great success when released. Kids and adults loved it, and when it went to DVD it sold well, particularly as a Christmas gift. Merchandise sold well too.

At first, buying merchandise was great. The Golden age of Disney Cars collecting!
The Disney store had every die cast vehicle available and restocked weekly.Toys R Us were the same and most retailers with a decent toy selection did ok too. If you wanted to get a toy car, you went to the shop and bought it. Playsets, gift packs and race tracks were easily found.

Then something happened.

Like most consumers, MATTEL probably didn’t know how well die cast 1.55’s would sell, and released the 12 back cards, initial play sets and then 16-backed as test markets. If sales were good, (which they obviously were) then they would release more items and choice.

This is where I think they simply got it horribly wrong.

Supercharged was launched (remember how exciting it was when buzz & woody came out?!)………..THEN………Sarge was recalled……….Consumer demand went throughthe roof……………Mattel!……….. Staggered……hesitated……..slowed the market down!


Mattel will most probably say –
“……….. The credit crunch has affected sales and production……..”
“…..sales in the Fisher price division were down 13% percent….”
“……….it’s the retailers ordering systems fault….”
“……….the recalled Sarge affected consumer confidence and sales slipped…….”
“………..they cost too much to make…………..”

I have some answers to all these claims.

The credit crunch has mainly affected the housing markets, high pricedluxury good purchases and business start ups. Joe average is not going to stop buying $3 – $10 toys because of it and there is no evidence that they ever have or will. In fact, people feeling the pinch financially will probably spend more time at home, rather than go away for the weekend, eat out etc. What happens when people stay at home more? They find cheaper ways to entertain and amuse themselves, for little kids that’s usually with TOYS!

The 13% lost by Fisher Price somehow having any relevance to the way cars have been produced and sold is ridiculous. If Cars IS the new Star Wars, then Mattel should be enjoying record profits and not worrying too much about FisherPrice. How often do opportunities like Cars come along for a toy company to exploit?

If there is a problem with the retailers ordering systems, then they should be changed. If stores have 20 yellow Ramones and 15 Buzz and Woody’s lying around collecting dust and the retailer selling them refuses to order new Cars product until they sell, then the manufacturer or owner (whoever is the main marketer) should intervene and solve the problem!

The recalled Sarge did not ruin sales, if anything it put them up, because toy collector’s ears were pricked when it happened and they started collecting. The market probably grew. Sure, I accept that some people shied away due to the health risk, but how many and essentially, FOR HOW LONG?!

They cost too much to make? Well if that’s true, add a buck to the price and release more new ones that currently sell on eBay at twice and three times theprice.
MY THEORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Just look at this years release schedule! I count over 50 announced as being released in 2008 as still to be released, and its now May.

If the much criticised Motor Speedway of the south set is a tester, sneakpeak pre sale of single cars, that number is over 70, and with Christmas nearly looming (yes in retail it starts looming in July), MATTEL have set themselves a huge task getting these Cars out before then! I estimate that in order to meet demand and give themselves a good shot before Christmas, they will have to release 70 different packaging styles of Car in 6 – 7 months, which is 10 amonth!


The problem in my opinion is the way they are sending the cars.

The policy of 12 cars nobody wants or needs in a case with some that we do needs to stop.


There is no excuse for 32 yellow Ramones, 15 buzz and woody’s, 16 Sally’s and 13 Dinoco McQueen’s to be on the shelves with nothing else! Neither is it acceptable for my 4 year old son to only be able to get the newer toy car forhis collection at 300 times its rrp.

If the newer ones were more common, the eBay thing would cancel itself out (some cars struggle to get shelf value now).

Also, people feel ripped off, not just financially, but time wise. Parents think ‘what’s the point’. This should be fun not a job!

I would like to get a petition done; start right here on this forum!

Get as many signatures as you can for the revision of case shipping from MATTEL, so that we can all get the Cars we want at the right price, hopefully before we die.
Failing that, MATTEL should just deal direct with eBay.

Has that happened already without them realising?

(MET COMMENT: Not to shill our own book but several chapters in the book is devoted to the retail distribution situation we have had to put up with and our speculation 🙂 or 🙁 )

(MET COMMENT: So, thanks Mark – clearly passionate about CARS 🙂 …).

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