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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS 2: Action Agents – Post Mortum

Surprise, there are no new Action Agent listings and Target has begun the first phase of mark downs.

These are pretty much the wholesale costs of the 2-packs and the singles so Target is hoping some large white & yellow signs will entice you so they quasi break even … not counting the retail space cost from them sitting there for about 300 days.

Well, what’s wrong with Action Agents, why didn’t they sell?

How much time do you have? 🙂

Well, if there are about 4 things you need to do right in creating a toy flanker brand, they pretty much missed on all 4.

1) There’s nothing inherently wrong in trying to create a flanker line from/with the mainline – but unless it’s RADICALLY different, you cannot launch the flanker line at the same time or nearly the same time. MicroDrifters or Squinkies, okay, that’s radically different but a stylized slightly smaller line … unless it’s super cheap or super expensive (made of all steel and details so detailed it would make a grown man weep), THEN you have a flanker line. Otherwise, you simply annoy buyers who wonder why you are not releasing the mainline diecasts …

2) The MINI ADVENTURES from CARS 1 were a quasi success – not a rip roaring success out of the gate* but still a nice revenue addition when you add in playsets. So, while the MINI ADVENTURES were never officially canceled, they are in fact de facto canceled. So, you could bring them back for CARS 2 … they are cheap to make (nearly all plastic except for metal screws) and sell for not much less than real metal diecasts so why not? Nice margins. Well, one killer decision for putting Action Agents with one huge strike to begin their sales-life with was to make them a DIFFERENT SCALE-SIZE than the mini adventures. So, you pretty much eliminate any residual collectors of them from CARS 1 who might grumble but realize their collection is not complete complete … so if nothing else, you have a base foundation audience instead of starting 100% from scratch. OR if you decide to really abandon the MINI ADVENTURES, then you go super detailed or something to give people an excuse to consider them. Instead, the decision was to make them wider and more stylized – neither options people were clamoring for.

3) *One main factor for the slow sales of CARS 1 MINI ADVENTURES were that the first wave were the duller townies and they shipped the daylights out of the first wave. So, of course, they repeat this pattern for CARS 2 Action Agents. Finn. Check. Francesco. Check. Mater. Check. Mater variant. Check. Lightning. Check. Lightning smiling. Check … Oh and let’s ship 5 cartons of CASE A to EVERY store.

Hey, how come CASE B with Finn, Lightning, Francesco and Mater were light in sales? So, how many CASE C’s do you want? What do you mean by NONE?

The MINI ADVENTURES survived to get the tuners, some racers, haulers, etc … and of course, as the rest of the MINI Piston Cup racers were coming, the line was deleted.

Action Agents didn’t get the luxury of reset since it bombed out the gate.

4) MINI ADVENTURES were not necessarily cheap but the economy was going great, they filled in nicely as a flanker line because as the mainline was going great guns, everyone was pretty much happy during the Golden Age of CARS so it was fun to collect a second line during the few weeks between diecast mainline shipments. In a weird way, a flanker brand is the customer saying ‘bravo’ on the mainline and we’ll “tip” you a little extra by also collecting this second line. And of course, once we got past the initial poor waves of the repaint townies, we started to get some pretty cool releases – 4×4 Chick, Tank Coat, camo Tractor (with rubber tires!), etc, etc …

Mattel simply figured whatever the amount of revenue of MINI ADVENTURES brought in should be doubled for Action Agents (since they’re now easily twice as smart. 🙂 ) plus add another 20% for inflation so you have two plastic Action Agents for $14.99 and a single for $5.99. Okay, you got a plastic mini launcher device added-included but hardly worth the DOUBLING of the price of a MINI ADVENTURES. It would’ve have even tough to ask people to pay essentially $7.50 for a MINI ADVENTURE with a plastic launcher doohickie if the economy was going great but now in the time of worldwide recession/austerity and tough times (er, this is not a political statement and no endorsement or blame should be inferred, I am merely stating facts), it’s another huge strike against it. Bottom line, they are priced too high for plastic CARS.

Obviously the launch and release of CARS 2 mainline diecasts did not cause many collectors to clasp Mattel and Action Agents to their bosoms as a thank you … or maybe I missed that party.

Even at $8.76 for 2 or $4.99 for one at clearance prices, it still costs MORE than buying larger metal diecasts of the same characters AND they are less detailed!

That math simply does not add up.

So, in summary, they randomly believed we would buy anything and everything. They saw that MINI ADVENTURES were a success so they figured they would double the shipments and double the price to make double the profits. Instead, people didn’t buy precisely because they were NOT MINI ADVENTURES. Why buy a DIFFERENT LINE that was plastic and high priced? Why reward the brand for also not delivering the second Golden Age of CARS 2?

This actually created a problem they never anticipated. By clotting up the shelves for nearly a year, it also served to totally p*** off retailers. Hence the 90-day gap between shipments recently. The problem is that when you tick off Walmart and Target, they simply refuse to order any/all related product … the problem is then you can’t ship anything to anyone else (TRU, Kmart, online sellers, etc …) because the second words out of WM & Target’s lips are – has anyone else received these already? And if there is too big of a gap – like 3 weeks, then WM or Target simply will say – we don’t want an old case, send us the newest case – leaving Mattel with X thousands of a particular case so they cannot simply ship until they can convince WM or Target to take some or eventually give up.

So, now the next question is whether Target or WM is actually clearing these out for CARS TAKE FLIGHT or MicroDrifters? Will the two big retailers continue to support new CARS/CARS 2 product … Target probably but WM? Already replacing toys with sodas & chips in the toy aisle … will they throw their big bear weight around? I guess it’s wait and see …

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  • jestrjef says:

    Hopefully they will clear these out to make room for the new Take Flight line … they will sell MUCH MUCH BETTER than the (cough cough) DOA-AA line lol

  • Fillmore1234 says:

    The only time I was tempted to buy an AA was when I saw my first Security Finn AA last week at a Wal-Mart in Wentzville, MO. It was even then still an easy pass. They are an absolute waste of shelf space in my opinion.

    • DDD says:

      I had the same thing happen to me. Carried Security Finn around the store before returning him to the peg. The first one I’ve bought is Rod, who I bought today at a closing Kmart for $4. (I did get the battleship, which I liked and thought was a good match to the character design.)

  • babychristiancars says:

    if they clearance at my walmart I’ll buy but at 8.99 or higher way more expensive than the mini adventures.

    Except for the holiday mini adventures they were 4.99-5.99 retail for 2 adorable cars.

  • John says:

    We have all the released Action Agents except Mack. With so much time we’ve spent in the stores searching for die casts, we would buy AA just to get something, but we’ve never had to pay even as much as Target’s clearance prices.

    The kids like them, they don’t mind the distorted proportions and more than anything they love to have Cars they can crash since Dad makes them take good care of their die casts.

    They also love the Quick Changers for much the same reasons and I prefer them since the scale matches the die casts. I think we will see the release of the QC shown on the Australian site before Mattel decides whether to cancel that line too.

  • BMW says:

    I bought the action agents Battle Station/with Finn on sale, my only AA purchase.
    The voice is exactly as in the movie, “What are you doing here.” as he talks to Crabby Boat (DS version) Alarm bells going off.
    Its the coolest piece in this line. I do want the Rod Torque Redline AA,

  • bd says:




  • cac1959 says:

    I bought a few of the Action Agents back when they were 50% off at Meijer and Kmart a few months ago… only because there were no new Cars diecasts to buy.

    It’s more than a cliche – those who do not learn from their mistakes are destined to repeat them.

    If Mattel were to re-release the Mini Adventures line and include the Piston Cup racers and the Piston Cup Haulers and the price was right, there’s no doubt in my mind that they would sell… If Mattel were to release the rest of the Haulers and team crew sets and the price was right, they would sell.

    I suspect the Quick Changers and Charge Ups lines will be discontinued next…

  • John in Missouri says:

    I honestly believe that my Walmart has NEVER sold a single one of these things.

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