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Character Options Action Figures

More than likely, you'll want to skim here, then get to the second reply, below, for the last word on this for now. -Michael, 9 August2020

As we go into the weekend celebrating our 44th Anniversary on Saturday and entering our 45th year on Sunday....

Finally! Finally, we had contact today from the licensed representatives for Character Options Doctor Who toys and action figures for the USA market.

We're at the point already of having something in our hands, and we're working through the details of pricing. And, they've already stated they don't do exclusives.

So, if you've waited for us to find a way to carry these again, please keep waiting just a little longer. We're hoping for communication next week to allow us to nail down the facts and the pricing, and to resume carrying the Character Options products here for all releases just as when we started carrying their lines in late 2006, and just as we began carrying Doctor Who merchandise in 1979.

But, with a new USA source, we need to sweat the details and enter a relationship so that all sides think we're on good footing...to let us continue this long into the future.

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo (& Patty Cryan)
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
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Doctor Who Action Figures

A brief note to mention we have confirmation Seven20, aka Underground Toys, is no longer handling the license for Doctor Who action figures. This reply comes direct from a source within their company.

We were led to understand from two different sources within Character Group we would be contacted when US distribution of their lines resumed, and we are aware of offerings elsewhere, but the expected communication hasn't happened so far. To that end, we have left notes in the last few weeks with those two contacts, as we had also left notes earlier in 2020, and we are reaching out actively to find a licensed distribution channel to satisfy our need for supplies, anticipating customer demand.

There is some notion the initial releases are exclusives, especially with involvement of Amazon (as quoted on a Doctor Who merchandise site), or shared exclusives between Amazon and one or two other sources. Even "exclusives" in these lines have really only had "exclusive windows," and later are made generally available into any territory where distribution happened. Time will tell, and we're going to work to find out more.

What we will say is we usually can obtain product and pass along lower total price, unless a license holder decides to act with exclusives to drive up consumer prices. But, it's a matter of time to re-establish a supply chain, especially one that seemed artificially dampened for so long. We are hoping we'll hear soon from Character Group about the licensed distribution channel to the US market, and expect to resume offering their lines when a new relationship with a reputable supplier is available. You'll see those listings on our Doctor Who Toys pages.

In the meantime, it doesn't hurt at all to mention elsewhere your hope Character Group will correct the oversite and contact us soon about sourcing these figures. With the current economic situation, it's also fair to understand there are fewer people doing more work, and sometimes it's the squeaky wheel that gets oiled first. If we can expedite re-establishing a distribution network, then we can re-establish sales to our customers sooner. And that's the goal!

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo (& Patty Cryan)
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
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Web Site Updates

From the very start, back in the 1990's, we knew we were creating a web site that screamed "update me" and "make me modern"...while very much needing to stay simple, tethered to what seemed to many to be too primitive to be practical. A large part of this is knowing our clientele well, knowing they haven't the money to go buy a new computer every time there's a new browser version, hearing (as we still here frequently today) thanks for keeping our site mostly a group of lists. By not having to load in bells, whistles, graphics, and all sorts of things others insist upon, we've stayed inclusive of everyone. That's important to us, and always has been. And, as a practical matter, it's really silly to exclude some of one's customers...what kind of business thinks that's smart?

But, as technology has marched on, the balance of what any machine hooked up and viewing the internet can do has shifted. Change is the only real status quo, and smart business also understands these things. If you're here and reading this, your machine, by definition, MUST do more than a 1998 or 2005 computer could do. Your browser will handle more. You very probably have more RAM and a faster CPU. (Yes, I worked with companies that made computer chips, and was very much a part of that creation, so as an electrical engineer, I've never been blind to technological progress.)

So, having watched time march on, we're going to start today the gradual process of adding some pictures to some audio listings on our web site, on the very pages showing the lists of items. For the moment, we're using a lot of what we've had in our files since the first picture for The Sirens Of Time came to us from Big Finish. We are already aware not everything lines up perfectly, but we're committed first to try to get things on the page, then to see what's involved in polishing it up.

Our thanks, certainly, to Big Finish Productions, for resuming availability of picture files, letting us start with a quality image.

We're looking still to re-size things so loading isn't a huge issue. 265 releases and counting, that could mean over 300Mb of size for the pictures, just for that page containing the main Doctor Who audio series, and that still will tax some machines for customers we know about. So, part of our slowness in reviewing this is trying to be considerate of loading times.

If you find a loading issue, please tell us!! The sooner we know, the sooner we can correct things or try some other things out. If you can't view the revised pages, they're worthless! For all we're trying to add here, this is about you, the customer.

But, if we do this right, you should still be able to view the page with relatively good speed, still do a text search that many of you have told us is so very important, and the in-page picture references should be an added help to making sure you're making the right purchase choices.

Please do understand, we're carrying more titles actually in stock in the physical audios range than anyone else in retail. Coding here is still done by hand, without someone special hired to be a webmaster. We've written and developed our site, and we've also been the ones to do the ordering, balance inventory to keep items in stock in healthy quantities after others sell through, take your orders by phone and e-mail, pack the boxes, and even say hello to postal carriers as they daily take your parcels around the globe. So, if this is not an instant upgrade, it also isn't forgotten, and it will be done with the same care as we aim for in all we do, now coming up on our 44th anniversary in business, and our 41st full year carrying Doctor Who merchandise.

Again, we know already there are things we need to correct later. Images already don't line up perfectly, one to the next. For now. First things first.

As for e-commerce, we're still not going there soon. Security of customer information is simply too important, and we're very well aware of some persistent people looking to our site to provide them information they should never get from us. Aware as we are of other specialty retail sites being abused in the past, regardless of our interests, it's not in your interests for us to take chances with security. For every security enhancement, there's eventually always a hack. The amount of customer info compromised from our web site is zero. We're intent on keeping it that way. And we have enough technical expertise to understand if a truly bulletproof e-commerce option at an affordable price comes along. So far, nothing is even close, in spite of what may be believed.

Yes, we're still here. Yes, we're still taking care of business and helping customers and providing value and quality. Yes, the web site is still updated often, reviewed daily, and the primitive look and feel will still probably remain a while longer. But, as we review a chunk of what we've listed, with pics from The Source available again, and with the progress of technology that is the internet, it's time to tweak things a bit. And, we decided it was better to let you know that's started than to have you wondering what might be going on.

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo (& Patty Cryan)
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
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Change, m'dear!

Well, change happens.

Roads where we live, roads where we keep these offices and warehouse, the parking lot for the storefront of our other business (see anniesbooksworcester.com) and soon (we're told) its facade, and a major thoroughfare (Route 9) that goes length-wise across the whole state of Massachusetts, are all undergoing major repairs and, we have to hope, upgrades. Some of these roads, we've heard, haven't been so much as repaved since at least 1953, perhaps earlier, and the need to have this work done was rather pressing and important...and it had to happen sometime.

What that sometimes will mean is roads and lots are literally impassible to traffic, and anything near it will be shunted quite far out of its way.

In the long run...perhaps very soon...this will give us much-needed enhancement to our area. With the Boston Red Sox AAA farm team moving just a couple of miles down the road to a new stadium (currently under construction) in just a few years, this is entirely timely.

For now, there are days where we're literally stopped in a jumble of cars for thirty minutes while people directing traffic make it safe to go forward again...or go backward. Things take our busy days and may make us slower to respond.

But, as you know, if you're already our customer, we do respond and with complete answers for you. For now, we hope you'll understand if we're kept out of the office for extended amounts of time, simply where the road surfaces for the next three weeks or so (we hope it's limited to that!) undergo the transformation they need!

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
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Figures

'Tis again the season....

We're hearing there's a new 13th Doctor figure available.

We are actually aware the US distributor expects to receive such things at some point in time.

We've been given some reason to expect we will actually be receiving those figures on release, though there's nothing in writing, and, with this line of products, we continue to tell people nothing is definite until it's in our hands. (But, we're still taking Advance Orders, and any enhanced pricing discounts will go to those who get us advance orders before the figures arrive here.)

We're expecting to hear something soon. Please keep an eye on our web site, as we'll give an update there if we're aware of new items becoming available.

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
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Gremlins!

A relatively short note here to let people be aware, if you've tried us by one of our e-mail addresses in the past 44 hours or so, an apparent hacking attempt had security at our Provider for that address shut access temporarily, after 5+ failed login attempts.

So, you may have received a bounceback.

That e-mail address is expected to be back in service and available within the hour, so, after 4:20PM Eastern Time today, please feel free to re-send.

Or, better still, try the e-mail attached to our web domain, mikescomics@mikescomics.com, which doesn't appear to have any issues, and shouldn't.

We didn't go away. But, one explanation is that some special someone, needing to give special treatment nobody else wanted, tried to hack our e-mail account. (Or, the Provider's password server went down, so nothing could match a password that, for their purposes, didn't exist...and they created the issue.) Whatever it is, we're still here, as we expect to be for a long time to come.

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
(508)756-9836
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Phones & Other Stuff

Have you ever had someone tell you "You should...."? In the spirit in which that is always meant, you want to be understanding and appreciative. At the same time, after doing things for a while, you would sometimes wish the question asked instead might be "Why don't you...?"

Sometimes, there are very good reasons, and because the phone situation has long been a prickly one, this blog seems a decent place to explain a little, for those who are listening.

"You should use a cell phone." Well, we have land lines here, even if we have remotes we can carry to and from three floors of warehouse space. Why does this matter? Well, not all cell phones, and not all cells, are created equal. We often get calls where we are met with silence on the other end. We have also heard callers mad at us when we've essentially hung up on them after hearing nothing for a couple of minutes. Why do we hear nothing? Well, if you call from a cell phone within a bad cell, we mightn't hear you! But, I also hear we're blamed a lot for this issue in customer service...and I'm sure others are, too. Part of the 21st Century, I suppose. But, please be fair, we're open more hours than our specialist competitors, and we answer our phones as best as we can.

"You should answer your phones instead of sending me to an answering machine." Well, we try. But, we each only have so many hands. And, speaking as one individual to any other individual out there, when you call here and reach me, I give you my attention. I'll also give you, if needed, something I've never heard our competitors give...a LOT of time. Yes, I've had customer calls last five or six HOURS. Those of you who have spent 60-400 minutes on a call just with me, never mind Patty or our staffers, know this is true. It's not always cost-effective, either. But, it's how good business is done. Not every call needs to run hours. With the dearth of action figures and the recent gimmicks from other product producers, we haven't had as much of a need for that lately. But, if I'm on the phone with you, whether the call lasts a minute or a hundred minutes, I can't pick up another line and give another customer 100% attention. So, I stay on the line with one person at a time. Sometimes, that means you need to leave a message. Please do. Calling back 30 seconds later while I'm still on the phone with another customer isn't going to stop me giving that customer all my attention. Or, when I reach you, an incoming call typically won't stop me talking only to you. (Yes, there are rare exceptions for scheduled meetings and the like, but that hasn't yet happened a handful of times in 41+ years of business, and I think we're on safe ground in claiming it's not the way we usually do business.)

"You should filter out spam calls." How? I'd love to! But, seriously, spam callers now account for more than half the calls we receive! If you're a bot or a message and not a human, it's a pretty fair bet you're being hung up on AND REPORTED TO AUTHORITIES. If you're a service making calls for someone and have nothing to contribute to our daily business, same deal...leave us alone and let us deal with customers who deserve our attention. Still, all this wastes time. It costs money because it wastes time. We're not going to thank you, and we're not going to buy from you, if you call here when you shouldn't. That's not to say we don't want legitimate and useful products being offered to us. We're nothing without products to sell to our customers. But, we're not a restaurant, so if you call us offering vegetable oil, expect we don't need it, and will terminate discussion with extreme prejudice. But, we now waste a ton of time daily with entitled, special people who are determined to sell us something we will never, ever buy or use.

"You should take payment on-line." Well, seeing how often attempts are made to hack our site, quietly and not-so-quietly, no, we shouldn't. We take payment info as we state on our web site, and we do take credit cards. We're different. We've NEVER had an issue with stolen credit card info as a result of our methods. It's a reason to trust us over those who don't get it, and have often exposed a lot of customers to a bad situation at what is never a good time for that to happen. Credit cards, checks, money orders, and in person we'll take cash. We've also now got a sister store (anniesbooksworcester.com) we highly recommend, and can have local customers come in and pick up their purchases, too! The other side of this, as I've said in this blog oftentimes in the past, is doing business the way we do allows us to put our hands on an item before running a payment. Unlike others, almost all others, we won't try to collect payment without something actually to sell you. Profound, huh? We're often faster than others, too. Just not the same. Our willingness to consider customers first and be a little different is a reason you should buy from us.

"You should have call waiting." Why? When I'm on the line with a customer, that customer deserves ALL my attention. When you call me, don't you enjoy that I don't have to put you on Hold?

"You should use the latest and greatest..." well, whatever it's the latest and greatest of, we charge less, we get to know our customers as people, we do a lot right, we take time to advocate both for our needs and the needs of our customers with our suppliers, and we think we have a lot right. Why change something not broken when others are broken and struggling as a result?

We do still invite comments and questions. Always! However, there are some things we've thought through a bit. We love discussion. So, if you have an idea or a comment for us, please don't hesitate to let us hear it...but, do understand if we might want to discuss it a bit to understand it well, or to give you an idea of why it may not work the same for us as for other businesses. After all, a lot of technological advance (like an inventory control system built into a web site to sell on line) removes control and responsibility from people...people who really NEED to know what they're doing before your money is paid. So, rather than take money for things we don't have, then have to go "oops, shouldn't have touched your money and your credit card, we don't have this in stock," we, instead, put our hands on items, and tell you in person (or on the phone or in e-mail) we do, indeed, have the item to sell. It's one aspect of real customer service. From real people. Gosh, who'd have thought you could deal with real people still in the Internet Age?

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
  • Current Mood
    determined determined
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Technical Difficulties

I'm going to leave the bit about phones for another post I'm about to make.

But, we'd had some web site issues, which stemmed, we feel certain, from an update from the company that made our computer package. When you re-install Windows, software loaded on your machine is wiped. Sometimes, it's not as easy to put back on the second time as it was the first, especially when other things are differently-abled than in the past.

Still, much is fixed, and we're hoping to get back on track with daily updates as needed on the site. There's a lot of development we also need to get working on again...with deliberate speed.

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
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5" Figures - Nothing

Sort of a non-update.

With news of the 13th Doctor, you should assume we've been asking about new 5" figures. So far, there is no word.

And, there's no real word on much of anything from the former Underground Toys regarding this line for the US market. One wonders if they're actually handling it from here....

We've no outside information on this right now, either. As many are asking, it seemed best to add it here.

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com
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5" Figures Delayed

We received word late yesterday, and got confirmation today, there are factory issues involving the production of the 5" (5.5") scale Doctor Who figures originally estimated to get January and February release this year, the Doctor Who playset, and any other figures that might have been scheduled for US release. The entire schedule, for now, is canceled.

What little we hear is to expect some update in the Second Quarter of 2017 regarding this line.

For now, that's all that's been said that we've been told from official sources.

As always, thank you for your support.

Michael Salvo & Patty Cryan
Mike's Comics
http://www.mikescomics.com