Monday, September 29, 2014

Quality Out of Control? A Bumpy Patch for IT

Yikes.  It has been a rough summer for Integrity Toys.  It seems to have started with the SDCC Rockin' Romance Jem arriving with some mold on her dress. On some dolls, it was minimal...others were pretty significantly covered.  People freaked.  I get it...these dolls are not cheap.  Lots of people have legit allergies and mold in any form or amount is not acceptable.  Mine arrived with a touch of the stuff and I just brushed it off and threw a silica pack in the box to be safe.  I considered myself lucky.  Then my club upgrade dolls arrived.  The Girl from INTEGRITY Poppy had more of the stuff on her.  Again, not a ton...and I just brushed it off.  However, when I undressed her, I also found some weird 'rusty' residue at her joints on her body.  I took a magic eraser to the marks and re-dressed her.  All is well.  Others had dolls with LOTS of mold in addition to linings stained by the rusty stuff, wonky glued eyelashes, missing hands etc.   Jem's Countess doll also had some of the rust but happily no mold.  Other collectors had dolls with uneven buttons, missing jewels, and once again, more mold.

 Now the FR Urban Safari dolls are arriving and the mold is back on many of the High Visibility Agnes dolls.  Happily mine is PERFECT!  Huzzah.  The corset top she came with has some fitting issues, but it is nothing that I cannot fix.  When pictures of HV Agnes and Elusive Creature Natalia started showing up with some strange joints or limbs coming apart...we got an email update explaining a new feature that collectors have started to call "joint speak" (in reference to the 'hand speak" function of changeable hands that came out a couple years back).  According to the explanation, this new feature would potentially allow easier dressing by being able to remove arms at the shoulder, elbows, bust-line, and at the knee. Obviously this would have been handy for that cute Black Orchid dress from the last convention that no one could remove from the doll without taking the head off or un-sewing the straps.  I could also see it useful for knits and other items that would look better without the bulky hook or zipper closures.  Besides being handy for customer service to replace broken limbs and such a bit easier, it could potentially mean pop out lower legs to give us flat feet or ballet feet.   All that is well and good and I appreciate that IT continues to innovate and push their products into new territory.  However, many collectors were upset that they learned about the body changes AFTER receiving the dolls.  There has been speculation that this was a factory error...that these new bodies were supposed to debut in the convention collection dolls and NOT on the Urban Safari dolls.  This feels likely to me because it is not like IT to make an announcement of a new feature so late....but chances are we won't know what actually happened.

All these issues aside, the most glaring problem to me is in the silence from IT on these issues.  From all reports, they have been diligently responding to customer service claims and doing what they can to remedy each individual situation. Meanwhile, the lack of a public formal response to the mold problems and quality control issues is really upsetting people.  Nature abhors a vacuum.  Collectors are getting fired up about things and voicing discontent all over the place. That is never good for a company that depends heavily on a business model where collectors are putting down large sums of money on products sight unseen. These collectors need to trust that the actual production dolls will be as good or even better than the prototype dolls.


I watch A LOT of Scandal.   Olivia Pope would have been all over this situation.  Someone over at IT needs to handle this.  Don't leave your loyal fans hanging.  We want to know that they are actively working to fix these problems.    

*UPDATE* Integrity is indeed on the case.  Fear not everyone.  
  
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