That still doesn't sound right to me. It sounds like one of those 'being technically right is the best kind of right' king of things. When you announce the price and say vintage levels of articulation before everyone knows they're droids, we're all instantly expecting 12, 13, 14 points of articulation on human or alien figures. We're expecting things that could have been neatly slotted into the vintage line - not 6 droids made out of existing sculpts.
Clues are clues - I was trying to give a hint as to the era and style of figure to which one should set their expectations. Given the "diverse range of interesting dudes", the silhouette, and the vintage/black, well, it's marketing. It's a game. The aim was to have fun, and this sort of thing isn't for everybody. I, of course, stand by that these figures are comparable to the Vintage/Black Series line, because they're not comparable to anything in Saga Legends/Mission Series, or TFA. It's a puzzle as to how to convey information without giving the whole thing away - I'm all for reading suggestions, though. We're always trying to improve things, which is one of the reasons I pop in these places. (That and I like seeing if people like the stuff.) I was hoping someone would crack the droid puzzle the first night (and they did!) and then move in to speculation on who and what. Also I was hoping anyone on the fence wouldn't order unless they were all-in on 3 3/4-inch - hence the "these are new characters" and not "returning favorites" angle.
All-new sculpts on an exclusive are tough to do - not impossible, but economic considerations sometimes give numbers to make it happen, and sometimes don't. I would and will absolutely call out "this item has a brand-new sculpt" or "this item has a brand-new head" on a future promotion as appropriate - as in this case, it was not appropriate.
I don't mind the limited articulation if the sculpts are good - that said, what happened that prices tend to go up in movie years? Back during the prequels the exact opposite was true. We went from $7 or $8 to $4.99 when ROTS hit, because volume.
Noooot really. Figures were in the $4.99-$5.99 range for Saga/OTC/POTC. ROTS started in the $5.99-$6.99 range, but because Walmart, prices hit $5.24 - and then Target followed suit and dropped theirs to $5.24 - and that's basically cost. The big stores do fight in heavy traffic season, I see this frequently with Transformers around Xmas depending on inventory levels.
I do not remember $4.99 figures during ROTS AT ALL. (Unless there was a weekly sale I'm blanking on, but I don't count those.) $5.24 was the usual lowest price in the USA, and it's because it's 1 cent below $5.25, which holds some significance.
Secondly, Quite frankly the limited articulation feels like a total bait and switch on Hasbro's part to me. Costs are high, to lower them we're going to reduce artiulcation and now you get $5.99 figures again. Hooray. Fast forward a year and a half and figures are $7.99, $8.99 - all while doing higher volume again. I know inflation and costs and whatever, but oil prices are way depressed compared to 3, 5, 7 years ago, there's new movies driving more buying and collecting, but in general the manufacturing quality is going down. While I'm not admittedly in Hasbro marketing and budgeting meetings, the general trend strikes me as a simple strategy to boost margins - which is fine and dandy and what businesses aim to do most of the time, but the idea that it's all market driven necessity doesn't pass the smell test.
This is the "figure prices go up in movie years" thing - it's not necessarily Star Wars to which I am always referring. For Saga we saw a dip - for ROTS we saw an increase followed by a nearly immediate dip. For TPM and The Clone Wars, we saw increases. We also saw increases for some Marvel, for Age of Extinction, for the GI Joe movies, and so on and so forth. Usually Hasbro is pretty good about holding the line at certain price points, adjusting the feature set and complexity to meet the $4.99/$9.99/$19.99/whatever needs they require for stores and birthday present price points and all that jazz.
It's a puzzle - the accessories are seen as a value-add to make up for things like fancier packaging, different marketing requirements, or to hedge bets against likely rising costs. I freely admit I don't know what the story is here, but extra gear tends to coincide with price increases - at least for a while.
We're also dealing with the Rise of the Middle Class in China - as I'm fond of quoting, the middle wage in China is doubling right now. It's not merely oil prices - labor is a very real expense, hence the talk of moving to other places for certain kinds of product and new experiments in manufacturing techniques. We had a pretty smooth run in Star Wars action figures from 1995 to 1999, with minimal changes until 1998 when prices climbed (and so did SRP), and in 1999 when prices went up again. And in 2000, there was a decrease in cost - but Big Box didn't follow suit with a lower SRP until later during POTJ. And then Hasbro really made stuff cheap in 2002, with a gradual increase to 2005, and then a price war, and then a price increase in 2006, and again in 2008, and again in 2010, and again later in Vintage and for Black Series. I don't really know why I'm even typing this out, but stuff changes. I'd love to see what Hasbro can do to get figures back down to $4.99/$5.99 again, but I love seeing the weird business aspects of this in action.
For example, a few years ago Hasbro experimented with simplifying its Transformers offerings during the end of the Prime/Beast Hunters line - 4 of the "simpler" toys were de facto Europe exclusives, while 2 were tail-enders here. The result was slightly less deco and articulation, but MASSIVE figures - $20 figures the size of $40-$50 figures - before being reigned in to a slightly different format. We also saw a bunch of items developed for South America and China markets recently arrive at Universal Studios as theme park exclusives, also the "big and cheap and simple" category - wonderful toys, but they cost a little more about theme parks as souvenirs tend to have a little more on them. They're great, though, and it shows a way Hasbro can experiment with price points, size, mass, and volume in order to deliver a similar-but-different product. A key difference there is that the audience of kids is not quite as clued in to the rich history of the line as we as adult collectors are.
Around 2010 we saw a break from that - and in 2012/2013 we saw some corrections with feature and mass reductions giving us smaller, lighter vehicles, simpler figures, Transformers minus the spring-loaded weapons, and so forth.
It's not perfect, but I'd like to say it's good. Over the last 21 years I don't think there was ever a point where everybody was holding hands, singing that things are great - in hindsight, we paint ourselves a pretty picture. Distribution issues were always a problem, as were sculpts, as was articulation (except most of 2008-2015), and often price, and of course character selection - we've all got our favorites. In the big picture I still say Star Wars has had the best run of any licensed (or original) action figure line, but boy howdy am I biased. We got a lot. Not everything, and not the remaining vintage dudes with a little v still, but the only company that seemed to have goals of completely updating some original figure lines was Mattel with Super Powers (via DCUC) and Masters of the Universe (via MOTUC). If there are others, I'm drawing a blank, but I digress.
I hope you love our next 3 3/4-inch exclusive! I don't know when it will be, but hey, we'll keep doing our best!
PS since Jeff's post came in -
I am going out of my way to not duplicate Disney Droids in our efforts. (There almost was one.) I prefer the Hasbro ones with the wires on the feet, but if I have one without the wires it scratches my "good enough" itch. If fans really grab on to the Droids and want it make it a regular thing, I'd be all for it, but I don't know if that's sustainable.
I was just thinking about Rebel Pilots last night, and I don't disagree. I like 'em, but I'm good unless I have a pilot seat to fill or there is a new manufacturing technique. At this point there's nobody in the flight suits that I can say I specifically have been wanting in 3 3/4-inch - I mean, Hasbro nailed it. Griz Frix? Shira Brie? Cesi Eiriss? Wedge after Wedge? Biggs a-go-go? We've done well here. Heck, I'd go as far as to say I'm good for Imperials - minus a couple of retro updates, maybe - until we have some big ships or playsets to fill out. Even Ewoks, I can't believe we've got Marvel-based Ewoks - maybe some Kenner flavor ones, and a realistic Cartoon Logray might be fun, but that's where I'm at. We really got a ton of awesome stuff over the years.