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Messages - Nicklab

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6256
The base is very cool.  Unfortunately, it looks as though they might be  moving away from the stylized base concept.   The images that Hasbro put out a couple of weeks ago showed figures with non-descript, non scene-specific bases.  That's a little bit of a disappointment, since I'm a big fan of the scene specifc bases.

6257
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I personally think that this is an extremely unfair comparison.  Just from a business model standpoint, Hasbro and these other companies are completely different animals.

First, licensing.  Star Wars is a license that is paid from Hasbro to Lucasfilm Ltd.  So right off the bat, Hasbro is operating at a loss.  The SW license cost them plenty, including a 10% stake in the company that George Lucas now owns.

Differences in companies doesn't necessarily make an unfair playing field though Nick.  That's a tad shortsighted.  So we're to assume that Hasbro's licensing fee means they're in a weaker financial situation right off the bat when compared to a company like 21st Century Toys, BBI, or Dragon?

Come on now...  We're talking about a public corporation, muliti-national, and with a capital reserve that makes the small private companies like Dragon, BBI, and 21st look like a mom & pop general store up against Wall-Mart.

Licensing is not the big crutch everyone claims it to be...

Tack onto that the fact other companies DO pay licensing fees too (Though smaller), and it's hard to say Hasbro's licensing issues are a solid excuse as to any shortcomings within the Star Wars brand.

I will agree with you that we're comparing 2 very different company styles, but I can't help but laugh when anyone gives the "unfair advantage" to the smaller private companies who struggle financially.  Hasbro has a distinct advantage as a large corporation that helps negate licensing as a real issue (If we're doing comparisons here).

I never said that other companies weren't paying licensing fees.  But, when the Star Wars license ticks in at half a billions dollars and 10% ownership in your company, that's a hefty cost.  The other licensing fees that the companies you're talking about  pale in comparison.



LFL's personal approval process can be compared to anything within any other company as well.  For 21st Century, their process relies on the strictest historical accuracy in deco or details...  For Dragon, their approval process is reported to take up to 20 different tries at a single figure before the heads of Dragon say "OK, now it's ready for production".  

LFL's maybe strict, but let's face it...  Some of what we've seen isn't exactly amazing in accuracy sometimes so how strict can their approval process really be?  They stamp it as "OK, you didn't cross our guidelines" likely and they Hasbro starts cranking it out.  Star Wars, by its very nature, is going to have more leeway in that regard.  It's fiction, and as such some things can be compromised.  The companies working on military product tend not to have that luxury.

You're leaving out a lot of other steps.  First Hasbro has to approve something at the departmental level.  Next, they no doubt have a corporate safety standards department that it has to go through.  These are after all approved for children what, ages 5 and up?  THEN, it proceeds to LFL.  Lucasfilm has been renowned for being sticklers for what will and will not go out.  This delays the process, and in the long run costs more money.

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The fact is, the small companies like BBi, Dragon, 21st Century, etc don't have anywhere near the cost factor.  Let's face facts:  it's far cheaper for these companies to do business than it is for Hasbro.  As a result, they can offer a somewhat superiro product at about the same price points.

No, there's no "fact" to that at all.  

Once again, you negate the fact that these are dramatically smaller companies with much higher production costs than Hasbro due to capital restraints.  You don't recognize their own licensing fees, and the fact that they're working under the same pressures and overhead that Hasbro is, and doing it from a much smaller company's standpoint.

To say they're able to put out product cheaper than Hasbro is simply misinformation...  Some of these companies, even with very high sales, are struggling because their profit must be turned right back into the company for its own growth.  21st Century continuously makes profit but has financial issues because their overhead bogs the company down, even with good sales.  

So they're somehow still able to make things cheaper than Hasbro does?  That doesn't really make any sense unless you're looking at it black & white in that Star Wars is just a huge license and 21st's brands aren't.  Not a fair analysis by any stretch, but then you'd be correct I guess.

The fact is that the bottom line is the core fact.  Are the smaller companies having a harder time getting by?  Yes.  They have a smaller market share.  They're fundamentally smaller companies.  They have higher production costs because they can't manufacture in the quantity level that Hasbro does at a comparable expense level.  But, the core issue once again is the licensing.  Are any of these other companies able or willing to shell out the kind of capital needed to produce a viable line?  Are they able to stick it out to see an eventual profit?  Probably not.
 
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Regarding GI Joe:  GI Joe is able to make more money than Star Wars because Hasbro owns all the rights to GI Joe.  As a result, they don't have to pay any licensing fees, and has free reign over this property.  A very different business model.

Actually it's the same business model since it's Hasbro producing a toy line (Even same markets, trying to balance between older and younger/newer collectors).  It has a distinct overhead I'm sure, with a lot of similarities too, but you're right there's no cost for licensing...

Of course, does licensing suddenly become the key overhead cost t hough?  No, so I don't think one rather small overhead variance is what makes G.I. Joe more profitable than Star Wars.

GI Joe is an intellectual property that is wholly owned by Hasbro.  As a result, Hasbro does not have to factor in licensing payments in their costs.  Hasbro owns all the rights to GI Joe.  They're therefore able to spend more money on R&D, manufacturing, marketing and other costs because there isn't the looming spector of licensing.  And if they play smart businessmen in GI Joe and keep their costs down, they can get a much higher profit margin out of the GI Joe line because they have a dramatically lower overhead.

And I have to restate, I and just about any other business person would agree that half a billions dollars is not a small overhead variance.


6258
Watto's Junk Yard / Re: Xbox
« on: October 16, 2003, 09:38 AM »
He's a funny guy!  He just tells a story funny, that's all!

6259
1:6 Scale Figures and Collectibles / Re: 12" Plo Koon
« on: October 16, 2003, 09:37 AM »
So, which price is worse, the $100 that Brians will charge you, or the $75 from eBay?  As a matter of record, I dislike eBay and dealing with the unknowns that come with it.

6260
Episode 1 / Re: Begun, my Bonus Pit Droid collection has...
« on: October 16, 2003, 09:33 AM »
I've got a few of these.  I have two colors of Pit Droids from the first set (with Obi-Wan and Maul), and the third color with the Naboo Royal Guard.  I really like these, and I wish they'd seem some sort of widde release in the US.  The toolboxes alone are pretty cool accessories.

6261
Watto's Junk Yard / Re: Xbox
« on: October 16, 2003, 09:12 AM »
Wayne, at around 2004 X-Box will be getting a Star Wars game called "Commando"... LucasArts released a little trailer for it several months ago... It's very awesome looking so far (though I've seen none of it is in-game footage)...

Also - Hitman 2 : Silent Assassin is easily one of the best shooters I've ever played (I've got a PS2 but I doubt it's much different)... REAL fun... REAL bloody, too...

I suggest buying a demo CD, which has about 6 (not sure) demos of games on the shelves at the moment...
 8)

There's an online trailer of Republic Commando, and it looks like it rocks!  Check it out here: http://www.lucasarts.com/press/releases/74.html

6262
I like the concept Trooper, too.  I just don't know if I'm going to army build with this one.  That would be kind of weird.

6263
JD Sports Forum! / Re: Batter up! The JD Baseball Thread...
« on: October 16, 2003, 05:56 AM »
I couldn't believe the news as I drove into work this morning.  I had watched the Yankee game, much to my dismay.  But the real shocker came as I listened to sports radio during my commute, and learned that the Cubs had lost.

I had really high hopes for that team as early as late August.  I'd been listening to the radio, and hearing how the division races were going.  For a little while it looked like Houston would win the NL central, but I kept up hope for the Cubs.  Lo and behold, they managed to win their division.  And when they advanced past the Braves in the Division series, I was really happy about it.  The Braves have dominated the postseason for some 12 years, and it seemed like time for a new team to play through October.

I thought game 6 would clinch it for the Cubbies.  They were going back home to Wrigley with the support of not only a city, but seemingly the entire country cheering them along.  All this with one of the best young pitchers in baseball, Mark Prior, taking the mound.  But, it wasn't meant to be.  the Marlins are a solid, hustle-minded young team with some good veteran leadership.  I hope people can give them their due.

I don't know the gory details of game 7, and I'll leave it at that.  I know Kerry Wood was on the mound for Chicago, and he's been solid for them.  But this turn of events can definitely make you think that there just might be something strange about how it all worked out.

6264
Saga '02-'04 / Re: Talking about the toy business
« on: October 16, 2003, 05:41 AM »
It sure is.   :o  It does bear out Jesse's point that the license in effect is mostly paid for, and the cost of it has been reduced going forward into the future.


True, but it does go to show just how expensive the license is, and how it affects the line overall.  It's a lot of overhead that has to be dealt with before you even sculpt one action figure.  Nearly half a billion dollars is nothing to sneeze at, and that's what my point is regarding the licensing fees and the trickle down effect it has on the line.

6265
Saga '02-'04 / Re: Talking about the toy business
« on: October 16, 2003, 05:13 AM »
This is just an addendum to the thread that is locked for whatever reason.  It's an article regarding the licensing fee that Hasbro is paying for the Star Wars license:  http://www.webprowire.com/summaries/381287.html

Here's some of the text:

PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Hasbro Inc. has extended its license to manufacture and distribute Star Wars toys and games for an additional 10 years, the company announced. The toy company's expanded agreement with Lucas Licensing Ltd. will run through 2018. The new deal also reduces Hasbro's overall minimum payment to Lucas by $85 million to $505 million even as it extends the Hasbro license by 10 years. Under its original 10-year deal, the minimum payment to Lucas was $590 million. Hasbro has already paid $470...

That's a very expensive license no matter how you cut it.

6266
JD Sports Forum! / Re: Batter up! The JD Baseball Thread...
« on: October 15, 2003, 08:41 PM »
Game 7?!  Why a game 7?!

6267
Transformers DO RULE the boys toys sections.  I've asked people at TRU, adn they tell me that as fast as they bring in new Transformers, they head out the doors.  AND at a pretty decent price point.  Add in the cross-marketing of a TV show, collector interest domestically and internationally, and the broad based appeal to kids, and Transformers is a juggernaut!

6268
G.I. Joe isn't overly interesting to me either, but the fact that line has outsold Star Wars in terms of profit during a movie year (For the past several years actually) is pretty stunning.  G.I. Joe handily rules the boy's toys market these days.

As for the other military lines in 1:18/3.75" scale not being impressive to you, that's fine...  To each their own.  BBi, Dragon, and 21st Century figures sport crisper sculpts though, accurate scaling across the board, and for 2 of the companies (Dragon for some odd reason does not support lots of articulation but rather interchangeable limbs) have figures sporting 14 to 20 points of articulation each.  Pretty hard to top that...  

I mean, BBi figures can even see the weave of the fabric in their clothing.  Texture is something Hasbro just recently decided to start trying to bring out in sculpt (Well at times, other times their often poor paint applications don't accentuate that).

Hasbro's still a couple decades behind in those regards though, but maybe they'll pick up the pace on articulation and such since they're more than capable of doing it well, but just choose not to do it often.  Be nice for the toy line to be fun AND look good like the other toy lines in the same scale.

BTW, check out Dragon and BBi for the best face sculpts in history.  I'd love to see Dragon's 3.75" sculpts of our favorite Star Wars characters.  It's darn near a guarantee they'd be mirror images of the actors themselves.  Dragon dominates everyone in sculpt...  Got to admire those Japanese Toy companies for innovating the industry.

I personally think that this is an extremely unfair comparison.  Just from a business model standpoint, Hasbro and these other companies are completely different animals.

First, licensing.  Star Wars is a license that is paid from Hasbro to Lucasfilm Ltd.  So right off the bat, Hasbro is operating at a loss.  The SW license cost them plenty, including a 10% stake in the company that George Lucas now owns.  

So, they've got to try to bring something to market that meets several levels of expectations:  marketability to the retailers on a mass scale, a broad based appeal to the fans, but first an approval from Lucasfilm's licensing division.  Oh, and did I mention that they also have to try and pay back their licensing fees AND generate a profit?!

The smaller companies making military lines don't have half of these concerns.  Do they have to pay licensing fees?  Probably not.  Likeness rights?  Nope.  Do they have to go through a long approval process with the Pentagon?  Nope.  If they did that, you would probably never see these toys.  The fact is, the small companies like BBi, Dragon, 21st Century, etc don't have anywhere near the cost factor.  Let's face facts:  it's far cheaper for these companies to do business than it is for Hasbro.  As a result, they can offer a somewhat superiro product at about the same price points.

Regarding GI Joe:  GI Joe is able to make more money than Star Wars because Hasbro owns all the rights to GI Joe.  As a result, they don't have to pay any licensing fees, and has free reign over this property.  A very different business model.

Bearing all these factors in mind, the savvy collector has got to realize that Hasbro cannot do everything perfectly.  We can't get an entire line of Ephant Mon's, otherwise Hasbro would drop the SW license to save their skins, and some craptacular company like Mattel would make terrible toys.  We've got to settle on some pieces that are sub-par, some that are alright, and some that will be great.  Expecting greatness from every single piece while considering the business agreements that Hasbro has to operate under is frankly unrealistic.

6269
The only complaint I can see is in movie the figures lack that special-ness than in non movie. POJT was a tremendous line general... next year looks to top that...
One thing most don't take into account is in a movie (sad as it may sound) it's usually quantity over quality for Hasbro.

They are looking to crank out the most product they can and thus figures tend to suffer a little less... but even then we still get some of the best 4" scale toys out there.

Actually, this is an incredibly valid point regarding the 2002 line.  Just think about it.  Hasbro had to prep some 25 figures for that initial SAGA release.  Some of them were great, and some were just short of garbage.  Witness the first EPISODE II Padme figure, Anakin-Outland Peasant Disguise and C-3PO with removable plating.  I think that some of the line suffers initially in the movie years because of the high volume of the initial release.  It truly is quantity versus quality.

Thankfully, as we get further and further from the movie release blitz, we get better and better figures.  There's been nary a stinker in the bunch for 2003, save "I've been impaled with a lollipop Mace Windu", and Droid Factory Flight R2-D2.  Thankfully, there have been more high points than low points in 2003.

Late 2003 looks great, IMHO.  And the linups for 2004 so far look equally good.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  it's like Power Of The Jedi all voer again!  That was one of the best lines we've ever had, and it appears that it's going that way again in 2004.  I have high hopes especially since this will be the last In-Between movie year that we have.  For someone who's usually a pessimist, I'm happily optimistic about 2004.

6270
Dare I mention the D.G. as a possibility for the Clone Wars line, as a kind of sneak peak?  Those who've been reading TF.N may know what I'm referring to.

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