(I finally caved and bought this set at Target last night on clearance.)
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This is the first I've heard of someone yearning for the POTF2 facial sculpt days.
The one phrase that keeps coming back to my mind these last few days is "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it." How this applies to this situation is that Hasbro has simply not learned from its mistakes. They have done this endless recarding before, and it ended up very badly and killed any momentum the line had at that time with retailers. Only Episode I, believe it or not, saved the SW line.
What I'm referring to is the Freeze Frame line. Very nice concept, but executed badly. Yes, they released a wave of new figures on a regular basis, but mixed in with these new figures were a veritable truckload of older figures who hadn't been all that difficult to find in the first place, on new cards. It had nothing to do with keeping popular characters out there for fans or newcomers; it had more to do with milking the completist carded collectors for all they were worth. And it backfired.
Probably the best/worst shining example of this was the rerelease of a Collection 3 case with nothing but older figures. Never mind the fact that they had just released the first Removable Helmet Vader in an earlier case assortment not more than a month earlier; they had to release a whole case of figures nobody had any trouble finding at all in their previous incarnations (Tarkin, TIE Pilot, Stormie), ignoring the previous wave with the RH Vader, and when it came time for the second wave of Collection 3 figures that were new, they were impossible to find (Ree Yees and DST). All because of Hasbro's desire to cut corners and "maximize their profits."
The fact that they were releasing waves of figures with one new figure (usually packed at 2 per case) like the Ugnaughts or 8D8 wasn't helping either, because it was getting 2 new figures and 14 old figures on the shelf. I don't think I need to explain which ones didn't sell. It was also the FF line that necessitated the ridiculous clearance sales that fall (2 dollars a figure with those little stickers). I have never seen a Wal*Mart so overrun with figures as I did that fall, and it was all the same figures. Nothing new.
And then that winter, after a whole load of relative hype, Hasbro released the Expanded Universe line at the tail end of the FF series. Was there anyone here who had an easy time finding any of these, particularly the Darktrooper and Spacetrooper? Then the last wave (the Hoth Leia wave) wasn't even released to retail because after the clearance disaster, retailers pretty much told Hasbro "NO MORE." They had to seek out alternative outlets because they had burned the retailers so badly with endless repacks.
This is all going to happen again. Out of 38 regular carded figures, there are arguably 7 new figures, two repaints (Hoth Vader and Bespin Luke), and 29 repacks. I don't care what Hasbro says: this line is NOT going to get new people to start buying figures because of the DVDs. People are going to buy the DVDs and that is it. Given the fact that the electronics section and the toy section are a good distance away from each other in most retailers, people are going to buy the DVDs and that's all, not even giving the toy section a second thought. They're basing their entire product offering (and a vast amount of their products themselves) on the assumption that new people will buy things, when in reality, this will be a very small portion of the buying population. They should know this by now, but they obviously prefer to live in their ivory tower and develop new ways to package POTJ Obi-Wan and CTC Han than put money into developing toys that people actually want to buy.
Get ready folks, it's going to be 1998 all over again, if not worse.