Author Topic: What's up with availability  (Read 4073 times)

Offline Darth Homer

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What's up with availability
« on: May 12, 2003, 11:59 AM »
I posted this on another board but wanted to throw the same question out here and see how the responses compare.  Besides, I think its a pretty good thought provoking question even though its been beaten to death...

Okay, what's going on...

I was reading the new Toy Box section of the SW Insider, a nice addition if I may add, and there is a part that says the lack of availability is due to the retailers not ordering things from them.  It explains the ordering and distribution process but most of us know how it works.  Anyway, my question is, what's going on?

We all know the figures are produced and many people have found a few at retail and others have picked up cases online.  but the availability is so screwed up.  Some places have the new figs but only a case or two and they sell quickly.  Other places miss entire waves and then show up with a new one.  Other places have had empty pegs for a month...

Is hasbro shorting the retailers?  My local Targets have had nothing new since Xmas.  Are the retailers not ordering?  Wal Mart has picked up a few cases now and then but they still have some stores with a load of pegwarmers.  Is it really just a slow time?  But a huge toy time like easter showed no improvement...

Just wondering what the general thought was.  or maybe someone knows for sure.  I stopped making toy runs and its worked out cause there hasn't been much to report in my area anyway for the past month...

Maybe the war is to blame...
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Offline Angry Ewok

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2003, 12:12 PM »
I don't know whats up with avaliability... all I know is that I havent seen anything new since... well... last year. Eventually I'm gonna have to put a WTB list up in the Modern Classifieds here.  :'(

Offline Scott

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2003, 12:17 PM »
#1 Case Assortments

They had this figured out during POTJ, no repacks in most of the cases.  Each Wave came with new figures and cases only contained one wave.  With Saga we see a trend back to the old days of POTF2, holdovers into new cases means product glut on the pegs.  Horrible, Horrible, Horrible.  

They need to fix this, Immediately

#2 Over Production coupled with Lack of interest

At first they learned their lesson it looked like, product was actually moving very well, there weren't bins upon bins of figures ala EpI.  You didn't see pegs being restocked with Wave 1 product...until around the Luke/Vader and Palpatine Waves.  Sales dried up faster than the Sahara and I'm sure all of that stuff was already in production and it came to retail and sat.  I still think my Target has cases of this stuff in the stock room :'(  Add in a post movie year, kiddos not into SW anymore (where is that attention span ::)) people tired of the SOS on the pegs, distribution/retailers cutting back means lower sales in general

So has Hasbro cut back production or are Stores not ordering or are people turning to etailers?

#3 More competition and Price Point

Action figure aisle is cluttered with a ton of product, Simpsons, LOTR, Marvel, Batman, GI Joe, He-Man, Power Rangers, TMNT, Spider-Man, McFarlane, Peanuts, Harry Potter all for about the same or even cheaper price.  My toy dollar keeps getting spread thinner and thinner each year

#4 Lack of Quality

Long running complaint of mine, the Saga figures suck quality wise compared to a lot of POTJ product (action features, pre posed etc etc) Add to that a lack of bang for the relative buck plastic wise and I can see why people aren't buying anymore


The big question for me remains where is all of the figures if Hasbro hasn't cut back on production.  I got my first 2003 figs in early March, here we are in mid May and I still haven't seen anything at Target or Wally World or TRU...that is 2 months behind sightings of the Han/Chewie and Yoda waves means there is a ton of product possibly sitting somewhere that isn't being unloaded
« Last Edit: May 12, 2003, 12:18 PM by OCB »

Offline Morgbug

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2003, 12:46 PM »
I like Scott's point regarding competition.  Spidey, LOTR, Marvel Legends have probably all captured their share of the attention, notably LOTR.  Too few dollars for too many lines.  Of course, this really shouldn't bother retailers.  

Non-movie year?  Well sure, but isn't it a non movie year for Spidey too?  Sure, he has universal appeal, but that much more than a Darth Vader?  I suppose, but I cannot get over the sheer amount of spiderman stuff out there.  And where I am, lots of it is just sitting on the pegs.  I think the spidey folks are suffering from Hasbro-itis - crappy case assortments.  Never find a Hobgoblin, but about 8 billion spideys with that guy webbed to the lamp post (looks like crap, IMO).  

A theory from a guy on another board (Canuckian) is that this is comparable to the slowdown post Episode I.  Product will be hard to find because production has been ramped down considerably owing largely to a change in cardbacks to the Clone Wars line.  Think R2-B1, holo Sidious, TC-14.  Sales poor, glut of older, undesirable product (Tusken with child, Jar Jar).  Almost makes sense.  There may even be hope as POTJ (outside of the hideous continuous shipping of Leia, Chewie and Aurra that Canadians saw) had good case mixes and distribution.  Maybe the same will happen for Clone Wars (quality wise as well).  

I don't think the war had squat to do with it.  China could care less (where product was made) and shipping goes nowhere near the middle east.  The war was of short duration so there is no reason for a slow down.  Besides, the drought started before the war began for many of us.  

Same goes for SARS.  I really don't expect much of an impact.  Maybe someone from Toronto would like to comment but relative to what the media told you, for most places the impact was rather minor.  Toronto being the example.  Certainly China had a much larger number of cases, but I have never seen a reputable report that it ever impacted Hasbro's operations.  People still go to work regardless.  

I never thought of Easter as a hot toy season at all.  Up North (eh?) once March rolls around, swimsuits and swimming toys dominate and the remainder of the toy section is largely ignored, as well as downsized.  The local Zellers cuts its toy aisle space in half.  Most is taken up by "girls toys" and infant toys - non-seasonal type stuff.  "Boys toys" tend to get downsized in favor of sporting equipment.  Please excuse the gender stereotyping.  But I believe stores still do it.  

End of card + slow season + increased demand = poor distribution?  

Just my WAG.
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Offline dustrho

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2003, 01:45 PM »
Everyone here has made some incredible points about distribution.  In my immediate area (which includes 3 Targets, 1 Walmart, 1 K-Mart, 1 TRU, 2 KB Toys, and 1 Meijer) there hasn't been a single new figure since November.  About 30 miles away from me I've heard reports from other people (on other boards) that some of the deluxe figures made their way to the pegs.  Being unemployed and with not a whole lot to do I thought it would be cool to go on a hunt.  Took me about 45 minutes get there.  I power-walked all the way toward the Star Wars section and of course they had nothing new.  Just a bunch of the regular peg-warmers.  That left a very salty taste in my mouth.

It seems like its this way in the majority of this country.  Don't you think Hasbro would know by now their number one target market are collectors (like us)?  With that in mind, I don't understand why they don't manufacture and distribute more frequently to retailers.  Even without having a job, I would still continue buying the stuff up.  That's what credit cards are for.   8)
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Offline Darth Broem

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2003, 02:14 PM »
I am not up on how it all works with the stores and toy companies.  To me this is what I observe.  For example Toys R Us has had the same figures since X-Mas time or before.  They had a ton of figures in bins that were the same exact figures on the pegs.   It was this way for months.  Then around Feb or so the figs in the bin were gone.  I'd assume they shipped them back to Hasbro or burnt them.   They did not get rid of the figures on the pegs.  They kept them there.  So, the same figs have not moved from the pegs since X-Mas.  

Soooo, mesa propose to move the old pre-X-Mas figures that have been on these pegs  to the bin and then put out the new figures that may actually sell.  Is that a difficult concept assuming they have the newer figs in the back?

Offline FX-7

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2003, 02:46 PM »
All I know is I'm thinking of quitting this sucks soooo much
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Offline jadesfire

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2003, 03:52 PM »
I wish I could answer this one also but from someone who collects Kelly dolls (Barbie's little sister), Mattel seems to be doing the same thing.  It takes months to see the new dolls finally showing up in MI, WI and IL.  I know they are out as I watch Ebay, almost all of the sales the last two months are from southern and west-coast states.  
Another line I collect is LOTR, and I swear Toybiz is copying Hasbro!  I have yet to see 3 of the waves at my local Walmart and many others across all areas of the U.S. seem to play the "hit  'n miss" game too.

I'd attribute a lot of it to movie tie-in's but when I look at the toys that seem to be on the main isle displays, they are usually Barbie or Hot Wheels and the Hulk stuff has been out for months now, WAY BEFORE the movie (I sure hope it moves once the movie hits or the toy isle will be green until Christmas) so I can't really point to that theory as the culprit.

I was hoping that last  week when the Star Wars stuff all disappeared from the pegs that they sent it back and new stuff was coming, but all they replaced it with was those cantina packs. :-\

All in all, I can only assume that retailers are NOT ordering and I am also considering on-line ordering.  It's too bad because I always looked forward to the fun of finding the new stuff.
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2003, 04:23 PM »
I've already gone the way of online.  Being in Canada, it sucks even worse.  Prior to about a month ago, the last new figures we saw were Palpatine and Djas Puhr, shortly after Christmas.  Then, out of six walmarts in our fair city, two cases of the pilot wave showed up.  In April, one case showed up that contained the newer Maul (1st saga version) and anakin tatooine attack.  Wow.  But that's it.  

I have no idea how distribution works in the US, but I can tell you Canadian retailers are pretty much hooped by the system.  In spite of different waves/assortments being available, when a Canadian retailer orders a new shipment of Star Wars action figures, they are sent, by Hasbro Canada, whatever is next in the warehouse to go.  If that happens to be the same wave over and over again, that's what they get.  

During POTJ we repeatedly received case after case that contained Leia, Chewie mechanic and Aurra Sing.  Aurra's cool and all, but not when there are 30 on the pegs beside 60 Leia and 20 chewie's.  During Saga, stores continually restocked with the wave containing Mace Windu, Bespin Luke, Bespin Vader and Orn Taa Free.  That was better than the POTJ stuff because it at least sold, but sheesh.  5 months of the same stuff showing up.  Collectors weren't happy.  Kids probably weren't happy and retailers really weren't happy.  The worst part is it gives retailers the impression the stuff doesn't sell.  And they are right.  I myself must have bought about 8 of the Bespin Vader.  A couple for trades.  One carded, one loose.  A couple more to put away for future trades.  Oy.  

In Canada at least Hasbro must bear the brunt of the responsibility.  I have no idea if it works the same way in the US.  It may well, but given what Newforce seems able to do, maybe not.
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Offline Darth Homer

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2003, 09:59 PM »
I agree with the case assortments being screwed up.  This ten different figures in a case of 12 really bothers me.  It should be 3 or 4 different figs in a case of 12 for army builders and 2 each of main characters.  You don't need extra main characters but army builders will always have extra picked up...

I don't neccessarily agree with the competition point.  no series is as well know as SW and none of them has as big a following.  LOTR is close but there isn't as much variety in characters as SW...

Quality is a debatable point.  Some figs are great while others really suck.  Some of the other lines mimic that.  The Simpsons series has been sucking my wallet dry but now they are releasing a lot of new sculpts, characters that only showed in one episode, or the crummy fact that a lot of the figs only work on one playset.  What a bunch a crap...

I also wonder which is a bigger difference in the market, collectors buying stuff, or parents and kids looking for a new thing to play with...
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2003, 01:06 AM »
I think OCB nailed some really REALLY solid points as to the hows and whys of our current distribution woes...  

I've been in business for years.  I've studied the toy industry independantly, and it was the subject of a report I did just this semester.  OCB really pinpointed some good instances where Hasbro isn't a strong company when it comes to this line.  

Quote
#1 Case Assortments

Indeed, and this is a point where Hasbro's 100% responsible for their own actions...  They mix these cases based on their own data, but methinks they need some new marketing analysts over there, because whoever predicted that "Let's only pack one Imperial Officer" in a case needs to be put out on the street with no severance pay.

That's one instance of poor business...  There's many more.  

To use another line's problems that are similar, who over at Toy Biz decided "Yeah, we need more King Theodens" in their case assortments?  

What these companies should do is pack these figures who would/should be weaker sales in fewer #'s...  You should then have enough flexibility within your company to REPACK this figure as necessary, but for this strategy to work one must actually have close contact with, and listen to their fan base...

IE: Ask Andy sections have to be read, and read thoroughly, and other sections of various fan forums must get some reading from the company.

Other companies are capable of this type of "flexible" work within the organization, but Hasbro's more of a traditional company, and that may be an area they need to start restructuring to make their product lines more efficient.  They're more a verticle structure, as opposed to horozontal, and I think that hurts them often.

Quote
#2 Over Production coupled with Lack of interest

A-Freakin'-MEN...

Contrary to what we maybe wish, and what some of us believe, Star Wars isn't the end-all-be-all of the toy industry...  Sad to say folks, but Star Wars just simply isn't the hot seller we wish it to be.  As a matter of fact, while Hasbro tried citing high sales of Star Wars product last year, that's inevitable since it was a movie year...  What they  neglected to show during their sales reports was what the damage was at the end of the year.  

Even before X-Mas, the Star Wars line was in a downward spiral that was dragging the year's books down.  As I recall, reports in the early part of the year cited other Hasbro product...  STRONGER Hasbro product, as being the savior that kept them from having a large loss.  

It's a shame to see it, but Star Wars just isn't a top toy anymore.  Its hayday was back sometime around '97 I believe, and it has spikes, but it's like a sluggish stockmarket on a steady decline, if you prefer that analogy.   :-\

Quote
#3 More competition and Price Point

Something I've preached for some time, but what others have argued with me...  Competition DOES exist for Hasbro...

Hasbro's constantly competing for the child's $ everytime that a kid is in a toy aisle, and they just don't have a line that has a broad appeal to kids.

We love it...  Some kids love it...  Sadly, we're not their main focus (As we should be no matter what the year), and what's more sad is that kids have BETTER choices out there in the toy aisle.  

A kid has so many "new" things pulling at his/her increasingly fickle personality, that they are going to go for the best of the best...  A kid's gonna buy the figure that has that fun appeal, and while it took Hasbro a year, they finally grasped it that Action Features don't mean their product suddenly rivals the poseable accessory laden Power Ranger.  

It's the same reason G.I. Joe is getting MORE focus this year than Star Wars...  Hasbro rode that movie wave last year, and didn't exactly capitalize on it as they could've, and yet G.I. Joe had a strong enough year that they're not gonna sink more $ into that strong brand.  

Kids love G.I. Joe...  He's got it all...  Star Wars figures are mini statues with lame features, and few accessories, with even fewer vehicles or playsets.  

I think Hasbro's pricepoint is accurate for the general scale of the product they offer ($4.99 for 1:18/3.75" figures), but what they don't really see is that for around $4.99 you can get a simply more FUN figure in G.I. Joe, or 21st's X-Treme Detail...  

I don't even personally LIKE the new G.I. Joes, but from what I gathered during my research for my paper last semester, the Joe line is one of Hasbro's goldmines, and that's a TRUE line they're going to impress both kids and adults with (Just not me, though the line is impressive from my business standpoint).

So in short, yeah Hasbro has super competition working against them, and Star Wars is NOT immune to that competition...  Sure Hasbro COLLECTORS will buy up new stuff, but what Hasbro wants is to attract "casual" buyers and children...  Neither of which they're EVER capable of doing with the Star Wars line...  

That's a big issue they need to work on.

Quote
#4 Lack of Quality

Anyone who knows anything about me knows I agree with this...

I sort of touched on it above.  Hasbro doesn't compete... Their Star Wars line is of the same scale as multiple lines, but yet it's laughably poor in comparison.  The funny thing is that Hasbro shows amazing glimmers of being the dominant toy company...

For instance, their sculpts...  Hasbro has some misses, but they have solid sculptors at their company that rival the work of supposed Industry Leaders like MacFarlane Toys.  Anyone who owns Ephant Mon knows what I'm talking about...

Sculpt is an area that Hasbro went from being weak in to actually being rather dominant.  They are inconsistent in other areas though.

I've yet to see Hasbro do true justice to ANY figure in the department of articulation...  And that's a big problem when you're literally in the toy aisle competing with lines such as Lord of the Rings, X-Treme Detail 1:18, G.I. Joe, etc...  

Like I said though, Hasbro has these little glimpses that they can do SO much better with these figures...  When you see a Commtech Stormtrooper or a Cantina Han, you have to wonder why can't t hey all be AT LEAST that good or a little better?  Other toys are, and other toys are having stronger sales...  

BBi's 1:18 military line is ready to take off in the aisles of major retailers this year supposedly.  We're talking about one HELL of a small company here who did 1:18 stuff on a whim to see if they could compete directly with 21st Century toys...  Guess what, their $4.99 masterpieces flew of the shelves for the most part, and that line's set to expand not only in what they offer but also in the outlets by which they are sold.  

And when it boils down to it, these figures are going to be just one more kid on the block that's of "higher quality" and for a similar price to the Star Wars figures...  I bet they do well, and I know for sure they're taking some of my collecting $ with them already.  Who else's shall they take?  What kid is gonna say "Forget that Anakin figure, I want that Marine like the guy I saw on TV"?

Owning a license to a toy line doesn't mean you have a monopoly on it...  Hasbro can profit off Star Wars, sure...  But for them to make this line something that everyone wants, they need to make changes...

Instead, they issue statements that essentially are saying "It's not our fault, retailers aren't interested" when they really should be honest and say retailers aren't interested because their product doesn't move for a myriad of reasons that they need to work on...

Losing action features was a start, and hopefully not the end either.
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Offline CHEWIE

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2003, 01:55 AM »
I'm a little too tired to go into nearly as much detail as JJ did, so I'll make it short and sweet:  I blame 99% of it on Hasbro.

 :P

Offline Scott

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2003, 11:29 AM »
The funniest thing about this whole mess is that Andy is actually trying to pass the buck onto the retailers that they aren't ordering product, when all of the blame lies squarly back on his team and their blundering on the line for a good year plus now

Offline Jesse James

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2003, 07:44 PM »
Indeed...  I found that blurb in the insider insulting, both as a consumer of their Star Wars license and as a businessman.

I don't feel the retail industry is 100% innocent either, but Hasbro needs to fess up to their mistakes and make up for them by improving the line to one of the top toy lines in the industry...  Passing the buck by blaming retail COMPLETELY  just looks petty.
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Offline dustrho

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Re: What's up with availability
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2003, 08:21 PM »
I'm a little too tired to go into nearly as much detail as JJ did, so I'll make it short and sweet:  I blame 99% of it on Hasbro.

I'm gonna have to agree with you on that one Chewie.  I don't think it's really the retailers' fault... I would have to blame Hasbro.  They're the ones who are only packing on Red Battle Droid per case, right?  Not the retailers!
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