Author Topic: State of the Hobby  (Read 1745 times)

Offline Brian

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State of the Hobby
« on: October 18, 2006, 12:17 PM »
After reading various posts over the past few weeks/months about some collectors losing interest, prices possibly going up, the continuing trend of repacks, kids' general disinterest in action figures in general - it got me to thinking about the state of our hobby.  Obviously, the collector landscape seems to be changing a little - with more and more people migrating towards the higher end products (if they can afford it), and - possibly due to the many years of collecting, higher prices, and/or repacks other issues - are cutting back on Hasbro product.

At this point, what do you think the state of our collecting hobby is?  Although it might be due to some overshipping, it seems like our stores (especially Wal-Mart) is just packed with figures from the Greatest Battles, Heroes and Villains, and Endor waves.  Even to the point where (although I haven't gone looking in a week plus) I could fairly easily find clones, gunners, and other army builders.  I know I've seen the same Shocktrooper even hanging on the Target pegs for close to a month now - which surprises me.  Do you think interest is waning a lot in the line, or is just that "time of year" where things are slower, aside from a glut of figures most of us already have - so it seems like the pegwarming problem is worse than usual.  I don't collect a lot of other lines - mainly Spidey/Marvel - so I can't necessarily give a great comparison, but I do try to take a look at some of the other areas to see what is selling and I wonder if other lines have the same pegwarming/sell through problem that Star Wars occasionally has.

That said, there are times where it is next to impossible to find the new stuff too, so it is still selling.  But, then again, around here one person could clear out the new wave when it first arrives in one trip.  Sometimes the "new wave" restocks are slow to show up.  I also noticed, at least at our local Wal-Mart, that Star Wars seems to be low on their totem pole.  We basically have three aisles of action figure/related stuff.  The first (main/highest traffic) aisle has stuff like Turtles, Power Rangers, Avatar, and Sigma Six....the second aisle has Superman Returns, DC Superheroes, Spidey, Marvel Legends/etc., and Pirates of the Caribbean.  The final aisle has a small section of Star Wars, and then the rest is mostly seasonal stuff (some Transformers too I believe).  On the other side of things, it seems like Target and TRU have a nice section devoted to Star Wars (or at least on par with other lines).

Anyways - long post to get my point across - but what do you think the state of the line is right now?  Are people (collectors and kids) losing interest, or is it just a down time now with few new figures and lots of repacks?  Is there just too much product out there (figures, Transformers, Unleashed BP, Force Battlers, Galactic Heroes, etc.) that people are getting "Star Warsed out"?  There are just piles of the Falcon Transformers everywhere I go, Target is already clearancing the 7" Unleashed that have barely been there a month or so, and it just seems like a lot of product is sitting right now.  Where do you see our hobby at now, and where is it headed?  I sometimes wonder if the "kids" that came on board with the prequels will be collecting in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond the way much of our generation has (or came back to collecting later on, as we have)  The world's definitely a different place than it was in the 70s/80s and even 90s, so maybe that isn't that realistic anyways.  What is our hobby looking like to you?

Offline David

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2006, 09:33 PM »
  Although it might be due to some overshipping, it seems like our stores (especially Wal-Mart) is just packed with figures from the Greatest Battles, Heroes and Villains, and Endor waves.  Even to the point where (although I haven't gone looking in a week plus) I could fairly easily find clones, gunners, and other army builders.  I know I've seen the same Shocktrooper even hanging on the Target pegs for close to a month now - which surprises me. 

i have to agree wholeheartedly, this part is scary. finding clones used to be a fun, worthwhile challenge. now its boring. i cant say the same about shocktroopers and the endor wave, but i can say i've seen the 501st trooper a couple times now, and it gets me thinking...i got MIGRAINES looking for these in the rots line, now they keep popping up. i am a bit saddened, and don't know where my hobby is going. hard times for us collectors, hard times. were paying 8 bucks for pegwarming repacks that we had to spend 20 on from scalper specialty stores just mere months ago...just hard to sum up...  :(  :(  :(  :'(
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Offline Rob

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2006, 02:13 AM »
I can say this much... I think there are some pretty good things on the horizon - it's been slow lately, and quite frankly, I've enjoyed it.

Last year with ROTS was completely excessive.   WAY too many new toys for one year.

This year's been terribly busy as well - until a few weeks ago.

With the Naboo and Endor figures hitting now, Kit Fisto's Starfighter, AT AT, TIE's, Snowspeeder, Dagobah X-Wing, New Battle Packs, and 22 'final' saga figures on shelves between now and the end of the year - it's setting up to be a disgustingly jam packed few months coming up.



And if the rumors for the first three waves of next year's figures are accurate - I think colletors will be just as excited as they've always been by 3 or 4 months from now.

Offline Brian

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2006, 09:30 AM »
Quote
And if the rumors for the first three waves of next year's figures are accurate - I think colletors will be just as excited as they've always been by 3 or 4 months from now.

That's a good point too.  I'm really looking forward to the next line, just because it looks like some nice figures are on the way.  Hopefully we'll see that next wave of VOTC/VTSC confirmed as well, because I'd definitely like to see more of those.  You are right about the end of this year too, its shaping up to be jam packed with stuff.  Its always nice to see new stuff, but situations like last year - and also, to some extent, this year - it almost gets overwhelming.  I wonder if that has something to do with some people cutting back or giving up, there's just too much stuff out there.  I'd be fine seeing some of the "extra" lines cut out, and focusing in on the SW brand a little bit.

Offline Errex

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2006, 01:23 PM »
I think the line is well, and still going strong.

Then again, maybe this is my impression just because I am still thick into it, but overall, product seems to be selling well, and the seasonal slowdown might have more to do with poor distribution and store resets than actual market shrinkage.

Offline Morgbug

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2006, 02:59 PM »
  I wonder if that has something to do with some people cutting back or giving up, there's just too much stuff out there. 

I think it has to do with some judgement error on the part of Hasbro.  Without commenting on the newer, non-repacked figures, it's predominantly the repacks that are creating the headaches out there.  In new waves, some figures always sit to a certain extent, even army  builders. 

But the H&V and Greatest Battles waves are just not good planning on the part of Hasbro.  Yes, getting some of those army builders back on the pegs is a good idea - 501st, shock trooper are going to sell.  But even in the wastelands of Canada I've seen things such as Bacara, clone pilot and others just sit and rot for weeks.  I can understand getting Vader out there regularly, that is smart business.  But we're really not clamoring for Chewbacca, Han Solo and pregnant Padme.  The most important point is that neither are the kids.  They want Vader, Vader, Vader and a stormtrooper for variety. 

Look, to me the repacks are a slap in the face, simply because they are figures serious collectors found a way to get what they wanted.  And that's maybe 25% of the line.  They redid the cardback and the background to gratuitously squeeze more money out of the carded folks, the only solid rationalization for some of these craptastic figures to be repacked AT ALL.  They are clogging the pegs because in the absence of a movie, collectors drive the line and Hasbro seriously overestimated the desire of collectors to get yet another Han Solo cardback.  Just not happening. 

I think that has a long term negative impact on the hobby.  Trust me, once you drop one aspect of the completeness, the rest of the psychosis falls to the wayside much more easily. 

Rob's right, the break has been good relative to a pile of new figures.  But I don't think that's good for the hobby in general. 
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Offline JesseVader08

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2006, 10:09 PM »
Trust me, once you drop one aspect of the completeness, the rest of the psychosis falls to the wayside much more easily. 

Oh, so true.  I was a diehard completist for 10 years, but once this year's line hit, I didn't see the need anymore.  Late 2002 and into 2004 brought us a few repacks, but it was only a couple, so it didn't bother me.  The OTC line was almost completely repacks, but the stunning cards convinced me to forgive Hasbro.  But I'm not doing it anymore.  That being said, I'm not "mad" at Hasbro because there are so many different collectibles lines by other companies to keep my interest and earn my money.  I still enjoy buying the occasional figure, but I don't need to buy them all. 

Offline TheBlackDog65

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2006, 12:05 PM »
Trust me, once you drop one aspect of the completeness, the rest of the psychosis falls to the wayside much more easily. 

Oh, so true.  I was a diehard completist for 10 years, but once this year's line hit, I didn't see the need anymore.  Late 2002 and into 2004 brought us a few repacks, but it was only a couple, so it didn't bother me.  The OTC line was almost completely repacks, but the stunning cards convinced me to forgive Hasbro.  But I'm not doing it anymore.  That being said, I'm not "mad" at Hasbro because there are so many different collectibles lines by other companies to keep my interest and earn my money.  I still enjoy buying the occasional figure, but I don't need to buy them all. 

I have to agree with this. I am back where I was in 2002 with OTC line where I only picked up the new figures that I really liked. I am back to being a non-completist and focusing on the figures that my 12 year old wants (which is not much), or items I want that are new to me.
I also agree that the first 3 waves next year will capture more of my attention and money.  I will probably actively hunt for those items. 
However, I do think the line is facing some challenges down the road. I don't see major movement by Lucas to capitalize on the momentum from ROTS to bring new items (TV show, animated cartoon etc.) out that will not just support, but drive the line. As a result, kids like my 12 year old son are losing interest in the line, and I personally feel that when kids stop actively buying the line, the line is beginning to wither.  I'm not saying the line dead, or is in a serious situation yet, but I do think the beginning of the end could be coming because as the volume goes down in the line, retailers watch that and when volume reaches a certain point (and we are not there yet) the retailers will not continue to buy the line. At the point that Walmart and/or Target do not feel that the line justifies the shelf space (and I think we are several years out) the line will die. Like it or not, at this point in time, Walmart and Target will determine the future of this line. As long as volume holds on up, the line will do fine, but when the day comes when volume drops to a certain level, the line will die off.  Or in another scenerio, I could see the line come down to being like the CW line from several years ago, where Hasbro comes out with product to support a Lucasfilm project. In this case the product hits for a couple of months (for a season or for a reset period) and then there is a mad scramble to get it before it disappears.  If the product has some good army builders and figures that appeal to collectors and kids, the demand will outpace the supply, and then the whole focus of the line changes.  Instead of knowing that eventually someone could find the product in a re-release, both collectors and kids would have to work hard to get what they want before it disappears. Just some thoughts that I have.
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Offline Darth_Anton

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2006, 12:11 PM »
To me, it's just a weird time with Target being so stagnant. The current state reminds me of the 2003 Saga line through OTC when, for whatever reason, new figures just weren't pleantyful.
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Offline DoctorPadawan

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2006, 01:15 PM »
I had made a post (that I never actually posted) in response to this thread on Wednesday where I did my typical ranting and raving, but the more I read it, the more I realized that it was doing exactly what Hasbro has been doing with a lot of the stuff this year: retreading things that didn't need to be retreaded.  There was a much more thoughtful way of presenting what I wanted to say, so I thought I'd hold off for a few days.  Two conversations in the aisle yesterday, however, pointed out to me all that needs be said about the state of things right now.

First, I made a trip to Wal-Mart Numero Uno, and a mother and her two kids (one girl, one boy) were standing in front of the SW action figures.  The girl had gotten her toy for the day (some kind of Barbie doll), and the boy was being allowed to pick out one action figure amongst the full pegs at WM. 

"How about this one?," said the mother, referring to the 4 lightsaber H&V General Grievous.

"I already have him." said the boy.

"This guy looks interesting," said the mother, referring to one of the multitudes of Poggle the Lessers on the pegs.

"He sucks," the boy eloquently stated.

Three more figures were considered (Padme, Pilot Obi-Wan, and GB Threepio) but the former two were dismissed with "I have them already" and the latter was dismissed by pointing to the Endor Threepio on the pegs and saying, "I have that one and he's better than this one because he comes with the Ewok chair."

The boy walked on down the aisle to the POTC figures instead.

Then, at TRU, a mother and her son were looking at the Clone Wars Gunship and both the mother and son were searching endlessly for the "figures on the box" (the ARC Battle Pack).  I decided to butt in and told them that TRU hadn't had those for quite a while and only got one shipment at that particular store.  The mother then eloquently stated, "Why would they sell a ship without the characters to put in it?  That's no fun."

She replaced the Gunship on the shelf and she and her son walked to the end of the aisle were the Transformers were and bought something there instead. 

I'd also like to make the point that Hasbro is diversifying the line (as they so often state) far too much this year.  The Choppers line was released and failed miserably, the Force Battlers line which, granted, hasn't shipped in a while still has a space at retail, and the Unleashed Battle Packs line (which I actually like a lot now that I've gotten into it) has the most horrid distribution (thousands of Wookiees and zero Clones in most places) you could imagine.  The 7" Unleashed line is probably going the way of the dodo thanks to the rerelease of three not-so-hard-to-find figures at a higher price point (although Fett was the one wise choice they made), the Titanium Forged Figures are backed up to the point of maybe three people in North America having seen the third wave, the Titanium Ultra vehicles bombed horribly, and the Titanium 3" vehicle line is just one repaint after another these days. 

Hasbro's two most successful spin-offs this year were, without a doubt, the Galactic Heroes and the Titanium Series vehicles.  The thing that blows my mind is that Hasbro is continuing to say that the success of these two lines have "caught them off guard" (even though they've been saying that about GH since 2004) and it's just one repaint or repackaging after another.  Thankfully they seem to be moving away from that recently (at least in GH), but the multitudes of unsold GH from earlier this year at WM and TRU doesn't bode well, I fear, for that line if things continue along that path.

Which brings us back to the basic line and what I reported hearing above.  The figures that the boy turned down were figures he already had or that there were better versions available that he, also, already had.  The vehicle the mother wanted wasn't "complete" in her or her son's eyes so she passed.  Both groups moved on to another toy section (POTC and TF), which I think is a metaphor for people's general attitudes toward the SW line, us excluded. 

If we look at the TSC this year, we have 24 actual new figures, countless slight retoolings and repaints (holographic figures and Utapau Clones and figures with only parts redone fall under this category, like the ERSes and the Sandtrooper), and at least 32 straight rereleases, often of figures that didn't need to be rereleased.  And if you look at the pegs, the vast majority of the figures that are hanging there are these repacks.  Out of the 24 actual new figures, the only ones that seem to hang around for a long period of time are the minor characters (Bib Fortuna, Major Derlin, Sun Fac, Lushros Dofine, Hem Dazon, Garindan, Jerjerrod, and the Naboo Soldier).  When only 24 figures out of your grand total of 94 basic figures are new, that might be a problem.

The other mother's complaint was one that I've had for a while and that some people have told me I'm overreacting to:  Products of one style being available at retail without the corresponding products to go with it (namely ships without pilots).  In the year of ROTS, there were two Anakin JSFs and despite the #2 ROTS Anakin being packed in with one, there was no readily available pilot figure to put in it.  They finally put one out in the Evolutions set, but those were never out in abundance and even the overpriced Commemorative Tin sets are the only option to get one now.  We have a Mace Windu JSF with no real Mace pilot to fit in the cockpit until this coming January, a Kit Fisto JSF with no Kit Fisto that will fit in it, a forthcoming AAT with no Battle Droids at retail, a Saesee Tiin JSF coming with no Saesee Tiin on the shelves, a ridiculous white TIE Fighter with (presumably) no TIE Fighter Pilot on the shelves, and a TRU Exclusive Gunship with two Clone Pilots who aren't even available anywhere, and five other Clones who came and went in the space of about ten minutes, even though IMO they should be right on the shelves alongside the ships today.

And one doesn't even need to mention the high level of quality and character selection being done by other companies such as Gentle Giant, Master Replicas, Sideshow, Medicom, and even Lego these days.  Hasbro is being defeated by the other companies in every way, shape, and form (and IMO, they're being publically shown up by Sideshow with their 12" doll line after Hasbro basically said nobody would be interested in 12" dolls anymore a few years ago), and instead of trying to do things to actually compete for the collector dollar, they churn out a bunch of EU comic book repaints, overpriced lunchboxes with lackluster figure selection, and think that packing in aluminum coins is going to appeal to people who, for the most part, will toss them in a box and forget about them completely.

So yeah, I think the state of the hobby is a great one if you don't look at Hasbro's absolutely illogical handling of the action figure license.  I seriously worry that the coin pack-ins are a harbinger of the end of this line.

Offline Darth Delicious

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2006, 02:30 PM »
I think the state of the hobby is strong...I think the reason you're seeing so many figures hanging on the pegs is that Hasbro is doing a better job of getting figures to retail, in enough numbers that the basement-dwelling scalpers that live on their sisters couches can't afford to hoard them all. With a plentiful supply at retail, and less moms on the hunt since it's a non-movie year, the figures don't net much profit for the scalpers...so they've moved on to other lines like Marvel Legends.

I've never been more excited about the line than I am for 2007's offerings.


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Offline Artoo

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2006, 05:47 PM »
First, I made a trip to Wal-Mart Numero Uno, and a mother and her two kids (one girl, one boy) were standing in front of the SW action figures.  The girl had gotten her toy for the day (some kind of Barbie doll), and the boy was being allowed to pick out one action figure amongst the full pegs at WM. 

"How about this one?," said the mother, referring to the 4 lightsaber H&V General Grievous.

"I already have him." said the boy.

"This guy looks interesting," said the mother, referring to one of the multitudes of Poggle the Lessers on the pegs.

"He sucks," the boy eloquently stated.

Three more figures were considered (Padme, Pilot Obi-Wan, and GB Threepio) but the former two were dismissed with "I have them already" and the latter was dismissed by pointing to the Endor Threepio on the pegs and saying, "I have that one and he's better than this one because he comes with the Ewok chair."

The boy walked on down the aisle to the POTC figures instead.


The other mother's complaint was one that I've had for a while and that some people have told me I'm overreacting to:  Products of one style being available at retail without the corresponding products to go with it (namely ships without pilots).  In the year of ROTS, there were two Anakin JSFs and despite the #2 ROTS Anakin being packed in with one, there was no readily available pilot figure to put in it.  They finally put one out in the Evolutions set, but those were never out in abundance and even the overpriced Commemorative Tin sets are the only option to get one now.  We have a Mace Windu JSF with no real Mace pilot to fit in the cockpit until this coming January, a Kit Fisto JSF with no Kit Fisto that will fit in it, a forthcoming AAT with no Battle Droids at retail, a Saesee Tiin JSF coming with no Saesee Tiin on the shelves, a ridiculous white TIE Fighter with (presumably) no TIE Fighter Pilot on the shelves, and a TRU Exclusive Gunship with two Clone Pilots who aren't even available anywhere, and five other Clones who came and went in the space of about ten minutes, even though IMO they should be right on the shelves alongside the ships today.

How old was that boy? Was he older looking or younger looking? It's strange a kid would say "He sucks".  :D
That's sort of sad that Hasbro's 80,0000 re-packs is making kids lose intrest in SW.

The AAT does have the Kashyyk BDs & SBD coming out, but I doubt kids will have any intrest in those.
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Offline Clone Commander

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2006, 06:25 PM »
Well christmas is on the way, perhaps sales will pick up then, we'll just have to wait and see...
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Offline DoctorPadawan

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2006, 07:10 PM »
How old was that boy? Was he older looking or younger looking? It's strange a kid would say "He sucks".  :D

I would guess he was around 8 or so.  Height-wise, his shoulders were right at the bottom peg (the one directly above the shelf), so he couldn't have been that much older.  His sister (probably 11 or so, I guess) had to pull Poggle down off the third peg for him to look at and offer his appraisal, so there you go. :)

As for it being strange that a kid that age saying something "sucks," I've heard and seen far more strange things coming out of children that age these days than simply saying something "sucks."  From telling another child they're going to Hell for liking Harry Potter books to asking their older brother via cellphone if he's turning into a "player," kids ain't exactly innocent these days.

Offline Darth Delicious

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Re: State of the Hobby
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2006, 01:45 AM »
Gotta back up Doc Padawan here...kids say the damndest things. I was in a Wal-Mart recently, and a hispanic kid that couldn't have been more than seven was whining for a Batman costume. His sister, who looked even younger than he, said with a voice full of scorn, "You can't be Batman. Batman's white."

I know sister's can crush a dream pretty handily, but even a hardened cynic like me was pretty blown away.

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