Author Topic: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?  (Read 3316 times)

Offline Brian

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 11082
    • View Profile
Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« on: April 28, 2008, 12:24 PM »
Looking at some of the more recent trends, it seems like many retailers (Target in particular) are scaling back on the mass movie line releases that we've seen in the past.  Aside from Star Wars, which seems to have the selling power to drive big releases, it seems like a lot of others are having their problems.  I remember movies (aside from SW) like Fantastic Four, Superman Returns, Spidey, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc. all having entire aisles dedicated to them at the stores (Wal-Mart in particular with the first couple), or at least large sections.  More and more it seems like some of the stores just have an endcap or regular sized action figure section in the aisle.  I've noticed that TRU seems to be banking on Speed Racer, as that still has a large set up at our local store - but movies like Iron Man just have a normal section stuck at the back of the store.  Wal-Mart has little to no space for Iron Man, and Target has an endcap and that's it (at least at our store).  From what I've read, Indiana Jones might be much the same (endcap/section).  Also, other movies (Narnia) seem to just be TRU exclusive type releases (although I'm sure they won't be huge sellers, so it makes sense).

Anyways, not complaining at all, because it seems to be a better approach overall - but it seems like aside from Star Wars and possibly Spider-Man/Transformers, that stores are kind of scaling back on the huge releases for movie lines that we used to see across the board (at least for awhile there).  I expect Hulk will see a smaller release as well (like Iron Man), and possibly even The Dark Knight seeing a similar release.  I've said before, I think the strategy with Iron Man is a good one.  It has a balanced lineup with villains and alternate armors, and doesn't seem to be quite the sea of Iron Men like we've seen with other superhero releases.  Again, maybe the big push is still on the way for some of these things, but it seems like many retailers/toy companies are taking a little bit different (better?) approach with some of these movie lines.  Heck, I'm still surprised that they don't put out Harry Potter toys for at least the kiddos anymore, but those early Mattel lines must have really bombed.  Has anyone else noticed a change in the movie lines, or is it just the fact that there are so many to get "in and out" of the store in a summer now - or the larger number of action figure lines in general that are keeping retail space at a premium these days?  I know it seems like the number of different action figure/collector lines out there has exploded just since I started collecting SW again in the late 90s.

Offline efranks

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 2873
  • Eric Franks
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2008, 02:30 PM »
Speed Racer might be an exception to that.  My Target store has two end-caps plus a big chunk in the die-cast car aisle.

I agree, though, that some movie lines are being cut back.  If you look at The Golden Compass or Prince Caspian, the lines aren't that big.  But honestly, do you remember how much crap came out for films in the past?  Godzilla, Men In Black, Independence Day, Planet of the Apes?  Hell, Spider-Man 2? 

Stores were flooded and got stuck with a lot of stuff, especially TRU on the first 4 examples I listed.  You could still find Godzilla stuff at TRU stores 5+ years later, PotA 4 years later... Since then it seems like lines have been smaller over all and I'm in favor of that. 

Not every film that hits needs a toy line but some lend themselves better than others.  Speed Racer actually does lend itself to toys with all the different race cars and such, but Iron Man is one guy with a couple different suits.  So can Hasbro really build a huge line around that?  Toy Biz tried, and IMO, failed miserably with Spider-Man 2.  For months there were HUGE aisles at WM and TRU filled with nothing but Spider-Man and then, finally, one or two Doc Ock figures trickled out.  The SM 3 line was smaller and Hasbro made sure that there were other villains on the shelf at the same time.  At launch you weren't stuck with just SM and Sandman, you could also get Rhino or Doc Ock or even Goblin figures as well.

You mentioned the Narnia series and I'm not actually sure that's the type of film that lends itself to figures but I do, in fact, really like the looks of some of the beast characters that are out now.  The Golden Compass?  Not really an action figure type of film and that line seems to have generally tanked.

Pirates was big when it first launched and I think there was potential for more from that toy line if the original film had hit with a trilogy in mind, the action figures had been out to cover all three films and if the third film hadn't sucked. 

If I look at the movies coming out this year, the ones that lend themselves to toy lines seem to be Batman, Iron Man, Speed Racer, Indiana Jones, Hulk, and Wall-E.  The three comic book films need smaller lines because you're really talking one hero, one villain and a handful of, probably, rather boring everyday people.  Speed Racer has the benefit of the cars, Wall-E has the benefit of being a Disney movie with a bunch of cute background characters and Indy has 3 films already in the can to draw from.

Harry Potter is actually an odd one.  I'd have thought that that set of films could have huge potential for figures.  The original lines seemed to do okay from what I saw, but then they switched up the scale for Prisoner of Azkaban and it kind of died.  The new Neca stuff is neat but expensive and limited to collectors.  That set of films lends itself to small playsets and accessories and I think would have been a brilliant choice for 3.75" scale.  Could you imagine fielding whole Quidditch teams?  Getting Dark Arts and Potions classroom dios?  The Gryffindor Common room?  Don't get me started...I'd almost give up SW collecting for that.  I just think that the goals for that line got messed up somewhere and never recovered.

One of the things  Star Wars has going for it, besides hugely popular movies and 30 years of nostalgia, is the depth of the pool to draw characters from.  A background character from Spider-Man looks like me sitting at a cafe.  A background character from Star Wars looks like Greedo.  Which would you rather buy a figure of?  Bruce Wayne rides around in a limo, Han Solo flies the Millennium Falcon past black holes...  See where I'm going with this?  Not all of the big hits have big, cool characters and "stuff" to choose from and those films don't need big toy lines.  I think retail and license holders are finally starting to realize that.

   E...
"I sell the drugs that keep you people from seeing dragons at night." - Gus "Psych"

Offline Brian

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 11082
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2008, 02:57 PM »
Great post, I agree completely.  Almost all of the movie lines (Star Wars - for the most part - seems to be the exception to this) really end up rotting on the pegs around here.  Even (like your example) something that was as popular as Spider-Man 2 - there were tons of Spidey figures on the pegs here for a long time.  Like you mentioned WM in particular left almost an entire aisle to the figures for quite some time just due to there being so many.  It does look like retailers are learning from the past mistakes though.

Like you said, the smaller lines like Narnia (or Golden Compass) probably don't have enough mass appeal to really hold things up at all the retailers.  You make a good point about Speed Racer as well.  Similar to Cars, the different automobiles lend themselves to a good line that doesn't necessarily take up a lot of space (as far as the regular cars go).  Aside from those though, the Speed Racer push does seem pretty excessive - but we'll see how it goes.  I would have never guessed that Alvin and the Chipmunks would be a $200 million making movie, so maybe Speed Racer will be huge.  Like you said, I like the approach we might be starting to see with the superhero movie lines - good version(s) of the main hero and readily available villains.  I hope trends like this continue with future franchises so that the aisles aren't swimming in these things for months/years to come.

I'm often puzzled with the Harry Potter situation as well.  You would think a line (especially with 7 - or now 8 - movies by the time its all done) could have cleaned up for quite awhile at retail.  I know there is a line done by Cards Inc. in the U.K. that is pretty amazing.  3 3/4" articulated figures, playsets and all that jazz - too bad there wasn't something like that here.  With so many companies trying to capture that "Star Wars magic" that started in the 70s/80s with movie merchandising - if one franchise had the potential (other than LOTR) it would have been Harry Potter I think - particularly with kids.

Offline knashdx

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 3955
  • I see Llama's
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2008, 03:33 PM »
Scalling back -
Some movies have been trimmed back. When Narnia came out TRU had a bunch of stuff, they were the only ones. I remember when Shrek came out the McFarlane line of toys was everywhere for them. Then Shrek 2 came out and Wal-Mart and TRU where the only places I could find it. Shrek 3 hit and TRU was the only place, and only had 3 pegs of it.


Ironman/Hulk/Batman -
The one thing that Hasbro/Marvel has going for it is that the Iron Man series makes sense to have different armors. He wears them at some point.

Batman/Matel misses the boat with as they do all these different costumes for Batman that are never in the movie or make any sense at times. Some collectors and kids would like to see more charecters from the movies. With Batman Begins we had 1 Scarecrow (that sucked) and 1 Ra's Al Ghul (nearly impossible to find), but we never saw and Arkham Thugs, League of Shadow's Thugs, or League of Shadow's Ninja's that would have made the line better for all.  They atleast have "A" thug in the new series for Dark Knight, but we all know that the Joker figure is going to fly off the shelves with Heath Ledger's death.

Hulk - The legends line should help. Best thing is all the different back charecters instead of a bunch of different Hulks that no one wants.


Potter -
First lines were definately intended to the kids. The problem that they ran into was scale so they didn't interchange well. The thing I like about the Neca line is that the scale is better, and they are doing figures from all the different movies. The Build-A-Figure of the Deatheater practice dumbie was nice in Wave 1. Granted the are costlier than the original seriese, but they are also more detailed, and acurate so it is worth it.


Honestly I am not sorry to see retailers scalling back. The past 5 years have seen too many Batman, Fantastic 4, Spider-Man toys sit on the shelves till Clearance hit and still not sell till they got closer to 90% off. Retailers should stick with what works, DC (Justice League), Marvel Legends (if this line ever gets fixed), Star Wars, Transformers, Some Spider-Man and some exceptions (Indy, Speed Racer, TMNT, etc...)
I have been told to go to hell; well at least I will know everyone there!

Offline efranks

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 2873
  • Eric Franks
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2008, 03:48 PM »
That Harry Potter Cards, Inc line from the UK looked pretty good for the most part but some of the figures were a little lacking.  There also seemed to be some good accessories.  I'd probably have looked to pick up some of them but the prices initially weren't that great and with the falling dollar it's probably just more of a pain now.

I could almost cry at the lost opportunity for a line of figures from that franchise.

Speed Racer.  Say it with me, "I have a bad feeling about this."  It's getting a lot of hype but the trailers for it don't instill any confidence in me.  The more Iron Man I see the more psyched I am, the more SR, the less interested I am.  But, yeah, Alvin and the Chipmunks?  Egad.  We'll see.  I certainly don't have any ill-will for Speed Racer but I'm just having a hard time warming up to it. 

It's got to be really hard for a license holder to make the call on what to bring out for release on a new film, especially when there's no track record.  We all saw how overwhelmed Hasbro was by the Transformers hit last year.  Empty shelves for months before they caught up.  TF is an evergreen line but the huge success of the film made an impact.  Luckily, TF is the type of toy line that could weather that lack of product.

Spider-Man is similar in that you could short the market up front a little and still know you had sales coming later in the year and for Christmas.  With an untested film like Speed Racer or Iron Man, you never know.  And if either hits big but you don't have the retail presence for two months, will people stop caring about it?  I guess with Speed Racer they're taking a chance and making sure there's enough product if it hits big.  Iron Man, a little more conservative, which I'm glad for.

   E...
"I sell the drugs that keep you people from seeing dragons at night." - Gus "Psych"

Offline Morgbug

  • Old
  • Jedi Guardian
  • *
  • Posts: 16008
  • mmm. pemmican.
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2008, 04:59 PM »
Funny, I would have started a thread called "I hate movie lines" instead.  Mostly based on the Speed Racer stuff I see piling up and, yup, not moving at all.  Granted the movie isn't out yet, but I think someone is banking on the love of "Cars" carrying over to SR and it isn't the same thing; it's a totally different audience. 

I'm ecstatic to see movie lines playing less of a role in the aisles, mostly because I have fewer stores to choose from and those tend to be dominated by the movie toys whenever they come out and that's always to the expense of what I want to see them carrying.  I understand that Spiderman toys vastly outsell Star Wars or whatever I want, but still, they end up with so very much clogging the pegs it's silly.  And does anyone ever buy that bump'n'go crap?  No, they don't. 

I'm still not really convinced kids are that into action figures anymore.  Certainly some are to some extent but I sure don't see any kids locally playing with anything of the sort and I don't hear them talking about action figures.  It's either skateboards, street hockey, bikes or video games.  I guess some are playing with them inside their homes, but I just don't hear kids clamoring for the latest spidey figure, rather they'd have the latest spidey video game.  And now I live in an area absolutely saturated with kids, so I feel comfortable saying that. 

I think pricing of late has pushed figures to the back too.  Easy enough to spring for a $5 Vader figure, not so easy when it's suddenly $8 for the same figure.  Of course up north, we're worse off and have been anyway for a while, so less of an issue here, but I'm pretty sure we sold less period because of that pricing. 
Minivans: a sign of the apocalypse.

Offline inadvertent imitation

  • Jedi Master
  • *
  • Posts: 6361
    • View Profile
    • greatest blog ever written.
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2008, 03:01 AM »
I found some Dark Knight toys at WM tonight, and they didn't have a very big display or very many figures at all. The packaging was awful. I've purchased bootleg TFs that had more inspired packaging than these. The figures themselves looked bad as well. The Joker figure had little sculpted detail in the face, and the head was completely white, looking nothing at all like the character in the film. And let's not get started on the Batmen.

Plus, these were something like $8.76 a whack, so I don't blame the retailers for scaling back especially when the toys are this awful and expensive.
don't you know there ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk

Offline Nicklab

  • Jedi General
  • *
  • Posts: 8337
  • Deceived? WHAT?!?!
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #7 on: May 3, 2008, 10:18 PM »
It seems like they might be doing this.  I've been hitting a TRU, Target & WM on a regular basis.  And I've only seen a real presence at TRU for these lines.  Iron Man seems to be doing well in comparison.  And Speed Racer is taking up A LOT of space.

One of the real surprises was a 12' feature display at TRU.  On that one unit they had stock 5 lines:  Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Dark Knight (Batman), Indiana Jones and Narnia.  There was minimal presence from any of these lines in the regular boys toys aisle.  But the Speed Racer feature section?  It's disgusting how much space they've taken up.  Especially since that movie hasn't even been released yet.  Certainly it's got a good deal of history, but it really looks like Mattel went over the top on this.
"You were entrusted to lead the Republic." - Vote for Ven Zallow from THE OLD REPUBLIC in figure polls!

Feedback

Offline Darth_Anton

  • Jedi General
  • *
  • Posts: 9818
  • Whatever
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2008, 09:22 AM »
Scaling Back? I was surprised to read this. It seems to me that there's more than every with Indy, Speed, Hulk Narnia and Iron Man all out within a month of each other. I can't remember the endcaps too well from past years, but with all the new products, it's like walking into a new store.
"Snark is the idiot's version of wit."

Offline Brian

  • Jedi Sentinel
  • *
  • Posts: 11082
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2009, 11:53 AM »
Bringing this topic back up...but it doesn't really seem like retailers are scaling back on movie lines, at least not overall.  It may change now that the movie is in theaters, but our local WM is sitting on piles and piles of Star Trek figures - not to mention the Wolverine stuff.  I see plenty of Wolverine and Terminator stuff sitting at Target as well, and there is a little bit of Trek there too.  This all may change, but for now, the movie lines seem to be sitting here locally.

It seems like we discuss this a lot with movie lines, whether it is for comic-based movies or just movie franchises in general.  With a few exceptions, I don't know that I've seen any "movie lines" sell well outside of Star Wars (ROTS in particular was a really fast seller initially, particularly for that summer).  Transformers movie stuff seemed to do pretty well too, and I expect this round to do well too - particularly if there is actually stuff on the pegs.  It will be interesting to see how the Joe stuff does.  In general, it seems like the movie lines do poorly and end up on clearance, but retailers always seem ready to buy into them again.  Of course, some lines (Spider-Man movies, etc.) apparently do better than we think, at least according to manufacturers/retailers.

Offline efranks

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 2873
  • Eric Franks
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2009, 02:25 PM »
I've been to a few Walmart Supercenters and they had large amounts of Star Trek and Wolverine figures but I think this was just before the Terminator figures hit and I don't recall seeing much of those.  My local Walmart, on the other hand, is not a Supercenter and has not stocked any toys from either Star Trek or Terminator.  They have 4 pegs dedicated to the Wolverine figures but have only gotten about 2 cases worth of figures.  By the way, my WM is not carrying the 4" Marvel figures either.

The local Target, and one that I stopped into at the same time I hit the WM Supercenters, have a moderate amount of product for the Star Trek, Terminator and Wolverine lines.  I still think overall that retailers have cut back on the movie lines.  Some stores may have a large amount of the figures in stock, but the number of characters and items for the lines aren't out of hand. 

Except for the 6" figures, which I think are redundant, the Star Trek line is actually pretty conservative in that they're covering the main characters, offered two nice playsets, a ship model and a few role play items.  Terminator, meanwhile, has a little more of an identity crisis with its scale.  It's like Playmates couldn't pick just one and go with it so we have, what, 3 scales of figures plus role play and vehicles?  That, to me, shows lack of confidence in the product they were doing for that film.  Not so much with ST, though.  And some of that may have to do with who Playmates had to work with when they bought the license.  Paramount (Does the Roddenberry estate still have a role in ST licensing?) may have been more hands on than Warner Bros. (and whoever else holds the Terminator property for licensing) and that helped focus the lines.

Look at the Harry Potter lines.  That's a Warner Bros film also, and while the toys were from Mattel, they had a similar identity crisis when they bumped to a new scale for Azkaban. 

Anyway, I still think that overall the toy lines for movies have been cut back compared to what we saw 4 or 5 years ago.  Last year I thought that it was just the companies finally getting the idea that not everything sells but this year it might that as much as it is the economy.  If you look not at how much product from a line a store got but the actual size of the line, they are being more conservative.

   E...
"I sell the drugs that keep you people from seeing dragons at night." - Gus "Psych"

Offline Nicklab

  • Jedi General
  • *
  • Posts: 8337
  • Deceived? WHAT?!?!
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2009, 05:03 PM »
TRU bought into both Star Trek and Terminator with a fair ammount of zeal.  The feature display for both franchises is remarkable.  Although I still have to scratch my head about why retailers are accepting three different scales of figures from both franchises.
"You were entrusted to lead the Republic." - Vote for Ven Zallow from THE OLD REPUBLIC in figure polls!

Feedback

Offline Scott

  • Staff Member
  • Jedi Guardian
  • *
  • Posts: 18332
  • Get Some
    • View Profile
    • JediDefender
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2010, 12:45 AM »
The Wal-Mart Toy buyer seems to think that the upcoming Dragon movie is going to be the ****.  Seriously, since Episode III I can't remember a bigger toy presence at a store like our local Wal Mart has right now.  3 end caps and a huge cardboard ship with more 3 more toy sections around it.  It has been out for like a week and it doesn't look like anything has moved yet.

If anything should get pushed I would think it would be Toy Story 3.  It is sort of beyond weird to me and has bad news written all over it (Star Trek toy bad...Indiana Jones toy bad...Hulk bad...Grinch bad...Fantastic Four bad...etc etc etc etc)

Offline efranks

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 2873
  • Eric Franks
    • View Profile
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2010, 01:48 AM »
I didn't even know that movie had a toy line.  Not a single piece of merchandise that I've seen in either Target or Walmart.

After the last two years where we talked about companies scaling back on lines, it's held mostly true (excepting GI Joe)until the Iron Man 2 push this year.  I was surprised when Target reset their aisle and came up with a huge section for it.  The figures seem to be selling okay, and some of that may have been due to price, $6.99 isn't bad and much better than the $8+ Hasbro wanted for the Wolverine figures last year.  I haven't paid a lot of attention to all the other toys surrounding the 4" action figures, but I do think that Iron Man helmet is the ****!  Combine it with the chest power doohickey and it's a big win IMO.

I was kind of shocked that the Avatar line didn't do better.  They sold okay but stores, even Walmart, dumped them off early to clearance.  The basic figures were really overpriced but the vehicles are all excellent and hit some decent price points.

I think GI Joe was probably a loser overall for Hasbro last year.  The figures, while nicely designed, where rather boring and the vehicles I felt were overpriced at some points.  Sounded like Hasbro recognized this as they mentioned it at Toy Fair.

I have to admit that outside Star Wars and Joe, and a little Marvel, I didn't look around much at the Toy Fair coverge to see what other toy lines were coming out for films.  I'm assuming Toy Story and Shrek but compared to last year, this year seems to be lacking in films to build toy lines around.

   E...
"I sell the drugs that keep you people from seeing dragons at night." - Gus "Psych"

Offline Darby

  • Jedi Knight
  • *
  • Posts: 3379
  • I like big books and I cannot lie
    • View Profile
    • http://darby-harn.blogspot.com/
Re: Retailers Scaling Back on Movie Lines?
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2010, 09:44 AM »
I saw the same giant Dragon display at my WM and jaw hit the floor.  It's very cool in a retro way, and maybe the movie will be big, but I don't know.  Avatar didn't translate into toy sales.  An AMP suit sat for 75% off for a week before someone finally took mercy on it.