I think that 2009 has been one of the worst as far as distribution goes as well, at least for the Legacy line. We also had a lot of problems locally with the 2002 Saga line that has already been mentioned in this thread. Like it has been said, I think the 2009 product has been some of the best ever. I've mentioned it before, but the Legacy figures coming out lately have really been top notch. It used to be that there would be one or two really good figures in a given wave, a couple of "ok" ones, and usually at least one craptastic one. Anymore, it is difficult to even find a bad figure in the Legacy line.
The distribution of the Legacy line has been another story. I've seen (and can probably still find) lots of the first ANH wave (or wave 5 is it?) with Han/Luke Stormy, Cantina Aliens, etc. I saw the ESB and AOTC waves once each I think, a few weeks after I received them from BBTS and/or HTS. On the other hand, I've seen every Clone Wars figure released so far this year, and several times. Heck, the pegs at both Target and WM right now are packed full of the most recent figures. They seem to sell ok, but are starting to sit a little bit more now. Actually, longer than I would have thought. I can remember a time where any new figure, particularly a new clone or bounty hunter-type one, would be "blink and you miss them" - but I've seen figures like Cad Bane and Gree several times, and even sitting for days in some cases.
I've mentioned it in other threads, but the two to three lines at the same time really proves a problem. They may be seperate numbers, seperate pegs, and labeled differently - but they all get jammed together. Heck, since getting laid off early this year I've picked up a part time morning job at Target (stocking) and I know for a fact I'm the only one who stocks the lines on the proper pegs. I check the next day (or after a day I haven't been in), and they are all mixed together again. I think that proves a problem as well. I can understand the animated style CW figures and all, they seem to be a great success, but it is too bad there isn't a better way to keep CW and TLC seperate (and drop Legends altogether). I used to sort of enjoy the thrill of finding new figures on the pegs, but I've gotten to where I just order entire waves at BBTS as well (and have done that for over a year). If I happen to find them at retail first, I can always cancel, but the prices are reasonably in line and I'd rather pay a little extra and have them than have to search weeks upon weeks for them. Also, like others, I'm at a point in my life now at 32 where I just don't have time to search every store all the time for this stuff. Exclusives are enough work to track down sometimes, I don't need to do it with the basic line too.
Also, the whole releasing 3/4 of the line in the last four months of the year is a big problem, maybe the main one even. If these waves were spread out about every six weeks or so throughout the year, it would probably help a lot. Instead we've had these three month dry spells, then a wave, then a couple more months, then two waves, then a month and then 4-6 waves in 3 months time. Hopefully they can get away from that pattern in 2010, particularly if we keep seeing more and more exclusives in the last 1/3 of the year. I remember towards the end of 2005 telling my wife that "Star Wars will be slowing down more each year from now on", but I now find myself buying/searching for more stuff than I did in the big ROTS year. The number of exclusives is higher all the time (not to mention the prices), and the basic figure line has just as many releases (and a whole other line if you collect CW too, which I have been for the most part). Add in distribution problems to an increasing number of releases, and it makes it problematic.