Author Topic: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?  (Read 9163 times)

Offline McMetal

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Re: Distribution
« Reply #75 on: October 28, 2009, 05:02 PM »

Given all that, I think it's pretty difficult to offer accurate street dates every time (they are usually pretty close in most cases) and completely unrealistic to think that all retailers are getting the same product within a week or two timeline.  The only time that seems to happen is when there is a brand new line coming out and that usually comes along with an official "do not release until..." street date.


Fair enough. But the very thing you are describing as "completely unrealistic" is EXACTLY what they do with DVD's.

Transformers 2 has a street date.

On that street date, I can walk into ANY Walmart, Target, etc in the country and buy that DVD. Regardless of how may "older" DVD's they have sitting on the pegs. Somehow they ALWAYS find a place for the new releases.

I don't have to drive to six different Walmarts to find the DVD I want.

I don't have to worry that the studio only packed 1 copy per case, so if some random ahole gets there before me I am out of luck.

And somehow magically, the retail outlets are able to cycle through older inventory without having to sacrifice ordering the new stuff.

Now THAT's an oversimplification. But it's also a great illustration of how Hasbro has a crappy business model.

I don't want to derail the whole thread with this rant, my only point is that the whole business paradigm for toys in this country is seriously messed up. If you tried to sell another product like that (music industry comes to mind) you would fail miserably.

Please don't flame me...I'm just throwing out an opinion - there are probably a lot of other frustrated collectors out there that would agree.
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Offline Jayson

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Re: Distribution
« Reply #76 on: October 28, 2009, 05:17 PM »
The release date/availability for action figures vs DVD business model is hardly a synonymous comparison. Have you ever tried to get a DVD out of the stockroom before its release date or have you ever seen them out available for purchase before then?
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 05:21 PM by Jayson »
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Offline McMetal

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Re: Distribution Whining
« Reply #77 on: October 28, 2009, 05:18 PM »

Oh?

Oh?

Oh?

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Want to give me a re-cap?  ???

If someone from RS actually spotted these in a store, why did it never make their front page?

I barely even go looking for crap anymore, but the 3-4 Targets I have hit in the past week or two have all had that Panno, Giran, etc wave on the pegs. I saw full waves of TPM before that, multiple times. (Mostly at Walmarts though)

I'm not saying you don't have to put a little effort into looking, but there's out there. (And I live in VA for the record, which isn't exactly a toy mecca, but there's not a lot of competition either)

I feel like I am getting on the bad side of some of you with these comments for whatever reason. Thinking it is probably time for me to shut up on this topic.
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Offline Jayson

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Re: Distribution Whining
« Reply #78 on: October 28, 2009, 05:26 PM »
Want to give me a re-cap?  ???

If someone from RS actually spotted these in a store, why did it never make their front page?


Here is what they read:
Quote
Got Matchstick, Clone Tank Gunner and Ziro's Assasain Droid from TRU Leeds today, they had plenty of them along with the rest of TCW waves. They had no Padmés however.

Quote
Got Luminara, Matchstick, Padme, Clone Tank Gunner, Ziro's IG Droid from TRU. Shame they never had Clone Commander Thire and AAT Driver Battle Droid.

Quote
Picked up Matchstick, Zero IG-86, Clone Gunner and Cad Bane from Tesco this morning.


Granted these are collectors in the UK, but they have made it to retail "somewhere".

Also, RS doesn't post store reports on their front page. They're cool like that.

(Thank you Forum Gods, for splitting the topic.)
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 06:28 PM by Jayson »
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Distribution Whining
« Reply #79 on: October 28, 2009, 05:50 PM »
(Thank you Forum Gods, for splitting the topic.)

It's much easier for me to ignore the constant bitching about distribution if it's all in one place and not spread out over 5-6 different threads.   ;)
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Offline Adam_Pawlus

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Re: Distribution
« Reply #80 on: October 28, 2009, 08:37 PM »
The release date/availability for action figures vs DVD business model is hardly a synonymous comparison. Have you ever tried to get a DVD out of the stockroom before its release date or have you ever seen them out available for purchase before then?

Yes and yes.  (Video games, no, but DVDs, yes.)  A friend of mine and I used to go out to Best Buys and Wal-Marts (and Blockbuster Video stores) specifically to do just this.  It is doable, although we found more out on the floor than we ever saw stuff come out of the back if asked for.  Employees who just don't care are your friends, sometimes.

Action figure release dates to some extent are marketed as such in some Japanese lines, specifically I've seen this in Transformers marketing, but their stuff is also largely solid-packed.  Doing release dates on a specific figure (and I'd argue DVDs, games, and CDs) never *helps* you get the figure.  It just alerts people which day to wait out in front of the store to buy something up, creates even more hype, and often causes stores to hold items in the back until a specific date, rather than just putting them out when they show up.  I may be alone here but I *HATE HATE HATE* street dates for products.  If you have it, you should be able to sell it-- why turn down a sale?  Street dates just prevent people from getting stuff early for marketing/hype purposes.

In the case of Star Wars street dates-- arguably one of very few lines which have managed to do a successful "launch" (which Hasbro has tried to do with Marvel, Joe, and Transformers to very little success in terms of coordination)-- it doesn't hurt when there's a huge aisle reset with dozens if not hundreds of new SKUs like the TPM/AOTC/ROTS/TCW launches.  But if they didn't have that launch date, you would be able to find those items out on the pegs much earlier at most stores, due to the AZ Wal-Marts' not giving a crap, I bought a ton of AOTC Saga items about a month before the official date.  They were out and about, just the way it should be.  Get it out, let it sell, and then reorder and sell some more.

The way figure assortments work, street dates for specific waves and figures is just not doable.  A store might only get 30 cases, putting that kind of marketing effort for a batch of 6 figures is a waste of time for all involved.  For the hundreds or thousands of a game or DVD, though, it makes good sense.  TRU experimented with in-store pre-orders with dates for later wave Episode I stuff in 1999... it didn't work.

...and yes, I do agree that 2009 (black/red) as of today is absolutely the worst year for Legacy figure distribution from what I see in the wilderness.  Clone Wars, it's about the same as the movie lines used to be on an OK day.  Blue was basically OK except for Wave 7.
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Offline McMetal

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Re: Distribution Whining
« Reply #81 on: October 28, 2009, 09:10 PM »

Here is what they read:
Quote
Got Matchstick, Clone Tank Gunner and Ziro's Assasain Droid from TRU Leeds today, they had plenty of them along with the rest of TCW waves. They had no Padmés however.

Quote
Got Luminara, Matchstick, Padme, Clone Tank Gunner, Ziro's IG Droid from TRU. Shame they never had Clone Commander Thire and AAT Driver Battle Droid.

Quote
Picked up Matchstick, Zero IG-86, Clone Gunner and Cad Bane from Tesco this morning.


Granted these are collectors in the UK, but they have made it to retail "somewhere".

Also, RS doesn't post store reports on their front page. They're cool like that.


Fair enough, but plenty of other sites like JTA and Galactic Hunter DO do this and it's mega helpful. (A simple blurb saying "Hey this was spotted in AZ by one of our eagle-eyed forum members", maybe with a photo, is really cool)

I guess I should have qualified my remark with "IN THIS COUNTRY" but honestly I figured that went without saying. I'm sure we could jet over to Malaysia to pick up a few new toys too, but I'm really just venting about the situation in the US. I can't speak to the foreign markets because that is a whole different animal.

Adam, thanks for the informed insight, I get what you are saying but I just have a different take on the whole "street date" thing. I think it helps a lot to make new releases an "event" based on firm dates because it allows you to build a targeted marketing and production push at a national level. If Hasbro had any control over when their product hits the shelves, it would really enhance their ability to accurately forecast sales projections over the course of the year, so they can refine the release dates over time and optimize their strategy.

The way things are right now, it must be a nightmare trying to coordinate all these moving pieces and data mine for any kind of useful analysis that could actually help grow the business. From a business standpoint, it just seems like any success is in spite of the current system, not because of it.
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Offline Jayson

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Re: Distribution Whining
« Reply #82 on: October 28, 2009, 09:27 PM »
Fair enough, but plenty of other sites like JTA and Galactic Hunter DO do this and it's mega helpful. (A simple blurb saying "Hey this was spotted in AZ by one of our eagle-eyed forum members", maybe with a photo, is really cool)

My "they're cool like that" statement was a lame attempt at sarcasm/facetiousness. Many fine sites (JD, HH, GH, JTA, ST, YF, YN, etc.) post stateside store reports on their respective front pages frequently - and if they haven't - it hasn't hit yet. Rest assured they will when it does and you'd be better served looking at those site's front pages for store reports.

As for the "street date" issue, I think it makes sense to a point like for exclusives, but for general release figures I think it's too much of a logistical hassle with all the different skus to contend with.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2009, 09:43 PM by Jayson »
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Offline Adam_Pawlus

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Re: Distribution Whining
« Reply #83 on: October 28, 2009, 10:18 PM »
Adam, thanks for the informed insight, I get what you are saying but I just have a different take on the whole "street date" thing. I think it helps a lot to make new releases an "event" based on firm dates because it allows you to build a targeted marketing and production push at a national level. If Hasbro had any control over when their product hits the shelves, it would really enhance their ability to accurately forecast sales projections over the course of the year, so they can refine the release dates over time and optimize their strategy.

Hasbro certainly thinks it has the ability to control their product, as most of their new male action lines do have specific launch dates for the first wave(s) when a big push happens.  (These include: Episode I, Saga/Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, Transformers [Movie], Transformers [Animated], Indiana Jones, The Clone Wars, Wolverine/Marvel Universe, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra.  These all had street dates on the boxes for some or all of its early waves of product.)   As you probably noticed, Hasbro does have a strategy as to when new products and waves hit.  And these targets (more ranges than specific dates) are sometimes missed, in particular, you can see this in Q4 of 2007 and 2009 Hasbro Star Wars lines.  Things just happened to get pushed back for various reasons, some of which I am not at liberty to discuss.

For marketing purposes with lots of items, it definitely has a (potential) place.  For some reason, retailers are usually able to coordinate things with Star Wars nicely on those big launch dates.   (The big ones, anyway.  There were sometimes secondary dates for like a month after the main launch and these tend to be totally ignored.)  A big launch gets free press attention (local news), fans go out with friends who may not be collectors who want to see the spectacle, and stores get big sales.

If you've watched this stuff closely the stores basically ignore it for everything that isn't Star Wars, Wal-Mart in particular.  The 3 3/4-inch Marvel Universe line and Wolverine were supposed to have a strict street date, which Wal-Mart ignored at many locations and put everything out early.  With Transformers, some items got put out early for the first movie and a lot of stores put stuff out a little late for the second one, thus missing the entire point of a large launch date.  And with Transformers: Animated, there was an advance release in (if memory serves) Ohio while the rest of the country was supposed to wait to put them out until a specified date-- who  benefits from this?  Some Wal-Marts, again, ignored this and put them all out, which is why I got my Animated stuff at Wal-Mart.  A lot of the stores I frequent missed the Rise of Cobra date and just put the stuff out whenever, typically late.

The thing that really gets my goat is restrictions-- when an item scans as "do not sell."  Usually because the store is uninformed and thinks the item has been recalled, which it rarely (never) is.   As a collector, I know the score, but what about the kid who finally convinces mom and dad to buy a figure, they take it to the register, and the kid's out of luck?  That sucks.  Just sell the damn toy.

I agree with Jayson that with exclusives, it does seem sensible.  When it works, of course, assuming the store remembers to put it out and/or it doesn't get siphoned off before the street date.
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Offline efranks

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #84 on: October 29, 2009, 01:03 AM »
I don't like constant street dates but I don't mind when Hasbro or another company plans a street date for an event like a TV series launch, movie, or even DVD release.  You know what's coming and when it's going to be in stores.  I'm fine with that every once in a while, but I don't want one every year where it ***** up distribution for the rest of the year.

Here's the problem I'm seeing in my town; we have a Walmart and Target and while there is a KMart it's really not a player.

Walmart has had the ANH and ESB waves a few times each.  When it came time for them to get in the AOTC wave they instead got 2008 Wave 2 (I forget which revision).  That's been on the pegs with the last of the ESB and we've seen nothing new for 2 or 3 months because my city has gotten its fill of those figures.

Target did not stock a single new case of 2009 TLC figures from January till October.  None.  In mid September Hasbro finally pulled off 12+ Breha and 12+ Bail Organa figures (they left 1 Breha), all of the Stass Allie except for three and all of the Yarna figures.  That left one figure on each of the 4 TLC pegs.  No new stock showed up for a month until finally one of the Stass figures sold.

We got a fresh case on the pegs about a week after that.  It wasn't the currently-shipping TPM or ROTJ figures.  It wasn't the just-shipped AOTC wave nor even the earlier ESB wave; we got 1 case of ANH.

Okay, that's not bad, maybe there will be just enough people in town to buy that wave and we'll move on.  Right?  After a week where they only sold 1 figure, someone finally picked up 6 or so and the pegs were nearly clear. 

Last week we got a new case of action figures, fresh from 2008...Wave 4 Revision 2.  More Breha. More Bail.  More Commander Faie.  Plus the repacks of the 327th, Vader and Grievous.  The same ******* case that's been clogging up this store for a year.

Where the hell did that come from?  What possible excuse is there for year old product to still be in the pipeline to Target?  That's what's wrong with Hasbro, Target and the entire distribution chain for action figures.

Needless to say, it's been another week and the only thing that's sold are a couple of the army builders (327th and Faie).  Locally, this town will not absorb those figures till parents are forced to buy them because they need something Star Wars to put in little Johnny's stocking in two months.

I have no reason to believe that my local Target will get more than 1 single case of 2009 figures in 2009.  How can it be explained, in any reasonable manner, by anyone, how it is acceptable for any product line to NOT ship to a store for an entire year?  In what other line of merchandise in ANY industry would this be even remotely acceptable?

The fact that there are cases of 2008 figures in the pipeline a year after their initial release means to me that Hasbro utterly failed with their launch of the TLC line in 2008.  Complete and utter failure.  In my opinion, Hasbro and Hasbro alone owns that ****up.  Not the retailers.  Not the collectors.  Hasbro.
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #85 on: October 29, 2009, 01:07 AM »
Quote
Last week we got a new case of action figures, fresh from 2008...Wave 4 Revision 2.  More Breha. More Bail.  More Commander Faie.  Plus the repacks of the 327th, Vader and Grievous.  The same ******* case that's been clogging up this store for a year.

This is EXACTLY what I saw, and not just Target but WM also.  They pulled that ****, but then put more out!  I have seen figures all the way back to the repaint wave resurface, which those sold it seems, but the majority were that ROTS wave of Breha/Bail and others.

Sucks majorly.
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Offline shmashwitdaclub

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #86 on: October 29, 2009, 01:57 PM »
Yeah, everything about that sucks efranks and there is almost nothing you can do about it.  The one thing I think that you could do about it is buy the figures now to force the system to order yet another case and then return them at a later date.  Both Target and Walmart, in my area at least, have 90 day return policies - so you could return them in the thick of the Christmas season for parents to buy them (or if you go on a road trip return them to another store and let them be that stores burden  >:D ).

You can do this if you care that much and have the money to do so.  Should you have to?  HELL NO!
« Last Edit: October 29, 2009, 01:58 PM by shmashwitdaclub »

Offline Pete_Fett

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #87 on: October 29, 2009, 07:12 PM »
I went into my local WM yesterday morning and I happened upon two reps from Hasbro working with the lady in toys.

I wasn't sure they were reps from Hasbro at first, but then when I saw they had Hasbro badges, I felt compelled to speak with them - sure I know this puts me into the "creapy collector" category, but quite frankly enough is enough, so here's what went down....

I asked if they had a few minutes to speak with me regarding distribution of the Star Wars line. They said they did, so I asked them to accompany me over to where the figures are pegged.

In our modest toy section we have 12 pegs, four for Clone Wars, four for Build-a-Droid and four for Legends. There hasn't been a single Legacy/BAD figure on the pegs since I scored the TPM wave.

Curious to see what we were talking about the lady who runs the toy dept came over as well.

I showed the Hasbro reps how CW and Legends figures were filling the pegs designated for TLC/BAD. At first they were telling me that I was wrong and I had to get a bit testy with them to let them know that (a) I'm not stupid and (b) that they should know that there are three separate assortments.

Once we got the assortment issue out of the way, I explained to them that since the pegs are full, no one at this WM is going to re-order anything since, to the regular WalMart employee, they have Star Wars in stock - the three assortments mean NOTHING to them since the prices are all the same and they just peg figures wherever they can put them when they come in.

At this point, the lady working toys thinks I'm out to get her or something and she starts speaking up (I wanted to tell her to shut her f**ing mouth - but I didn't). I explained to the Hasbro reps that when they are going to re-order they don't scan each figure individually, they just count what's on the pegs and if they are full move on. The WM employee piped up that it wasn't true and that when they check for re-orders they always scan each item (sure, and I have a million dollars to give away to the next 100th caller)

So all while I'm talking, I'm moving the CW figures to the CW pegs and the Legends figures to the Legends pegs.

When I was done, the WM employee piped up and said - "yes, but if I leave these pegs here in the middle empty, I get in trouble!!!"

At this point, I couldn't help but smile and then I said "thank you for proving my point".

The two Hasbro reps had a startled look on their faces, almost like they had an epiphany of some sorts - I said that this was happening all over the area, the BAD figure pegs are CLOGGED with CW and Legends product and every three weeks, the Star Wars team trots out answers that blame collectors for the failure of the BAD line. If the BAD figures were gathering dust on the pegs then that would be one thing, but they're not.

I ended the conversation by stressing that the similar look of the lines and the equal prices only caused confusion for the WM/Target/TRU employees who really could care less that there's a difference between the lines - since to them - there really ISN'T a difference - it's all just "Star Wars".

The really kick in the pants came when the WM employee came back over to the pegs after stepping away for a minute with an inventory gun - she proceeded to scan the BAD peg tag and then proceeded to say "I just ordered two more cases of them!"

This is where I started to feel REALLY defeated - is that all it took? I'm curious to see if it is. Is it just a simple matter of getting your WM toy dept manager to scan the pegs and order more - no wonder nothing ever gets ordered - and when things DO get ordered sometimes its more Legends or CW when clearly that's not what we need more of right now.

I've said it in other threads and I'll say it in this one - only Hasbro is to blame for this lack of distribution - it may not be directly, but they are most certainly indirectly responsible. Having three lines divides your brand and causes confusion in the market place. Not everyone cares about the different lines like we do. As much as I like the look of some of the animated figures, the difference in figure style is to blame for this, it's that difference in style that forces there to be two separate lines and the lack of figures in the animated style (like Vader, Luke, Han & Chewie) is what drives Hasbro to keep lines like Legends going. If an X-Wing pilot Luke could ship in the same case as a Clone Wars Ashoka Tano, NONE of the problems we're having now would exist.

Getting back to the conversation I had with the Hasbro reps - I really don't expect it to go anywhere - they probably made fun of me the second I left the area - but damn if it didn't feel good to give at least SOMEONE who works for Hasbro a piece of my mind!
Peter

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Offline Jabba the Slug

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #88 on: October 29, 2009, 09:13 PM »
Woooow, intense story...

I really do get upset with the proper lack of distribution, but sometimes I just think that we (as in the collecting community) all need to just calm down and keep looking/demanding Hasbro for better distribution. Yeah, Hasbro keeps screwing up, but, c'mon, I mean this respectfully when I say that this is just a fun collecting hobby that's been around FOREVER... but Hasbro's not making it easy.
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Offline JediJman

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Re: 2009: Worst Distribution Year Ever?
« Reply #89 on: October 30, 2009, 12:03 AM »
Great story - thanks for sharing.  Hopefully one of the reps passed along the story.  I don't get why they can't jsut make more distinctive packaging for the 3 lines of SW figures, though that might not help anyway.

Can Jeff or anyone else speak to why Hasbro needs a separate Legends line?  Why not just put those figures in the regular Legacy assortments, since they already have other repacks in there anyway.   They might even get a few extra sales from numbering them.  I guess it doesn't quite fit as well with the BAD pack-ins, though they could just shuffle those around for the repacks like they did with the hologram pieces in Saga2.  Just seems like having 2 lines might cut down more on the clutter and confusion. 
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