I'm going to have to disagree with you on some points here, Sal. One thing about changing the line every year, it allows a store to clearance old product. Hasbro doesn't always change assortments when the cards change, but they can more easily at that point.
One of the reasons we see so many blue carded "old" figures on the pegs is because most stores can't clearance them wihout also putting the new product on sale. Once the assortments change, they can clear the old assortment without worring about screwing up the new stuff.
I do agree with you that I don't like the line changing every year. Whenever Hasbro has to change it seems to cause a big lag at retail. Especially when they have a hard reset like they did in 2008. When they have to draw a line on production to switch, it can catch a wave short and and also cause a lack of new shipments to retail. From that standpoint, it would make sence to keep packaging and assortments in circulation longer.
When it comes down to it, I'd rather have a break so that retail can clear old product and reset rather than just go on for years with stale product. Sure, having the same cards for longer periods of time forces collectors to look longer, it doesn't necessarily generate more sales. And stagnant product on the pegs, no matter what the packaging looks like, screws up the computer ordering and just causes frustration for everyone.
I understand your points. Let me counterpoint for a moment.
The very fact of stores having to clearance anything tells us something. Either demand for said product (not just SW but anything) is not there OR (and tha'ts a BIG "OR") they ordered too much of said product. Another point can be made to price. With the economy the way it is now, that's become and ever increasing factor.
Personally while it would save me money, I'd rather not see anything go on clearance. I'd rather the retailers order better so that there isn't a plethora of old stuff on the shelves clogging it up so that new stuff can't take it's place. It's a dichotomy. On one hand you want new stuff to be ordered quickly when pegs are running short, on the other hand you also don't want to walk into a store with little to nothing on the pegs. It's a balancing act that I think more and more stores are being force to look at. Again, not just SW but everything.
If stores can figure this out then we wouldn't have to worry about old stuff warming on pegs.
Problem for Hasbro then is that they would either be stuck with inventory or they'd have to decide to produce less. If the latter was the decision then you can bet we'd see a price increase as Hasbro would want (not NEED) to make more profit per piece to counteract the lower production levels.
Again card design shouldn't mean a thing. If stores can get their ordering system in check and not over order at the beginning of a new design then they (and we) would be stuck looking at the older line on pegs for months sometimes a year or more later.
By ordering less it would also force we collectors to be more diligent about going to the stores to check for product and creating even more a culture of "buy it now or you may not see it again." That works well for Hasbro and stores, not so much for us. But I'd venture a guess that most of us are still pretty diligent about our collecting habits that we could easily transition to this mentality. Many of us still buy like that.
You're right E that it's really LFL making the call to change the design every year and I think that's a bad move. I think LFL has a little too MUCH control over this. Yes they should approve the figures, but the design of the packaging changing every year? Seems like their creating more unnecessary work. I understand it's their brand, however Hasbro paid for the licensing. It would be nice if Hasbro could decide a little more for themselves how the packaging should look or change for the toys THEY produce. Yes, LFL should have input and okay the designs, but it really doesn't need to change every year.
You're last line you said "stagnant product on the pegs, no matter what the packaging looks like, screws up the computer ordering and just causes frustration for everyone" rings true be that for new designs every year or staying with the same design for a longer period of time.
Better choices of characters, lower pricepoints, higher quality of product can help all those things regardless of package design.
Anyway, I appreciate this sort of debate. It gets the creative juices flowing.