I'm so excited that late '03 and into '04 appears to be a return to POTJ form. Its looking like collectors are back as the priority. These pictures are exactly the figures I'd hoped for and the new themed release schedule is a great idea that's long, long overdue. I can't wait to get them. Unfortunately at this stage and state of the line it probably also means we're going to have to look to more collector-oriented stores and online to find anything without major effort.
I hope the Clone Wars line (which I actually really like, even as a movie -canon diehard) doesn't kill the line at retail.
Honestly, I'm worried the MOST about the Walmart news. This is a key account for many, many different businesses (including the one I'm in) and when their buyers don't pick up on your line's #1 push for Summer-Fall, there are serious issues. Hesistance of a major national retailer to show confidence in your product line can either spark competitors to buy more of that inventory, sure, but more often than not, the rumor of the abandonment just becomes cancerous and makes other retail buyers nervous. Not good.
If Walmart were getting new influx of Saga merchandise, I'd be a bit more at ease. But, other than the random trickle of new product reported in the last few weeks, WM stores have been a graveyard for Star Wars figures. They backed out of the 2nd wave of Cantina packs and really underordered on the Trash Compactor sets, which were wonderful toys. Recent history seems to show that SW is being minimized throughout the Walmart chain.
In my industry, it's very common to offer price protection for retailers on the items they stock. Generally what happens is that you offer guarantees on the sales of the item until a certain date, at which time, you either accept returns or cover the discount of the merchandise in-store. It forces you, as a company, to emphasize quality and be careful about the focus of your product to ensure YOU don't get stuck with loss of profits because they don't perform at retail. What you gain is shelfspace because you have minimized risks for the retailer/buyer, as well as convey confidence in your product because of the guarantee you offer.
When you don't do this, you run the risk of failed products jeopardizing the opportunity to sell future items to those same buyers. I'm sure Hasbro doesn't offer price protection. Instead, they seem to hire reps to call back merchandise, which as we've seen in the past takes place a good 3-6 months after it really should in order to be effective. In that time, the retailer can't stock or sell more popular items because dusty unwanted items are taking up that space. I'm sure this is nothing new to anyone here, but its worth puting out there as a reality check.
How many times can you be burned by sitting on overshipped, underselling toys? Ev9D9? Ronto beast packs? Shadows of the Empire? Cantina packs? Saga figures? There has not been a case in the long history of the modern Star Wars line that indicates a new non-movie-based line, in a non-movie year, has even the slightest chance for success. I would be hesistant to buy into the concept as well. Add on top of that the risk of being stuck with that merchandise at the expense of proven current successes like Transformers, you're going to put your buying dollars on the hits.
I think these new shots prove Hasbro is heading back to good territory that will work with us collectors. I'm really worried that they've overextended the line's welcome at retail by the misjudgement made with Saga in assuming they should be more kid-friendly. I really want these new figures to succeed, but I have a feeling we're going to be looking for them through less traditional outlets.
Anyone that wants to start a group to start buying by the case, let me know, I'll be down for it!
Sorry for the 2am babbling.