Author Topic: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?  (Read 1333 times)

Offline Ryan

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We all know about all of the Vintage lines failings by now: shoddy distribution, bad case assortments, high prices, supposedly slacking sales... etc., etc., With the reveal of latest case assortment with only three new figures per wave it got me thinking today, are we headed towards either a 'new' figure line or a re-launching of the vintage line?

There seems to be a lot of similarities with the end of the SAGA line in 2004. The line was finally showing some promise after two years of mostly ****. Distribution in 2003 and even early 2004 was horrid, I don't know if it was quite as bad as it currently is, but it was close. 2004 SAGA ended with a wave that consisted of only three new figures, AT-ST Han, General Lando, and Crix Madine. The wave never showed up at retail here in CO. Another thing I find interesting is that this all happened in 2004 coinciding with the brand new DVD release. The SAGA line was canned and in came the Original Trilogy Collection (and the VOTC as well.) The last Saga wave did manage to find it's way into the OTC.

Out of the OTC's thirty eight basic figures only seven of them were new, the rest were either repaints or straight repacks. The seven figures were broken up into waves of three and four new figures.

The reason I am bring the OTC/SAGA transition up now is of course because of this year's BluRay release. It seems that many of the signs of 2004 are repeating themselves. I'm sure Lucasfilm wants lots of other merchandise out on the shelves to line up with the release. Why wouldn't a new figure line be a part of that? What makes it especially possible is the rumor that Hasbro intends to make 'realistic' Clone Wars figures in the regular line, and also that Saga Legends may also become part of the basic line. If they want to quickly, and cheaply relaunch the line it would likely be mostly repacks to cut Hasbro's costs, with a few new figures thrown in here and there to entice collectors into re-buying the rest.

I see two ways they could go about the change The first being an all new packing line with a new name, like they did with the OTC. I'm sure we'd see lots of repacks and wouldn't expect many new figures. This would require them to completely change the packing though, so that may be prohibitive. But if it changed the SKUs retailers would buy more for a reset. The other choice would be to re-launch the Vintage line starting the numbering system over. Vintage already seems like the best way to usher in the BluRay, so I'd like this option better. This time though I'd bet it'd essentially have Saga Legends mixed in, and would expect lots of repacks and very few new figures. This second option would probably take less effort on Hasbro's part and would likely be cheaper, so hopefully we'd see more new stuff this way than we would with option one.

I could see some of the later waves from this year being swapped over into the new line, much like the final 2004 Saga wave. That could also explain the ratio of new figures to old figures in the upcoming wave 10. I don't recall a line that had more than 70 figures or so in a year/single number system. That may also be a sign we are due for a change.

I don't remember when Hasbro first revealed the OTC, I was thinking it was earlier than SDCC 2004 but I could be wrong. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hasbro announce a re-launch or a new line at SDCC this year. It seems like we would have heard of this before, but Hasbro has managed to keep secrets from us before. So I don't see that it is outside the realm of possibility. Of course TPM 3D is coming out next year and we have already seen the card art with Maul on it, but I don't think that would necessarily keep the BluRay line from happening. OTC really only lasted from the end of the summer in 2004 up until about February of 2005 after only two-three small waves of POTC/OTC figures. Then of course in April of 2005 the ROTS line debuted and the basic line was restarted for the second time in less than a year. I can definitely see the same thing happening again this time around with the BluRay and TPM 3D. I'm sure that if we don't hear anything by SDCC that nothing is likely to happen.

Thoughts anyone?
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Offline Matt_Fury

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 02:33 AM »
I'd agree with you except they have said in the last few presentations that Vintage would be around for the next two years.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 02:48 AM »
I'd agree with you except they have said in the last few presentations that Vintage would be around for the next two years.

I hadn't totally forgotten that, but Hasbro has changed things before. And if sales are falling like they claim they might decide to go a different direction anyways. Sticking with Vintage could even mean ditching it as the main line and keeping it around in some limited capacity like the did with the original VOTC and the VTSC. That would be more of an extreme change than I'd really expect though.

That still doesn't rule out the line being re-launched with new numbers, more repacks, and even some minor changes. I'd think this is probably the most likely case anyways.
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Offline Nicklab

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2011, 10:20 AM »
I get the feeling that the theatrical re-release of TPM in 3-D would be a bigger marketing push than anything else.  We did see some new packaging samples after all.  But then, producer Rick McCallum did express some open concerns that if TPM in 3D doesn't perform well in the theaters, that could jeopardize the release of the other movies.

We've seen the BluRay DVD 4-packs that are coming up soon.  They're okay but nothing special.  And truth be told, there are SO MANY titles that are being reissed on BluRay that a big marketing push that includes a toy line might be more than collectors can bare.  It seems like Vintage is at least going to run through the end of this year, and I think the relaunch is going to come at Toy Fair next year for the TPM 3D release.

As for the current status of the line?  There have been changes within the Hasbro Star Wars team that might account for some of what we're seeing on the retail end.  Plus a lot of Hasbro's marketing is focused on other properties:  Marvel movies, Transformers, etc.  We might see a more concerted push for SW when the Clone Wars returns to TV in the fall.
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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2011, 10:31 AM »
Ryan,

That was a great thoughtful analysis of the line comparisons past and present. The only flaw I see with your theory is how do you restart a line without changing the package (Both Vintage and Blue Dark Side look) and the approach. The product cannot really change, it is what it is. As Matt pointed out they said Vintage will be around at least two years. I do not see what can really change to really call it a relaunch. I can see a big push during the Blue Ray ala the OTC line but it's more marketing than anything.  I can see them changing strategies, I really hope the case assortments are wrong for Wave 9 and they will magically change at SDCC with their confirmed case assortment changes. If  wave 9 is their answer they made the problem worse.

In Chicagoland and its surropunding burbs I really do not see Vintage figures peg warming, it's CW and Legends that's overflowing on the pegs. All the stores I go to have 7 or less Vintage figures on the shelf. Outside of not meeting demand and case ratios CW and Legends is what really needs to be overhauled.

What's really frustrating is the product is almost perfect which is usually not the case. The majority of the problems are fixable. In regards to price everything is going up we are in the beginnings of hyperinflation so while many spear Hasbro on this it's today's reality. I do not fault them on price. I rather pay more for a quality product I am happy with than a cheaper price with a cheaper product.
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Offline Adam_Pawlus

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2011, 01:35 PM »
I'd agree with you except they have said in the last few presentations that Vintage would be around for the next two years.

(...this was originally much longer.)

Doesn't mean Hasbro can't re-launch it.  As far as I know (in retail land) there are no new assortment SKUs scheduled between now and September (and beyond that who knows?).

Hasbro can CONTINUE Vintage while relaunching it-- this sort of thing happened with Saga between 2003 and 2004.  To the consumer, the change was invisible.  Hasbro changed the 5-digit assortment SKU (asst) which would mean to Target, the DPCI would change, and to other stores, it's treated like a completely new product-- it just happens to look exactly like the 2003 assortment.  This gives the stores the chance to purge and clearance 100% of "old product" as the computers see the new SKU (whatever it ends up being) as a completely new thing, and clearance is largely automated by discontinuing a SKU (although clearance as a policy varies from chain to chain).  This is how taking humans out of the equation can work, you CAN easily filter old products out of your system if you're willing to change the SKU for new product, but this needs to be planned months in advance as product can take a while to get to shelves.  (From the look of things the Bespin Han wave was manufactured in March and didn't make it here until June or so, if that gives you an idea.)

So... where was I?  Right, TVC reboot.

Hasbro can reboot the TVC at any time in a way that's invisible to the consumer and allows retailers to purge old product.  It's easy, the packaging can still LOOK exactly the same, it just depends on how Hasbro wants to manage its lines.  The same thing happens with other product-- Kleenex discontinues one configuration of its product, but a new configuration immediately replaces it.  It might be new packaging, more sheets in a box, or whatever-- it's the same basic principle of refreshing a product line, and it's why you might see Fruity Pebbles on clearance despite the product not being removed from the marketplace.

In this case-- and this is pure speculation here-- it's possible Hasbro is winding down 2010/2011 97568 TVC in favor of a new 2011/2012 TVC SKU-- so we see fewer new characters because they're holding them back on purpose for the new asst SKU, whatever it is.  With a new SKU they can easily adjust prices up or down, change the size of the casepack (12 figures, 16 figures, whatever) and so on.  Since we're at the 12-month mark for Vintage give or take a few days it's not unreasonable to assume Hasbro might be planning for this soon, but I'd be surprised if it was before December 26 of this year.  Odds are if it WILL happen it will coincide with the post-holiday reset of the toy aisles, meaning we'd see it happen after Christmas but we'd probably see evidence of it happening (new Target DPCI, or if EE calls something "Vintage 2012 Wave 1") before then.  (Heck, possibly as early as SDCC if they put out the assortment SKU on the tent cards in the display case.)

YMMV on Legends/Clone Wars.  Since fans are not as engaged in the line, in some areas, I don't think we're paying as close attention.  I saw lots of NEW Saga Legends in the past week with Wave 3 (Death Star Troopers, Boba Fetts, etc.) hitting after several months of nothing new.  New cases of Saga Legends have been shipping-- there have been 14 revisions since the 2010 blue-card-weapon-pack reboot by my count-- but you as the consumer would have no way to recognize this without a new figure or a new variation to signal a change.  Most of the Saga Legends assortments were remixing previously-shipped products, and were things you didn't care about in the first place as repacks, so odds are it ALL looks like a waste of space to the average collector despite churning over at most retail locations.  So to Hasbro, they're shipping a lot of product and mixing up the cases.  To us, there's maybe 30 figures between what looks like only 3 waves, and we probably didn't want 27 of those in the first place.

Clone Wars may be similar, with at least 17 different mixes shipping since the blue card assortment changeover last June-August.  It's just over 50% reships in every case, so even if new product is shipping to stores it won't look that way unless the NEW characters stop selling so dang quick.  As to the stores plagued with stale product (which happens a lot), that's why you reboot the line with a new SKU.  It clears out the system.  The 2010 Clone Wars relaunch kicked off with 3 new figures and 9 old ones, basically setting the stage for this exact scenario of a glut of product that was old before it hit the shelves. 

It's like Star Wars Transformers-- it's a kid line, I don't get excited about it, you probably don't buy it, but it's a big enough seller for Hasbro to keep doing it.  Hasbro likes to diversify its brands to a ridiculous extent these days, during Beast Wars Hasbro had only about 4-5 assortments (plus waves in those assortments) per year.  In 2011 alone, there are over a dozen shipping RIGHT NOW plus another 7 or 8 which have been phased out with the movie launch, with more still coming.  This is how Hasbro does its brands now-- eggs in many baskets, which means they don't take care of some eggs, and some of those eggs are, to the collector, quite rotten... but they're still successful products.  I'm not saying Hasbro can't do a better job reorganizing its product line in a way which could make things easier for collectors (no 2010 Battle Pack should be so rare that it's worth $150 by now, that's a tremendous failure in planning) but I can see why they're doing what they're doing.   Twelve years ago, Hasbro's roleplay offerings were basically just lightsabers.  And today it's an electronic helmet assortment, electronic lightsabers, non-electronic lightsabers, FX Lightsabers, Ultimate FX Lightsabers, removable blade lightsabers, electronic blasters, dart-firing basic blasters... I could go on.  The beast got too big.

And one last thing, what's hanging on the pegs really varies by neighborhood.  Some places it's vintage leftover from June 2010, and others it's Clone Wars or Legends or whatever.  In the few dozen stores I visit, I can tell that poor sellers are not always consistent.
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Offline Darby

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2011, 06:41 PM »
This is all very good analysis.  Whatever re-launch we have coming must be timed to post-holiday, in advance of the TPM 3D release.  If Hasbro is holding out until then - which, in effect, they've been doing with the 2010 TPM wave - then it's likely to be a lean fall.  It's too bad it's not happening right now, because the line could use a shot in the arm.

Offline Adam_Pawlus

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2011, 07:13 PM »
Not necessarily-- sometimes Hasbro plays it very, VERY close to the vest.  Toy Fair 2011 is a great example-- they announced 4 waves (2 TVC, 2 CW) at Toy Fair, and two of those waves were ready to ship *immediately.*  They're increasingly hard to predict, there's enough data out there where I could build a convincing case to dang near anything! :)
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2011, 11:20 PM »
Great post Ryan, really...  A real joy to read.  I've not gotten through all the replies, but it's a good conversation.

I agree with what Adam said though, and it was the first thing came to my mind actually after reading what you wrote, Ryan.  The Vintage Collection doesn't necessarilly need a makeover for it to be a reboot...  They could just be "getting their ducks in a row" as it were, and internally rebooting things for all we know, but not going with the big "visual reboot" like VC was, or other new line looks ahve been.

The idea of a "close to the vest" reboot, as it were, seems quite plausible.  Hasbro's vocalized that they see there's a problem (or three) and are looking at ways to address it.  Maybe more going on than meets the eye there.

One could argue the "Deluxe w/Vehicle" line is getting a reboot...  It sure seems it to me.  Not much fanfare, but it's gotten one.
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Offline Jayson

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2011, 11:29 PM »
I don't recall a line that had more than 70 figures or so in a year/single number system.

TSC had 74 with that last 1/2 dozen or so exclusive to Walmart.

TAC would have had 75 but they rebooted that line (without the coin) after #60

Just my 2  :P

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Offline Ryan

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2011, 11:55 PM »
I don't recall a line that had more than 70 figures or so in a year/single number system.

TSC had 74 with that last 1/2 dozen or so exclusive to Walmart.

TAC would have had 75 but they rebooted that line (without the coin) after #60

Just my 2  :P



I said "or so".... :P
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2011, 11:57 PM »
One could argue the "Deluxe w/Vehicle" line is getting a reboot...  It sure seems it to me.  Not much fanfare, but it's gotten one.

Yeah, they got a slight packaging tweak and a new assortment number, which allowed Target to clear out the junk...  but then they went and repacked the same stupid peg-warmer sets into the new boxes - Anakin/Skiff, Bane/Bike, Obi-Wan/Freeco, etc.  :P
« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 11:57 PM by Jeff »
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Offline Adam_Pawlus

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2011, 01:00 AM »
One could argue the "Deluxe w/Vehicle" line is getting a reboot...  It sure seems it to me.  Not much fanfare, but it's gotten one.

Plus the 2012 Star Wars marketing plan has a built-in need for a new parade of assortments-- the 3D Phantom Menace line will likely mean a new line look with lots of new SKUs, so other than the stuff they're bringing out new now (Mini Vehicles, Adventure Heroes, Battle Packs) we'll probably see new Saga Legends, new Clone Wars, maybe even new Vintage.  Given the timing of the new film, there's really no better time to push new Star Wars than with a midnight madness (or its non-midnight, non-mad equivalent) right after the holiday sale bonanza wraps up.

The more I think about it, this problem is gonna solve itself.  Until the Great Ben Quadinaros Pegwarmer Storm of 2012 starts.
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Offline Ryan

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2011, 02:48 AM »
Great post Ryan, really...  A real joy to read.  I've not gotten through all the replies, but it's a good conversation.

I agree with what Adam said though, and it was the first thing came to my mind actually after reading what you wrote, Ryan.  The Vintage Collection doesn't necessarilly need a makeover for it to be a reboot...  They could just be "getting their ducks in a row" as it were, and internally rebooting things for all we know, but not going with the big "visual reboot" like VC was, or other new line looks ahve been.

The idea of a "close to the vest" reboot, as it were, seems quite plausible.  Hasbro's vocalized that they see there's a problem (or three) and are looking at ways to address it.  Maybe more going on than meets the eye there.

One could argue the "Deluxe w/Vehicle" line is getting a reboot...  It sure seems it to me.  Not much fanfare, but it's gotten one.

So do I. Adam said it more eloquently though. That's kind of what I was trying to get at here, I guess I just failed to mention that it would likely include a new SKU even with almost few if any visible changes to the packaging.

Quote
The other choice would be to re-launch the Vintage line starting the numbering system over. Vintage already seems like the best way to usher in the BluRay, so I'd like this option better. This time though I'd bet it'd essentially have Saga Legends mixed in, and would expect lots of repacks and very few new figures. This second option would probably take less effort on Hasbro's part and would likely be cheaper, so hopefully we'd see more new stuff this way than we would with option one.

I've worked in retail (for far too long) and even though Hobby Lobby is a backwards-ass company and has some policies that really make me wonder how they are even remotely successful as a company, they do have similar programs. Sometimes item numbers/SKUs will change to be replaced by something else, IE one kind of paintbrush for another, so we have to mark down the existing product. Then the replacement will come in, and it is nearly exactly the same only the item numbers are different. That's all I'd expect from Hasbro. It'd get retailers to buy more of the line kind of restarting it. and with the numbering system getting to a point where it is getting pretty high, it isn't a bad time to start it over anyways.

That's an interesting point on the deluxe stuff. I wonder if Hasbro will tease us with any of the TPM 3D product at SDCC?
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Offline Jeff

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Re: Possible Line Re-Launch to Coincide with BluRay Release?
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2011, 09:54 AM »
I wonder if Hasbro will tease us with any of the TPM 3D product at SDCC?

They have to tease us at SDCC.  If they wait until Toy Fair, it'll be too late.  Toy Fair 2012 is the same weekend that TPM3D opens.  Kind of pointless to show it off then, because it would already have to be in stores to have any impact when the movie hits.

Given Hasbro's penchant for getting movie stuff out 1-2 months ahead of the movie, I'd say those folks guessing that the TPM stuff will hit with the post-Christmas January reset are probably right on the money...
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