Looking around the net this morning and making visits to the local brick-and-mortar stores has made me practically give up on finding a lot of the VOTC figures from here on out. Why? Glad you asked, I'll be happy to tell you.
Hasbro had a great opportunity to do something logical for once with the VOTC stuff, and something that every other toy maker has been doing from before POTF2 existed: a new case number for every assortment of figures. That way, there would be no need or use for strange case ratios or repacks from earlier waves of figures, or what have you because if they ran out of one case, they just reordered another case of those figures. If they had too many of one case, they didn't order any more of that case. Here's how I would have handled this in a perfect world:
ASSORTMENT ONE: STAR WARS VOTC (8 figures)
-2 x Luke Skywalker
-2 x Han Solo
-2 x Obi-Wan Kenobi
-2 x Princess Leia
ASSORTMENT TWO: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK VOTC (8 figures)
-2 x Darth Vader
-2 x Threepio
-2 x Yoda
-2 x Lando Calrissian
ASSORTMENT THREE: RETURN OF THE JEDI VOTC (8 figures)
-2 x Stormtrooper
-2 x Boba Fett
-2 x Chewbacca
-2 x R2-D2
Each of these assortments would have their own case number (meaning they wouldn't all be part of one case number shipped in multiple ratios and could all be ordered separately).
But as we've all learned, logic has no place in Pawtucket, so they decide to pull the main character of the whole damned OT (regardless of what GL says about Anakin/Vader) out of the first assortment altogether, do multiple ratios of the ESB figures so two come out first and we have to wait on the other two, while the same cases continue to ship figures that are already in abundance from the overshipped first wave, and then they sit on the third wave (with the figure that most people would happily buy multiples of) and then ship even more of the first wave with those cases.
What makes it worse is the report on GH.com this morning that WMs will be getting another kiosk and it will be stocked to the brim with MORE of the first wave, plus Luke (finally). Great move there, Hasbro.
I'm not Nostradamus (or even Negrodamus, even though I think Paul Mooney is hilarious), but I can tell you exactly how things are going to go down with the VOTC this fall.
-The shelves will be clogged with Obi-Wans and Hans to such a degree that when the ESB figures do show up in slightly bigger numbers, they will come and go so quickly that most people won't even know they were there. Even sites that sell individual figures for a decent price (TRU.com) won't be able to carry the ESB figures for long because of the quick sellouts and the fact that they will still have a backlog of Hans and Bens.
-the ROTJ wave, once it hits, will hit in VERY small numbers as the stores will be so full of the first wave of Hans and Bens that they have no space for them and hence do not order any more cases. People will be scooping them up like crazy when they do see them and Ebay profiteers will be the best (read: most unscrupulous) and only outlet for people who want these figures.
-when told about the difficulty people are having finding them, Hasbro will resort to their time-tested "retailers overordered the initial waves and even though we made a full run of the later figures, retail just didn't seem interested in them" in order to once more pass the buck for their continuing ******* stupidity in being able to gauge demand and accept responsibility for their own mistakes.
(oh, and is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that retail is always at fault? They never order just enough: if there is too much of something, well, retail overordered...if too little, well, retail underordered. It's never Hasbro's fault. Never mind the fact that their case assortment strategy is straight out of 1985 and that they can't figure out case packouts to save their lives)
-once again, as in the past with the "final" waves of figure assortments, we, the collectors who regardless of what the geniuses at Hasbro claim actually keep this line afloat in the first place, movie year or not, will be the ones who get the short end of the stick. And Hasbro will, predictably, still not give a **** about us.
The best analogy I can give as far as the VOTC scenario I have put forth above, overreacting as it may be, is this:
WAVE ONE (Han, Leia, Ben): May 3rd Episode I Collection 1 assortment
WAVE TWO (Luke, ESB figures): Battle Damaged Droideka/Qui-Gon soft goods/Swimming Jar Jar assortment
WAVE THREE (ROTJ figures): Sio Bibble, TC-14, R2-B1
Way to go Hasbro. You've proven yet again why you're a bunch of morons.