Author Topic: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)  (Read 5503 times)

SilverZ

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Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« on: August 12, 2004, 01:28 AM »
Sorry this got a little wordy.  :-\

I'm surprised the article about TRU's latest struggles hasn't filtered over here. So how does everyone feel if they lose their local TRU, or the current way they handle their SW product changes?

They're probably closing stores, and considering the mention of inventory liquidation, 2005 ordering is probably going to be much narrower selection-wise in their stores. We've lost FAO, and KB is a neutered den of irrelevancy. What if TRU chokes up and becomes irrelevant for us?

After some thought, I've concluded that they can just go away and I could care less, except for one major problem. Here's how I figure it:

TRU is a key vendor for a company like Hasbro. Can lines with shaky performance (the Star Wars line potentially included) withstand the loss of a huge portion of their sales, in what may be a quick climate change? I don’t see this being a problem with smaller companies like McFarlane, who have smaller production runs, and can more easily adjust their lines in both manufacturing numbers and wholesale allocations. But with a big lumbering giant like Hasbro, conditioned to dealing with other creaking B&M key accounts, making a successful transition for marginal lines like Star Wars to adjust for the loss of one of its main sales conduits looks like a major problem. I think this is the main area we can be stung in. We could lose the line if Hasbro isn’t prepared to transition sales away to other retailers during TRU’s potential coma or death. We could lose a convenient outlet for basic figures, and Hasbro could lose a bundle of cash without the outlet in place. I bet we see some toy lines die along with them, if it happens.

If TRU were gone, we could see e-tailers take a stronger role in mass-market non-kid/non-fad/non-movie-year toys. We could even see a post-TRU Amazon.com toy resurgence. We’ll undoubted see the big box stores expand their toy aisles. We’d hopefully see increased competition and variety of merchandise as they compete to lure the old TRU folks into their stores.

I could be wrong, of course.

TRU has been the leader on exclusive Star Ware items, at least in number. That loss could be a problem - on the surface; however, I think it may actually help this area of the line in the end, if TRU were out of the picture. While TRU has had a bulk of exclusives, Target is the place opting for higher-quality exclusive items. The B-wing, the new Slave 1 repaint, the A-wing repaint, all are great items. In contrast, the only ones TRU has offered that meet that level of quality is the retooled Landspeeder, and perhaps the new Y-wing. In cases where Target has erred and offered poor quality exclusives, like the accessory packs, they have quickly cancelled their deals for those segments. In contrast, TRU continues on, clogging their shelves with pointless and unwanted 4-packs, and accepted cheap Hasbro throw-aways like the new Jedi Council scenes, which look to be a complete failure in popularity. They've lacked any decisiveness or eye for quality products to offer their customers, where another competitor has excelled.

If TRU is gone, we could see Target and Walmart become the place for exclusives, TRU's absence forcing Walmart to step up to the plate and compete with Target with more exclusives and of higher quality.

I could be wrong, of course.

TRU is also, quite obviously, the most kid-targeted store. Its image is based on kids and toys in the most traditional of ways. It’s nearly oblivious to the man-child syndrome we have, and the fact there’s a new generation of young adults flush with cash in search of toys to relive childhood moments, and all the new ways that affects buying habits as we mature and have kids of our own. That, in turn, is an outdated attitude that their buyers come to toy manufacturers with. They approach outdated manufacturers like Hasbro, and base their product orders off outdated, outmoded assumptions. They see their core market as parents and little tykes on items that clearly, in the real world, appeal to an entirely different audience. Hasbro, being enslaved to their key accounts, falls into line, and tows the “Star Wars is for kids” mentality. What happens once one of the biggest voices in their misguided line direction up and dies of rickety old age?

If TRU goes away, Hasbro may be forced to look to collectors, finally and seriously, as the way to extend and maintain the line’s health. Imagine what a new competition for our dollars could do to the line in an increased war between Target, Walmart, and a growing online source could do to change the line for the better.

I could be wrong, of course.

I can also be extremely long winded!

My take is that this potential development may not be a bad thing in the end. It’s probably going to suck for a while. It could go bad really quick and make Star Wars collecting extremely annoying in the short term. But, in the end, I just don’t see them leaving any gaping wholes or new negatives with the hobby. We’d still get exclusives, and they may even be more focused, better quality items. We may see Hasbro forced to refocus their line on buyers other than their perceived core audience. We could see better distribution of figures through fewer stores carrying more merchandise. That’s how I feel, at least today. :)

-J

Offline MetalJedi

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2004, 01:55 AM »
I think they should get rid of the TRU stores that rely on the Xmas season to stay afloat. Then go from there. They could also just do the online thing. That may work as well.
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Offline Chris

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2004, 01:57 AM »
TRU sucks. They should close. Wipe them out, all of them.

Offline jokabofe

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2004, 08:58 AM »
i think i buy more toys at target and wal*mart nowadays then i do at toys r us anyway...

Offline LandotheScoundrel

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2004, 10:28 AM »
TRU is actually important for NYC, because we don't have any Walmarts around here. Target is a possibility, but our Targets aren't exactly the best in the world. In fact, TRU is where I usually find things. There, and online.
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Offline Morgbug

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2004, 10:51 AM »
From a Canadian perspective, while TRU can be intensely frustrating, it would be a pretty big loss for collectors up north.  We have four main retailers.  TRU, Walmart, Zellers (=Kmart or poor version of Target) and Superstore.  

Walmart is skittish as all get out, particularly with respect to Star Wars.  You guys are seeing end caps of OTC, I've seen one case of OTC at 7 Walmarts.  Star Wars product does not rate with them, largely because of poor management and shipping practices by Hasbro Canada.  During POTJ, they kept shipping case after case after case of Leia, Mechanic Chewie and Aurra Sing to Walmart, all the while missing new POTJ waves.  That seems to have really soured Walmart on Star Wars.  Ep I, II sold well, but both have also had really large clearance sales associated with them.  No exclusives carried up here and no generic vehicles have been at Wally since the Ep II Slave I.  

Zellers really is reminiscent of Kmart.  Not quite as dead or as messy, but probably not far off.  We get an occasional surprise out of them, Target accessory packs being a good example, but those are few and far between.  Right now, like Walmart, they'll bring in a case and sell it off, except for a straggler or two and then we won't see anything new for months.  Worse, unlike Walmart, they refuse to do any sort of real clearance stuff.  Only last year I could still find gunner stations and action fleet (as in rebel blockade runner old) marked down by a whopping 10%.  They still have lots of full priced Slave I, that's around $40 up here.  Crazy.  

Superstore is a large grocery chain for the most part, but they are a little more diverse in their offerings - toys, hardware, clothing - a predecesssor to Walmart of sorts or perhaps a medium sized Costco for an analogy.  They'll carry toys in movie years and occasionally other times.  But to show their lack of committment, they are only now clearing out Saga stuff and still at $4.99 each.  They are only figure retailers, seldom if ever vehicles.  

That leaves TRU.  This is our only retailer that carries larger Lego units, such as the new Falcon.  No one else wants to touch large boxes that sit that long.  Also the only retailer carrying ships, for the most part outside of a movie year.  OTC Falcon and Vaders Tie, Red Leader X-wing, Dagobah X-wing, Tie Interceptor (yes, predominantly store exclusives) were only found here.  Mind you we missed a number of the retailer exclusives as well, as they never came north of the border.  No one else will touch them.  This is also the only retailer carrying Unleashed and VOTC figures.  
With respect to regular figures, perhaps not that big a loss as the other will carry them, and may see a market if TRU went away.  I doubt it though, leading to much more reliance on US friends and online retailers for my part.  

Some gems in that post though.  

Quote
They see their core market as parents and little tykes on items that clearly, in the real world, appeal to an entirely different audience. Hasbro, being enslaved to their key accounts, falls into line, and tows the “Star Wars is for kids” mentality.
Ain't it the truth?  I've even been told by staff at TRU that they won't bring out toys when adults without children ask for them.  I can certainly understand the frustration of dealing with dickheaded Hot Wheels and McFarlane Sportspick collectors (and our local scalper/flea market guy used to have quite a market in Star Wars) but that is not (hopefully) the major part of the market.  The difference in treatment I get from staff when I have my daughter with me, versus when I don't have her there is dramatic.  And foolish.  I spend probably 50x more when I am alone than when I have my child there.  It's just a silly attitude.  There are no kids buying McFarlane toys and next to no kids buying Star Wars toys either.  The kids are buying Yu-Gi-Oh, GoBots, etc.  Or at least I hope they are, considering the amount of retail space they eat up.  

My impression of TRU is that they simply cannot or will not follow the high throughput model that Target and Walmart use.  People seem to buy a lot more toys now than when I was a kid.  They visit stores more often and seeing the same old crap (hello, Simpsons series 1 :o) on the shelves, year after year after year, drives consumers out the door.  I can still find NHL3 figures, MLB1 figures, Simpsons series 1 figures and umpteen other lines that are tattered in the package, so much so that I would not purchas it as a gift for a child.  Yes, the packaging will be trashed immediately upon receipt, but I wouldn't go with a gift to a birthday party that looks like it's been sitting in the bottom of a closet for years either.  

Up here, it would be a big loss.  Not something I couldn't handle, but it would be unfortunate.  
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Offline Diddly

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2004, 12:26 PM »
TRU sucks. They should close. Wipe them out, all of them.

Yeah, I agree. They remodeled the TRUs here but did no actual remodeling. All they did was get rid of the large toy sections and add clothes. Then one of them closed down.

So yeah, TRU sucks. Good ridance.

Offline Famine

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2004, 12:40 PM »
Wipe them out. 58% of them. Make them more exclusive, and make it an event. You'd get more customers, and it would wind up pretty good for them.


Besides, the only TRU I go to is in NC, and all they have is over priced stuff.

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Offline DoctorPadawan

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2004, 05:34 PM »
TRU never appealed to me in the same way that two other toy chains did: Children's Palace and Lionel Toy World (the latter of which I only ever went to in North Carolina back in the mid to late 1980's).  Now, although I was a kid back then, the general atmosphere of CP or LTW was just a lot nicer than TRU.  TRU felt cramped and (dare I say it) didn't have all that great a selection.  CP was amazing and if I went in there looking for something, I found it, no problem.  GI Joe figures I could never find at a department store or TRU were at CP or LTW in abundance.  When the CP near the Ohio/Kentucky border closed down, it kind of broke my heart.

TRU closing down would not bother me a bit.  Every TRU I have been in over the last ten years has been populated by rude and dismissive employees who look at me with nothing but spite.  I am always polite and I always ask nicely, but they could care less.  Since I am no longer six years old and running around like a chicken with my head cut off (even though I never did that as a kid, personally), I don't matter to them.  Pay no attention to the sizeable amount of money he's going to potentially drop in our store; we'd rather have kids come in here and mess up our aisles, buying nothing but causing us to have to spend more on our upkeep.

(Not to mention the fact that every TRU I have been in over the last ten years has really old stuff on the shelves and doesn't get new stuff until it's been out everywhere else for six months.  I often joke with a friend of mine that I am expecting to find a vinyl cape Jawa hanging on the pegs on any given day since retail is so far behind). :)

Not that WM is any better (I absolutely loathe them and do as little business with them as I can; unfortunately, when they're the only game in town, you have to occassionally deal with the devil), but TRU is using an outdated business strategy (as Tydirium so eloquently stated) and it has finally caught up with them.  I won't be shedding any tears when they go away.  My only fear is that Hasbro will have to find someone else to take all their crappy exclusive items that nobody cares about. 

Speaking of, I don't think we'll see WM with any exclusive SW stuff any time soon.  Everything that they got from Hasbro as a retailer exclusive flopped bigger than a shark in the Sahara, and if you notice, they're the only retailer that hasn't gotten an actual exclusive (DVD sets don't count for this) since the summer of 2002.  Target's had a couple of ships, KB's had the Guard and the TIE, TRU's had crap after crap, and even K-Mart is getting exclusive stuff now.  The last thing that WM had as an exclusive was the Cantina Bar figures, and we all know how that worked out.

Fare thee well, TRU, fare thee well...may you choke on your inability to move out of the 1980's.


Offline inadvertent imitation

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2004, 06:32 PM »
If TRU here closed, it really wouldn't bother me as long as the one in Cedar Rapids stayed open. The one in Waterloo rarely gets anything that I don't find at Wal-Mart first. I've heard reports about TRUs across the nation getting new Marvel Legends  6 and the newest waves from LOTR, not to mention OTC/VOTC. My local TRU has none of these. The only new stuff they have are those damn Buddies things Hasbro saw fit to put out, plus the OTC vehicles. They just got the Falcon, and it's priced $5 over the competition. Good luck with that.

The TRU in Cedar Rapids tends to get really good stuff in, like the LOTR Minimates I'm currently going apes--- over.
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Offline Scott

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #10 on: January 8, 2006, 12:45 AM »
Just read a bunch more TRU's are closing

Phoenix AZ
Fairfield CA
Emeryville CA
Valejo CA
Mira Mesa CA
Woodbury MN
Duluth MN
Owensboro KY
Dale Mabry FA
Chicago, IL
Arlington Heights, IL
Lansing, IL
Bourbonnais, IL
Michigan City, IN
West Ashley (Charleston), SC
Columbia, SC
Bridgeton (St. Louis), MO
Dorchester, MA
Cambridge, MA
Medford, MA
Wichita, KS

Plus more...

Offline JesseVader08

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #11 on: January 8, 2006, 12:54 AM »
Losing TRU up here in Canuckia would be a bigger problem than even a year ago.  With Wal-Mart dabbling in the crap/generic toys more and more and refusing to carry SW reliably in Canada, all we're left with is Zellers and TRU.  Zellers (ie. K-Mart) isn't normally a strong carrier of Star Wars, but did surprisingly well during ROTS.  But with no movie to drive the line, TRU is definitely the primary source for Star Wars now.  Without TRU, we'd be in BIG trouble.

Offline MetalJedi

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #12 on: January 8, 2006, 12:56 AM »
Just read a bunch more TRU's are closing

Phoenix AZ
Fairfield CA
Emeryville CA
Valejo CA
Mira Mesa CA
Woodbury MN
Duluth MN
Owensboro KY
Dale Mabry FA
Chicago, IL
Arlington Heights, IL
Lansing, IL
Bourbonnais, IL
Michigan City, IN
West Ashley (Charleston), SC
Columbia, SC
Bridgeton (St. Louis), MO
Dorchester, MA
Cambridge, MA
Medford, MA
Wichita, KS

Plus more...

Where did you read this?
I remember my dream now.

Offline inadvertent imitation

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #13 on: January 8, 2006, 01:08 AM »
I haven't heard about any in Iowa closing yet, but I'm sure it's coming.
don't you know there ain't no devil, there's just God when he's drunk

Offline CorranHorn

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Re: Toys R Us (Or: Die, Dinosaur, Die!)
« Reply #14 on: January 8, 2006, 01:22 AM »
Just read a bunch more TRU's are closing
Chicago, IL

Plus more...

Scott, where'd you hear this? Obviously there are several TRU's in Chicago, but I'm fearful this could be referencing my childhood TRU. My dad used to take me there all the time as a kid, I remember picking up an ROTJ Skiff Lando there, the ARAH Tomax/Xamot set, and finding vintage mini-rigs on clearance in 89. Then going to the high school just down the street, stopping in on my lunch period to play the demo video game stations, sigh.. such a long time ago.