I went out in 1999 with a friend to Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and TRU at midnight. We went to WM first (since I'm kind of introverted and didn't want to deal with the mess at TRU, since that was where *everyone* else was going) and we were about fifth in line. By the time midnight came around, there were about 40 people behind us, and it actually was run really well. They had an entire aisle fully stocked, and they allowed 10 people at a time to go down the aisle and get what they wanted. No worries about a particular figure running out either, as they had pallet upon pallet of figure cases ready to restock if something ran low. I was able to get one of everything I wanted without any problems whatsoever.
The one interesting thing that I remember about that night was the fact that neither WM nor TRU had gotten any of the 12" dolls or the Accessory packs, while K-Mart had gotten both. Weird.
In 2002, I went to an out-of-the-way SWM and was only one of two people there. Me and the other guy just stood around talking before they actually let us down the aisle. I got everything I wanted, as did he, and we spent about 20 minutes digging through the pegs to find him a Luminara Unduli and myself a Royal Guard. I managed to get 26 figures (finding out in the AM that Dooku had been released as well) and all the ships, plus the soundtrack. The next day I walked into another WM and found a Dooku. And all was right with the world.
Strangely enough, K-Mart was once again the only retailer that had gotten the 12" dolls for a few weeks. They were also the first retailer to get the Ultimate Jango Fett doll too, if I recall correctly.
This time around, I don't know what I'm going to do. I keep hoping that there will be a definitive list of what is and isn't coming out on 04/02/2005, but as with last time, I don't think I'll really know until I get in there. I'm going to be budgeting a bit this time around though, and I'm thinking that if I do go out at midnight, I'm just going to get the three Unleashed figures and the more "desirable" (as in, "I'm buying the ones that I foresee being irritating to find if I wait" like Vader or Clones) action figures, and worry about the ships, dolls, deluxe, etc. at a later date. I have a feeling that I'm going to be really sick of that Vader head staring back at me within three months time.
The simple fact that there is a release date for toys blows my mind to this day. I mean, I could see it if there was something they wanted to keep under wraps, but when you release Head Choppin' Jango Fett, Darth Tyranus/Count Dooku, and/or Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine/Sidious well over a month before the film, I see no point in an actual release date. Everyone's already seen the toys, so stock them already.