I agree with Jeff - I fail to see what Target, WalMart or TRU's motivations would be for NOT putting the stuff out as early as they get it in.
This is why, if Hasbro wants a street date, they need to try and time the shipping of the merchandise as best they can.
If I was Target and I knew I was charging more than say WalMart for these figures, I would distribute them to my stores as soon as my distribution hubs received them AND tell the stores to stock the empty Star Wars pegs ASAP.
I think more than anything else: the LACK of SW product on the shelves; how fast the Sneak Preview wave is selling (at least around here); and cases that will just scream "put me out on the shelves" -- stores will take the stance -- "f-this, I'm filling my pegs with stock I have on hand NOW!" Of course that will be on a case-by-case basis, up to each individual manager. I'm sure where some of you work, there are always those one or two employees who act first knowing they'll get their hands slapped after-the-fact. Sure the manager might take a ding, but his/her store will also be the store NOT sitting on a glut of these figures come June 2005.
Now - going back to the subject of where the product is right now...
I had a nice chat with my friend who is one of the local Hasbro reps. He swore to me that NONE of the EPIII stuff has hit the distribution hubs for any of the retailers at least locally here in NJ. His guess re: the story that started this thread is that a lone case was shipped from Hasbro by mistake with the rest of the Sneak Preview figures, not that Hasbro has already sent Target their C1 and C2 EP3 figures yet. His guess is that Target/WalMart/TRU wouldn't see these in their distribution warehouses until the middle of next month.
I made him swear he was telling me the truth and not the corporate line, so I have to believe him.