I wanted to make a much more inflammatory subject line, but I figured I would hold back.
Anyway, while I was at the local retailers earlier this morning, it occurred to me that the people Hasbro is so adamant about claiming to be their bread and butter, the children, are going to more than likely be sorely disappointed if (for some bizarre reason) they want some action figures this weekend other than the usual suspects. I mean, yes, there are gobs of Obi-Wans and Anakins so they can reenact that duel, and they can still get most of the main characters that they remember (Threepio, R2, Chewbacca, Yoda), but when it comes to exciting secondary characters and/or main bad guys, they're literally going to be SOL.
At every store I went to, I saw the same figures staring back at me in abundance. In Collection 1, there was an ample supply of Obi-Wan (1 and 27), Anakin (2 and 28), Yoda (3 and 26), the SBD, Chewbacca, R2-D2, Grievous' Bodyguard, Mace Windu, Tarfful, Clone Pilots, and Palpatine (35).
In Collection 2, there was an abundance of 13-24 (minus any Royal Guards with a massive amount of Mon Mothmas and Bail Organas), and 29-32, with a few Mas Ameddas and VMDs here and there amongst them.
So, out of those figures that I saw in abundance, these were the ones that (believe it or not) were almost totally missing (they may have been 1 or 2 at one store, but none at others), and once you see them, you'll see my complaint.
-#6 Clone Trooper (there were none of these anywhere)
-#9 Grievous (this one surprised me because there were so many about three weeks ago and they just dried up)
-#11 Vader (again, none anywhere)
-#12 Palpatine (ditto)
-#23 Royal Guard (either version)
-#33 Clone Commander (I saw a few at one store)
-#36 Grievous (surprisingly, since it sucks)
-#38 AT-TE Gunner (no surprise)
-#39 Polis Massan (exception to the rule)
I'm not even factoring in the complete absence of the #41 Clone which is starting to piss me off, personally, but this post isn't about me.
So, a kid goes and sees ROTS at some point after Thursday and decides that he wants to go get some figures. Mom says he can have some and he wants Vader. Sorry kid, you're out of luck. They have Yoda with a lightsaber but no Emperor with one (35 doesn't count since he's not cloaked), so again, sorry kid, Yoda's fighting air. Clone Army? Don't make me laugh! Didn't you hear that they're Ebay Exclusives? The main bad guy? Well, you've only got 10 bucks to spend, so you could buy that one with the cup or that one with the grappling hook, but then you can't afford to buy another figure to fight him.
But hey, you can reenact all the political wrangling you want, or the arguments (which all sarcasm aside, are still one of my favorite character quirks in the films) between Threepio and Artoo can be endlessly rerun in your living room. Oh, you found some Clone Pilots and Mom said she would get you an ARC-170 or Gunship for your birthday? Oops, too bad! You can't find those at retail either!
Okay, all joking will cease at this point and I'm going to try to maintain an air of professionalism. Hasbro's case assortments for this movie are horrible. They have done a poor job of gauging demand for figures and staying up to date on what is selling and what isn't. They are shipping too many of figures that have a limited appeal and too few of figures that a lot of people want. Bail Organa is an incredibly cool figure, and I think a lot of people are missing out by not having him, but I don't see a reason to ship him after the first case assortment of Collection 2.
Hasbro's defense, over the years, refers to the fact that the case assortments are made months in advance and can't be changed at the drop of a hat. Well, the case assortments coming later this year are going to be including figures (like the first and second Obi-Wans, Anakins, and Yodas) that are in a massive glut at retail already, so you would think that 6 months is enough lead time to correct this.
In 1999, Hasbro released a solid case of Darth Maul to try and decrease the hysteria surrounding that figure. The figure eventually pegwarmed because of this, but it was a single character. Hasbro could very easily crank out a case assortment of 12 Clones (#41 preferably) or a case assortment with 4 of those and 4 #6 Clones and 4 Commanders, but they won't, because doing so would be admitting that their ratios are horrible.
Back in the POTJ days, Hasbro seemed to have things figured out. The case assortments seemed to be done closer to release, and very few cases had older figures reshipped. If there was demand for a figure, it went back out there, but for the most part, the reshipped figures were ones that would sell (like Vader or Scout Troopers) instead of ones that wouldn't sell (Boss Nass, Porkins, or Aurra Sing). Then, with AOTC, they went right back to what almost killed the line in 1998 when everyone was selling figures for 2 dollars.
Now they're doing it again, and even their own website can't keep up with demand. I keep hoping that they will notice the lack of sales on some figures versus others, but if that happens, I'll eat my shoe. Hasbro is like that annoying guy at the bookstore who will not admit they are wrong because it would make them appear (or so they believe) weak. I was taught that when you make a mistake, you try to correct it, you admit when you're wrong, as humility is a virtue. It is not weakness; they only people they are hurting in the long run are themselves.
So, when you see a kid in the aisles this weekend who can't find Darth Vader because Hasbro didn't ship enough, or who wants a Clone Trooper to shoot his Jedi in the back (damn that's morbid) but can't find it because of the combined efforts of Hasbro and Ebay, just look at him and tell him, "Well, kid, it sucks to be you, doesn't it?" That's what Hasbro seems to be telling them anyway.