I'm going to use one of your posts as an example (not because I'm picking on you, but because your posts are among the most thought-provoking.
As honored as I am, when I reread my old posts sometimes, I think they're more "chicken running around with its head cut off yelling 'the sky is falling!'" than they are thought provoking. But thank you for the compliment anyway.
To really play devil's advocate, how can they know if something will be successful until they ship it and monitor sales?
This is a really good point, Jesse. In a lot of cases it's hard for them to do so. Again, with the example of the Unleashed Anakin and Obi-Wan, I don't hold Hasbro responsible for that much at all (although I do think that future case assortments should have been changed to lower the number per figure per case). Like I said before, as much as I've tried to convince people to pick them up, it just doesn't seem to be working for whatever reason. The thing that confuses me is that Grievous continues to fly off the pegs, but Anakin and Obi-Wan sit. If I had to pick between the former and the latter(s) I would pick the latter(s) every time.
Is it just because Grievous looks cool, and that's all casual buyers want? Is it the false hype around him being the "hot" figure in the early days of the ROTS toy line, and people who wanted him for character reasons as opposed to "cool" reasons are now able to finally get him since the hype has worn down? Same thing with Maul, who in my opinion is the most overhyped character in the SW saga; casual buyers only wanted him because he was "cool looking" and had no interest in Anakin, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, or Palpatine, even though they had, you know, AN ACTUAL CHARACTER ARC.
Anyway, sorry to go off on that side tangent. It's just something that I've been thinking about a lot lately and whether non-hardcore fans are as interested in the characters and the story as they are the technology and the "cool" factor.
Back to the original line of thought, I don't know exactly how far in advance Hasbro produces this stuff, but back around the fall of 1998 (between September and November), the first carded photos of Collection 1 and 2 Episode I figures started to leak. Actual packaged figures, not salesmen samples, that were taken from cases being stored in warehouses overseas. Nearly 7 months in advance from their retail sale date. "That other site" actually had their own Naboo Fighter from the Episode I line in late summer 1998, photographed it, and even put up sound files of the laser and fly-by noises.
Since TPM was, by all accounts, a disappointment to all involved parties (collectors, retailers, and Hasbro) as far as merchandising goes, I don't know if they're still shipping that far ahead of time, or if they've cut it down a bit these days. That being said, with some items, it doesn't take a genius with the gift of precognition to figure out that some things just won't sell too well, no matter how nice they are (Titanium Series, I'm looking in your general direction).
Hasbro should have been smart enough to know the demand would exist for the third Vader and packed it heavily.
Well, in a case of "too little, too late", Entertainment Earth put up the "final" assortment for preorder, and it will include the following case-pack ratio:
2 x Clone Trooper
2 x Han Solo in Stormtrooper Disguise
1 x Chewbacca
1 x Darth Vader
Now, even though it doesn't say which Darth Vader it is going to be (I'm assuming the ROTS version), I think that it's very good that Hasbro is shipping it again. The problem is that they did this with the final case assortment, and what good it does in the short term will be nullfied in some ways by the predictably short shelf life this assortment will have.
From all accounts, the Ventress is the one figure that is easiest to find (relatively speaking) of the new wave. Vader is and always will be the popular figure, so once the first shipment of this wave is completed, should Hasbro do a second shipment (they'd better), I couldn't see the harm in doing a 3:2:1 case pack in favor of Vader, with 2 Sidious/Yodas and 1 Ventress.
But do you guys really believe that they designed this line with collectors in mind?
I'll agree with you on this and I retract my earlier implication to the contrary. They're clearly designed for children, but I think that Hasbro continues to underestimate the cross-generation appeal of the GH line for the reasons you mentioned (them being "too cute to pass up"). If it weren't for the fact that the early stuff from 2002 wasn't so hard to find, that I am limited on space, and I really don't want to commit to another scale given my personal and financial station in life, I would have started collecting these for this reason. I think it's great that there is a line for little kids where you don't have to worry about losing a lightsaber or a gun, or (from what I can tell) run the risk of breaking them due to extended play periods.
One of my early and persisting gripes with the Attacktix line is that it's overkill. By that, I mean that there is already a miniature line done by WOTC (are they still a division of Hasbro) that is extremely popular, a Micro line (
) from Target with mini figures, the Galactic Heroes line that is supposed to be a mini-figures for kids line, and they decide to do another line of 2 inch or less figures, and this time you don't even get to see what you're paying for. It makes no sense to me at all, and that's why I consider a new 2" Unleashed line to be the most ridiculous thing that could be done right now. I honestly think that it's going to cost them more money to make these than it is to make the 7" figures (smaller size, but more sculpts to be approved and manufactured), and consumers are going to be confused because now they'll have three similarly scaled lines (minis, Attacktix, and UL) on the shelves to choose from.
My mantra of late has been GH figures and (film) vehicles for the kids, 7" Unleashed for the collectors, minis for Colman
, and the basic line and vehicles for everyone. But since Hasbro continues to be "caught by surprise" with the GH line (after first being "surprised" in 2002 by it), and feels the need to do away with the UL line completely, in addition to their persistent need to do a "mid-level" scale of figures like Force Battlers that people aren't buying, none of that will come to pass.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" isn't the right cliche, but it's the first one that comes to mind.