Author Topic: GH Q&A -- Mike Sullenger & Randy Shoemaker of Hasbro Marketing  (Read 6289 times)

Offline CloneF13Y35

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Re: GH Q&A -- Mike Sullenger & Randy Shoemaker of Hasbro Marketing
« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2005, 01:39 PM »
I've been collecting the 3.75" figures since "I" was kid for the past 25 years and now that my son is into SW, he likes them and plays with them. In addition to the 3.75 line, he has several of the GH line including the x-wing and falcon. and now we've gotten some of the M&Mpire figures.  We also have 4 electronic lightsabers and if hasbro made a mace windu one, we'd have one.  And my son likes the ships, if hasbro can make the arc-170 (which is an awesome ship) and the gunship, which I havent seen anywhere yet since april 2; why can't hasbro make the twinpod cloudcar? why can't they make other ships WE the collectors and parents of young collectors would buy? We have the anakin starfighter (preview) and my son wants the other ones too! Hey Hasbro, I'll buy ships, do you hear me??? If you make a ship Iwill buy it!!!
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Offline JesseVader08

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Re: GH Q&A -- Mike Sullenger & Randy Shoemaker of Hasbro Marketing
« Reply #31 on: July 24, 2005, 03:29 PM »
I'm going to take a strange stance here and try to see things from both Hasbro's and collectors' points of view, just to play devil's advocate. 

Michael, 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.  :))

If Hasbro were to actually take a step into an ACTUAL RETAIL STORE once in a while and not just rely on their field reps (who are about as easy to spot as Bigfoot) to feed them information, they might be able to see that, as Morgbug said, warehouse sales do not equal retail sales. 

OK, I can't argue with that.  Manufacturers like Hasbro need to be continually monitoring sales, not from their own warehouses, but from the retail floor.  Only then can they really determine if a figure or line is successful.  If they're flying off the shelf at retail price, obviously you've done something right, but if they have to be clearanced at a 1/2 or 1/3 of their original price, perhaps they need to rethink what has been done for this figure and/or line.

The Unleashed Obi-Wan and Anakin are sitting these days, sadly.  When combined, they are a cool display piece and despite my best efforts to convince non-UL collecting friends to pick a set up, they just won't bite.  Is that the fault of retail for ordering more?  Is it the fault of the consumer for not buying more?  Or is it the fault of Hasbro for overestimating demand for an item, not paying attention to the retail situation for said assortment, and continuing to ship the same amount of said item to retail despite the backlog?

From a consumer point of view, if Hasbro was keeping an eye on items that are clogging the pegs, they'd know that there's no need to continually ship more of that same item.  But, I'd really like to know how far in advance Hasbro actually manufactures an item (like the first wave of ROTS Unleashed) before they begin to ship them to retailers.  I'd agree that the Anakin and Obi-Wan Unleashed are among the best from this line, so I would expect that Hasbro would believe the same thing and expect to sell tons of them (therefore, manufacturing a ton of them).  So if they've made so many, from Hasbro's point of view they have to keep shipping them to retailers because it doesn't make sense to keep them.  To really play devil's advocate, how can they know if something will be successful until they ship it and monitor sales?  Unfortunately, my ignorance about how this whole process really occurs prevents me from really being able to make an informed decision.   :-\

I'm actually in the minority here with the Unleashed line I guess, in that I was happy for several of the reissues since I started late and couldn't afford the high prices that a lot of them were commanding on the secondary market.

From my own point of view, I'd agree.  I started collecting Unleashed much later, so I was glad to get the rereleases.  And when it comes to a character like Vader, surely even Hasbro would have to know how popular he'd be.  They made 2 versions early in the line that to this day demand a couple hundred dollars on eBay - don't they take the time to see what the secondary market demands?  Hasbro should have been smart enough to know the demand would exist for the third Vader and packed it heavily.

And the problem with all this is that Hasbro won't admit that they made a poor decision.  When this Wedge business gets sorted out, do you think they'll say that they listened to fan commentary and that was why they went with the (somewhat) superior version we're now getting, or do you think they'll say that they had this planned all along and the 1997 Wedge pictured on every site prior to yesterday was a "prototype image?"  They'll pull the latter, because that's what they always do.

I would love to know the answer to this question.  Did Hasbro change the Wedge figure because of collector outrage?  Or did they plan the newer style figure all along?  I'd like to believe that they actually did listen to us and realize, "hey, we made a serious mistake here, we'd better do something to fix this."  But like you've said, we'll probably never know the answer to this.

It's like they live in Bizarro World or something, where ... Galactic Heroes appeal to primarily children. 

Ok.  Everyone pretty much knows that they primary support of the 3 3/4" line comes from collectors, not kids.  I'll admit that I collect Galactic Heroes because they're too darn cute to pass on.  But do you guys really believe that they designed this line with collectors in mind?  If my 3 year old daughter had her way, they'd all be hers because they are toys and she wants to play with them.  Simple as that.  I really don't think that Hasbro ever intended for them to be "collectible".  Maybe I'm just naive, but there are still some lines that are "for kids".

People have also been incredibly tough on the Attacktix line as well.  To me, this was a natural thing for them to design and it makes sense for them to put a lot of support behind.  The Heroclix type of figure has had a huge following, so they decided to try a similar, but simpler, type of figure series that just about anyone could play.  When I was in Indianapolis, the Targets and WalMarts (at the time, granted this was a few months ago) couldn't seem to keep the boosters in stock.  To be honest, I'd be surprised to see this line removed from the shelves anytime soon.

Now that I've argued to back up Hasbro on a few things, I've got to argue against them on a couple others.  Like has been said, there has been some duplication of lines that kinda makes you shake your head.  The most obvious is the Force Battlers and Jedi Force.  They target the same age range, are designed in a similar scale and have given us similar characters too.  One has definitely got to go, if they don't kill each other off.

Now we've got the 2" Unleashed instead of the "sculpture"-style 7" Unleashed, which was one of the hottest lines out there.  Stupid.  That's all I can say.

Hasbro has also tried a few other things like the Titanium and Micro lines.  To me they compete with each other too much, and perhaps with anything that could be considered "miniature" - 2" Unleashed, Attacktix, and the WOTC Miniatures.  Why so much from a similar size?  The lines will compete too much for buyers dollars and kill each other off (despite my support for the Attacktix line in theory).

I think limited release lines are a smart move too.  I mean limited as in the number of figures in a given line, not the quantity of those figures shipped to retail.  The mPire figures are a good example.  There will be a total of 8 2-packs released and that's it.  Something new to give the overall Star Wars line a refresh in addition to their ongoing lines.  And I know that people will shake their heads at this one, but the Star Wars Choppers line has potential too.  If it was released in a year (after the mPire figures are gone from retail) but only say 6 bikes were released and that's it, I'd likely support it.  This is assuming they were nice bikes with Star Wars themed paint jobs but didn't have Luke or Vader riding them (I'm pretty sure we all agree that that's a stupid idea).

I've pretty much avoided discussing the 3 3/4" line, simply because it's too big a topic to cover here.  We all know it's the heart and soul of Hasbro and needs to be treated that way.   Any new lines that are brought to the market by Hasbro must take into account how they affect the 3 3/4" line.

This post has become painfully long, but I think it needed to be said that not EVERYTHING Hasbro has done lately has been stupid (even though it feels like it somedays).  I think right now they're trying to do too much with the Star Wars name and it could bite them in the ass.

In summary, it makes sense (to me at least) for the following lines to succeed:

  • Galactic Heroes - for the toddlers & preschoolers
  • Attacktix - for the elementary kids (and up)
  • 3 3/4" - for the collectors and a few kids
  • temporary lines like mPire or Choppers - for collectors, to refresh the Star Wars look once in a while
  • 7" Unleashed - I know it's dead, but it's got to be one of the biggest mistakes they've made for collectors

Offline DoctorPadawan

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Re: GH Q&A -- Mike Sullenger & Randy Shoemaker of Hasbro Marketing
« Reply #32 on: July 24, 2005, 04:33 PM »
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.

Offline JesseVader08

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Re: GH Q&A -- Mike Sullenger & Randy Shoemaker of Hasbro Marketing
« Reply #33 on: July 24, 2005, 05:40 PM »
As collectors, it's easy for us to second guess Hasbro.  When a wave of figures is released and we collectors grab what we want, there seems to be a pattern what we like and some of the figures hit pegwarmer status.  This pattern seems fairly consistent everywhere: Neimodians, Wookiees, Mas Ameddas, etc.  So why doesn't Hasbro change the upcoming packing ratios to increase the popular ones and decrease the pegwarmers?  Seems easy enough, right?

But if these figures are produced months in advance, they're also likely packaged months in advance.  By the time these pegwarming patterns form, it's probably not economically feasible to repack these figures in different assortments.

Of course, if Hasbro was monitoring sales (retail, not wholesale), they'd learn of these pegwarming figures and avoid including them in future assortments.

Don't mind me, I'm just trying to argue understand both sides of the issue.   ;)

Offline Morgbug

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Re: GH Q&A -- Mike Sullenger & Randy Shoemaker of Hasbro Marketing
« Reply #34 on: July 24, 2005, 10:13 PM »
Jesse, I think you've provided a good "two-sided" perspective to some point.  But this question:
To really play devil's advocate, how can they know if something will be successful until they ship it and monitor sales?
is fair and reasonable. 

The difficulty for me is when Hasbro does repeated Q&A sessions yet resoundingly ignores the responses they get because they are dominated by adult collectors and kids buy most of the stuff in a movie year.  Or so they say/think/believe. 

Ok, for a second here, I'll give Hasbro the benefit of the doubt.  Let's say for a second they understand their market really well.  Your points regarding what to ship, what to reship and not being able to see the future are well taken. 

The second is now up, so I'm back at Hasbro's throat.  Why?  Take a look at the list for ROTS single figures:

Many of those figures are adequately targeted to kids (the bulk of Collection 1 with its action features) but many are not.  Many are duplicated though (Grievous, Ani, Obi, Yoda) so why do those need repeated shipments.  Honestly, a kid wants A Yoda, not two or three.  Multiple versions are targeted at collectors, not kids.  Several of these figures are pure homage to the OT - kids may like it, but they sure as hell aren't really after a Bail Organa or Mon Mothma figure?  Geez, most kids won't have a clue who Tarkin is in ROTS.  And honestly, how many kids are clamoring for a pregnant Padme figure???

My point is thus: if Hasbro has any business sense at all it should have learned from the Episode I fiasco.  If they had any brains at all, they wouldn't be packing pregnant Padme at EXACTLY the same ratio as a clone trooper (#6) - this is a lesson they should have learned from Kenner, for Pete's sake.  They don't want to do solid cases?  Fine, I suppose the clone pilot is a reasonable counterpoint to that.  But honestly, is it rocket science to suggest that maybe reducing the shipping ratio on Mon Mothma, Padme, Bail, Chancellor Palpatine, a minor role figure like Polis Massan or the Tri Droid?  Is it not unreasonable to assume that packing twice as many of Anakin/Obi/Grievous (3x here) as Darth Vader is a little bit stupid?  Then continually reshipping these over and over and over?  C'mon.  Even kids wanted multiple stormtroopers and only a single Obi-Wan. 

Is this easy second guessing?  Yes and no.  It's fun and easy to sit back and bitch and complain.  But man, you were in the room with me at C3, what did you hear?

No action features.
More army builders.
Better case ratios. 

I'm sure Matt can confirm those same things are said over and over and over again. 

I'm a little surprised at how poorly Tarrful has sold.  Repainting army builders isn't that bad a thing to do (wookies, neimoidians) and were I making decisions at Hasbro I probably would have ok'd those repaints.  But doing them in a ratio equivalent to clone troopers, that's just dumb, second guessing or not.  They've released army builder packs before (commtech stormies, sandtroopers, clone three packs, EE clones) so they know damn well that clones move.  What's the only abyssmal failure in army building packs?  Wasn't a clone, was it?

It's easy to pick on Hasbro because they make it easy.  They are putting out lots of good stuff, but why do they always do this after retail starts losing interest and sales begin to dwindle?
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Offline Jesse James

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Re: GH Q&A -- Mike Sullenger & Randy Shoemaker of Hasbro Marketing
« Reply #35 on: July 25, 2005, 12:36 AM »
You make great detailed points Brent, so I agree wholeheartedly for the most part.  You take Hasbro's comments into detail...  I think the variable that's missing is the unknown case-ration factor, but that's up in the air totally.

I agree though, when you see a Clone (any clone) packed evenly with a Padme Pregnant figure, it becomes odd....   Or a Mon MOthma, or Bail Organa....  It does throw off their credibility for any argument they have legitimately made to this date.

I popped out tonight to catch a Wrestling PPV with my buds and stopped off at retail stores on the way.  So far, my area is no better off than it was about a half a month ago.  :(  I'm bummed...  Part of me is happy they at least didn't over-estimate demand this time, but it's really dismal out there.  It definitely isn't fun to be wasting gas for nothing right now.
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