Questions about vehicles! Missing parts? Rare ships? Yes. Strange online toy selling! Let's look at that too. And someone can't find the new Phantom Menace stuff? Color me surprised. All this and more, so read on!
1. I know Hasbro can't say, but maybe you can: how does eBay seller Tunghori get his hands on so many figures so early in advance? I'm not looking to get anyone in trouble, I'm just curious. I'll admit I have gone that route at times (compared to most eBayers his prices are pretty reasonable), but he seems to be able to get his hands on hundreds of not thousands of figures. Is theft just that easy in China?
I have it on good authority that Hasbro is aware of Tunghori, but I can't say for certain if they're accepting of what it is he's selling. The bulk of the Transformers community always seems to feel any loose toy from Asia is always, always stolen. I can't say I completely agree-- how do we know these aren't "seconds," or defects sent home with workers? How do we know this wasn't overproduction which Hasbro decided they didn't want to pay to ship to the USA? How do we know the factory didn't stamp out more on purpose to sell on the side for extra money without compensating the licensor? There's no easy way to tell, so I hesitate to toss out "theft" if these were meant to be thrown in the garbage and somebody just got them on the way to the grinder. (Hasbro's policy on prototypes is, usually, destruction in a grinder. Which is effing sad if you ask me, they should be auctioned off to support Hasbro's Children's Hospital.)
So yeah, I dunno-- sorry for the non-answer, but as far as I know, nobody has been able to get the real scoop. I've bought a few figures from him on a lark, and was not disappointed in the slightest. I also have no idea if it's genuinely stolen goods or not, but eBay is pretty good at laying the hammer down on that sort of thing in the Transformers community, particularly when it comes to club/convention exclusives. Generally long after everybody has seen them and the damage to the "surprise" has been done, that is.
2. It seems that the Wal-Mart exclusive new figures (Mawhonic, G8-R3) are not out yet, not even on ebay. Nor is the Royal Starship Droids BAD 4-pack. I guess they were delayed. Is that what you are hearing?
I've heard nothing specific, so it's tough to tell if it's genuinely delayed, or was always meant to set closer to the movie release. (This is what happened with Transformers: Dark of the Moon last year.) Rumor has it that they're meant to be on-shelf next week, timed to the film, just in time for me to be in New York so I can't buy them. None have made it out (short of a few exclusives via the Walmart web site), so as of right now yeah-- there's nothing official to suggest a delay, and the single figures have started to surface in the UK.
3. I had very mixed results for the new TPM product. Our town has 4 Wal-Marts, 3 Targets and 2 ToysRUs. Some put out new product on Saturday, one on Sunday, and some (the Wal-Marts) didn’t put out any new product at all. Not a single store put out new product on Monday, January 30, 2012. I was looking for the four new figures (Dofine, Quadinaros, Tyerell, and Amidala). I found three of them as leftovers, one each at three different stores. Most of the product on the shelf was Movie Heroes and Clone Wars repacks. Based on what I am seeing around the web, this seems to be a pretty common experience. What a decline from the roll-out prior to the release of the Clone Wars movie! Has Star Wars fallen that far?
There have been a lot of street dates for numerous Hasbro lines since 1999, and not all of them are followed-- while you've had bad luck finding stuff, I've had insane luck finding things since early January. My stores put out stuff early, it sold quickly, and was totally gone inside 2-3 days. I wouldn't view this as a decline of the brand, but more of the stores realizing that these set dates are a waste of time. Why wait? Put it out now. Or why put it out now, if your employees are busy? Put it out after what already sells is out there. After years and years of set dates, and broken street dates, and (supposedly) nobody ever got a slap on the wrist as the Walmarts of the world go, well, maybe they just don't care? I mean, if I stocked shelves at Walmart and someone said "You can't sell that toy from a 12-year-old movie until January 30," I'd probably think someone made a mistake and it should be sold immediately. Based on what I saw at retail, that seems to be the case.
4. What are the chances of the [2008 big Millennium Falcon from The Legacy Collection] seeing "retail" re-release this year? Don't care about packaging. Want to buy as a "big" toy for Christmas. **Yes, we are going to get the Droid Transport for him (he loves E1 and TCW), but I'd like a non-eBay (non-shipping charges) shot at buying the BMF for him. Am I hoping against hope?
Retail? LIttle or none. Online? Maybe. Hasbro did a dotcom reissue a couple years back, that could happen again (or TRU could get it, for example). I have no intel indicating it will be out this year. I'd suggest watching eBay (set up alert emails) and keep an eye on the closing prices because you might be able to get it shipped for a fair price. I know it sounds like a hassle, but I do this on some of the other toy lines I collect and it routinely pays off. So start watching now... maybe someone will list a cheap buy-it-now, or perhaps Craigslist!
5. Vehicle questions. My kids and I actually play with our vehicle fleet (imagine that). And they tend to break things, lose missiles, etc. The biggest offender for lost parts seems to be the BMF Falcon. Does Hasbro have a number or website for ordering missing vehicle parts?
Second question. The Mando Transport. It was sold at brick and mortar in Canada, and will be available online. I'm guessing no brick and mortar in the US, since it's in the old packaging?
I got my Mandalorian Assault Transport online, and it's my assumption based on what I've seen that some made it out to brick-and-mortar. Knowing what I know about the biz, I would assume this means thousands of units have been produced and are waiting to make it out somewhere. It could be at Costco, shrinkwrapped with another vehicle in a low-price 2-pack. It could be TJ Maxx, Ross, or Marshall's that gets dozens of them for $11.99. It could be Toys R Us gets them and does a big push on vehicles later-- I've seen all this and more happen with other once-"rare" toys that get blown out. And sometimes they just disappear, and it could be months (or a few years) until the market settles down and they slowly leak out somewhere.
It is possible you'll see it in a Vintage box, or even new shipments of the old box. It's also possible you might not. Given the eBay going rate of $40 and the vehicle prices nearing $25 these days, you are in a unique position to consider if it's really worth it to you. Scalpers, as they once were, are less of a problem but the secondary market does exist and depending on your desires, you might want to go after it online. You might not, too. But you might.
As to parts and pieces, I have just recently had a positive experience getting a replacement part for my Republic Attack Shuttle out of Hasbro. If you just use Google for "hasbro missing parts" you could have found it, but going here will help you out. If they still have parts. For anything that hasn't been sold for 2 or 3 years, I wouldn't get your hopes up.
Toy Fair! It's coming up. And I got so much to do, I gotta cut this short. I'm not doing Q&A next week, but I'll be back as soon as time (and questions!) permit, so probably in 2 weeks. (Unless I get a massive influx of questions and some free time before Thursday, that is.)
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.