Questions about Toy Fair! Also, spite and vehicles and things Hasbro didn't show. Is it time to be cranky? Well, no more than usual. All this and more, so read on!
1. Do you you know which months realistic-style Ahsoka and the EU Republic trooper, respectively, are going to be released?
Generally speaking, Hasbro released the presentation with dates and numbers to fans after the show-- and this year, it seems they did not. As such, this is the first time ever I didn't scribble down everything on the screen, because, well, it would be coming later. So I don't even remember seeing a date on there. Hasbro did preview numerous items with "coming 2013" which makes me wonder what the hell is going on over there. Freaking anarchy, man.
2. I picked up the Wal-Mart figure G8-R3 last night and when I opened the package, I noticed that on it's left leg the wires on the foot were in the back. It looks like there are two right legs and one was turned around to make a left leg. Have you come across any reports about this? The package didn't look tampered with, so it might be a production error. It doesn't bother me that much, but I'm sure it would bother some people.
This is indeed a production error. (Or tamperage-- hard to tell without seeing it in person.) Mine doesn't have this problem.
3. I looked ahead at the next [vintage] wave and half of it is TPM figures (with the other half being the highly anticipated deleted scene figures). It does not take a rocket scientist to figure which figures will sell and which will sit. How could Hasbro not have foreseen this? Why couldn't they just planned to release a wave of deleted scene figures doubled up in a case. It is the same thing every year with these guys!
Fun fact: if you ask fans who are "rocket scientists"-- myself included-- I guarantee you we'd guess wrong too. Developing a perfect line to satisfy the amount of people involved in this line is an impossibility, even if Hasbro used all the market research available it's possible Lucas might say "No, we want you to support our 3D movie in Q1, so put these other guys out later." Which, frankly, makes sense-- toys are a useful tool in film promotion to a specific audience.
Wave 1 of most, if not all, waves since 2005 have been in produced in large numbers, or seemingly large numbers, because they actually get good distribution. Wave 1 of a new SKU means that, most likely, all stores will get them and get them around the same time. Walmart, Kmart, Target, Toys R Us, and elsewhere will all reset with these new figures and as such, you'll be able to get them. And as someone who has been watching these lines for years, I can say it never stops being funny when the same patterns continue to emerge generally speaking, the only thing that makes fans as mad as not being able to find their figures is seeing a figure they own when they want something new. "I can't find my figures, how dare they!" "I already have this figure, how dare they!" Rinse, repeat.
Sometimes, wave 2 will follow in quickly and may sit-- and sometimes, it won't. Wave 1 generally gets fantastic distribution, which breeds contempt from collectors. I'm not entirely convinced the Deleted Scene wave is going to be hot stuff, either-- we've already had a deleted scene Luke, I don't know if the market needs Slave Leia with new gear so soon, Skiff Lando probably won't be crazy popular, and Cracken? If he doesn't pegwarm, I will be surprised. I'm curious to see how the Mon Cal Pilot does, though.
But yeah, this is me not wanting to hear your complaining. Some Hasbro figures get made in decent numbers and ship at the same time-- this means the supply meets (and at times exceeds) demand. Demand goes up when figures are in short supply, or if they are perceived to be in short supply. The best thing for Hasbro is for you to think figures are rare and buy everything you see. The best thing for you is to see figures everywhere and be sick of seeing them, as they're actually available. The only happy medium is a pre-order system which requires you subscribe to everything online like MattyCollector.com, which works great for their brands, but I wouldn't like to see it applied to this particular line.
Even when Hasbro gets it right, they get it wrong. Will the market for Phantom Menace evaporate completely in six weeks? Is the entire first half's line plan a bust? Probably not, but we'll have to wait and see how things go. The fourth place box office for Phantom Menace 3D is not unexpected given the fact people just bought the movie on Blu-Ray, but the marketing for the movie may rub off on the toys. (Although probably not the MTT. I figure that's going to bomb unless Hasbro threatens to not make it.)
4. I have yet to see the [Hasbro Toy Fair 2012] slideshow yet. Did they announce any vehicles other than the MTT, or deluxe figure w/vehicle? Also did they confirm the 2 exclusive packs that were leaked on POTF2?
Hasbro announced no new midsize vehicles, and the only "new" vehicles were the MTT and a couple of mini vehicles-- which were already leaked online a few weeks ago. Based on what was shown, it seems possible that this could be a very First Half-Heavy year and I'm still trying to wrap my head around the various "this won't be coming until 2013" announcements in the other brands.
I saw no mention of the Pilots and Ewoks that I remember, but I was pretty messed up after running around New York the night before to get some overpriced Outer Space Men repaints. Yes, they were worth it. Don't judge me.
At the rate of things I'm seeing, it's my assumption that this will be a "bad year" for Hasbro collectors. We've already seen items canceled and delayed a year, the big awesome toy for Q4 is not remotely awesome, and Hasbro seems to be scrambling to add new lines like Amp'd rather than (and this is what I don't get) trying to integrate that kind of functionality into the 3 3/4-inch line. I'd love to see a 3 3/4-inch Amp'd X-Wing or AAT-- but do I need a third line of 2-inch minifigures?
5. Some Hasbro R5 units that I have been buying through eBay are missing their removable antennae. I've been doing an extense research through the net to see if I could find someone selling this antennae, or even a repro to complete the figures. Do you know where I could buy any of these?
I do not know of anyone reproducing this part, as few fans tend to reproduce parts on common figures. I might suggest purchasing figures just to steal the antenna-- The Saga Collection R5-D4 is worth $3-$5, and considering the time and effort it takes to mold a reproduction part, it would probably be your best, cheapest option to just steal parts from that figure and give it to your other droids as needed. Of course, this post might inspire others to make the part, but I don't know that the demand really exists just yet.
Toy Fair! What a show. I mean, I had fun and saw lots of great stuff, but Hasbro's line is in a position where I'm wondering if what we're seeing is just their running down the clock. They did show a number of new things coming later in the year (and NEXT year), which makes me wonder if they might not be showing much at the summer conventions... or might be considering bypassing them entirely.
Overheard but unconfirmed was that they were basically cutting back Clone Wars to under 20 figures a year for the foreseeable future, which makes little sense as it seems that segment of the line is performing pretty well-- even the Battle Packs are outselling the movie counterparts. The focus on the 3D movies is sort of unfortunate, if true this means we're going to see new line launches in January for the next 5 years and, to me, this is the best argument for the 3D rereleases to flop and Hasbro could focus on some other theme.
With the G.I. Joe movie line looking fantastic and having basically already been capped, it seems they don't necessarily know where it's going. With Transformers Prime's recent woes and the announcement of tons of Europe and Asia-only toys at US Toy Fair-- seriously, what the Hell is that?-- the announcement of over 40 "classic" figures in 2013 sounds like we might be in some weird interim period where Hasbro is seeking a new sense of direction and some stuff is going to be DOA. Maybe this is all part of some grand plan, but we're already seeing toys disappear and suffer from significant delays.
What does this mean to us as Star Wars collectors? I'm going to start listening to my gut a lot more. If Hasbro says a figure will be sold as a Walmart exclusive now and reissued on a Vintage cardback later, I have sufficient reason to not believe them. Never put off to Q4 what you can buy today-- it might not see release if Hasbro decides to turn its line direction on a dime, and the quantity of new products being shown speaks of a focus of new smaller market segments which are kid-driven. AMP'D is very 1980s, but will that be enough? Fighter Pods are tiny and perfect for displaying on LCD monitors, but are they worth $1-$2 per figure?
I guess what I'm getting at is this: take everything you see and hear with a grain of salt, and don't be surprised if some items get unusually poor distribution or don't even see production. All of Hasbro's boy toy brands are now old-- old is 2 or 3 years, and we're seeing increasingly old lines. Transformers as a vehicle-driven brand has been around since about 2000, Star Wars has been more or less consistent since 1995, G.I. Joe in its current form has been going since 2007, and Marvel has been doing its thing since 2009.
On to other topics: another group is trying to fund a line of action figures on Kickstarter. The October Toys crew did a fantastic job last year with the Outlandish Mini-Figure Guys, of which I supported and have sitting here on my desk. Another group called Plastic !magination is doing Rise of the Beasts, which is like Battle Beasts, but not. I have no stake in this company beyond wanting a set of these for myself. Take a look.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.