As part of Hasbro's bi-weekly Q&A session, Rebelscum passed on 3 of your burning questions and now we've got the answers for you. Rebelscum: As Hasbro is aware, with no film in theaters or show on TV, retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart dedicate much smaller toy aisle space to a line. This is probably the last thing most SW collectors would propose, but has Hasbro considered producing fewer figures annually? The average Wal-Mart and Target toy departments in my area are not run by people who really know or even care about toys. They just open boxes as needed to fill the pegs and leave what's on the pegs where they are until they've all sold or the bi-annual toy aisle makeover forces them to do something new. If Hasbro produced fewer actual figures per year, though, and released a wave every six weeks or so, that might give collectors like me a stronger chance of finding things.Hasbro:
Actually we line plan every year for waves to be 6 weeks apart, but the reality is that waves come in at different rates depending on sculpting, approvals, debugging, and tooling, so it's not an exact science. The issues we have seen at the beginning of this year year due to the delays in the coins are not at all what we wanted - and basically it has shortened the window between each wave that you are seeing now. Figures will come a little fast this fall, but will smooth our for next year back to the more typical schedule. On overall # of figures, the past couple of years we have been doing around 60 basic figures a year in the core basic figure assortment, but for the future we are considering trimming it up a bit to around 52 or so...enough for 8 waves or so.Rebelscum: Many fans (myself included) are cutting the bubbles off of the TAC cards to save the cards due to the visually stunning artwork. Is there any way that you could make just the cards, with no bubbles attached, available to the fans ala the figure stands now on your website? Hasbro:
We hadn't considered that, and it's probably not something we would plan on doing since our gut is that is is a very small subset of collectors, relative to those who buy figures, that would want such a set. We prefer to stay focused on figures and accessories for figure collecting.Rebelscum: What happens to those figures that don't sell? The Toys R Us in my area just recently disappeared its long-standing stock of Greatest Battles Padmes. There were about thirty of them, taking up four pegs in the corner of the Star Wars section. What arrangement do you have with retailers? Do you reimburse them a little, collect the figures, and harvest what materials you can from them? Or do the retailers have to trash them and accept a sunk cost?
In reality, when these things happen, like with GB Padme or the ROTS Neimodian Warrior, and to a lesser degree with any number of other pegwarmers, isn't this the result of poor distribution decisions on your part? Shouldn't the financial burden of overpacking certain figures and overshipping certain waves fall on you? If it didn't, it'd be almost an incentive for you to overship, because retailers would ultimately buy more of your product. Hasbro:
There will always be mistakes in calling the exact quantities for the hundreds of items we manage every year. How that stock actually gets "taken care of" happens in a number of ways, including markdown agreements between Hasbro and the retailer, department manager initiatives (they may have just gotten tired of seeing slower-moving products), or sometimes pull/replace initiatives executed by our retail merchandising group. Sometimes, as in the case of Star Wars, certain figures are not a problem on a national level (such as the Padmes you cite) but are a local store build-up to which we do not have visibility, but overall does not prevent a problem for overall continual reordering of basic figures. The "cure" for this local build-up is to periodically reset assortments (our five digit product #, 87500 for the 30th Anniversary figures) which will force the old assortment to be discontinued and the new one to take its place. That won't happen this fall, but will take place next Spring as we get ready for The Clone Wars.
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