After attending JoeCon in Indianapolis a week ago, I saw the small presence that Hasbro had at the convention…especially considering it was a movie year. I left me with a slight sense of doom with regards to the future of GI Joe figures. Our friends at GeneralJoes.com posted this article that completely disagrees with my stance. But I’ll continue anyway.
1) I also had a one-on-one chat with Derryl DePriest, Vice President Global Branding for Hasbro. I asked him bluntly what the liklihood we (the collectors of GI Joe) would actually see the retaliation wave 4 figures on the shelves. His first word was “eh” and then he paused. He said it was his hope that they would and that some of gotten out there, but they would have to see how it goes and hope.
To me, that is not a good sign if you are Hasbro and you can’t be certain if the 4th wave of figures from a box office hit film can actually hit shelves.
2) The whole fiasco with the original release of the film really threw the toy line for a loop and also left retailers with a bitter taste in their mouths. When the movie was delayed, toys had already shipped. Retailers had tons of stock of toys for an anticipated hit film and were stuck trying to get rid of them. In my area, many stores still had some stock left on the shelves nearly a year later. Then suddenly, the movie gets relaunched and stores get shipments back in of figures they took nearly to sell in the first place. The poor logistics further alienates retailers on the brand.
3) Although Star Wars is a completely different line, Hasbro handles both. Star Wars is their big boy’s toy line and over the past 2+ years, they have had major problems with distribution and case selection. Despite vocal fan outcry, nothing has been resolved. If Hasbro is having this much difficulty with their big property, why can we expect better going forward for Joes?
4) Since the launch of the 25th Joe line, we have had very spotty Joe presence on our shelves. The 30th wave was great, but the Rise of Cobra and Retaliation cartoon lines were really over-saturated the market. There were some terrible figures and vehicles that become some all-time classic pegwarmers that are still sitting on shelves to this day.
5) And then there was the whole Dollar General fiasco. Hasbro denied up and down that this line existed. Then pictures surfaced of them actually on shelves. Hasbro still denied them. Dollar General totally botched distribution. I, to this day, still have not seen them on shelves. Some stores got a single case in, many stores got nothing. Extra cases could not be manually re-ordered. And Deryl DePriest himself still seems really confused by the line in general. It seems like a prime example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, which is a terrible business model.
All of this has me worried about the future of the line. We get teased with some great figures, but poor distribution and cancellations really cancel it out. If retailers get overloaded or underloaded with product, what is their incentive to continue the line? If fans are hit with desired figures never reaching market or in such short supply that they can’t be bought, fans will get turned off. Where does that leave Hasbro and GI Joe if fans are alienated and retailers aren’t biting?
I do agree with some of GeneralJoes.com points. Despite all of the negatives said about the club, the GI Joe Collectors Club has done some fantastic things. They have done a good job bringing a convention to us each year with some phenomenal exclusives and have greatly improved the upcoming FFS series 2 line. Also, we are going to get a GI Joe sequel. But who knows what the toy line for that brings?
Regardless, GI Joe has been a big part of my life since childhood and we can all hope for Hasbro to right this ship and turn the line around.