Jedi Temple Archives has a source who knows one of the salespeople at TRU, (a fellow collector by the way), who met with Hasbro France’s sales representatives in September. (It sounds like a game of “Operator” already, doesn’t it? It has to be untrue, right?) In this session, there was a Q&A session. Our source was able to submit his own question that this TRU salesperson would be able to ask Hasbro. His question was about case assortments for The Black Series 6″ line. The answer made us feel sad. (more….)
He asked if Hasbro could possibly reconsider the assortments to include a more varied selection of figures, as well as more army builders, instead of flooding shelves with piles and piles of the same figures that just don’t sell. While specific examples of this peg-warming weren’t provided, it’s pretty well known in France which characters are just clogging shelves (main/lead human characters mostly and most of the characters that were carried forward into the next case assortment).
This question/concern was ultimately asked and this was Hasbro’s answer. Keep in mind the answer was given in French so this is a rough translation:
“The assortments are this way because they’re optimized to get out more of the figures that sell. Children want the main characters, not the others.”
Because you and I weren’t in the session, the best we can take this answer is as hearsay. But my sources have no reason to not relay accurate information. Provided this answer is completely accurate, doesn’t it show a major disconnect between Hasbro and their customer base? There is an obvious refusal to see reality of what’s going on at retail. This is a major problem in the USA, but the same things are happening in France, and Europe as a whole, even before 6″ was a thing. In our opinion, it seems like this becomes much larger and quicker of an issue in 6″ scale because of the fewer characters and frequent repackaging of the same peg-warming figures. As soon as new case assortments that have repeated figures go up for pre-order, online retailers are immediately putting those repacked figured up for “clearance” prices.
In Hasbro’s defense, there isn’t any sales data that we know of that is based on customers’ age range and intended purpose (gift, collection or even *gasp* scalping). What can be done to clearly relay to Hasbro who are buying TBS6 figures? The TBS6 market isn’t primarily comprised of “children wanting main characters.” And until Hasbro realizes this the 6″ line is going to experience and uphill battle. Collectors of the 6″ line want to see background aliens and iconic/classic characters in their multiple outfits (i.e. OT, PT and EU stuff) just like 3.75″ collectors do. The most zealous 6″ collectors are tired of seeing another Jyn, Cassian, Rey, Poe or Finn hit the latest case assortment. The incessant releases of these characters are killing the line.
What is happening in France’s retail stores is that they are opening new aisles intended for adult collectors including collectibles, statues and prop replicas from many licenses. Star Wars and TBS6 are very much a part of it, while 5POA remains in the general toy area. But even adult collectors are seen buying these figures more than kids are. Toys R Us seems to know who their market is. Why doesn’t Hasbro? (Well, according to this information at least we question that. Our experience has always been that Steve Evans and Joe Ninivaggi have always believed that adult collectors are the market of TBS6 figures. But the case assortments and this new information tend to contradict this a tad.)
I have said this before and I am probably right about this. The assortment situation just won’t change and it seems that Hasbro has a different idea of what they feel needs to be on store shelves. They seem to not be fully listening to retailers, so why would they even care about what collectors have to say?
Without sounding too acerbic, it feels like Hasbro believes that case assortments are perfect, and that peg-warmers don’t exist and neither do adult collectors. (We’re also adding a lot of sarcasm here.)
We will continue to address these issues with Hasbro when we see them and offer our “street smarts” advice while offering multiples instances of anecdotal evidence. We don’t have access to all the cool things Hasbro does that help them to form their case assortments, but we do know what they’re doing isn’t working.
We will be sure to clear up this information with Hasbro the next time we see them. So keep things calm until we get a better understanding of what was meant by that Q&A answer.
Special thanks to Patrice for translating and relaying the story to me and for his help organizing this article’s points.
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