Phil Reed of Battlegrip has another post about how he’s seeing Leia and Greedo pegwarming – based on store visits – and therefore Hasbro needs to “save this line before the mass retailers grow tired of your peg warmers and ditch the entire line.” This topic has become one of friendly argument between us, so I felt compelled to respond.
First off, allow me to counteract his anecdotal evidence with the lone Greedo I found at a Toys R Us. Clearly this proves the line is doing great!
Look, obviously Leia and Greedo are pegwarming. But I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Collectors were worried about Luke and R2D2 pegwarming a few months ago. Then the holidays turned over the entire wave. Is it really that surprising that the less-popular figures from the second wave are pegwarming a month later? The toy-buying binge of the holidays inevitably gives way to a lull – even among adult collectors, who have credit card bills to pay off. That may be why the rumored Hasbro list states that wave three is scheduled for February through May – to let the post-holiday lull settle before (according to the list) we get two waves over two months in June and July. (I suspect the Chinese New Year manufacturing delay is also a big part of the reason for the Feb-May gap as well.)
Of course, I do think both Greedo and Leia could have been improved to make them more appealing; Greedo needed another accessory, while Leia needed better accessories and a better head sculpt and paint work on the face. Hopefully Hasbro will take the right lessons from this.
I also suspect SWB6″, just like Marvel Legends and DCUC before it, will start out with big buys from retailers – with a few initial waves featuring some memorable pegwarmers (Etrigan anyone?) – before the production numbers go down a bit, at which point the figures will sell through better. That’s where Marvel Legends is at now.* But if we get as many unique SWB6″ figures as we did for DCUC and Marvel Legends – and I’m talking only the Hasbro era of Marvel Legends – I’ll be satisfied.
I’m not saying Phil doesn’t have a point regarding Hasbro having changes to make regarding case assortments and so forth. But his concerns that Leia and Greedo will cause retailer abandonment of the line are, I think, premature. There was plenty of doom and gloom predicted for Marvel Legends when 50,000 Constrictors were choking (pun intended) the toy aisles. But evidently retailers didn’t understand the significance, because those Constrictors didn’t discourage Toys R Us or Target from ordering the new Captain America or Amazing Spider-man ML waves.
But those waves are tied to movies, you say? Movies like the one Star Wars is getting next year? Lest we forget, SWB6″ only has to make it through 2014 before it starts getting a lot of extra hype and visibility from the new movie. Based on what we’re seeing in terms of development and marketing for Star Wars Rebels, the new caretakers of the franchise seem to be focusing heavily on the original trilogy, and that can only help SWB6″. And I’m expecting either a cinematic re-release of the original trilogy or perhaps the long-awaited non-Special Edition release on Blu-ray to help build excitement for Episode VII.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone at Hasbro is panicking right now. Maybe Hasbro will pull the plug on SWB6″ as a failed experiment by the end of the year. But I don’t think so. Hasbro has spent a lot of time and money marketing this line already. They made a splash with the SDCC launch, in the press and among collectors. The Boba Fett and Sandtrooper figures are massively popular. Plans are in place for a 6″ Speeder Bike and possibly a Jabba. The Episode VII hype is just beginning.
If anything “worries” me, it’s the new tack of offering four-figure waves but carrying forward one figure per wave. That’s a recipe for pegwarming – except for certain characters. If they’re going to carry forward a figure, why not the army builders? Hell, put a stormtrooper in every damned wave and you’ll sell them all. Carrying forward prequel Kenobi is a particularly baffling decision - but I still don’t think it will spell doom for the line. I suspect prequel Kenobi may prove more popular (especially with children) than collectors realize. And carrying forward Chewbacca is far less troubling – everyone loves Chewbacca, so as long as the figure doesn’t suck, it should be fine.
In the interests of full disclosure, yeah, obviously I’m a total mark for this line. I feel like I have a dog in this fight. It’s the line I’ve wanted for over a decade, and now that it’s here, I want it to succeed – or at least get me all my favorite characters. But I don’t think this post is just an exercise in trying to delude myself into thinking nothing’s wrong. I think the line is in better shape than some pegwarming Greedos and Leias might lead one to believe.
*As for DCUC, I’d argue that line did about as well as it possibly could. They got through all the Super Powers characters (I think? most of them, anyway), plus tons of other obscure characters and costume variations. Diehard collectors of the line can obsess over the omissions, but overall that line did quite well for a modern 6″ toy line. And now DC Collectibles seems to be picking up the slack by offering more articulation, so 6″ realistically-sculpted DC superhero action figures aren’t gone from the market.