Tag: Hasbro Page 1 of 45

Toys and real-life guns

black and silver semi automatic pistol on brown wooden table
Photo by Derwin Edwards on Pexels.com

Toy companies seem to be shying away from real-life guns.

Diamond Select’s Rocketeer andWestworld figures either didn’t have guns or they were glued into their holsters (despite coming with hands with trigger fingers) and their John Wick figure has one dinky pistol (though the “Casual” version does have a shotgun).

The G.I. Joe public relations team refers to guns as “blasters” and the new Classified figures have sci-fi-style guns. Apparently the new movie Marvel Legends Deadpool comes with two removable sci-fi guns and has two real-life Desert Eagles glued into his holsters (which can be easily removed with some heat).

The only Hasbro figures that have had real-life guns recently have been online exclusives. (I’m really curious to see how the Punisher w/ motorcycle gets distributed – wouldn’t be at all surprised if he were a fan channel exclusive.)

(Hell, I even noticed the Youtube stars my kid watches, Lankybox, always refer to guns as blasters when they play Roblox.)

I assume this is a post-Parkland phenomenon; that particular mass shooting seemed to change the conversation around guns, moreso than other recent tragedies. It doesn’t appear to be a policy Hasbro or Diamond want to make a big deal out of, as they’re likely hoping to avoid a PR debacle on either side of the debate.

UPDATE: In assuming this was a Parkland-related issue, I thought the reason that exclusives could have real-life guns was because their online availability meant they were solely directed toward the adult market. However, after a user on our Facebook page pointed out that the Target exclusive Black Widow figure has fairly realistic guns, another possibility occurred to me: the international market. Gun culture overseas is not what it is in America, and I can imagine there being some complicated customs laws around representations of firearms in some countries. Why bother with it when you can just use your own patented NERF designs?

When is a gun not a gun? It reminds me a bit of the famous X-Men “nonhuman creatures” legal case.

Aside from mass shooting-related sensitivity and international customs compliance, I can think of at least two other explanations. It’s possible using real-life weapon designs require some sort of licensing from the manufacturers, which makes using original creations such as NERF designs cheaper. It’s also possible Hasbro has plans for some corporate synergy by repackaging their full-size NERF weapons under the G.I. Joe brand.

I would be very interested to hear from any industry types as to what’s going on here – feel free to email me at poe@poeghostal.com if you have any insight to offer.

Poe’s Point > Guns, Blasters, and NERF

I came across this intriguing photo on a forum (it apparently originated at the Fwoosh, but since they recently some problems with their forums I’ve been unable locate the original post – so if this is your image, please feel free to contact me for credit/cease and desist/etc.)

Marvel Legends figures have had sci-fi-looking guns for years and no one has made much of a fuss, but many G.I. Joe fans were disappointed to see the same guns in the 6″ G.I. Joe Classified line.

One reason for this is that the 1980s Joe line was heavy on the real-life weapons, which were often listed by name right on the packaging. And the original G.I Joe of the 1960s was essentially just a U.S. soldier. On the other hand, the 1980s Joe cartoon is famous for its use of “laser guns” that never actually hurt anyone.

In any event, times have changed, and Hasbro is changing with them. Many fans have noted Hasbro’s careful use of the word “blaster” instead of “guns” in their marketing, with staff even correcting themselves during the Hasbro Pulse live presentations on Facebook. So far, only the Hasbro Pulse-exclusive Snake Eyes has included an actual real-life weapon (an Uzi submachine gun, his signature firearm from the 1980s toys and comics).

But it turns out there’s more than meets the eye (sorry, wrong brand) to the weapons these G.I. Joe Classified figures have. Many of them are apparently based directly on some of Hasbro’s NERF guns.

Now that is some corporate synergy!

And it turns out at least one Marvel Legend figure had already come with a couple of NERF guns – the Liefeld-style Cable:

In terms of the actual designs themselves, I think they look fine. But that’s not really the issue here.

The issue–for some collectors at least, particularly diehard Joe fans–is Hasbro’s move away from real-life weapons to laser guns and plasma railguns, plus the slightly Orwellian switch to “blasters” (a term that in my mind has always been associated with Star Wars).

My personal feelings on guns are a bit complicated. I find guns interesting and I often peruse the Internet Movie Firearm Database to see which specific guns are used in a given film. I love the names, reading about the history, and especially reading about which real-life weapons were used to make science fiction guns (such as the Mauser that became Han Solo’s DL-44).

But I don’t own a gun, don’t plan to own a gun, I favor strict gun control and I find the cult-like worship of guns in some quarters and the sheer number of guns in the country, to say nothing of the culture of mass shootings, to be one of the biggest societal problems in America. I don’t think this is as strange as it may initially seem; Japanese fans of anime, manga and videogames love guns, but basically no one there has one.

So here are my thoughts on what Hasbro is doing with G.I. Joe.

First off, as mentioned above, there’s already a long history of G.I. Joe (particularly the “Real American Hero” incarnation GIJC is based on) using sci-fi weaponry. Moreover, an Uzi submachine gun, while culturally iconic, is woefully out-of-date as an actual weapon, as are most of the real-life weapons used by the Joes back in the 1980s. Many modern guns, particularly the state-of-the-art ones, don’t look all that different from many of Hasbro’s NERF designs. Sure, Roadblock’s big gun is obviously some sort of railgun, but railguns are something the U.S. military has actually looked into.

It so happens I saw both the original The Fast and the Furious and last year’s Hobbes and Shaw in the theater. In the original, the characters were car enthusiasts who stole DVD players. In Hobbes and Shaw, Idris Elba was a cyborg with a transforming motorcycle. I feel like the current state of the Fast and the Furious franchise is a good model for what the modern G.I. Joe could be, but we’ll see where they go with it in Snake Eyes.

And then there’s the Winter Soldier’s modified FN Mk 13 that fires magnetic exploding discs.

So here’s what I think: I think the sci-fi/NERF guns are fine for retail, but for the sake of nostalgic fans, Hasbro should continue to try to find ways to create Web-exclusive versions that contain the classic weapons.

I also think Hasbro should just call them guns, because the blasters thing seems silly. People understand that G.I. Joe is a military/paramilitary organization and that guns are part of that.

Poe’s Point > Target Destroyed

So, what to make of today’s fiasco with this morning’s Target exclusive G.I. Joe Classified preorders?

The four figures (three individual figures, including a Cobra Trooper, and the Baroness with a motorcycle) were sold out in less than a minute. Collectors are predictably upset.

Full disclosure: two weeks ago, when the NECA Raphael/Casey Jones two-pack was supposed to go up on Walmart.com, I had a Chrome browser open with Auto Refresh Plus, an app I’ve used for years to automatically refresh pages to watch for changes – so for example, when the words “In Stock” appeared, I’d know instantly and could make my order. On that day, I succeeded and got my order in. It seems very few other collectors were so successful.

Today, despite not only having Auto Refresh going but actually refreshing in-person myself, I failed. And now I ask, why?

The current go-to for blame appears to be bots. These shopping bots are scripts that more or less instantly login and make the purchases for you. Many collectors believe that this is the new way scalpers are making their money – ordering the maximum number of items almost instantly and then throwing them all up on eBay before they even arrive, preying on many collectors’ (including, at times, this writer’s) desperate need for instant gratification with a huge markup for a toy they may very well see in stores before they even receive their eBay purchase.

Now, today I was aware the instant the G.I. Joe Classified auctions went live. I took maybe 45 seconds at most to get everything in my cart and try to put the purchase through. I was logged in and I have a Red Card, so there was nothing to slow me down. And yet, before I even could check out, three of the four items were gone from my cart.

A few observations.

  • Target and Walmart both need to add Captcha and other methods of slowing down bots. This is a no-brainer. Hasbro Pulse recently added Captcha and it seems to be working pretty well.
  • Online ticket sellers figured out how to secure items in shopper’s carts years and years ago. There is no excuse for this – if you manage to get something in your cart, you should get at least 5-10 minutes to purchase it before the stock is released.
  • I’m not entirely sure the real problem wasn’t the number of items available.

This last part is important. I think a lot of collectors have become so accustomed to preordering toys online, they forget what exclusives mean to big-box retailers. Again, I don’t mean smaller stores like BigBadToyStore or DorksideToys–an exclusive toy for them is entirely based on online sales.

But big box retailers like Target and Walmart want to bring people into the store. That’s the appeal of exclusives for them. There’s no real added value if a bunch of collectors who otherwise would never set foot in their store order a figure online.

So, I suspect the online numbers of these allocated to these initial preorders were very small. I particularly suspect this in the case of the Target preorder. This preorder wasn’t announced publicly by Hasbro, it just made the rounds on a few G.I. Joe fansites. The G.I. Joe Classified line is fairly new, and the exclusive’s individual pages (required for bots to work) weren’t even posted until late last night or early this morning. If there was a decent amount of stock allocated for the presale, I’d be a bit surprised if enough scalpers with a lot of bots were able to buy up all the stock in less than sixty seconds.

Basically, the point of the preorders is publicity. By the time the items are actually in stores (the street date for the G.I. Joe items is August 14), most collectors will have forgotten their frustration and will be haunting their local Targets for these figures. And while they’re there, they might pick up some other figure they’ve been looking for, and maybe some toilet paper and laundry detergent, or a soda, or a candy bar.

Of course, I can already see the objections from angry collectors who are swearing off [insert retailer and/or toy line here] forever due to this incident. And maybe some will, but we all know most of them won’t. If they can find these, they will buy them.

Now I could be wrong. Perhaps an army of bots did spam Target, or perhaps two or three were able to order hundreds of figures. But while these may turn up to be plentiful in stores come August, there’s no question that this backfired on Hasbro (if not Target) in terms of PR.

The same goes for NECA and Walmart. It’s true that action figures have become a niche collectors’ market, like baseball/trading cards, comics, Magic: the Gathering, and–oddly–sneakers. It’s true that in many cases, if not for these exclusives, these items might not be available at all. But it’s still frustrating, disheartening, and annoying to have to deal with these instant sell-outs. And a few small steps, such as Captcha and strict purchase limits, could stem the tide and make everything a bit more fair.

Pic of the Day > Playing Around With Laser Blasts FX Star Wars Black Series; Line Shot #2 by chevy2who

Playing Around With Laser Blasts FX Star Wars Black Series 6" Line Shot #2

Playing Around With Laser Blasts FX Star Wars Black Series; Line Shot #2 by chevy2who

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Poe’s Point > Anecdotal evidence proves Star Wars Black 6″ is doing great!

greedo2

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!

Odds ‘n Ends > Star Wars Rebels, NES Predator, Funko ReAction, & more

nathanoddsends

  • Starwars.com revealed a new character from Star Wars Rebels, C1-10P, a.k.a. “Chopper,” a “grumpy” astromech droid. He reminds me a bit of Claptrap from Borderlands, although it should be noted that Claptrap probably doesn’t exist without R2-D2. Chopper is directly inspired by early McQuarrie concept art for Artoo himself (particularly the arms on the head). The video on Starwars.com includes a quick look at Chopper’s 3.75″ figure as part of Hasbro’s Rebels line (static photo here). I’m really everything I’m seeing and hearing about Rebels, and I find myself hoping we see Chopper or the Grand Inquisitor in the SWB 6″ line. Given Hasbro’s tendency toward media synergy, it’s more likely than, say, Kyle Katarn in SWB. On a side note, I love the whole Inquisitor concept, which originated in the Expanded Universe, I believe.
  • Speaking of, I also hope the rumors of strong synergy between Rebels and Episode 7 are true, and to a lesser extent I hope the Mara Jade rumors are true, because if any EU character deserves to be enshrined in the film canon it’s Mara Jade. I mean yeesh, Dash Rendar is (indirectly through the Outrider) canon.
  • And finally on the Star Wars topic, here’s the latest leaked list of Star Wars figures for 2014, including Star Wars Black. The list doesn’t differ much from what we’ve seen in previous rumors; at this point, Chewbacca, Jedi Luke, Darth Vader, a Clone Trooper, and a redeco of the Sandtrooper all look like a lock. The upcoming wave with Bespin Luke, Prequel Kenobi, the Stormtrooper and the Han Solo carry-over is listed for February-May, while the June assortment is Anakin, Prequel Kenobi carry-over, Chewie and the Clone Trooper, and a mere month later is Vader, Jedi Luke, Sandtrooper redeco and Chewbacca (carry-over). I’m guessing the Sandtrooper redeco will be white, since black would be pretty boring. Here’s hoping the figure gets a new left hand that can actually hold the blaster cannon. Look, I understand re-use is necessary to keep a line like this going – NECA re-uses its molds more per wave than this line does – but couldn’t Hasbro at least replace the carry-over figures with some redecos? It sucks we get the Sandtrooper redeco and the Chewie carry-over in the same wave, particularly when the carry-over figure counts as part of the case. Why do they even bother with four-figure waves/cases? I’d rather get less frequent waves with four new figures, or more frequent waves of three figures, than this four-figures-including-a-carry-over thing we’ve got going now. I’ve got a few friends’ kids who are going to be getting a Prequel Kenobi and a Chewbacca in the near future.
  • Okay I lied, one more Star Wars thing:  here’s some neat fan art by Li Jia Tan (who did some concept art work for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II) of Han & Chewie working on a mech. Love the crotch-cockpit that looks like a 1930s sedan. It’s interesting to see a mech cockpit there, instead of the head or the torso.
  • The Four Horsemen have announced their annual Toypocalypse show at Tokyo Kid during Toy Fair next month. They’ll have factory paint masters of some of the Power Lords figures, as well as the “rebirth” of the FANtastic Exclusive project.
  • The Horsemen also released a ton of in-progress production photos of the Gothitropolis Ravens, along with the news that the Ravens will probably be delayed about two months, but they’ll be produced by the same folks who did such a great job on Scarabus.
  • NECA posted a photo of their next NES figure, the Predator. At this point they really need an unofficial name for this sub-line…
  • NECA also released a photo of in-progress classic Planet of the Apes Dr. Zaius. Seeing that name should immediately make you think of this.
  • A friend of a friend is looking for an experienced customizer to make a Doctor Who custom. Anyone have a rec/referral?
  • Jeff Cope has a revealing interview with Brian Mariotti of Funko regarding their plans for the ReAction brand. Definitely worth reading if you’re interested in the line. I need to do a write-up on ReAction. I have really mixed feelings about the line.

Poe’s Point > Thoughts on the state of Star Wars Black 6″

darth-maul-star-wars-black-poe-ghostal-review-15

So, at the beginning of 2014, where are we on Star Wars Black 6″?

Before I begin, let me state something: I’m not that worried about the line. I think sometimes collectors overthink this kind of thing. Star Wars is a big, recognizable brand with a new movie coming out in less than two years. The hype will be unimaginable eighteen months from now. Captain America 2 and the Amazing Spider-man 2 will probably not be as successful as the new Star Wars movie (the first one, at least), and both of those films just received a great wave of 6″ figures. Hasbro has not abandoned the format for Marvel, and I see no reason why they’d turn around and drop it for Star Wars when we’re not even a year in.

But that doesn’t mean I think they’re handling the line perfectly.

Pic of the Day > Wookie in Flight. by pharaohglyph

Wookie in Flight.

Wookie in Flight. by pharaohglyph

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Pic of the Day > Boba Fett Headshot by crackhead9000

Boba-Fett-Headshot

Rumored Star Wars Black 6″ Wave 4 Line-up

star-wars-black-wave-4-rumor-list

First off, as always, take this with a grain of salt. This is based on third-hand information. I just happen to find it compelling enough to pass along. While I generally try to avoid rumor-mongering, I think it’s worth giving preemptive feedback sometimes.

User WayneStarActionF at the Rebelscum forums has made what I think is a decently convincing case (based on what he claims is inside information) for the line-up of Star Wars Black 6″ Wave 4. WayneStarActionF also states that while Wave 4 is disappointing, Wave 5 is amazing and consists entirely of Original Trilogy characters.

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