Quite a while back, I got to wondering how toy collectors felt about reviews of toys that were provided as free review samples to reviewers. It’s a fairly common practice among most other industries such as movies, television, music, electronics, and videogames. However, the reviewers in those industries are almost always employed (or at least paid) by professional journalistic publications with reader bases that expect honest reviews, and therefore have a vested interest in being as objective as possible.
In most such cases, there is little concern that a bad review will prevent them from getting a review sample from the same company in the future, for three reasons. First off, a review publication should never count on review samples – it’s just bad business. Second, often the publication has enough clout that a publisher/manufacturer will want or even feel it has to provide a review sample. I’m thinking of your New York Times, your Rolling Stone, your CNET, your IGN; these places get review samples because companies know it’s the best way to publicize their product (and even a middling or bad review is often better than no one knowing your product exists).