A Tuesday update? Well, better late than never. It must be Hasbro answers to SSG questions for September 19th, 2006.
Thanks to everybody for their patience, we are still endevoring to get the missing questions found and answered; and thanks again to all the folks who sent in questions and especially those who actually voted on them. Here come Hasbro's answers, and remember to check out ActionFigs.com for their weekly Hasbro Q&A as well (which also got an update today).
Hasbro Q&A for the week of September 19th
(Q&A schedule was interrupted by the Labor Day holiday.)
Q: When the Action Fleet line was cancelled the second time (under the 2002-2003 Saga line), one of the comments that kept coming up in the discussion with Hasbro about it was the future of the molds that were almost to production but halted, and how molds are a very significant portion of the toy's cost and have specific budgets that they are expected to make back in order for Hasbro to consider them worth doing in the first place; the Action Fleet line had several molds that were nearing production and many others that were more than halfway finished but were cancelled and shelved before release rather than risk not making their money back. Shouldn't those molds nearing or at fruition at least be run to recoup some of their budgets in partial sales, how can a mold that's already spent most of the budget be more cost-effective to make zero sales than 50% of its expected sales (isn't that still making half its money back versus making none of its money back)?
A: We base our line plan around product concepts we believe will have the highest audience following and in support of a strategic direction for the line (like the 3-3/4" world of play). As cool as Action Fleet was, it really tailed off and we have moved in a different direction with vehicles (Titanium). That's why even though there was development work for additional Action Fleet vehicles, we are not interested in pursuing those right now. We know there is a collector following for the brand, which is great, but do not have plans for these or the rest of the Action Fleet library right now.
Q: Hasbro was recently quoted as saying that whenever you make a new General Grievous figure it will be correctly scaled, will we be getting a new Grievous figure next year in the 30th Anniversary Collection?
A: We can't address any more specific character questions for the line next year. You'll have to wait and see...
Q: Hasbro has a minimum sales requirement/expectation in mind for each line and even each item within it - often with a timeline attached - which seems to always be geared towards mainstream mass retail audiences, lines such as Action Fleet and Unleashed and Titanium Series 6" Ultra Vehicles often suffer because they either don't meet these requirements, or like the Titanium Ultras even when they do sell they don't sell fast enough for Hasbro's requirements - many of these lines being collector favorites, and some actually get better products as later waves come out. None of the other Star Wars licensees seem to have sales expectations as high as Hasbro's - with the possible exception of LEGO, and even there they vary their expectations wildly between mainstream casual buyers and the hardcore collector base – yet those others continue to produce their Star Wars lines even when it means lower volume sales. What is the difference between Hasbro and those other licensees in this regard, why does Hasbro need to have higher volumes, why are Hasbro's expectations higher or for faster sell-throughs or overly-focused on mainstream audiences which can lead to premature demises of some popular and quality Hasbro StarWars lines?
A: What you are talking about is the difference between a large toy company with a retail-based business model and a smaller company that has succeeded in creating a different business model. The "boys aisle" space at major retailers is intensely compeitive with a high standard for productivity in a relatively small amount of real estate. If a product line does not meet our - or retailer - expectations, it struggles and the future for that line is in doubt no matter how much we like it or how passionate the fans for that line may be. What fans have to realize is that even though they love something, a line that is struggling does not have as widespread support among fans and that is tough to appreciate without understanding the larger retail landscape and the performance of each line. This is exactly why we chose to partner with Sideshow on the 12" line. We knew that we struggle at retail with 12", but a small company that focuses a great deal of their efforts around this category can excel because they have a very different business model than we have.
You can find previous answers in SSG's weekly Hasbro Q&A archive.