Hear me out. I'm being totally serious.
The purpose of the street dates is most likely to put the retailers on even footing and manage when items are available. However, I saw something this evening that made me think things may not work quite the way the folks at Hasbro want them to work.
The obvious side effect of a hard street date is that retailers know to get rid of old stock before that date, and they either mark the older stuff down or simply don't replenish it. So, right now, in most stores, there are practically no Star Wars figures, nor are there many Transformers or GIJoes (who also have a street date in August, possibly the same date).
Trouble is, the target customer is a little boy, someone who isn't good at saving money when it's in his pocket. Maybe not quite as big an issue for GIJoe, since the movie bombed and there's no cartoon right now to put it in kids' minds, but suicide for Transformers and Star Wars.
Tonight, I was in a Wal-Mart. Their Transformers were limited: movie Skids, movie Mudflap, a few two-packs of smaller figures, and a couple of Voyager-class movie figures. Maybe one or two others. Stuff that's been there for months. The Transformers section was a cornucopia of selection compared to GIJoe (a dozen movie Storm Shadows) and Star Wars (a Leia/Xizor comic pack and about ten Jeremoch Coltons).
It was in the Star Wars section that there was a kid, about ten, going through the figures. I was walking through the aisle, and it only took a second to realize everything was as it was three or four weeks ago. I heard the kid say, "No, dad, they're all the same. Just this guy. They don't have anyone I want."
I asked the dad if he was looking for Star Wars figures, and, when he said yes, told him that I collect them and keep up with them, and the new stuff was coming out on August 6; most stores just won't be putting anything out until then. He asked his son if he understood, and asked if he wanted to wait a couple of weeks to get whoever it was (I didn't ask who).
What's the kid do? He leaves with a couple of Ben 10 figures instead.
It's exactly two weeks until the street date for the Vintage and new Clone Wars stuff. And, like I mentioned, the shelves have been this barren for over a month, maybe two. (I haven't been paying especially close attention, but it's been a long time.) There is nothing for boys there that's made by Hasbro for at least six weeks (since Marvel stuff vanishes there as soon as it comes out).
I can understand if there's a concerted launch around a new movie or whatever, but this whole "hard street date for all three lines just because we're changing packaging" might work for adult geeks like the folks here, but it seems like they're pretty much asking the kids they target to spend their money on toys from other companies.