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  1. #1

    QUESTIONS FOR HASBRO at Conventions – 2015

    As always, Hasbro will be at conventions and events this year, and at some of them we're hoping to get one-on-one interview time. It's not guaranteed that we'll get any interview time, so unused questions will be saved for future events.

    Next up is New York Comic Con, October 8–11.

    Voting is not needed as the questions will be chosen on an editorial basis, but feel free to voice support or suggest changes to existing questions.

    Also, keep in mind that we'll be asking these in person, so please keep questions respectful and reasonable.

    Check out recent Q&A sessions:
    - San Diego Comic-Con, July 2015: Jeff Labovitz
    - Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, April 2015: Joe Ninivaggi
    - New York Toy Fair, February 2015: Jeff Labovitz
    - New York Comic Con, October 2014: Joe Ninivaggi
    - San Diego Comic Con, July 2014: Jeff Labovitz
    - San Diego Comic Con, July 2014: Bill Rawley
    - New York Toy Fair, February 2014: Derryl DePriest and Jeff Labovitz

    Go ahead and voice support for these questions, and suggest your own:

    1. We've repeatedly heard from Hasbro that kids are their primary customers and that demographic vastly outspends the adult toy collectors. But how do you know that for sure? If a person walks into store and buys a Star Wars figure, then how do you know if that person is a child or an adult collector or an adult buying a toy for a child? How could you even tell if the person buying the toy is male or female? We understand that you probably can't give out specifics, but do you have reliable methods for determining what age groups are buying the majority of your product?
    2. We understand that you guys like to play things a little close to the vest when it comes to what new toys are coming out and you obviously weren't really allowed to publicly reveal anything about the upcoming TFA lineup of toys at Toy Fair and SDCC; but what's the point of that? In this day and age, it's nearly impossible to keep stuff like this a secret and you had to know that information about the new toys would be leaked on the internet in the weeks leading up to Force Friday. So why even bother trying to keep it a secret? Especially when you have no control over the information when it's leaked over the internet. Even if you revealed information about Ep7 toys before you really wanted to, at least you would be in control of how the information got out there. Unlike now, where it seems that you are having all of your thunder stolen right out from under you.
    3. What is it about the Armor Up figures that makes them nearly double the price of the standard Build-a-Weapon figures? Both lines include one basic figure with a large accessory and, if you compare them, the build-a-weapon parts are about the same size as the Armor Up armor pieces. So what justification was there for such a dramatic increase in price for the armored figures? We know you don't set the final retail prices, but Hasbro still has to set a suggested retail pricepoint.
    4. Single-packed, super-articulated Black Series figures are now exclusive to Walmart. But will we be seeing these kinds of figures in any other format? Perhaps in more exclusive sets, like the Jabba's Rancor Pit from Toys R Us? Is there any chance they'll return to other retailers?
    5. Will the Walmart exclusive Black Series line be pretty much sticking with main characters? How far will the selection go when compared to the basic 5POA figures or 6" Black Series?
    6. We haven't seen any shiny vac-metal figures in a few years. Is there a manufacturing-related reason this process has been abandoned? Could we still see a Captain Phasma using this method? Is this why a 6" Black Series C-3PO still hasn't been released?
    7. Even though the main focus is currently on The Force Awakens, Rebels just got a Y-wing Scout Bomber repaint. Will any newly sculpted Rebels vehicles be coming out? Perhaps a blue Phoenix Squadron A-wing, or a red B-wing?
    8. You've said that more of the first Force Awakens wave will be shipping. Will they be produced on the same cards and with the same weapons? I know Kylo Ren and the Stormtrooper are coming back in wave 2 with different art and accessories.
    9. This year's packaging artwork from Pilot Studios is phenomenal. Is there any chance you guys could work together to sell posters or prints of this work?
    10. Will we be seeing any beasts from The Force Awakens, like the luggabeast or happabore, in the 3 3/4" line?
    11. What sort of plans do you have for Micro Machines in the coming year?
    12. Early lists showed Micro Machines figure packs, but these haven't been revealed. Are they still coming?
    13. The Micro Machines vehicles include the classic stand holes but don't come with stands. Will Hasbro be making stands available in some other fashion down the road? Are the holes just there so they can interact with playsets?
    14. Rumors stated that there would be a few more street dates for Force Awakens products this year, sort of like extra Force Fridays. Is that true? Is anything else specifically timed for release, with either a hard or soft street date?
    15. Will Titanium Series vehicles see any more four-packs, or even any larger sets?
    16. Will any older Titanium Series molds be revised, or just repacked? Are any older ships off-limits, such as Legends?
    Got a question for Hasbro? Ask it here!
    My Photos and Reviews: SSG Toy Guide
    My Star Wars Fan Film: The Lazy Jedi

  2. #2
    I think your wording of question 2 is suitable, but you might want to ask if they feel that they missed a great sales opportunity by not having Rebels toys available in mass numbers in time for the Christmas shopping season last year.
    "To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence… When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    I think your wording of question 2 is suitable, but you might want to ask if they feel that they missed a great sales opportunity by not having Rebels toys available in mass numbers in time for the Christmas shopping season last year.
    Good idea. I've modified the question.
    Got a question for Hasbro? Ask it here!
    My Photos and Reviews: SSG Toy Guide
    My Star Wars Fan Film: The Lazy Jedi

  4. #4
    When the new toys do finally launch, will Hasbro consider doing another Midnight Madness release as they did for the prequels and the Clone Wars film?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Maradona View Post
    When the new toys do finally launch, will Hasbro consider doing another Midnight Madness release as they did for the prequels and the Clone Wars film?
    I've added it. Given that they're not showing any TFA stuff at Toy Fair, and that as recently as October they wouldn't answer any Episode VII questions at all, I wonder how much they'll say about their plans next month. There are rumors floating now of a September 4 release date and Toy Fair is usually the time when that kind of info starts to leak, so maybe one of the other licenses will be able to confirm it if Hasbro will not.

    I also added a question about Celebration exclusive(s). Jeff couldn't comment in July, and presumably they'll announce it at Toy Fair if it's going to happen at all, but I want to remember to ask if they don't.
    Got a question for Hasbro? Ask it here!
    My Photos and Reviews: SSG Toy Guide
    My Star Wars Fan Film: The Lazy Jedi

  6. #6
    After some serious challenges to the existing collector base in the last year that have resulted in a significant collector base exodus, are you planning to do something to win back that collector base, or are you going to stay the course until The Force Awakens product brings in a new wave of buyers?
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    Kylo Ren - came from Space Brooklyn, although he moved to Space Williamsburg before it was trendy.

    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  7. #7
    This is related to what JT just said, and I know it is not diplomatic. But I'm not sure there is a way to be diplomatic about it.

    For the last year or so, since the introduction of the 6" The Black Series and the 5-POA Saga Legends figures, the "basic" 3.75" line of figures seems to have become the proverbial red-headed stepchild. Clearly the intention was to steer kids toward the cheaper figures, and adults toward the larger ones. But, while some collectors have embraced The Black Series, many have not, or only pick and choose a few figures.

    The 3.75" line has been made up mostly of resculpts, often of characters longtime collectors already have multiple times in their collections. Only a few truly new figures have been made, of varying quality (the excellent Darth Plagueis on the one extreme, and the "slap Laura Dern's head on an old Leia and call it Toryn Farr even though the character's taller and doesn't look like Laura Dern, so these people asking for Toryn Farr will shut up" on the other). And there have been fiascos, like a long-needed Ree Yees update who many feel is inferior to the 1996 figure, an inability to decide which character one figure represented and giving him the generic name "Jabba's Skiff Guard," and responding to the Fan's Choice Poll results for a long-needed Jedi Master Mara Jade by giving us a third version of the very different Emperor's Hand Mara Jade (which, again, many considered inferior to both previous versions).

    With the new $10 price tag, collectors have become more selective about what they're buying, and many have passed on what they see as unnecessary resculpts, and, in some cases, new figures that they've long wanted. In short, it should be obvious that many collectors who never saw themselves as giving up the hobby simply don't think the current offerings warrant the higher price tag.

    It appears that the response is to stay the course with resculpts, but raise the price by a few dollars to squeeze more profits out of what is selling. This seems like an awful tactic to take; if people do not feel the figures are worth $10, why would they suddenly decide they're worth more?

    What is it about the "basic" 3.75" line (whatever it may be called at any given point, since the names have changed several times but the line has remained essentially the same) that warrants them costing two times or more as much as figures that actually look better but have a level of articulation many would consider too simplistic? Why is the logical middle ground (figures that aren't so articulated that they wind up looking bad, but aren't 1978-styled, either, at a reasonable price) so hard to reach here?
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  8. #8
    Great questions JT & Chuxter. Those are the questions I'd want asked, although I doubt we'll get a straight answer. If the price increases to $12-$14, which some stores are already experimenting with, then I'm pretty much done.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    After some serious challenges to the existing collector base in the last year that have resulted in a significant collector base exodus, are you planning to do something to win back that collector base, or are you going to stay the course until The Force Awakens product brings in a new wave of buyers?
    It's definitely worth asking, but I question how much time they really have to turn things around before TFA. With the exception of the 6" TIE Pilot wave and some exclusives, almost nothing revealed at SDCC or NYCC has made it out yet, and they're still struggling to get out the Rebels figures that they first revealed a freaking year ago, so I wonder if the rest of 2015 will just be them playing catch-up with what we've already seen, along with releasing maybe one or two more waves in each line. Not to mention, there are rumors that the TFA merchandise will hit in September, which if true means that Hasbro has just short of seven months before the rollout. I just can't see them taking any massively different steps in that amount of time.

    In response to both posts, and for reference, here's what Derryl said about the 3 3/4" line this time last year:
    SSG: Okay. The other part of the question – with the 3 3/4″, it kind of seems – I don’t know if “phased out,” but a little more favor is being given to Saga Legends figures and 6″ figures. Are they kind of going away, the super-articulated 3 3/4″?

    DD: Well, no, super articulated 3 3/4″ is not going away. We just don’t have a lot to, new figures to announce here at the show, we only announced two. Because last year we announced so many of the waves already. So those are all coming out, there are waves coming out in the Spring that we didn’t talk about, and you see some of those over there – Torynn Farr, Ree-Yees.

    SSG: Still great stuff.

    DD: Still great characters coming out, and you’ll see a brand new line in the Fall on a new TIE Fighter-inspired package designed to separate it further from the 6″ Black Series.


    DD: But I will say as a follow-up to your question though, the Saga and Mission, the new figures that we introduced, the simplified articulation, have been very, very well received by our core audience, which is kids. And possibly some fans, too, who appreciate the simplicity of those figures. So those have proven to be a very successful introduction for us and will continue on.
    And what Bill Rawley said at SDCC when I asked about the 2" Guardians of the Galaxy figures:
    3 3/4″ is our scale for collectors and even our kids. We lowered the articulation level for some of the Rebels stuff and for Mission and Saga in order to keep the price point low. For 10 bucks, a kid can go into a store and buy two figures and really start to get into our brand. We’re trying to get more and more kids into our brand because they’ll be the fans that buy the Black Series 10, 15 years from now. So we’re constantly trying to hook new fans and keep the existing fans excited about the brand, which Black Series is hopefully doing, keeping all the fans and hardcore collectors excited. Some of them can be excited about the other stuff as well. [Saga Legends and Mission Series are] really an offering that has less deco and less articulation but that, again, is so we can maintain the playability. Kids can put that figure into a vehicle by just bending his legs up and he slides right in. The highly articulated guys, it’s a little bit harder. Six- or seven-year-olds are fumbling with those legs to try to slide him into an X-wing. We have a play testing facility at Hasbro and we start to see how kids play with our toys and that’s when it starts to click where maybe seven-year-olds don’t know how to play with these toys and let’s change some things.
    So, looking at both of your questions and keeping these responses in mind, here's what I've got so far:

    - It's no secret that the premium super-articulated 3 3/4" figures have faced a number of problems over the last few years. Distribution issues, paint issues, the cancellation of Droid Factory, the limited number of new characters left to make leading to numerous resculpts and repacks. Now the $10 price tag has been raised in some stores to $12 or even $14, an increase of 20% to 40%, and many longtime collectors are calling it quits in response to these issues. First of all, what's behind the price hike? Are Chinese labor costs going up again? Are stores deciding to ask for more money in response to slower sales? Is paint a factor in the rising costs?
    - Even though super-articulated 3 3/4" figures are continuing, it seems like you're trying to bring back these lapsed fans by steering collectors towards the 6" Black Series. While it's worked in some cases, other collectors would prefer not to start another scale and would rather stick with the 3 3/4" figures they know and love. Will you be changing anything in your approach to the 3 3/4" collector line to re-engage these fans? Or are you hoping that The Force Awakens and the following entertainment will be like a reset button in this regard?
    - You already cut costs by lowering articulation on Saga and Mission figures, which you've said was met with great success, especially with kids. For the 3 3/4" collector line, would it be possible to aim for a sweet spot somewhere between the simplified 5 points of articulation on those figures and the elaborate 14-plus points on Black Series? The figures released before 2010 weren't all super-articulated, but still had enough articulation, detail, and variety to engage collectors. Is it too late to go to a slightly simpler style and keep the price somewhere around, say, $7 and $9?

    I feel like that hits most of the points, but any suggestions on how I can improve and/or condense them?
    Got a question for Hasbro? Ask it here!
    My Photos and Reviews: SSG Toy Guide
    My Star Wars Fan Film: The Lazy Jedi

  10. #10
    A non-SW (or at least not specifically SW) question, but I'd appreciate it if someone could ask it of Hasbro:

    One major problem with various Hasbro lines over the year is the rarity of figures who are released at the end of a particular card design's lifespan. Understandably, retailers see the newest figures as "better" and want to stock them, using only the packaging appearance and Hasbro's description as an indicator of what's new rather than looking at individual figures.

    The way the assortments are generally set up, the earlier waves are heavier on the tried-and-true characters: the Darth Vaders and Obi-Wan Kenobis, for instance, as well as the Bumblebees, Captain Americas, and Storm Shadows. These characters will always resonate with and sell to kids, but they often tend to be re-released throughout the life of a subline, and, with adult collectors not quite as interested, build up in numbers at the retail level, making stores (who aren't in the business of knowing who's who) more reluctant to order later case assortments, thus making those figures much tougher to get. In some cases, they get a limited retail release; in others, they are only shipped internationally, go directly to discount stores like Ross or TJ Maxx, or they wind up never being released. None of these scenarios are ideal for Hasbro or for kids and collectors. (Particularly when those last waves often have the most highly-requested figures to be released in a particular subline: the Jacen Solos, Arcees, Death's Heads, and Cobra Combat Ninjas.)

    To make matters more frustrating for collectors, these hard-to-find later figures are very often never re-released. When asked, the official Hasbro response is something along the lines of, "We're looking into it." Which sometimes means a given figure may be re-released two or three years or more later (Starkiller, Darth Malgus), or never (far too many to begin to list). Why is so difficult to re-release figures (particularly in the Star Wars, Marvel, and G.I.Joe lines, where almost all characters are a consistent size)? It doesn't seem to make sense to produce tooling for a limited run and frustrates collectors to no end to be unable to obtain figures without paying a premium on the secondhand markup (with Hasbro seeing zero of the markup).

    If nothing else, could such figures be re-released in the original or generic packaging after a certain amount of time has elapsed and there is little or no worry about competing with retailers, perhaps sold through HasbroToyShop, an official collectors club, or some other direct method?
    Tommy, close your eyes.


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