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View Full Version : 2012 offerings in hindsight


Knightdramon
2012-12-23, 08:57 PM
With no real new releases looming in the last few days of the year, what's your take on what 2012 has offered us, toy-wise, full spectrum wide, in the franchise? Talking about the cheapest KREO or botshot [whichever's cheaper] to the more expensive MP figures.

Overal, despite all nay sayers, even myself included, I think that it was one of the best years for the long term collectors who have experienced at least 2-3 lines before.

For all my initial nitpicks about the RID line, having owned about 50 percent of it [if only the damn Airrachnid and Dreadwing could get here sooner], I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the figures, despite having to paint them up myself on occasions.

What I've noticed that's going on in the RID line, less so in the FE, is that they're finally true action figures. Usually a transformer is made up of an alt mode, a robot mode, and articulation is usually a mix of basic joints plus whatever joints are used to get from one mode to another and are not locked into place. RID cons [and the lone Wheeljack I have] all seem to have the usual joints besides any unique ones, for the first time since forever, line-wide same pose posing is possible, be it from the thin Soundwave to the normal Wheeljack and Vehicon to the powerhouses Megatron and Breakdown.

Transformation schemes have also become much more...em...refined? Smooth? That's the word I'm looking for? I'm amazed at how complex yet simple the deluxes are, and how all parts either have a purpose in both modes, or lock firmly in the mode they're not used. Literally all the RID moulds I have are without any kibble that can't fold anywhere else [only notable exception being Megatron's "cape\wings"].

The MP line seems much more focused at the moment, with some genuine effort thrown in. No longer are you left wondering if the character coming out is a modernization of the G1 toy, an upgrade of the character model, or just a high end toy; you've got to be blind not to see that they're going for vintage looking, intricate transforming upgrades of a healthy amalgamation of cartoon\toy models. Rodimus, Starscream, Prime and Sideswipe are proof of this.

The Generations line seems to be focused on FOC designs now, or in layman terms, cybertronian vehicles. This is, execution aside, something that fans have been begging for since the War Within comic book. Plus, it's the official return of five unique members forming a gestalt, beginning with fan favourite Bruticus. Whether or not the execution is up to your standarts, you can't deny the fan pleasing hasbro offered us, with two collector editions [san diego comic con and the G2 one] alongside the "vanilla" retail version. Fan favourites Soundwave\Starscream\Grimlock\Insecticon are also thrown into the mix.

Lastly, the FE re-releases, even if they came too little, too late for some collectors, are welcomed. The complexity, detail, articulation and size make their RID counterparts look cheaper in comparison and offer you a shelf without limitations of powerizer weapons or automorphing features. True, "old school" conversions with places to store the weapons and chunky, by today's standards, vehicle modes. Even if you're completely satisfied with the RID versions, you should try transforming all FE figures at least once.

The year didn't go without negatives though, and I'd lie if I said I don't mind them. The trade off for the smooth transforming and decently articulated figures is a decrease in size AND paint apps in most cases, hollow limbs on almost all figures and gimmicks that appeal none at all to collectors and little to kids. I mean, transforming weapons with light up features that also light up the limbs for a power up effect? Great on paper, extremely poor in execution. Almost all RID voyagers have clear forearms too opaque for the light to emulate that effect, the transforming weapons change from weapon mode into a useless BLOCK with no mode lock either way that are a near approximation of the gun the figure uses in the show.

Price increases happened across the board on all US products at this unfortunate moment, reflecting a 'pay more to get less' mentality that's not necessarily unjustified. Japanese products are more varied in pricing and the exchange rate does not help so I won't get into that arguement.

Takara's line, for once, instead of costing more to get the same figure with much better and glossier paint apps, costs a bit more and nets you a generally unpainted figure, an unasembled minicon that transforms into an approximation of the character's main gun and a sheet of generally poor stickers for both of them. Most of the minicons are pretty cool and are offered as standalone weapons too, which is a big plus, but the base figure is hurt by it. I don't mind painting my figures so this isn't that much of a hit for me, but it is for most people.

I'm NOT going to go into any of the 'whoa this important show character came out in X line but not Y line' or 'distribution sucks I didn't see any wave X character months after his release' because, quite frankly, and I CAN'T stress this enough, WE LIVE IN THE DIGITAL AGE. Everything is five to twenty clicks away, everything transformers related stayed in stock for months at all major e-retailers for pretty much normal prices, so the fact that somebody cried foul because he couldn't drive half an hour away to purchase a voyager\deluxe\masterpiece figure when it was available on at least ten respectable websites is not a complaint for me, it's pure laziness.

Any thoughts on the toy offerings of this year?

Jaynz
2012-12-23, 10:14 PM
You throw in a lot of caveats about what you 'don't want to hear' when it comes to looking at 2012. But, let's be honest, a lot of what defined Transformers, particularly as toys, are exactly what you don't want to hear.

We start with the end of the third movie line getting figures dumped and bad distribution of the final waves. The First Edition line barely gets released and it becomes easier to import it from overseas than to get it domestically.

The regular Prime line comes out with even worse distribution and so much Bumblebee that the little guy can pollenate the planet. This is compounded with a bizzare assortment run that excludes major characters outright, or so shortpacks certain toys (Airachnid) that they're effectively noshows for swaths of the country. (Again, US here).

Then we get a major price increase at the same time. New figures come out and they're smaller, made of cheaper/brittle plastic, with fewer paint-apps, at a 20 percent price hike. This severely hurt the Fall of Cybertron/Generations line, which feels far more like a cash-grab than a real attempt to appeal to long-time fans.

We did get more fan-nods, which is something. We also got improvements to the KreO line and some expansion to the Bot Shots line.

It's not that 2012 was a bad year, per se, but one where a lot of very-avoidable mistakes were made, and one where the main lines of Transformers may have indeed priced themselves out of the market. For instance, I hit Target today, and guess which toyline just was not moving all that well. :S

Cliffjumper
2012-12-23, 10:40 PM
I'm guessing they just thought anyone who paid full price for Tubby Tracks would buy basically anything.

Knightdramon
2012-12-23, 10:49 PM
Nope, the only thing that I listed I'm not interested in hearing as a complaint is distribution, all the others [smaller figures, higher price points] are more or less valid complaints.

I guess I'm so, so laid back on that particular matter precisely because I reside in Europe, which means we get about 25-45 percent of product from each line and then it's over. So if you want more than that, you have to import, which is essentially sorting out the necessary funds [likewise with regular store buying] and just visit a few websites, wait a week or two and you have what you wanted either way.

Hence why I see no valid point in buying domestically versus import; you want X figure, you have X figure in hand either way. Cost might be a different thing since even at the very same base price you pay for shipping, but then again this is essentially a luxury hobby so I don't see much reason to bring that up.

The thing that "hurts" and downgrades discussions such as this [definitely not referring to you, but bringing it up as a point nevertheless] is that the average TF fan has not branched out to other franchises, at least in the collecting aspect. There's lines out there with releases more frequent and less spaced out than transformers that are just ridiculous when compared to price and what you get. Even at 15-17 USD per deluxe, you get a transforming figure with two very distinct modes and a play feature integrated in between, whereas for most other lines at the very least you pay the same for a figure with about the same articulation points, few to no new sculpting [re using the same body] and just a new headsculpt.

Unless I'm way off, transformers is still the cheapest, bang to buck toyline aimed at kids at the moment.

I'm with you on the saturation of Bumblebees AND Primes at the moment, even though the beauty of online shopping covers my eyes to walls of yellow death.

Denyer
2012-12-23, 11:04 PM
Unless I'm way off, transformers is still the cheapest, bang to buck toyline aimed at kids at the moment.
Only for figures stocked by supermarkets, which discount toys as a way to get people in-store. For example, Tesco did the RTS Deluxes for a tenner IIRC. Not bad. Thirteen feels like about a quid too much, especially for smaller figures, and I'm betting most kids would rather have a discounted/used console game. The days of plastic action figures for kids are probably numbered.

Again taking into account supermarket prices, and even with a relatively expensive product, I'd say LEGO has the best bang for buck -- for smaller kids toys are representative, and imagination plays more of a part. Older kids have sets aimed at them or will transition straight to other hobbies.

edit: 2012? I think most of the Classics-type figures I picked up were probably 2010-11, but I did get MP Sideswipe and a couple of FOC figures. The FOC ones weren't as good as the previous Classics -- following more of a Movie aesthetic, with grubby/cheap looking plastic, partly due to lack of paint apps.

More a case of going back to previous releases than paying much attention to the latest fads. Counting FOC Starscream as a 2012 figure, I'll probably pick that one up if/when I see it over here.

Better than some years.

Thunderwave
2012-12-23, 11:04 PM
I agree on both posters points on a lot of things.

The distribution was terrible, but that by and large is not Hasbro's fault outside of case assortments. Shortpacking a "main" character was a mistake, but thankfully it was only Airachnid (who's toy is terrible). The handling of the FE line was, if I remember correctly, Toys R Us' fault.

I can understand the price point jump to a degree. Prices for everything have gone up. From oil, to fuel, to plastic, to labor, all of it costs more, in some cases a lot more, then it used to even a year ago. While the sudden jump was jarring, it was not wholly unexpected. Some stores, like Target and WalMart handled it better then, say, K-Mart and TRU, at least at first.

As for the figures themselves. We've had a bit of a mixed bag, really. I'm not opposed to hollow limbs if done correctly ala FE Cliffjumper's legs, but limbs like RiD Cliffjumper's arms are a mess. However that said, the engineering quality has gone up and up on the whole. Looking at the older "Classics" figures next to some of the newer releases it's pretty evident that their technology and technique has improved a lot. I won't dispute that the plastic has gotten a tad lighter or that the figures are a little smaller (although to be fair every line has it's little people and it's giants). That said, I think we're coming out ahead overall. Hasbro has started, for the last wave or so of Generations, started including good sized weapons and the like with the newer figures, perhaps a bit of an apology for releasing minor retools of smaller molds.

While this is not a complaint, this is an oddity I noticed. With them knowing FoC was coming out, why did they only release a handful of figures to start with months after the game started to loose people? Why not launch with Wave 1, and possibly 2, on the shelf when the game was new and hot?



It's not that 2012 was a bad year, per se, but one where a lot of very-avoidable mistakes were made, and one where the main lines of Transformers may have indeed priced themselves out of the market. For instance, I hit Target today, and guess which toyline just was not moving all that well. :S

This I've never gotten. Maybe it's where you live. I live in a college city in the Northeast part of the US. We where, as a city, dying up until a few big businesses moved in to fill the voids that where formed when GE, Carrier, and Chevy pulled out. We have an embarrassing number of Wal*Marts (7 within a 30 minute drive of where I'm sitting, all but 2 of them Super), Targets (4 Super), K-Marts (2), and the only TRU for an hour in any direction at least. Out of all those stores only 2 I can think of have trouble moving Transformers at a decent clip these days. One is the WalMart in a pretty bad part of town and the other is a Walmart in the country. The rest of the locations stay pretty picked clean now that the economy has started to recover. Admittedly we have a scalper in the area who's only job seems to be ebay, so that helps-ish, but even still things have been moving pretty well.

Do you only have one store in the area?

Jaynz
2012-12-24, 12:10 AM
However that said, the engineering quality has gone up and up on the whole. Looking at the older "Classics" figures next to some of the newer releases it's pretty evident that their technology and technique has improved a lot.

What I ran into recently was that the Bruticus components' plastic wasn't strong enough quality when combined with the thinner amount used and 'hollow' design to take the punishment of being a combiner figure. My first Onslaught broke when trying to connect Swindle to him. The toys' plastic was weaker than the connection joint!

It's Bruticus.. so I'm hard-pressed to skip him, but I kinda wish I hadn't started. KreO Bruticus looks like it'll be a better buy all around. And I already have my two KreO Blast Offs. :)

Do you only have one store in the area?
Oh no, not at all. I just hit only the one Target today since I got a 'surprise, you're babysitting' thing today and needed more snacks and drinks for all the kidlets. Very unpleasant task that... But, yes, from the various Wal*Marts, Targets, etc., around, Transformers seems to be moving very slowly compared to other lines.

Lego, though, particularly Lego Friends, is moving insanely well. The local Toys R Us got in a bunch of the new sets as emegency filler last week.. and they're gone. Lots of little plastic bricks getting moved out there. KreO seems to be doing okay, but there's an awful lot of it on clearance, even the relatively new sets. :S

numbat
2012-12-24, 01:04 PM
I do think that 2012 has been the most enjoyable year of Transformers collecting I've had, and this was rather unexpected. After the DOTM line was inexplicably cancelled, I thought it was unlikely any figures would hit that would interest me. Having not liked the Animated aesthetic, I expected Prime to be rather similar (not having seen the cartoon). In fact, the Prime line (FE and RID) have hit the sweet spot for me, with a perfect balance between complexity and design. I've ended up collecting almost the entire RID Prime line (from Deluxe and Powerizer classes) and FE figures (I lack only FE Deluxe Cliffjumper , FE Deluxe Prime, FE Deluxe Megatron, RID Deluxe Arcee [I have FE version], RID Deluxe Bumblebee [I have the FE version, and have RID Hotshot], RID Powerizer Prime [I have the FE version], and RID Powerizer Bulkhead [I have FE version]). And I love them all.

I also picked up FOC G2 Bruticus, and think he's great. I don't understand how anybody could fail to see Hasbro has pandered to fans here.

I get that the rest of the FOC line is doing likewise, but I've never been the biggest fan of Cybertronian modes myself, and I've not been enticed by these figures. However, I'm sure lots of folks have been.

I have also ordered Masterpiece Sideswipe, but he'll be coming when Soundwave is released (holding to ship together). I couldn't believe they made a Masterpiece figure of Sideswipe, and it was childhood dream to own the fellow, and I can't wait to get my hands on him!

I am not entirely sure the RID figures are a lot smaller than FE - I have them all on the shelves together - but they are definitely [I]slighter. They're less bulky in robot mode, and lighter (guess that's the plastic and hollow limbs). I do love the designs from both lines - FE are too complex for general play on the whole, while RID are simpler but that's the trade off (although I still think RID Vehicon is a massive improvement on FE Vehicon...).

Price-wise, where I am (Scotland) RID has been the cheapest line in years - which helped me actually afford to collect them! The standard RRP is 12.99 or so, as it was with DOTM and ROTF, but pretty much everywhere has had them discounted. Sainsbury's was the best, discounting Deluxes to 8.60 or so, and Powerizers to 16.60 or so (I'd need to check receipts for the actual price - it was a random number of pence). Better yet, distribution has been remarkable here. I saw hardly any of the TFTM, ROTF or DOTM line figures in actual stores in Scotland after the first waves. This time, I've seen everything in store except for FE (because they were never released here), RID Vehicon (he's probably flown off the shelves), Powerizer Ultra Magnus, Powerizer Thundertron and Powerizer Skyquake (but then the former two are new out in the States, and the latter I don't think has been released anywhere yet). Scotland has never had such good Transformers distribution, I kid you not.

That said... I've not seen any FOC figures in Scotland.

I do think the DOTM debacle deserves mention - I just do not understand why Deluxe Leadfoot, Deluxe Soundwave, Deluxe Que and Human Alliance Soundwave were produced but never saw release. I mean, they should have been part of the early waves, rather than that glut of non-screen characters and a gazillion Bumblebees, but to completely drop them from the line? Barmy. FE was similar, but at least that was rectified, however late (I'm really pleased to have got the BBTS releases at good prices - I don't care about the delay - I'm just glad I didn't shell out scalper prices before they were rereleased!).

I also think the quality assurance / construction quality has gone down. Takara were always poor, but Hasbro have gotten worse now too. FE Terrorcon Cliffjumper came broken - his bonnet just crumbled off when I transformed him the first time - while Knockout's arm joint just cracked after two transformations. Other figures have worries too.

I'm also disappointed by Takara. I'd love to buy Arms Micron Breakdown, Nemesis Prime, Ironhide and maybe even Unicron, but I am too put off by those stickers. High price, little or no paint, and stickers? Poor show.

I don't collect KREO or BotShots. However, I would say that the stores I go to keep selling out of the standard RID line figures (Deluxes and Powerizers), while KREO and BotShots clutter the shelves.

Earlier in the year I was confronted by walls of Bumblebees, but this seems to have eased off - although those Leader Class size (Weaponizers?) Bumblebees do seem to be shelf warming (I have no interest in either Bumblebee or Prime in this scale). But I do think between DOTM and RID (and I gather FE in the States), we've had more than enough Bumblebees to last a lifetime.

Despite these gripes, overall, I do think 2012 has been the best year for Transformers collecting ever, for me at least.

Jaynz
2012-12-24, 06:29 PM
I don't collect KREO or BotShots. However, I would say that the stores I go to keep selling out of the standard RID line figures (Deluxes and Powerizers), while KREO and BotShots clutter the shelves.

Bot Shots seem to be having a high turnover, so I would suspect they're doing okay, they're just constantly getting refreshed. I see a few get snagged, and then the plastic spores take root and more of them just show up. Honestly if they had more variety in the figures I think it would be a hit line, but you're only going to want so many of the same thing, particularly in a line without any troopbuilders...

KreO seems to be doing badly once you're past the $20 price point, but all the smaller sets seem to be doing well (and the minifigs are doing insanely well). This seems to be the pattern for all the not-Lego lines, though. It seems like if someone's dropping more than a Jackson, they still want real Legos. It also helps Lego that they've got some big lines this year.

Warcry
2012-12-24, 07:58 PM
Nope, the only thing that I listed I'm not interested in hearing as a complaint is distribution, all the others [smaller figures, higher price points] are more or less valid complaints.
Distribution is a perfectly valid complaint. There are a whole heap of disadvantages that come when you're forced to buy toys online instead of at the store down the road, and complaining about it is not laziness. Buying toys online costs more (to absurd extents when the figure we're talking about is highly sought-after, like Vehicons or Generations Warpath back in the day). The toys take several weeks to get to me after I make my purchase, with the prospect of getting damaged in transit by postal workers and the addition of shipping costs on top of the already jacked up price. I'm also at the mercy of the online store's stock-people, and don't have the chance to check the figure I'm buying for damage, missing parts, bad paint apps or other QC issues.

I'm not going to go out of my way to spend more money to get a less-accessible and potentially lower-quality product, and since Hasbro and their retail partners haven't been able to figure out a way to make the new Transformers I want available in my area they've gotten a lot less of my money than they would have otherwise. I'm interested in lots of other things, and once those things (be they video games, vintage TFs or other toylines) become more easily accessible than new Transformers my disposable income gets spent on those other things instead. I've bought a few new Transformers online, but only ones that I really, really wanted -- impulse buying was out of the question entirely.

I'm also disappointed by Takara. I'd love to buy Arms Micron Breakdown, Nemesis Prime, Ironhide and maybe even Unicron, but I am too put off by those stickers. High price, little or no paint, and stickers? Poor show.
I have to agree with you here. I've never been a Takara person, but I've always appreciated that the option was there to pay a bit more to get better paint apps on your figure, if that was your thing. But now Takara's putting out toys that are inferior to the painted Hasbro versions and still charging more for them. That's a shame, in my opinion.

KreO seems to be doing badly once you're past the $20 price point, but all the smaller sets seem to be doing well (and the minifigs are doing insanely well). This seems to be the pattern for all the not-Lego lines, though. It seems like if someone's dropping more than a Jackson, they still want real Legos. It also helps Lego that they've got some big lines this year.
I think Kreo and other building-block lines like Mega Bloks do just fine with kids, but most adult buyers I know have an almost visceral aversion to what they see as "fake Lego". The building-toy market has a huge older fanbase (because no one buys $500 Death Stars or Executors for their 10 year old kid), and that fanbase is almost all hardcore exclusive Lego buyers. Lego does a great job of marketing themselves too, and only reinforce the idea that they're the only "real" building toy. The fact that Mega Bloks and Kreo are generally of lower quality (in both manufacturing standards and set design) is another strike against them as well. So while smaller Kreo sets might sell well enough to kids buying with pocket money, getting parents or relatives to put down the money for bigger sets as a gift is really an uphill battle.

In general, I do think it's been a rough year for Transformers line. Pricing issues and fluctuating toy sizes have led to a lot of inconsistency and generated a lot of complaints, and they happened at the same time as the usual post-movie slowdown where distribution gets spottier. For me at least, that's led to there being fewer toys that I'm interested in buying and a harder time finding the ones that I actually want. That's actually turned out to be a good thing for me personally, though, because it's given me a chance to revisit older lines that I'm fond of and pick up a lot of G1 and BW toys that I'd left on the back-burner for a long time.

I think that 2013 looks like it'll be a better year though, since Christmas seems to be clearing out the over-bought first wave Prime toys and Hasbro seem to have a better idea of what they can afford in the Deluxe price point with the later Generations waves and Beast Hunters.

Jaynz
2012-12-24, 08:41 PM
The building-toy market has a huge older fanbase (because no one buys $500 Death Stars or Executors for their 10 year old kid), and that fanbase is almost all hardcore exclusive Lego buyers.

That's definately a big issue. I snagged the first "big" Optimus Prime set for $20 this week on "Please, God, take this so we can put something that sells on our shelf" clearance... and did it for minifigure parts. The set's cool, but it 's not $60.00 cool, particularly when compared to things like the Lego Batmobile/Bank/Truck playset, the Batcave, or the Avengers HQ, etc.

The fact that the toys LOOK a little cheaper (and actually are) in quality doesn't help matters. (Tightening up their tolerances is a must if they want to keep KreO going. You cannot succeed for long with knock-off quality!) If you want a building set for more than a Jackson, you're going to want something more solid and substantial than the KreO lines have offered up so far.

I think that 2013 looks like it'll be a better year though, since Christmas seems to be clearing out the over-bought first wave Prime toys and Hasbro seem to have a better idea of what they can afford in the Deluxe price point with the later Generations waves and Beast Hunters.

I'm iffy on 2013 but prepared to be wrong. Transformers have NEVER had a good year when the main lines didn't have some sort of realistic vehicle modes, and the cheapness of the figures continues through with what we've seen for Beast Hunters. Worse, Hasbro's marketing doesn't seem to know how to do anything if there isn't a movie tie-in involved these days. I'm not confident on a big year... but being wrong would mean a pleasant surprise.

Thunderwave
2012-12-24, 09:19 PM
That's definately a big issue. I snagged the first "big" Optimus Prime set for $20 this week on "Please, God, take this so we can put something that sells on our shelf" clearance... and did it for minifigure parts. The set's cool, but it 's not $60.00 cool, particularly when compared to things like the Lego Batmobile/Bank/Truck playset, the Batcave, or the Avengers HQ, etc.

I bought all the bigger sets like that. Lurked until they went on clearance and then picked them up. I'd of considered spending more then a $20 on them if the robot half of the set didn't usually look like Built to Rule sets blown up. The Kreons, however, are the real draw for me. I'd be content if Hasbro only put out 3-4 bigger sets, kept them at $30 and under, and focused more on the Kreons. I think the only set that might get my wallet open for more then that would be, say, an Ark set much like the bigger Star Wars LEGO sets.

Skyquake87
2012-12-24, 10:29 PM
I agree mostly with what Mr Warcry said. Distribution is an issue. If you've an unlimited budget or prepared to pay over the RRP for a toy buying on import, then that's fine. It's not for me (except in very rare circumstances) and more widely, kind of misses the point of getting the toys to those whom matter most: children. Collectors be damned. Deluxe Vehicon is a Prime example (pardon the pun). It's a perfect army builder, but its packed one to a box in a wave that didn't really register in the UK, save for larger branches of the supermarket Sainsbury's. TRU have had nothing except Waves one and two, and Asda and Tesco have managed to secure stock of wave four just in time for the holiday season (read into that what you will). That left me at the mercy of paying upwards of 20 for the figure online (excluding postage), and even now its knocking on the 30 for a figure that costs 12.99 at retail. If you can justify that, great, but its more than I'm prepared to pay for a toy that's just over 5" tall. I look for a fair price with my purchases, and anything over the RRP for a newly released figure is not for me. I managed to get a loose one off ebay for 13 in the end, but that was more luck than anything else.

Stuff like this sucks the joy out of collecting for me.

All that aside, I have genuinely enjoyed the Prime toys. Hasbro seemed to have learnt from the problems that dogged Animated and the sculpts have been overall very very good. The line has fallen down with the finishing. Voyager Prime is a smart piece of work, but he's so plain and the lack of paint applications really harms what should be one of the standout toys of the line. Ditto Deluxe Ratchet. The smaller scale hasn't bothered me for Prime - its more acceptable on a new line, less so something with an established 'scale' like the movie lines. Haven't seen any of the upcoming Beast Hunters, so we'll see. The TV show has gradually won me over though. The only real embuggerence has been the persistence of Mech Tech. A ghastly gimmick.

One thing Prime has done well is the Cyberverse range of smaller figures. These have easily been the most widely available (and affordable) iterations of the new line available in the UK. Whereas the movie Cyberverse toys were crude little lumps, these little guys have been great (except for Arcee, whom falls to pieces - repaint Flamewar doesn't though, funny that...). The playsets have been alright. Expensive for what they are, and could have used a soundchip.

In other retail lines, well Kre-O has been a bit of a waste. But i can't blame Hasbro for tapping into the Lego market as so many others have. I am surprised they haven't gone in for the recent craze for blind packed figures of the Kre-Ons. Along with Botshots, these 'diversions' don't seem to have sold well at all, the larger sets have all found their way to discount retailers and Bot Shots is forever hanging around the desparation mark of 3 and still no takers. Perhaps hasbro could quit it with these sideshows and just concentrate on the mainline instead?

That is certainly something required to rescue Generations. Once a decent sub line to cater to fans, it now seems Hasbro are taking the p*ss, knowing that fans will pay top dollar for any old tat so long as its 'Geewun'. Bruticus turned out to be a massive (and costly) disappointment and has made me think twice about picking up any more of the FoC toys. Even the much anticpated Grimlock is a worryingly hollow looking toy. Still, at least he's had some paint applied.

DOTM's apparent commercial failure (in marked contrast to its popularity at the box office) has meant I have happily rediscovered the line at discount retailers and found some gems in amongst one of the most disappointing TF lines. The Autobot HA Basics were generally a good bunch, and Cyberverse Hatchet is perhaps the one DOTM Cyberverse toy that wasn't a complete failure. And I am surprised by how much I like towel head megatron in his spectacular dull grey.

If there's ever a sign that all is not well it is DULL GREY PLASTIC.

Also! JAMES ROBERTS !!!

How ace is More Than Meets The Eye? In fact, the marked upswing in quality for IDW is encouraging. Just a shame its probably too late to encourage any of the lost readers to come back, despite how positively all their stuff is generally being recieved. Mind you, there's the continuing dead horse flogging of Regeneration One that seems to be finding favour so what would i know?

I think the thing that makes me saddest about modern TFs is that I recently landed a bunch of 2003 Universe repaints of figures produced between 1990 - 1999. These were just cheap repaints to fill demand...yet they look nicer than anything Prime has managed. Except for Dead End.

Cliffjumper
2012-12-24, 11:45 PM
Yeh, the avaliability issues really ****ed Prime for me. I'm just not interested in hunting like crazy and paying over the odds for current mainline toys; we're not talking some random screen-accurate store-exclusive version of a guy who was in a film for three minutes, we're talking major recurring characters. And like others the UK RRP for a Deluxe figure has just finally reached a tipping point - combined with poor plastic and half-arsed paint apps (which usually means investing ~5 on a sheet of Reprolabels) - that's taken Transformers off my radar. The whole FE/RiD/AM thing didn't help and the big problem is few of these figures are done really, really well and also affordable.

When the choice comes down to importing a good Bulkhead for 50 shipped or paying 23 for a mediocre one (that's an example, I have no idea if he's out over here) I'm finding it surprisingly easy to do neither and buy DVDs instead.

And it's a real shame because 12 months ago I was unbelievably stoked for Prime.

Cliffjumper
2012-12-25, 12:10 AM
So yeh, it's not so much the distribution as the general handling of the Prime line that's pissed me off. First we had FE, which seemed simple enough, but then it got cancelled for no particularly good reason with several of the figures instantly becoming quite expensive (though some may or may not have come back out as store exclusives somewhere, grist to the scalper's mill).

Then we had RiD which kicked off with, largely, crapper versions of the same characters in F.E., meaning shelves are crammed full of Bumblebees (when the in-a-kids'-eye-identical Movie versions are already keeping shelves nice and cosy) and a guy who was in it for five minutes before dying like a bitch.

And there's not even any sanity on show from Takara, who've attached plugs to all the figures, junked show accurate accessories in favour of dimestore model kits and plastered the things with KO-quality stickers - meaning however great Breakdown's engineering is there's absolutely no point in buying him.

Add into that some disappointing choices for size class (Ratchet and Airachnid as Deluxes?) and an early dose of what-****ing-ever recolours of the same toys stinking up the place and you've got one of the most bafflingly handled TF lines ever. What exactly was so bloody difficult about just doing a TF Prime line the normal, sensible way?

All I can think of is that maybe (and this might be a bit back-of-the-envelope) toys, or at least Deluxe-up toys, are maybe a bit on the way out for Transformers. Cyberverse/Botshots/Kreo is probably waaay more profitable even if they're terrible, Hasbro may be trying to see how much they can make away from toys with shows/films/games that aren't dependent on tie-ins to break into the black (DotM the film took a billion dollars; DotM the toyline seemed to flop, yet TF4 is on the way and probably with an even bigger budget - it wouldn't surprise me if TF4's toyline is more like FOC's has been).

Thunderwave
2012-12-25, 12:16 AM
I'm not sure about the other US guys, but I'd be happy to pick up some figures and send them over to the UK at cost if I can find them. I know it's a bit of an annoyance but it's probably better then paying secondary market prices for everything.

I also can't stress enough that distribution is generally out of Hasbro's hands. If WalMart orders 10,000 cases of RiD Wave 1 and sends them all to a store in Alaska there isn't much Hasbro can do about it. Once it's out of Hasbro's warehouse it's generally out of their control who gets what wave when, if at all. The most they can do is stop offering certain waves to retailers to sell.

Of course, Hasbro can control which figures are in each case. Not packing so many damn Bumblebees might of made the line move a little faster. Lots of places use computerized ordering where orders to the DC are based off of stock levels. So if the computer shows 4 cases worth of RiD Prime Deluxe figures in stock it might not order any until 2 cases worth sell. What it doesn't know, or care, is that those 4 cases worth are nothing but Bumblebees.

That aside, the one thing I did notice is that there where fewer exclusives this year. Mostly at Toys R Us and, generally, worthwhile ones. The FE line was a neat idea, and the GDO stuff was generally well done and received overall. It was more of what I'd like to see in exclusives. Decent figures sold at one store that appeal to a certain segment of the market. When done like that it lets Hasbro focus main lines a bit more generally to things that appeal to kids and collectors (kids first, of course). Are kids going to go nuts wanting a Hot Spot figure? Probably not. Are collectors? Possibly. Hell Straxus could of been an Exclusive and I'd of not complained at all give how niche of a character he is.

Warcry
2012-12-25, 07:27 AM
I'm iffy on 2013 but prepared to be wrong. Transformers have NEVER had a good year when the main lines didn't have some sort of realistic vehicle modes
Beast Wars would like to have a word with you. :)

Also, the futuristic 1986 and 87 Transformers sold a lot better than the more realistic stuff that followed in '88 and on through G2. Beast Machines is the only major non-realistic-vehicle line that really crashed.

It's not for me (except in very rare circumstances) and more widely, kind of misses the point of getting the toys to those whom matter most: children.
We do tend to forget that these things are primarily for kids, yeah.

The Prime cartoon has under fifteen main characters. The fact that I can't simply walk into any store with a toy department and be fairly confident that I'll be able to buy Bulkhead or Starscream or Ratchet is just a total failure, by Hasbro but moreso by the retailers. The current toy distribution model -- forcing manufacturers to release many small waves throughout the year instead of keeping product available longer -- is fundamentally flawed and is doing more to kill off traditional toys than video games ever have.

How are kids going to get into Transformers if the characters they see on TV are impossible to find in the store most of the time (other than Prime and Bumblebee), or if their parents can't find the toys they asked for for Christmas because they disappeared from the shelves the month before? The 80s and early 90s were a golden age of toy sales, but the major retailers have made toymakers abandon the model that worked then and forced them to adopt a new model that seemingly isn't actually working for anyone -- not manufacturers, not consumers and not even the retailers themselves.

I think the thing that makes me saddest about modern TFs is that I recently landed a bunch of 2003 Universe repaints of figures produced between 1990 - 1999. These were just cheap repaints to fill demand...yet they look nicer than anything Prime has managed. Except for Dead End.
There is certainly a striking difference. There's enough paint apps on some of those Universe toys to blow the budget of an entire wave of Prime toys.

And it's a real shame because 12 months ago I was unbelievably stoked for Prime.
Same here. I watched the whole first season in a row over a week or two, got all stoked to buy up the entire cast...and then gave up when all I saw for the next four months were toys of the same five or six characters spread across different lines, molds and size classes.

All I can think of is that maybe (and this might be a bit back-of-the-envelope) toys, or at least Deluxe-up toys, are maybe a bit on the way out for Transformers.
I think it would be a good thing if the designers started focusing more on the smaller price points, especially for kid-themed lines like Prime. Minibots, tapes, small combiner team members and other little guys were always the backbone of G1 sales, but Hasbro has really lost sight of that in recent years as they've made Deluxes the "starting point" of the main line. Smaller toys have been relegated to insignificance (like the ROTF Scout class and it's one or two on-screen characters), explicitly made into their own separate thing (like Cyberverse) or both (like the PCCs and HA Basics). That's not a good recipe for success. Nostalgia-driven lines like Generations that attract a larger adult following can probably get by in a Deluxe-only paradigm with the occasional larger toy added in, but if Hasbro wants to suck kids in absent the sort of major pop-culture phenomenon that the first movie became they're going to have to start handling the "pocket money" price points better than they have been.

I also can't stress enough that distribution is generally out of Hasbro's hands. If WalMart orders 10,000 cases of RiD Wave 1 and sends them all to a store in Alaska there isn't much Hasbro can do about it. Once it's out of Hasbro's warehouse it's generally out of their control who gets what wave when, if at all. The most they can do is stop offering certain waves to retailers to sell.
Yes and no. I think wave design plays a big role in the distribution issues that we see these days. By now, Hasbro knows that the first wave of every toyline will be over-ordered by retailers and will languish on the shelves long enough to choke out waves two and three. It's happened to every line since Armada at least, and possibly farther back. If retailers won't change their behaviour then Hasbro needs to change theirs, and the easiest thing to change is the case assortments.

The first wave of Prime Deluxes was three Bumblebees, two each of Wheeljack and Cliffjumper, and one Soundwave. Soundwave was relatively hard to find, but all three Autobots warmed the shelves for the better part of a year and I could still go out and buy them today if the urge struck me (well, not today because it's Christmas and everything is closed, but you get my drift). Arcee and Ratchet, major on-screen characters, were a part of the second wave and didn't show up for months because the first wave wasn't selling through. Knockout and Vehicon were left languishing in the third wave, and Vehicons are still being scalped.

The same pattern repeated itself with the first Generations line, with the DOTM line and several times before that. Hasbro and retailers should both be aware of it by now, and should be able to plan around it. It seems to me that the natural solution would be to have fewer waves per year with more unique toys per wave. In the example above, I think there's a decent chance that retailers would have an easier time selling cases with one each of Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Cliffjumper, Soundwave, Arcee, Ratchet, Knockout and Vehicon than they did in real-life with their Bee-heavy, Bot-heavy case assortment.

Knightdramon
2012-12-25, 08:02 AM
Distribution is a perfectly valid complaint. There are a whole heap of disadvantages that come when you're forced to buy toys online instead of at the store down the road, and complaining about it is not laziness. Buying toys online costs more (to absurd extents when the figure we're talking about is highly sought-after, like Vehicons or Generations Warpath back in the day). The toys take several weeks to get to me after I make my purchase, with the prospect of getting damaged in transit by postal workers and the addition of shipping costs on top of the already jacked up price. I'm also at the mercy of the online store's stock-people, and don't have the chance to check the figure I'm buying for damage, missing parts, bad paint apps or other QC issues.

I'm not going to go out of my way to spend more money to get a less-accessible and potentially lower-quality product, and since Hasbro and their retail partners haven't been able to figure out a way to make the new Transformers I want available in my area they've gotten a lot less of my money than they would have otherwise. I'm interested in lots of other things, and once those things (be they video games, vintage TFs or other toylines) become more easily accessible than new Transformers my disposable income gets spent on those other things instead. I've bought a few new Transformers online, but only ones that I really, really wanted -- impulse buying was out of the question entirely.



You're Canadian, right? So like Europe, you don't get much of what's released on your shelves, yet you still hold that stance? That's admirable, it really is, but that ideal faded out on me when Alternators Dead End was released and the sole Alternators toy in my country was Smokescreen. Enter importing for me.

As I've said before, it's a matter of obtaining X figure. I don't care if I have to wait a week, and for the right price to come by, the figure either has to be plentiful initially or saturated later on. The fandom as a whole tends to go through a shock period with each release, where prices for said figure skyrocket at the time [see: FE Vehicon, RID Vehicon, RID Aiirachnid, RID Dreadwing, MP Thundercracker], and waiting on it, you get a better price later on. Case in point, MP Thundercracker. Everybody was asking 80 to 100 USD on a 60 USD figure, now you can find him for 50-60 USD.

Hasbro has more or less "unmade" the deluxes as their starting point since DOTM, Cyberverse fills that void for little kids. Cyberverse, with their diversity in size and complexity, bases that carry on to Prime and even unified line gimmicks [clear guns on all figures that can be attached to the playsets and light up] should be what's hot now. Cyberverse and Botshots are definitely very, very attractive to children. Maybe not enough to overthrown deluxes, but competing enough.

Hasbro seems to have rectified the character distribution problem within waves, if Beast Hunters wave 01 is anything to go by [four characters, each gets two slots]. Much less than the atrocious saturation of RID Bumblebee, though once again it depends on what the stores order.

Hasbro's plan to keep characters on shelves for longer was apparent with their over abundance of Bumblebees and Primes. That's how they get around the wave system, though it doesn't work as they intended it to. :lol:

Skyquake87
2012-12-25, 09:06 AM
I guess it boils down to what you're prepared to pay for a toy. I'm never happy paying over the RRP for a new toy, and with Prime, the best I can hope is that it ends up cluttering up ebay for a song as Animated does these days down the line. With all my purchases of new Transformers this year, I don't particularly feel I'm getting value for money, even though the size thing has just has just put the figures back in the same sort of range as RiD and Beast Wars, so paying over the odds for Imports of Prime stuff makes absolutely no sense to me.

I can't honestly say stuff like 'First Edition' is a particularly wanted development either- a US limited edition line available as a store exclusive? Are we really having to pay a premium now for getting stuff the mainline was doing just a two years ago? If that's how things are going to be, then it might be time to quit Transformers altogether.

I really don't like being negative,and I do really enjoy Transformers, but I can't see much enjoyment in supporting something that this year has felt like the exclusive preserve of US residents. I don't deny that the impact of the recession and availability of resources is having a big impact on toys, but Transformers seems more noticably affected than any other toy brand.

Perhaps a focus of smaller, quality figures is the way to go. The toy shelves do seem to be leaning towards the 3.5" format more and more these days, and the smaller scale has generally been very well handled by the likes of Ban Dai (I love my new Thundercats) and Hasbro (their various Marvel lines have all been excellent, questionable accessories aside) so it would be good to see a continuation of the improvements in this small scale seen in Prime.

I dunno, toy collecting used to be fun. Somewhere along the way, its become a miserable chore of endless hunting, trying to get places before scalpers hit and paying a premium to specialist retailers, forced to import because local distributors cannot get the product their consumer base demands. I just don't want to be competing with folk whom have deep pockets and are happy to pay 25 - 30 for a deluxe. Can these people really say they are happy paying that sort of money for a toy that retails around a tenner? Are bragging rights and 'got it first' really that important to people? It really takes the joy out of a new toy for me if I know I've spent more than I would have liked to on it.


On a more cheerful note, this has been a good year for rediscovering some cool old stuff. I got four of the Beast Machines Dinobots (Airaptor, Triceradon, Striker and one that is green and a retool of Dinobot) and these are fantastic. Lovely paint apps, superb detailing, ridiculous transformations and full of character! And I also got me Beast Wars Neo Longrack vs Guiledart which are brilliant and both stand around sticking their tongues out at each other! I am also really happy with my Universe haul, Soundwave & Space Case, Frostbite (i heart frostbite), Reptilion, Whirl and his little chums have all rekindled what I like most about Transformers - FUN! And crazy repaint action :swirly:

Cliffjumper
2012-12-25, 09:15 AM
I dunno, toy collecting used to be fun. Somewhere along the way, its become a miserable chore of endless hunting, trying to get places before scalpers hit and paying a premium to specialist retailers, forced to import because local distributors cannot get the product their consumer base demands. I just don't want to be competing with folk whom have deep pockets and are happy to pay 25 - 30 for a deluxe. Can these people really say they are happy paying that sort of money for a toy that retails around a tenner? Are bragging rights and 'got it first' really that important to people? It really takes the joy out of a new toy for me if I know I've spent more than I would have liked to on it.

This, basically. Fandom and Hasbro's new model have turned the whole business into a chore. Like I say, we're not talking niche figures - I jumped through hoops to get Leadfoot, which is something down to my completism. Why am I facing such an arduous process to get a half-decent Bulkhead when he's the star of Hasbro's big push cartoon series? Why should I have to pay three times retail and wait four weeks for a Vehicon?

I realise how entitled that sounds but I don't see why things had to get this ****ed up in the first place, why there are three retail options for some of these guys and they all have massive drawbacks. For an FE Prime I'm looking at paying close to Soul of Chogokin prices for something relatively small and cheaply made (and probably still with a few corners cut). And that is not going to happen.

I actually passed on Airachnid in Sainsbury's the other day. 13 for what looked like a pretty small figure with bad reviews was one factor. The other was that I really couldn't chance it setting off the whole tedious, frustrating business again.

I'm seriously tempted to sell on what Prime I have in January and leave it at that.

Warcry
2012-12-25, 04:05 PM
You're Canadian, right? So like Europe, you don't get much of what's released on your shelves, yet you still hold that stance? That's admirable, it really is, but that ideal faded out on me when Alternators Dead End was released and the sole Alternators toy in my country was Smokescreen. Enter importing for me.
No, that's the thing -- up until around a year and a half ago, that never happened. A lot of Canadians would do the "woe is me" act because stuff took a while longer to get released here than in the US and they were impatient, but toys always came out here in the end. In none of the lines that I've followed pre-2010 -- not Armada, Energon or Cybertron; not the Commemorative reissues; Not Classics or either Universe line; not the 2006 movie line or ROTF -- was there ever more than one or two figures I was interested in that I didn't see in the stores. Sometimes it took three or four months after US release for things to show up, but I knew I could always get them eventually. Alternators was the only exception to that, because the line was just hugely over-ordered and the shelves were overflowing with cases and cases worth of Smokescreen.

But now every line is like Alternators was. The first Generations line ran fine until the Thunderwing/Skullgrin/Cliffjumper wave, but then that was over-ordered so much that I couldn't find anything else on the shelves for fourteen months. I can still find first-wave DOTM toys today that no one wants, mostly Bumblebees but not just Bumblebees. First Edition toys (mostly just Bees again) and the first wave of Prime RiD are the same, and I would be very surprised if FoC Prime and Jazz weren't warming pegs here for at least the next six months. It didn't used to be like that, and if Hasbro can't figure out a way to fix it I'm not going to go out of my way to give them money.

And I don't mean just fix it for me, either. In this day and age, with computerized sales and inventory tracking and the ability to compare that data to what's physically available in stores there's no reason to have these problems anywhere -- not in Canada and not in Greece either. If Hasbro can't figure out how to get their shit together, eventually they're going to lose out to competitors that can.

Hasbro has more or less "unmade" the deluxes as their starting point since DOTM, Cyberverse fills that void for little kids.
I'd disagree with that. Cyberverse is explicitly it's own thing. It's a step in the right direction, don't get me wrong, but I think Hasbro will eventually need to merge all of their size classes into a single line. As it is now, a kid who's collecting Cyberverse has no real reason to buy bigger size classes because a Deluxe Bumblebee is just a bigger version of a toy he's already got that doesn't fit in with any of his other toys.

I don't know if I'm explaining myself well, here. Right now, Hasbro has Cyberverse (with Legion toys as regular-sized guys and Commanders as big guys), then the main line (with Deluxes as regular guys and Voyagers as big guys) without any crossover. What I'm suggesting is a single combined scale -- roughly, we'd end up with Legion toys as small guys, Commanders as regular-sized guys, Deluxes as big guys and Voyagers as comparatively huge. So for example, we would have Ravage or Wheelie as Legions, Sideswipe or Jazz as Commanders, Grimlock or Optimus or Megatron would slot in as Deluxes and the Voyager scale would be reserved for characters like Jetfire or Shockwave or Ultra Magnus who are meant to tower over everyone. Those are just examples but hopefully that makes it clear what I'm talking about.

(In a perfect world they'd bring back the Beast-era Mega price point to give us something between Voyager and Deluxe, and the Scout price point so there was something between Deluxe and Commanders, just for variety. I doubt retailers would want to carry all that, though.)

I can't honestly say stuff like 'First Edition' is a particularly wanted development either- a US limited edition line available as a store exclusive? Are we really having to pay a premium now for getting stuff the mainline was doing just a two years ago? If that's how things are going to be, then it might be time to quit Transformers altogether.
First Edition only happened because of distribution issues, though. They were supposed to be a wave of Generations, but since stock wasn't moving Hasbro couldn't get them out before DOTM and scrambled to find a way to use the molds at all.

Why they weren't just wave one of the normal Prime line, I don't know. Does anyone actually think that designing another set of new molds for seven or eight characters and releasing them a couple months after the first ones was a good solution?

On a more cheerful note, this has been a good year for rediscovering some cool old stuff.
Oh, absolutely. Not being able to buy new-line stuff has meant that a lot of my attention has been on tracking down older things instead. And despite the toys being between thirteen and twenty-eight years old I've found the G1 and Beast Wars toys I've bought this year a lot more fun than any of the newer toys. The Beasties especially are better in ways that I didn't expect up front, often having better articulation and practically always having better paint jobs than anything released in 2012.

I realise how entitled that sounds but I don't see why things had to get this ****ed up in the first place, why there are three retail options for some of these guys and they all have massive drawbacks. For an FE Prime I'm looking at paying close to Soul of Chogokin prices for something relatively small and cheaply made (and probably still with a few corners cut). And that is not going to happen.
Why would that be entitled? Hasbro isn't a charity. They're in it to make money, and when the quality or availability of their product take a nosedive they deserve to lose business. It's their job to figure out what their customers want and how to get the product to them, and at the moment they're evidently not doing a great job of either.

Cliffjumper
2012-12-25, 05:04 PM
Is it me or is the basic idea of case assortments beginning to look very archaic? It just seems to generate shelf warmers... Why exactly don't they have some sort of compromise for retailers? Like Warcry I can't believe in this day and age there isn't a better way of sorting figures so they have some sort of individual code. I mean it must be hurting Hasbro's sales enough by now (what with there being an ever-growing list of shelfwarmers this side of RiD) for them to explore some kind of alternative. I get that if there are six cases of Bumblebees sitting in a stockroom somewhere Hasbro don't care (they've made the sale to the retailer) but if those were six cases of a mix of figures more likely to move surely then the retailer will order more?

Things like the Vehicons and FE in general follow the Asian-exclusive DotM figures (meaning Leadfoot, Soundwave etc. rather than the shit Generations stuff) where HasTak seem to have acquired this weird habit of investing money in moulds that they seem very reluctant to actually put on general sale.

The new RiD moulds - seemingly largely done to incorporate the MechTech gimmick from the toyline that couldn't shift units despite being tied to something like the fifth most popular film of all time - is probably one of the oddest moves Hasbro has ever made.


I think kids are probably a little Transformered out; the 07-09 sales were never going to last just like 84-86 was never going to last. However, I think many of Hasbro's decisions weren't the best ones for dealing with a downturn in sales. DotM was certainly a lesson they should have taken - i.e. most interested parties have Optimus and Bumblebee coming out of their ears.


EDIT: I'd also like to concur with Warcry's comments regarding avaliability. Our distribution has never been spectacular, usually consisting of choking shelves with early waves. However, I've never seen it as bad as it has been for Prime. Jan/Feb, IIRC, we got the Wheeljack/Soundwave/Bee/Cliffjumper wave. December it's still the bulk of what's on shelves.

Jaynz
2012-12-25, 05:32 PM
Beast Wars would like to have a word with you. :)
I knew I would type that wrong.. I meant "realistic alternate modes" and just had vehicles on the brain. Beast Wars itself would slide heavily with the Transmetals and Fuzors...

Thunderwave
2012-12-25, 05:48 PM
Is it me or is the basic idea of case assortments beginning to look very archaic? It just seems to generate shelf warmers... Why exactly don't they have some sort of compromise for retailers? Like Warcry I can't believe in this day and age there isn't a better way of sorting figures so they have some sort of individual code. I mean it must be hurting Hasbro's sales enough by now (what with there being an ever-growing list of shelfwarmers this side of RiD) for them to explore some kind of alternative. I get that if there are six cases of Bumblebees sitting in a stockroom somewhere Hasbro don't care (they've made the sale to the retailer) but if those were six cases of a mix of figures more likely to move surely then the retailer will order more?

It's not on Hasbro's end. Well not 100% anyways. 90% of the time when I'm in a retailer and I check out these days the register tells me what figure I'm buying. The problem lies in the SKN (stock keeping number) system most retailers use. When I worked at TRU I got a good look at how it works. When a case of Deluxe figures from, say, DOTM came in it had the same SKN as every other case of DOTM Deluxes regardless of what wave it was. So even though the register tells me I bought a RiD Wheeljack the stock system has no way of interpreting that other then marking -1 off the RiD Deluxe stock.

The real fix would be to set up the computer to tag each wave case pack with different SKN and tie the codes for those toys to that SKN. That also assumes the human warehouse monkeys tag each case with the correct SKN for that wave, and so on. It would be a horrible pain in the ass to rebuild the computer inventory system of every major retailer from the ground up to accomidate precise ordering of assortments that change on a sometimes monthly basis.

inflatable dalek
2012-12-25, 09:39 PM
Well I can only speak in the little bubble of where I work, but we've no shortage of Dark of the Moon toys left a year and a half after the film came out. I honestly don't know why we haven't reduced them by now to clear the buggers (in terms of context, they're the only toys from a film older than this Summer we still have on the shelves).

The distribution of Prime has been incredibly half arsed, continuing and arguably concluding the downward trend every line seems to have had in the UK since just about every RID toy popped up at local retail here. A handful of the same toys over and over, with only a couple of new ones added in the last few months. Which, with the exception of the one and only Dreadwing I saw (and vanished overnight) were all non show characters. With the most prominent being Kup, the front end of a truck with a pair of legs hanging off the back. That's not going to get kids excited.

I get the feeling Prime has pretty much bombed over here, the toys aren't making any great inroads on shelves, the TV (like its three predecessors) is limited to small audience digital, the comic has gone quarterly (and I suspect is only hanging onto dear life because Titan still want to have the licence when the fourth film comes out) and for the first time in a few years there's no Annual. When even Animated got one.

Considering how cheap to knock out the current form of British Annual is and that a lot of sales are probably generated for such books by dotty old ladies not really having any clue what their grandchildren like those books are usually very hard to make a loss on, so that could be the biggest sign of flagging of all.

Skyquake87
2012-12-26, 10:03 AM
I would agree with that. Prime's lack of availability is no doubt in part due to its lack of sales success. Retailers aren't likely to order more stock having bought up loads of the first wave (hence the problems of seeing the same stock released in March available in December with very little change from that). Which ties into all the above about distribution, SKN and big box stores buying policies.

I do wonder if dedicated children's channels is having a big impact on toys now. The audience share for these channels seems so tiny that no franchise seems to make any impact now. Thundercats, like Prime, has pretty much died a death in the UK. Unless you can get a decent slot for your show on a digital network - or across multiple children's networks (as with Ben 10), then you've no chance.

I picked up the four Powerizer figures available at UK retail as I don't fancy Prime's chances of survival come the new year. Not if the amount of DOTM stock passed onto discount retailers this year is anything to go by, as I can't see retailers willing to support a line with little interest from consumers.

Like Cliffjumper says, I think consumers just need something different from Transformers to maintain interest. Another TF line pushing masses of Bumblebees is not what the franchise needs right now.



On topic, I was just fiddling with my FoC Bruticus again and thinking again what a massive step back in Transformers toy evolution these things feel. They really do feel like they were engineered around the same time as the G2 Cyberjets and Laser Rods. It's like the last 18 years of engineering advancements just haven't happened. They don't stack up to the Prime toys, nor even the FoC Shockwave I bought (which is hardly a marvel itself) and feel like they've staggered in from another toyline entirely.

Cliffjumper
2012-12-26, 12:00 PM
I dunno, I don't think anything could really spike major interest in Transformers right now - we're on the natural gentle decline from a big boom. No toyline stays red hot for more than a couple of years and the actual quality of the toys bears no real relationship to that (G2 was cancelled on the back of a year of dynamite moulds, for example).

However I just don't think Hasbro have handled the inevitable downturn very well by, seemingly, just expecting things to go from strength to strength (which is odd as their commercial judgement has been solid over the past decade or so). And the problem is if you're pitching to a smaller number of buyers you've got to pander to them a little more to maximise the sales you can get for them. If - say - only 200,000 kids want to buy Prime toys you surely make damn sure they can get their grubby hands on as many figures as possible so they buy 20 each instead of 10.

I don't think retailers are really to blame for the distribution problems. Hasbro were the ones who put three Bumblebees in each case; even if their system doesn't tell them Bumblebees specificially are choking stockrooms from DotM surely sending people into a sample of stores isn't beyond them? There must be some way Hasbro can be more proactive in getting new stock into stores.