View Full Version : Is the Transformers brand dying locally?

2016-07-13, 10:59 AM
While I donít think that there is any reason to worry too much about the Transformers brand dying on a larger scale, a trip to the local toy stores left me wondering if Transformers might be disappearing from stores in the near future.
The prices of transformers toys have risen to an absurd level lately, the prices of deluxe figures has doubled from what it was just a few years ago.
Europe has never really gotten the full range of transformers toys, but it seems selection hasnít become any better lately, not helped by that fact that the transformers sections have shrunk considerably over the last few years. Currently the local Toys R Us only has a shelf end with transformers that is half empty, and they are the store with the biggest selection, other stores only as very little if anything at all.
The latest cartoon has been shown on Cartoon Network, even if the dubbing was pretty bad in some regards, so no problem in that regard. Movies also come to the theater, no surprise there.
Iím just wondering, if these trends keep going it might not be possible to find any new transformers toys in stores in a few years.

Iím also a bit curious about what the situation may be in other places, if itís just as bad in the rest of Europe, of if itís better elsewhere.

2016-07-13, 02:13 PM
It seems OK here in the US. Sometimes the stock is a little thin, but that might just be my local area. The stores around me don't stock too much, and what they do stock sells quickly (outside of the typical shelf warmers). When I used to live in a more populated area in anther state, stock was everywhere all the time (but I suppose that I could be negating my own earlier comment as that was 7 years ago :) ). Just the other day I came across some of the new Titans Returns deluxes and decided to pass. The following day, all four were gone. That suggests stock moves when it arrives, but it also could mean that collectors are just starved.

I wonder if the poor stock issues you're seeing is simply Hasbro. I frequent some Star Wars collecting sites, and distribution is hit-and-miss with that line too; restocks are almost non-existent. Maybe the conglomerate that is Hasbro is spread too thin across brands?

I thought I read the other day that RiD had been scheduled for another season (4). That could be a good sign that it's still humming along, and you can find it and Rescue Bots on Netflix still. I would imagine if no one is watching they'd pull it. The real test will be when TF5 hits theaters. If it's not a huge $$$ blockbuster, the brand could be dwindling.

2016-07-13, 05:08 PM
The prices of transformers toys have risen to an absurd level lately, the prices of deluxe figures has doubled from what it was just a few years ago.
The big price spike on deluxes is especially odd for me, because while they've shot up from $10 in 2010 to $20+ now, the price of the other size classes hasn't changed much. They've increased by a couple bucks, but nowhere near double.

But unfortunately deluxes are the "main" size class for most buyers, and such a huge price increase really does hurt the entire line's accessibility.

I wonder if the poor stock issues you're seeing is simply Hasbro. I frequent some Star Wars collecting sites, and distribution is hit-and-miss with that line too; restocks are almost non-existent. Maybe the conglomerate that is Hasbro is spread too thin across brands?
I don't know if you can really blame Hasbro for distribution problems. Once the toys leave the factories it's really out of their hands, and there are so many links in the distribution chain starting when the toys get on the boat from Asia and ending up on the shelves in your local store that it's probably not very easy to nail down where things are going wrong.

Around here, shelf space has definitely shrunk over the last few years. In the glory days after the first movie, the brand had a whole aisle in Toys'R'Us and probably 20% of the action figure section in my local Walmart to itself. Over the last couple years that's shrunk back down to where it was pre-movie, which amounts to about half an aisle in TRU (most of which is clogged with simplified AoE figures that'll never sell or super-expensive Platinum stuff that'll never sell) and about three feet of shelf space in Walmart (most of which is being used for overflowing WWE figures since they haven't restocked since after Christmas, on account of wanting to sell off the 82 gazillion Hot Spots and Cyclonuses they got stuck with).

If things start to contract much farther than that I might start to worry, but right now it feels to me more like a return to the pre-2006 days where Transformers just another modestly successful toyline (which had to happen eventually) rather than an out-and-out collapse of the franchise at the retail level.

Honestly though, more painful than the shrinking shelf space is the shrinking number of retailers that actually sell toys. A decade ago there were seven locations in my neighbourhood that I could reliably expect to find Transformers at (admittedly, in a couple of cases it was clearanced stuff) and now we're down to two. Zellers got bought up by Target which collapsed nationwide in less than two years, Sears shuttered their toy department entirely, Superstore's shrunk from a full department down to a couple aisles that only cater to the preschool demographic, the local XS Cargo closed down and so did the wonderful independent clearance toystore that I'd been visiting consistently since the 1980s.

That makes for some big headaches, because a decade ago I could count on finding what I was after somewhere. Even if Walmart or TRU both skipped a wave Zellers might get it, or it might hit the clearance shops six months later. Now that's not an option, and hard to find late-run stuff like CW Sky Lynx is likely to skip my area entirely.

2016-07-13, 07:53 PM
Here in the UK, distribution is as has been spotty and uneven since the turn of the century. Largely in part to scrapping local Hasbro offices and switching the US Waves system, which doesn't really work in a smaller territory like ours.

I'd agree with Warcry that at a wider decline in toy retailers overall is what is inevitably going to cause problems. That said, the UK is fairly well served by 3 main toy retailers (TRU, Smyths and The Entertainer), with a fair selection of odds and sods turning up at smaller retailers and bargain stores from time to time. A few years ago, I was really struggling to find Transformers outside of supermarkets, but recently the two cities near me have expanded their shopping centre offerings, so for the first time I have easy access to Smyths and The Entertainer. The shelf space offering amongst all three retailers is comparable (roughly half of a large bay in my local TRU - which is one of their smaller branchers) across each, and supermarkets continue to offer a random rotating selection (which has noticabley shrunken and got smaller - back to c.2005 levels - but at least they've managed to continue to find Transformers a viable line since Armada onwards over here)

The fan-orientated lines Generations/Combiner Wars/Titans Returns are the ones most affected by poor distribution with large retailer A carrying only limb-bots whilst large retailer B only carries the larger Voyager toys, but that's understandable once you factor in the lack of a media tie-in and thus lower profile than something with a film/ cartoon to drive sales (which seems a huge shame for lines like CW and TR which have children and play-patterns very much at the heart of the concept).

I say this a lot, but I do think Transformers suffers from having a glut of product on the go at once. It must be a tough job being a buyer for a retailer, having to pick and choose from a bewildering array of product, to say nothing with what consumers are faced with these days. There just isn't the space for retailers to carry all this stuff and contend with an increasingly fickle consumer base.

I do feel like Hasbro are wanting to have their cake and eat it, catering to a wide variety of tastes and ages, but in doing so they're turning out swathes of products that no-one is interested in. All the AOE figures have shelf-warmed so badly, struggling to bring anything new to the table after eight years of multiples of the same characters. Stuff like the 1-Step and 3-step changers have supplanted the Deluxe offering in nearly all retailers here, and again, consumers seem turned off by paying Deluxe money for what are basically Playskool toys with none of the charm. The stuff that is genuinely aimed at younger children, Rescue Bots, is left really struggling for space and interest.

The price rises are a big deal too. Online prices for the new TR deluxes are around £25 - £30 at present. That's insane and means I'm getting less value from these figures than a Masterpiece figure I can buy on import! I'm hoping these prices are just t usual got-to-have-it-first prices that hit the first wave of anything fans are interested in, as I think paying those prices at the size class is going to be a big turn off.

2016-07-13, 11:56 PM
Here in the US, TF retail availability has been shrinking, too. Maybe it's just more noticable in other countries that had less to begin with. If both markets shrink by X, the non-US market gets closer to 0 than the US.

I've seen Skyquake's point about CW limbs and torsos not available together. The Walmart near me has CW limbs, Skywarp, and Legends, but no torsos. If you want to make a full combiner, you either grab Hot Spot/Cyclonus from Walgreen's and some Combaticons/Sunstreaker from Walmart, or drive 45 minutes each way to other stores. There's one other store nearby that stocks new TFs, but they've dropped Generations entirely in favor of half a dozen RiD Deluxes. This is for a population of 61,000. I don't know the size of the markets those stores 45 minutes away serve.

We do have a TJ Maxx, a Marshalls', and a 5 Below which get clearanced stuff eventually. Right now, they've got AoE Power Battlers and Deluxes.

I somewhat agree about the glut. One of those 45 minute away TRUs had 3-step RiD Sideswipe next to Titan Changer 4-Step RiD Sideswipe. There may also have been 1-step and Warrior Sidesipes. However, AoE did bring Dinobots, which was definietly unlike any other movie toys. Those still ended up at TJ/Marshall's, though.

The only really bad price increase I've seen is CW limbs at TRU for US$23. Voyagers are only $27 or so. Deluxes elsewhere (and TR at TRU) run $15-$17.

2016-07-14, 12:15 AM
It's been dead over here for years, and I can't imagine releasing every character in five different size classes has done anything to help.

2016-08-19, 07:17 PM
YES IT'S BULSHIT! my store doesn't even have titans return they still got ****ing wave 1 cw toys it's ridiculous.

2016-08-20, 03:22 PM
I'm with Warcry on this one. My local Wal-Mart's down to about a foot wide, and most of that is RiD stuff. The not so local TRU has CW, maybe a couple of TR, and a bunch of RiD. There's really nowhere else around here to buy, unless you go online. Which is how I got CW Ultra Magnus, and probably how I'll get TR Powermaster Prime.

At which point I'll need a screwdriver and some Krazy Glue.

2016-08-21, 03:32 PM
YES IT'S BULSHIT! my store doesn't even have titans return they still got ****ing wave 1 cw toys it's ridiculous.
That sucks as far as finding new stuff goes, but on the other hand you could probably make a tidy profit reselling CW Aerialbots on eBay if you had the energy for stuff like that.

2016-08-21, 04:56 PM
yeah true.

2016-08-22, 11:30 PM
On the other hand, you should see the Paw Patrol display at my local Toys R Us. Hot damn. Soooooo many puppies.

Pre-Bayformer levels again. Now the only people staring at my Decepticon bag are small children trying to work out if I'm evil or not.

2016-08-22, 11:50 PM
On the other hand, you should see the Paw Patrol display at my local Toys R Us. Hot damn. Soooooo many puppies.

We've been lowered to buying Apollo the Superdog. HE'S NOT EVEN PROPERLY ****ING IN IT, HURRY UP AND DO ME A MAYOR GOODWAY/JAKE DOUBLE-PACK.

Oddly things over here seem to have shrank since about ROTF but then largely stayed stable; while it's a smallish line compared to Lego/Paw Patrol/Peppa Pig/Disney Princess it's actually holding its' own in most of the chains whereas there were some big flexes pre-2007 where the line would all but disappear for long periods (after the initial burst of RID before Armada started arriving, or throughout Beast Machines) and there's a consistent toe-hold in supermarkets and the like. It's a shrinking market with prices that constantly rise as a result.

With new areas like mobile gaming and billion dollar films toys are probably a lot less central to Hasbro's plan for the brand now; I think they'd be reasonably satisfied to settle for a Power Rangers/Barbie-style level of steady omnipresence rather than boom-and-bust - keep some incarnation of Optimus and Bumblebee on the shelves and leave it largely at that. The rise of toys aimed squarely at fans like Combiner Wars or the ones based on Funny Robot Comic show that kids are less of the demographic than they were in the days of total focus on whatever cartoon was showing.

I'd be genuinely curious to see what cut Hasbro had of DOTM's box office and how profitable it was compared to the whole process of designing toys, building them, mass-producing them, packaging them and shipping them out to demanding retailers.