After our Star Wars Toy Line Speculations article was published, fellow collector Robert Sadlowski left a comment, which I thought warranted its own discussion. Robert didn't speculate about what we might see in 2014, but voiced his concerns about how Hasbro is handling the Star Wars line as a whole. How did Hasbro do in 2014? What would they need to do in order to compete with other brands on store shelves? Below are Robert's thoughts!
If Hasbro has proven anything in the last few years, it's that given the option to cheap out, they will. They'll throw a slew of new off-target products against a wall hoping something will stick while ignoring what made the line famous in the first place.
It would take a major shift in Hasbro's standard operating procedures to see the Star Wars product line we all remember. Outside of the 6" black series, this last years releases were pathetic. The ball was completely dropped on Rebels and even if the product had actually hit shelves in a timely manner, there still wasn't a large enough product push for 3 3/4 product. Hasbro continued to roll with lower quality figures and vehicles and showed no support for anything larger than a $25 price point, while lines like TMNT & Imaginext blew up toy aisles with numerous figures, vehicles and playsets. Hasbro needs to remember where their focus is and hone in on it. I applaud Playmates ability to get product on the shelves and sustain low price points.
At some point people seriously need to ask if Hasbro's corporate model of GREED and continually rising profit margins is a sustainable goal for this bread and butter line. Lower quality for more money is not sustainable and it is noticed by kids, parents, and collectors alike. What was seen at TRU this season was a horrible offering. Tons of space filled with too many brands under the same banner that never really got filled. (And not because it was selling like gangbusters) it was empty and filled with Pez and Star Wars Command all season.
I believe what needs to occur is to scale the line back to its origins in the 3 3/4 scale. I personally object to the 5 POA model, but if they go this route there has to be a higher level of "black series" figure available in abundance also. Offer various levels of vehicles and playsets ($15,$25,$50,$100) and the obvious role play. Cause face it Role play is where much of the profit is at.
As far as making the line new, each and every figure and vehicle should have a chip, code, or scannable object imbedded within the cost that links to either a Skylanders style game or at very least a free app that allows these normal action figures to rival the popularity of Skylanders or Infinity.
I believe this model to be very important for current adolescents to not only enjoy the playability that we once knew, but to also establish a new form of play style. This is where the new expansion of the line should be focused. Digital dominance of the action figure aisle while still maintaining playability.
One more thing... The next Hasbro rep that says playsets don't sell needs to be drawn and quartered. TMNT sold every single playset within a 20 mile radius of Chicago and the store aisles were completely empty. Same goes for DC Imaginext. The interest is certainly there and Hasbro has failed this community with its standard byline for over a decade. They say playsets don't sell, my experience says crappy, overpriced toys don't sell.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts Robert!