Star Wars Market Watch 2018- The Hasbro Edition
Toy Fair is right around the corner and a new movie is slatted for this Summer and with that, we will have new toys. The question and reason for this article is will you buy into the new releases? Will fans flock to the store to secure more figures from a line that, is well, stagnant? Lets dive right on in and see what we can come up with, and this one should be fun.
First and foremost, I’m not a Hasbro basher or hater and that is not the intention of this article. I want to look into the steady decline of both sales and interest in Star Wars as a whole. As a collector, I’ve been with the brand for well over 20 years and that does not include vintage. We know sales are down thanks to a report that hit online a few weeks past. It seems the nostalgia for the brand is not enough to keep sales up. The movies have produced some cool designs both character wise and vehicle related but the new trilogy is falling flat with a large portion of fans and causing burnout.
This alone could be one of the reasons for the decline is sales. Fans are excited about these movies but once out, interest fades along with the desire for the toys. Plus it did not help with Hasbro reducing the new toys to 5 POA and limiting vehicle releases to just a few, which are smaller in size. Many will say that the cost of plastics is the reason for smaller vehicles and fewer offerings, but I’m calling this one out. If Playmates can get fans big sized vehicles, playsets and more for TMNT and Voltron, surely Hasbro can do the same for Star Wars. Just image if Hasbro re-released the (BMF) Millennium Falcon for the Force Awakens. Minimal tooling would be required and while the cost would be more, it would have been a hit. Now before I get the “you’re out of your mind remarks”, let me explain. The BMF sells for well over $400 boxed with some hitting as high as $500 online and at shows. Loose ones sell for $250 to $300 depending on condition. The Force Awakens Falcon sold for $125-150 in most stores and was reduced in size with added gimmicks. Hasbro could have released a new BMF for, lets say, $275-$300 and it would have sold. Of course this is an opinion piece and there is no data to say this would have indeed happened. It just seems people are less than thrilled with the toys released.
The figures are another area we need to examine. As someone who enjoyed the golden age of collecting (2003-2011) we witnessed some amazing figures. Each release gave us something new and the hunt was very real. I know Hasbro mentioned that one of the reason for reduced articulation was to drive down the price point. These figures with 5 POA cost almost the same as a 5 inch TMNT figure with 12+ points of articulation. I know I keep going back to TMNT as a comparison but I want to illustrate a few key points. First-most, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still outsell Star Wars figures 2 to 1. The easy way to tell is just look in the stores! The TMNT section was blown out during Christmas while the Star Wars section was jammed packed with the same product. During the last few weeks of Christmas I actually checked stock levels at my local stores just to see what was moving. The Turtles section was restocked daily while very little Star Wars was stocked. Secondly, look at the prices for both basic figure lines. You get more bang for the buck with TMNT compared to a Star Wars figure and that breaks my heart.
The other thing we see at retail is a lack of variety in products. Yes I know there is a ton of stuff for the movie releases but how much of that will end up in clearance bins. Back when EP3 was released, we witnessed a massive influx of products. We got 3 waves of figures the first night and plenty of awesome vehicles to go along with them. Heck the Clone Wars birthed an incredible amount of vehicles and accessories for the property. The Vintage Collection gave us tons of new releases as well and then…..it stopped. Maybe Hasbro was forced into a corner it could not emerge from?
Well that could very well be the case and who is to blame? Could it be that Disney is not allowing Hasbro the flexibility to grow the line? Who really knows but in the end, Star Wars is stale and sales are down but it could be saved. Now that we picked through some of these thoughts, lets look at 2018 and lets explore some options that could change the direction of the line.
2018 will bring back a beloved line of figures; The Vintage Collection. This line has the potential to save Star Wars toys as a whole. Many fans that left the property will be brought back. The figures will be highly articulated and of course we will have that awesome cardback. Lets face it, fans love vintage and why not give it to them. Oh the possibilities are endless with this line and I would love to see Star Wars great again. While there is no fixing this new trilogy, we can hopefully get some product we all wanted from the get go. But and there is a but….will this be enough to save Star Wars? If Hasbro can get those case packs right then maybe but just know, we will have solid cases of core characters like Kylo, Rey and others. Im afraid this will cause a bottleneck in the ails as these figures are already on the pegs for the 3.75″ Black line. I do have some hope so lets put this last point on ice for a while.
Now how could Hasbro continue this line and how could they improves overall sales? We have an idea and its not really a new one. Hasbro could use the Kenner method. What I mean is, get these toys out in a vintage style packaging that would be refreshed for each new film. Hasbro could potentially stagger releases during the course of the year and incorporate the stand alone films as new sub-lines. Just think about it, how many of you would have bought all the Star Wars releases if they were on vintage cardbacks? How many more figure would have sold if they had just a little more articulation? Star wars would continue to have a major presence on the shelves and with each new movie would usher in new product to get the line refreshed. Hasbro could also utilize older vehicle molds, and if Hasbro would have done some minor retooling for the AT-AT Walker for Rogue One, that alone could have won many fans over. Remember that Rogue One walker was $300 and it was a far less superior design than the 2010 AT-AT.
In the end, Hasbro will continue to release new toys and with the emergence of the vintage line, hopefully we will see improvement in sales. I would also like to see more excitement from consumers such as collectors and kids. In the end, children will be the main driving force of this brand. The old guard is getting older so who knows the actual direction Hasbro will take but I am hoping for continual improvement in the new year. If not then I do believe it’s time to change hands with the property.
Note, this editorial does not express the full views of the staff of Needless Essentials Online