Monday September 1st 2014

Social Media

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Google+
  • Tumblr

Archives

Why the Figure Subscription Model Should Be Avoided

hasbro_mattyshop

For a long time now, Star Wars collectors have rightfully complained about the distribution and availability of figures at retail — the ones they want to buy any way — and have suggested that Hasbro, through their website, offer a subscription service in the vein of what Mattel does with their Matty Collector programs. If there has ever been a clearer example of why this should be AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS I haven’t seen it.

Mattel and Matty Collector released a statement via Facebook that due to being unable to meet minimum subscription requirements, a certain character won’t be released as intended and will now be a SDCC ’14 exclusive – and we all know how easy those are to pick up right?

Also of interest in this article is that Mattel will be moving away from selling ultra-articulated (Black Series-style) 6″ figures at retail due to rising manufacturing costs. As a replacement, they will offer a Total Heroes 6″ line with reduced articulation (sound eerily familiar?) and offer Total Heroes Ultra super-articulated companion figures via Matty Collector via subscription only.

I urge that those whom wish Hasbro adopt this type of service read the article from Mattel and be convinced that subscription-based releases can only mean one thing… frustration. Plus, spending money on figures you may not want to get a figure that you do want? No thanks.

Related Tags: , ,
  • Arnold Corso

    Well, any subscription service should be in addition to, not a replacement for, retail and online shopping. Just because one company mismanaged it doesn’t mean the idea has no merit. Given the retail distribution problems, I’d have thought this would be a no-brainer.

    • Biffard P. Misqueegan

      In addition to yes (altho the slippery slope door gets opened). But I think the sub model excludes a lot of casual/budget collectors.

      • Arnold Corso

        well, retail excludes a lot of people too. People who can’t find stuff in stores because of distribution. People who don’t have particular toy stores nearby. It’s not a question of excluding people, it’s more a question of whether you get the product to people who want it.

        • Biffard P. Misqueegan

          Ideally an online retail service where you could pick and choose individual figures for retail prices would work best (in addition to rl stores). So far deep-pocketed scalpers have found all kinds of ways to ruin it so far.

          • Arnold Corso

            like Hasbro Toy Shop, but actually have figures in stock. While scalpers are a problem, the real problem is Hasbro’s inability to anticipate demand and set appropriate case ratios.

          • Jub Goobles

            Bingo. If only they could respond to demand, instead of merely (and poorly) anticipating it.

  • Biffard P. Misqueegan

    I think the problem is that the 30 year old corporate profit model for licensed toys just doesn’t work anymore – at least for the multi-national scale companies. The smaller Toy companies like NECA and Diamond Select seem to have found a way to make it work. I can only assume this is in part due to the fact that they have lower quotas and smaller expected profit margins

    • Arnold Corso

      My sense is that you’re right – they have a smaller but much more dedicated and loyal consumer base. Loyalty is a big part of their market, casuals less so

      • Biffard P. Misqueegan

        Yep. Perhaps “casual” wasn’t exactly what I meant, but rather collectors who collect regularly but aren’t completists – they are very selective about what figures they want.

        • Arnold Corso

          well, that’s fine for them, but having a subscription in addition wouldn’t affect them at all.

    • Rykrof_Enloe

      Profit margins… makes one wonder how much Hasbro would actually do on Star Wars in terms of gross profit dollars than gross profit percentages if they’d be willing to drop their GP margin just a couple points.

  • Rykrof_Enloe

    Doesn’t Hasbro do some sort of subscription thing for GI JOE figures? I am not in favor of that for any toy line, to be honest. I wonder if for Mattel, they are losing subscriptions because they are making more and more characters that the casual He-Man fan has never even heard of. He-Man (while awesome!) simply doesn’t have the same kind of rich character pool that Hasbro has with its big brands.

    What I do like is that Mattel did though more than anything is offer their loyal fans a chance to prove they wanted a Castle Grayskull playset, and to buck up for it – which the fans did. I can only hope that Hasbro someday shows that sort of dedication to the Star Wars fan base by making a killer Death Star playset, and other environments. People do want these, we just want them done well and not cheaply made or goofy looking.

    • Biffard P. Misqueegan

      There’s also the problem that the whole “Matty” thing is pretty poorly advertised. Im a casual MOTU fan and wanted to collect about 10 of the core characters. But it took me forever to find out why, where and how these things were being sold. If you are not ‘in the know’ on MOTU stuff (or the wider world of toy collecting outside of SW), the matty stuff is almost a secret.

    • BridgeG

      The GI Joe Collector’s Club has produced two subscription assortments in the past year or two. The club is licensed by Hasbro, but is operated by another company. Hasbro still produces Joes for retail, but the Club provides another (more limited and expensive, of course) outlet for officially-licensed GI Joe figures.

      • Rykrof_Enloe

        Thanks… I see they have some new zombie theme set coming that my son wants… but good LORD, what’s it gonna cost?

        • BridgeG

          That is the convention exclusive box set… I think those run around $325-$375 for non-attendees. $50 or so more if you aren’t a member of the club…

          Personally I stick to collecting only Joes released directly by Hasbro, as I find the Collector Club stuff to be WAY too expensive. They also focus more on classic and obscure characters, and most of those designs don’t really do much for me.

    • http://Yakface.com/ Jayson Krebsbach

      We also have to take into account that Hasbro owns JOE outright, whereas there would be no hoops and legal issues to jump through as with Disney/LFL (still feels weird to type that).

    • Arnold Corso

      yeah, I was just thinking about that. The Fans Choice poll was canceled I guess this year, which is a shame. But it’d be nice if Hasbro found other ways to get more input from collectors and allow us to vote with our money. Maybe something like kickstarted where people have to commit their money before the company actually makes the product? Maybe even a good Facebook page where Hasbro can hear comments from fans.

  • BridgeG

    Personally I think the subscription model is asinine. It seems (I’m not 100% familiar, so please correct me if I’m wrong) that one has to pony up cash up-front for the sub, doesn’t get to see the final figures beforehand, has to buy all-or-nothing, and winds up paying higher prices per figure & shipping. If the above is all true, it’s really a losing situation for buyers.

    Ideally Hasbro would offer products similar to Sideshow’s set-up, with direct pre-orders while still being available thru other outlets. This probably is not a cost effective model for small action figures, but I feel it would be the best format in a perfect world.

    I would much prefer the line shrinking to just one or two waves of action figures released normally each year over any sort of subscription program. If a time comes when I am “forced” to pick all or nothing for Hasbro’s Star Wars line, I’ll move on to collecting other lines.

    • Peakob1

      I agree with this completely! Because on one hand if there was something like this, i would want them to make only the wildest figures across the entire mythos of star wars and make things that are BIG, Special, Unique or otherwise, before i would release just plain old random figures but only as a sub and not a replacement to whats already in stores. Because on the other hand i could see them doing a Luke smiling with a little ladder for his x-wing which would suck as an exclusive in a subscription program. something like MOTUC is successful because its based on a TV show, that is why it works!”until they run out of characters to make that is!”
      Now if they made a Clone Wars collectors club of all the random characters that were not clones you may actually have something….

    • Arnold Corso

      I agree guaranteed pre-orders would be a better idea. Point taken. HTS does that sometimes but the problem is it runs out of stock so fast.

      • BridgeG

        Currently the pre-orders on HTS are just filled from normal cases, so shortpacked/in demand figures sell out and more heavily packed figures linger like they do at brick and mortar retail. What I had in mind, but didn’t really elaborate on, would be “made-to-order” pre-orders where the production runs are set to fill the amount of orders. Like I said before, it is probably not cost effective for Hasbro for whatever reasons, but it would be a great setup in a perfect world.

        • Arnold Corso

          sorry, my comment was imprecise. I meant Hasbro sometimes does preorders. Your idea is even better. What I’d like to see is something like Kickstarter where people commit money so the company knows that there’s a demand. Something like what Galactic Merchants did with its dioramas.

  • Nick Dickens

    Hasbro could and should have done this years ago like Mattel did. The sad fact is that collecting action figures is a niche market/audience. It’s not at all embraced by children and mostly adolescents and adults. With riding costs at huge increases every year and the nostalgia boom of the Noughties dying away the action figure day is closing out I feel.

  • dorksidetoys

    I said many times Hasbro need to get out of the predicting business and simply let retailers order solid cases of the figures they want.

    If Walmart or Amazon wants 10000 Darth Vader and Anakin, great let them order it that way. And at the same time let us order 5000 Emperor’s Royal Guard, Starkiller, EU Republic Trooper, or VC68 Hoth Rebel Trooper.

    The whole distribution issue or simply not being able to get the figures you want without paying outrageous prices is not difficult to solve. But as long as we have one size fits all case packs and carry forwards, it’s always going to be this way.

    • http://www.flyguy.net/ flyguy

      I agree with ya but if this is the toy company that predicted the Phantom Menace would be a hit in toys 2nd time around… cannot see them ever giving us what we want. To be fair the Black series six inch has been to me GOLD, as has GI JOE Ultimates wave 3. Jin Han & Daryl De priest should be given more power as those lines were lick crack for collectors and retail.

      • Tamer

        Amen to that idea about letting De Priest figure this out. He would solve it quickly I think!

    • Tamer

      Amen to this. I know it takes awhile to go from figure concept to actually getting it carded and onto the pegs, but do you think there is anyway Hasbro could, before they produce thousands of figures we may not want, throw out the figures they may produce the next year and then let businesses and consumers order what they want so they know which ones to ditch and which ones to make a ton more of with the idea that if they don’t get enough orders from retailers and consumers then that particular figure may not be produced? I mean how many SW Licensees offer up the product for order and then later announce how many of that product they are gonna make?

  • Star Action Figures

    Completely agree with Dorksidetoys. Hasbro has proved year on year that they are incapable of picking sellable case assortments, and its getting worse. The only way forward is solids. Remember Hasbro is the company that produced the same amount of Boba Fetts and Slave Leias and expected them to sell through at the same time. If the strong rumours are to believed, this is the company that will carry forward Obi Wan into Wave 4, and thus expect Obi Wan to sell TWICE as many figures as Boba Fett!!! These and these reasons alone proves Hasbro are incapable of predicting what will and want doesn’t sell, and its way past the time that we should be getting solid cases for 6 inch figures. – Wayne

  • Star Action Figures

    As for the subscription model. It’s not needed. THere is easily enough demand for these figures. The problem is Hasbro being incapable of supplying the correct numbers, and until they manage that issue, the line with continue to decline at an alarming rate.

  • Tamer

    Lets hope the rumor of the new Black Series Wave 4 and 5 Case assortment is correct. Its not totally fixed I think we would all agree, but is a step in the right direction. To think we would ever have to join a subscription program, pay tons of money for figures we don’t want in the hopes of getting a few we do, makes me shudder. Daggone good insight here.

  • Darth Janus

    AGREED.

  • Jub Goobles

    These subscription clubs do make you feel like you’re getting suckered. I don’t think it’s a net positive for the companies that run them.

  • Elias Fulton

    I’d spend good money on a Clone Wars action figure subscription service. Those figures are never coming back to stores and there were so many characters I wish they created. It was Hasbro’s best selling toy line. I’d love to see it continue for fans of the toys. The demand is there. Just look at the Save the Clone Wars campaign.

    • Biffard P. Misqueegan

      yep I would pay for a clone wars sub in a heartbeat.

  • Eric Sansoni

    You have no idea what you’re talking about at all. The Facebook article is referring to DC figures being released at SDCC and on Matty that are NOT part of a subscription, because not enough people signed up for it to meet the minimum requirements. Matty does SDCC figures for their lines every year, and they are almost always much easier to get and higher-produced than figures like Hasbro’s SDCC Fett. Frustration is watching the Star Wars line crumble to pieces at retail with nothing good to buy. G.I. Joe is crumbling at retail too, but at least we’re getting a consistent line of fan-demanded characters released through a subscription through the G.I. Joe Club. When there is a lull in retail demand, an online subscription is a great avenue to get fan-demanded characters out there on a consistent basis. The Masters of the Universe line from Matty Collector will go down as one of the most complete, extensive and popular collector toy lines of all time, and it would have been impossible to do at retail.