It's the Busness of toys

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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby zedhatch » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:28 pm

twofisted wrote:I'm of the mindset that superheroes are kinda slowly leaving the consciousness of children. It would definitely explain the big toy companies really at a loss to find a way to capitalize on the superhero craze. It seems to be all the same stuff over and over again.


I think that answered it right there, it's one thing to have the main hero be prominant, but it's another to have that hero be the only one in the line with 20 variations and nothing else for the hero to intereact with (hero or villian).

Batman has suffered this for decades, and yet no one seems to connect the dots, how many yellow, red, green ect bats do we need? What always clearences at the end of the run?

Thor and cap suffered similar fates, while some variatiions in cap were warented when you do the math over 2/3rds of that line was JUST cap. I think if they spread some of those out over the 4 waves, got rid of those stupid repaints in the last 2 waves, and added in some more villians (Zemo, Comic Skull, ect) the line would have been even more successfull.

Iron Man got away with it because there are legitimatly so many varations in his armor, but even then Hasbro pushed it to the brink (so much so it seems no one wants another Iron man ever again).

Of course shipping out EVEN MORE of the most pegwarming waves of the three films doesn't help matters much, stores just clearenced those same figs out at christmas.
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby dayraven » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:56 pm

that's incredibly valid, it's been a problem in the toy lines since the late 80's. the lines are absolutely lousy w/ the hero/heroes re-done and re-done and re-done w/ virtually no villains or other heroes from the property to more things forward. for example, in that preposterous iron man line, who did we get for iron foes? whiplash, crimson dynamo, titanium man... and who else? cuz i'm sure, in the 30 plus year of iron man, he's only ever fought titanium man, whiplash, and crimson dynamo. oh, and he's only ever allied w/ jim rhoades, right?

i think the last line that i can recall doing a really good job on balancing the heroes and villains was the ninja turtles, because while you got preposterous and almost innumerable reiterations of the core turtles, you also got a ton of quality allies and villains for them to interact w/. it was really that early 90's batman line that really took the "ninja nightforce scuba skydiver neon fistpump" idea to insane levels.
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby PrfktTear » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:40 pm

I think it was Star Wars that really started the whole movie tie-in licensing trend. I won’t even get into backpacks, lunch boxes, t-shirts, underoos, and all that other stuff.

I’ll agree that this has been going on for a good twenty years or so, if not more. The companies are just treading water --- I get that at one point they “found” a formula that “worked” and of course you’re inclined to do it again and again. But sometimes its best to go back to the drawing board.

These lines are so predictable though --- whether its Transformers, Iron Man, Avengers, Batman, etc. They’ll have the action figures whether it be 4” and 7” then they’ll have the kiddie oriented ones, then the ones with the stupid action feature gimmick. Then there’s the role play stuff, whether it’s a sword, mask, shield, etc. I think the most creative one was the Hulk hands. The stupidest one has to be The Thing’s feet. Gimmie a break.

My newphew just turned five and someone gave him an Avengers skateboard. I kind of question the judgment of whoever bought a five year old a skateboard, but that’s another point. He had no idea who any of the Avengers were. I asked him if he knew who any of them were and his response was “superheroes” --- he didn’t know Thor, IM, Capt, or Hulk. I tried pointing them out but he didn’t even care.

I guess my point is that the parents out who buy this stuff for their kids or their kids friends, or nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. They’ll just go to the toy store and buy any starfruit that’s on the shelf, and I guarantee you that’s what these companies Not to mention at Christmas time when parents will just throw stuff into a shopping cart because they have no idea what to buy or whatever the kid is into or cares about.

Still, I agree that a lot of what they are doing is not working.

TMNT did have it right --- even with all the whacky variations of the fab four they had a great selection of heroes and villains!
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby zedhatch » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:08 pm

dayraven wrote:that's incredibly valid, it's been a problem in the toy lines since the late 80's. the lines are absolutely lousy w/ the hero/heroes re-done and re-done and re-done w/ virtually no villains or other heroes from the property to more things forward. for example, in that preposterous iron man line, who did we get for iron foes? whiplash, crimson dynamo, titanium man... and who else? cuz i'm sure, in the 30 plus year of iron man, he's only ever fought titanium man, whiplash, and crimson dynamo. oh, and he's only ever allied w/ jim rhoades, right?


Madarin if you could find him at all. Also they left out Whiplash in his actual armor from the end of the film, which really when you look at it wouldn't have been hard to pull off at all, new head on the Drone body with a skirt like thingy, peice of cake. Probalby won't have him even in the IM3 line too.

There was Guardsman who was technically a villian, but also could be considered an army builder depending on your preference. Again, nothing major (although I was shocked to see him at all).

THe other part about cap was the fact they put out figs that had just been done in MU (Captain Britian, Winter Soldier) which would have been better served with other characters (Maybe Dugan even) or at the least with some other villians as mentioned before.

i think the last line that i can recall doing a really good job on balancing the heroes and villains was the ninja turtles, because while you got preposterous and almost innumerable reiterations of the core turtles, you also got a ton of quality allies and villains for them to interact w/. it was really that early 90's batman line that really took the "ninja nightforce scuba skydiver neon fistpump" idea to insane levels.


Great pointI hadn't thought of that line but I have to agree.
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby dayraven » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:42 pm

the silly thing is, the industry is in the previous decades on a couple fronts too... case in point, packaging. the current DCIE is a great example of this. sure, the new package looks nice... but why does it have to? it's a direct sales, online only purchase, the package should rightly be seen as a cost saving measure for the line. sure, there are MOC collector's out there, and that's always the excuse offered when folks suggest reducing packaging to it's barest essential, but i would counter w/ this: MOC collector's are a percentage of a percentage of a customer base. they represent a statistically irrelevant portion of the buyer pool. and if given a choice, a pretty package or more pack in accessories, i think the polling for that would fall pretty one sided in favor of more pack-ins.

then the sales model... no case ratio should be more than half the core hero. like, if you're doing a cap wave, one cap, one ally, one villain, then it's not at all unreasonable to say, in an 8 pack case, 4 caps, 2 allies, 2 villains. that's not bad. and don't be afraid, especially in collector aimed lines, to mix in less popular characters. there's no reason, for example, that in a cap line, we can't squeeze in a peggy carter. female figures don't sell well to 10 year olds, 20 year olds gobble them right up. given the alternate movie content, howard stark and dum dum dugan are fine for the cap movie line. and dr zola and red skull should have been done, even though they're just regular guys for more than half the movie, then redo the skull later in actual skull duds. if you were doing this, you don't even half to adjust case ratios for army builders, if you were packing two identical hydra soldiers, you differentiate by different accessory packs, but drop the ally and do half and half cap and army builder in a case assortment. that's not hard, and it would be easier for fans, and kids too, kids like army builders, to find these things on the pegs. another idea that could easily help move army builder type figs is, pack in coupons that require multiple buys to cash... like a coupon that reads "present 3 coupons, get a free figure" and you only pack that coupon w/ the army builder guys... you could easily do SHIELD agents, hydra agents, AIM scientists, hammer drones, etc... that way and ensure a solid sell through.

it requires not repeating exactly how things were done in '87, but hey, it's 2012... it's about damned time. let's flip the script a little and try some new things. the fury files idea was a good idea, but there was no content to explore... had there been stuff to go to the website for, 3D turnarounds, alternate costumes, characters bios, maybe snippets of old issues of the comics, i think that customers would have responded to it more positively. especially if there had been some kind of game content related. they should have done like "fury friends" and rip off angry birds, but w/ marvel characters, or like "furyville" and rip off farmville but set in the baxter building, something that builds off the current zeitgeist.
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby zedhatch » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:55 am

I have to agree with almost everything you said dayraven.

I am sure that if presented with all this both Matty and Hasbro would say "Well the problem is that kids don't like this stuff." Which is all fine and good except the kids is not who these are marketed towards anymore.

I point this out to appologists all the time, but all of the marketing (websites, conventions, ect) is geared to the adult collectors. Kids don't have a clue about toys because no one is interested in informing them about them. Often kids might want soemthing from the latest movie line and or TV show, but that is few and far between, nevermind the fact that with the wave frequency it's just about impossible for a kid to even keep up (but ask most adult collectors and they can nearly quote the date of release on the next wave).

It floors me that the "kids" excuse is always used in relation to something one of the toy companies might have to put a pinch of extra work into as well (ie Web content). You never hear that for something that might be a good idea though, only bad ideas like spring loaded launchers (which I still say, has there ever been a toy line that has benifited from those stupid things? I can't think of one)
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby twofisted » Tue Jun 12, 2012 10:36 am

My Tivo is that of yer average 10 year old. I have Young Justice, Green Lantern, Thundercats, Adverture Time etc. While fast forewarding thru the commercials...i NEVER see any commercials for any toys pertaining to the cartoons or superhero toys in general for that matter. NEVER. If these action figures were geared towards kids...you'd think these toy companies would have loads of commercials for their products. I remember as a kid that saturday morning cartoons were LOADED with commectials. I actually looked foreward to seeing the damn things!

I just seems like across the board toy companies are completely out of touch with who is buying their product. You'd think that they would be able to see that the comic/geek/nerd community has become more socially acceptable...some would even say chic. One example of how toy companies are completely out of touch...and makes me laugh hysterically......is Nerf. One of the few toy commercials i DO see on TV are those NERF commercials with their Navy SEAL/TEAM 6, heavy duty ordinance foam rockets. They show an urban setting with blue backlighting...with a group of kids playing wargames with NERF products. These kids appear to be between the ages of 16-18!!! Do they really think that 16-18 year olds are playing with NERF toys!?!? 16-18 year olds have their noses in their iphones, trying to score pot or bath salts and trying to get laid. It just makes me laugh that they think that that is their target audience.

Maybe companies like Hasbro and Mattel are lousy with nepotism or they have a board full of guys who are way past retirement age. It just seems like they keep going back to that same old formula. They just cant seem to come up with a new marketing model.

Maybe these companies think they can save on advertising dollars by relying on us on the interwebs to promote their products for them? Its just so funny how Matty is still "considering" looking into advertising. They have not for one moment stopped and looked at the amount of advertising we are all bombarded with every second on a daily basis? I do realize that they have to consider the cost of advertising vs. the return on their investment...but GEEZ people! These companies put out old and stoggy 90's throwback product with little or no advertising or promotion...and WE'RE to blame for a toy line not selling. If the only DCUC figures i have were purchased at my local big box store...and with never seeing an advertisment...TV or print or otherwise....how in the hell would i learn about something like the sub? They dont even advertise other products on their own packaging!

These toy companies need to go back to the drawing board and realize that...sad to say, kids just arent into superhero toys anymore (most of that fault goes to the comic companies) Most kids these days are playing videoames...hell kids are getting smart phones by age 8! If they're not texting dick jokes to eachother or playing videogames...they're playing card games or little minatures games or whatever Japanese phenomanon we Americans can rip off. Kids are growing up faster and faster and faster. I was still playing with action figures when i was 14 or 15....kids these days are gettting pregnant and experimenting with drugs and trying to look like Snookie by age 12. I got my licence when i was 16...and i was so stoked that was going to be able to drive to all the stores to look for comics and action figures.

The companies need to realize they their target audience needs to be adjusted by 20 years or so. Once they come to that realization...they need tocompletely rethink their marketing strategy and make these products easier for their target audience to get. Sure there are lots and lots of us that are out of the closet geeks and wear it like a badge of courage. There's many many of us out there that still treat their geekiness as dirty little secret. Hasbro and Matty needs to make ALL their product available online so those fans can buy with their secrets intact. Dont just make exclusives or overstock items available....make ALL products available. This will also help with all these distribution problems. They should also really start advertising...especially on geek centric media...websites and TV. We should be seeing adds on G4 and Spike and channels like that. We should be seeing print adds as well. I'm not suggesting they put adds in the latest issue of Cigar aficionado magazine or Swank....but it dosent take a rocket scientist to peruse the magazine aisle and figure out which publications cater to the geek. Yes we buy toys and comics...but we also buy booze, cars and pay mortgages. We may have a juvenile hobby...but we watch grown up TV shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood.

I think until Hasbro and Matty and all the other companies out there figure all that out, we will see an even steadier decline in superhero themed toys. To the point where the action figure will be included in the list of ancient toys like yo-yos, jack in the boxes, rocking horses and cap guns.
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby PrfktTear » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:23 am

Old toy commercials were the best! =)

I think there is some law or something now that you can't advertise a product during the same show. I.E. you can't run a commercial for ThunderCats action figures during ThunderCats.
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby zedhatch » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:03 pm

twofisted wrote:I just seems like across the board toy companies are completely out of touch with who is buying their product. You'd think that they would be able to see that the comic/geek/nerd community has become more socially acceptable...some would even say chic. One example of how toy companies are completely out of touch...and makes me laugh hysterically......is Nerf. One of the few toy commercials i DO see on TV are those NERF commercials with their Navy SEAL/TEAM 6, heavy duty ordinance foam rockets. They show an urban setting with blue backlighting...with a group of kids playing wargames with NERF products. These kids appear to be between the ages of 16-18!!! Do they really think that 16-18 year olds are playing with NERF toys!?!? 16-18 year olds have their noses in their iphones, trying to score pot or bath salts and trying to get laid. It just makes me laugh that they think that that is their target audience.


I'm just saying at 16-18 Nerf (and super soakers0 were the way to go LOL, but I get what you are saying.

I think the worst of it is all this marketing geared to the adults and then the companies act like we are a blight on thier customer base. Talk about a lack of appreciation.

Maybe companies like Hasbro and Mattel are lousy with nepotism or they have a board full of guys who are way past retirement age. It just seems like they keep going back to that same old formula. They just cant seem to come up with a new marketing model.


The book Toy Wars had some interesting insights on this idea dn pretty much said what you are saying (but in more depth) and really was an eye opener into the mentality of Hasbro, the fact that the same mistakes are still being made tells me that Hasbro still hasn't figured out the ideas for GI Joe (which the book focuses on more than any other) didn't work and won't work.

Maybe these companies think they can save on advertising dollars by relying on us on the interwebs to promote their products for them? Its just so funny how Matty is still "considering" looking into advertising. They have not for one moment stopped and looked at the amount of advertising we are all bombarded with every second on a daily basis? I do realize that they have to consider the cost of advertising vs. the return on their investment...but GEEZ people!


There is an oddball advertising movement now that says there is a limit to what advertising can do, for example:

Windex, we all kind of know what it is, it's almost a nessessaty, so do we really need to advertise it? I mean it's what we call generic glass cleaners too.

An extreame case I realize but there is an idea that the audience is found and word of mouth does the rest (no, not always, but is beside the point). That those of us with interests in this stuff are already there (which as pointed out, the comic companies have done mroe to hurt superheros than anyone else, in fact they don't even count comics as thier main income anymore, merchandising and movies have taken over those spots).

Fact is that there are plenty who might be interested in DCU, Marvel, GI Joe, Thundercats, ect, but have no clue it's even out there.

PrfktTear wrote:I think there is some law or something now that you can't advertise a product during the same show. I.E. you can't run a commercial for ThunderCats action figures during ThunderCats.


There was a law in the 1980's about that, but it has been somewhat pushed to the side (with infomerials and all that) but it is considered to be very bad form.

However, nothing at all stops Thundercat figure ads from running during say, Young Justice or Green Lantern (pretty much same audience when you think about it).
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Re: It's the Busness of toys

Postby dayraven » Tue Jun 12, 2012 2:21 pm

you guys know how to make me extraordinarily happy, you know that? [smile] this is why i love IAT, noisy as assembled some of the best attitudes and most informed geeks on the web. bravo to each of you in this thread for your many points.

two-fisted- the NERF thing totally is a point i've used on several occasions, they're advertising to people our age, and completely neglecting my kids. i have two boys, what do you think the odds are that i walk down a nerf aisle and they don't light up like it's xmas eve and they're getting to stay up late? they love the swords, the maces, the axes, all that stuff, and guess what is, without question, the single toy that gets pulled out most often when other kids come over? the nerf stuff. more often than video games (though that's often because i force the kids outdoors), more often than any action figure, and even more frequently than the water guns, the nerf weapons come out and the kids stage a massive brawl. the blasters don't come out as often, in part because we've discovered the terrible truth about nerf guns... they're a blast to play with but NO ONE wants to search the yard for the expended darts. and they're not as accurate as bb guns. (though i won't make the mistake of letting them have BB fights like i did as a kid... just too many hazards there.) but the swords and axes go over extremely well, and everyone enjoys them, even the two girls conned into joining up one afternoon. and i laugh when the subject of he-man role play stuff was brought up... you make nerf-style foam weapons and tomorrow, my kids will be playing he-man and skeletor in the back yard. but you have to move fast, cuz the period of me marketing to my kids is drawing to a close. at 8 & 10, they're developing their own tastes in things, and not everything i hand them is greeted with a smile of wonder anymore. you know why action figures are losing to video games? cuz skylanders is doing a much better job of marketing to my kids, and my wife, and they're having fun w/ those products. no room for DCU in there, not in my wallet or in their minds.

zedhatch- i know exactly what you mean, that advertising has "seemingly" reached its markets, but the truth is, and we all know it, new products come, old products go, and there's a constant barrage of marketing aimed at us in other industries for good reason... example, do you think no one out there remembers that the mcrib exists? of course they do, everyone who's ever eaten at a NorthAm mickie dees knows the mangosteen mcrib, so why do they advertise it the twice a year that it's on the menu? because by making it available during limited times, and advertising it reminding us that it's going away, they create a false sense of demand, driving attention to the featured menu item and ensuring sales. mickie dees doesn't own the friggin globe by accident. they know EXACTLY what they're up to when it comes to marketing. if mattel wants to be the big fish in a big pond, they need to take a look at what other big leaguers are doing. you HAVE to advertise.

and totally, toy commercials on geek programming is great, cartoon network, the hub, G4, hell even discovery kids, should be viewed as a renewable resource, the advertising equivalent of solar energy. it's 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nonstop ad space just waiting to be thoroughly bukkaked w/ plugs for your video games, your action figures, your dress up toys, your movies, your social network website, the whole friggin lot.

and of course, on media themed at the geek... imagine how many units mcf could have moved had they been advertising the toys during airings of "the walking dead?" imagine how many iron man units they could have moved if tony had been seen in the movie signing one for some kid? or if cap has saluted a kid in a cap mask? a not even 5 second edit could have tripled or quadrupled sales just by engaging and involving the customer in the product. imagine, for a second, if hasbro had a run thing were if you bought a hasbro product, you could go to the website and register your UPC code (or better yet, a unique barcode number inside the packaging) and register your name, and you would get added to the thanks at the end of the credits in the DVD release? sounds dumb, but people respond to that "15 seconds of fame" mentality.

but you know what the grail of advertising is? video game, in-game space. think about this... let's say i was mcfarlane toys. and let's say i bought a banner in the halo multiplayer board "hang 'em high." if a conservative 450,000 players are on at any one time, and of them, we take assume that only 10% of them are playing that one board, for a single hour... that's 45,000 hours of exposure to that ad in a single day. in a week, we're already at 315,000 hours... how often does a 30 second TV spot need to air to get that kind of eyeball? 37,800,000 times that ad has to replay to get the same time exposure. and that could be a static ad, something as innocuous as graphiti on a wall, or a damaged billboard in the setting that features the website, or an old broken neon sign... it could totally be integrated into the board, and explainable, and VERY cheap to produce vs a 30 second TV spot. and imagine the face time of that son of a bitch. sure, not every video gamer is a toy person, and not every toy person is going to respond to the advert... but you're marketing towards a population who are already invested in the property too. and again, w/ that kind of ad time, the bang for your buck is ENORMOUS. what's more, if mcf were paying for that ad space, you could, theoretically, defer the cost of game production a bit, lowering the end user price point and thereby encouraging new buyers to get into the franchise... and thereby increasing the number of faces exposed to the advertising... it's really a perfect circle jerk, everyone gets their nut. think about it.
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