Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
If you’re a toy collector, then you know things have not been going well for Hasbro lately. From multiple failed HasLab projects to absurd price hikes, the toy maker has generated significant negativity within a large portion of its customer base.
Then October happened.
On October 3, StarWars.com posted an article detailing many of the Halloween-themed Star Wars items that were up for sale this fall. Two of them were the Star Wars Black Series Halloween figures, which were revealed back in July. Despite having a few months of lead time, StarWars.com claimed that the figures wouldn’t even be available until November 1…the day after Halloween. When the Wookiee went on preorder exclusively at Walmart, its arrival date was listed as December 9.
There was one random sighting of the Clone Trooper at a Target in Oregon on October 27, but otherwise, it appears the figures will not be on anyone’s shelf in time for Halloween (or even Thanksgiving).
This product scheduling failure became even more frustrating when YakFace.com reminded everyone (via a great editorial by site owner Jayson Krebsbach) that the Hasbro team previously assured fans the toys would be on shelves before Halloween.
This isn’t the first time that Black Series specialty figures have failed to go on sale for their themed holiday, either. Last year’s Winter holiday figures ended up being so late that Hasbro pushed all of them (along with one new figure) to this year.
Meanwhile, Four Horsemen Studios announced a gorgeous Headless Horseman figure on October 1 that began shipping and arriving to buyers less than a week later. I know this because site co-owner Dave Brooke immediately took to social media to taunt me with his.
Thankfully, my own Headless Horseman was part of the “late” second wave shipment, which still arrived on October 19 — almost 2 weeks before Halloween.
Hasbro is a multi-billion dollar company. You’d think the bean-counters could take a break from finding new ways to raise prices and cut corners to get their shipping calendar in order.
Unfortunately, Hasbro’s bad month was just beginning.
As most folks reading this are likely aware, the Engine of Vengeance Ghost Rider HasLab campaign has struggled since launching back in September. After missing out on the early bird stretch goal (a human Robbie Reyes figure), campaign orders started getting canceled left and right.
Things got even worse when it became widely known that a $37 Bratz car was almost as good as the one Hasbro was offering. It obviously didn’t come with the Ghost Rider figure and accessories, but the monetary chasm between $37 and $350 (plus taxes and shipping) was still hard to ignore — especially when the stretch goal figures were becoming increasingly unlikely.
In an effort to revive the campaign, Hasbro added an alternate Robbie Reyes head and sweatshirt hood accessory to the base 9,000 backer goal. When that failed to move the needle, they revealed a new stretch goal figure (despite previously saying they wouldn’t) in the form of Madelyn Pryor. They also changed her to the first stretch goal at 10,000 backers/units and bumped Mephisto to the second tier at 12,000.
Four days after this decision was made, the campaign had lost nearly 200 backers. As the month of October went on, that number continued to spiral downward.
Some collectors have attributed this to Madelyn Pryor being an X-Men character instead of a Ghost Rider one. Others have complained that her costume isn’t comic-accurate. In the end, however, it appears that most collectors simply decided the Engine of Vengeance campaign offerings weren’t worth what Hasbro wants to charge for them.
On October 27, Hasbro made a final attempt to appeal to collectors by revealing that Damian Hellstrom would be the second tier stretch goal at 11,000 backers. As expected, collectors reacted with a yawn and continued to cancel their preorders, dropping the campaign to under 4,850 backers/units.
Meanwhile, Mattel’s crowdfunding campaign for the Masters of the Universe Eternia Playset has been a phenomenal success.
While the campaign only required 5,000 backers, it was for a significantly more expensive item — $550 base cost and well over $600 with taxes and shipping. It’s also for an arguably more obscure product within the realm of pop-culture media.
Everyone knows what Castle Grayskull is and most folks are at least familiar with Snake Mountain. Unless you’re a hardcore MOTU fan, however, Eternia isn’t going to ring a bell. The stretch goals are even more obscure, resulting in plenty of jokes from long-time fans. That didn’t stop them from buying the set, though.
As of this writing, the Eternia playset garnered over 8,000 backers in less than two weeks and continues to climb. Despite costing hundreds more than the Engine of Vengeance, this product actually offers collectors enough value to justify the price.
As Above, So Below
Back on October 4, Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks announced that the company planned to grow its revenue by 50% over the next three years. While “we plan to make money in the near future” might sound like typical business speak, it caused concern for investors.
The next day, Yahoo Finance reporter Brian Sozzi wrote an excellent article detailing investors’ misgivings about the toy maker. In addition to an overly aggressive/optimistic goal (which would no doubt include further price increases), Hasbro’s recent sales/earnings history is pretty bad.
At the time of Sozzi’s report, Hasbro’s stock was down 30% for the year, which is significantly worse than the 20% average decline experienced by the S&P 500. For the sake of comparison, rival toymaker Mattel’s stock was down 9% for the year at this point.
Then came October 18, when Hasbro reported to its investors that the company missed its 3rd quarter earnings goal and that overall sales decreased by a staggering 15%. The news sent Hasbro’s stock plummeting almost 3% to its lowest level in five years.
CEO Chris Cocks stated that a primary factor in the company’s current woes is “increasing price sensitivity” on the part of consumers.
In case you require a translation, that’s fancy business speak for “people are tired of paying inflated prices that outpace even the current historic rate of inflation.”
Throne of Lies
On the second day of Hasbro’s 2022 Pulse Con (October 2), the Star Wars team declared that preorders for the Vintage Collection Boba Fett Throne Room playset would close on October 7. They were quick to point out that the item might go up for sale again, but you’d be wise to order before the deadline if you still wanted one.
Think I’m exaggerating? Watch for yourself.
Although the $229.99 price is pretty steep, the Boba Fett Throneroom is a great-looking product. Hearing that preorders were closing soon was enough to push a lot of folks into jumping off the fence and snagging one.
The next day, however, the item was still available for preorder…and the next day…and the next couple days after that.
You could make the argument that it’s a good thing Hasbro kept the preorder window open for fans who missed out. But for those of us who are a bit more cynical and/or realistic about Hasbro’s business dealings, it appears the false deadline was a ploy to temporarily spike sales — and there might be a way to see if it worked.
There’s a trick I was informed of on the RebelScum Forums that lets you check current preorder numbers for Hasbro Pulse exclusives like Boba Fett’s Throneroom. Just right-click on the product page, select “View page source”, and press F3 (or Command+F) on your keyboard to bring up the search bar. Then enter “inventory_quantity” and it will take you to how many units have sold. You can do the same for England and the rest of Europe by selecting those areas as your location when you visit HasbroPulse.com.
Update 10/22: Hasbro has wisely removed this information from their page source codes.
If the results from this method were accurate, then Hasbro moved around 500 out of under 9,700 total units sold just on the alleged preorder deadline date. That number doesn’t include units that were sold after the announcement (October 2 – 6) or sales from England and the rest of Europe.
So yeah…a nice little 5-10% sales spike based on an inaccurate (and potentially unnecessary) preorder deadline.
Before the previously described method was nixed, I also took a look at the sales figures for the laughably overpriced Starting Line Up figures. Since they’re all Pulse exclusives, the small sales numbers that popped up (sometimes less than 1,000) were probably not what Hasbro expected.
A few months ago, Walmart put the exclusive Vintage Collection Ahsoka Tano & Grogu set back up for sale. This is no surprise since the set is wonderful and sold out quickly.
On October 21, however, Yakface.com reported that people were getting order cancelation emails.
You might consider this a Walmart problem since it’s something they seem to do a lot. Unfortunately, it’s Hasbro who continues to do business with them despite canceled preorders being a chronic problem for the retailer.
Hasbro has had some issues during the last decade, but they’ve always been able to muscle past them thanks to the fantastic work of their designers, a strong licensing library, and an even stronger fanbase.
Since Chris Cocks became the company’s CEO at the beginning of 2022, however, things have gotten significantly worse. This holiday season will be a make-or-break quarter for both him and the company…
…or maybe they’ll miss expectations and continue powering ahead with the same failed strategies. It would certainly be in line with how the company is doing things now.
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