Let's talk about this past weekend and the experiences fellow collectors had trying to purchase Target's exclusive Star Wars action figures. First though, let's go back to February, and let's remember Target's error by selling all the 5/12 exclusives from this past weekend on their website one evening before the official reveal at Hasbro's New York Toy Fair event. If you don't remember, Target indeed took pre-orders an evening before the official reveal and they sold out of all the figures that night. They also listed 5/12 as the date when all those figures (Vintage Collection Han Solo (Stormtrooper), Black Series Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper), 6 Star Wars Retro Collection figures) would be available.
Fast forward to Mother's Day, May 12, 2019 and we still don't know why Target had sepcifically chosen this date. There was no print ad to promote the exclusives, there was no online advertising campaign and there was no reset of the Star Wars toy aisle in their toy departments. This date didn't make any sense for us fans, it would have been much more appropriate to schedule the street date a full week earlier for May The Fourth, so that Star Wars fans could go out and buy new Star Wars figures on Star Wars day.
Let's get the bad out of the way. We have not seen a single report on our social media channels of a Target store having figures ready and on display on 5/12. We don't even know if our expectations of an end-cap or aisle reset were justified, but why else deny customers those exclusives who tried to purchase them before 5/12 in stores? Clearly something had to be special on 5/12, right? You had that street date listed on your website, but apparently nothing about it was special and to the contrary, we found Star Wars figures which had been sitting on shelves for almost an entire year together with lots of un-used empty shelf space. The experience we had mimicked the reports from our audience on our social media channels across the United States. Here is what one of our local stores looked like:
Even though Target's customer service managers seemed to be helpful, it turned out that most stores had already sold out of the Retro Collection figures before 5/12. There was an inconsistent policy in place across stores where in some cases people were allowed to buy them and in other cases fans were denied. We ourselves had them ring up fine without any register lock in place a week ago.
We also heard reports of people having employees get a case of Star Wars Retro Collection from the backroom, but then they were allowed to only purchase two figures (out of the six in the case), frustrating! There were also reports of fans who pre-ordered the Black Series 6" Luke Skywalker when Target put them up for sale the night before Toy Fair, that their orders were set to backorder without being given a specific ship date. This is frustrating, you could pre-order it online on 5/12 with in-store pick up the same day, but you don't know when or even if they will ship the figure to you which you pre-ordered in February.
Target, you sell collector's items, and us collectors, be it Hasbro, Lego fans or Funko Pop! fans etc..., we go and stand in line at Hot Topic, ThinkGeek, the Lego store, or whatever other store might have those exclusives so we can get them before they sell out. Can you imagine what the outcry would be if those stores didn't have the stock ready for fans in the morning? Target, this was a frustrating experience for many people.
If you visited the Target website before you went to a store you could order the exclusives (the Retro Collection sold out in minutes/Luke had limited availability per store) online and choose "store delivery", this way you could skip going to the toy aisle to look for figures and you could by-pass the hassle of having to deal with customer service trying to locate the figures in the backroom.
It was a feeding frenzy, wasn't it? Star Wars action figures are hot again, who knew? We see some old stock sitting on store shelves and we come across lots of clearance as well, but there is a large community of Star Wars action figure collectors who go out to stores on day one and show their support for the Vintage Collection and The Black Series. The Star Wars Retro Collection was even hotter.
Target, let's get rid of the street date and stop denying people when they want to give you money for your products. If you keep the street date, at least be prepared and make it a special event. By special event we don't mean freebies, just have your exclusives sit on a shelf so we can look through them, take them to the register and purchase them. You sell collectors items to collectors, we are a sophisticated crowd, we know how to look up DPCI numbers on your own website, we show up on day one when the doors open with our money in hand, and we expect you to be ready for us.