Sunday, 14 June 2015

Another Marketing Snafu

And so, it came to pass that the whole of Europe will have to do without Wave 2 of Combiner Wars. This is, according to an email posted on several fan sites, because Hasbro "couldn't meet quantity targets for Europe". This apparently means that orders for Wave 2 didn't indicate a level of demand that made it worthwhile bringing the final Aerialbot and 3/4 of the Stunticon Deluxes out. That's not just in the UK, but orders across the whole of Europe.

Naturally, lots of fans are blaming Hasbro, even though it's really mostly down to the retailers: for whatever reason, they didn't put through enough orders. It's hard to believe that, across the whole of Europe, there was insufficient interest for an entire wave... but then, it's not like that kind of thing hasn't happened before. The last waves of several TransFormers toylines have been cancelled, but this could be one of first times that an early wave has been skipped to make way for the next. And it's not as if Hasbro doesn't have the option of releasing some of the molds in a later wave, so that everyone can complete their Superion and Menasor gestalts.

In a lot of ways it's not such a terrible loss, but then I think CW Menasor looks like crap - just in and of itself, rather than even in comparison to FansProjects' Intimidator, but it certainly suffers further in the comparison - and losing out on one of the Aerialbots (Air Raid) isn't so bad when Slingshot (Quickslinger) may be coming out in later wave. This would leave Superion using only three unique limb molds, even with the new team-member, Alpha Bravo, but that's still better than the Energon/Superlink gestalts managed.

However, all this does tend to suggest a rather serious flaw in Hasbro's marketing, and I suspect a good part of the problem is lack of advertising. I'm sure there are TV ads on Saturday and Sunday mornings, if not weekday mornings as well, but there's no Combiner Wars TV series, only the IDW comics... and they seem to be aimed at a slightly older demographic. Combiner Wars itself has been described by some as a Collector-oriented line, since it reinvents a fondly-remembered and iconic section of Generation 1... but that's basically what Classics/Universe/Generations has been doing for the last eight or nine years.

What we have, then, is another situation where two TransFormers lines are taking up shelf space at the same time, where only one is getting promoted in a form commonly digested by the masses. Inevitably, that will skew the sales figures in favour of the new TransFormer: Robots In Disguise figures, despite their largely crummy design, positively negligent paintwork and KO-level plastic quality.

If Hasbro is aiming Combiner Wars at collectors, it really needed to work a little harder and make both the individual components and the gestalts that little bit more impressive, not least in terms of the paint jobs on most of them. Older kids, maybe (and I believe that's the Hasbro's stated target demographic for CW), but it's certainly not a Collector-grade line as it stands, it's simply appealing to Collectors because - for the most part - it's an improvement on the G1 gestalt bricks.

Just this weekend, I've got my hands on Firefly and Alpha Bravo, so I'm halfway to completing Superion... and I have to say it's looking pretty good. Obviously, I'll deal with each individual model in-depth at some point soon, but they both feature some innovative elements. Neither are brilliant individually, but they work nicely as legs and as arms, so I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Skydive and either Air Raid or Slingshot... possibly even both.

After that... probably the components of Defensor, then maybe Bruticus, depending on how he turns out. After that... I wonder whether Hasbro will introduce any new gestalts to complement Galvatronus...

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