The State of the Hobby in 2014

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It seems only appropriate less than 24 hours after the State of the Union address last night that a mild controversy has formed within the walls of the online G.I. Joe community.

Honestly, it’s tough to remember a time when some sort of controversy wasn’t brewing with an online fandom somewhere.

In the latest SmallJoes.com newsletter, the following little nugget of information was in there:

“We are not expecting any new GI JOE 3 3/4″ product at retail in 2014.”

For obvious reasons, this caused a bit of a flurry of activity.  But I do want to caution people to get to heavy handed or critical, and be tempted to shoot the messenger.

I’ve seen posts online claiming that perhaps the G.I. Joe fandom was “lied to” at San Diego ComicCon this past summer, and I would just ask that we please stop.  The man who provided the information at SDCC was Derryl DePriest, someone who many of us have known for a very long time, and one of the hugest supporters of the G.I. Joe brand over the past decade.  I have talked to him frequently at conventions over the past several years, and I can say without doubt or hesitation that he did not and would not “lie” to anyone about plans for a G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary.

That doesn’t mean that we’re getting something this year, though.  In fact, signs point to no.  But it’s much more a matter of plans changing, not so much someone directly “lying”.

The Internet is a wonderful thing.  It has provided billions of people with a way to directly interact with each other in real time, and that atmosphere has created a strong sense of entitlement when it comes to early information.  As a fandom, we all demand to hear and see things as early as humanly possible, and often berate corporations who don’t show us what they’re working on months or years in advance.  So what do we expect when we ask a corporate rep something that far in advance, and then the plans change and we’re unhappy with the end result?

We cannot have it both ways.  If we’re going to ask for this early information, we have to be mentally prepared to accept the fact that things can change in a period of 6 – 8 months, and it certainly seems like that happened in this case.  But please, let’s not assume that Derryl stood up in the Hasbro booth in San Diego and “lied” to several fan representatives who asked him directly about 2014.  That is not at all fair to him.

Now, I’m not absolving Hasbro of all blame here.  If anything, I’m feeling far more critical of the way they’re treating (or not treating) one of their flagship brands on the 50th Anniversary of the brand’s creation.  And not just the brand.  We’re talking action figures as a whole.  This entire industry was born 50 years ago this year, and even if G.I. Joe at large has faded from public consciousness, Hasbro makes enough money off of other action figure lines to at least pay some sort of lip service to the brand that started it all.  To do otherwise is disrespectful and short sighted.

There are plenty of ways that Hasbro could do something with G.I. Joe using existing tooling at limited cost and through limited retail channels, but by all accounts they seem unwilling to do even that.  Disappointing to say the least.

Of course this point might all be moot if we see something at Toy Fair, but by the sounds of it, that does not seem likely.  At this point, though, in the midst of excellent Convention reveals and FSS shipments by the G.I. Joe Collectors Club at least there is a silver lining, though one that is more expensive than what many collectors are willing to consider.

So, I guess in conclusion, let’s not jump all over Derryl, I’m sure he was going by the information he had at the time, and Hasbro proper, if you’re reading, when you look at all of those Avengers, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Star Wars, Transformers, and dozens of other specific action figure toy lines that earn your revenue, pay your salaries, and continue to keep your entire corporation relevant, let’s not forget where that all started.

Yo Joe.

48 thoughts on “The State of the Hobby in 2014

  1. Well said albeit sad. I figured as much during the Christmas season when Walmart and Target had deleted G.I. Joe items from their Christmas modulars. I work in the back office of one of these chains and know that no Joe items are planned for the spring set either. Right now, if it weren’t for Kroger, I would never have been able get Kwinn or the Retaliation Jinx. To Hasbro I say, you have a loyal customer base. Sell us something.

  2. Well, the other side of it is that SmallJoes isn’t a large retailer, so they’re not privvy to Hasbro’s plans at all. And the last we heard the 50th was going to be a single-retailer exclusive line so if that’s the case then SmallJoes won’t even be able to get it.

    I think this is just SmallJoes trying to throw bombs to get attention to their site.

  3. I have to agree. One small online retailer says he doesn’t expect anything, and everyone assumes the worst. Hasn’t this happened in the recent past and been proven wrong? Does no one learn anything?

    If Toy Fair rolls around in a couple weeks, and there is nothing, then everyone can cry, wail, and gnash teeth. Until then, I wouldn’t put much faith in the expectations of one small store.

  4. Where was it stated it was a single retailer exclusive? As for general purchasing, my understanding is all official hasbro vendors get a seasonal product catalog.

  5. It was mentioned in one of the interviews at SDCC last year, that they had plans but couldn’t be specific, and they were expecting it to be exclusive to a single retailer, the name brought up was Target. There were also rumors of the fairly obvious repainting of the Ninja Combat Cruiser as a Stinger, with the concept case stinger driver with it.

    And while all official Hasbro retailers would get a catalog, I doubt SmallJoes is large enough to get pre-release info. Entertainment Earth has their TF4 pre-orders up (on the distro side) and they don’t have case assortments yet, just line names and prices. If EE doesn’t have all the info yet then I doubt someone like Small Joes has any access at all.

  6. I still think we will see something. I just don’t think Hasbro will pass on not putting out a few things for the 50th anniversary. I guess we will see.

  7. I feel I should point out that “We are not expecting any new GI JOE 3 3/4″ product at retail in 2014.” doesn’t mean there wont be any GI Joe product at all. It being the 50th Anniversary of the 12″ figure line, it seems logical that if we saw any product, it would be of the 12″ kind.

  8. that was also said to be taken with a heavy grain of salt at the time. It’s entirely possible they tried that route, and no major retailer was interested in buying G.I.Joe regardless of anniversary or not.

  9. Tbh, trying to collect Joes hasn’t been fun for a long time. It was hard to find new product, even when the stores were keeping Joes in stock. Yeah. I probably could have ordered the stuff I wanted online, but there’s something about going to the story, buying something, and carrying it out.

  10. Screw SmallJoes! Just another scalper to me! Trying to sell me a damn gijoe for $22. bucks! Hell is wrong with dem?! “Not expecting any joes in 2014”! I’d like to slap the dude who wrote that! Kick em off as sponsors Justin!

  11. All par for the course in ‘Joe fandom if it’s true. It’s a drag, but the line is always teetering on the edge every 2 years or so. I’ve never really been sold on the 50th anniversary angle applying to the RAH line, since Hasbro just marked its 25th and 30th anniversaries.

  12. I’m guessing Hasbro will be pulling out the big guns for G.I. Joe 3, so it makes sense to me that they would hold off on any new 3 3’4 product until then to prepare and get people excited again!

  13. I believe if we get more toys like Retaliation wave 1 and more toys like the rock vipers, that maybe they should fall back and regroup, maybe this break is needed for Hasbro to assess the brand.

    Personally I am a big fan of what matty collector is doing, they release top class toys for a decent price. Though I appreciate what the GI Joe club’s subscription service does, I don’t love that every figure is essentially a frankenjoe/repaint with a smart headsculpt.

    If Hasbro focussed their efforts into a collectors club and gave it the attention that Mattel gives Matty collectors, then I am pretty sure we would see some of the things we have all been longing for as fans.

    Imagine crowd funding a pre-order for a modern Night Raven or Terrordrome, we could be looking at 8 great joes vs 8 average ones with a jewel in between.

  14. really? The man buys them in a case, he has to charge a bit more for the desirable ones to make up for the ones that won’t sale, and he isn’t getting them at the price wal-mart does. I understand some criticism but this looks way too personal.

  15. Honestly, with the way the brand has been treated lately, I really wonder if guys like DePriest and John Warden are the main reason we got any G.I. Joe product over the last few years. It’s clear that the brand isn’t any priority for Hasbro, even with a movie franchise. I would assume this also speaks to the decline of Alan Hassenfeld’s influence in the company, as he has always been a big proponent of the brand.

  16. I don’t know if I would use Matty as a measure of success. I think Matty has manipulated MOTU fans.

  17. Respectfully, Corey Stinson helped lay down the foundation for online Joe fandom way back in the early days of the Web. He founded Smalljoes as a way to help out collectors (and yes, to make a bit of money) since there weren’t many sites devoted to selling Joes at the time. Corey can be a bit abrasive at times, but there’s no doubt that he loves this hobby.

  18. Walmart doesn’t have any g.i.joes (except the 12″ 5 point articulation junk).and I understand he has to make money, I do, but he can get a little creative and still make money, without reaching scalper level greed.

  19. They provide a good service, and they’re far from a monopoly.

    The bottom line is that prices for figures should vary with fan demand – you’re paying extra for a guarantee that you’ll get the figure. They offered more flexibility than BBTS when it came to the Wave 4 figure sets, so I went with them. And it works both ways; they’ve had plenty of stuff hit their clearance aisle.

    (And if you think $22 is bad, don’t look at the price of Temple Guardian Snake Eyes. You’ll claw your eyes out.)

  20. As one of the people Justin referred to up above who won’t pay collector’s club-level prices for figures… I hate that idea with all my soul.

    I’m FINE with paying prices in keeping with, say, the BBTS 7-packs. That’s the type of online exclusive I can get behind; if Hasbro wants to remix old molds and sell them to me at $8 / figure, I’ll be fine.

    But the subscription service just doesn’t add up for me. Too many items that don’t turn out to be worth the money.

  21. I can see this being a bit of gamesmanship on Smalljoes part, especially if, say, they didn’t get in on an online-exclusive offering later in the year (EG, BBTS is putting out more multi-packs).

    Really, what I want is for Hasbro to not fuck up the third movie line. They can take the year off as long as they execute that properly (EG, no cutbacks in figure quality).

  22. I can see this being a bit of gamesmanship on Smalljoes part, especially if, say, they didn’t get in on an online-exclusive offering later in the year (EG, BBTS is putting out more multi-packs).

    Really, what I want is for Hasbro to not fuck up the third movie line. They can take the year off as long as they execute that properly (EG, no cutbacks in figure quality).

  23. I think it really funny that you criticize the club for recycling parts for figures while praising Mattel when they’re doing the exact same thing.

  24. I hear you, but I’m not praising matty so as using thier model for my argument. The point is we are paying, or rather some of us are paying big money for mediocre effort and Matty guys are paying less than we are for a better effort.

    And in saying this are you happy with retaliation wave 1 and 2 and would you with confidence tell me that every figure released by the club is up to your standards, and up to the same standards as some of the gems in the line?

  25. So a company should lose money on a brand that’s not selling successfully in the current decade because it sold like gangbusters over 20 years ago? And should produce a product even if retailers aren’t willing to stock it? (Try to recall Hasbro can’t MAKE any retailer buy their stuff).

    Good thing whoever made that jpg probably doesn’t run a business.

  26. Justin hits the nail on the head with the discussion of how the information age has spoiled us, and how the fanbase is ridiculously hypocritical when it comes to the release of information.

    It’s just like the old Hasbro Q&As, wherein some fans endlessly whined about the questions chosen and answers given, because they weren’t the answers they wanted to hear. They made it sound like Hasbro was horrible for daring to even do the Q&As.
    Nowadays those same collectors whine because Hasbro doesn’t communicate with them enough.

    You can’t have it both ways.
    G.I. Joe isn’t the worst line for that, though. Masters of the Universe Classics wins that “distinction”: hands down.

  27. But the MattyCollector model is to use the same bodies over and over again with new paint and heads, which is exactly what you said you don’t like about the figure subscription service. And not every figure has to meet *my* personal standard. I have no interest in Tiger Force, but other people love them. The figures I do want far exceed “mediocre effort,” and the first two waves of Retaliation are still better than any figure Mattel’s shipped to retail in years.

  28. Yeah, if only Hasbro would wave its magic wand and sprinkle fairy dust on retail buyers so they’d dedicate space to a toy line with a niche collector market and no media support, only to watch it all collect dust until they put it on clearance. What are they thinking? When STAR WARS and Marvel are barely limping along in the action figure aisles, not going all out with G.I. JOE is obviously a deliberate slap in the face to the fans, just like everything else they do.

  29. Considering I have heard the same info from other online retailers, the idea that Corey is using this to drum up business or attention is WAY out there.

  30. It seems to me that these days, movie toy lines based on movies that aren’t aimed at kids just are not going to do as well. Despite the greatly improved sequel, do the Retaliation figures look any fun for a kid? Look at the 2013 page at YoJoe.com and look how bland those figures are until you get down to the Collectors Club and Convention toys, which are NOT aimed at kids.

    I feel like what’s needed is another attempt at some kind of cartoon series. I know we’re all here as adult fans, but the support of kids is needed. I thought Renegades was a good series but it wasn’t supported by many old fans, plus, I don’t think it got the promotion it needed. But also, it may have been a bit too adult for kids. Then again, are kids even watching these kinds of shows anymore? Marvel seems to have some shows on the air now, but DC seems to have cancelled everything. Though, Transformers: Prime is working, I think.

    Bottom line is, if kids are buying toys at retailers, the property doesn’t make enough money and can’t also put out items collectors are interested in.

  31. With more concentrated, massive, retail networks, perhaps these very large retailers are pushing the low cost, high-volume consumable stuff that the GIJoe brand just isn’t bringing.

    Who else, as a retailer, is buying the lions share of Hasbro product?

    Those business executives at the top at Hasbro, the ones making bank on top of making bank for Hasbro investors are going to push the stuff that makes the dough. And it ain’t no easy bake oven.

    There is a lot of talent in the Hasbro arena, and a lot of love for GIJoe there, but the suits are going to ax the weaker stuff, and the big box retailers are only looking at volume sales at discount prices.

    When was the last time you saw GIJoe at the locally owned ma and pa drug store?

    Maybe the shop local thing is more important than you know.

    Live Better? Really?

  32. Kids are absolutely still watching cartoons and asking their parents for toys based on characters they like. Millions of them tune in for Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, and no action figure line moves more quickly at retail than Playmates’ TMNT toys. Adult collectors weren’t the ones making those disappear completely from stores during the last two holiday seasons.

    Transformers: Prime toys were performing well, but that series concluded last year. Building new models for more and more new characters that Hasbro wants to introduce was going to be two expensive for 3D animation, so its successor won’t be CG animation. Warner Bros. Animation is working on a new DC series that hasn’t been announced yet, and there are three Marvel cartoons currently airing on Disney XD.

    The ratings for Renegades were actually solid, but by the time the toys were released, Hasbro had pulled the plug on the series to make way for Retaliation. Meanwhile, Playmates had TMNT toys on shelves a couple of months before the new cartoon debuted on Nick in 2012. There was nothing particularly “adult” about Renegades compared to other series, but the formula certainly could have been tweaked a little to make more time for characters kids may find relatable. The foundation for that already exists within G.I. JOE fiction, but it’s moot point now where Renegades is concerned.

  33. Pingback: Hasbro May Announce G.I. Joe 50th Anniversary Plans on February 15 | JoeBattleLines

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