The classic line of argument when it comes to toy retail is that "Hasbro cannot force retailers to stock toys". So basically, Hasbro produces the toys, solicits them to retailers, and everything from that point on is up to the retailers. Hasbro ships out the toys and has no control of distribution beyond that.
But in the past two or so years, there have been numerous incidents where toys that had been announced by Hasbro wouldn't be listed for preorder by any online retailers for months to come. Any argument that it's all up to retailers goes out of the window when retailers who want to order new toys cannot do so because there are no solicits yet. These toys would then sometimes come out in Asia, might be listed by online retailers based out of Asia, but still, the "major" online retailers like Amazon, BBTS, Entertainment Earth, ToyWiz or TFSource wouldn't put up listings for these figures up until a specific date.
Particularly bizarre variations of this pattern were:
- Online retailers would put up instant "in stock" listings for general retail waves, meaning they had already received shipments of these figures but were not allowed to list them on their public website. So no preorders. And I'm not talking about "wave 1 of a movie line with a street date". I'm talking about stuff like "wave 4/5/6 in a Generations sub-line or an RID assortment".
- Online retailers would collectively put up their preorder listings after those waves had already been found at brick and mortar retail, so any advantage online retailers might have over brick and mortar stores in terms of early availability would be out of the window.
Now, the rumor, corroborated by this former online store owner, is that Walmart had specifically given Hasbro orders that Walmart absolutely has to get first dibs on new Transformers product before anyone else was to be allowed to put up a public listing. And if Walmart has no room for these new toys, then that's too bad because it means the online retailers have to wait in line.
This certainly fits in with the recent news story that Hasbro and Mattel are supporting TRU despite its financial problems because the alternative would be that Walmart and Amazon get to dominate the market even more than they already do.
I know that brick and mortar retail has trouble competing with the (seemingly) endless storage space of online retailers, and I agree that online retailers have several unfair advantages over physical stores, but "you don't get new stuff before we do" can't be the answer either, since that would be an unfair advantage of its own, especially if it's really just one store doing it.
Is any of this grounded in reality? Is it just scuttlebutt? If so, then why do the aforementioned weird-ass preorder policies with instant "in stock" listings and brick and mortar stores getting new toys before Amazon, BBTS or EE can even start taking preorders happen?
Edited by Nevermore, 07 October 2017 - 05:54 AM.