- Motto: "I'd've written a shorter post, but I didn't have the time."
- Weapon: Sonic Boomer Laser
A few points, some of which might help answer people's questions.
1. Inventory and store ordering: According to what I've heard from employees at the big box retailers--Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and Target--the individual stores do not order their inventory. The corporate office does, and the store just gets to sort out what's shipped--they have no idea exactly what's coming to them until it gets there. Being a step further removed from the sales, the corporate people are not likely to have as good a sense of what people are interested in, and the top-down approach is not conducive to learning.
2. Hasbro makes its money when the stores buy toys from them, not when you buy the toys from the stores. So even if a toy is a shelfwarmer, they've already collected the dough, and it will be at least several months before the retail sales cycle is complete and they hear how badly it bombed, if they ever do.
3. While you might presume Hasbro does market research to find out what's popular, I've seen plenty of big financial decisions based on nothing more than a gut feeling or anecdotal evidence at best. People in those positions are no different than anyone else--for every genius idea, there are hundreds of failures. For better or worse, I have yet to see marketing that's based on anything that could be called scientific.
4. Turning back to Hasbro's earnings statement, the most positive thing I see is the growth of the entertainment and licensing segment. The world's richest investor said a couple years ago that the best sort of business is one that has no inventory and simply collects royalties. Licensing is that kind of business. It's clear from the numbers that that division takes less money to make the same amount of profit, which is a good thing for the company. Another benefit is the more Hasbro produces its own entertainment, the less dependent it is on other companies to get things done (and the less dependent it is on physical toy and game sales). The upfront investment was a bit steep, but it seems likely to pay off over time.
Want: Universe Astrotrain, Ratchet, Jetfire.
Have for trade: RTS Lugnut, Perceptor, Jazz, Wreck-gar, Tracks, Laser Prime, Bumblebee; Generations Warpath, Kup, Blurr, Thundercracker, Wheeljack, Dirge; RTS Legends Megatron, Starscream, Optimus Prime, Gold Bumblebee, Prowl, and Trailcutter; Animated voyager Shockwave, Blitzwing, and Skywarp.