Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Transformers 4 Toy Line Hurt By Action-Figure Fatigue?

An article from the not really reputable NY Post (basically rumor magazine pretending to be a hard news type newspaper) suggests that various toy lines, including Transformers: Age of Extinction, are experiencing "action-figure fatigue." The basic idea is that too much product from too many action movies, especially all being sequels, has resulted in movie licensed toys not doing well on shelves causing retailers to start discounting them heavier and sooner than normal. “You’ve got all these action figures chasing mind-share, and they’ve all got the same backstory and the same characters,” [BMO Capital Markets Gerrick] Johnson told The Post. “Every kid already has Spider-Man and Captain America.”

The article suggests that with the toys only out for two weeks, they are 50% below the sales of Transformers: Dark of the Moon toys. However the more detailed article from The Globe and Mail indicates they are not experiencing a 50% drop in sales but getting 50% less shelf space that is hurting toy sales. That makes more sense as 50% seems extreme and the TF4 toy lines has not been out long enough to make any credible sales measurement.

Observationally I have not noticed Transformers 4 toys selling any different than the previous lines as the stores in my area have maintained a now years long tradition of getting toys to shelves late, doing a poor job of keeping them stocked and holding back next waves far longer than should. As for shelf space, Toys R Us seemed to have doubled the amount of space for Transformers 4 but Target and Wal-Mart have maintained the exact same space they have been allotting the line for the last few years which is about half of what they use to get when a new movie line was coming out. So since the status quo is maintained, I am just assuming sales match that. Regardless, Hasbro isn't likely to have any idea of the success of the toy line and their new simplified transformation direction until at least a month after the movie is out.

While collectors are turned off by the toy line, I can see kids enjoying it as the transformation sequences really harken back to the Generation One days only now have greater articulation and detail. As with most things, extremes in either case can be a problem. Too simple a transformation, it doesn't maintain interest and repeat playability resulting in kids will tossing them aside too fast. Too complex and frustration kicks in and again lose the fun and interest in the toy. The previous movie lines were too complex and TF4 may have over-corrected in the opposite direction (again too soon to say for sure). From the last decade or so, it seems the Generations line has come the closest to finding that sweet spot between not being too complex while not also being too simple a transformation sequence. Its a hard line to find but its good for the long term future of the franchise that Hasbro continues to explore different ways to find it.

As for the over-all thesis of action-figure fatigue, I can definitely see that happening. I remember when Transformers, Lego, GI.Joe, etc. took up entire aisles twice as long as today from the top of the shelve to the bottom. Nowadays that equivalent space, spread over four aisles, holds about 3 dozen product lines that are further divided into at least three or more sub product lines. That is a whole lot of choices that seem to grow year after year on shelf space that isn't expanding to accommodate the growing variety. In short, parents cannot afford to keep up and something has to give. When its a sequel and your child already owns X number versions of Spider-Man, Optimus Prime, or whatever, it becomes much easier to deny the purchase and wait for a seemingly new thing to become available (say Godzilla).

It is really the same thing that happens as summer movie season progresses. After June, the big blockbusters continue to come out at a ridiculous pace and each one enjoys less success than the previous. Hollywood comes up with lots of theories (some valid, some not) but it seems rather simple - empty wallet fatigue. A family of four drops around $50-$100 going to the movies. With so many big movies, its simply impossible financially to keep up so if can only afford to maybe go out 3-5 times during the summer then you are going to try to choose carefully. Which sounds easy until your bored, just done with school children, want to see a movie now and man that movie looks good. Result is that budget gets blown by end of June so July and August movies takes hits they may have not otherwise had if not for the dense volume of releases in such a small window. Applying that to toys is really much of a reach. All the theories aside, by end of summer we will have a better idea if Hasbro's direction was wise or not.


  1. hasbro will see they messed up making them too cheap it will take this to show them they fkd up

  2. i agree their cheap ass tried to make a extra billion making them cheaper and i hope it back fires on them

  3. toys are defintiely the worst out of the 4 movies, i cant say i would like to purchase any of them

  4. These greedy managers .. they want huge profits selling low quality products...
    They should have made all metal high-quality Transformers figures/toys. Instead they try to rip people off.
    The Transformers toys Generation1 of the '80s were of high quality even if not all metal.
    Nowadays they should just make all deluxe versions at premium prices. They would still sell a lot.

  5. Most of all transformers movie collector's are getting them from takara because they have better quality paint.I for one hate how the dinobots are, their way to small I was expecting them huge.This is their fourth movie Hasbro shouldn't get laizy in fact their suppose to kick it up a notch and make their toys bigger and better and more complex.The fourth movie almost didn't happen because Micheal Bay did not want to direct the film and the dinobots where never in the plans of Micheal Bay so shouldn't they be striving to make the toys better.The retail price is fifthteen fillers so we as a consumer deserve better figures like maybe huge voyager and leader class dinobots!Not deluxe baby sized transformers.Also a actuall voyager vechicle mode for Hound and a more complex transformation for their leader class,voyager, and deluxe figures and make them fit the scale of transformers,ROTF, and DOTM in their robot mode.I hate the that Hasbro downgraded the scale of the movie figures just because they downgraded the size of their Animated TV show and G1 toys,Well I don't know if has Hasbro knows this but the Movie has nothing to do with the animated TV show or G1 toys.This is the movie line so their suppose to be in scale with the first and second movie toys because when DOTM was released the figures started to get downgraded,we still have the first and second movie toys so why give us smaller toys how would we as collectors collect all these figures and then stand them against each other the new toys would be way to small.let's face it if kids are not purchasing these toys then Hasbro should just make them for collectors not kids.

  6. Most action figures made today are cheap garbage that break easily, have very poor articulation and cost $10 for a four inch figure. That's why they don't move off the shelves. It doesn't help when the figure sculpts and coloring are awful, the package designs are lame and the market is over saturated.

  7. If they want their money, they have to earn it. 14 dollars is too much for a deluxe figure that doesn't really have much.

  8. Hasbro's made a stupid mistake in making the new transformers so dumbed down in both the looks of the figures and there now boring transformations. transformers are cool because they are a puzzle + robot + car in one. and even from the kids point of view, kids are not dumb. toddlers can use ipads. true some of the movie figures might have been a bit hard for some of them but these new figures are just lame. I don't even want to go see the new movie because of how bad the toys are. they could have had a simple line and a complex line but instead they just went and made multiple simple minded lines. hope they wake up soon to there mistake soon and start making somewhat intelligent toys again


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