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Well, we have got the chance to digest what Hasbro gave back to us on Friday.  Pretty much every site had one killer question.  I’ve picked those question and others that caught my eye for a little review and comment:

In alphabetical order:
Q. What is the status of the characters that were to be in GI Joe Combat Heroes series 3? Any chance we still might see this wave produces or perhaps they will be added to a retailer exclusive set in the future.

A: The third wave of pre-movie Combat Heroes were not produced and will not make their way out to retail.

Okay…..weren’t Wave 3 sighted out in a TRU in Western Canada? If Hasbro USA does not know about these, are they maybe a Hasbro Canada thing? I know for a FACT these were produced because I have a set. Come on Hasbro, be up front with us.
The admin of AC asked that their questions not be mirrored, but they did have a couple of good questions concerning the character they idolize, Snake Eyes. What we were able to gleen from their answers is that we will see the infamous price inflated Resolute Snake Eyes and the fact that the grey and black Timber Paris Pursuit variations were intentional. The Joe community does not necessarily 3 more versions of a mute commando, but at least these three versions are pretty cool.
Q. As you know, this year’s convention set is a reissue of a set released 7 years ago in with the new modern era construction. Rumor continues to persist in the community that Hasbro has some degree of say (veto power if you will) into the yearly Convention Set by the Fun Publications team. First, is this true? Secondly, if it is true, why recommend a re-issue of a previous set? Are these designs that Hasbro was wanting to release, but with the shift to the movie focus, got derailed or what?

A. The process for the convention set is that the club comes up with their top ideas for what they would like to do. Hasbro then gets “veto power” to make sure that it does not overlap with mainline…but in general the club is responsible for knowing the club members and what they want to see. The Crimson Set was requested by the club and made sense given the excitement of movie and lack of twins in the line.

Admittedly, this is a bit of a whiny question, but now we know once and for all Hasbro fits into the selection process occurs.  Until someone asks, we will never get a straight answer. In this case Hasbro is pointing the finger squarely at the club to KNOW what we want. I can only suggest to the fandom to continue to lobby the club. We also found out from another COIL question that Hasbro did mention that another HTS Troop Builder pack is possible but not currently planned.  Hmmm….if I read between the lines here, my guess is that some of the assortments they offered sold well to possibly entertain a new offering, while others *cough*python themed figures*cough* did not fair so well.
Q: I think you should release updated versions of the Cobra bunker, Ammo Dump, outpost, etc to have little playsets. They are cheap to produce and do not require that much packaging…and…are awesome!!

A: Great idea. We are thinking along the same lines and will show you what we have planned at Comic-Con.

Bravo to CTR for getting Hasbro to open the kimono, so-to-speak, about a hint on SDCC!  These may not have been my first choice of playsets that I would have wanted, but something is certainly better than nothing. Let’s see what Hasbro has planned. We only have a few days to wait.
Q: No doubt by now Hasbro knows that G.I.Joe Resolute is a huge hit with the collector community. We are totally enamored with the cartoon and the fresh designs for the characters, so are there any plans to revisit the Resolute concept, both in media as well as products?

A: We are currently working on the Resolute DVD release plan as well as a potential Resolute figure pack in the future.

Ah, the obligatory Resolute question. A nice Resolute DVD 4 pack would be very cool. I just sure hope we see them in significant numbers so no one can hide behind the “they are in the retail distribution system” comment. Alright, that wasn’t fair by me. I will tackle the DVD #5 set later.  Back on topic, at this point, I only hope we see a Resolute DVD set, and as we learn in a question further down, we may not have to wait long. 2010 is only 5 months away.
Q. The San Diego ComicCon Destro looks amazing, and Hasbro’s desire to re-use tooling is well-known. Can we expect to see the “business suit” tooling re-used down the line somewhere, perhaps as the Crimson Twins?

A. Currently there are no plans for the the suited twins, but we have heard fans ask for this and will consider it down the line. This also came up after the 2008 suited Cobra Commander figure.

Well, two years in a row (and a number of questions asked already) may be a bit of a HINT fellas! You mentioned the twins specifically in the COIL question, so we know Hasbro is at least thinking of them AND wanting to see them continue in the line. Come on guys…..come onnnnnnnnn.
Q:What is the status of the Resolute Figures Destro, Snake Eyes, Baroness, Scarlett and Storm Shadow?

A:These figures are currently on hold and being considered for a set in 2010.

Wanna know why we are NOT seeing these in ’09 (including Roadblock)? Notice ALL of these characters are in the movie.  When Hasbro says that they do not want to confuse the casual consumer with two lines, gosh darn it, they mean it! In other words, Hasbro does not want to confuse Average Mom Mrs. Smith with a movie Baroness and Resolute Baroness. Now, you and I know the difference, but will a non fan know this? I guess one rule of marketing is catering to the lowest common denominator. I do believe Hasbro when they say 2010. I can only suggest to remain strong, vigilant and patient. However, if you can’t wait, well, you know what to do……
Q.) What are the criteria used to decide where to spend new tooling dollars on figures (like the new COBRA Island 7 packs) as opposed to simply bashing together a figure completely from pre-existing tooling (like the upcoming WalMart 2 packs), and what percentage (roughly) can we as fans expect to see in new tooling going forward?

A) In general, new tooling is reserved for mainline items. These items are sold to more people and work on longer lead times. Exclusives are put together after the mainline and because of the tight schedule do not get new tooling. In the case of the 7-packs, the figures were designed to be in the mainline and were later moved to the 7-packs…hence the tons of new tooling.

JediDefender joins the Q&A ranks with their first submissions of 2009. I like this question a lot because we actually learn something about the process. Good question guys! I look forward toward more of your questions.
Q. Star Wars collectors are able to purchase blank figure stands with labels. Is there a chance that G.I. Joe collectors might be able to do the same at some point in the future?

A.While there is no plan for this, we will look at this as a possibility for a future JoeCon item.

One follow up question here and one comment. First the comment….you would THINK at some point Hasbro would address this. My follow up: If it is a JoeCon item in the future, is it a Hasbro Exclusive or Fun Publications Exclusive. Just trying to set my level of expectation and in the case of the club, my potential disappointment and dent in my pocketbook.
Q: By recognizing the vast interest that the 2009 Canadian Joe Convention exclusive set generated on a planetary scale thanks to GIJOE collector communities worldwide and the Vac-painted chromium Hiss tank playing a major centerpiece part in this set, will Hasbro Canada consider using the success of the 2009 Canadian Joe Convention exclusive set as an example to show Canadian retailers how collector communities can play an active and positive role in the growth of product variety and exclusives in Canadian stores, and perhaps persuade the big commercial store chains to offer “real” exclusives similar to what Hasbro USA has accomplished with Target when they offered the Tiger Force and Python Patrol vehicle repaints?

A: Great idea! Currently the Canadian retailers are offering many of the same exclusives available in the US…. but we will make them aware of the recent (and great!) activity of our Joe Canuck fans.

Receiving the first award for the LONGEST question without the use of a PERIOD, is this one! 😀 In all seriousness, hats off to our neighbors to the north. This is a great example of how a grassroots effort can succeed. Thankfully with the movie line, not only will Canada get most of it, but reports say Japan, Australia and much of Europe as well. I admit, I don’t understand the nuances of why Canada can’t get some exclusives. Maybe someday Hasbro can explain it because to the average person, Hasbro is Hasbro, not Hasbro USA, Hasbro Canada or Hasbro UK. I guess part of the problem is that Target does not have stores in Canada. I am kinda surprised they don’t have a business partner up there.
Q: If the makers of “Power Team Elite”, “True Heros” and “Soldier Force” can produce modern military toys, emergency rescue response and futuristic adventure toys with high detail and enough extra gear to out fit the Marines, at an affordable price, then why can’t Hasbro? What happened to the imagination and dare to be the best attitude that seemed to rule Hasbro in the 80’s?

A: There are two issues at work here. The first is whether Hasbro and GI Joe want to be in the realistic military figure category or base the brand in the 80’s GI Joe vs Cobra fantasy. The future will be in the 80’s lore.

With regards to pricing, Hasbro has to cover a variety of costs and does its best to deliver its products at the best possible price. Looking at the Hasbro portfolio of boys products, we continue to reinvent our brands and bring out the best toys on the market.

HA! Nice try fellas….I love the “Win-one-for-the-Gipper” pep talk. For some reason, I can’t ever see Hasbro pushing out product like Lanard. Don’t get me wrong though, some of their stuff is cool and it is universally known as the poor-man’s Joe substitute, but I just don’t see it happening.
Q: What will it take for hasbro to drop GI Joe MSRP so it does NOT compete w/ Star Wars?

A: Ideally all figures in the 3 3/4” scale will be a single MSRP regardless of property. The current MSRP’s for movie are now set and not scheduled to change in the near future.

Unless TRU does another 2 for $10 promotion. See the next entry. 🙂
Q: Movie figures are now on the shelf. Reaction from fans has been positive, but one recurring concern is the price. The Armored Panther is similar to the Armadillo tank released in the 25th line just last year. Yet, with almost half the content, the price is roughly the same. Admittedly, $15 at the time seemed like a steal for the vehicle assortments. So, we don’t mean to look a gift horse in the mouth. Not only do we appreciate the Q&A opportunity, but we also feel that we are given the chance to buy some great items to add to our ranks. The Armored Panther with Thunderblast certainly can’t be missed. But the concern has been voiced by fans on numerous occasions and the prices would be easier to absorb if we could justify it to ourselves. Is there any possibility of the retail price going down any time soon?

A: Sorry to say that the retail price will not be going down. The new prices reflect the new environment we are in as a brand including higher plastic prices, gas prices for shipping, and funding for the movie. Ultimately, pricing is up to the individual retailers.

The good guys at JoeIntel make their Q&A debut this round and they take aim at the price question, specifically aimed at the vehicles. I agree with this question. I could have guessed Hasbro would have blamed petro prices, but I did not take moving licensing into effect. I guess that makes sense, but I don’t have to like it.
Q. In the last round of the Q and A, an answer from Hasbro stated “Hasbro prefers to reveal product at key times like Toy Fair, Comic-Con, and JoeCon with the final deco and packaging.”

The 3 3/4 scale GI Joe collecting community has grown up as a part of internet culture, and as such are used to a constant update of content available at the click of a mouse. (Even that colloquialism is quickly growing dated) When real content isn’t provided, fan speculation rapidly fills the gap, often leading to unfavorable opinions on Hasbro or GI Joe related products (See the Reaction to this year’s Con set for recent proof).

If the Communications Department at Hasbro is anything like the one at the company I work for, there is probably a desire to find a way to utilize alternative media outlets provided by social media such as Twitter or Facebook. I guess what I’m getting at is why rely on vestiges of old and out-dated buisness practices? Would you not get better results from keeping a monthly buzz going about your products, rather than 3 big over-dosed loads per year separated by 3 equally big periods of rampant fan speculation and rumor-mongering?

A: This is a regularly discussed topic at Hasbro. On one hand we want to find a way to make key events special with product reveals.but we do want to get fans the most up to date info and stop rumors and speculation. We’re always looking to keep information flowing to the fan community and try to do so as regularly as possible – such as with these Q+A’s. At the current time, with the team focused on and devoting their time to developing the best toy lines possible we’re not able to address fans’ concerns via Facebook or Twitter in a significant way. Available time and resources direct us towards this Q+A format as the best way to address as much as we can in addition to attending key events. We could definitely spend all day talking about GI Joe, but need to use most of our time developing it!

The gang at JOhio continues to have decent questions worth mentioning. This time they had two rather interesing pieces of info come out of their questions. First, it was confirmed that the rating for the movie will be PG-13. Secondly, in a rather long winded way, they ask the question above. Hasbro has no plans to dive too deep into social networking sites or Twitter. While I do not see what is so hard for Hasbro NOT to use Twitter more (Heck, they can just send messages directly from their Blackberry, iPhone, or other Smartphone while at lunch), I can see why they don’t want to go the way of the social networking sites. For us collectors, that isn’t a problem, but some parents may not want their kids on them. Just saying SOME…..not all. At the end of the day, Toy Fair, SDCC, CanJoeCon, JoeCon, Wizard World and the Q&A sessions are about all we really need. If Hasbro would like to toss us an additional bone, I say we should accept it.
Q. Can we expect to see the Marvel run of G.I. Joe: Special Missions released in trade some time in the next year?

A: This is not on the current plan, but based on your question it will be suggested to the comic team.

What I like here is that when you ask a good question, you get a good result. Part of me has to believe that MAYBE this was in the works anyway. Regardless if it was or was not, the gang at Reloaded can take all the credit.
Q. While you have done a great job in addressing some fan concerns regarding the products, there are still two aspects that we’d like to bring to your attention: a.) Most of the figures still have very rubbery and soft hands, making it problematic for them to hold weapons properly. Any chance we get hands made from sturdier plastic in the future? b.) On most of the vehicles, the labels (stickers) don’t stick to certain parts of the vehicle; usually the missiles, roll bars, or any part that has a different type of plastic than the main vehicle body. Some of use have used thinner or rubbing alcohol to remove oil or wax from the plastic, some of us have tried scraping the surface to rough it up, but the labels still don’t stick. What exactly causes this, and what can be done to get the labels to stay on?

A1. The design and engineering teams are always trying to find the right balance between a soft plastic that allows fans to flex and hold weapons and a harder plastic that has less flex and will not hold all weapons. We are aware of this issue from fans and working to improve it.

A2. You are correct, unusually the rollbars and missiles are made out of a different harder plastic that will withstand play and not bend. The downside of this harder plastic (called PP) is that labels do not stick well. The team is looking at this….but has been wrestling with this issue for some time.

AWESOME effort by the JoeSightings guys!! They uncover possible Low Light and Dial Tone exclusives, and we learn that the infamous polls may make a return. Nice work guys. We learned something new on every entry. I specifically like the QA question above. It seems like the problem is known and they are working on it. As someone who has done QA, I know it is a tough job. I hope they can find the right mix to fix this problem.
Q: In the last round of Q&A’s, you mentioned a Toys R Us multi-pack including Footloose, among others. Will this multi-pack be based on movie designs, or classic renditions of the characters?

A: The multi-pack will be based in the movie universe but inspired by the original characters from the 80’s

We don’t learn too much from Kastor’s this time, but this was the best of the bunch. OK, read between the lines here. Chances are it will be Footloose in movie-type camo.
Q: We’ve seen a couple different variants with the line, courtesy of various images (examples: Ice Viper with a clear & red visor, Cobra Commander in various poses and with and without hoses, Firefly with the red or black helmet). Any way you can let us in on intentional variants, or production changes in figures we can watch out for?

A: These were all planned variants. At JoeCon this year, we plan on spending some time talking about variants and what to expect down the line.

A good set of questions by I am intrigued by the one above though. So is Hasbro OFFICIALLY calling the Cobra Commander with hoses a planned variant? You will see me sitting in the front row a Joe con eagerly waiting to learn how they plan to frustrate us with another variant search. Has anyone seen a CC w/ Hoses and Ice-Viper with black visor EVER in the wild?! Plausible, but I doubt it.
Q: G.I. Joe fans everywhere from embryos to retirees are begging for more Resolute! How close are we to seeing a sequel or cartoon series?

A: We are still working on the future entertainment plans and do not have a plan we can share yet. We have heard loud and clear that fans love Resolute!

OK, let’s read between the lines here. They stay they are “still working” so that means there ARE plans and more than likely a sequel in the works. Loud and clear means they have read our Q&As over and over asking about Resolute….and the Cartoon Network and downloads were not bad either. I don’t think we will hear anything about this at SDCC, but I trust we will hear something more by JoeCon…..just a feeling, I have no strong facts to support this. Toy Maniac
Q: Any chance of extending the 25th anniversary line with characters from the comic who have never been made (Kwinn in jungle gear, Dr. Venom, Soft Master, unmasked Snake Eyes)?

A: We know that there are figures in the 25th style that fans would like to get their hands on. We will continue to look for ways to get them into the line or offer them through the Collectors’ Club. Right now, there are no plans for any of the figures you suggested.

Wow, how soon everyone forgets the Adventure Team v. Dr. Venom set proposed by the club. Of course we have had virtually no news of it for over a year so who knows, maybe it will be canned. I do agree with Hasbro, as Obi-Wan is to Leia, the Club is to us…..our only hope. For some reason I just think we are setting ourselves up for a huge disappointment. HOWEVER, if you match this up to the COIL question above and read between the lines, I think it is clear that Hasbro has no plans for these characters so the club should pick up the ball and run run run.
Q: I first saw the new ROC toys well over a week ago at all of the major retailers. However, they were not available for purchase at any of the stores because of the release date (7/10). I have purchased a few since then because of the new release date at TRU and Target. However, Wal-Mart still will not sell them. Why does Hasbro go so far and impose so many regulations with these release dates, is it to keep me from buying their product, while at the same time allowing TONS of product to be STOLEN from their factories and sold on eBay? It is incredibly frustrating to have to wait to rightfully purchase something that has been available via the black market for so long. Question by reader Clam.

A: Clam, the reason for shelf dates is that it allows Hasbro and the retailers to align on specific plans for getting product into the hands of our fans. For example, Wal-Mart and Target will not reset their shelves until August. Therefore we needed to work with them to find ways to get GI Joe out of aisle before the movie. In order to have fairness across all the accounts, we set a date when everyone can start selling. As for the second part of the question, when we have to make millions of figures for the movie, it takes time to produce…so we have to start the process very early. As a result of this, the lines in China are running the product months before product hits…and a small number of figures find their way to the black market.

A nice jesture by JayC and his team by giving credit of the question to the person who asked it. I think all sites who can, should do this going forward. It makes the question more personal. I also liked this question. The retailer clusterfrak game of “guess the launch date” by retailers frustrated some fans. Target just put out stock willy nilly. TRU seemed to have the most uniformity to their launch, but after reading the reports, several stores didn’t get the memo that Hasbro authorized an early release. Some Wally stores have yet to put out their product at the time of the submission of this article.
Q: It’s time again for that obligatory fanboy question, “where is DVD set #5” but this time around our fans are asking why this often bemoaned, often scalped set is showing up at discount/bargain basement retailers like Marshalls, Ross Dress for Less, Tuesday Morning and Big Lots. We were told to hold tight as these trickle down into the retail supply chain but wow, a lot of Joe fans out there are pulling their hair out trying to complete their MASS Device sets. Any advice for our bewildered collectors?

A: The advice to collectors is to keep hunting as the sets were made in a significant quantity and will make it into the market. Due to inventory levels and retailers moving to movie product, many discount retailers are taking this opportunity to pick up GI Joe products including the DVD packs.

Wow…..Hasbro is of NO HELP here WHAT-SO-EVER on this one. The have dug their heels firmly in the sand passing blame to this SQUARELY to the retailers. Dear members of the Hasbro team, PLEASE try going to all the Targets, Walmarts, KMarts and TRUs nearest the Pawtucket campus. I will bet you my 2009 convention set that you WILL NOT see high nor low of these. Continuing to subscribe to the hear no evil – see no evil – say no evil line is NOT going to have these magically appear. Gang, I am not in either sales or marketing, so I have no suggestions, but the keep looking and wait strategy is not working. On one hand you are encouraging the retailers to push your movie line, on the other hand retailers has all modern era product on clearance or have moved it to the back. If the retailers don’t want to put these out, maybe they should be bought back and put on HTS for those fans and collectors who want them and not have to pay eBay prices. This question has been asked for three straight Q&As and it appears you have done nothing to fix it.

Next up this week is SDCC where we will learn much more.  I assume SDCC will be squarely movie focused, so do not be surprised there is little or no mention of Resolute or a continuation of the Modern Era.  Let’s see what answers are revealed here.  Then it is movie and con time – where we hope to learn the rest of our most pressing questions until the next round.