The SDCC is one of the most intense genre experiences of the year! Chock full of movie and TV reveals, it’s possible to forget that it is rapidly becoming a rival to Toy Fair in terms of toy news! Hasbro was on scene again this year and JBL staffer and JoeDeclassified.com owner Nomad was on the scene to talk to Hasbro’s own Derryl DePriest.
Despite the madness that is SDCC, Hasbro’s Derryl DePriest was kind enough to take out a few minutes for us to batter him with some Q&A. What follows, is my best attempt to transcribe such verbage, above the din of the overwhelming throng, and some Con-goers who didn’t understand what “private interview” meant. Special thanks to Joe Moscone and Justin Aclin of Hunter PR for giving us the opportunity, and Fred Meyer of Joe Battlelines for putting the contacts in place. As always, thanks to Derryl: a gracious, patient, and willing victim.
Declassified: You’re aware of the backlog issues at retailers, items/waves getting stuck at warehouses and eventually being pushed to discount stores; is there a plan to circumvent that?
Well, that’s unfortunately part of the environment we work in. When things go according to plan, then there’s no issues. We’ll make our release decisions based on what we anticipate our future needs will be. We’ll release those waves right to it, and the size of that wave will meet the market need. So, if the fan-base is growing, we need to make enough of it, or fans will complain it’s short. But, if for some reason we’re delivering a substandard wave, or we’re not meeting the needs, then our point of sale will go down. That hasn’t necessarily happened. The big problem here has been calling the right size for G.I Joe in the absence of any entertainment activity, and we haven’t found the right cadence yet. So, what it means is that when we re-launch a new line, we’ll put our first shot in there of what we think we need, and if it doesn’t meet our needs, then we’re in trouble, because everything’s backed up after that. It’s all about calling the right numbers.
With Retaliation, we think we’ve started fresh, and we’re off to the right start, and we have the right cadence. It’s all about right-sizing those expectations. So, if everything goes according to plan, we shouldn’t have any of those wave issues. But when we do release the inventory, and we have problems like we’ve had – Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart – they’re jammed, they can’t get out of it, and it’s massively expensive to the company to go pull inventory out of retail. Basically, it costs us their retail price to pull a figure out and replace it with a different figure that we sell for less, since we sell at wholesale. So when we get jammed like that, it’s a major problem, so we’re working hard to avoid that at all. So that’s my commitment – that’s one thing on the Joe brand that I want to make sure we do, is get into that cadence where we don’t have these problems.
But, the TJ Maxx’s of the world become valuable partners to get product out that we’ve already made, that we have no way to distribute. It’s either that, or donate it to charity, or shred it – and we never want to do that. So, they’re valuable partners. It’s a great channel and avenue for us, but regionally, they’re limited.
Is there any plan, as it was in the 80’s, to align the visual medium (cartoon), comic, and toy, with the toy driving the way, and the comic and cartoon following, even year by year? Is there a mentality, approaching the future, to try to get that same universal level of tie-in again?
Yes. That’s an outrageously great question. One thing that is at the center of what we do, and we’ve had a lot of lines that were lacking…I would say “soul” before…The Pursuit of Cobra was an attempt to get into that cadence. The things that followed it – Renegades – we never got synched up, because that show started before we could get going, and our follow up line was already out there. I think with the team, what I want to do is make sure that we get back more into that mentality, even if it’s internal storytelling in waves. So, kind of do stories that tie figures together, like little mini-stories. No plans to integrate IDW into the mix – they’re doing their own thing and we’re letting them tell their own stories. But we definitely want, after the movie, to figure out what the next entertainment story is, and ideally it would be a TV play, and we’re not there yet as the delay in the movie has pushed everything out. Ideally there would be a stronger integration between entertainment and toys, and that’s what we’re going work on, or at least, more story-telling rather than just putting more random unrelated figures out.
I know you had Resolute, Renegades… you have Retaliation – so far, in all 3 of those, the toy line hasn’t perfectly lined up. Is there a possibility then, with those old concepts, to release figures that were tied to those, even though you don’t have that medium to support them anymore? Or are those pretty much going to get written off?
Not right now. I think one thing we want to do is make sure we focus on the entertainment that’s in front of us, or focus on getting high-demand figures back out. And that may be related to your question. I’m not sure what the lingering demand is for more Resolute or Renegades figures.
Resolute HISS tank. Want.
OK. Well, that’s an interesting one. There could be a possibility down the road for that. But for more figures connected to that, or more multi-packs, or things like that, there won’t be any new ones, and unlikely there won’t be any more for that [Resolute]. If it’s new figures for Resolute, it’s very unlikely.
The thing with Renegades, we’re now putting Renegades behind us. It’s possible that figures could come out, but especially as part of the Vault project that started at Joe Con, it’s possible that there could be Renegades figures in the mix, but we wouldn’t do the vehicles – it would be just too expensive.
Have you considered the possibility, as you have Hasbro Toy Shop here at SDCC…at the Joe Con, of Hasbro selling directly to the people that show up at the Joe conventions.
We’ve looked at that before, and we feel that Brian Savage and the Collector’s Club, can take care of that audience. We would be slightly duplicative. But also, Hasbro Toy Shop, we only go to one show a year. We actually stopped going to [Star Wars] Celebration, because the economies of scale don’t work for us, so we just focus and put our efforts on the one show a year. So, we’ll let Brian take care of that.
You have two years running of a Joe/Transformers SDCC exclusive going here at the show. Is that a plan you intend to keep going with?
No comment. Would that be of interest to fans?
And that’s that! Thanks for reading. If you have other questions you think we can track down answers to, hit us up here.
A HUGE thanks to Sam Damon (aka “Nomad”) for his con legwork! Be sure to check out JoeDeclassified.com for more pics from this year’s SDCC!