This past week many collectors across the country have begun to find in stores and/or be delivered their Wal*Mart preorders of the exclusive Retro Collection wave two based on The Empire Strikes Back. For those finding them in stores, it appears only some Wal*Marts are placing these on pegs as many have chosen to simply stack them on the shelves. Regardless of the stocking of these figures they both appear to both be generally mint when found in stores and unfortunately for many to disappear from shelves fairly quickly. Stores appear to be getting one or two cases of the figures in this initial release.
The card backs on these figures are much thinner than their true vintage counterparts and are very susceptible to arching or bending even in case fresh examples. But for the most part, brick and mortar finds have been on the minty side of condition. But that then leads us to the dilemma of Wal*Mart’s ability to ship collectibles via their online pre-orders.
Anyone who has followed us on social media this past week has been witness to the inconsistency of Wal*Mart deliveries. And across all of social media, images and videos can be found of figures being shipped in bags, extra small boxes and oversized boxes.
We, hearing early on about damaged figures being shipped in non-damaged boxes, went ahead and created unboxing videos for each of our three mailings we received this past week.
Now to break this down, all figures were made in the same online preorder purchase within the first hour of being posted to Wal*Mart.com. A single case of Retro collection includes one of each of the six figures in the wave. So the question is why did Wal*Mart not simply send collectors who ordered all six a single unopened case?
Our theory is that Hasbro received individual cases of each figure from Hasbro and not the mixed wave cases that are being found in store. We have come to this conclusion as we have personally witnessed three different occurrences of the same figure being sent to three different collectors in three different towns who all share the exact same damage to the card back.
In all three cases, Han Solo (Hoth) was received with near-identical damage to it, in boxes with no damage, thus meaning these figures at one point shared a common happenstance which resulted in the creasing of these figures. It this were have happened to the types of cases we are finding in stores, more than just Hoth Han would see similar damage.
But regardless of how the damage was sustained, it has become very apparent that Wal*Mart, despite their purchasing power and larger stake in the toy world (since this fall of Toys ‘R’ Us), is not in the business of ensuring their collectible product reaches the collector community in an acceptable condition. And with these facts, brings up a dilemma:
How do collectors express to Hasbro that Wal*Mart is not an ideal partner for collectible exclusives while we have been told to vote with our dollars when it comes to The Vintage Collection and 3 3/4″ lines?
This appears to be an unwinnable situation for collectors. Do you not purchase the figures made exclusive to Wal*Mart and leave a hole in your collection or pay the mark-up on eBay down the road (even though that means someone else still purchased them from the mega-retailer) to show Hasbro not to allow Wa*Mart exclusives? This may also show Hasbro and Wal*Mart there is little demand or desire for retro Kenner-inspired figures. Or do you purchase the figures to support the scale and for carded collectors just accept that the price for mint examples both now and down the road will cost a fortune on the secondary market but communicate your dissatisfaction directly to Hasbro’s customer service line and on social media? Either way, the situation for collectors is not ideal.
Wal*Mart exclusives have always been difficult to obtain as not every Wal*Mart is stocked with merchandise equally like Target tends to do. We live near a university and have found that our local Wal*Mart within a mile from campus typically does not carry their own exclusives nor have the peg or aisle footage that all the other stores do in the surrounding towns.
Furthermore, the overall issue has a chance to fall on deaf ears with both the distributor and producer in the case as the collector market makes up a very small percentage of Hasbro’s revenue and what retailers like Wal*Mart do with the product once it is received from the producer is out of Hasbro’s hands and control.
What are your thoughts on this Wal*Mart dilemma? Did you receive a damaged figure? Are you boycotting this line? Are you a carded completist who is now looking to eBay? Make sure to share your pics and let us know either by email at 4LOMKUSS@gmail.com or on our social accounts. Thanks to our fellow SArLACC friends Sam Williamson and Jon Gray and to Washington State Summer Con’s Steve James for the images.