Those were the exact words I heard from the mouth of a boy who couldn’t have been more than ten years old Monday evening. I stopped by Big Lots after reading that collectors were finding wave 11 25th Anniversary/Modern Era G.I. JOE figures at some of their locations. After picking up two Cobra Eels, Matt Trakker, and Airborne from their selection of JOEs, I walked around the toy aisles a bit to see if there was anything else interesting. When I circled back to the action figures, this kid was looking through the G.I. JOE pegs. That’s when he complained about not being able to find Snake-Eyes.
And if the only other stores he’s checked have been our local Targets and Wal-Marts, he has a valid point. While Destro, Baroness, and Storm Shadow (usually the unmasked version) are still available in ample supply, Snake-Eyes has completely disappeared from the Big Box retailers. In fact, so has just about everyone else, aside from the occasional Duke or Neo-Viper. I did see one Snake-Eyes figure at Kmart a week or two ago, but only one.
Despite all the complaints collectors had about the quantity of Snake-Eyes figures that were shipping last year, the fact remains that he is the most popular character the property has to offer. He’s also the one most kids are going to want. There are some people in this hobby who will swear that more adults buy action figures than kids, despite the fact that paid market researchers who study these trends for a living have repeatedly stated this is not the case. There are even some stubborn G.I. JOE collectors who insist that no children were ever buying The Rise Of Cobra toys. While it’s nothing more than anecdotal evidence, two boys dressed as Snake-Eyes knocked on my door at Halloween, and I’ve seen more kids shopping for The Rise Of Cobra toys in one day than I saw throughout the entire run of 25th Anniversary/Modern Era. Like it or not, G.I. JOE has new fans because of that movie and the toy line that grew from it. That’s not to say that more kids are into G.I. JOE than Transformers, Ben 10, Bakugan, or even wrestling toys. It does, however, mean that one of Hasbro’s primary goals was accomplished. The more young fans, the better for everyone involved. The manufacturer, the retailers, and even collectors benefit when children are asking mom and dad for these toys. Their numbers should continue to increase with the new animated series that’s in the works.
And then there was this kid in Big Lots the other night. He wasn’t there with his collector dad; he was a genuine G.I. JOE fan. While I’m sure Hasbro would love to keep shipping more cases to stores, the shortsightedness of buyers for the retailers allows potential customers to slip through the cracks. Even if you don’t want to keep up with the assortments Hasbro had to offer, ask for a full case of Snake-Eyes for each store. Maybe you could even request a split that’s half Snake-Eyes and half popular army builders. The manufacturer knows what collectors want, and the retailers know Hasbro is at their mercy. If a little boy or girl walks into your store to look for a favorite character, only to leave empty-handed, how likely is that child to purchase anything else from the line? Not very, I’m afraid. Big Lots is taking what they can get at a discount, but corporate buyers for Wal-Mart and Target should know better. With the current price reductions on the movie line, the retailers are asking these potential customers to wait until the Pursuit Of Cobra line is launched this fall and pay full price for Snake-Eyes. The question is, though, will they have caused them to lose interest in the meantime?