Target Dabbling in Vinyl
August 18, 2009

A week or so ago I was cruising my local Target checking to see if their most recent reset was complete. I was cranking down the back isle passing board games and Nerf guns, eyes fixed on the action figure isle. A row or two before my destination I caught a glimpse in my perif of something out of the ordinary. I jammed on the brakes for a double take. Low and behold, there was a new dedicated section for "Vinyl Figures & Trading Cards". What do ya know? And, dang, if it wasn’t Bossy Bear’s neighbor Crocadoca on the bottom shelf!

For months I had been anticipating Crocadoca’s arrival and was patiently waiting for Jason, owner of our local vinyl toy shop Red Hot Robot, to email me when he got it in. Needless-to-say I was surprised to see this character for the first time at Target. There being only one I scooted it to the way back of the bottom shelf for safe keeping. When I got to work I contacted Jason to ask if he’d gotten Crocadoca in as well. I much preferred to give Red Hot Robot (think local!) my business rather than the big box.

Jason responded with sad news on Crocadoca – it didn’t look like he’d be able to get it in. He relayed a frustrating story having to do with a string of bad Toy2R distributors and, bottom line, said he wouldn’t be ordering from them for a while. I feel really bad about that since I’ve asked him to order their product more than once!

So I did end up going back to Target for Crocadoca. I took these photos (with my camera phone, sorry!) to give you an idea what my particular store had. I’d be interested in hearing about what you all are finding in your Targets.

Overview of the section:

 

I was curious to get Jason’s reaction to Target’s new foray into the vinyl toy world and he was kind enough to give me his thoughts.

CD } Did Target’s entry into the Vinyl Collectible world surprise you?
RHR }
No, not really. Target is a design-forward store and pretty current on trends. It makes sense that some of their stores would carry collectible vinyl. First sign of “things to come” for me was when they licensed Domo for Halloween last year. I’m also sure that buyers and trend-watchers from Target were aware of the popularity of vinyl toys and especially the market presence in other stores like Hot Topic and Urban Outfitters – who I’ll bet they particularly look to for merchandise ideas. Also, Target currently has a pretty cool line of back-to-school products designed by Simone Legno (aka Tokidoki) that further illustrates their hipness to trends

CD } Do you know if this is just an experiment on their part? For instance, the vinyl presence in each Target seems to be a bit different, with many not carrying much at all.
RHR } Could be. I would think any retail store, especially a large chain would test products out first to see if they will sell. I know RHR does to an extent. And I’m sure Target places certain products in certain markets. Vinyl toys are probably only in larger or more metropolitan cities. Will be interesting to see how popular vinyl toys sell for them.

CD } I don’t know about all other local Targets but it seems that the one closest to you has the biggest Vinyl section. Do you think this is coincidence? Could Target have chosen this location based on its proximity to Red Hot Robot?
RHR } I think it’s probably because that’s a new Super Target and centrally located in the city. I highly doubt Target knows of Red Hot Robot.

CD } I noticed that there are a few Toy2R products (including Crocadoca) being carried. Do you think this Target deal had something to do with the bad distribution situation you recently had with them?
RHR } I am sure Target inked a deal directly with Toy2R, probably through the new US office they set up last year. Being as large as Target is, they would not have to go through a distributor, and were probably completely unaware of the issues that small shops like mine were/are having.

CD } How do you see this development? Is it an unfortunate bit of competition you could do without? Could it perhaps be a good development in the long run, ie – raise the awareness of Vinyl Collectibles / get more kids hooked / eventually generate more business for you?
RHR } Overall, I think it’s great. It could introduce lots of new people to the world of vinyl toys and potentially generate new customers for me. If I were the only place in town carrying vinyl toys, there would be a very narrow section of people who would be aware of my store and the products I carry. Having larger, more visible stores like Target, Urban Outfitters, Hot Topic, Borders and even Zia Records -  who all carry a small selection of vinyl toys just raises the awareness of the genre. People who get into it will hopefully seek more and find Red Hot Robot.
As long as the competition stays small, it will be friendly. If the bigger stores expand to a much wider selection and start carrying more limited releases, I might not be able to compete. However, I think the vinyl market is still small enough that specialized stores like mine still have some things going for us. Larger stores may be able to carry some products by bigger brands like Toy2R and Kidrobot, but small stores like RHR are able to bring in small-run, super limited releases AND indie artist made items – most of which just have charisma the big stores won’t be able to capture. And I think the people who produce those items probably prefer their goods being sold in small independently owned shops rather than large corporate entities. And thank goodness for that :-}

CD } Thank you very much, Jason!

 Jason Kiningham  |  Red Hot Robot  |  www.redhotrobot.net

 

Well, I’m glad to finally have this hat wearing orange vinyl crocodile although I certainly would have preferred to buy him from my local vinyl toy shop. But at least it’ll probably be a while before Target carries smoking rabbits, Kaiju and vintage style tin wind ups!

 

Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.

 

 

 

14 Comments »

  • Hellpop says:

    One thing that’s interesting is that they are carrying some very old Star Trek Minimates. Target did at one point carry Marvel Minimates several years ago, but they’ve never carried any of the other lines, and Minimates have been pretty much in collectibles stores only until recently reemerging at Toys R Us. This has led some to speculate that Target is using a private company to supply vinyl toys, much like a Pepsi guy stoking the cooler at 7-11, and apparently what they do with trading cards.

  • xrmc20 says:

    Another great blog Dan! I love that shot inside of RHR.

    For those in Phoenix or traveling through that have even an inkling of interest in vinyl, check out Red Hot Robot. It’s fun to look through even if you don’t buy anything (but buy something), and Jason is a cool/nice dude. I’ve only been there twice, but I’m looking forward to the next trip.

    That said, I also wish the Targets by me would set up a section like the one pictured above. I’ve seen at least 3 Targets with the sign (vinyl figures and trading cards), but all they have are a bunch of trading cards.

  • Jeremy SpyMagician says:

    My Targets have the section but almost no product!

    Of the 3 Targets I regularly shop, they all have the sign up for Vinyls but the only product they have are 2 small blister carded figures. One is a small blue cyclops like creature and the other is a spaceman guy with a movable tv screen for a face.

    The rest of the section is filled with trading cards and the only other actual toy product are Crazy Bones GoGos.

    It’s too bad. I’d love to see more Urban Vinyl at Target. At minimum I was expecting to find the Domo Qees.

    Hopefully my Targets are just waiting on stock.

    Spy

  • Vinyl really isn’t for me, although some of it does intrigue me. That said, I might be more interested if the stuff is more affordable at an outlet like Target. Doesn’t look like any of my stores have a section for it, but I’m open to looking.

  • H-Balm says:

    So, what exactly is a “Vinyl Toy”? What are we talking about? I really don’t know.

    It looks like they are cartoonie statues.

    I’m not criticizing, I just really don’t know!

  • bnjmnrlyr says:

    I know that with the Domo at least they are only available in select stores in Major Cities. Could be the case with the other vinyls as well as NONE of the stores by me are carrying anything even remotely like that (and I really wish they would!)

    I notice your store even had some stikfa sets and I haven’t seen those in a store since Hasbro and BanyJ were working together for distribution way back in ’00-’01

  • Jason Geyer says:

    Man! I looked all over SDCC for a Crocodaca that wasn’t a variant. That would be awesome if I can just find it at Target!

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Kirby says:

    Jason hit the nail on the head. This *should* be a good thing for the stores like Red Hot Robot that helped build the vinyl toy market. They’ll never be able to carry the breadth and variety that a well-stocked dedicated designer toy store represents, and should essentially serve as a catalyst for more business for stores like ours and Red Hot Robot. Kudos Jason!

  • ANGEL says:

    i don’t care what stores start selling vinyl toys; RHR will always get my business. a kidrobot store could open up for all i care and i’d still go to RHR. why? because of Jason, he’s a very nice person and willing to help you find what you’re looking for. even if it means special ordering something. and that’s something these larger chain stores won’t/can’t do. i’ve been going to RHR for over a year now and i love it. i love how he throws these trading parties and really tries to get the vinyl community together, again something larger stores wouldn’t do. to me RHR is the only place to go for my vinyl addiction. thanks Jason.

  • gonzo says:

    I hope I can find those Domo Qee 2-packs at my Target.

  • Kylo76 says:

    RHR is the best. Definitely support local business and Jason, great dude! I would never buy vinyl from Target but to each his own. They will jump off a bandwagon as quickly as they jump on it. Any exposure is good exposure for the artists so I won’t complain too much.

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    Another outside-the-box excellent blog, Dan. I really enjoyed this one even though I’d never heard of Red Hot Robot nor collected one vinyl character…ever. :-)

    Peace,

    Chip

  • XDANNYX says:

    like Angel said i could care what stores sell vinyl i will ALWAYS go to RHR. Jason is one of the most down to earth guy’s you’ll ever meet. he’s always there to help and can answer just about any question you need to get answered. Dont get me wrong its cool that Target is gettin some product in and exposing it but when i think of going out and getting new vinyl target isnt one of my first places to jump to.

    Red Hot Robot will always be the number one place for me to get what i need to get.

    X.

  • rustedhalo says:

    I’m curious as to which location this was. I’m gonna hit up the Super Targets in my area this weekend. Kinda makes me wish I still worked for Target to get my employee discount. Still doesn’t look they’ll be carrying that much, other then Toy2R stuff, which I heard about a while back when they did the Bullseye Qee’s. I wanna pick up that 2 pack DIY Monskey and maybe some DIY Qee’s. I try and support Jason and RHR whenever possible but sometimes it’s just easier and cheaper to buy online. Especially since I moved to the other side of town. Thanks for the great write up and interview.

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