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TNI Editorial: Why Hasbro's Vague Info And Teases Hold Little Water With Collectors When It Comes To G.I. Joe


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I feel pretty confident in saying that if you were to ask almost any modern day G.I. Joe collector about their thoughts on trying to collect the new action figures from Hasbro’s once iconic brand, the response you would get is one of extreme frustration.

While Hasbro owns G.I. Joe outright and always has, it’s a brand that in modern times has seemingly struggled to get a real foothold in the world of retail. Sure there have been a few times where we have seen a resurgence of the brand, most notably corresponding with the release of the two live action movies in 2009 and 2013. However, with neither of those movies catching on long-term with fans or kids alike, those resurgences were short-lived. Shortly after the release of G.I. Joe Retaliation, the brand appeared to go on life-support and essentially became a Toys R’ Us exclusive line, at least until the retailer here in the US went belly up in 2017.

Then came 2020. Would this be the year G.I. Joe finally took back the limelight at Hasbro? A new live-action movie centering on Joe’s most publicly recognizable character Snake-Eyes was finally moving forward which gave Hasbro the incentive and leverage they needed to get retailers interested in carrying the brand on their shelves again.

In the early days of 2020, I can honestly say collectors seemed genuinely excited for G.I. Joe again, even with word that Hasbro would be shifting its focus from the smaller classic 3 3/4” scale that made the brand so popular in the 80’s to the more modern day standard 6” one.

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During Toy Fair 2020, Hasbro officially debuted their new 6” G.I. Joe Classified line, and while not perfect, the overall response from fans was fairly positive. Sure there was a contingent of diehard 3 3/4” collectors in the fandom who were unhappy, which is why I am sure Hasbro attempted to throw them a bone with a limited “retro” line coming only to Walmart stores. Nevertheless, G.I. Joe was back at mass retail with a line that might even manage to rival the ever popular Marvel Legends brand.
 

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Fan optimism however for G.I. Joe was seemingly short-lived. We saw the initial wave of G.I. Joe Classified figures first start to hit retail in April 2020. Out of the gate, the big box retailers seemed to carry the figures in very limited numbers, which meant the figures were hard to find at places like Walmart and Target. Once word got out about how hard it was becoming to find these things at retail, the scalper and flipper elements of the hobby came out to quickly scoop up the limited supply to resell at what were often significant mark-up prices.
 

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Then in June, the first major mishap for the line happened mainly due to poor communication on Hasbro’s part. Fans where led to think an exclusive light blue version of the 6” Classified Cobra Commander figure was being offered through a relatively unknown (at least unknown in the world of action figure collecting) site called thentwrk.com. It turned out the Cobra Commander this thentwrk place was offering was the same dark blue Cobra Commander everyone would be selling in wave 2, and Hasbro for some reason decided to let these guys have first pre-order crack at it. Of course that info didn’t come to light until after thentwrk started taking pre-orders, which as I understand it didn’t go terribly smoothly in its own right.

Later that month Hasbro officially announced the second wave of figures for the Classified line along with a few exclusives. We would be getting the Profit Director Destro that was released as a fan-channel exclusive and Arctic Storm Shadow which went to Amazon.
 

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By this time, word was starting to circulate that the Snake-Eyes movie which was originally slated for release in late 2020 was going to be pushed to a late 2021 release. This was due to the COVID pandemic that gripped the country shortly after the 2020 Toy Fair. With the movie now over a year away from release, that meant Hasbro would have a major gap in their product release schedule for the line as they shuffled to hold any planned Snake-Eyes movie-related products back to correspond with the new movie release date. Besides causing less product for Hasbro to release during the year, retail interest in G.I. Joe would also likely decline simply because now there would be no major entertainment backing the line for over a year.
 

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But it wasn’t until July 2020 that things really started to go downhill for fans when it came to G.I. Joe. Seemingly out of the blue, Hasbro announced late one night on its social media a new sub-line of Classified figures called G.I. Joe Missions: Cobra Island. These would be Classified figures with their own unique packaging that were sold exclusively at Target stores here in the US. Not only did this new exclusive line contain popular characters like Baroness and Beach Head, it also introduced the first army builder figure for the line with the Cobra Soldier. The very next morning, the figures went up for pre-order on Target’s website and instantaneously sold out, thanks in large part to scalpers who had found a way to use what is known as scalper bots to clean out a website’s inventory in seconds. While the regular release figures in the line continued to be hard to find at mass retail, these new Target exclusives were far worse and had become a scalper’s wet dream. Instantly, the secondary market prices on these figures skyrocketed.

It’s now April 2021, and things haven’t gotten any better for Joe collectors. The regular release figures for the Classified line are still non-existent at the big box retailers. We’ve see 4 waves in the line released with the first wave even getting a re-release, and they are still non-existent at most Targets and Walmarts. The only saving grace with the regular release figures is that you can get them pretty easily if you are willing to purchase them from the smaller online etailers. However that usually means you have to wait longer to get them.

For the Target exclusive Cobra Island figures, we’ve seen two waves released so far. Both waves included army builders and popular characters. Both waves have been nearly impossible to find at Target. If rumors are true then there is a third wave of Target exclusives coming which again will likely include an army builder and at least one major character like Major Bludd.
 

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This past week, Hasbro finally solicited its Snake-Eyes movie product as well as announcing the movie itself will be released a bit sooner than expected. The movie was slated for release in October 2021 but is now coming out in July. At first glance, you might think releasing the movie earlier is a good thing, but I am not so sure. It’s unclear if movie theaters will really be back in full swing by July due to COVID. A movie released later in the year is likely going to perform better at the box office than one during the summer this year, mainly because not as many people will have yet gotten their vaccine shots by July and therefore not yet feel comfortable going back into a movie theater. It seems to me Paramount took what they likely considered to be a more popular movie with the Tom Cruise Top Gun sequel and moved it from July 2021 to November 2021. They then took the Snake-Eyes movie and filled that hole in July left by Top Gun. So was this a move done because the studio has less confidence in Snake-Eyes performing well?

Also announcing movie product when we have’t even seen a trailer is odd. There has been next to no marketing buzz created for Snake-Eyes up to this point. The new G.I. Joe movie Classified figures that Hasbro announced last week are still available for pre-order everywhere including Target. Target, where every non-movie Classified figure put up for pre-order has sold out in seconds, yet after a week all the movie Classified stuff is still available. Not a good sign if you ask me. Of course, Target probably ordered a lot more movie product than they did for any of the non-movie stuff.

Hasbro invited a very small group of die-hard Joe fans to participate in a virtual Q&A roundtable this week, where they seemed to give very little in any kind of real info for the brand. They essentially punted the ball to June where said they would be making announcements in regards to Cobra Island figures and teasing the possibility of seeing some figures re-issued or re-released in some way.
 

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Rumors indicate that the next round of Cobra Island figures will include Major Bludd, Barbecue and possibly even the Cobra Alley Viper.

They also said another round of 3 3/4” Retro Walmart exclusive figures were coming and teased the possibility of bringing O-Ring designed figures back if they were to see enough demand. Of course Hasbro has turned their backs on most 3 3/4” lines these days and can’t even bring back the modern designed 3 3/4” Joe figures beyond a few limited Walmart releases, so anyone thinking Hasbro is going put much effort in bringing back o-ring figures in any real way — I have some swamp land in Florida that Zartan no longer uses to sell you.

Vehicles for the 6” line as well as a possible Haslab Joe project were teased as well in this Q&A. Of course, I would like to point out these are things Hasbro has been teasing since the line was first announced back in January 2019. Here is a thought. Let’s actually fix the problems with the distribution of the figures we already have before trying to tackle things like expensive vehicles or a Haslab project.

As of right now Hasbro has released a total of 6 figures as Target exclusives: Beach Head, Roadblock v2, Cobra Soldier, Baroness, Firefly and Cobra Viper. They have released 12 non-movie regular release figures: Duke, Snake-Eyes, Scarlett, Roadblock, Destro, Gung-Ho, Red Ninja, Cobra Commander, Zartan, Cobra Soldier, Flint and Lady Jaye. They also released 2 versions of Snake-Eyes and Cobra Commander as Pulse exclusives: the Arctic Storm Shadow released at Amazon and the fan-channel Profit Destro. So out of the 24 figures in this line that have been released so far, half of them have been released as some kind of hard to get exclusive with more exclusives likely to come.

We also have 5 Snake-Eyes movie Classified figures along with a bunch of other movie product for the kids coming that likely will be taking up limited big box retail shelf space for the rest of the year. This is all for a movie that, if we are being honest, is not showing great signs of being a strong box office performer. Yeah, me pointing these things out and questioning the limited info that is put out by Hasbro is probably why I don’t get invited to these Q&A sessions anymore. Because you wouldn’t want to hold an actual press Q&A with you know — press.

Like all of you, I will watch with bated breath for whatever news Hasbro has for us during YoJoe June. But based on their current track record with this brand, I can’t say I am holding out a lot of optimism for things to get better. Maybe Hasbro will ask us to pay $50 premium membership fees to have a better chance at buying some of this stuff, then act like we should be thankful for that????

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Hasbro said they'd bring back O-ring figs if there was a demand for it, so the consumers need to follow-up on this and make those demands known, so that they know there is an interest. This also should extend to letting Walmart and Target know, since at the end of the day those are the actual customers of Hasbro, and if the stores aren't interested in the product line they won't order any, so they won't get made no matter how much the collector moans and groans. And, be polite about it. Don't act like asses on live chats during presentations because that won't get you anywhere. I know if I were those Hasbro employees and I read some of the stuff that people type in those chats, I would intentionally go out of my way not to try and make those requests happen. People don't respond well to insults under typical circumstances, so you'd be best to treat the way you'd like to be treated.

The 6" figures aren't hard to find. With the exception of the Target figures, you can order them via any online retailer. If a person is too stubborn to order something online or won't bother with it because they'll only buy something that they can find in stores (looking at you Dan Larson), then that's a them problem and not an availability problem. I've managed to obtain every single figure in the line, and that includes almost every Target figure without having to turn to the eBay market. A lot of these non-series 1 figures can be found very easily at Walgreens. I saw the Cobra Commander/Red Ninja wave at multiple Walgreens stores back when that wave was first released, and the Zartan wave has started showing up at them now, so it's just a matter of time before they make their way across the country and should be available. 

The same  holds true for the retro line. Those are relatively easy to find when they get released and have had a chance to make their way to regional warehouses. I've seen all 3 waves multiple times and the vehicles are even easier to find, although I've never seen the F.A.N.G. in stores. However, I got that on the website months ago, and it actually arrived in perfect condition which is a crap shoot with both Walmart and Target (and Amazon) sometimes. 

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I havent given up hope on the line and I think that their distribution IS getting better since I've manage to get Zartan, cobra infantry, firefly and the vipers. They are still readily available in our country at inflated, yes,  but not too bad prices.

While I've given up getting beach head and the target cobra trooper, I'm ok with that since he's not really essential to me. Who I really need is Baroness. My Cobra organization is a total sausage fest without her. they've got to make more of her, right? shes a higher priced SKU and shes the only one in the box when u order a crate so theres got to be more of her on the way right?? Please?!

 

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8 minutes ago, MRT said:

I havent given up hope on the line and I think that their distribution IS getting better since I've manage to get Zartan, cobra infantry, firefly and the vipers. They are still readily available in our country at inflated, yes,  but not too bad prices.

While I've given up getting beach head and the target cobra trooper, I'm ok with that since he's not really essential to me. Who I really need is Baroness. My Cobra organization is a total sausage fest without her. they've got to make more of her, right? shes a higher priced SKU and shes the only one in the box when u order a crate so theres got to be more of her on the way right?? Please?!

 

People who live outside the US are seemingly able to get those Target exclusives figures easier than those of us who live in the US, because they aren't exclusives outside the US.

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16 minutes ago, JayC said:

People who live outside the US are seemingly able to get those Target exclusives figures easier than those of us who live in the US, because they aren't exclusives outside the US.

What ? Where I haven’t seen those exclusives anywhere outside the US ? Only people selling ones they got from the US at marked up prices 

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Certainly a series of bad decisions on Hasbro's part, nobody thought they would bring the franchise back to end up running it that way, I don't know if the lack of interest on the part of eth retailers has anything to do with all this, but one thing I'm sure the problem is not the demand, the fanbase is there and it is significant; the tidal waves of rant on the Hasbro social media about the target excluves demonstrate that interest and discontent on the part of that fanbase.

Personally, you know, I'm not a big fan of Hasbro, I used to be a big Hasbro costumer, but for years I didn't really care what they were releasing in the market, when rumors of the return of the franchise started to spread I was genuinely interested, again I wanted to give Hasbro some money, little lasted my commitment to the line.

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to be honest, i couldn't agree more about how this line is dying out easily and how it seems we're not getting amused by such outcome, even i do wonder if i even want to bother getting any new GI Joe classified figure at all at this point and not to mention i was thinking how maybe the retro line might work for me, let's say i almost have a thought that says "well GI Joe isn't bad in 6 inch scale, but i think it should be sticking with it's original scale to make more nice sales since it almost doesn't seem like doing well in a different scale"  kinda same goes for Star wars as i seen that the magic used to work well with those sizes before and now we're all having a troublesome time getting these hard to get figures which as you said Hasbro hasn't been putting enough love to the 3.75 inch line as much as they do for the classified line.

Of course i do like the idea of 6 inch scaled figures for any franchise i am familiar with, but i'm almost certain i am close to think i may not be into any of those lines anymore if they make things harder to get or for that matter even pricing them monstrously time by time, almost feeling like i want to quit it, even i might go for the smaller figures despite not being Hasbro's main focus nowadays, but that i still don't know and yet i almost feel like i am close but i almost don't want to give up, it's a complicated feeling i'll admit that.

Though i am surprised to hear about the Target exclusives for the classified lines being sold as non exclusives in other countries, well almost since i did got a Legacy collection Spinosaurus toy in a walmart in mexico and if memory serves isn't that a target exclusive in the us.

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Honestly, I'm just waiting for Hasbro to ramp things up for the movie. If they fail at that, it's on them. I've already given them WAY more chances than I usually give a toy company.

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I'm for the most part done with the line due in part to the exclusives being just so difficult to obtain. I only have the 3 Cobra Commander variants, Regular, Regal, Snake Supreme. This hobby should be an enjoyable escape not a fustrating experience.

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While I'm not collecting this line, I'm really enjoying the way the figures look, it would be really sad for me to see it go before I could get any of them (specially looking forward to the red ninja)

However, what I will say is that while Hasbro has clearly made some weird choices on how to release these I see most of the blame really going towards scalpers. They're making a hard to find line impossible from the get go. They're killing the line. 

That's why I stopped buying from scalpers years ago and stick to small retail or mass retail. The need to create added value to figures by making them impossible to get is stupid. We should all stop buying into them. Let them rot in their pile of figures.

The very mention of buying multiples now causes us to go at each other because the figures are hard to find, when the real problem are people scalping... not buying for their own personal collections. Stop giving money to people who hurt the hobby, and they'll go away.

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Right now I pretty much consider myself done collecting the Classified stuff. I currently have Flint, Lady Jaye, Zartan and the Cobra Troop ordered but will probably cancel those orders. This whole mess has just made me lose all interest in Joes.

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Yeah I feel like this topic is kinda worn out, yes Classified series has had a terrible roll out, Scalpers, scarcity, exclusives etc etc, it's unfortunate, I kinda gave up recently on complaining about how difficult this line has been to acquire, I have just let it go and I'm not fussing anymore, whatever I can get is fine for me. I am however holding out hope we are going to see this line get better distribution, more re-releases on figures that we all could n;t find and so on, I like these figures too much, so I'm not going to let them go, I'm also just not going to get up in arms about all the problems anymore it's better that way.

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On 4/17/2021 at 1:59 PM, tycondrius24 said:

What ? Where I haven’t seen those exclusives anywhere outside the US ? Only people selling ones they got from the US at marked up prices 

 

In Canada, the Target Exclusive Cobra Island figures are a Toys R Us Canada Exclusive.  As far as I know, Profit Director Destro is a EB Games Canada Exclusive(Never seen or notice it anywhere else).  The Hasbro Pulse Exclusives are Pulse Exclusives as far as I can tell(I don't pay attention to Pulse stuff), though I know sometimes, EB Games Canada ends up carrying a few Pulse Exclusives from other lines from time to time.  The Wal-mart Exclusive 4" Retro line is Wal-mart Canada Exclusives.  If I recalled my friend correctly, Amazon Canada was doing pre-orders on the Amazon Exclusive Arctic Storm Shadow, but then cancelled it, as I don't know if they found out they were not going to be getting it, or something.  I do know that many Amazon Canada Exclusive Hasbro product does sometimes end up a year or 2 later in EB Games Canada. 

 

Still, distribution is a pain in Canada, though I suppose it can sometimes be a Wave/Case by Case bases.  And of course, there are Scalpers/Flippers looking to sell a 6" $30-$33 Canadian action figure for between $60-$120 each on Kijiji or eBay, affects things too.

 

I'm sure that when the Snake Eyes Movie Classified figures come out, those will be a bit easier to get, usually due to the amount of movie product that comes with a movie, though I suspect that the 1st few weeks after their release could be difficult if Scalpers decide to hoard them.  But for those, I'm sure with time and a bit of patience, these will be bit easier to get.  Even more so if some fans are either turned off by the movie designs or don't collect movie figures in general(I at least will get Movie Scarlett).  Though be aware given how things are with Convid-19, and depending on how the movie does, there is a chance we will see a gut of these in early 2022 as well.

 

I have to wonder, how would Hasbro know if demand for O-Rings is going to be there?  Is it through online/various social media posts, blogs, videos, etc.?  Are they going to do a Online Poll or something?  Are they going to directly ask the fandom in a future live stream or when a (Eventual) in person convention happens?

 

Because if they are expecting us to go to some random Big Box Retailer's Manager or Employees, and tell them that "We want O-Ring G.I. Joe 4" figures", they will be puzzled and confused, because I am sure most will not understand what O-Ring figures mean, even if a fan decides to explain it somehow.  Even if you decide to send an E-mail to their Corporate HQ, they may not understand what you are referring to, though I suppose if the Corporate HQ gets a high volume of e-mail in regards to the topic, then it could lead to them just asking Hasbro for them.

 

In regards to the Target Exclusive Cobra Island characters, there is a part of me that is sure we will see pretty much all these characters again either in the Regular line, part of a 2 or 3 pack down the road(If the line does well enough to allow such a thing to happen) and/or as different Store Exclusive.  However, these characters will most likely be re-released in a different deco, may have a slightly different sculpt somewhere(Like a new head/face sculpt) and/or may come with less or different accessories.  Add in the fact that many of these characters have had different looks and/or decos throughout the years, it to me seems likely that will happen.

 

Cobra Island Trooper was re-released in the regular line with a different deco, and at least 1 less accessory, as I can see this applied to other Army Builders that 1st appear in Cobra Island.  And Baroness in the artwork is depicted with Gold on her Shoulder Armour and a rifle, but the Cobra Island set with the motocycle didn't have Gold on her armour and no rifle, as this indicates to me that we could see a regular release with the Gold in her armour and the rifle. So I'm sure most Cobra Island characters will eventually get re-released somehow.  It might just be when it will happens.

 

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To this day, I have never see a Classified figure on any retailer shelf in my area. To this day, most of my Walgreens stores don't even have a upc sticker on their empty shelves acknowledging that they even carry these figures. And to this day, whenever I try looking online at any etailer shops, all I ever see are marked up prices for these figures. Hell, I once stayed up to make sure I pre-ordered the Lady Jaye/Flint figures before they sold out at Target's website, and my order was just cancelled on me with no reasoning two months later, and a*hole collectors called me a "privileged baby" for complaining about it...

 

Not only is it frustrating collecting this line because you can't find anything, but it's upsetting and maddening to read statements from other collector's who simply talk down to people with legitimate complaints because the line is so easy for them to collect. It sure must be nice being lucky and/or fortunate enough to find these figure so easily (or afford the high prices on the secondary market), and it must feel really good to be able to have a superiority complex when you talk down to the collector's who've only ever seen pictures of these figures and never anything in hand.

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39 minutes ago, DiscoCougar said:

Not only is it frustrating collecting this line because you can't find anything, but it's upsetting and maddening to read statements from other collector's who simply talk down to people with legitimate complaints because the line is so easy for them to collect. It sure must be nice being lucky and/or fortunate enough to find these figure so easily (or afford the high prices on the secondary market), and it must feel really good to be able to have a superiority complex when you talk down to the collector's who've only ever seen pictures of these figures and never anything in hand.

Don't let it get you down. The guys you're talking about are riding high on a wave of naivete that soon enough WILL come crashing down around them.

Believe me, I've walked both sides of this street.

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On 4/17/2021 at 4:35 PM, 80sboy4 said:

I'm for the most part done with the line due in part to the exclusives being just so difficult to obtain. I only have the 3 Cobra Commander variants, Regular, Regal, Snake Supreme. This hobby should be an enjoyable escape not a fustrating experience.

 

1 hour ago, mako said:

Don't let it get you down. The guys you're talking about are riding high on a wave of naivete that soon enough WILL come crashing down around them.

Believe me, I've walked both sides of this street.

You're right, 80sboy. It should be an enjoyable escape. It's sad to see how upset the issues are making people. I agree with Mako the scalpers are the ones primarily responsible but it's too bad Hasbro hasn't done anything to try and compensate like Mattel is (trying to do?)/doing with MOTU Origins. Either they are unaware of scalpers or maybe they don't care because sales are still sales to them. Maybe they just don't know what to do about it right now. While I'm new to the community I've been following and participating in the collecting scene for some time and I believe most fans/collectors are nice/good, it makes me sad to hear about all the toxic "Fans" you guys have had to put up with. Toys should make people happy not upset. I don't collect classified or Joe in general but I can understand your guy's pain as I quit collecting Marvel Legends partially due to scalpers.  I hope Hasbro at least tries to do something to help fans get ahold of the figures they want and I hope you guys still find joy in collecting at least some line of toys. :) 

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3 hours ago, DiscoCougar said:

To this day, I have never see a Classified figure on any retailer shelf in my area. To this day, most of my Walgreens stores don't even have a upc sticker on their empty shelves acknowledging that they even carry these figures. And to this day, whenever I try looking online at any etailer shops, all I ever see are marked up prices for these figures. Hell, I once stayed up to make sure I pre-ordered the Lady Jaye/Flint figures before they sold out at Target's website, and my order was just cancelled on me with no reasoning two months later, and a*hole collectors called me a "privileged baby" for complaining about it...

 

Not only is it frustrating collecting this line because you can't find anything, but it's upsetting and maddening to read statements from other collector's who simply talk down to people with legitimate complaints because the line is so easy for them to collect. It sure must be nice being lucky and/or fortunate enough to find these figure so easily (or afford the high prices on the secondary market), and it must feel really good to be able to have a superiority complex when you talk down to the collector's who've only ever seen pictures of these figures and never anything in hand.

Funny how these people like to rub it in our faces that they can collect these easily and mock the people who can't but in the end, it's just all molded plastic with colors.  

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I only have 4 figures from this line, namely Duke, Cobra Commander (regular ver.), Gung-Ho and Snake-Eyes (regular ver.) but since these are expensive online where I'm from (I don't order internationally due to the exorbitant customs fees) and the fact that these are non-existent to retail outlets is frustrating to the point I've quit collecting them. I figured there are other toy lines I can collect easily than this.

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I currently have all the Classified figures I want (if I include the Zartan and standard Cobra Trooper that I'm still waiting for on preorder).  By the skin of my teeth I have been able to get one of every Target exclusive.  The only reason I am still on social media is for my toy groups and I'm part of a very large local group who's members tend to help each other out.  I also have a brother in law and a buddy who are out there hunting for various things on a regular basis and I make sure to tell them when those pesky exclusive are stating to pop up.  I have been very lucky and I realize not everyone is in the same boat.

All that said, Jay C is right in that the Hasbro team definitely punted on any specifics.  Will things with distribution improve?  Time will tell.  There can be no doubt now that this line is popular and it sells, right?  So retailers should be ordering heavy and Hasbro should be making them, right?  There should be no more surprises at this point?  I want my luck to hold for the inevitable third wave of Target exclusives, and it SHOULD be the most well-stocked yet.  If not, someone is screwing with us on purpose.

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11 hours ago, yojoebro82 said:

All that said, Jay C is right in that the Hasbro team definitely punted on any specifics. 

Well, in all fairness, the purpose of these videos was NEVER to give us a "Warts and All" look inside the company or what we can expect in the future. Their job is basically to say "Buy or Stuff, It's Really Neat!" PERIOD.

You go into a restaurant and ask the maitre d about the soup of the day, he's not gonna tell you the clams have turned and the chef sneezed in the chowder. He's gonna say it's the best soup in town.

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