Toy news update: Bootleg battles (FINALLY), Mattel is dying, Hasbro powering up, and Funko is OVER 9000!

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Toy news update: Bootleg battles (FINALLY), Mattel is dying, Hasbro powering up, and Funko is OVER 9000!

Greetings, FigWizzers!

I’ve been busy with working a new job back in IT but this time a focus on building business!! As a veteran pioneer of the e-commerce landscape and a proven brick-and-mortar business battler with the bumps to prove it, I’m on the hunt to grow money this time with business partners!! More on that later. Now lets get down to the fun part Toy news!!

1) MGA’s head honcho Issac Larian has been busy working on busting the bootleggers of the popular LOL Surprise dolls. According to an article release by toyworldmag.co.uk, MGA hired investigators, lawyers, and even personal action against a retail shop producing counterfeit products. Although this is a new, aggressive move by a major toy producer here in the US, the hobby industry has been fighting counterfeits FOREVER.

I can remember bootleg Gashapon and Banpresto figures as far back as 2001 when I started my own business. Bootlegs are never as good as the original, but as time goes on and if no action is taken, they do become ‘acceptable’ but the general audience.

This is always dangerous on multiple angles including consumer safety brand integrity, and a legitimate business bottom line including authorized distributors, retailers, licensees, licensors, and producers. Its especially dangerous when the target market happens to be kids 12 years of age and younger.

I had to deal with bootlegs and because my niche was small enough, it wasn’t too hard for real collectors to be aware. Some companies took matters into there own hands by creating ‘authorized retailer’ lists on their websites and creating videos showcasing authentic vs bootleg. As a matter of fact, here’s one from my old site that I contracted out many years ago (thank you, Ryan!).

Ultimately, in order to stop this at least from China, the biggest proponent of counterfeit everything, is to tax them to high heaven. As bad as it sounds, the tariffs that are being applied should also include toys not just for the the protection of the businesses, but also for the safety of the consumer. This should go all the way down to any package, not just cargo ships, very similar to the way Brazil’s customs controls their packages. The proposed tariffs might already have this in the list, I’m not sure. Let’s hope so.

https://toyworldmag.co.uk/world-news/mga-cracks-down-on-chinese-counterfeit-l-o-l-surprise-products/

Mattel recently announced a significant layoff movement due to its forth straight quarter of losses. Not a good sign for the once powerhouse of toys and iconic figure of the Toys That Made Us documentary. I feel this will make the company very susceptible to an actual purchase before long, and Disney may very well be a dead ringer for this. After all, the princess dolls from Mattel were always known to be MUCH better than what Hasbro produced, and Disney from what I understand doesn’t really have a fleshed out toy division. It helps that Mattel is located in the the same town as Disney. If this happens, you can probably assume that Hasbro will probably lose A LOT of what’s making them hot right now.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mattel-layoffs-20180725-story.html

Speaking of Hasbro, they are currently killing it with its collection of licenses and especially its games, that have propelled it’s stock to grow instantly over 10%. With Hasbro’s claim that D&D is at an all time high, and with its positive sales of Marvel and Star Wars toys, even in a year where toys felt a fatal blow with the vanishing of TRU, Hasbro is confident that it’ll stabilize by 2019, which is an amazingly strong sign. Articles talk about Hasbro and Mattel possibly merging, which would be good for Hasbro so they could have a Los Angeles office, but as the new CEO of Mattel has a history of selling out to Disney, I still stand by my initial prediction. I definitely look to see more come from Hasbro. Maybe they can cause a collector’s craze as intense as Funko has just recently.

https://money.cnn.com/2018/07/23/investing/hasbro-earnings-mattel-toys-r-us/index.html

What was that about Funko? Oh, that the offer to sell the Funimation SDCC exclusive on Funimation’s site crashed the server. For a site that hosts high def streaming shows of fan favorites like Dragon Ball Super, you can only imagine the amount of traffic needed to bring an entire platform to its knees. That’s exactly what happened according to an article on Polygon. Apparently, the day it went up for sale for a mere $24.99, the system broke within hours forcing Funimation to pull the item from its store and apologizing to all those looking to snag the coveted metallic version of the character Whis from Dragon Ball Super. Its hard for me to believe that this figure is so much in demand as I have sold this particular character in other forms for over 2 years. I admit, Funko is doing it right! Its currently selling for about $200 on eBay and other retailer sites.

https://www.polygon.com/2018/7/24/17609492/dragon-ball-super-whis-funko-pop-sdcc-2018

I’m sure you’ve seen all the coverage you need for Anime Expo and SDCC, so I won’t go there. That’s all I got for now.

Thank you, and I’m glad to be of service.

– The Keep


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Been busy… found a new obsession along with some toy nooze…

Its been a while, but in the last week, I finally got permission from Amazon to start selling again! I was banned sometime last year… that a whole ‘nother story, but now I’m back in action, and this time, I wanted to better streamline my process for updating quantities, changing pricing, and managing primary inventory levels across multiple 3rd party selling venues. Using some fancy formula finger work along with my penchant for spaghetti coding, I’ve created a whole basic management system using Google Sheets! More on this later as e-commerce interactions have been something of an on and off hobby of mine for the last 17 years.

In toy news, lots of good things!

1) Retro Nintendo consoles have just been announced for release later this year! This includes the popular NES classic that sold out immediately a few years ago, and a new Japanese ‘Fami-Com’ system that features all Shonen Jump games in celebration of the titular magazine’s 50th anniversary!

Retro gaming is definitely one of the hottest tickets outside the Disney juggernaut with great history, an appreciation for 8-bit designs, and a slew of wild, organically loved licenses of yesteryear. Nintendo has really been the only system maker who’s retro systems actually see any type of demand which goes to show how much of people’s childhood they control over the likes of Sega and Atari. I personally am looking forward to the Fami-Com edition. It won’t be available in America, so I might need to try and pull some favors with some connections in Japan to make this happen. I do feel it’ll be a hot ticket, and with TRU out of the picture, I can see other major retailers owning up to bigger chunks of business and also related venues like Hot Topic and Box Lunch which do cater strongly to gaming lifestyle goods.

2) TRU is closing out fast and it was revealed that the company will be shelling out around $350M just in bankruptcy fees.

No toy news would be complete without something on TRU nowadays. Its a rough time. With workers, executives, and politicians weighing in on the demise of TRU, the job loss count has been calculated to be anywhere around 30,000 (B. Sanders) to 133,000 (I. Larian). Seems like there’s still money to be had, but on the legal side of things. Painful to hear and it doesn’t make these growing pains any better. Note to all those former TRU workers: its easier than ever to get into selling online. You’ve got the experience, and the industry doesn’t have an official voice yet. Get heard, get to selling, and get paid.

2) MGA is killing it with their victory judgement of $1.1M and injunctions on overseas counterfeiters of the popular LOL Surprise product.

Though I’m pretty sure they’re not the first, MGA has proven that even in this day and age with internet everywhere and the ambiguity of world wide licensing control, protecting one’s IP is still achievable and enforceable. For the longest time in my own specialized industry (anime collectibles and media) bootlegging and counterfeits are of an enormous burden on all who are trying to make an honest living selling it here in the US. It was particularly troublesome in the late 2000’s, and even today, you can jump on EBay or Amazon and find fake products being offered form international sellers by the tank load. Most I’ve talked to including licensees, licensors, and distributors claim chasing these sellers would be extremely expensive financially. And being there were larger avenues of selling available for domestic product, the official goods should drown out the bootlegs. As more and more of these ‘larger avenues’ start to disappear though, the reality is starting to set in that in the long run, not addressing the issue early will not only cost a company financial trouble, but IP integrity trouble as well. To all IP holders out there, your IP IS your business in my opinion. Protect it at all costs. Now if we can extend this to that pesky parallel import issue…


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