Last week, Variety published an article that suggested the push-back of GI Joe: Retaliation's release date meant that the toys were being recalled. We gave you our thoughts on the situation, but that didn't stop fans from freaking out. The official street date for Retaliation toys was May 28, but since some stores were breaking street date (allegedly with Hasbro's permission), stores without any product looked weirdly out of place, and fans worried that their local stores were abiding by this supposed recall. They then went online and fanned the flames, leading more fans to go to their (empty) stores and report the same thing. And it was all because of one line in the story: "retailers are being asked to send back the line of Hasbro toys that were starting to appear on shelves."
But that line was 100% false. Hasbro never asked any retailers to return any product. Why did the Variety article claim they did, then? Either they misunderstood something that was told to them, or they just made it up as a way to add some flavor to the article. But that's where we're launching our conspiracy theory.
For whatever reason, Hasbro has really struggled with GI Joe in the last decade or so. Remember when the 25th Anniversary Collection came out, and you could barely find the figures in stores? As Generation 3 continued, the numbers finally got better and fans were actually finding the toys they wanted. Then that line ended to make room for the movie toys, and we all know how that turned out. Since the glut of Rise of Cobra product, stores have been gun-shy about carrying GI Joe, and consumers have been the ones who suffered. People want to buy GI Joe, but there's seldom anything on the shelf. When new stuff would show up, it would disappear in days. One of the most in-demand toys of the year is from GI Joe, for cryin' out loud! SO if somebody tries to convince you that GI Joe has no fanbase, laugh at them for us.
Anyway, the past two GI Joe lines - Pursuit of Cobra and the 30th Anniversary/Renegades - have suffered from the same lack of retail attention. So now Hasbro ships out the first series of Retaliation product, and after the boxes are already sitting in the back of the stores paramount delays the movie by nine months. What do you do? Nobody is going to want those toys now, are they?
Well, there's nothing like a good frenzy to make buyers rush the stores, right? And there's nothing like a recall to inspire a frenzy.
If buyers believe the GI Joe toys have been recalled, then they'll buy more than they usually would. The shelves will get stripped bare by people who think they'll be able to flip the toys for a massive profit on eBay, or will hoard them away as "investments." The product will sell - fast - leaving nothing behind but empty shelves right after the stores have approved their planograms and finished their resets. Hasbro will just fill those spaces with Spider-Man and Avengers toys, which is fine for them, but more importantly, when GI Joe comes back next year, they'll have demonstrated to the stores' buyers that consumers are crazy for this line, which will help them in the future.
So, did Hasbro say the word "recall" to Variety, knowing it would get picked up by other media outlets and get the consumers' blood flowing? Probably not, but come on, since when are conspiracy theories supposed to be plausible?
Well, you'll like this, then: The Terror Drome just shared a report from a Target employee, comparing GI Joe's first-week sales to a few other big toylines:
GI Joe- 14,998
Yeah, that's right: GI Joe outsold three of this summer's biggest movies combined. Hmm...
"For whatever reason, Hasbro has really struggled with GI Joe in the last decade or so. Remember when the 25th Anniversary Collection came out, and you could barely find the figures in stores?"
This was written in 2012, and almost 10 years later in 2021 I have yet to see _any_ of the G.I. Joe Classified toys on shelves save for a single pair of Flint and Lady Jaye (that I snapped up immediately), a few Roadblocks and Storm Shadows, and swarms of both Gold Cobra Commander and Pimp Destro. I've already given up on ever seeing COBRA Troopers, or just about any of the Classified toys. I only take a cursory glance at the Joe section whenever I go to our local Toys R Us, but only out of habit than any actual expectation to see anything.
Truly, history repeats...