Controversial question: Is distribution in Europe better these days than a few years ago?

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Nevermore, Nov 23, 2016.

  1. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    In the past, I've complained a lot about weird and bad distribution in Europe in general, and Germany in particular.

    However, in recent years, my perception has changed to a certain degree.

    With the Toys"R"Us exclusive-ness for Generations figures in numerous European markets lifted with the beginning of the Combiner Wars line, I can confirm for certain that I've seen the vast majority of the general retail release figures of all major lines from recent years at retail one way or another, and a lot of store exclusives as well. Based on reports by fans from other European countries, it would appear this isn't an anomaly, but a trend that applies to most of Europe.

    Now admittedly, I have the privilege of living in a densely populated urban area where I have easy access to a crapton of stores carrying Transformers figures. I'm aware that the situation is quite different in rural areas, but I would assume specific toys would be hard to find in those areas regardless of how good or bad distribution is on a national level.

    Here's my claim: Distribution in Europe isn't that bad anymore. It may differ from region to region, but on a whole, it's not that bad. Sometimes toys take a few months to show up here after they've been found in the US, but that door swings both ways as history has shown.

    A few weeks ago, a fellow board member from Slovakia visited Germany and we went on a sighting tour. He was surprised by the large selection of recent figures at the few stores we went to. Apparently availability in Germany is better than in Slovakia.

    However, one phenomenon I keep observing is mutual envy. It goes like this:

    Situation 1: A new toy is found in the US before the first sighting at European retail. Chances are an angry UK resident will complain that "Europe never gets any love".

    Situation 2: A new toy is found in the UK before the first sighting at American retail. Chances are an angry US resident will complain that "Hasbro abandoned the US".

    Situation 3: A toy that has been released in the US but is hard to find is released in the UK. Chances are an angry US resident will complain that "now we know where the figure went", even though it's a completely separate production run for Europe.

    The list goes on.

    I guess the lessons we can take from this is:

    1) The grass is always greener on the other side. Always.
    2) Seriously, distribution Europe isn't that bad. And even if it is, distribution in the US isn't really that much better.
    3) And even if you think I'm lying to you, remember that the grass is always greener on the other side. Always.
     
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  2. Cha Chi

    Cha Chi Minimondomayhem

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    This is correct, from Combiner wars on it has been awhole other world. Combiner Wars toys and now Titans Return in various(more than 8) major retailers here in the UK compared to just one previously. Hasbro has Rescue bots which we see more and more of, RID and it's multiple lines.

    Only gripes one can have is the UK doesn't always keep pace like how CW wave 2 was skipped, was it wave 5 skylynx too(?) aswell as the legends wave with Viper and now wondering where TR legends wave 2 and beyond is will be. Though we have now seen most those backed up CW things available in places, so there have still been options eventually. Even with that one can't complain as it seems the US suffers the same. There is no one place that gets it all unless it is a specilist.
     
  3. Murasame

    Murasame

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    Here it's worse than ever.
     
  4. Gingerchris

    Gingerchris Telly-headed Tyrant

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    Dunno about anywhere else, but my region has been lousy for new stuff. Until I took a drive out to my nearest TRU last Saturday I'd not seen any Titans Returns wave one and two apart from Optimus and Blaster a month or so earlier (and that was in that same TRU).
    CW was very poor too and often if I did chance on something new there was only one on the shelf and then never seen again. While other people in the UK Sightings thread report finding all manner of CW and TR in their local Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys, I'm finding little to none of that in my local branches of those stores. For some reason the stock just isn't getting to my neck of the woods. And if it is then it's in such small quantities that I might skip dropping in a particular store one day and completely miss all their new TF stock as it's rapidly snapped up by other desperate TF hunters in my area.

    Personally I've found distribution here more scattershot than ever over the past year, so much so that I no longer get much enthusiasm up when new figures are revealed because I have no idea if I'll ever even see them out in the wild.
    I don't even live in the middle of nowhere. I live right next to a busy seaside holiday town with maybe a dozen outlets selling toys. It's hardly quiet here. Yet new TF showing up is a novelty.

    If distribution is getting better here then it's almost completely passing me by for some reason.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
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  5. Cha Chi

    Cha Chi Minimondomayhem

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    If i made it sound really rosy in my previous comment then i must elaborate. Certainly though it is a big step up from going to tru and it being the only place to get generations type line. We do have a few major stores with them but it is a case of it being spread accross them. There have been no deluxes in my asda for instence only legends and hm sets. Nothing in sainsburys so far despite them being quite strong with cw. The only place i have seen wave2 deluxes consistently is smyths toy store and that is only because one just opened sort of near me. I may have seen them in my neighbouring towns tru but not Manchester, actually did see highbrow from wave2 once in entertainer but nothing after that. You still need to hunt them but the odds are much better than before.
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2016
  6. jackgaughan

    jackgaughan Internet Soldier

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    I'm pretty please with how well it's managing to keep up with the US, Wave 2 of CW being skipped wasn't fun, but they've clearly learned their lesson with Titans Return.
     
  7. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Wave 2 being skipped was explained at this year's CONS: Wave 1 didn't sell well enough so retailers refused to order new product.

    Sky Lynx suffered from "tail end of the line" syndrom everywhere in the world. He was recently found at US retail, albeit only at TK Maxx.
     
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  8. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II The Pristine

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    Over here in the benelux its improved greatly: since Combiner Wars we get all retail toys at stores.
    Sidenotes: things move slower so they only buy in new figures around easter and christmas.
    Also we tend to get figures about 3-6 months later than in the us partly due to the previous thing both of wich resulted in many stores not carrying the last wave or two of CW.
    And we never get titans, boxsets or exclusives in stores that i know of.
    Offcourse this is all just a badly remembered personal impression but it is much better than before CW in any case.
     
  9. Brum Bot

    Brum Bot You’re an idiot Starscream

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    I don't collect much stuff from the main lines, but as a father to a 6yr old, I'm always in toy stores and take an interest in TFs as a fan. Over the last couple of years, pretty much since CW, I've seen more range and availability at U.K. retail. I can't speak for other areas of the country but where I am it's much improved on the sparseness of yesteryear, where trying to get CHUG was like a needle in a haystack.
     
  10. Cha Chi

    Cha Chi Minimondomayhem

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    In the UK prior to CW we only got wave 1 of generations at tru. We were lucky that most the voyagers eventually turned up later in great numbers and good prices at grey market b&m which made it less of an uproar than it might have been. Even so that was just the voyagers and jetfire. Most people got their post wave1 stuff from online international sellers.
     
  11. motorthing

    motorthing Carry on you Wayward Son

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    Angry Euro Resident here (although for how much longer after that fucking vote......)

    The grass ISN'T that green everywhere/anywhere. And as usual the answer to the question posed is "depends on exactly where you live."

    Comparing the years since Woolworths died out (in this Country) to the years before tends to show that distribution of Hasbro Boys Toys have had peaks and troughs. Up to 2008 and indeed the first Bay Film we in the UK had had a pretty much unbroken streak of just about everything the US got. I can't speak to the situation in continental Europe because one size doesn't fit all, but we did have it pretty good. Even exclusives tended to turn up somewhere.

    Since Woolies died out there hasn't been a "guaranteed" UK Retailer that would get "everything" on tap. You would think TRU would naturally be that venue (Y'know, toys being what they do solely) but this has been where the noticeable gaps have started to happen. Waves being skipped, exclusives being things you had to look online for. Other big retail chains fell into the same pattern and that's what we've had since. Sometimes a feast, sometimes a famine.

    But even when we have had a a Series or Wave in country it's been DISTRIBUTION that is the killer issue.

    We often get referred to as a Small Island, well that may seem so right up until you go out on a toy run, when suddenly this Rock gets effing huge. CW Skylinx suddenly causes a flurry of excitement by appearing in TK Maxxs at a great price. Except the number available must have amounted to a couple of cases for the entire Country. Try finding one. After that initial burst of hope.....you won't. After visiting about 10 different branches in the course of my normal travels there are none to be found.

    So, here, but not here. And you'll still have to get it online.

    I've seen Titan Masters in London.....once. I bought the only two there and from that point a month ago nothing.

    Wave 2 TR Legends are nowhere to be seen while retail is moving on to Wave 3.

    Now all that may sound like moaning (tough shit if it does) but it's reality.

    So, we've got it way better than Rural Kenya (phew) for which I'm grateful. But are we at a point where I don't have to order what I really want from Kapow (God Bless Red Leader) to ensure I'll actually get it? No.

    Not even close.

    Here endeth the rant.
     
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  12. Axos

    Axos Well-Known Member

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    In Norway distribution for CW was the best since Prime. RiD wasn't doing to bad either. that said I haven't been able to check latlely snce I'm in the US until june.
     
  13. Cha Chi

    Cha Chi Minimondomayhem

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    As many UK folk will testify, cw wave1 was extremely "overstocked"... Around about the time wave2 should have been coming out the many stores that amazingly had TR in first place restocked wave1 over again....
     
  14. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    We still have Woolworth in Germany, but these days they've been reduced to a cheap dumpster store. Abandon all hope at ever seeing an official Transformers figure there. Now, on the other hand, if you're looking for knockoffs like Fight The World Defender Robot or It Is A Great To See Convoy, this is the place to go. :rolleyes: 

    The "tail end of the line" syndrome obviously also affects Europe, but there's hope, as the recent surge in toys from the final waves of long since discontinued assortments suddenly popping up at regular retail (or at other "El Cheapo" stores such as TK Maxx) have shown. And then again, it's not like this problem (as well as the "found at Ross/TJ Maxx/Five Below/Marshall's" phenomenon) doesn't exist in the US either.
     
  15. StellarJet

    StellarJet Seeker

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    I don't think it is the 'grass is greener on the other side' syndrome when I say Spain barely gets 20-30% of the figs released in other European countries like the UK or Germany. And I think this has been the case for quite some time (at least in the last few years). So considering that the TF market in Europe is, in itself, quite 'limited' compared to, say, the US, then you can imagine my frustration...:banghead: 
     
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  16. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Currently, distribution in particular for the "Titans Return" line is once again disastrous. According to official word from Hasbro, wave 3 is supposed to be shipping to stores ever since December (!), but to this very day, I've only ever seen the Deluxes at three different Toys"R"Us stores since mid-February.

    It seems like this is a drought owed at least in part to the time of the year. It was the same last year: Wave 6 of the "Combiner Wars" Deluxes was released in the United States in February, in the United Kingdom in May, and in Germany, it only appeared at retail in September (!); wave 6 of the Legends (Wreck-Gar) was released in the United States in April, in the United Kingdom in June, and in Germany, it wasn't found until November (!); and wave 6 of the Voyagers (Sky Lynx) was released in the United States in February, in the United Kingdom not until October, and in Germany, it was only available at some Müller drug stores in December, immediately before Christmas. By that point, "Titans Return" had already reached wave 2 even in the UK and Germany.

    A year prior to that, there was that infamous problem of wave 2 of all "Combiner Wars" price points never being officially released at European retail at all.

    That cycle repeats itself every year.

    In the United States, "Beast Hunters" was launched at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013. In Germany, the first figures weren't released until September (!) 2013.

    We simply need to accept that the first quarter of a year is a terrible time to search for new Transformers toys at local retail. The problem isn't just limited to Europe (I still recall the legendary drought of 2004 as far as US retail ws concerned, back in the days of the Alternators line), but over here, it can manifest in a particularly extreme form.

    In the second half of the year, on the other hand, it can be quite common for us to get new toys even before other countries to. It happened before.


    But now for some positive observations:

    Over the past few years, Hasbro has taken two steps regarding the European market which I consider to be very good, I think they're going to drastically improve distribution and availability in the long run:

    The first step was a move towards a better sorting of waves, just like what the United States get. Up until a few years ago, it was like this: Outside Europe, it was common for a wave (case) to contain not only new figures, but also figures from previous waves as carry-overs. This not only resulted in more variety on store shelves, but also allowed stores that didn't get a particular wave for whatever reason to still get the figures from that wave as part of subsequent waves.

    In Europe, on the other hand, toys were rigidly segregated by waves. Carry-overs were nonexistent. Now when waves only contained a small number of new figures, this obviously resulted in limited variety. Back in the days of "Armada", stores would get shipments containing nothing but Scavengers, whereas the 2007 Movie line gave us hordes of Swindles and Bonecrushers clogging store shelves for the rest of the year and beyond (while wave 1 figures such as Bumblebee, Jazz or Barricade were rarely seen)... It took Hasbro a long time to recognize this as a problem. Things seriously changed for the better around "Beast Hunters", when European waves started to retain the same case assortments as their American counterparts.

    Admittedly, with "Combiner Wars" and "Titans Return", Hasbro partially applied the old "European" system to the rest of the world; however, in this case, the variety within a wave is larger from the get-go. There's a difference whether a case of eight figures contains four each of two different figures or two each of four.

    The second important change occurred at the beginning of this year: Up until now, it was common for Transformers toys outside Europe to have a unique UPC barcode on their packaging for each figure, whereas European packaging would only have a standardized catch-all EAN barcode for the entire price point (e.g. "Combiner Wars" Deluxes or "Robots in Disguise" Legions). In the past, this frequently resulted in online retailers (such as Amazon), which track their stock via the manufacturer barcode labels, to only offer entire assortments with random figure selections. I still recall how during the days of "Cybertron", there was only one German online retailer offering Ultra Class figures, with a rather discouraging warning for potential buyers: "ATTENTION! This item is available in several variations! A pre-selection is not possible! You receive one TRANSFORMERS ULTRA figure!" With prices of 40 or more Euros even at the time, I doubt many people were eager to buy the pig in a poke.

    Although unique single item EAN barcodes have already been around for the past few years, those haven't necessarily been available for all figures within an assortment, and they also only applied to "solid" cases (e.g. eight Drifts and nothing else) and were typically achieved via stickers applied on top of the regular barcodes.

    Since the beginning of this year, every newly released Transformers figure now has its own unique EAN barcode just like its non-European counterpart does, and this unique barcode is printed directly on the packaging. This should hopefully make things much easier for online retailers in the long run. This applies to all newly released "Robots in Disguise" figures in "Combiner Force" packaging, all "Titans Return" figures beginning with wave 3 of their respective assortments, as well as the entire "The Last Knight" line.

    The only odd thing about this is that re-releases of older figures included in the same cases still have the old standardized assortment-specific EAN barcodes: For example, "Combiner Force" Legion Starscream and Springload both have their own unique EAN barcodes, whereas Optimus Prime and Grimlock in the same packaging design still both have the same EAN barcode, which is the same each figure from the assortment has had ever since the end of 2014.
     
  17. MyTea Boc

    MyTea Boc Beardy Boyo!

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    Certainly in N. Ireland getting Generations figures from retail stores has been easier since Combiner Wars.

    Still a pain in the arse mind you, but certainly easier than previous years.
     
  18. StellarJet

    StellarJet Seeker

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    I must admit that in Spain I've seen a significant increase in some stores of Transformers figs (Combiner Wars, TLK...). The problem arises when one is looking for a very particular character..They seem to get tons of some characters of some line, and COMPLETELY miss others of the same line, so if you are unlucky (like me, apparently), then it's back to importing...as usual

    (If you happen to like OP and BB, then sure, you'll probably notice the improvement...:rolleyes: )
     
  19. MyTea Boc

    MyTea Boc Beardy Boyo!

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    Too true. I've been hunting for a Crash Combiner Skyhammer, and had zero luck, but the shelves overflow with Beeswipe and Primestrong. pffft.
     
  20. Murasame

    Murasame

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    We do? :eek:  haven't seen one in decades.