Useful notes on assortments and "waves"; misconceptions cleared up!

Discussion in 'Transformers Toy Discussion' started by Nevermore, Oct 12, 2016.

  1. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    I frequently encounter a lot of confusion regarding the "wave" system used by Hasbro and other toy companies, so I thought I might try and explain it so people actually kow what they're talking about.

    Please note that this is not intended as a slight against people who just don't know any better. What I see is that different people have different ideas of what a "wave" actually is, which then leads to confusion when those people try to discuss with each other. So I thought I'd explain it in a way that people can (hopefully) understand. If I come across as too condescending or didactic, please let me know.

    Before I start, some notes on the terminology used here: I use the terms "assortment", "size class" and "price point" interchangeably. Likewise, the terms "wave", "case" and "case assortment" technically all mean the same thing, but since the general conception of a "wave" is not exactly identical to what a "case" or a "case assortment" is, I will try not to mix those up for the sake of clarity.

    Each of these will be in separate posts so this first post doesn't get too convoluted.

    Misconception #1: A "wave" is a giant bulk of numerous toys of all sorts of price points/size classes that are all released at the same time.
    Misconception #2: A wave always only contains new figures.
    Misconception #3: There is such as a thing as "one true way" of counting/numbering waves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
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  2. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Misconception #1: A "wave" is a giant bulk of numerous toys of all sorts of price points/size classes that are released at the same time.

    What people say or ask: "How many Deluxes/Voyagers are there in wave 2?"

    Why people think this way: Hasbro actually contributed to this misconception to some degree during Combiner Wars by sorting the Legends, Deluxe and Voyager waves based on teams, so each team could be assembled from figures that were supposed to be released concurrently.

    Why this is wrong: Each assortment (price point/size class) has its own wave numbering. It's possible for waves from different price points that have the same wave number to be released around the same time at least in theory, but that's not a fast-and-hard rule. For example, the Cybertron line had four waves of Mini-Con two-packs, four waves of Legends (the modern "Legion" size), ten waves of Scouts, nine waves of Deluxes, eight waves of Voyagers, six waves of Ultras and four waves of Leaders.

    Even for the Combiner Wars line, the idea of complete teams being released together didn't always work out; for example, wave 1 of the Deluxes replaced an Aerialbot with a Stunticon (which would then be amended in wave 2, where the missing Aerialbot was released alongside the remaining three Stunticons). Also, wave 4 of the Combiner Wars Legends Class was first sighted at US retail in July 2015, wave 4 of the Deluxe Class in August and wave 4 of the Voyager Class in October! So even if the intention is for them to be "released at the same time", it doesn't always work out that way in execution.

    So, simply put:
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    This isn't one wave. These are four waves, one per price point!




    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    This is a wave.



    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    So is this.



    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    And this.



    [​IMG]
    And this.



    Conclusion: To make your life much easier, don't try to squeeze a square peg into a round hole. Think of each price point as its own thing with its own wave numbering. Sometimes there is an intended synchonicity across multiple price points, but even then, chances are it won't pan out quite as planned. Other times, trying to apply this line of thinking to where it was never intended to work this way will just result in a massive headache.
     
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  3. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Misconception #2: A wave always only contains new figures.

    What people say or ask: "How can Bumblebee be in wave 2? I thought he was a wave 1 figure!"

    Why people think this way: People only care about new products. Old products are considered "old hat", so people don't pay much attention when they see older figures. In addition, Hasbro contributed to this to some degree: In Europe, this model actually applied up until ca. Beast Hunters, resulting in some really odd case assortments (such as the infamous 2007 Movie Deluxe Class wave 2, with 4x Bonecrusher and 4x Swindle), including "solid cases" containing nothing but multiples of the same figure. Hasbro have also started to adapt this model worldwide for Combiner Wars and Titans Return, with many waves only containing new figures.

    Why this is wrong: Aside from the examples listed above (European case assortments, Combiner Wars and Titans Return), it's very common for a new wave to contain new figures alongside figures that debuted in previous waves (some people call this "padding" a case), both in order to increase the variety on store shelves and to increase availability of those older figures, because not every store gets every wave in!

    On top of that, a wave often contains multiples of a new figure.

    So, simply put:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    This is wave 1.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    This is wave 2.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    This is wave 3.


    Conclusion: In everyday discussion, it's perfectly acceptable to exclusively associate figures with the waves they debuted in. Just keep in mind that it's possible for a figure to be available in multiple waves, so don't be surprised when you see an already released figure listed again as part of a later wave!
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
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  4. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Misconception #3: There is such as a thing as "one true way" of counting/numbering waves.

    What people say or ask: "It's a new wave, therefore this must mean it contains new figures!"

    Why people think this way: Different online stores use different numbering systems, which might or might not be how Hasbro counts them. Also, Hasbro is very, very weird sometimes.

    Why this is wrong: Entertainment Earth refers to waves as "wave 1", "wave 2", "wave 2 rev. 1", "wave 3" etc. ("rev." = "revision"). Meanwhile, Big Bad Toy Stores sometimes calls them "Series 1", "Series 2" etc.

    Some stores count waves continuously from the beginning until the end of a line, whereas others typically reset the numbering for a new year (so, for example, "2015 wave 5" is followed by "2016 wave 1", "2016 wave 2" etc.). BBCW Distributors uses yet another system, referring to case assortments as "AS00", "AS01", "AS02", "AS0A, "AS0B", "AS0C" etc. These are official designations that are actually printed on the Hasbro shipping cases! Sometimes a store skips a numbered wave entirely, which makes things even more confusing.

    And then there are the revision waves. Now, the logical way of thinking would be that numbered waves are where the new figures debut, while revisions only contain different case ratios of existing figures. Unfortunately, this isn't always true: For example, Beast Hunters Legion Class Air Vehicon debuted in "Wave 4 Rev. 1" of the Beast Hunters Legion Class assortment. Likewise, the Cybertron line had a "wave 3.5", in which redecos/retools of several figures from the Armada line debuted. Meanwhile, several (!) separately numbered waves of the Robots in Disguise One-Step Changers contained nothing but figures that originally debuted in previous waves.



    Conclusion: Don't be surprised when people may count waves differently than you do. Also don't be surprised when online retailers use a different numbering system, and especially don't try to apply one online retailer's numbering system to another online retailer!
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2017
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  5. TyrantGalvatron

    TyrantGalvatron Hasbro is NOT your enemy.

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    Thanks for posting this Nevermore. It is very useful and informative.
     
  6. ssjkazer

    ssjkazer mr dyslexia

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    I thought this was common sense lol
     
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  7. Windsweeper II

    Windsweeper II Banned

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    Thank you for the work you put into this Nevermore.
     
  8. BenjaminXavier

    BenjaminXavier Well-Known Member

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    Again, great work!

    One minor addition:

    Back in the 80s, there was typically only one "wave" per year. So the 1984 deluxe car assortment was 12 toys all different (though I think it was really 11 toys and one was repeated). Similarly, 1984 GI Joe figures came in cases of like 20, with most figures being one per case.

    the "modern" wave system has been in place at least since the late 90s, with varying degrees of tweaking.
     
  9. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    There were actually multiple different case assortments even during the G1 days, but the system was different from what it's like today.

    For example, there were two different Autobot Cars case assortments available in 1985:
    Assortment #5765 introduced new figures Skids (1x), Grapple (2x), Red Alert (2x) and Hoist (2x) and completed the 12-figure case assortment with Sunstreaker, Bluestreak, Jazz, Ratchet and Trailbreaker (one of each).
    Assortment #5766 introduced new figures Smokescreen, Inferno and Tracks (two of each) and completed the 12-figure case assortment with Sideswipe, Hound, Mirage, Prowl, Ironhide and Wheeljack.

    The "modern" wave system was introduced (at least on a global scale) with Beast Wars.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2016
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  10. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    Wow, I swear at this point people have completely forgotten how waves used to work back in the old days.

    I've seen people react with either bewilderment or outright hostility upon learning that some figures are shipping in more than one wave. I know most of us have no interest in seeing figures they already own on the shelves (unless they're looking for something to buy for a friend, a kid, or a fellow collector), but c'mon, some people aren't so lucky, and, say, wave 2 might be their first chance ever of owning TLK Legion Class Optimus Prime because wave 1 was never stocked by their local Walmart. I remember how back during the Cybertron/Alternators days, some toys would ship for multiple consecutive waves and that was considered a totally normal thing, even though none of us liked the thought of even more Swindles joining their already shelfwarming brethren.

    These days, people expect every single wave to contain nothing but new figures, even though Combiner Wars was the first time Hasbro actually did this (and even then only consistently for the Deluxe price point) worldwide.


    Also, Combiner Wars and Titans Return (and presumably also The Last Knight) coordinating waves across multiple price points has really screwed up people's perception of how the wave system works, to the point where Trypticon is considered a "wave 5" figure, even though there was only one previous Titan Class figure under the Titans Return branding. (In fact, it appears Trypticon, just like Fort Max before him, isn't actually part of any continuing assortment so he's not actually part of any "wave".)
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2017
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  11. Scrapper6

    Scrapper6 Lord of Constructicons

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    I'd be happy if the cases would just get to the retailer shelves, I haven't seen the Wave 4 TR stuff at all except for the lone Perceptor I managed to pick up. Pack'em with repacks all you want, just give me some cases with Kup, Topspin, Quake and Krok at retail up here in Canada already.
     
  12. Feralstorm

    Feralstorm To Infinity - and Your Mom TFW2005 Supporter

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    Heh, no wonder warrior-class Strongarm is NEVER missing from the shelves. :) 
     
  13. GiganGoji

    GiganGoji Well-Known Member

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    Why are revision waves numbered "4.5" and not "5"?
     
  14. BenjaminXavier

    BenjaminXavier Well-Known Member

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    Because they are revision waves and have no new toys.
     
  15. GiganGoji

    GiganGoji Well-Known Member

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    Wouldn't that just count as another shipment of the previous wave? Or do they contain figures from more than one previous wave and/or different amounts of each figure (or not all of the figures) from the previous wave(s)?
     
  16. BenjaminXavier

    BenjaminXavier Well-Known Member

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    Its either the same toys in different quantities or they remove some toys and add others.

    So if Wave 1 is toys A, B, & C, wave 2 is restocks of A & C with new toy D, then revision wave 2.5 might be A, B & D.
     
  17. Nevermore

    Nevermore It's self-perpetuating a parahumanoidarianised!

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    One might think so, yes. But as I explained above, sometimes Hasbro officially calls something a revision wave even though it contains at least one new figure, while other times Hasbro officially labels something a fully-fledged new wave even though it's just different quantities/case ratios of existing figures.
     
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