Friday, November 2, 2012

Boycott Walmart

After years of growing dissatisfaction with service, selection, and pretty much every other aspect of their business model; I am finally quitting Walmart. They have crossed a line that I simply cannot tolerate. As a business, they are attacking a facet of my lifestyle that I hold dear and that defines my very character. Walmart has gone too far and I absolutely cannot tolerate it any longer.
           Walmart is single-handedly destroying the male action figure toy industry.
What? You thought I was going to say they were persecuting homosexuals or funding the Taliban or feeding black babies to demons in order to secure their eventual domination of the world, which is secretly being funded through their puppet government in China?
Bitch, please. I don’t care about any of that shit. But I am sick and fucking tired of seeing nothing but Batmans and Clone Troopers because Walmart can’t spare more than four feet of peg space for their Male Action Figure aisle.
Every time I go into Walmart the portion of the aisle that is devoted to Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers, Batman, and Spider-Man is smaller. I can’t totally explain this, but I can sort of try if you can deal with me rambling for a minute:
Walmart caters to the lowest common denominator. Moms bring their twelve kids in while they do their grocery shopping. Those kids want a toy, so Mom buys them the cheapest Batman figure available. Or Clone Trooper. Or whatever. So Walmart looks at this and says, “Well, damn. We sold 87,000 of the five dollar Spider-Man figures last Tuesday. I guess we need more of those. Drop those fifteen dollar Marvel Legends and the ten dollar Ninja Turtles and order eight million more cases of that Spider-Man figure that has one paint app.”
Then Hasbro gets their order and decides that even though Target and Toys R Us are doing well with the Marvel Legends, Walmart wants eighty billion of that red Spider-Man with the blue blotch on its chest that sort of looks like a spider and four points of articulation. So resources need to be devoted to what Walmart wants. Because it doesn’t matter that the shitty Spider-Man figure is going to sit there taking up fifty-seven pegs in every Walmart across the nation for the next four years, Hasbro will have sold them. Beyond that, they don’t care. And Walmart doesn’t care because by the time they realize they have a surplus of 973,000,000 crappy Spider-Mans it’s been three years and eighteen movie-related toy lines later.
Meanwhile, I can’t find a fucking Dani Moonstar.
What you have to understand is that Walmart is the biggest toy retailer in the world. It doesn’t matter that Toys R Us devotes an entire store to toys – Walmart moves more. So every decision Walmart makes regarding which toys to carry and how much space to devote to them affects the toy industry as a whole. Walmart is the butterfly flapping its wings in Chine that causes monsoons across the rest of the world, only Walmart is fucking Rodan and King Ghidorah all wrapped up in one.
I doubt that explained very much, but what it boils down to is that Walmart is the absolute worst entity that could possibly be making decisions about what toys get made, but they are almost solely responsible. And every time they shave another foot off of the space they give male action figures, an entire line – possibly more – dies. I don’t know exactly why they keep shrinking the aisle, but they do. And I can’t support that any more.
Obviously online retailers are one option for getting toys. The only real problem with that is shipping. Toys are already very expensive, and when you pile shipping – which has also gotten progressively more expensive over the years – on top of that you’re talking about a lot of money. Plus the fact that many online toy retailers have to mark their stock up considerably more than brick-and-mortar retailers. I suppose it’s the price for being able to pick and choose what you buy at your convenience, but it seems to me like online should be cheaper, as they can’t have as much overhead. I dunno. Your best bets online are either Amazon with their amazing Super Saver Shipping or Big Bad Toy Store, who let you pile up your purchases and ship them all at once to maximize your value.
Target and Toys R Us are probably the most obvious alternatives to Walmart, but they have their problems. Toys R Us just keeps getting more and more ridiculously expensive, to the point where you could almost just order online and pay shipping for what they charge. It’s pretty fucking ridiculous and I’m not sure how they justify it.
For example – the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sewer playset was either $109.99 or $119.99 when it first came out. I really think it was the former, but we’ll give TRU the benefit of the doubt and say it was $120. That fucker is $139.99 now, less than three months after it came out. As far as I know nobody else is carrying it – likely because it is so huge – so I guess TRU can price it however they want. Though I also suspect they’re pulling a Kaybee and will be putting it on “sale” sometime between now and Christmas; possibly for the original price.
Target is generally pretty great about prices and they do seem to get a lot of new toys first. But you had better be there when they arrive, because they probably won’t get them back in for a very long time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been excited to find a new series or wave of figures at Target and then never seen them there again. It often seems like Targets get a single case of something and that’s it.
And then there’s my new secret toy spot. The one that I just sort of accidentally ran across. Actually, this might be my new favorite retailer just in general – Fry’s Electronics. There’s been a Fry’s on my way home for years now, but I never stopped in because it’s kind of a pain in the ass to get to. But when the first season of American Horror Story came out on Blu Ray I saw that Fry’s had an amazing price on it and went there to buy my copy. While there, I was absolutely amazed at their pricing and selection. The DVD and Blu Ray inventory was awesome. And then I found something that I have never actually seen before – eight square feet of retail space devoted to Doctor Who. And not just the new series – tons of classic Doctor Who DVDs. From William Hartnell to Sylvester McCoy, they had something from every Doctor. Not every story, mind you, but an outstanding sampling. I knew I would be back.
The very next time I visited I found another surprise – a toy section. A toy section that had all of the new wave of Marvel Legends as well as the newest line of Star Wars figures – the ones with the awesome, retro-looking packaging:
Not only that, their prices were fair. Not great, but fair. Star Wars were $9.99 and Marvel were $17.99. Not as cheap as Target or Walmart, but on par with or better than Toys R Us or other specialty retailers like that music store in Discover Mills that sells Star Wars figures for $18.99. I bought X-Force Deadpool, Mystique, Punisher, and Doctor Doom. They didn’t have Moonstar or Blade. I think I’m taking Punisher back because I’ve already got two of him. I didn’t buy any Star Wars because the whole wave seemed to be Troopers of one variety or another. They did have a new Bespin Leia, but her head looked like a monkey. It was pretty bad, which sucked because I was pretty excited about getting that version of the figure.
So anyway, there are alternatives to Walmart and I will be using them. Until they return the male action aisle to its full length former glory, Walmart will not be getting any of my dollars. I already stopped doing an grocery shopping there and other than just stopping to buy odd combinations of items I only have one other reason to even go to Walmart. And that’s going to be the big problem.
Walmart gets most of the best Exclusive action figures and toys from Hasbro.
The 6” scale movie Avengers figures were Walmart Exclusives, as were the Amazing Spider-Man toys of the same scale. Every year Walmart gets at least one amazing Star Wars toy that you can’t get anywhere else. Granted, sometimes you can’t find it at Walmart, either, but you know what I mean. It is going to be very difficult to pass up those exclusives. But I’m going to do it. Every time I go into Walmart I just get more pissed off at what they’re doing to the toy industry. So I’m going to stop.
One last thing, because I wasn’t sure where t put it amidst the rest of my rambling.
The other thing Walmart did to lose my dollars was to reduce their operating hours. I work 12 hour shifts on alternating days and nights. It used to be really nice to be able to hit Walmart and do my grocery shopping at night. That was the main reason I went there. But now that they close at 1 AM and do not reopen until 5 AM I just haven’t been going there as much at all. For whatever reason, that 1 – 4 window happened to be a good time for me to get things done.
I know I’m not going to make a difference. And even if I can convince all three of my regular readers to stop going to Walmart it won’t matter. But if you love toys and desire a marketplace full of new and exciting products, I encourage you to consider spending your money elsewhere.

PS - I'm seriously not going to Walmart anymore, but I don't expect anybody to take any of this seriously. I'm just talking, I'm not trying to start a movement or anything. 

-Phantom




3 comments:

  1. What I don't get is how they deal with their exclusives. DC universe classics series 5 had a minimum of new tooling, but 5 of the 6 avengers figures are new sculpts (Thor may be reused, but he was a Wal-Mart exclusive in the first place.) It boggles the mind. And I agree with you boycotting Wal-mart, but I couldn't do it. They're my best bet for the Movie Masters Ra's Ah Ghul!

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  2. My local Wal-Mart recently got their shit together. They started getting Marvel Legends, as well as Marvel Universe(took them long enough with this one). And I can't complain about the selection of the new TMNT stuff. They always were extremely short on their Transformers stuff, but have gotten a little better in that area. And they never had a single new Thundercats figure! They do still have about 15 pegs worth of those Amazing Spider-Man figures. There are 2 reasons I go to Wal-Mart, besides grocery shopping. First it's the closest store that carries toys(all others are at least a 40 minute drive). And on the chance I find something I want, it's usually the lowest price around. TRU has a great selection of figures, but their prices are a little too inflated. But I still buy a few things from time to time. If there was a Target closer to me, I would probably shop there. Target has decent prices(just a tad higher than Wal-Mart), and a much better selection. They also have stuff going on clearance pretty regularly.

    Target > Wal-Mart.

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