On Tuesday July 21, 2020, Hasbro announced that four action figures part of a new series of G.I. Joe Classified would be released as the Cobra Island Special Mission. These include a variant of the original Roadblock action figure with a thick beard, ranger Beachhead, Cobra intelligence officer the Baroness with a red Coil bike, and the army builder- Cobra Trooper. Fans often like to collect multiple copies of generic troops like the Cobra Trooper.
The rest of this article is a complaint about Hasbro’s release strategy for G.I. Joe Classified and other toys. It is known that toy manufacturers in the collectors’ market participate in the creation of artificial shortages to create more demand. One of their tactics has been to use store exclusive releases such as last week’s G.I. Joe Classified Series 3 Cobra Island Target exclusive release. Store exclusive release have existed forever. It was something even in the 1980s with G.I. Joe A Real American Hero. However, back then, these store exclusives were often repainted and retooled versions of already released toys. With the Cobra Island release, we have the first version of the Baroness, Beachhead, the second G.I. Joe Ranger, and the much-demanded Cobra trooper, as well as the new Roadblock variant released to Target only. These toys were announced on Tuesday evening to a few collectors’ outlets and then sold the next day on Target’s website.
Within seconds of being available for sale, these toys were sold out. Collectors who were on the site at 9 AM had no chance to purchase these toys as bot scripts were used by scalpers to purchase the lot of the toys in moments. These toys are now listed on auction sites at a significant markup. First, this shortage strategy used by Hasbro has to stop. If there is no way for us to collect some of those toys, I and many other fans will stop collecting them. We are not willing to pay scalpers for toys that should be normally available.
E-commerce bots are banned in parts of Canada. They are often used by entertainment venues to sell tickets to spectacles. If their use is seen as anti-competitive and market manipulation in the show business, why should they be tolerated and legal when it comes to action figure collecting? Hasbro and Target, by allowing themselves to be participants in such ploys, knowingly knowing that bots are mass-purchasing their wares should err on the safe side of the law and block bulk purchases and any insider trading with action figures, if it occurs. They may not operate the bots but they are well aware that scalpers are buying their wares in bulk as opposed to regular customers.
The only action figure in the Cobra Island release that was a variant was Roadblock. Now I am certain that the Baroness will be sold without her red Coil bike at a later date. However, I am not certain that there will be a re-release of Beachhead and Cobra Trooper. The Cobra Island debacle has left fans pissed with Hasbro and Target. While these toys will be available in American stores on August 14, 2020 but what about markets outside of the United States without Target stores? Canadians don’t even know if they will be able to purchase these toys in Canada.
If Hasbro does not stop playing the collector’s market, it will kill the golden goose. Action figures are unnecessary wares. Collectors can use their discretionary income elsewhere where they will not be tricked, gamed, and played for fools for simply wanting to get an action figure based on nostalgic values alone.