I want to preface this by saying I have never been a Disney-basher. I had no negative reaction to Disney buying Star Wars. At the end of the day it will allow the franchise to continue and hopefully regain something close to its original glory.
But that being said I REALLY don't know what their Licensing and Marketing teams are smoking.
I recently stood outside my local Toys R Us to partake in the Force Friday event for the new The Force Awakens merchandise. I'd attended the previous midnight sales for The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith so I expected another night of Toys R Us and Lucasfilm selling a crap load of toys. While we waited in line the Toys R Us employees would come out periodically to get us hyped up by talking about the large volume of boxes they were unloading.
I was literally the first person to walk in. I walked to the Star Wars section in the back corner of the store where they said the majority of the merchandise was. This in itself should have set off alarm bells in the back of my head because at the previous events they just had racks and racks of figures at the front of the store. When I got to the Star Wars section I was surprised to note that they had MAYBE 100 figures TOPS. I assumed they might bring more out once those sold, and I was more focused on finding a Sphero BB-8, so I only grabbed the 6" Black Series Kylo Ren and Rey figures.
After searching throughout the aisles I was finally told they didn't even get any Sphero BB-8 units to sell. I walked back to the figure section and they rack was empty. No surprise. So I asked an employee when they were bringing out the boxes in back. He looked at me embarrassingly and told me that they didn't have any boxes. They only had those 100 figures to sell. So then everyone was standing around trying to figure out what to buy since they couldn't buy the only things they came there to buy before eventually shrugging their shoulders and walking out. Apparently this same scenario played out at all the other Toys R Us, Targets, etc. too.
Not helping matters is the fact that the quality of the standard figures has dropped significantly from the modern standards we had enjoyed since the Prequels. For the past decade you could get a well sculpted figure with multiple points of articulation for a under $9. Now they are selling "vintage style" figures with limited pose-ability and mediocre sculpts for $9.99. They may think this will appeal to fans more because of nostalgia for the old toys. But they don't realize that the standards, and prices, were much lower then. If they were charging under $5 they might be able to swing it but for $9.99 it just isn't worth the money. They may think they will make money by selling cheaply made figures for the prices they used to charge a year ago for extraordinary figures. But if nobody buys them they won't make a dime.
Additionally they are making a lot of stuff like R/C ships, bike helmets, Micro-Machine sets, and 48" action figures (for $99) that most people could care less about. The ONLY really great toy that came out is the Sphero BB-8. Most of these will most definitely rot on the shelf before selling at clearance.
I don't know where they decided that this was the way to market Star Wars toys. They must not have bothered to ask George because he never let these problems occur when he was in charge. He knew that the action figures were the bread and butter of these midnight sales events. Hopefully they will learn their lesson and fix the problem.
While all of this sucked it didn't really hurt. They were producing a lot of mediocre stuff but they weren't preventing us from buying good stuff. Until now. I'll cover that in Part 2.