March 10, 2018 – Congratulations, Star Wars fan community! We have now reached the halfway point of Hasbro’s challenge to secure at least 5,000 paid orders for the 4-foot long Jabba’s Sail Barge.
The 2,500th order was placed just before 8:00 PM (EST) on March 10th. But with a scant 24 days left, handwringing amongst collectors is beginning in earnest. There is a palpable sense of early panic that Hasbro’s crowdfunding campaign will fall short of its goal.
To prepare everyone for the reality of inevitable failure, we sent two of our best ace reporters, Dig Allen and Tom Swift, Jr., into the near-future. Messrs. Allen and Swift both tele-transported to Earth, 4 April 2018, the day after Hasbro’s deadline expired. Here is their combined wire report from the future:
>>Earth, 4 April 2018 – Wormhole Communications Report>>
“After hacking into HasLab’s network (the password is “Haslab1234”), reading numerous social media sites’ commentaries, and interviewing some despondent collectors on April 4th, we now understand why Hasbro’s campaign has failed.
“1. An Unrealistic Goal of 5,000:
“Hasbro set an arbitrary and unattainable goal of 5,000 paid orders. Hobbled by insufficient research and magical thinking, the Rhode Island-based company failed to come up with the more realistic number of 3,500.
“Back in 2013, a fan-driven ‘Back the Barge’ petition had managed to only garner 3,103 supporters from around the world over many, many months. Signing the petition cost nothing and did not commit its signatories to anything.
In 2012 and 2013, a “Bring on the Barge” fan-driven petition managed to only garner 3,103 signatories. Collector sites, such as JediTempleArchives.com and others, urged their fans to sign on so they could approach Hasbro with evidence of widespread support for a 3.75-inch scaled Jabba’s Sail Barge. (Image Source: JediTempleArchives.com)
“Yet the cost-free petition failed its own goal of obtaining 10,000 signatures. How Hasbro thought it could convince 5,000 paying customers to put their money where their mouths were, confounds us space travelers from the future.
“2. Cost Prohibitive
“At a cost of $499.99 USD plus tax, Jabba’s Sail Barge would have been the most expensive 3.75-inch scaled vehicle ever offered by Hasbro. But for many in the 3.75-inch scale collecting community, $500 was just too much. For that amount of money, many vintage collectors said they would prefer instead to buy a vintage Star Wars vehicle or a couple vintage figures, such as the elusive Blue Snaggletooth.
“3. No Payment Plan
“Hasbro did not offer the flexibility of a payment plan, say half down now, and the remainder due upon shipping. A quarterly payment plan would have been even better, allowing would-be buyers to justify paying $125 every three months.
“No Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platform has ever offered only one pricing option ($500) and expected its supporters to come up with so much money in so little time (45 days).
“4. Poor Rollout Timing
“The campaign was somewhat clumsy and shortsighted in the timing of its rollout. First, Hasbro announced its campaign on February 17th during the New York Toy Fair. While this would appear to be an appropriate venue, more than a few collectors stated that the surprise announcement caught them off guard. Unable to budget enough funds during the 45-day window, they could not commit to a prepaid order. Likewise, for U.S. taxpayers expecting a federal tax refund by the April 15th filing deadline, Hasbro’s cut-off date of April 3rd was a tad early.
“Next, Hasbro committed another rollout misfire when it opened the campaign to Canada-based orders on April 3rd, a Friday. The problem is that Friday (and weekends, in particular) are known as the graveyard of newsreporting cycles. Political operatives know that if you want to bury bad news, release it late on Friday when both the public and reporters are less apt to read and disseminate it.
“Finally, Hasbro compounded its timing errors by belatedly opening its campaign to overseas consumers in the last week. But by then, it was too little, too late.
“5. Initially a U.S. Exclusive
“Why Hasbro thought limiting Jabba’s Sail Barge to only U.S.-based consumers was a good idea, baffles us space-time travelers. Denying a large international community the ability to participate only engendered ill will and a missed golden opportunity. It’s as if Hasbro had decided to enter a marathon race with two hands tied behind its back and a crutch permanently affixed to a leg.
“6. Too Large
“At four feet long, many would-be buyers feared they would have insufficient space in their living quarters to display or store the mammoth Sail Barge. In addition, many wives and spouses vetoed their significant others’ requests when they found out how large and expensive the Sail Barge would be.
“7. 35 Years Too Late
“Could this be Hasbro’s last hurrah? With its Star Wars license about to expire in 2020, Hasbro has belatedly decided to listen more closely to the longtime collecting community. How odd, therefore, to finally decide to release Jabba’s Sail Barge – 35 years after its appearance in Return of the Jedi (1983).
“Vintage-oriented collectors have dwindled in numbers. Some have quit the hobby. Others have died. Still others have simply become much more selective in what they are willing to add to their collection. Add in the fact that today’s children simply do not play with toys and playsets in the numbers and manner that their parents did, and Hasbro now finds it is chasing a consumer demographic that has dramatically changed.
“8. A Collecting Community Divided
“A once unified Star Wars collecting community (until the 1990s, at least) now finds itself greatly splintered and divided. Six-inch action figure collectors have pooh-poohed the idea of a 3.75-inch scaled playset. Others have expressed zero interest in any vehicles or playsets. Then there is the Star Wars Lego community, which finds far more value in plunking down $800 for Lego’s 7500-piece Millenium Falcon (if you can find it).
“Hasbro should not be surprised by the failure of its campaign. Since the introduction of its six-inch figures in 2013, Hasbro has promoted and elevated the larger articulated figures while allowing the traditional 3.75-inch line to wither on the vine. Many six-inch figure collectors, therefore, find little or no value in buying a Sail Barge designed for smaller figures. Thus, a collecting community divided.
“9. Was It Corporate Greed and Hubris?
“Some critics (previously reported HERE) have called Hasbro’s campaign unethical and a moral lapse. Why would a multi-billion-dollar international toy company attempt to finance its project on the backs of its most loyal fans, who have each supported the company with untold thousands of dollars over the decades? Moreover, if Hasbro had reached its funding goal of $2.5 million USD, it would have pocketed the interest earned on the capital for the next year.
“Some observers believe that Hasbro has preyed upon a sense of desperation and longing within the aging collector community. Denied their iconic Sail Barge for the last 35 years, the thinking goes, the community would somehow find the money and number of supporters to hit Hasbro’s $2.5 million goal. But the campaign has failed, and Hasbro is left with something of a P.R. nightmare.
“To be fair to Hasbro, they should be credited for investing their time, effort and money in developing the Khettana concept and prototype. We believe that Hasbro certainly wanted the crowdfunding campaign to succeed.
A probable Hasbro employee posted this commentary to rebut statements that the Hasbro campaign might just be a P.R. stunt.
“10. Hasbro Failed to Promote Its Own Campaign
“Fans are questioning why Hasbro did not do more to advertise the existence of Jabba’s Sail Barge and did not better promote its Haslab project. Why, for example, was there no hyperlink to the Haslab site from Hasbro’s home page? Did the toy company miss several opportunities to spread the word via social media by engaging a celebrity? Did Hasbro place too much faith in a word-of-mouth campaign by a handful of Star Wars fan sites?
“We may never know as Hasbro has declined comment to our questions.
“In hopes of mollifying those disappointed fans who plunked down their $500 and who had rallied so hard for the Sail Barge, Hasbro has decided it will distribute free ‘Certificates of Participation’ and a yet-to-be-decided trinket to the faithful sometime around Star Wars Day (May the 4th). Rumors that Hasbro might conduct a lottery to give away the unpainted Sail Barge prototype to a subscriber quickly swept the web.
“Fans on YouTube and other sites have posted videos and photos of them burning and shredding the Hasbro Certificates. Others, however, have allowed their disappointment to morph into a money-making attempt by selling their Certificates on Ebay with a starting bid of $1.99.
“Some historians believe this odd bit of Star Wars and Hasbro history will rank right up there with the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.”
>>End of Transmission Report by Dig Allen and Tom Swift, Jr.>>