Mandalorian Assault Transport, Marshalls and the Madness of Distribution

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November 9, 2014 – At first blush, this article is about an incredible deal: For the past week, Marshalls has been selling two-pack “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” vehicles for $24.99. The two boxes are shrink-wrapped together, so you may find a combination of Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter with a Mandalorian Asault Transport; or Kit Fisto’s Jedi Starfighter paired with Anakin’s version; or a Cloud Car paired with a Snowspeeder. This remarkable deal makes the effective price only $12.50 per vehicle versus the typical MSRP of $24.99 each. Marshalls-2Pack-110714-A

Click to enlarge photo

Click to enlarge photo

Stock up early for your Holiday gift-shopping needs (or because you’re a rabid collector of Star Wars vehicles) because these vehicles may not stay on store shelves long. Marshalls’ store locater can be found HERE. T.J. Maxx is also likely to receive these 2-pack toy vehicles.

But our story does not end here. This article is really about the maddening state of Hasbro’s toy distribution system. Numerous online forums/fora have been criticizing Hasbro since 2012 for its nonsensical and, some would say, inept distribution of Star Wars action figures and vehicles. The latest kerfuffle involves missing Star Wars Rebels action figures. Disney began to heavily promote its new animated series in early summer, 2014, and the T.V. series premiered in October. Yet Hasbro missed a golden opportunity to sell these in-demand items throughout the summer. And not until last week – more than a month after Rebels premiered – have the action figures finally begun widespread distribution in the U.S.

No other premiere of Star Wars movies or animated series has been met with empty store shelves (save for the original Star Wars film in 1977, which led to Kenner’s famous Early-Bird mail-away campaign).

So how does Marshalls fit into this toy distribution madness? Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Ollies and other discount outlets are able to sell their toys at discount prices because, for whatever reason, the original items were returned (sometimes years earlier) by other major retailers, such as Target. But I also suspect that many of these shipments sat, inexplicably, in warehouses or backrooms for years and never saw the light of day to begin with.

The Mandalorian Assault Transport boxed toy provides valuable clues (but no answers) as to the scatterbrained approach of Hasbro and its distribution system:
● The vehicle is date-stamped 2009, yet the box lists a 2011 TM and copyright;
● This esoteric vehicle was first revealed at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2011, but thereafter proved incredibly difficult to find;
● Entertainment Earth, one of the largest online vendors of Star Wars items, cancelled all of its customer pre-orders;
● JediTempleArchives has a wonderful review of the vehicle, which you can find HERE, and is equally perplexed by its scarcity. In a sign of the reviewer’s frustration, in the top summary box under “Availability (Date)”, they write “Who knows?”
● Only now (October/November 2014) are we seeing a final release of two-pack vehicles, including the Mandalorian vehicle, which means the warehouses and dusty storage rooms are finally being cleared of these hidden remnants.

Here is a 2012 video review of the Mandalorian Assault Transport which, by the way, first appeared onscreen in the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Season 2 Episode 12: The Mandalore Plot) in 2009:

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