April 4, 2018 – Hasbro’s 45-day crowdfunding campaign, via its HasLab project, came to a successful close last night just before midnight. The HasLab counter below shows that 8,810 units of the four-foot long Jabba’s Sail Barge were ordered, far surpassing the minimum-backing goal of 5,000 units.
The exact number of customers is unknown as each customer could place up to five (5) orders per transaction. Technically, you could order more than five Sail Barges, but in separate transactions.
An informal poll last week suggested that most collectors had ordered but one unit each while a small handful ordered many more in hopes of reselling them later.
Just two weeks ago, a certain amount of angst pervaded social media as to whether the campaign would fall short of the 5,000 goal. As of March 20th, for example, the 3,000-order barrier had not yet been breached, and sales were sluggish.
Sales accelerated dramatically on March 21st, when Hasbro announced it was adding a 3.75-inch Yak Face figure on a vintage-style Power of the Force cardback, complete with a Collector’s Coin, to sweeten the deal.
By March 30th, the backer goal of 5,000 units had been reached with four days to spare. Amazingly, approximately 1,000-unit orders were placed in the preceding 24 hours as potential backers climbed aboard to reach the 5,000-goal.
With nary a glance back, the numbers continued to climb rapidly in the final four days, sailing past 8,800. Hasbro’s “minimal backing goal” of 5,000 was exceeded by a margin of 3,810 orders, or 76.2% above its initial target.
In short, Hasbro’s first-ever crowdfunding venture appears to be a spectacular success. But are there clouds on the horizon?
Some Risk and Uncertainty Ahead
First, Hasbro will now run every customer’s credit card or PayPal account, transferring funds to the Rhode Island-based toy company’s ledgers. Besides immediately losing the use of the $500 (plus tax) for other expenses or a potential loss of investment return (interest), customers will have to wait until late February or early March, 2019, for shipments to begin.
But recall that a year ago, another giant company – Toys R Us – appeared to be solvent, its CEO was promising to update their stores, and better days were promised to be around the corner. By Sept. 2017, however, Toys R Us had filed for bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and on March 14, 2018, it announced it was closing for good.
So there is no guarantee that Hasbro will keep its end of the Sail Barge bargain a year from now. On the other hand, Hasbro hasn’t been hobbled by the same financial woes that proved Toys R Us’ ruin, including TRU’s $5.3 billion debt which it had been carrying since 2005 and the fact that TRU’s last full year of profit was in 2012. Hasbro is in far better shape financially.
A second source of risk and uncertainty is a trade war ignited by President Trump, when he recently announced tariffs on steel and aluminum. In addition, the U.S. administration has released a list of $50 billion worth of Chinese products it will target with a 25% import tariff. They include 1,300 items mostly in electronics, aerospace, and machinery. For consumers, think trash compactors, electronic players, smart cards, video projectors and much more coming from China.
Beijing said yesterday that China will respond in equal measure to U.S. tariffs. China’s in-kind list of 106 products (and growing) includes U.S.-made airplanes, cars, and agricultural products.
The Trump Administration may be overlooking the fact that China can bypass U.S. manufacturers and agricultural suppliers altogether. For example, Chinese airlines can stop purchasing Boeing (U.S.) airplanes and switch to Airbus (Europe). In lieu of cars made by General Motors and Ford, China can opt for Japanese and European models. And there are many international exporters of wheat, soybeans, and pigs besides the farmers of Iowa. And so in a trade war, nearly everyone loses.
The vast bulk of Hasbro’s products are manufactured in China. What’s unclear for now is how the costs of raw material (plastic, dyes, textiles for the Sail Barge’s sails), tooling (huge factor) and shipping may be impacted. Nobody knows yet, but stay tuned.
If there are substantial unforeseen additional costs in the coming months, Hasbro could well cancel production and simply refund everyone’s money. Or it could offer to still go forward, but impose an additional payment requirement. As a matter of contract law, rescission or reformation of a contract is not unheard of.
The third bit of uncertainty applies to European and Australian consumers, who were never offered a direct option from Hasbro to buy the Sail Barge. Hasbro has stated that it reserves the right to make and distribute as many Sail Barges as it deems appropriate, and there are vague hints that overseas customers may be able to buy the Sail Barge either at retail or direct from the company. But that’s an open question to be answered months down the line.
What’s Next for The Khetanna
If you ordered a Sail Barge, you can follow Hasbro’s updates at their #updates link. In short order, Hasbro should be shipping its 64-page booklet, Jabba’s Sail Barge (The Khetanna): Behind the Workbench, to customers. Check the update link periodically for further progress notes.