Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New McQuarrie figs

From plasticandplush, Here's something cool for Star Wars fans. Hasbro will release two more figures (Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda) based on Ralph McQuarrie's concept drawings. The set will be a SDCC exclusive and run $14.99.

In his sketches, concept artist Ralph McQuarrie evokes the graceful power of a ninja master or samurai warrior in his drawing of Obi-Wan. The diminutive Yoda appears leaner and more whimsical than he will ultimately appear in the films, yet he still exudes mystical strength. This collectible two-pack of figures celebrates the vision that would later become known as two of the most memorable characters in the Star Wars saga. Obi-wan and Yoda figures come with exclusive collector coin.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sneak Peak new JLU figure for 2009!

From martycollector, Hey JLU Collectors,

We already revealed quite a lot at SDCC 2008 of our 2009 line up, but wanted to give everyone a little holiday treat before the New Year. Take a gander at the image below! We are not revealing where this figure fits into the line-up quite yet, but you will see her in the first half of 2009!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

My best toy investment ever

Star Trek Captain Jean Luc Picard Tapestry Action Figure

According to Amazon there is "1 used & new available from $999.99"

This is bar none the best toy investment I ever made. I picked this up in a Toys R Us in Pensacola back in the early 1990s. I remember that I was looking for something else (probably Micro Machines) and I saw this hanging on the peg. Mind you I had just read about this rare figure in Action Figure News and Toy Review and I was astonished to see it sitting on the pegs - how could this escape the eyes of an employee? Anyway, it cost me about $4 and now fetches a grand. Woo-hoo! If only all the stuff I've purchased over the years would appreciate this nicely. I'm thinking that it's a once in a lifetime find.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

KB Toys, depressing and lame to the end

Okay, I know that's a little harsh. Kay Bee was lots of fun when we were kids, and it was the site of the awesome Black Friday Star Wars Toy Grab that I chronicled below. When they got out the red ink, you could find some pretty good deals. I can recall a decent Bionicle purchase I made there as recently as 2006 (just looked the sets up on Bricklink to make sure of that date).

But depressing and lame were the sights that greeted me when I popped into the KB Toy Works store in Sherman Oaks tonight. It's a store I almost never check even though it's closer to my house than the nearest TRU, and a store in which I have never purchased a single thing (and, it looks like, never will).

And here's the problem right here. The SW figs were 30% off... but they're priced at 9.99. The huge discount, the "we're selling off everything because our company is DEAD discount," it still only nudging the price down to 7 bucks. That's pretty much the highest price most toy stores will charge for a SW fig, and in many places it's even cheaper.

This is, of course, no surprise; their prices on new, premium toys have always sucked. But what about the odd blast from the past, or finds from strange, unexpected toy categories? Some of the best toy collecting moments can happen then...

Well, not here. It's been a long time since Dr. Fate was news, and "Super Value" my big, black ass. It's been like that for a while; I can't remember the last time the archive racks at a KB served up anything I was even remotely interested in buying. Maybe back when the long-gone Swansea's KB had their Toybiz figs on the left side of that big center aisle, but that was ten years ago.

And as a final "Up Yours, Consumer" there was this. Signs for buying gift cards for a store that won't exist inside of a month or so. What the hell? I even heard an ad for these in between the piped-in songs, a cheerful woman pointing out that the gift cards had no extra fees and -- get this -- never expired. "Oh, but we didn't say the store wouldn't expire, sorry!"

I will miss KB, but mostly because I will miss any toy store that once existed and now doesn't anymore. TRU, Wal-mart and Target seem to be gobbling up everything, and I suppose there are ways that's a sad thing.

But really, for the last several years KB has rarely managed to be anything other than a waste of time for JPX and me (because we're too fanatical not to check), and as far back as I can remember it's been the store with the worst music ever.

Adios, KB Toys. May you return as something better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I just love the new Sinestro color scheme

I managed to find one at Target (I think only Target sells JLU figures now). Do you want me to keep an eye out for this version for you? Come on, she has a new hat!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

KB Toys is no more!

In another sign of the grim holiday season, KB Toys filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in four years on Thursday and plans to begin going-out-of business sales at its stores immediately.

The 86-year-old company said in a filing that its debt is "directly attributable to a sudden and sharp decline in consumer sales" because of the poor economy.

That a toy retailer filed for bankruptcy just before Christmas shows how bleak things have become, since such stores make up to half of their sales during the holidays. But analysts expect toy sales this holiday season to be flat or down slightly from last year's total of $10.4 billion, according to market research firm NPD Group, because consumers are cutting back amid the recession.

In response, toy retailers, including KB Toys, amped up their discounts.

KB Toys had aggressively cut prices to entice cash-strapped shoppers, offering hundreds of toys for $10 or less. It also expanded its value program, which offers deals on new items each week, and offered "Buy 2, Get 1 Free" promotions.

But the deals weren't enough. In the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, KB Toys said that between Oct. 5 and Dec. 8 sales in stores open at least one year, a key retail metric known as same-store sales, fell nearly 20 percent.

The company said it considered its alternatives and decided the most viable way to cover its debt was to begin liquidating its stores via immediate going-out-of-business sales. KB Toys also plans to sell its wholesale distribution business, according to the filing.

Filing for Chapter 11 protection rather than Chapter 7 liquidation allows a company to retain more control over selling off assets. Under Chapter 7, the court immediately appoints a trustee to take over the case.

KB Toys declined to comment beyond what was in the filing.

The company operates 277 mall-based stores, 40 KB Toy Works stores which are mainly in strip malls, 114 outlet stores and 30 short-term holiday stores. It has 4,400 full-time employees and 6,515 seasonal employees.

KB Toys, which says it has about $480 million in annual sales, said in the filing that it had debts between $100 million and $500 million and total assets in the same range.

Vendors top the list of unsecured creditors. The toy retailer owes Hong Kong-based toy manufacturer Li & Fung about $27.2 million, El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel Toys $1.3 million and St. Louis-based Energizer Battery more than $728,000. Other creditors are Hasbro Inc. and the maker of Legos.

Pittsfield, Mass.-based KB Toys filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and emerged nearly two years later as a subsidiary of investment firm Prentice Capital Management, which owns 90 percent of the company's common stock. During that bankruptcy, KB sold its retail Internet operation to eToys Direct Inc., cut the number of retail stores from 1,200 to 650 and closed a distribution center.

Jim Silver, a toy analyst at timetoplaymag.com, said KB had been struggling since emerging from its first bankruptcy protection in 2005.

"Manufacturers were concerned about shipping to them over the last couple of months," he said. "This did not happen all of a sudden."

He said that the timing of the filing was a surprise, however, since he expected it in January. But as manufacturers balked at shipping "hot" holiday toys, their sales dropped off. KB Toys also suffered from deciding not to sell video-game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, one of the few toy items selling well this year, Silver said.

"Their business model didn't work," he said. "They're selling closeouts, today people want the hot toys."

Amid the consumer spending slowdown and recession, KB Toys joins a growing list of retailers filing for bankruptcy protection. Others include Mervyns LLC, The Sharper Image, Steve & Barry's, to Linens 'N Things and Circuit City Stores Inc.