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April 2012 Retro Gaming Article


April 21, 2012 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Dearth of Skylanders: swapping DLC for actual action figures means keeping them stocked!

I bought my son (and myself) Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure for Christmas. The more I read about it the more excited I became for him to open it up and play with me. As this excitement mounted, it fed my craving for MORE. We're all accustomed to unlocking or downloading new/additional characters in games, so buying them as physical action figures is quite a change.
Skylanders screenshot
My local Toys R Us kept offering buy-one-get-one-free deals on video game accessories and to my amazement, they considered Skylander figures to be accessories. Needless to say, I bought every 3-pack they had. By the time Santa tried to fit his fat ass down our chimney, we were knee-deep in Skylander awesomeness. I think my son opened 18 Skylander figures on Christmas day. We loved the game and the uniqueness of plopping action figures onto the portal to bring them into the game.

It wasn't long before we wanted more. Skylanders are classified by clans and each one has special powers in their own world, so we wanted to have at least one from each clan. In some cases, this is necessary to access certain areas of the game. Off we went to the store. Then another store. And yet another. No fucking Skylanders! We assumed that stock was low after the Christmas rush.

Not the case! It wasn't until April that we saw ANY skylanders on retail shelves. None at Toys R Us, WalMart, Best Buy or GameStop... until April! WTF!?! We snagged the ones we could and hoped that Activision was resolving the issue.

I'm wondering if Activision is more accustomed to the re-stocking routine for game titles, not realizing the different landscape of the toy market. Who knows, but I can't believe that they simply figured they could restock once each quarter and be done with it. People were ravenous for Skylander figures in the first quarter of the year. Reports claim that Activision is doing their best to stock retailers, but prior to April 2, I've seen nothing but baren shelves at every Skylander display in my area.

One really awful part about this shortage is the price gauging that's occurring on auction sites like eBay and by affiliates on Amazon. I can't say I'm surprised. Every time I discover a toy shortage, I see the prices jump on such sites. As a manufacturer, Activision needs a punch in the face for letting this gauging, due to stock shortages, occur so early in the Skylander lifecycle. You expect rarity to cause price spikes, but Skylanders aren't rare (for the most part). Activision simply underestimated demand and hasn't been able to rectify it. OK, 2 punches in the face!

Now GameStop is taking in used Skylanders and reselling them as "used". Quite a change from the dearth of figures for the last 4 months. Thankfully I was obsessed as I was at Christmas and bought all the ones I could find. Lesson learned ;)

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