Super Hero Squad Rumorbuster

Monday, May 19, 2008

More Spider-Man/Kraven/Vulture/Venom rumors

A couple of recent rumors have started, all apparently by one source who doesn’t like to be corrected by yours truly, so while I intended to do a quick run-down, it looks like there’s going to be a couple posts here:


The rumor: Poor Sales killed Kraven

Truth: Nobody knows why he was pulled. This rumor is essentially a portmanteau of existing rumors and unrelated theories. In early January, 2008, a user on a SHS forum reported that he heard it was pulled for a design issue. Also in early January, other users on the same forum reported that their Walmarts were restructuring the toy departments to take out Spider-Man SHS, leaving only Robot Heroes, Super Hero Squad, and Galactic Heroes.

(insert message board posts from people claiming they’ve seen Kraven, they’ve seen others who have purchased Kraven, etc.)

In late January 2008, the same user said his source from Hasbro said that Spider-Man/Kraven would be officially released May 8th.

(insert message board posts from people complaining that Kraven is going to be “movie” version, whatever that means.)

(insert message board posts from people insisting they heard that February was the release date, that March was the release date, that they see it for pre-order here, or there.)

In February, the user with the source said Big Bad Toy Store sent him notice that Hasbro was not able to fill the order for a case with Kraven, and that Hasbro “have just informed me that they do not have any new assortments that include this item scheduled for 2008.” He then says his source still says May.

In March, the user with the source said his source now says that the Spider-Man line didn’t “do well enough at stores to release any further product.”

Note, this is not “Kraven was cancelled because of low sales”, but that Kraven was never released and a guy knows someone that said Kraven would come out months after the Spider-Man line was phased out of stores and stopped having new waves announced, and that someone later changed their mind.

Now, there’s a Vulture rumor from the same source that says Vulture and the Venom/Sandman packs are rare because poor sales resulted in limited quantities. Again, totally unfounded. While Marvel did say that Spider-Man sales were disappointing in an earnings call documented here on Seeking Alpha that was in August 2007. So they knew the sales were disappointing line wide on Spider-Man toys in August, continued to announce upcoming waves including the Kraven wave, released 2/3rds of the wave, and finally 5 months later major retailers take the line off the shelves (months after the wave had hit shelves, sold out and was not refreshed.)

In fact, Marvel does not even discuss the possibility of toy product scale down in the earnings call mentioned earlier. They do say “While Hasbro has not been disappointed with licensed Marvel toy sales to date, we have reduced our forecast for the second half of the 2007 to the lower end of their forecast to reflect a possibility of lower reorders, though we are hopeful that the planned DVD releases in Q4 will further stimulate sales.”

Which, in English, means Hasbro is ok with toy sales (if Hasbro was disappointed in toy sales, Marvel wouldn’t come out and say it, they’d just avoid mentioning Hasbro altogether rather than misrepresenting facts to their shareholders and then publishing those mis-representations) but Marvel doesn’t think they’ll get as much money from the toy line as they once thought they would.

No consideration of distribution problems whatsoever though, or the fact that every message board post I’ve ever found of someone finding the figures was at a Walmart, or how the toys were never even included on Hasbro’s site. Of course, for the distribution angle, the closest we have to an “official” (and I use the term loosely) word is discussed in this post where we nitpick how a guy named ransomz on Marvelousnews says that when he talked to a guy named Scott, from marketing, that the third wave of Spider-Man had crap for distribution and "Some of the figures, like Kraven, may be worked back into future waves of the main line” (keeping in mind that the third wave was the Green Goblin/New Goblin 2 pack wave, and not the Vulture Wave)

Grains of salt people.

And while I’m talking about the dearly departed Spider-Man line, there’s a really, really silly rumor regarding the switch from prototype Venom in the Venom/Puma pack, discussed in an earlier post. Basically, the new rumor is: “the Venom on the back of the package was the Venom that was originally supposed to be released in this 2-Pack, because it was too small to fit in with the line it was removed and replaced with this Venom.”
Of course no source whatsoever would be foolish enough to put a name to this.

The Venoms were switched, but there was never a reason given, either officially or unofficially, on the record or off. The Venom depicted was less hulking than the sculpt that had already been released, and the later re-sculpt, but this is a great example of a misapplied deduction.

There’s a pattern of circumstances made obvious after an event, so thus the event must have been triggered by non-conformity with the pattern. Unfortunately with this line of deduction while the guess may be logical, or “truthy” in a Colbert sense, it’s not actually supported by anything, and can easily be mis-applied. For instance, one could also argue that because the new Venom wasn’t the same as the Venom that had been released, he was replaced. It uses the same facts to arrive at the same truth, but it is not supported.

So while there may be some truth to the rumor, it’s pure guesswork based on faulty deduction.

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