The company had experienced explosive growth via "Sailor Moon" and "Dragonball Z." Up until the introduction of those lines the company had maintained a consistent level of sales (though a declining percentage of the market) through its crafts division and with such toy standards as the Yo-Yo, Etch-a-Sketch, Slinky and Meccano (known as Erector Sets in the United States).
Before the sale, back in 2000, Irwin picked up the world-wide rights for the action figures to Mainframe Entertainment's "ReBoot" in anticipation of the 2 new TV movies which were to premiere this Fall on YTV in Canada and the Cartoon Network in the United States. (Amusingly, there is some question on exactly what Mainframe will be delivering. At first it was 2 new TV movies which would also be available as 8 episodes, then it was 3 movies available as 12 episodes plus a 13th episode as a musical and today it's ???) YTV paid for the initial costs of the production.
Operated and controlled by the Irwin family since it's founding in 1926 by Samuel Irwin, the company has seen a lot of inner-strife over the last few years. It is believed that personal matters and the future direction of the company were at issue. First, Scott Irwin left, then George Irwin, leaving Arnold B. Irwin and S. Macdonald Irwin (who together controlled 52% of the stock) who said they then received an offer for the company which led to the buyout by Livgroup.
This marks the second company associated with Sailor Moon to change hands within the last year. (DiC was the first.) Both companies also went from being publicly held via stock to privately-held by individuals. Unlike DiC, the new owners are expected to take an active role in running the company.
Livgroup is privately owned by Richard W. Ivey and Jean-Rene Halde. While they have never run a toy enterprise before they have run other companies.
So far, we have had no communication with the new owners of Irwin but can't think of a better way to say hello than to recommend that all fans should buy at least one, new special addition to their toy line!
The Luna Ball (which really should be called the "Luna P" but you can guess why they changed it) looks like a terrific new gift for any Sailor Moon fan! It's a toy that guys can own without the shame of playing with dolls. Although suggested to be a jewelry box it could be used to hold any number of special items; anything from paper clips to professional audio connectors! It's toys like this which help keep Sailor Moon special. No one but a Sailor Moon fan is going to know the significance of this little item! We know of more than one executive that's buying one of these for their desk!
(One thing, we wish that instead of a "Meow" coming out of it that it had different messages from Sailor Pluto as performed by Sabrina Grdevich.)
Fans should definitely buy the Luna Ball to send a strong message to the new owners of Irwin of our continued support of Sailor Moon. It will definitely give you a stronger voice in saying what form (if any) "Sailor Stars" should take. The Luna Ball should go on sale in June for about US$24.00. Buy it and save any receipts (they may turn out to be handy)!
Guardians Of Order
Sales erosion is natural with any Home Video series release. The biggest sales are usually at the beginning and then they slowly taper off. ADV's giveaways are an expected response to counteract this phenomenon. More on DiC/ADV & Cloverway/Pioneer in another report.
Place Obligatory WBSS Story Here
Under threat of extended servitude, Krissy has smuggled out another one of her secret communiques! (You preteens listen up! This is what your future life in retail holds for you!) In this latest missive, Krissy details all the telltale signs of a WB Studio Store closing (have you spotted them all at your nearest location?) and gives tips on how to get the most bang out of your buck! Let's listen in.....
"WBSS is closing down. Some stores have already closed. Every month there is a (dreaded) list of stores which will be closing. The last month they are open they have "the big sale" (which the vultures, our name for the customers who want something for nothin', have been asking us about constantly). We still think we will last until our lease runs out in September (which totally pisses me off cause I am going to miss out on, most likely free, Harry Potter Movie goodies when the movie comes out in November!!!)."
"Just to note for all those consumers out there. The whole stock, of each closing store, will go on sale the last month they are open. The gallery items (lithographs, cells, statues, art work, etc...) won't go on sale but will be sold at regular price, and when the store closes they will be put in to the WB archives......never to be seen by the light of day again."(We disagree here; we think they'll turn up somewhere for sale.)
Also, in case there are any Cardcaptor fans, which I have become, WBSS carries some nice Cardcaptors merchandise which sold out really fast and I haven't seen any at our store since. Except a few talking Kero dolls that are still there. But keep your eyes open. Until we actually do close there maybe more. As well as a lot of Gundam Wing and DBZ.
So alas I turn to the world to look for another job (though now I am looking into something full time that pays more than pocket change!!!), and despite the many upset customers, who don't want to see us go, as well as the many WBSS employees who don't want to give up a fun part-time job. Our time at the Warner Bros. Studio Store is about to end......thanks a lot AOL!!! Well, this is probably my last...
And then the transmission was lost..... perhaps forever! Farewell Krissy! And thus endeth another Toy Roundup!