New Toys From Irwin
Irwin Toys looks like it's finally getting back on track after experiencing one of it's worst periods in history. Kidscreen (a magazine dedicated to businesses getting the most money out of you) published an excellent article about the recent events within the company. Fans interested in the toy business should check it out.
But one of the areas still off-track for the company is their Sailor Moon line. We've heard, from many different sources, that these toys aren't selling as well as they used to. One retailer observed, "...It didn't help that the new episodes sucked." (People on the front line tend not to mince words.)
We had hoped that the new Luna Ball would be a big seller and help keep Irwin interested in the series. (They've made a long term deal with Funimation concerning their shows but nothing concerning the world of Sailor Moon.) We noticed (and you may have too) that the Luna Ball did not come out as planned in June and now (as of August 2001) has no scheduled release! Different independent sources have all told us the same thing, that Irwin still plans to sell this toy but that it is getting held up either by manufacturing problems or by the approval process.
This may all work out better in the long run. If we should target Irwin for a "Sailor Stars" campaign, there would be nothing better than spectacular Luna Ball sales going on at the same time! (But we'd still like that "meow" replaced with messages from Sabrina Grdevich as Sailor Pluto. Hey Louis, we know where she is! Heck, she just appeared in "Artificial Intelligence!")
We've also been told that Irwin is considering making Sailor Moon action figures to see if there should be any consumer demand for such a line. These would be like the posed Dragonball Z action figures with plastic hair and very limited (if any) movement. But the poses would be based on the most famous positions of each character in the series; so each character would have it's own unique pose. This is only in the talking stage so far but we hope that Irwin conducts some customer feedback before going ahead with this.
Offhand, if great poses are selected, these could really sell. (But some of us here are betting that toys like the Luna Ball [which appeal to girls, boys, men & women] could do even better! Anyone have any ideas for any more toys like that?)
Recently, we received several reports of a "mystery booth" at this Summer's Comic-Con convention in San Diego. This booth, never manned our sources told us, had Sailor Moon, Thunderbirds and Dragonball Z toys mounted on its walls with absolutely no identification and no booth number. Several thought that it might be a booth for Irwin but could never find out. Even Comic-Con staffers & volunteers didn't know.
Finally, one of our Television Industry Contacts belatedly wrote us with the definitive answer. Here is their account:
I was in San Diego for the convention and ran into, of all people, Grant Irwin. I know almost next to nothing about toys and was there on other business but couldn't pass up the opportunity to talk with him. So to those fans who are big toy collectors, please forgive me for not asking the right questions. (And I didn't have a camera with me!)
Mr. Irwin showed me prototypes of some new dolls. One was of Super Sailor Moon and it looked good to me. There was a Sailor Saturn with completely purple hair. He said that this was going to be changed to black hair with a purple tint. Her make-up looked all wrong to me. It was way too heavy; like a glam girl trying to put on make-up for the first time. Grant said that they'd probably tone this down.
On display(It's amazing that this stuff was never stolen from an unmanned booth!) was a Wicked Lady & Sailor Mini Moon boxed set. There's 2 dolls in a single box. They looked _really_ good. But Sailor Mini Moon was too tall in comparison to the Wicked Lady. It would have helped if she were smaller. Mr. Irwin said this was unlikely to change. Perhaps fans will mix the 2 sizes available to get a better match?
Also, it's funny, I don't know if this is correct or not but even though there's _lots_ of pink hair on both dolls, they treated some of Sailor Mini Moon's in plastic. The epaulet shapes are in pink plastic - but it looked like a good choice as they helped keep all that hair under control.
Grant said that all of these dolls would come out at the same time - probably in late September or early October. They will only be sold in the specialty stores and not at places like Toys R Us.
Something which I didn't know but maybe old news to the rest of the world. If your Sailor Moon doll comes in a yellow box, it was meant to be sold to a specialty store only. Irwin color keys their boxes to the different markets. The yellow boxes even have Japanese writing on them but I don't know what they say.
As you can see, this contact is not only an expert at toys but of kanji as well! ;) Stick to TV! (But seriously we're happy to post this report.)
We thank Mr. Irwin for showing these new dolls and are glad he's still with the company. If anything, Grant (who is Irwin's Specialty Sales Manager), is a survivor. This was his (and Irwin's) first Comic-Con and was perhaps unprepared for the magnitude of this convention. We expect to see him and the company back next year with a sign and a support staff! Our contact said that he would have talked with Mr. Irwin more but that he was too busy selling Dragonball Z toys to kids! (Can you imagine all those unsuspecting fans buying DBZ toys directly from an Irwin family member??? Sheesh!!!) Next time you're at one of these conventions, take a real good look at that badge!