• September 2018
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • Advertisements

The End: Toys "R" Us – June 29, 2018 #TRU #ToysRUs #ToysRUsKid

This is it.

Today’s the end.

toys_r_us_the_end_a

Toys R Us is–after several months of liquidation and such–closing officially.

My final visit was the other day–Wednesday, June 27.

It was the Mentor, Ohio store–across from the Great Lakes Mall. This was the first Toys R Us that I remember…and in many ways, the most important. At least, to me.

This was the TRU that I got my very first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figure–an original Rocksteady (that has, unfortunately, been lost to the passage of time). This was the TRU where I got my Dino-Riders figures. This was the TRU where a friend and I loaded up shopping cards with clearance Star Wars Episode I toys one friday evening after we’d just gotten paid for the week, back in the summer of 2000. This is the specific TRU where I got some Marvel Overpower starter decks and boosters; where a friend and I once debated whether or not and which of us should go back in to try to ask out the cute cashier.

I specifically remember getting the mutant fly of the original TMNT  line–Baxter Stockman–at this location. I remember seeing some of the Marvel Onslaught/Heroes Reborn figures here. I bought my X-Man (Nate Grey) figure here.

I got my very first figure of the TMNT 2012 line here–a lone Donatello figure, and that was the only figure they had out that first visit.

I bought my Herocscape boardgames at this store.

And I made my two largest/most-expensive single-item toy purchases of my entire life at this store.

toys_r_us_the_end_c

Over the years–while yes, I’ve bought plenty of toys from places like Target and Walmart, even the occasional online purchase–Toys R Us was THE place to go for toys of pretty much any sort.

Maybe it’s the “looking back with rose-tinted glasses” of memory, but I feel like even when I had complaints about pricing, Toys R Us was consistent and always there. They would have that elusive Pop, that elusive TMNT figure, the elusive Marvel Legends figure. They would have chain-exclusive stuff, made specifically for them…and there was plenty that they would have exclusively, because they were the only place that would give something a chance.

Maybe most notably for me, the TMNT Classics line–reproductions of the original 1980s figures. While I eventually did find most of my ORIGINAL-originals, the reproductions filled things out. No other toy chain stocked this line–you could NOT get it from Walmart or Target or such.

And I never stopped going to Toys R Us. I wasn’t there every week, or even every month…but I was in there frequently. While maybe not every week or month, there were times that I’d be in this particular store a couple times within a week. And some times that I might make “the rounds” and visit not only the Mentor location, but other relatively-nearby locations.

Beyond Mentor, there was one in Mayfield Heights that I’d go to here and there. Rarely specifically, but when I was already in that area for Half-Price Books or Microcenter or some such, I’d stop in. There was one in Fairlawn/Montrose not far from where I worked for a time that I visited a number of times. In July 2016 specifically, I remember zipping over to that store on a lunch break to get a Charizard figure for my desk shortly after Pokemon Go hit–also not knowing I was a couple weeks away from being laid off.

There was one in Cuyahoga Falls that I went to most during my grad school years and then living in the city itself for another 8 years until being laid off. This one was across the street from a Target, and about a 5 minute drive from my apartment, so it was easy to get to just to “see what they have” at any given time. Back in 2009, after securing our tickets for the new Star Trek film, my roommate and I went in and between the two of us, bought the entire line of figures, along with a couple overlaps.

There was another Toys R Us over in Sandusky that I’d been to a number of times with a couple of different friends that live near there.

There was one in Toledo that I got to a handful of times during college, and where I got my 2003-TMNT turtle van. I remember on one visit to Toledo leaving several friends at the mall, driving to TRU myself because I was the only one that wanted to go in, and then meeting back up with my friends at the mall afterward.

So very many other memories I could dig up if I tried, and had the time.

Maybe it’s sentimentality. Maybe it’s my weird memory or the way my mind works, associating people and events with places and physical spaces.

I believe I would have been “introduced to” Toys R Us at least by 1988…and my earliest conscious memory of the store was that first TMNT figure, which I believe would have been sometime in 1989…so that late-1988 until whenever it was specifically in 1989 is a bit fuzzy.

But give or take a few months to a year…nearly 30 years.

toys_r_us_the_end_b

Ultimately–for me–it ended with a whimper. With a final $11.77 including sales tax. Two talking Titan Hero Series Avengers Infinity War figures–Thor and Starlord. A 2017-Power Rangers movie morpher. And a poster kit of some sort from a “pre-order” of the digital Star Wars: The Force Awakens…purchased for the posters, zero regard if it includes a digital movie code or not (I’m assuming it does not).

My final time in the Mentor store, it was just the entrance-area atrium and the front main aisle. Everything else was taped off…and a good 3/4ths of the space even there was empty, bare shelving. The Power Rangers morpher was on a shelf slightly into what used to be the videogames and such area–but otherwise that area was taped off, too.

I felt bad–like some vulture picking over the bones of something that used to be fuzzy and cute. This final time, I wasn’t there for some sale–not in itself. I mean, I was curious what was left, what they’d have.

But in a way, I wish that I hadn’t gone.

At least the previous time in the store, it still seemed like a store instead of a garage sale. This was pitiful–it was sad. To see a once-great toy store full of all sorts of toys reduced to whatever it was. It made my personal toy collection look like some huge thing, and the store selection look like some cast-off.

And I felt bad as well, hearing other people muttering about the lack of selection. Like they were inconvenienced by there not being MORE still there for up to 90% off. Like they’d been slighted.

Yet, all these employees hustling about–it was very nearly the end for their JOBS. I’ve been laid off twice myself in the span of 18 months, so I can sure as heck appreciate the “losing a job out from under” one’s self, but at least in my experiences, it’s pretty much been a matter of cleaning out my workspace and leaving–and that’s that. I’ve never had to hang around for weeks or months, doing my job as if everything’s normal, dealing with people as if everything’s normal. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have to put on the usual, cordial front, to be working RETAIL, being nice to customers, while watching my job drain away…even as customers are out for a deal.

There was virtually nothing left on Wednesday…because the chain filed for bankruptcy. Is closing. This liquidation sale’s been going on for several months. Employees are out of their jobs…and people were upset because they thought there should’ve been a bigger selection?

I was there for the nostalgia of walking into Toys R Us at all, for the nearly-last (or as it’s turned out, THE last) time. I bought what I bought to “buy SOMEthing,” since I was there, since I had for some reason grabbed a cart.

I could have gone one last time today…but I opted not to.

Wednesday was enough.

Maybe we’ll see a return of the brand someday–look at Hostess. But in terms of “continuity” and such…this is it.

It’s over.

But…I’m still “a Toys R Us kid.”

toys_r_us_the_end_blogtrailer

Advertisements

Legacy Thunder Megazord–Power Up!

Toys R Us has been around my entire life. I have plenty of memories of the store–and toys bought there; going back at least to the late-1980s, and the initial Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze. Probably my earliest memory of it specifically is getting a Baxter Stockman (the fly) figure, and being annoyed when we were stuck at a train crossing for what seemed like forever to me as that little kid waiting to get home and open his new toy.

I hold no joy whatsoever in the chain closing–I remember being glad that my "local" store–several "local-ish" stores, for that matter–NOT being on the initial list of closures a few months back. Selfishly, for sentimentality at least, and nostalgia…but also for those employees that would be out of jobs. Recently laid-off myself…that’s not something I’d truly wish on anyone!

And me getting something at a significant discount? That’s by no means worth someone’s job, their livelihood and all that. So much more I could say in this vein–but let’s leave it that what I say is in context of the fact that I cannot change that the chain filed bankruptcy and is going out of business. I have been a regular Toys R Us customer even before the closing–albeit a bit discerning, when I knew I could get the most basic figures for the most basic/common toy lines cheaper at Walmart or Target. But plenty of the "adult collectibles" and such were only at Toys R Us. The worthwhile Power Rangers stuff–the Legacy line–was only at the chain. The Classic TMNT line was only at the chain. The best variety of other lines was at the chain. And plenty often, while a toy line was cheaper at Walmart or Target, it’d be the individual specific figures I most wanted that I’d locate at Toys R Us.

My very first TMNT figure–Rocksteady–was bought at Toys R Us. When the property returned in early 2003, it was Toys R Us where I snagged my figures. When the line returned a third time in 2012, my first figure from that line was from Toys R Us.


So, as stuff’s been discounted/clearanced, and I can’t buy the toy chain or single-handedly change the fact of it closing down, can’t employ anyone myself to save jobs, etc… to boil stuff down, "it is what it is."

A few weeks ago, I bought a huge Mega Construx set for the TMNT line–my single largest (most expensive) purchase from Toys R Us in my life. It was at a token discount, though already significantly clearanced from its MSRP. I bought it then because it was a Toys R Us exclusive as far as I know, and I didn’t want to "miss" it and wind up facing scalper pricing–double/triple MSRP–later–that would make it even more prohibitively expensive.

I thought that was it–my final purchase from the chain. With them going out of business–selling everything, even store fixtures–the shelves and such–surely they wouldn’t be getting anything new in. Surely, of whatever stuff was left, others who found the 10% off worthwhile would have cleared out anything/everything of interest to me.

And then, sure enough, I missed the closing. I saw some story online that they had closed, and I figured that was that.

Then a friend messaged me about something she’d seen at one. The chain itself had not yet closed! So I went back to the one location, figuring more consciously "one last time…" And ended up with some Power Rangers stuff. And then the local one to see what they had that might complement those.

mmpr_thunderzord_box

And I saw this. The Legacy Thunder Megazord. The box was a bit beat-up and less than pristine…but intact.

And 50% off.

Still very expensive for me, period, and especially at present. But it’s not likely I’d ever come across it again for this price. No, more than likely, it’d be 50% more than MSRP if not double or more. And I’ve had my eyes on this for a year and a half or so, having long since figured that at MSRP, it was too much…but for half that, it’d be more than worthwhile.

So, at 50% off…I bought it.

Expensive as a single unit, but it’s more like a "boxed set." With each of the Zords being the price of a Marvel Legends figure–to put it into a bit of perspective. And it was buying pieces piecemeal that I justified to myself the large Legendary Voltron set last year.


Anyway…a week later and I finally got this thing unpacked!

mmpr_thunderzord_assault_team

First, the individual Zords! Red Dragon in Warrior Mode; Pink Firebird; Blue Unicorn; Yellow Griffin; Black Lion (not THAT Black Lion…). The set came with a base, allowing the Zords to join together as the Thunderzord Assault Team.

As the Red Dragon in Warrior Mode stands in the middle, which basically looks like it’s rather uncomfortable (even as a giant robot, another giant robot’s beak-up-the-backdoor probably wouldn’t be pleasant), I don’t like that as a display mode. Of course, for the four smaller Zords, it’s great, and the Red Dragon can stand separate on its own…basically like in the show!

mmpr_thunderzord_assault_team_red_dragon

Of course, it also transforms on its own into "Dragon Mode," which is also pretty cool! He makes for a rather long piece that way, though, and sorta steals the scene!

thunder_megazord

I really like the look of the Thunder Megazord. However, it’s a bit loose, and wobbly and leans a bit…and I had to half-disassemble it when the Firebird decided to split into three pieces on me (note: it’s not really supposed to split into 3 pieces!). I don’t think this is "the lean" that early versions had, but more a side-to-side lean…which might be something with my assembly and not the figures, but whatever. I’d be really annoyed if I’d paid anything like full price…but at half off and just having the thing, I’m pretty much ok with it, overall!

thunderzords_voltron_lions

For the heckuvit…here’s the Thunderzord Assault Team with the five Legendary Voltron lions (well, the smaller die-cast ones, anyway!)

thunder_megazord_voltron

And here’s the Thunder Megazord with the larger version of the Legendary Voltron lions assembled into Voltron itself!

Though in retrospect I was technically exposed to Voltron–as these five lions that combined into a big one–first, having recalled sometime after I was introduced TO the Power Rangers that I’d seen a giant robot from five smaller ones before the show, it was truly MMPR that got to me first. But being a sucker for the combining robots and such, and nostalgic for Power Rangers in general, I guess they’re a lot like Star Trek for me.

I’m a fan of Star Trek, period. "The Original Series." "The Next Generation." To me, Star Trek has always been Star Trek, regardless of subtitle/flavor. And along with that, I’ve also been a fan of Star Wars, and though I’ve read a number of Star Trek novels to maybe 3 Star Wars books…on the whole, I don’t have any great one-or-the-other mentality to the properties.

And so it is here–Power Rangers. Voltron. I’m good with both, like ’em both.

legacy_thunder_megazord_power_up_blogtrailer

New Toys on New Comic Day

Despite it being a New Comic Day, I’m more excited with a couple of toy purchases this week.

Valiant‘s weekly email noted that the announced-awhile-back-and-I’d-forgotten MiniMates pack of X-O Manowar and Bloodshot was now in Toys R Us stores…so I stopped by my local TRU and found it. And bought it.

valiant_mini_mates

While in TRU I also browsed the Lego stuff, and happened to notice a new Mech:

ninjago_electro_mech

Since they’re often cheaper at and I was going to Target anyway, I ended up getting the Mech there, though it proved to be the same price as TRU.

I suppose I might be “back” into Legos again for a time. We’ll see, though…

New TMNT Classic Collection Acquisitions: Krang and Foot Soldier

I recall being somewhat disappointed at the limited nature of the “Classic Collection” TMNT line, as it seemed to be limited solely to a single original “wave” of figures–four turtles, Splinter, and Shredder.

I recently stopped into a Toys R Us looking for a current Nickleodeon 2012 Slash figure, and came across a bit of a pleasant surprise: two new figures in that Classic Collection line!

Firstly, the original “edition” of Krang, back when he was just a brain in a walking bubble contraption:

tmnt_classic_collection_krang

While to this day I cannot say I’m overly fond of the character in general…there is definitely a bit of the nostalgia even here, as I DID used to have this version of the figure back in the day. I never did get to acquire the “regular sized” Krang-in-android-body figure I recall seeing at least once.

However, I had gotten the large android body that this figure fit into…though somewhere through the years Krang himself disappeared on me, while I have the android body at my apartment…

tmnt_classic_collection_footsoldier

And I only ever had one single Foot Soldier back in the day. I don’t recall if it was due to not finding multiples, or just not coming around to buying multiple copies of the “same” figure. This restores that single figure status quo for the moment…though I’m certainly interested in buying several more.

That these two figures showed up gives me hope that we’ll at LEAST get a re-issue of the Bebop and Rocksteady figures. Rocksteady was THE very first TMNT figure I ever owned (back in the days when you simply could not find the turtles themselves despite stores like Toys R Us having what my memory suggests was HUNDREDS of figures on the pegs…

Newest TMNT Toys: Ninjas in Training and Classic Leo

Last weekend I FINALLY tracked down the Ninjas-in-Training Raphael & Michelangelo 2-pack. I’ve come across the Leonardo & Donatello one several times since first seeing it, but this was the first (and so far, only) time seeing this one.

raph_mikey_front

I also–after deciding that $60 is just WAY TOO MUCH to spend for the “classic” Party Wagon–opted instead to buy the larger-size “inspired by the 1988 cartoon” Leonardo figure.

classic_collection_leo_front

I don’t like the premium pricing on this line…much like the other “Classic Collection” “reprint” figures, these seem to ONLY be available at Toys R Us, so there’s no “competition” and such from Walmart and Target to keep the prices lower.  But over the past year of seeing these, the idea of them has grown on me, especially for there only being four figures so far that I know of…with Bebop and Rocksteady coming sometime in the near-ish future.

raph_mikey_profile

Here’s the profile from the card back for Raph & Mikey…

classic_collection_leo_back_2

Though the packaging takes a bit of the color scheme and such of the original 1988 figures, the card back for the larger Classic Collection figures definitely makes no pretense of being classic itself…just “retro.”

classic_collection_leo_back_3

And here are the four turtles. I really like the look of Michelangelo…especially for the realistic weapons–actually dangling while not in motion, as opposed to the rigidness of other toys’ iteration.

classic_collection_leo_back

And of course, the card back in its entirety…

TMNT (2013) Toys – Baxter Stockman

After about 10 months of casually “keeping an eye out” and pretty much thinking this line had been given up on, I FINALLY found a new TMNT figure that WASN’T just a variant of one of the four turtles themselves!

I happened to be in a Toys R Us looking to see what DC Unlimited/Batman Unlimited/DC Classic figures they might have and at what price, and happened to notice unfamiliar-looking TMNT figures (some sort of camo/zip-line variant). But when I looked on the back of the card for THOSE, I noticed a couple other new characters as well…so actually looked through all the figures on the pegs.

Other than the zip-line turtles themselves, I found Baxter Stockman…and bought him on the spot, despite Toys R Us typically having a significantly-higher pricing than Walmart or Target (turned out to only be a few cents, though…I later saw Stockman at Target).

baxter_stockman_front

Offhand, this is probably my favorite Stockman figure to date…sure, he’s got that crazy battle-suit, but it sure beats the mutant-fly of the ’80s line or mechanical spider-body/human-head of the 2003 line.

baxter_stockman_profile

The profile fits what I know of the character from the current animated series.

tmnt_goodguys_assortment_baxter

No new TMNT-allies that I’ve seen, which is a shame…not that I really can consciously think of any from episodes I’ve seen so far that would particularly qualify. Here’s hoping Casey Jones shows up in season 2 and gets a figure soon, though!

tmnt_badguys_assortment_baxter

One of the other cards showed a Rat King figure and some other random mutant in addition to the figures shown here. I have no intention of buying Snakeweed, and really have no particular interest in other randomish “mutation-of-the-week” mutants. Rat King is a possibility for an impulse buy. I’m looking forward to a Leatherhead figure, though, if they actually put that out!

Toys as a driving force for cartoons???

sameoldfigs_smallI read an article on Bleeding Cool the other day about how the lack of toy sales seems to have killed off the Green Lantern animated series. I’m not sure I want to get into the stuff about how the (lack of) toys affect the continuation of a series.

But I’ve had some observations, where I myself wonder at factors that make or break a toyline…at least for me.

#1 – If there are only a few figures constantly on the pegs with no true assortment (i.e. only 2 figures out of a 6-figure wave and the other 4 are never present), that would suggest TO ME that the stores would see that as a line not selling. Maybe those other 4 figures fly off the pegs…but especially if stock is automated, the sale of whatever instances of the other 4 figures may not be enough to trigger a reorder…and the lack of sales on the 2 most common figures everyone that wants ’em already has might suggest no one is interested (when it’s actually that no one is interested IN THE PEG-WARMERS).

#2 – Ten years ago, I was buying the 6″ Marvel Legends–large, hyper-articulated figures with cool packaging including a comic book–for $6-$8 apiece. I know prices go up, the cost of materials has gone up, etc. But $9.99 for a 3.75″ figure nowadays? HARDLY appealing, especially for the vast majority of the figures out there. I know I personally would prefer less articulation for cheaper figures. The Marvel Universe line, Avengers movie tie-in figures, Amazing Spider-Man movie tie-in figures, and I think the Iron Man 3 figures run $9.99 or so. These days I’d rather pay a couple dollars more for a Lego set with a mini-figure and something to build (and some of the $10 Lego sets are about the same SIZE or bigger than these 3.75″ figures).

#3 – I don’t want six different costumes for Spider-Man, or 11 different costumes for Batman or 17 different armors for Iron Man. Yeah, the hero’s name is in the films’ titles…but darnit, I’m NOT looking for umpteen variations on the hero. I want more variation in there being a bunch of different characters that are available.

#4 – I don’t want to have to “chase” “basic” figures. Take a character and their standard costume, make the costume a different color and pack that as a “ratioed variant” if you must. But don’t make the CHARACTER itself a “chase figure.” Don’t short-pack certain characters likely to be popular while over-packing other characters. If there are 6 figures in the wave, pack them equally.

#5 – Well, when I started typing I had more than 4 points. Perhaps a follow-up post will finish things off when they come back to me.

Final for now – When a store is obviously over-stocked on what seems to be massive quantities of the same figure and “clearance” is less than 15% “off” (less than 50, even)…I’m probably still not gonna buy, where 50% off I might give in.

sameoldfigs

%d bloggers like this: