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Yanking G.I. Joe toys with retailers

Reversal causes spirited round of musical shelves

At major retailers nationwide, something is missing from the toy aisles: “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” action figures. In their place, an empty space.

With Paramount moving the actioner from June 29 to March 29, 2013, to give it more muscle at the box office with 3D, retailers are being asked to send back the line of Hasbro toys that were starting to appear on shelves.

Some Walmart, Toys R Us and Target locations had started to stock the toys this week, although they weren’t supposed to make them available until next week. Those that did wanted to get a jump on demand, and some of the 47 items that would’ve been sold are expected to show up on eBay at inflated prices by the end of the weekend.

In a statement, released Friday, Hasbro said: “G.I. Joe is an ongoing consumer franchise and therefore there is merchandise available to consumers. There is a limited amount of ‘G.I. Joe Retaliation’ product at retail now, but in light of the movie moving out to March 29, 2013, the majority of the movie line will be made available early next year in time for the film’s release.”

Still, the movie’s delay is creating a headache for retailers. Because of the new line of movie-related toys, stores started to clear shelf space of existing “G.I. Joe” toys by discounting a 30th anniversary line and animated offshoot “Renegades.”

Store managers contacted by Variety said that the space that was allotted for “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” will now go to “The Amazing Spider-Man” toys and “The Avengers,” which is still doing brisk business — for Hasbro.

Mangers upset by the film’s nine-month delay said they weren’t sure if they would order the same amount of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” toys come March, because the summer movie season typically means bigger toy business for retailers. Hasbro isn’t worried about the loss of revenue from “G.I. Joe” toy sales.

In a separate statement, Hasbro said: “In 2012, we continue to have several strong motion picture and television entertainment-backed properties that are selling well at retail … we continue to believe, absent the impact of foreign exchange, we will again grow revenues and earnings per share.”

Yet as it tries to keep retailers happy, Hasbro now has another problem to deal with: “G.I. Joe’s” more hardcore fans, with a G.I. Joe Convention set to take place in New Orleans June 28-July 1 — the same weekend the movie was set to open.

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