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Mattel Disney Pixar CARS Diecast: Kmart CARS Day Daze … & Confusional

There is NO June Kmart CARS Event Days coming this June.

BMW got this note from Kmart’s head CARS honcho …

“… We will not be running a single one day event in June. Instead we will be running a month long sale on cars products and  we will have new oversized mix in June that will be exclusive to Kmart. The June events were no longer driving the traffic we needed to continue them as it was before. We will have an October event similar to prior events, right now I do not have details of that mix. Thanks.”

No real shocker but let’s look delve deeper into the issue.

Of course, the Kmart CARS Event Days are not as popular as they once were. I believe the term as a response to that is D’ER. Or D’OY if you’re from another region of the country. Or a teenager eye roll.

The first problem is the parties involved did not understand the underlying reasons  for the success of the first few CARS Day.

Let’s roll back to May 1, 2008. At this point, CARS diecasts had been available for about 2 years. There were about 70 different diecasts available and we knew the Motor Speedway of the South was going to be available by month’s end. The question was whether you wanted to roll the dice – would you be willing to pay @$320 for 36 racers, and a track. Would these racers be re-released in some form? Should you pay @$9 a CAR (with a track) or wait for them to show up at retail as singles?

At this point, only about 14 of the 36 Piston Cup racers were available to purchase. Once you subtract Lightning, King, Chick, Leak Less, Octane Gain, RPM and Nitroade, While we had info on forthcoming releases coming through the summer and fall – you had to pay extra for a “launcher” version or get a repeats in a box set (or even 2-packs).

So when the FIRST Kmart CARS Day rolled around, it was a HUGE deal to get 5 racers – at singles prices and ALL available in one day at a specific place without having to hunt at lots of stores. AND no cases were offered online so it was IN STORE ONLY. AND you can add in that the value had been set for these CARS through the price of the MSOS set at the time – by October 2008, close to $2k a set or about $20 a CAR so the singles at $2.99 or $3.29 seemed like a free giveaway … in many ways, it was the perfect retail storm.

Of course, it brought in huge traffic to the stores.

By June, 2009, the second Kmart CARS Day – it was still a wild success – because of the high value of CARS on-going, it was still “free” money. You could turn around a $3.29 purchase for $10-$15 easily, what “eBay” seller is going to turn that down?

But traffic was a little lower as you could buy cases online but the circumstances for the collector had changed also. By then, about 26 of the racers were available at retail – yes, you had to buy them as launchers or box sets but most people couldn’t wait – so while most people liked the rubber tire version available, it was not as urgent.

But the 3rd Kmart CARS Day in October 2009 was really the beginning of the end of “crazy days.” The mix was certainly an important harbinger … Leak Less, Octane Gain, Trunk Fresh, Re-Volting and N20 Cola were now “common” repeats so for many, a rubber tire version of the same CAR just wasn’t that urgent. The mix also included Vinyl Toupee and Rev ‘N Go which were a little more sought after. But the bloom was off the rose. Serious collectors simply purchased a case online and sold off extras or traded with others. Traffic in stores was way down – much of it due to the mix but also Kmart was closing stores rapidly.

And of course, as we continue through Kmart CARS Day #4 to the one last October, #9 – each was an incremental slide. For CARS 1 racers, of course, outside of the Apple CAR and Tach-o-Mint, every diecast racer was available as a plastic tire “re-release,” for some time before the rubber tire version was available. (Tach-o-Mint was available as a rubber tire racer). And of course, along the way, the first 5 Kmart CARS Day plastic tire racers were re-released as rubber tire versions.

For CARS 2, unlike the scenario with CARS 1 back in June 2008, with only 11 racers, outside of Rip Clutchgoneski, they were all available at retail not only as singles but in dozens of box sets, and multi-packs. The rubber tire version was nothing special. Eventually they added making them metallic silver of 10 of the 11 racers (continually skipping Rip Clutchgoneski) as they cannot quite put their finger on what’s wrong.

The final verdict? It’s complicated and it’s simple. The simple bottom line was that the first two took place in a CARS retail vacuum when there was no second option to obtain these but once there was a second option, a special day and rubber tires was not enough to bring back the frenzy. It’s not really possible to go back in time. Now, could they have done a better job of maintaining more interest? Of course but when the belief is that rubber tires is what drives people into a frenzy, you are off the mark that you can’t really recover from. It would’ve required a strategic plan and better tactics and Kmart is probably not on top of that list but then, Target, Walmart & TRU don’t get much more love anyway so it’s hard to envision who they should partner with?

So, who should they partner with? If anyone?

So, what’s next? It’s hard to say.

There are only some clues. In January, there was a listing that Kmart would get three oversized Deluxe exclusive CARS (Ivan, Muggsy Liftsome & John Lassetire (Green Woody) that Kmart alludes to in the email to “BMW.”

Then a few weeks ago, that listing disappeared and was replaced with one that Kmart would only get a box with only Ivan (12 to the case). The oddity additional to this is that Ivan suddenly also appeared on the oversized deluxe list with a DIFFERENT UPC.

So, on the surface of that information, it appears Ivan will make a special-early appearance at Kmart before being available to other retailers/resellers.

But what about Muggsy Liftsome & Green Woody John Lassetire?

“BMW” also notes that Kmart wasn’t sure what the oversized deluxe mix would be.

So, is it really just Ivan? (like Pit Crew Mater was only available at Kmart?)

Or is it meaningless that the original listing of the three deluxe disappeared? It happens to exclusive items.

So, the bottom line is that there’s no Kmart CARS day in June.

We will get a CARS Month at Kmart – whatever that means.

It seems likely we will get Ivan on a exclusive card.

We may also get Muggsy Liftsome and Green Woody John Lassetire.

Or we may get other oversized deluxe CARS early at Kmart … the only additional word is “they’ll have some special cars, initial launches, etc.” so it’s wait and see.

The glass half empty scenario is that Kmart is now unevenly distributed (I think there are no Kmart’s left in Texas? Or maybe the Kmart store locater is broken? I tried 50 miles within Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, & Austin and the page said zero – is that right?) And will they only get one case per store of each item? So, unlike the CARS Event Day when you know when to show up, do the first two shoppers clear the shelf?

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