This article isn't exactly news but rather my personal experience. At this point it is basically just a way for me to keep a record of my reaction to the experience. Looking forward to next year though with Skylanders 4, I will be able to direct new readers/players to this article when you ask questions like:
“Is the midnight release going to be busy?”
“I can't get to the store on Day 1, will there still be figures left on the shelves?”
So with that in mind, let's get started.
As some of you know, I do not have a Toys R Us nearby, so I didn't have to choose between Toys R Us or Walmart for the midnight release. I did not pre-order from Walmart so I was just there to pick up a few figures I knew I wanted to get my hands on.
Upon my arrival, there was no line, no figures on the shelves (except for the remaining Giants stock) and very little SWAP Force signage. As I browsed through the rest of the Electronics department, I noticed a few other groups hanging around as well. Midnight soon rolled around and my suspicions were correct. They were here for the SWAP Force release just like me.
October 13 – 12:01 AM
At midnight, the Walmart employee promptly rolled out a cart filled with SWAP Force figures. Including myself, there were five groups looking to pick up some Skylanders. So with an entire shipment to ourselves, there were plenty of figures to go around. This shipment included two cases (24 figures) of Enchanted Hoot Loop. This was naturally the main focus for all five of us at the midnight release.
The only disappointment here was that they did not seem to have all the Starter Packs. I talked with the Walmart employee (who I used to work with) about there stock and she told me this was everything. She searched the backroom (which isn't that big) for about twenty minutes while I was there and only found two cases of Wii Starter Packs and one case of Xbox 360 Starter Packs. I'm quite surprised that the other three Starter Packs were not on hand at launch.
After a good night's sleep I found myself at Target. I did not pre-order from Target either. This trip was all about Nitro Magna Charge.
My Target had already been open for an hour and a half, but the shelves were still fully stocked. All the figures were there and there were at least 10 Nitro Magna Charge Double Packs on the pegs. I was impressed with their stock.
October 13 – 10:00 AM
Next stop on the list is Best Buy to finally pick up the game.
Why Best Buy? (Well, it definitely wasn't for their pre-order bonus.) Because I'm loyal to Best Buy. Perhaps a bit too loyal at times, but I'm a member of their rewards program and, since I purchase almost all my video games from them, I usually have a number of gift cards and coupons to use.
As with previous pre-orders from Best Buy, I headed over to the Customer Service desk to pick it up. Usually on release days there is a stack of games sitting behind the counter waiting to be picked up. As I approached the desk however, I did not see any games on the shelf and I got a little bit worried.
The employee at the desk was quite knowledgeable with the stores procedures and was also surprised that nothing had been set aside yet. So he simply ran out to the store display to grab my Starter Pack. Unfortunately, he came back with JUST the Starter Pack so I had to point out that I was also supposed to receive LightCore Hex with the pre-order. So he ran out to the display again to see what he could find.
Five minutes later he returned with my LightCore Hex and the Wristband Projector (Best Buy's worthless pre-order bonus). He apologized for the wait and explained that he had to run back to the warehouse to find LC Hex. That's fine, I've worked retail, I know how messy these things can be sometimes.
So now we finally have the necessary items and we can begin the checkout. I handed him my $10 off Frito-Lay coupon. He tried to scan the coupon, but it wouldn't go through. He asked where I got the coupon and then proceeded to take the $10 off manually. No problem.
Then he tried to scan the LightCore Hex and we have a problem. The register gave him a Do Not Sell prompt. He called over his supervisor and she immediately called their corporate Help Desk. As soon as she mentioned Skylanders, the Help Desk knew what the issue was. She said it was a known issue and transferred the employee to a different department that could take care of it.
After being put on hold for five minutes and explaining the issue to the next Help Desk rep, he had no idea what she was talking about. The supervisor did her best to explain the issue, but eventually was put on hold again.
After another five minutes on hold, the supervisor didn't want to make me wait any longer. So she bypassed the system and let me walk out the door with LightCore Hex in hand.
So I still don't know what the issue was on Best Buy's end, but I did get my game and pre-order bonus.
Now, four days after the release I decided to stop in and check a few stores again.
At Walmart there were still no Starter Packs to be found on the shelves. They had a few empty pegs, but there was still a pretty good selection of figures to choose from including seven Enchanted Hoot Loops.
At Target, even though I was impressed with their stock on Day 1, I was even more impressed now. Not only was the main Skylanders aisle fully stocked again, but it had expanded to two nearby endcaps. Between all three locations I saw at least a dozen Nitro Magna Charge Double Packs still available.
I think it's safe to say that Activision has provided retailers with a much better supply than the first two games. I will try to keep an eye on the store exclusives in the coming weeks. I'm interested to see if they're being replenished or just how long they will stick around.
Being the third iteration of the game, I would have expected retailers to have a better handle on some of the issues I had and issues that I heard about from others.
In any case though I'm glad to say that I got what I wanted and can now enjoy the game.
Did you have a good release day experience? Share your story in the comments below…