With the eBay obsession out of my system I was now able to focus on the next test awaiting me – the merchandising. April 2 was the date when most of the new products and tie-ins would hit the market and that day was fast approaching.
I received the latest issue of Star Wars Insider magazine a few days before the merchandising hit the stores. The magazine had a double-page spread of the new action figures that would soon hit the market. I picked out the five or six figures I planned on limiting myself to.
Three of the nation’s top retailers of toys were offering special promotions on April 2. Toys R Us would open their doors at 12:01 AM that day for a Midnight Madness sale. They offered an exclusive figure – a clear, “holographic” Yoda – that was offered to the first few customers who purchased $25 or more in Hasbro Star Wars items. Target would sell an exclusive Darth Vader figure with lava reflecting armor to the first 24 to 36 customers through their doors. Wal-Mart’s exclusive was a throwback to the first action figure campaign in 1977. That campaign is known to SWG’s as the “empty box offer”. Nobody had anticipated the demand for Star Wars action figures back then. Kenner’s production couldn’t keep up with demand so they sold boxes containing gift certificates good for the first four action figures. Wal-Mart sold similar boxes with certificates for reproductions of the original figures.
The only exclusive that appealed to me was the Darth Vader figure at Target. The promotional images shown online looked really cool. I debated if it was worth losing sleep to go to Target at midnight to make sure I got the figure.
As it turned out, I was a little bit confused about the Midnight Madness sale. A fan web site called TheForce.Net initially made it sound as if all three retailers would be open at midnight. I told my friends at work they shouldn’t be surprised if I arrived late for work that Saturday since I might be going to Target at midnight for the figure. A day later I checked TheForce.Net and found that Target would not be open at midnight.
On Friday I considered just how silly it was for me to report to work late just for a ridiculous figure. I went to bed that night planning to get to work on time the next morning like I should.
I awoke Saturday morning at my normal time of 4:15 to shower, fix a pot of coffee and pack my lunch. I turned on the TV to check the news and weather before leaving for work. The Weather Channel radar showed that a band of rain had just passed through the area. That should have kept the line down at Target, I thought. I laughed at myself for considering such a silly thing.
Like every other work day, I left home at 5:00. As I came upon the intersection at St. Joe and Maplecrest, I made a last second decision to head down Maplecrest rather than turn onto St. Joe like normal. Curiosity got the better of me and I had to see how big the line was at Target. It was just a little out of the way and I leave early enough to give myself plenty of time to get to work anyway.
Many Star Wars fans love to stand in lines, so I pulled into the parking lot at Target expecting to see a line of at least two dozen people. To my great surprise there were approximately zero people waiting at the door! There were a few cars at one end of the lot that I attributed to store employees and only two cars that appeared to belong to customers. If I stayed until the store opened at 8:00 I stood an excellent chance to get the Vader exclusive.
Yet another “geek vs. normal person” decision faced me. I sat there in the parking lot weighing my options then laughed at myself for what seemed like the one millionth time in the last few months.
I pulled out my cell phone and dialed the number for work.
The fever hits hard