Friday, May 28, 2010

TRU's new IPO

As predicted by the Bittergeeks last winter, Toys-R-Us is finally moving forward with plans to go public with a new stock offering this summer. We had predicted it would happen before the third quarter when all the new, fall toys are reset in stores and buyers and the media get the chance to see what might be selling early. Giving a glimpse at how the 2011 Holiday season may shape up.

Toys-R-Us leaders plan to raise $800M to help them alleviate some debt and likely invest in new inventory and store remodels. Their symbol on the Nasdaq with simply be "TOYS". We have not seen anyone list the actual release date of the IPO or what the opening price of the stock may be. My guess is that it would open shy of $20 per share.

There is a plenty of negative response on many of the business sites. Several vocal investors don't think the value of the IPO will hold over time much less rise and be profitable. It's a bit surprising since TRU really turned the business around from imminent disaster nearly three years ago. And they did so in a very difficult retail environment over the past two years. They have proven they can compete with Wal-Mart and Target during the all important Christmas shopping season. The main question is can they maintain both traffic and sales during the rest of the year.

They have their bad buyer issues still. They continue to invest in too much crap (half the boys action aisles, retro candy, pet supplies?!) and don't move quickly enough to dump dead ideas, brand or inventory (Hulk, Indiana Jones, Speed Racer, Star Trek, Hannah Montana, etc).

But, they will have very strong summer movie brands in the coming years to help drive 2nd quarter sales and within the next couple of years a new generation of video game systems will be released and all the rage for at least two solid Holidays.

We say: If the IPO opens under $16/share it's a buy. If it opens north of $20, it's not likely going to be profitable for some time and fluctuate wildly during the year and drive impatient investors crazy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Terry Dodson's new cover for Uncanny X-Men 520, 2010.

Adam Hughes's cover for Wildcats/X-Men: The Modern Age. Late '90s.

At least try harder Dodson...flipping the male and female hero and adding a third character didn't really hide the fact that this is still a cover swipe. And at least pick the cover of an artist you haven't been trying to ape all your career.

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST Opportunities

I’m certain this headline will be used all over the blog-o-sphere this week because it's just so fitting.

So it’s all over and everyone is dead. Or always have been dead. Who the hell knows.

Here is the ultimate lesson of the television phenom LOST: If writers and producers of intricate or challenging new television series don’t come to the table with a solid beginning, middle and end of a story, don’t waste anyone’s time and money. Shows like HEROES and FLASH FORWARD just learned this painful lesson the hard way this year. Everyone thought LOST was the only exception to the rule and had it all figured out.

Turns out they never did. It's one thing if a network pulls the plug on a series but there is no excuse when you've had over three years and seasons to map out where and how the series ends. Think about three years the writers and producers could not figure out how to answer key questions.

This was a wasted season for LOST and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the men behind the curtain never knew where they were ultimately going. Oh, they had the images and vision for production (Jack closing his eyes) but zero idea how to resolve key plot points or many character's issues. And it was evident from the get-go in this last season. I'm not even talking about the sideways world. The writers floundered all season long and wasted so much precious screen time with the madnening and rediculous first six or so episodes of season six with our castaways trapped, sitting around in a temple set with the other 'Others' of the island. And to prove that storyline and all that screen time was a waste, it was never even recounted in the two hour recap that debuted before the finale. Nothing that happened in the temple was important to the main characters or the island's storyline.

The last episode of the series aptly titled “The End” was the best single episode of this final season and that’s saying a lot. Yes, there was great emotion, character reunions, action, humor and suspense in this final show. But answers? Not so much. And the producers, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, have been claiming in the recent media junket that they intend to leave some mysteries unanswered or up to viewer interpretation. They should have been men enough to mention about 95% of the mysteries would remain unanswered.

I’m sorry, but that kind of claim is nothing but a pure cop out. The writers had painted themselves into so many plot corners over the years that they simply gave up trying to figure out how to tie it all together. I’m not going to bother to list all the issues that remain unanswered. Other fans sites and forums have such laundry lists nicely compiled. Google ‘em up if you still care. Plus it’s too much work and if the series creators can’t summon the energy to tackle them, why should I at this point?

A quick spin of the web on the Monday morning after the cry fest shows the mainstream media thought the final episode was satisfactory and yes emotional or are content to concede the finale went out in a LOST sort of way.

Dig deeper around the ‘net, check out the real fan sites and you’ll find a very different response. Once the emotion and feel good moments of the cast together at the end of the finale fade and you start to think about what we didn’t get out of ‘The End’ or this entire final season for that matter, a flood of frustration and realization will overcome any fan that we, the week-in, week-out viewership of this series (not even those who only watched this series via DVD sets or repeats) were left in the dust. Much like the tragic character Ben Linus, the hardcore, devoted and long suffering viewer was ultimately ignored and passed over by the creators. So it's fitting the one image that plays over in my head out of six seasons of episodes of LOST that best sums it up for me is when Ben finally confronted the island's protector and ultimate manipulator, Jacob.

Loyal devotee: “What about me?”

Jacob/ Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof: “What about you, dear viewer?”

“They are all just dead…you figure it out from there.”

Ben's reaction to that kind of response is how many of the fans feel today.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The bidding war for SDCC passes has begun!

Despite the fact that Comic Con International warns patrons that purchased passes to the annual event aren't transferable, plenty of people are already beginning to auction off tickets to the long sold out show.

A quick look across ebay confirms the most recent single ticket/ four day pass has sold easily for around $500.00. And it's only mid May. As of this posting there are at least three active auctions for similar tickets, each already easily heading towards the same final total amount.

It's one thing for the seller to hand off the ticket confirmation print out that is required at the door for badge pick up but it's another matter entirely to produce an ID that proves you are the same person listed on that piece of paper. Bidders are taking a huge risk. Unless the seller can meet you at the door and pick the pass up for you, it's unlikely the con will take any pity on you and just hand you a badge when the name and address on their list don't match up with your ID.

That money is long spent and user IDs long since closed down for any seller by the time the bad news plays out. One of the passes sold was by a brand new seller. That dude will likley be long gone off ebay by July and just made an easy $500.

And if you think $500 for a single, four day pass is high, wait until they finally start confirming which superstars and events are actually scheduled for the event. If there is ever a case for buyer beware in the nerd world, this is it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Best Simpsons opening...EVAH

It's nice when a show that's been on the air for 21 seasons can still surprise you. The May 2nd episode of the Simpsons certainly did just that by completely altering the traditional opening of the show by having the town of Springfield perform thier own tribute to 'Tik Tok', a current top of the charts single by Ke$ha.

Catch an HD version of the opening here!

No idea what drove the series creators to suddenly create a parody video of this particular song after being on the air for over two decades but it's great to see the best series on television shake things up. Looking forward to that commentary track on the eventual season box set release.

I'd love to see an entire Simpsons season that features the cast parodying a new pop hit every week. More please!