Zach definitely needs to get the production samples early and do some of his famous toy photography to make them stand out. Then those photos go out the week-ish before release to help generate interest.
Unfortunately for this line, the week before release is often far too late to be generating interest. We have lost too many (one is too many, but there have been multiple) releases to "lack of interest" in the presale phase of the "release."
What really stood out with TRU, and Walgreens to some extent, was the almost guarantee that there would be at least a pack of Minimates on the shelf at the store. Argument for "peg warmer" selections is a different argument. At least we knew they would be there. It was a sure release to market - a retailer had already invested in the product to push out to consumers. The current model relies (strongly, solely?) on the consumers to show retailers enough interest to generate enough mass interest to make it too production, all shortly after an offering is announced - often 6 months before they make it into hands. Trends change, interests change, finances change.
Having done a total of two Kickstarter funds (we shall not speak of one of them) and 2 HasLab campaigns (one that failed), the current Minimate model seems more like these than a traditional retail model. Especially if you support Luke, who charges upfront for any pre-orders.
While I understand the model, and I can appreciate the need to endure there is enough interest in a product, I don't feel like Minimates are a retail product anymore. At this point, I wonder if DST should fully embrace the crowdfunding model. Offer up a HasLab (DSToYou) style offering for a product; make a retailer only incentive tier with "bulk" discounts on the product, or "exclusive" rights to complimentary characters; have incentives for more orders/supporters, like alternate looks/accessories, additional character offerings, retro cardback packaging, etc..
I will still support Minimates. And Luke. At least until I am priced out of the hobby. I honestly wasn't sure where I was going with this post until I reread what I wrote. I stand by it.