Fan's Choice Metrics - The Two ToyFare Polls
After a string of mildly controversial but ultimately successful and fun Fan's Choice polls, Hasbro decided by 2006 that it was time to let fans do more of the picking. The first few polls involved Hasbro letting fans select from five predetermined choices, but starting in 2006 they blasted the doors wide open, allowing fan sites to nominate their favorites and those favorites would be thrown to the wolves of Wizard Publishing's own poll, where absolutely anybody from inside or outside the online Star Wars collecting community would get a chance to chime in on the consistently strong line.
Dozens of finalists were picked for each of the two contests, and Hasbro let fans picked whatever they wanted with minimal intrusion-- a few characters, like the Tonnika Sisters, were declared verboten due to increasingly murky legal claims. (But that's another topic.) The funny thing about these polls is that Hasbro let fans vote on figures which were already in development, some of which were actually confirmed for production (even though the fans didn't know it) before voting took place.
Last updated August 8, 2011.
ToyFare Fan's Choice Poll #1 Early 2006
Winner Quinlan Vos in development before completion, released July 2007
Runner-Up Darth Revan released September 2007
Left to right: Darth Revan, Quinlan Vos, Jacen Solo, Jaina Solo, Kir Kanos
Left to right: Bastilla Shan, Galactic Marine, Anakin Solo, Commander Neyo, Corran Horn
Left to right: Darth Malak, Darth Maul, Darth Nihilus, Exar Kun, HK-47
Left to right: Yarna d'al Gargan, Willrow Hood, Nom Anor, Kyle Katarn, Hermi Odle
Left to right: Padme Amidala (Snowbunny), Padme Amidala (Naboo Retreat), Padme Amidala (Dead), Luke Skywalker (Death Star II), Mara Jade Skywalker
The winner was "Quinlan Vos," which Hasbro already had on the books for 2007-- so the runner-up, Darth Revan, was made as the single-carded figure slotted for the contest. Darth Revan was joined by Darth Malak in the very same assortment, and by the end of 2008 Hasbro would have released or announced over half of these figures. As of today, 21 of the 25 figures are available with two more confirmed to be on the way. Only the dead version of Padme Amidala and young Anakin Solo aren't known to be on the books, and if you want to quibble the Mara Jade figure we got in 2007 is technically not Mara Jade Skywalker-- but I'd give it to Hasbro as being close enough. Corran Horn was released as a rebel pilot in 2009, and while it's not the most authentic version of the pilot per fan imagination, it is a Corran Horn figure. I'm also going to give it to Darth Maul, because, again, close enough.
At the time of the poll, fans had no way of knowing several of these figures were already on the way to stores. Hasbro and fans were really on the same page here, and if you watch fan forums and Hasbro's own character selections as of late, it seems we're diverging again. We've enjoyed the best, now here's the rest.
When it comes to giving fans what they want, this first poll was an amazing glimpse into our future-- we got what we asked for, even when they weren't the most popular characters. Some of these figures, like Snowbunny Padme and Death Star II Luke Skywalker, were given multiple figures between the poll in 2006 and today-- proving Hasbro isn't afraid to improve a figure, or double-dip, depending on your point of view.
It's worth noting that the rise of how internet culture can dominate a hobby for better or for worse, as seen by the results in this poll. While many fan favorites are on here, Star Wars fans at large aren't intimately familiar with Knights of the Old Republic characters HK-47 or Bastilla Shan unless they're video gamers. Also, Yarna d'al Gargan and Willrow Hood were seen as "gag characters," with sales of the latter reportedly reducing the size of the run of the former, Willrow Hood was made in roughly the same number as the rest of the figures in his assortment in 2009. With this poll, we've seen proof that the niche can now drive the hobby, as fan demand for increasingly obscure characters seems to be something Hasbro can support in the greater context of the toy line. But what happens when there are too many spoiler candidates so there's no clear mandate? Enter the 2009 poll.
ToyFare Fan's Choice Poll #2 Early 2009
Winner Bastilla Shan expected late 2011
Left to right: Bastilla Shan, Jocasta Nu, Darth Caedus, Darth Plagueis, Jaxxon
Left to right: Admiral Pellaeon, Dash Rendar (new version), Guri (Evolutions), Dorme, Bariss Offee (new version)
Left to right: Weequay Skiff Master, Tzizvvt, Kitster and Wald (2-Pack), Toryn Farr, Cane Adiss
Left to right: Rebel Fleet Trooper (new version), Bom Vimdin (spelled "Rimdin" in the poll), Cliegg Lars, Joruus C'Baoth, Grand Moff Tarkin (new version)
Left to right: Ben Quadinaros, Darth Sidious (Senate Duel), Queen Apailana, Tey How, Sim Aloo
Left to right: Sgt. Doallyn, Taym Dren-Garen, Dr. Evazan, Corde, Queen Jamilla
The winner was "Bastilla Shan," which Hasbro confirmed will be coming in The Vintage Collection packaging with an "Expanded Universe" logo at some point in 2011. Of all the competitions, this one felt the most messy-- it was plagued with typos on Wizard's part and numerous entries in the competition are incredibly unlikely to ever see production. I mean, "Bon Rimdin"? I know Bom Vimdin has been spelled numerous ways in an official capacity but that was never one of them. Also, the liklihood of producing more of Padme's posse-- specifically "the one who cries" and "the one who blows up"-- seems particularly unlikely given Hasbro's proclivity to avoiding female figures, obscure humans, and low-action prequel characters.
The top row is presented in order of votes-- and let me tell you, the votes were close. After the top 5 characters, #6 received 3.7% of the vote, and #30 won 0.7% of the vote. The previous poll consisted of numerous figures fans had been requesting for years, while this one seems to dig a little deeper into Wookieepedia and various trading cards, with a dash of fans looking to make their own mark on these polls
Unlike the past polls, it seems most of these weren't in Hasbro's immediate future-- only 5 of these made it out to stores and of those, 4 came out in the calendar year 2011. Hasbro has made confirmation of Dr. Evazan and Bastilla Shan for 2011, and has since given a nod for Ben Quadinaros (the Susan Lucci of the Fan's Choice polls) as well. Beyond them, there are a number of characters which haven't received a lot of heat in fan circles. In the case of Cane Adiss and Jocasta Nu Hasbro has been mildly hostile toward their chances. (Cane Adiss due to it not having a body designed, and Jocasta Nu seemingly out of spite or fears of low sales.)
While the previous poll was primarily made of well-known minor characters, this list is dominated by characters which Hasbro has reportedly skipped over the years on purpose. While some will no doubt creep out as Hasbro strives toward making everybody from Jabba's Palace or the Cantina, a few-- specifically the proportionally large slate of women-- seem unlikely to see production in the toy aisles any time soon.
The rankings show 7 of the top 10 choices are Expanded Universe figures, one of which was named on screen but never received any real development outside a guidebook to characters. (A Darth Plagueis novel was planned but abandoned for a few years, likely after fans found out he was a Muun and not Oliva Munn. It is currently back on track for late 2011.)
Other notable Expanded Universe choices were Jaxxon, arguably one of the best-known characters from Marvel's publishings of Star Wars stories in the late 1970s although unquestionably something of a joke selection. A strong showing for the original 1991-1992 Timothy Zahn novels (Heir to the Empire) and 1996's Shadows of the Empire show that some of those early forays into the off-camera world of Star Wars made quite the impact with fans who experienced them, just like Knights of the Old Republic did a few years later.
More than anything, this poll proves how far Hasbro and fans have come since the 1995 relaunch of the brand. Nearly everything is a remake or of a reasonably obscure character, proving Hasbro has made most of the best-possible choices in its line by now. The fact that four ladies are Naboo royalty (or royalty-adjacent) in fancy gowns is baffling, given the nature of a generally male-driven action toy brand to incorporate more creatures and warriors. Speaking of warriors, it's worth noting that absolutely no clone troopers were requested this time around, no doubt due to Hasbro's striving to put those out and the massive influx of characters from The Clone Wars, another aspect of the franchise not covered in the top 30 of this poll.
And that wraps it up for Fan's Choice! It has been over two years since the last one, and ToyFare magazine is now defunct while Wizard is less and less of an important player in fan culture these days-- so who knows if we'll ever see a third poll in this format again? It seems unlikely, but hey-- its a great and easy way for Hasbro to poll the fans at a minimal cost, and who doesn't love seeing an unusual figure made as a toy?
Be sure to check out Part 1 from last week! Next week, we'll return to our normal Q&A format.