Q&A: The Future, The Past, Old Toys You Think Are Worth Something

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 19, 2013

What does the future hold for Indiana Jones stuff? Not much. How about more TV-inspired Star Wars toys from shows which have since gone off the air? Oh disappointment, you are a cruel mistress. And how should you sell your collection over the next few years? Do you think your stuff is going to go up in value just because there's a new movie? Read on for more and send in questions for next time!


1. Hey adam, got two questions for you first off with Disney acquiring lucasfilms what does this mean for Lucas other successful series Indiana Jones? In both a theatrical live or animated movie and any chance somebody else will get the toy line? Question 2 the 6 inch sdcc exclusive Han solo in carbonite,you think Hasbro will cheap out and give us another hollow shell with no backing?

It's very likely that something will happen with Indiana Jones again, but as I do not have the paperwork I don't know where it lies in terms of ownership. For example, Paramount may actually own the licensing rights for products (and I'm pretty sure they do if what I heard in the 1990s was right) and it's likely Hasbro is sitting on it. It's not uncommon for a company to get a license, see it tank, and then sit on it so nobody else can do anything with it until the deal runs out if it hasn't already.

As to sequels, prequels, sidequels, and TV shows, it remains to be seen. Indiana Jones has always been an "older boys" brand with a decent adult following, and for this reason it's not quite as lucrative as Star Wars or Spider-Man in the "all ages" sense. I wouldn't expect anything for a while, but mostly I'm just curious to see who all needs to sign off on things at this point.

As to the Black Series Han Solo? No idea. For $45 it better be a solid block and to be honest, I'm half-hoping there's a secret full-size 6-inch Han Solo in there.


2. Once Star Wars TV series come to an end, it seems like new collectibles based off of these shows rarely ever happen. There was the Holiday Special Boba Fett, BL-17, Princess Kneesaa, Teek, Captain Fordo and a few other items from Hasbro as well as a few Droids or Ewoks inspired Kubricks in the past several years. I'm one of those people who still wants to see characters like the Fromm Gang and the Duloks get a little more attention, but now that the EU seems to be scaled back quite a bit, at least by Hasbro, do you think that there is a chance that there will be anything new based on classic Star Wars TV in the near future, or has that shipped sailed now that everyone's attention is turning toward the upcoming movies? It seems like the new 5 point articulation line would be ideal for these kinds of characters. Ideally, I would love to see at least one 3 or 4 figure exclusive set, featuring fan favourite characters from Star Wars TV over the years. I know I'm just dreaming here, but hopefully Hasbro or even Lego is listening. There are fans who would still love to see these things!

While I am completely in your court on this one, don't forget it's like this with nearly all aspects of Star Wars. The original movie came out in 1977, and we didn't get Grand Moff Tarkin until 1997. The Marvel comic series ended around 1987, and we didn't get Lumiya until 2009. After the initial rush to merchandise something new (assuming this rush happens), the chances of anything being produced that isn't a major, up-front, and marketable part of the franchise drops off a cliff. There's a reason that the first few Black Series 6-inch figures aren't Grand Admiral Thrawn or Vlix.

I guess what I'm saying is if you're looking for a pattern which repeats, stop. There's a lot of turnover on this brand and todays "never, ever" could be tomorrow's "well, maybe." At one point we were never going to get a Cloud Car.

With Hasbro, depending on what the heck is going on over there, you could see items like this based on their whims this week. With LEGO, I wouldn't hold your breath - they're a very kid-driven line with a few random high-end items here and there. On the whole it seems that they can get away making pretty much anything they want with very few duds, because Star Wars LEGO (or any LEGO) is pretty much like a pen or a sack of batteries - you're going to need it eventually, regardless of what's printed on the side. Without a concentrated effort by fans, though, I wouldn't expect much out of LEGO. While they have done wonderful things on the vehicle front (Rogue Shadow!) they have given pretty much zero love to the Expanded Universe from before the line started. (Where's Kir Kanos? Or the Outrider? Or any of the 1990s Bounty Hunter vehicles that don't belong to someone named "Fett"?)

Unless LEGO decides to do blind-bagged figures - and they won't, supposedly due to how the Hasbro agreement was written - I wouldn't expect to see the kind of things you're looking for.

Hasbro's 5-point figure program is, so far, intended to be cheap, entry-level main characters. For Wolverine they decided to do the whole 3 3/4-inch line in this style and it's unknown if there will be a wave 2. For Avengers Assemble, Iron Man 3, Ultimate Spider-Man, and Star Wars we're seeing main characters exclusively, many of which are based on existing molds which no doubt help keep profits even higher. As of this moment we've seen absolutely zero evidence that Hasbro will be doing collector-specific characters in this style, but who knows what will happen in a year or two if this trend continues?



3. I probably have about £30-35k of starwars figures, vehicles etc which I have collected since 1977 - given the impending new starwars films do you think now could be the time to sell some of it off as the new films will devalue my collection or that the value is likely to increase?

Given this is the exact information you have given me, I'd say it's a toss up. But consider these variables.

1. If you sell things individually, you may see some items go up or do well on eBay. If you sell it as one giant collection, you will have to sell it at a reduced price. Why? What you have is (in the grand scheme of things) most likely common stuff and the kind of person with the money to spend on what you think your stuff is worth likely a) already has it and b) doesn't need more of it. So don't be one of those idiots on Craigslist or eBay who say "awesome collection/$50,000 firm/must see to appreciate/no list no pics", break it out and sell it individually if you're going to sell it. Bundling brings prices down. (And yes, if you have hundreds if not thousands of items and are asking someone to drop $30,000 or more without giving an inventory list, you are an idiot. I am comfortable saying this.)

2. The prequels ultimately did not raise the bar for Vintage 1977-1985 stuff at the height of Star Wars fever, but it did raise the price for some newer stuff and premium vintage packaged stuff. The prices for mint on mint unpunched cardbacks continue to go up, but the prices of most loose figures are the same as they were in the mid to late 1990s. There is so much great stuff that today, more people seem interested in the Black Series than they are in real, actual, $4-$8 vintage figures from 1979. Also keep in mind I've spoken to people that still believe their POTF2 (1995-2000) collections will increase in value. This is not going to happen.

3. Supply and demand generally dictates what people will pay, and the original toys increased because supply at the store was 0 and the demand was greater than 0. Hasbro has been pretty good about making sure that kids have had popular characters to buy, and when they missed a key target (i.e., Ahsoka in early 2009) the prices go up. Kid interest and kid demand do play a role in increased secondary market prices as much as we older fans do, particularly now that parents can buy older toys on Amazon for premium prices. Because of this, it is possible some items will see increased demand but there have been so many releases since the early 1990s that only a few items will shoot up. Which ones? Nobody knows.

If you're in it for the money I suggest getting out sooner than later. I don't collect stuff with the intention of selling it. (I do buy clearance items with future trades and sales in mind, though. At that point, all courtesies are off, you've had your chance.) Time only can damage an item, so if you're thinking about selling stuff I suggest going through your collection one by one and listing anything that's worth more than £15/$20 on eBay up for sale. Everything else, hold on to or consider dumping to Goodwill or a thrift store. (I've seen carded figure collections dumped at Goodwill. Recently. More than one. And the funny thing is they priced it like they thought it was worth something, too.)

And as a post-script here, in 2005 the 7-inch Unleashed action figure statues skyrocketed right around the time the Revenge of the Sith toy line hit with some toys commanding very high prices on eBay for no readily obvious reason. A Darth Vader that was clearanced out at a Target for $10.44 in late 2004/early 2005 shot up to $50-$60 with multiple samples hitting as high as $99 before falling back to Earth after a weird boom. There's really no way to know what item, if any, will do this and as far as I'm concerned this was a freak thing. The bulk of items during this time did not see a value increase, nor would I count on one just because there's a new movie. Fans are fickle, and history says that 8 times out of 10 (OK I made that up) fans tend to go back to the ultra-vintage stuff, or whatever's new and cheap. Which they, too, think will be worth something in a few years because nobody seems to learn how this game works.


4. Was the trash compactor monster that came with the two Death Star screen scenes a reasonably good toy, or was it crap?

I preferred the bright green 1970s Dianoga to the 2002 Walmart-exclusive scene version. That whole set was something of a turkey to be honest, more of a diorama than a plaything. So if you want a diorama, go ahead and grab one.


5. Who do I have to f*@# over at Hasbro to get a modern Chewbacca on a 'Star Wars' vintage card? They perfected the figure like, 5 years ago in the Walmart Early Bird tribute. It's money lying on the table.

Hasbro is aware of the interest in the "Original 12" on Star Wars-logo cards in the Vintage style but does not seem to be interested in pursuing it.

Is it money lying on the table? Ehh. Not really. Hasbro has some fully-tooled but unreleased items in its corridors that we aren't seeing from many brands, and that Chewbacca (sometimes with a different head, admittedly) has been rereleased several times over the past 9 years on numerous hardbacks and in many gift packs. With the Vintage line effectively dead in the water (those "repack waves" never surfaced for sale online and probably aren't going to happen) I would suggest making a big stink about this every time you have Hasbro's ear, and cross your fingers they bring back Vintage to tie in to the new movie for a few waves.

Personally, I'm hoping they just do Vintage-style packaging for the new line across the board. The last time Hasbro tried to do this was like 2006 with The Saga Collection and I bet it'd do OK in a movie year.



Star Trek Into Darkness was pretty good. It's sort of like they skinned an above-par summer movie with old Star Trek, but you generally get a decent picture with lots of really cool designs and what basically amounted to a mini-episode of a TV series to kick off the movie. There were a lot of moments that ring true of various Lucasfilm productions which, of course, were cribbed from other pieces of cinema over the last 100 years. Because of spolers-that-aren't-really-spoilers I won't go into too much detail other than to say, stylistically, it's a lot like the 2009 movie mixed with a previous episode of the original series, a little bit of one of the original movies, and a lot of modern chases/fights/etc. J.J. Abrams really loves launching people through space, so I'm going to put that in the checklist for things I expect to see in Episode VII. If Luke doesn't get launched out of a torpedo tube I'll be surprised.

While there were mixed rumblings about the film as a licensed property, it appears that some of the hubbub about things like action figures appear to be moot. Someone, somewhere, likely has an archive of unmade concepts for action figures for this movie that we won't see for a few years. (And no, it's not me.) I enjoyed the movie enough that when I left, I was disappointed I couldn't go out and buy some action figures for this one. There has been a great disturbance in the Force. You'll get to feel it pretty soon. What is it? Well, I'll let you know when it happens. You won't miss it, trust me.

It's looking like June or July for the new stuff to start hitting. And even then, remember, it's going to be a light ride this year. Amazon's glut of exclusive vehicles have yet to surface, and The Black Series is likely to be little more than 2 waves of 4 6-inch figures, 2 waves of 8 3 3/4-inch figures, and tons and tons of confusion because Hasbro used the same name for two scales. That's going to be fun. I have a feeling a lot of you will get me writing back to your questions saying "which size?" all over the place.

Right now, we get to wait a lot. I'm hoping to see (or hear) Disney do something really fun and exciting with its new toy, like taking The Clone Wars' unaired scripts and making an audio-only radio drama podcast thing, or licensing out replicas of the old Atari arcade machines, or something we wouldn't expect in a million years. Which I hope means a Spider-Man/Star Wars crossover remains out of the question.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.

Is new animated series the disturbance? If not, some hints?

Does the disturbance relate to toys, television, movies, Disney, and/or Celebration? Please provide some hints...