Q&A: Package Variants, Star Wars New Stuff, and International Packaging

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 14, 2015

This week in Q&A: We look at more missing figures - you ain't getting them. And new stuff is making it out - but could it be better? Lastly, international packaging - will we in the USA ever care again? Probably not. But we can think about it.


So send in your questions for next week. Read on!

1. A while back, we were told of certain Saga Legends (#19, 20, 21) were cancelled and not seeing the light of day (All repacks). In the Mission Series, we have not heard anything about #6, 12,13,14. Can we assume these are also cancelled?

Hasbro never officially announced them in one of their solicitations or press announcements as far as I remember, short of a few things being alluded to at a Disney event on a board that was, if I recall, shown on exactly one web site. I'm willing to bet that was mostly accidental. For that reason I can safely say that you will probably never see this item - for whatever reason Hasbro opted to not bother to announce a few of their Saga Legends and Mission Series offerings at all, which is to say the least unusual. At this time no (zero) additional Rebels-packaged items are expected before the new movie line. It is assumed some items will re-show up in new movie packaging OR debut in it, but if you're holding out for orange boxes I think you'll be disappointed.



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2. New product seems to be flowing well again, but finding in brick & mortar stores is difficult. However, I have been able to order the latest TBS 3 3/4" and 6" waves online and in some cases for the same cost or less then I would pay in store. Is this just a function of the times or the future for Star Wars collectging when it comes to the collector based product

It depends on how you want to look at it. I think, for a pre-movie lull, we're doing pretty well in 2015. So far we've had three waves of 6-inch figures, a batch of 3 3/4-inch Black Series, and an impressive smattering of Mission Series and Saga Legends. If you add the Disney droids to the mix, this might be one of the best years in quite some time.

When it comes to big box retail, they aren't true believers right now - someone over there is playing it safe and that means online stores get a better shot at stuff. Since I work for an online store there are some aspects of pricing I can't necessarily talk about, but if you've been in the game since the 1990s you may recall that some stores don't charge the same as everybody else... this is more or less normal. Also it's easy to forget how much of a pain in the neck it has been for collectors to get Star Wars since 1995. Back in August of 1995, most stores had nothing. A few weeks later you would be fortunate to see Han Solo, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 sitting unsold - and if you shopped at Kay-Bee, that was usually just unsold R2-D2. Distribution problems are synonymous with Star Wars and the only time anyone tends to find an entire wave all at once is when they deliberately hold stuff back for a big launch event - otherwise maybe you find one or two.

To further complicate things, some stores (Walgreens, Target) seem to be sending partial cases from their distribution centers to stores. If a store only gets 3 figures instead of 4 or 12, there's not a lot a collector can do here. I've been collecting toys for years and very, very rarely do I get a chance to buy an entire wave in one fell swoop unless I got a box off the internet. I mean, that day Target sold me an entire set of the first wave of Deep Space Nine toys was a pretty awesome day.

For the new movie, it remains to be seen - but my guess is after the initial launch burst, we'll all be back to the usual "Where's the new stuff?" buying pattern.




3. Ordered a figure from Amazon the other day and when it was delivered I discovered it came from the UK with all of the foreign stickers. I know vintage US product sells well and commands a high price in the UK, but does the same apply to UK product in the US?

Dan sent me a picture and it was an orange-boxed 6-inch Black Series Anakin Skywalker, covered in multi-lingual stickers. Interesting!

As a rule, Americans don't care about foreign packaging. Generally speaking you'll find more people annoyed by it because of collection uniformity - if one is different, then that's a bummer. Some people will get foreign figures because they specialize in it, but when it comes to modern era stuff I've found people care a lot less these days. Back in the 1990s a bunch of figures were dumped at Big Lots! in multilingual packaging and a lot of us snagged one or two as a curiosity - but a Hammerhead is a Hammerhead, and once the variation hunting of the 1990s wound down this sort of thing didn't really get people the way it used to.

If I saw it at the store I might buy it, but I haven't seen much evidence that people are willing to pay for a UK box - let alone a premium for it - unless they just wanted the figure inside it in the first place. There are always exceptions but if you toss that on eBay I doubt you'll get more than a buck or three over the current going rate of a standard US-boxed figure.




Jurassic World! If you didn't see it, the reviews weren't especially helpful. It delivered heavy on the dinosaurs and light on the "I want an action figure of that person" metrics. As creature features go, I've done a lot worse Heck, as this series goes, we've done worse.

One thing that has come up in the last couple of weeks was Disney (actually Hasbro) and their new Disney Playmation thing, and my best reaction is "I don't think I get it." The best way I can describe it is like Skylanders, but without a proper video game component. It's this mix of interactive toy and mini figure, so far as I can tell, kicking off with Avengers. The $120 starter kit feels prohibitive, and Star Wars is supposedly coming next year. Then again, I look at it from our perspective - as collectors, this isn't for us. Maybe if we have kids, but the product itself looks like it requires a little too much to just tell you what it is. Scannable statue figures and interactive gloves with a sizzle reel that doesn't really show you any of the product shows that they've been paying close attention to the whole toys-to-life phenomenon - which I think works mostly because of the dual love of video games and toys, in that order - but drops the TV and video game part.

Scanning a toy to play with a video game, that seems great. Magical. A toy that you can to make another toy talk... we've been here before.

This sort of thing looks sort of like a next-generation CommTech - but without the traditional figure play part. Adding technology to a toy without some other game interaction hasn't proven successful, unless the technology itself was really something. (See: Furby.) I'm real curious how it'll play out but the toys and a video game thing without a video game are just toys. And while I like toys, I'm looking at LEGO's new thing with LEGO Dimensions and I think they may have something more intriguing there, even if it is a refinement of the existing Skylanders concept. But that's sort of the trick in this business - LEGO Dimensions is a familiar format with a proven track record. If the game sucks, people will buy the figure packs just for the licensed Doctor Whos an Chells and Wizards of Oz and what have you. The product will sell regardless of the game packs - I already know who I'll be buying some of these for, even if I never buy the actual game it serves a purpose without anyone explaining it to me. The license is a great excuse to overcharge people for LEGO figures, which LEGO can't get the licenses to sell without a construction set because other companies already have those. It's amazingly clever because it works on multiple levels.

If Hasbro decided to take Playmation to the next level with incorporation of 3 3/4-inch or 6-inch action figures, I bet that'd be good too - at least that way you can reel in collectors with the classic toy patterns. Educating people on a new premise is tricky work, so with the right in-store demo kiosk and some sort of solid sampling program Hasbro could have a hit on its hands. The good news is if they do, that's a wonderful new market to crack. The bad news is if it doesn't - or even if it does - that could hurt the traditional action figure business, which hasn't been exactly gangbusters in terms of variety outside Star Wars and Marvel Legends right now.

With Hasbro putting more focus into non-action figure items - look at Jurassic World - clearly they're exploring a more dynamic future where the traditional action figure may be a bit of a relic. It was bound to happen eventually, but I still hope we can see some sort of integration with their traditional action figures and technology in the form of bases or stands. I mean, who wouldn't happily buy a ton of 3 3/4-inch Disney Playmation items, if it meant they could be popped off the base and put in our existing displays?

--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.



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