Q&A: Pre-Toy Fair Guess-A-Palooza with Action Figures, Variations, and Stuff We Are Not Yet Seeing

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 3, 2013

What's new in Q&A this week? Let's talk new figures, if we can try to do so. And how about variation rarity? Well, we can pretend to guess. And display stands are a good thing too. Read on, and get ready for Toy Fair!


1. I thought I'd ask about the Barada [Kithaba] figure. Which is more easily available, the red or brown bandana?

Kithaba? Fun story - nobody knows for certain yet. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a filthy liar, unless their name is like Derryl and they run the show at Hasbro. (I bet he knows.)

According to the date stamps on the figure cardbacks, we know with about 100% certainty that the brown bandanna was the first release. Last year, brown bandannas were the most common, but red ones started showing up as early as Kithaba's initial release but were, on the whole, pretty scarce. (I only just saw one in person for the first time in January, and I saw a few.) Since Hasbro may be sitting on a fair amount of vintage figures which are slowly trickling into Toys "R" Us and elsewhere (that or they're in distribution centers), there's a chance that red may in fact be more common than brown, but there's a lot of product that has yet to be distributed from what it looks like. This is something that will have to shake out over the next year.


2. It was interesting to read about the $6 Iron Man figures, and that SW was going in that direction. Do you think that the low articulation and simple sculpts of the recent Bespin and Naboo Battle Packs is an indicator of whet we could be seeing? I hope that if Hasbro decides to simplify, they do it with style.
--Mike Rex

I asked Hasbro pretty much that question last year and got a confirmation that more figures in the style of those Battle Packs were in production (as of last August) but they did not elaborate on how they would be distributed, packaged, and so forth. Single? No idea. Since we know Hasbro wants to do more figures with that style, I'd say it's possible that such a thing could exist... but Hasbro could just as soon whip out a 2002 Obi-Wan Kenobi, give him a lightsaber, charge $6 and call it a day.

With the change-ups in the line this year, I hesitate to speculate too much because who the heck knows what Hasbro is going to tell us over the weekend?



3. What's up Adam! I recently broke out the box of stands I bought at the Los Angeles celebration and was wondering if all the characters listed in the sticker sheet were made? I also want to buy some more sets for all the loose figures I have and was wondering what's a good price for them as I don't remember what I paid for it then.

As I am not sure which version of the stands you got, (for example, there are one-peg and two-peg editions) I'm going to say it's a pretty safe bet that every name on that sticker sheet got a figure. I think one or two of them were basically announced by the sheets, and if memory serves Lumat may have been on the stands when he was actually released as Graak. But I don't have a pic or my sticker sheet handy, so sorry about that.

I don't know if what you're asking me is "what should I pay for these?" or "what are these worth?" but either way, eBay can answer your questions as they tend to have a lot of lots of stands on there. There are also non-Hasbro third-party stands. I would say try to see what you can get for 25-40 cents each, more than that and you may wish to keep shopping around.


4. With all of the discussion over Hasbro's restructuring of their action figure line for this year (no Build-A-Droid) and the repackaging/re-releasing of some harder to find figures, there has been no mention that I have found of Bastila Shan. While I understand that my toy runs may yield no Bastila Shan figure if another buyer hits a store before me, it just seems like she has been the hardest figure for me to track down in recent memory. When her wave was initially released (and periodically since then), I spotted Echo Base Troppers and the occasional Ponda Baba but never any trace of Bastila. I do not recall ever hearing of her being found available on Hasbrotoyshop or TRU.com and Amazon's prices have been rising in the past months (currently in the $68.00 range). The same is true for Ebay (after shipping).

Has there been any suggestion that Hasbro would consider re-releasing her? Have others shared with you concerns over the scarcity of this figure? Are there areas of the country where people claim she is (or was) plentiful? If so, any chance anyone out there can hook a brother up?

As I sell cases of figures at my day job (and keep track of the mixes), I can safely say that if you found Ponda Baba and the Hoth Rebel, you missed Bastilla as they all shipped at 1 per case in only 1 case. While I had personally seen her in the wild when she first came out, I haven't seen her since late 2011. I suspect there may be unsold cases of figures in the system out there somewhere as we haven't seen the 2010+2011 Vintage SKUs completely blown out, but they have shown up at Tuesday Morning stores but I remember very few mentions of those three figures specifically.

So in short, we don't know if Hasbro is still sitting on some or not - sometimes it takes a coupe of years for inventory to shake out, as we saw with the Republic Cannon and Mandalorian Transport late last year... and will no doubt see with the 2012 Naboo Fighter again in the next 1-2 years. We're still hearing figures showing up at some stores, so keep your eyes peeled and cross your fingers.

As for new production? Start complaining loudly. Hasbro reacts well to fan demands, and if they think they can crank out a figure again and sell a bunch of them, they might do it. I would suggest bringing it up in forums - and I'm talking to all of you out there - and hopefully Hasbro will bring her back in the next year or two. Write letters. Post comments. Bring it up at conventions. But remember, telling fan sites about it just lets us know about it, we've got a bazillion other issues and sometimes we can't make it a point to campaign for a figure reissue. A large community asking for her, on the other hand, would help a bunch.


5. Any idea when we will see the CW 2013 figures?

No, and here's why - the samples showing up on eBay and even in the official packaging galleries are all non-US packaging. That's European/Asian packaging. No US packaging exists yet. With that in mind... it's really tough to say with Hasbro being quiet. So either they're figuring it out still, or we're really not going to like the answer at Toy Fair next week. Normally I expect pre-orders online by now, but it's not out of the question for Hasbro to hold back items for a "media reveal" and then they show up in stores. (But I've seen no evidence of them showing up now-ish.)



Cost is a funny thing. I know this is an area where few of us agree, but I'm generally more enamored by things that cost lest. Not merely because I am cheap, but because financial limits pose intriguing challenges which, at times, can result in an innovative toy.

This isn't to say expensive things are necessarily bad, but when it comes down to rising prices it does raise expectations. Anything less than an "A" figure in The Vintage Collection is a disappointment, particularly when compounded with distribution woes. For $10, and the effort? It had better be good. And if you think that sounds picky, have you ever had the luxury of talking to the guys who collect 1:6 scale Asian action figures? Some of those suckers run $300. Exponential growth approaching perfection continues every year, with newer, more impressive, and more expensive releases whose sole claim to fame is being the best yet. Emphasis on "yet," as in many cases these items are just a stepping stone to something better. Remember those awesome Marmit kits put out of Stormtroopers, Sandtroopers, and Boba Fett in the 1990s? Well, those are crap now. And how about the Legends in Three Dimensions busts? Garbage. Hard Hero's Transformers busts? Also second-rate. Collecting things because they are the best can be tricky, although some companies are actually pretty damn near close to perfection, particularly some of Sideshow's 1:1 scale pieces.

It's for this reason - as well as J.J. Abrams' involvement with Episode VII and the fact our six-film-and-some-TV franchise is about to become an eternal thing - that I would say we either need to embrace higher-cost figures or lower-cost figures. $10 is wrong. $15-$20 might be right, if the figures were increased in size and value. $5 would be fantastic, reducing them to 1990s-level articulation with modern sculpting techniques. Last year's new Battle Pack figures were quite good, but it's also important to note that good for the price is just as important for cheap figures as expensive ones. As much as I loved the 2012 Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Battle Packs, that figure would be pretty poor for $11.

With Hasbro revisiting Star Wars after Droid Factory got deep-sixed, it's my hope Hasbro reconsiders the whole deal. While 14-jointed Clone Troopers are nice, I'd also be happy to see some pre-posed ones for $6 a whack, particularly if they were moveable enough to sit in a ship. I love my astromech droids, but I'd rather get a vat of the things at $6 with only 3 joints than have geared mechanisms, pop-out panels, and a $11 price tag. And as much as I love how "Droid Factory" in 2008-2009 got us a whopping 18 "bonus" figures it did coincide with the $7.99 price increase. The 2013 Droid Factory was scheduled to have 4 awesome new bonus droids so far, tied to 16 figures, many of which were slight upgrades and "just different enough to make you mad"s.

I guess what I'm getting at is this: as much as I like seeing the line get bigger all the time, I can't say I'm super-pumped about being made to buy a sorta-kinda-different Darth Vader just to get a droid's leg. (I mean, I'd buy it anyway, but I'm dumb. You? You've got decisions to make.) With Toy Fair just days away, what I want more than anything else is to see if prices can be changed to a more digestible level. While I know some of you will scream bloody murder if your Cantina aliens don't have 14 joints, I honestly can't say that my life has been enriched in any way by Leesub Sirln's ankles or the ARC Trooper Captain's lateral hip movement. But if I'm being charged $10 or more for that figure, it had better damn well have those joints. Lower the prices, lower the expectations, and I would wager that with few exceptions the community will be better off when it comes to the 3 3/4-inch scale. At this point in my collecting career, in addition to looking good, I only have three requirements for my figures. 1. Stand. 2. Fit in ships as appropriate. 3. Hold weapons as appropriate.

I'd rather be pleasantly surprised by a good $5 or $6 figure than bummed out that the $12 resculpt of a $10 figure I just bought last year isn't an improvement.

That's it. Thank you, and good day to you.

--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.