Q&A: Ship Problems, Star Wars Loses More Luster, and Finding Stuff

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 9, 2018

1. Hi Adam. I wanted to ask you about the latest Star Wars 3.75 Solo Wave 4 figures (Quay, Val, etc.) I heard that they have been showing up since October but no luck yet in NJ (at least not for me). Now I see that EE has pushed back their preorders till January 2019. But what's really insane are the prices that they are now commanding on eBay and other online stores. In your wisdom, will this wave be difficult to obtain or will Hasbro ship additionally quantities to stores? It seems as per store reports that they showed up at Walmart but not Target. Strange since these stores have been bragging about their toy expansion sans Toys R Us. Black Friday has come and gone but their empty pegs remain the same... sigh.

I've seen a few of these out and about, and the important thing to remember is that with very, very few exceptions Hasbro tends to make a pretty good number of its products. Wave 4 was made, those molds are expensive, and even if you don't see them in stores tomorrow, that doesn't mean that they won't show up somewhere eventually. (I got my case at Entertainment Earth, because of course I did.)

Difficult to obtain is tough to call. If you order online? No. If you have to get it in a store near you? Maybe. The holiday season is a struggle for toy collectors, because you have real competition now. Not only are your brothers, sisters, and themsters in the world of fandom hunting but so are moms, dads, aunts, uncles, and so forth. People that don't know Quay Tolsite from a hole in their butt just want to buy a kid an action figure, and they'll snag the first one they see. Thanks to increased foot traffic and reduced toy availability, well, that's life. We see this every year, with Christmas sort of acting to the toy aisles what wildfires are to dead wood in a forest. It's a regulating mechanism, and if things go poorly, someone's gonna get burned.

I've seen a lot of old waves suddenly appearing at some of my local stores of other Hasbro lines. If Hasbro is sitting on old waves, you might see more of those before the newest waves hit - again, that's because parents might buy anything. The waves may also be held back and dumped elsewhere down the road - I'm seeing deep deep discounters suddenly receive new Rogue One cases in the last month, long after Hasbro sold theirs. I've seen waves sell out at Hasbro only to stumble on a figure at La Curacao a year or two later. The toy market is unpredictable.

Confidential to you: Entertainment Earth wants people to have a good slate of December gift-giving holidays. You'll notice very few - or no - items have a December ETA come December 1. There's always a glimmer of a chance an item could show up earlier, but it can be difficult to explain to a parent buying a toy that a new collectible with a December ETA may ship December 26 - so there's a chance you might see more in December. There's a greater chance that if you don't have a pre-order on the books, someone else will have bought all the cases before they arrive "in stock" again. As an employee of Entertainment Earth, this is why I will nudge people toward pre-orders. (You can also cancel pre-orders if you need to.)

As far as toy expansions go, it's true that the big box stores are expanding toy selections. For example, Power Wheels and board games are getting a lot more love, as are products from Funko. These aren't what you're hunting, but they're what's selling.

Also remember Star Wars flopped hard in 2018, so stores aren't going after more toys. Several exclusives were announced and many showed up - some are still not arriving in stores. It's a new market, with a lot of the same problems. An increased emphasis on an intimate quantity of plastic people does not necessarily mean you will get the ones you want at that store. If everybody wants Pikmi Pops, they're going to chase those. If nobody wants Star Wars, they're less likely to reorder the newest waves of those. For the past 23 years, we've been chasing these new guys down as we can, where ever they may show up, and that's been the nature of the beast. It is unlikely to change.



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2. I was wondering if the Galactic Hunt Report is no longer active. I was curious how other areas are doing with finding new items. I had heard that the last two concept vehicles from the hot wheels star wars star ship line are starting to make it to Walmart, along with the khetanna, but I haven't had the opportunity to check for myself.

First: ya gotta check for yourself. Them that finds, gets. Even though I've been online for toy news and information since the early 1990s, going to the store is the only thing that consistently gets me stuff. Then again, if I'm not in a store today, I'll probably be in one tomorrow.

I can say that I've seen these items showing up on the secondary market, but I've not seen them myself. Mike ran GHR up until about 2014, and he left the site a few years ago - you might have noticed there's a little less news here, mostly because I'm trying to focus on original content and not duplicating what the other sites do. (YakFace.com in particular does amazing work.)

My go-to for just about everything has been to keep an eye on eBay and other seller sites, mostly because collectors - for years - tend to "celebrate" finding new figures by buying 2-3 of them and putting 1-2 up for sale. If I can't find it for sale, it's probably not out - even the rarest of the rare new toys generally are getting flipped by somebody somewhere.

Usually I'm not the first to find anything at retail, and the first sightings of most new Hasbro toys come from online pre-orders.




3. Have you heard of anyone having problems with the new Walmart Vintage TIE Fighter's wings? If you have it, have YOU had any problems? Either that wing mechanism is poorly designed or I'm cursed. I've gone through four of these now, and after about a week/week and a half the right side's wing will pop off, and will no longer latch thereafter. I can push, fiddle, futz with the button, poke at the spring with tweezers, but it's done for. For $80, I'm extremely disappointed in this thing. And what's worse is I can't find enough information online as to whether this is a common problem or just me having a run of bad luck. I could super glue it into place I guess, but that really shouldn't be necessary.

I just opened mine and mine has a different problem. The problem on mine is the wings themselves - if you compare them side by side, on mine, one of them is clearly not fully molded. A chunk of plastic wasn't there, so there's a hole and it can't latch in place. If they're all this way, you'll have to mix and match (and return), which is not ideal. There could also be other problems, but in my tests the wing mechanisms are fine. John and I went back and forth, and on his it's something located in the pylon with the spring mechanism that doesn't lock. I would advise anyone buying this to check the wings before throwing out the receipt, because mold rot is a real problem and $80 is not cheap.



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Having written about toys for over two decades and change, I can now safely say it's difficult to speculate. Even when we have concrete information about the future, it can change. Heck, even my tastes change - 20 years ago I assumed Star Wars action figures would be dead again in 2008, I'd be putting together a LEGO town in a basement, and hopefully buying a ton of licensed Playmobil toys by now while I threw my hands up at video games and moved on to goodness knows what. Instead I rarely buy LEGO, Playmobil barely put out any licensed stuff, and I've been buying more retro game cartridges than I assumed thanks in part to a lot of good ones being basically worthless now. Thanks, short attention spans for the kids of the late '90s-'00s!

I've also had a lot of experience in slowly getting kind of miffed at some items, but that passes as I realize they're not for me. The whole Forces of Destiny thing was both kinda cool (Luke vs. Gorax!) and kinda not (product line, plus or minus the product line you only wish you saw.) Now we've got Galaxy of Adventures, which is the Monkey's Paw version of the Star Wars anime I fantasized about seeing someone make using the old soundtrack and new animation. Similarly we got a return to form with classic action figures, at higher price points, with less features, and (for us) less desirable packaging. On the bright side we also got more The Vintage Collection coming soon with some aliens and things that are why we're all here in the first place, after we eat our vegetables in the form of amortization repacks. Such is life. I guess. This is what getting old is - reruns and no vehicles.

Generally speaking the smaller line makes me happy, although I wish they could spread it out more. I don't want 8-16 figures at once - I'd love 3-4 every 2-3 months, though. Disney's slow-drip Droid Factory has generally been good in the last couple of years, and I've adored Hasbro's figures and playsets and most of the vehicles from Solo: A Star Wars Story and beyond. It's been good, and with Avatar as the Christmas sci-fi movie on the horizon starting in a few years I don't assume the current slate of newness can last forever. Thankfully as we all get older, there are lots of things we can explore beyond a galaxy far, far away - monster movies, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard records, the entire run of Stan Against Evil, and an obscene trove of GameBoy cartridges spanning nearly 20 years. For those of us who have been there since the beginning, we've seen a lot - perhaps we've seen it all - but for you newcomers? There are hundreds if not thousands of figures to be bought at bargain basement prices if you're so inclined. It's bad to be a completist, but for those looking to specialize and explore this hobby it's always the best-ever time to buy.

...unless all of a figure has turned yellow with age, like the Death Star Escape cinemascene Stormtrooper Luke and Han chests. That hurts.

If you'll excuse me, I have to figure out what the heck it is I'm doing in "Koro Koro Puzzle Happy Panaechu."

--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.