Q&A: Sizes, Scales, Star Wars Action Figure Bootlegs

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 5, 2016

1. If others are making superior or equal 6inch figures then why would Hasbro be interested in sharing the market rather than dominate it like they could do for 3.3/4 line?
In my opinion they have mishandled the 3.3/4 line with very few releases, lacking articulation, unforgivable paint apps (orange hair Han Solo) missing characters (Luke, General Leia) but if they channelled their resources they could create an exciting line again. It is better to do one thing well than ten things badly.

Not all toys are created equal - or more accurately, all sales channels aren't created equally. The Disney Store has its own line of 6-inch metal figures. These are, in many respects, similar to Hasbro's line plus or minus the metal - but they lack Hasbro's infrastructure and partners, meaning they're limited to their own stores. And The Disney Store doesn't have a panel at Comic-Con where people pay money to travel to be there to be marketed to. (Granted, Hasbro also didn't tell us much of anything last year.) Some Japanese licensees do their own 6-inch lines, but have specific price points that set them apart from Hasbro's license.

Basically, Hasbro owns the mass-market 6-inch figure price point for Marvel, Star Wars, and... whatever else they decide to bring under that umbrella next. The 6-inch line is also quite popular among collectors and sells well, which is a good thing. Remember, a 3 3/4-inch super-articulated figure is $13 and a 6-inch figure is $20 - the value proposition has shifted a bit.

The 3 3/4-inch segment isn't what it once was. It's popular, but you may have noticed Hasbro exploring alternate scales and even in Marvel, it pulled back a bit in favor of more 6-inch figures. Hasbro even developed a new simpler 6-inch scale of figures which is basically the same price as the simpler 3 3/4-inch figures, which is kind of disgusting from where I sit as a long-time 3 3/4-inch fan. It does dominate that space, but that space isn't as big as it used to be. It still sells reasonably well, and I hope it'll do better if Hasbro (and Disney) get a better handle on who to market for each new movie. The old movie figures suffered a bit, and it looks like people still don't like Finn, nor Unkar Plutt, but the other main new guys do fairly well. It's a challenge.

I'm not yet sure how they'll handle other guys going forward, and I assume we'll have to see Luke, Leia, and Han in the next movie line because it's an easy sell. Also Rey. But we'll see how that shakes out - I don't know what mandates Lucasfilm and Disney applied to Hasbro, or what Hasbro's team will be doing because of reasons you and I don't see because they're not as chatty as they used to be with us.

I take your question as "I want more 3 3/4-inch stuff, will Hasbro disappoint me again?" and to that I would say "probably." As we move forward - a new movie each year - Hasbro simply can't/won't keep up with fan requests or what you and I may consider obvious choices. Remember, we got Darth Revan in 2007, we were assured we'd see a reissue many times, and now it's 2016 and we have yet to see this reissue. Kids haven't had access toy a toy Snowspeeder since 2010 - so if you were born in 2007, you're 9 now, and you've never had a crack at it in stores.

Star Wars on television is even more underserved, so basically yeah, from here on out expect that you won't get everything. We took 20 years to get Tarkin. Ben Quadrinaros went through multiple Fan's Choice campaigns before Hasbro finally gave us one 13 years after his debut, and that was through the mercy of a "movie year" theatrical rerelease. We don't have most of the cool new aliens or robots, or Luke, or Leia's regular outfit, or a wide variety of The Force Awakens items. It's going to take a while to play catch-up, and fans are going to have to go back to doing the lobbying and wheedling and begging of the 1990s to make some of these things happen. I doubt we're organized enough to make an impact any more, especially as the original trilogy kids age out and the kids of today replace them, but what do I know?



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2. I thought with the Disney acquisition that we would be overloaded with product (like how they use the Frozen brand on EVERYTHING), well, that became true, I can get SW branded anything! Well, almost anything, they seem to have turned away from the one place that has the history of providing revenue, action figures! Why so much SW branding everywhere but the action figure isle? I'm all caught up and don't want to wait till the next movie for new figures!

Blame Force Friday last year. Those of you swine who support and enjoy street dates - Hasbro has heard you, and will deliver this experience to you because a) you say you like it, b) the local news people love it and it gets free publicity, and c) everybody in business loves a shopping holiday. (Except me - I'm the Grinch here.)

I take issue with your comment that there are no action figures, because hyperbole is nonsense and you're being dishonest with yourself and the rest of us. Since September, we've had 36 individually carded non-exclusive 3 3/4-inch action figures (not huge, but a decent number.) In addition to that, 9 2-packs (with 11 figures I'd count as new), 12 Armor-Up figures, and Walmart gave us at least 12 3 3/4-inch The Black Series figures - so by my tally, Hasbro had at least 79 figures in circulation. Oh, plus the two 6-packs I skipped at Toys R Us, and the vehicle pack-ins. It's more or less comparable to The Phantom Menace launch in 1999, give or take big creatures. Also we had 21 non-exclusive The Black Series 6-inch figures.

Someone out there with more time/interest could probably do an accounting thing focusing on how much Hasbro sold you versus previous movies, not to mention other action figures like Hero Mashers (which did quite well) and Galactic Heroes (rebranded Jedi Force) to name a few. And the big-seller 12-inch Titan Hero Series guys collectors hate - but kids buy. And MicroMachines figures, which, OK, they really dropped the ball on those packing one per playset. That's just poor form.

So! Let me just say I do really disagree with your perspective of not providing enough action figures, because my rough count says that they did a bang-up job providing action figures for us to buy. Are they ones that you want? Not necessarily. But they did a bunch, and maybe next time they'll refine it to better suit your needs.

In some years - 2006 and 2007 come to mind - Hasbro really overdid it. With all the multipacks and exclusives, we had years with over 300 new and rerelease (old toy, new package) figures in circulation. That's downright nutty. I mean, I was able to to the math and realize I could keep Figure of the Day reviews solvent for several years because of how much new stuff was being pumped out. That's just not healthy.




3. it's me back again with the topic that keeps me busy the last days [- 6-inch action figure bootlegs].

I found a link to a Chinese seller on eBay via jeditemplearchives.com:



Some people already commented on these cheap Black Series 6" figures and identified them as bogus. If they are indeed faked, I wonder how someone could fake an advanced product like Hasbro's Star Wars Action figures in such big quantities. And if so why doesn't Hasbro pay attention to all these Asian sellers on eBay? I know they have been informed about it several times. What are your thoughts on that?

I have yet to find a definitive answer to unauthorized figures. Sometimes a company will forge a product using the actual original tools used to make the originals, but will make a change or cut a corner or two to make it possible for an eagle-eyed fan to identify a fake. This happens in a lot of products - there are fake electronics, fake video game cartridges existed in the 1980s, there are fake retro game consoles, and people also fake Transformers too. It happens a lot.

Other times we'll see copies of a final product, which results in generation loss and often more sloppy detail that's a little more obvious. There's money in this, especially if real (or damaged) factory equipment is used so someone can make a "lunchtime special" in between jobs. Hasbro does not own the factory in China - China doesn't allow foreign companies (i.e., Americans) to own a complete factory. They can own a large interest in it, but ultimately, legally, it belongs to China. In other countries the regulations are different - as such, it's possible something being done at the factory, which (as I understand it) is a valued partner but still just a contracted partner, there may be things going on there that are unsavory.

I've seen fewer knock-offs of Transformers since they moved production primarily to Vietnam, but that could be a coincidence. These things happen, and I'm told a lot of the knock-offs in Transformers are a very good quality - a little loose in spots, but tough to tell the difference from the original. As such, it's probably best to buy stuff when it first comes out from someone with a direct account to Hasbro or a Hasbro distributor - so your usual big box stores, Entertainment Earth, Amazon proper and most third party sellers (Amazon was pretty amazingly strict about who got to list during The Force Awakens' launch last year, and during Frozen's bigger days), BBTS, etc. Avoiding the secondary market is a good thing, there are numerous toys I don't own in my collection because KOs exist and I don't even want to deal with arguing with a potential seller over legitimacy, because they often refuse to admit it or worse, don't even care. (But you're usually safe when toys are brand new and just come out, KOs rarely coincide with the launch of a brand-new toy.)




I am anti-knock-off. I've seen some collectors say this is elitist or a pig-headed attitude to have, and I don't care because I like my reissues authorized and, hopefully, identifiable as different from the originals. I also want people to know what they're buying - if there are $20 crappy copies of toys, they should be obvious. If you bootleg a product, and it's tough to tell from the original, it hurts the hobby. I'm not concerned about the "worth" of my toy horde, but I'm very concerned about being able to identify a legit from a fake and I don't believe any collector should need to study hard before making a purchase so they can figure out of their Masterpiece Lambor or Black Series Darth Maul is legit. It should be legit, and if it's faked I pray the sellers clearly mark it. The problem isn't just from the person making the first sale - but later, when someone dumps their collection, who's to say that seller remembers? Perhaps the KO made them happy enough that they just happen to neglect that little detail when they sell their collection on Craigslist, thus poisoning the supply with fakes. If you can't afford it? That's OK - sometimes we can't get everything. (Even me - I still don't have a Vlix, even though fan-made copies exist. I need something real.)

I feel the same way about repro weapons - if they're identifiable, easily, or marked as such? I'll live. I detest forgeries, because I don't know what will happen as these things make it out and infect the rest of the hobby. If it's being done under Hasbro's nose, I hope they can do something about it. If it's a factory acting under salacious conditions, well, it's terrible. Usually bootlegs are sloppy and obviously fake, but they're getting better and better about it. The last really huge run of fakes infecting the USA retail scape was probably during that first generation of Pokemon in the 1990s, where your average schmuck couldn't care (or couldn't tell) between a Japanese import and a bootleg. It doesn't help that numerous fake consumer products employ the term "import" as a euphemism for "unlicensed product." (See also: CDs, cassettes, and records.) But if things are labeled properly, or easily identified by changes to the product or packaging? I still detest it, but at least the consumer will know what they are buying.

Just make it obvious, is all that I'm saying. Also, Rogue One reshoots. Hunh. Given the laws of time and space, toys must be in production now - so I wonder which, if any, toys coming later this year will be excised from the finished film. It's like a tradition for new movies now!

Some of you have written in asking if/when we'll do another Q&A with Scott from Jakks Pacific - Mr. Neitlich is now at Jada Toys, who do some great die-cast metal figures from Marvel & DC, and were also behind the RoboCop reboot line a few years ago. I don't know that they have any plans for Star Wars items just yet (it looks like no), but you can be sure I'll reach out when or if they such a thing comes to fruition.

--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.