Q&A: Star Wars 3 3/4-Inch Exclusives and Sealing In Freshness with PFP

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, October 9, 2022

1. Could the Vintage 3 3/4 Star Wars figures move to an "online exclusive" only in the coming years? With shrinking peg space and all the other options for Star Wars products that Walmart & Target offer, could it become an EE/BBTS, etc , similar to the last Vintage wave in 2012?

Probably not - or rather, if they did, Hasbro may look at it and see the dollars/volume as not worth the effort.

Hasbro doesn't disclose edition sizes very much, so I can't imagine they'd want to do all $14-$15 figures as online-only unless it was in their own shop. (Or at higher prices.) There may be a reason to do so down the road, when it's winding down. If Hasbro can say "no you can't give the license to Super7/Spin Master/etc. because we're still using it," they will undoubtedly keep making these figures - or reissuing them, who knows - because to stop would mean a competitor will get them. Hasbro has generally done a good job except it feels like they really dropped the ball for keeping The Mandalorian (the character, and the show) around for impulse buys.

The 2012 wave of The Vintage Collection was shared between Amazon, Entertainment Earth, Big Bad Toy Store, and I can't remember if Toys R Us was involved or not - but it was very much on the bubble. Generally speaking, you don't sell as much of an item when it's an exclusive because it means fewer eyeballs, so I'm always a little bewildered when something like The Retro Collection Kenner reissues for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back weren't mass releases. They seem like things that would do boffo business in big box, and anywhere else when big box runs out.


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2. So plastic-free packaging is here. I’ve encountered it on the “deluxe” TVC figures and on the Ned and Peter Marvel Legends 2 pack. So far I’ve had zero problems, so... yay! But a lot of people seem to have either encountered QC or swap issues (or have gone to great lengths to stage them for internet karma), which leads to my question:

In addition to Star Wars, Marvel, GI Joe and more, Hasbro also owns Wizards of the Coast the makes Magic: the Gathering. In their PFP for bundle packs, Commander Decks and Secret Lairs they’ve implemented pull-tabs on both sides of the boxes and holo stickers to prevent tampering which, if you ask me is brilliant... but I haven’t seen it on any of their toy brands. Do you think this is something Hasbro will implement for their action figure brands? Moreover, with figure swapping having been a problem for decades, can you think of a reason why Hasbro just decided two pieces of tape on blind boxes was acceptable when the MtG engineering has been on store shelves since Kamigawa Neon Dynasty in February?

Not as of yet, but it's certainly something they could try. Hasbro has already done away with shrink-wrapped boxes for its board games, which is sort of where you're going - they are using stickers to seal those. They aren't fancy, but they could be.

McFarlane Toys has been using logo tape for years, but on the shipping cartons to the stores so you know if you bought a case, you can see someone took the "chase" figure out before you got to it. It's a generally great idea, but for whatever reason, most companies don't bother to use it.

It's probably not going to matter much for Hasbro until there are rampant reports - and I mean people yelling at Hasbro on social media and making a fuss - over swappers. So far I haven't heard any problems. The original Original Trilogy Collection Vintage guys came in untaped clamshells until it became an issue - this is likely to be the same thing. Tamper-evident packaging won't be introduced until a need arises, because it costs money, and because it'll probably make the packaging look even weirder.

Until customer behavior gives a big reason to change the packaging, I wouldn't expect any alterations. There's just no short-term reason to update it until theft becomes a huge problem, and as long as online selling of toys continues to grow, theft will most likely not be a problem. I also would not be entirely shocked to see a backslide for windows in a year or two because a lot of the kid product packaging, especially figures, is pretty unappealing.





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TV Blabbing

I sat through Rob Zombie's The Munsters movie on Netflix and while somewhat cheap, Mr. Zombie did a lot well. The performers were good, the costumes were great, the colors were eye-poppingly ridiculous but if you do a screen grab and put it in Photoshop, they look amazingly 1960s black-and-white-TV-show. I wonder if that was intentional! Given how garish colors for the original The Munsters and Addams Family shows were, the sets and make-up resulted in some pretty perfect monochrome boob tube viewing. The movie itself is family friendly to a surprising extent, and the whole thing feels like a mix of comedy sketches and episodes of a sitcom that didn't quite go to series, uh, frankensteined together. If you watched the original show or Munster, Go Home! it's similar to that, only there's sadly less interaction with the "ugly" people in the neighborhood than one might hope. That's where a lot of the fun comes from. I'd still say watch it, if for no reason other than Sylvester McCoy and Jorge Garcia have pretty good parts and it's such a weird little nugget.

This season's genre TV has been pretty great, with a fun Star Trek cartoon, a cartoony live-action She-Hulk, lively horror fans on Los Espookys season two (Bibi's), and so on and so forth. Every day or two, there's something new to watch and most of it is pretty exciting. I watch a lot of stuff, some good, some bad, but not much boring. Andor seems like one of those shows that's going to be very appealing to one crew who's very vocal, and a whole separate crew is probably gonna tune out. (I've seen the toy sales, I know what you and your friends say, but there are other people and they're tuning out. Sort of like how nobody you know likes Avatar but it's like the Super Bowl in that a bunch of people watch it and then forget it in a week.)

There was a slogan - increasingly, one that feels like more of a threat - that said "Star Wars is forever!" There's a lot on the horizon next year, with more Andor, The Mandalorian, The Bad Batch, and Visions, plus Ahsoka and Skeleton Crew. That's probably at least 40-50 episodes of Star Wars, and I assume something s going to get bumped or overlap. Depending on how the final run times shake out, we could be looking at - no joke - 24 hours of new Star Wars in 2024. We've had at least 14 hours in 2023 with another 7 episodes of Andor toy go, plus Tales of the Jedi to follow. Star Wars has always been divisive, and the new level of output seems to ensure everybody has a new favorite and everybody has a new whipping boy.

That's a lot. I assume interest in chasing plastic will dwindle as collections fill houses and new stories appeal to increasingly smaller slivers of the fans. If we get to a point where there's weekly Marvel and Star Wars on Disney+ (and/or in movies) I assume interest in collecting could really plummet, mostly because of the time investment. 20 years ago we'd all go toy hunting and playing games, but now we've arguably got to devote more time to just catch up on the new show - and that doesn't even factor in picking up any reference materials to, you know, learn the character names. It's definitely a changing toy world, and the depth and variety and indeed momentum that kept enthusiasm high seems to be waning. Unless you're into LEGO and Funko, in which case, you're probably doing fine.


For those of you who watch this stuff, I have to wonder if we're in a new world for toys - two items are up right now on the HasLab crowdfunding planner. The Marvel Legends Ghost Rider car, the Engine of Vengeance, has been declining and is at 5,223. (It was as high as 5,800 a couple of weeks ago, and ends 10/31.) The other item is a Heroscape game set, which is increasing and is at 2,201, which is about 27% of the way through. It's not bad, but it's not great either.

I've heard some fans (and others) complaining that the prices of a lot of this stuff has crept up past the point of enjoyment, and I'd be inclined to agree. $30 6-inch figures seems kind of high, but I'm also the kind of person who thinks you can and probably should try to stick to a price point. $5-$10 for an action figure is great - $15-$30 is not, and $350 for a toy car is kind of outlandish unless it's a once-in-a-lifetime purchase fans demanded for decades. Of course, if you go to Walmart you probably won't see a heck of a lot of figures and you certainly won't see any entry-level characters. You're unlikely to stumble on a Spider-Man or a Darth Vader or a Hulk in the non-preschool section, but if you want a Kenner Reva it's your lucky day. What also surprised me is an exception - Target seems to be sitting on The Vintage Collection The Mandalorian Boba Fett (Morak), but at $20.99 it's sort of preposterous. The Vintage Collection Darth Vader and Reva figures have more option parts and similar builds, but cost $6 less. Why? I assume because they think they can get it, and I have to say it's kind of reassuring to see some people balk at a price tag once in a while.

Heroscape still seems to be somewhat worth the asking price, and I assume the Ghost Rider car will add enough stretch goal figures that people will be able to parse it out and go "oh, that's not bad," but not until the last minute. I do wonder what the appetite is on some of those things. Marvel Legends fans have thousands of dollars of figures every year now, and Heroscape could snowball into a big purchase when and if expansions start hitting stores. It seems like high-end props of classic properties will always do well, and 3 3/4-inch vehicles and playsets have a pent-up audience with money to blow, but beyond that? People don't seem to be quite as eager to spend hundreds of dollars right now.

--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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