Q&A: Star Wars Big Playsets, Stretch Goals, and Repainted Figures

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, October 25, 2020

1. Adam, do you think that the recent success of Hasbro's Haslab projects bodes well for a Death Star?

Any speculation on what you think has caused Tunghori to shut down for these past few weeks? I personally considered Chinese holidays, but those ended a while ago.

I've heard conflicting things about HasLab, but one of the things is that they don't want to do too many things at once. If you total up the dollars of recent Hasbro 6- and 3 3/4-inch figure announcements, there's too many things coming right now - and a second Pulse item per year would probably be too much. I assume it's something we will see if fans demand it. If someone would take the time to set up a petition and collect names, if it got a couple thousand signatures, I bet you'd see a Death Star in the next 3-4 years. The Razor Crest made a lot of sense for right now, since the show's about to start and there hasn't been a saturation of product for it just yet. New fans are ready to spend - and hopefully Hasbro will find an excuse to do the Death Star, but probably not through the Disney+ series.

What a "Death Star" entails, though, is beyond my capacity for imagining. Would it be a small thing that grows with stretch goals? A thing with hooks to expand in a later crowdfunding project? A thing as big as a car? I just cracked open the new Carbon Freezing Chamber - I bought two, but opened one. Just one is about 17-inches tall and 23-inches long - and fans are bemoaning how incomplete it is. But a full double-stuff build is almost as big as a Sail Barge. As I've mentioned in the past, if I were doing a Death Star (and had any say in how it turned out) I would probably steer Hasbro to a modular build over a few years. Maybe a $50 chunk every 2-3 months, with one or two honking big bits on HasLab to start and finish it. This is not necessarily a good idea - if you saw the Transformers Studio Series Devastator, making a build over two years is a very long time and you feel it.

I haven't heard about Tunghori, eBay seller of loose figures, in years - I would assume the only thing that would stop that business is if Hasbro mothballed the tools, which would be in line with their current product direction.

Other companies are still putting out classic toys of the robot, which can be found at a variety of stores this year.



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2.What prompted Hasbro to do the "carbonized" editions of figures that didn't even need it? Was it just to test the waters for demand, or are they out of original ideas? "Should we make more of the Mandalorian figure?" "Hmmm....okay, but let's give it a goofy finish!"

Probably some of each. These special finishes sell well, and doing them requires almost no effort - given that the license was originally set to expire this year, I'm sure they wanted to have things they could easily get out in a short amount of time (or not release) depending on what the situation demanded. Now that the license has been renewed, I hope we don't get too much more of that kind of thing - I don't mind one or two here and there, but $200+ in "the same, but different" figures is a bit rich for my blood. At least gold figures are wildly different - but yes, enough people just want plain Mandalorian figures that this is probably good enough, and an easy pitch to the buyers of major chains.

While repaints (and repackaged toys) are not exciting exclusives, they're things that can be easier to approve and quicker to release. If, all of a sudden, a big customer says "I need an exclusive and a bunch of units in time for Christmas" you, as a toy maker, can't tool a new figure in 6 months. But, Licensors willing, it's not impossible to concoct a redeco and get it on store shelves in 7-8 months. It's difficult (but not impossible) to get a new tool out if you pull out all the stops, as you've seen with Baby Yoda and Baby Groot which were largely kept secret from licensees until these things were seen by the masses. I sure don't know if Mando gets a new suit this season, but I do know that he is painted funny in the end credits and that is a figure that could be made. But will it be popular? Time will tell!

Changing a main line assortment late in the game is tough - but if the higher-ups approve another product being made, doing a repaint is easy, especially if a major player (like Best Buy) suddenly buys thousands of a product - the entire run - making everybody happy. Except completists, that is. Some retailers do carry older figures as demand continues, though, but there's probably significant missed opportunity in big box stores for a plain assortment of Mandalorians.




3. For the HasLabs Razor Crest, aren't the Unlock features kinda...well, obvious? It'd stand to reason the ship would have some sort of extra feature like an escape pod and carbonite blocks; it seems as underwhelming as announcing landing gear. And it all seemed fairly obvious it'd have some sort of carded pack-in, like the Barge had a Yak Face and the Bespin set had a Stormtrooper. What would make good Unlock features for the RC?

Not knowing what's in season 2, I don't know for sure - putting in things that won't alienate collectors make a lot of sense. The escape pod was in the very first renders, so it's a safe bet we'd get that regardless of the stretch goal. The Child, same thing there - I assume a regular one is coming, even if it's a little different. The Carbonite chambers did get me excited - it's weird, it's unique, and there's zero reason to rerelease them elsewhere. Obvious? Sure. But welcome, absolutely.

Based on season one, there's not much more I'd want to shove in there - maybe opening engines for more weapon/figure/accessory storage? "Carbonized" figures would be a nice bonus that I would love if I got for free, but wouldn't miss if they didn't happen. Oh - Jawas. That'd be nice. Offworld Jawas. Easy to do, lots of existing tooling, and if Hasbro wanted to do a mass-release one they could just use one of the other dozens of Jawa molds.

I would also have taken a Blurrg, but that would - I hope - be under consideration for a main line or retailer exclusive given its size.



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Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is almost out of on-topic questions, so if you got some, send some in.

Today is Mando Monday, so Hasbro is going to show you some really cool new things you can pre-order in the afternoon. Having said that, I think you're going to be very excited for them, and may have some opinions about some of them, too. I'm not saying I know what any of it is but I will say you're going to be glad you saw it.

Over the weekend, Target had individually packed Commander Pyre and R5-P8 figures. I got my droid, and had the previous, much more expensive "impatient fan edition" of Pyre. (Who knew it'd see mass release?) It's nice that they're spreading some of their releases out a bit, mostly because that while some fans are saying "there's not enough stuff this year!" are wrong. Between the GameStop Gaming Greats, the Holiday Editions, the Carbonized Figures, the Credit Collection, the Walmart exclusives, the PulseCon exclusives, the one-off Pulse exclusives, the main line Vintage, the Celebrate the Saga 3 3/4-inch, the Carbon Freezing Chamber, the waves of basic Black Series figures... there's a lot.

And more is coming, so buckle up, it's not going to get any less interesting. Also The Mandalorian returns this week, so get ready for that.

--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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