Q&A: Star Wars Bossk Bits, Stormtrooper Stories, and TIE Terrors

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 2, 2015

1. Quick question in regards to Bossk: Why are there so many different versions of him made? He's a neat character, but with little screen time outside of his foot dangling in Empire Strikes Back. To be honest, I felt his original appearance back in the POTF line was great, and every subsequent appearance was unneeded, with articulation being the only real change. Is it that fan demand is so high? Or is he just an easy figure to make? I don't hate the character, but I've lost count of how many different versions there are of him.

Things have whatever significance we give them - and we gave Bossk significance because we gave Boba Fett a ton of significance around 1979. Bossk gets Boba Fett's second-hand "it" factor, and he's a recognizable, named character who has the added benefit of also not being dead. He was also a mail-in figure early enough in the franchise's history that people hadn't yet gotten too cynical, and that helps. I mean, it worked for Boba Fett.

Bounty hunters do good business and they're something of an unusual area of the toy business. Most toy lines have heroes that do great and villains that don't do so well. Since the 1990s, we've seen the villains in Star Wars become more important than the good guys. Helmeted faceless troopers, Darth Vader, Jango Fett, Boba Fett, and the like are generally where you're going to make your money - collectors love them and love to dress as them. Their "pals" get to trade on this. The Emperor isn't exactly a great design, but he does hang out with Vader and Stormtroopers. Bossk and IG-88 hang around Boba Fett, and Darth Vader.

When you get right down to it, he sells. Every time we see a new Bossk, he'll usually move out of retail fairly quickly. Since we didn't see him to much in the movies - or elsewhere - there's also a decent chance of bringing him back for one of the new movies. Given that he's got a rivalry with the Wookiees, and he's from a long-lived species, and that Lucasfilm has about 12 hours of movie and TBD hours of TV to fill, he's probably worth bringing back. His appearances in The Clone Wars were pretty cool, and any original trilogy bad guy has at least a small fan following. As long as he sells, you'll see more toys.

Of course, this doesn't hold true with everybody. We see very few Zuckuss toys, 4-LOM toys do adequately, and the less said about Dengar the better. The figures tend to be good, but the last time around he wasn't exactly hot stuff. IG-88 usually does well, but again, what you're seeing is a "gotta collect all 6" mentality for the Bounty Hunters. Bossk is #2, and being #2 against Boba Fett means you're going to generate some revenue.



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2. Is the pilot that comes with the new Black Series 6" Tie Fighter Exclusive?

Thanks to (I assume) Disney's asinine policy to reveal nothing to anyone about anything regarding The Force Awakens, we don't know yet. Were I in there shoes, I'd probably want to encourage purchases of the TIE for the figure, but I don't know if their plan is to treat the vehicle as a "limited" collectible thing or what. As a big deal product people will probably talk about for years, limiting it and also selling the figure individually would probably be good in making sure people are interested in it and buy it, hearkening back to the classic marketing gambit which I refer to as "See this? You can't have it." It works.




3. Please tell me the 2015 SDCC First Order Stormtrooper will one day be released in regular packaging!?!

I overheard that it indeed was, but be warned - batch variations are a thing that could happen. For example, Comic-Con 2013 Boba Fett and 2014 Jabba the Hutt are practically identical to their retail regular releases, but those with a magnifying glass and a strong desire to squint can find some minor consistent differences. Now, the question is if these are worth fretting over - are slightly different silver positions important enough to classify it as different? Maybe, maybe not - if the difference cannot be easily quantified or identified without comparing it side by side to the "other" version, I'd be inclined to say no. But I digress.

As far as we know, the trooper should be identical - without the booklet, which you probably wouldn't even realize you're missing. Funny enough I've had similar conversations with people who saw pictures of the book and forgot they did, which is about how significant it will be in your collection. And also...




As I get older - or at the very least, as I collate enough data to make smarter decisions over what is worth getting angry about - this last week's HasbroToyShop.com SDCC launch wasn't one of them. I believe I overheard Hasbro saying that the figure would return in non-exclusive packaging after the show. Hasbro has been doing weirdo packaging variants with little bonuses for years, ranging from the ignorable to the bafflingly enticing. Inflation is real, and fans on the secondary market actually have money - which is problematic, because that means they're able to pay for items. Prices go up and down over the course of the first 18 months, so if Hasbro missed an opportunity to get your money and has instead offered it to an eBay flipper, well, you can get upset. (And many of us understandably did.)

You can write Hasbro letters and let them know they missed a shot at your business. (Again, a sensible thing to do.)

You can write to me an angry letter and see what I say. (This is not going to help anyone change anything. You may as well write Somerville Speakout. You should totally listen to it, it's great.)

After years of increasingly irritating convention exclusives - some of which tank and become cheap, some of which do not - all you can really do is look at your balance sheet and see what's worth getting upset over. And I'm really in no position to judge what makes you angry - but I will say that a spreadsheet can do wonders in altering your perspective for better or worse. Going to SDCC, waiting in line for several hours on one or more days, paying for parking or perhaps forgoing the hotel and just sleeping on the street to get into Hall H and save a few bucks, there's always going to be a cost associated with it. Some go up, some go down, but generally things even out nicely if you are patient and lucky enough to watch the market every week.

While it will not get you your Stormtrooper cheaply, it may help to look at the last couple of exclusives in this format. The 2013 Boba Fett with Han Solo in Carbonite kicked off at $60, shot up to $240, came down to the $80-$90 shipped range, and is now hovering around $120 delivered. It's not great, but it cost around $30-$40 to park near the show. So depending on what your travel budget is, crappy as it is to pay $120 for a $20 figure in a new box with a frozen smuggler, the numbers aren't terrible.

In 2014, Hasbro made Jabba - a $40 figure that sold so poorly it was marked down to $25 at every Target in Phoenix - as a Black Series 6-inch scale exclusive with Salacious Crumb, a swell diorama box, and a pipe. It shot up as high as $120. Today? $80. This may be more about perception thanks to the non-entity that is the regular figure, but still - $20 mark-up is actually not too shabby. Buying it from HasbroToyShop sans free shipping offer would cost about that.

Take a good look at your collection and you may realize that you're missing a few items that are cheap, but for some reason you haven't bothered to pick them up. (This happened to me around 2007-2008, as I was displeased with their asking price and lack of difference. Blue box Saga Walmart TIE Bomber? Yeah. Still cheap if you want one, about $23. Variant droid AOTC Deluxe Mace Windu? ROTS Vulture Droid, brown version?) If you're a dedicated collector - and boy howdy, you guys are - there's nothing worse than a company effectively saying "no, I don't want your money." But at times, you can have the last laugh - get the stuff you missed now while nobody's paying attention. Pick up those last few clone repaints, vehicle reissues, and the things you skipped and meant to go back and buy while you wait for the Stormtrooper to lose some heat. The exclusives always have a price surge, then a dip, and then usually increase over time. If you can afford to be patient, you may be able to save a few bucks and some stress while getting the stuff you've always wanted. And really, if we aren't here to get all the toys we want through any means possible, why are we here at all?

One last thing - I do follow my own advice at times. I got a Die-Cast Metal Titanium Series Jango Fett action figure off of eBay for $10 a couple years back. "But Adam!", you say. "Didn't that figure go unreleased - did that even come out?" Yup! A few did. It's actually one of the very few mass-produced Hasbro products you could probably define as rare without being hyperbolic. And I waited out the $100-$150 figure until I could get one for $10, sealed in a mint box. Patience, at times, pays. There are a few other items on my wish list like that one, but obviously I am not going to tell you what those are.

You can wait out the market at times. You can pay attention and figure out when the right time to buy is - and obviously, it's not today for that Stormtrooper. It might not be next month. But when the Rogue One toy mania starts, do you think anyone is really going to care about The Force Awakens stuff? I don't. That's probably when you'll want to get your 6-inch SDCC Stormtrooper, unless the new movie brings on a permanent collector class back. I don't believe it will - the 1990s trilogy items were as much a nostalgia boom as it was a get-rich-quick scheme, and the latter most people realize is impossible to maintain. The era of collecting them all is a pipe dream for any unwilling to put lots of time or money into this, so while I have little doubt there will be popular items down the road I certainly can't say what those are.

...because Hasbro still hasn't announced the names of the toys that will be out in 32 days.

--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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