Q&A: Star Wars Clones, More Distribution, and Things We Know But Don't

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 13, 2020

1. Reports last week tell of 3.75 figure waves that were hard to find in the past showing up in droves at deep-discount retailers like Ollie's for just a few bucks.

Was this a breakdown in the distribution chain? Did these come straight from Hasbro, or from the likes of Walmart, Target, etc., just not bothering shipping from their warehouses to stores and taking a loss?

A better question might be: how does the distribution work? Does Hasbro produce X number of figures, and the retailers decide how many they want? And then Hasbro finds ways to sell off what isn't ordered?

Hasbro's toy distribution has actually changed up a bit in recent years. In the old days, stores would get a couple of cases, a collector would buy 1-2 of each figure, and you'd go "hey, my store never got the new guys." Today a chunk of the product isn't necessarily going to stores - most is, some isn't. It's my understanding that most of The Black Series basic waves are getting to big box stores in the USA, while many but not all The Vintage Collection are necessarily intended for brick and mortar. And some of the figures it looked like wouldn't pop up sometimes do pop up, by error, or due to other logistical reasons which are fascinating to me but probably nothing I would be allowed to discuss outside a business context (and some things do or don't match what the plan was.)

A number of products are indeed meant for certain kinds of online or collector or fan shops only - those Rebels figures from The Black Series this year are only showing up at Big Bad Toy Store, Diamond, Entertainment Earth, and smaller online toy shops (or are being sold by third parties who buy from wholesale distributors in that world.)

Depending on the item, different manufacturers - not just Hasbro - do different things. Sometimes they make a product a little tight, they see the demand and say "OK we have orders for X, let's make .9X to make sure it all sells through." Back in the mid-00s, Gentle Giant sometimes cut to order but also cut under orders. Hasbro usually makes enough to meet total product demand - but when it comes to waves, things get tricky, and the insight I've recently got there I am not at liberty to discuss at this time. (Bug Hasbro! Basically Last Wave Syndrome has an understandable reason behind it.) Generally speaking Hasbro is pretty good about getting products out there if they're not in assortments. If they're only in assortments, therein lies the problem. The main solution for this has a name - ME! Well, I'm giving myself too much credit but I went on a campaign to rerun Black Series Darth Vader many many years ago until I wore down some very patient executives who let us actually order and sell more after he was phased out of the waves. And now you may notice that Entertainment Earth is selling a lot of sold-out, older figures that sometimes cost a lot on the secondary market, but for the normal retail price. Hasbro is very on board with doing this more and more. You're welcome.

I don't have Ollie's in my area so I can't go look... and I don't have any pals in that particular world. Sometimes unsold waves sit and have to go somewhere - I saw a lot of The Last Jedi and Solo ForceLink figures dumped at Five Below! here in Arizona last year. All I can say there is that there's a time - and that amount of time varies - for toys to be sold at regular price, and if it doesn't sell, it has to be sold through a different kind of store. For example, Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Ollie's, Big Lots, and other places that sometimes get those closeout items. And sometimes they get donated, and on rare occasions they're said to get destroyed.



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2. I've heard that the Luke, Leia, and Han figures from the "Heroes of Endor" Black Series SDCC-exclusive set will eventually be released individually. Do you know if this is in fact the case? I really only want the Luke and Leia figures, and really don't want to drop $110 on the entire set.

At press time Hasbro has neither confirmed nor denied individual releases of this set. Having said that, Hasbro has yet to make a full-size character/costume The Black Series figure specific to a convention - deco, yes. Battle damage (Kylo Ren), yes. Accessories, or sidekicks like Salacious Crumb, oh yeah. But so far I have yet to see a major character in a major costume never show up anywhere else.

Also having said that, we were told to expect The Vintage Collection BT-1 and 0-0-0 on individual cards... and we're still waiting years after we got Dr. Aphra in stores. I would not be surprised to see Hasbro maximize any asset, but you never know what will be announced in the coming weeks. I mean, I do, but you don't.




3. If I wanted four V1 [3 3/4-inch] clones (all four colors) LOOSE, which would you recommend getting?

I am getting a Gree, the new 5POA pack, and maybe some other commanders or ROTS guys.

Don't want "everything." Just four AOTC types and some ROTS versions for a single shelf.

This is kind of bad news, as far as prices go. The prequels started in 1999, so it's 21 years later. To put it in vintage-era terms, it's like getting old Kenner figures in 1998 - they got expensive, the kids of that era grew up and the price stratification is heart-stopping in some cases. (Jaster Mereel & Montross are over $600?) A whole new generation came up when we weren't paying attention and now those formerly-abundant and cheap figures are neither.

For green you've got some options. The "correct" green color only exists in The Black Series - so you'll need to get that trooper. It's this one - you have no other choice at this scale for this color, but the bright green is available in many forms. This same mold was sold in blue for The Vintage Collection, but isn't cheap anymore. Maybe it's time to campaign Hasbro for reissues.

The Entertainment Earth clones - later repackaged in 2007 Saga Legends with coins - may be your best overall bet being super-articulated. As you can see, prices have since gone up a bit. You might be able to scare up a deal at a comic shop in your area. Also make sure they haven't yellowed with age - not all were kept up nicely and some just got lucky.

eBay lots may be an even better option. Just drop a few bucks on a small collection, the price-per-figure tends to be good in situations where people want to dump an army in a hurry. (This is how I finished my Battle Beasts rubsign collection!)

Another thing you might like - I mean, I loved these - were Walmart's 2003 Clone Trooper bonus packs. At the time, $5 got you Anakin & a blue lieutenant clone, Yoda & a yellow Commander clone, or ARC Trooper Alpha and a plain white Clone. These have been steadily climbing in recent years, especially lately as bored people are going to fill in gaps in their collection. The current going rate is under $30 and I love the wacky armored up figures they came up with for the time. If you have the means, I highly recommend checking them out.



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I'm out of questions! I got one for next week, and I'll need at least one more to keep things going.

Hopefully things are going well - and if any of you have a Jabba's HasLab Sail Barge with extra clear feet pieces to sell or trade, could you let me know? I opened mine and there weren't any in the box - and so far Hasbro Customer Care has not replied to me after a couple of weeks and attempts, so hey, better open those things immediately kids.

I'm finding myself delighted by the Hasbro "Galaxy's Edge Trading Post" Droids - they're nothing special on paper, but having weird color BBs and 3 new Astromechs reminded me of just how fun it is when we get something new - not just a new scale, or an update of something we bought years ago. I hope Hasbro and Target and Disney continue the program with more droid drops here and there.

There's still a lot to look forward to this season, with all sorts of things shipping now and announcements due in the coming weeks - and months - and year, too, probably. As you no doubt have heard New York Toy Fair in February was pushed back to "Spring" (I'd go out on a limb and say "2022") but there's still a lot to do remotely, and while I get a huge kick out of going to New York for meetings and presentations I also like it when you can see what I see, as I see it.

--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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