Q&A: Star Wars Convention Reveals, Enthusiasm, and Pin Heads

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 28, 2019

1. Now that the Celebration reveals are out, do you know if the Skiff Guard Pack will eventually be releases individually in addition to the 3 pack? Or are the carded versions only available in inside the 3 pack? I already have two of the three so don’t know if I should keep my preorder or hold off if they may come individually at some point.

I would not anticipate individual releases of the Skiff Guards in the near term, but it's possible - after all, Hasbro ended up doing Aphra from the 3-pack as a single and the droids are expected soon. I would not hold your breath, though.



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2. So...after having sold off a great many pieces of my collection a few years back (mostly non-OT VC - and yes, I'm kicking myself), I find that I'm slowly crawling back into the fold. A Skiff Guard Lando here, a Mimban Stormtrooper there...Yakface...it's starting to look like I'm collecting again. I have a set of the reissue VC figs coming from Amazon next week, and besides hoping they're not crushed all to hell, I find myself also hoping that I am able to more or less end my collecting career on a high note this time - that is, actually quit the line before it quits me. That is not what happened last time, and I don't want it to happen again. To that end, I've been trying to keep my focus on the characters that matter most to me, regardless of how they may have been mangled in certain recent interpretations *cough* Luke *cough*, and decide for myself what is the ultimate version so that I never feel compelled to buy any others; I'll let you know how that works out.

All that said, I am of course curious to know where you are with your collecting OCD...are you trying to wind down, are you ramping up, are you as jazzed for The Mandalorian as you should be, etc.

I'm not really winding down, but there's not much to ramp up to either.

The world of toys today feels like what I assume comics and trading cards were in the 1990s. Prices and quality are, on the whole, on the rise. The notion that these are going to kids as disposable play or entertainment items is on the decline. My enthusiasm comes from toys being things you can play with and enjoy, and I'm not really playing with anything from Star Wars lately. Seeing things like the Galaxy's Edge multipacks does leave me squinting and going "...is now the time to back out?" Usually I end up finding things for regular price or close enough that I keep going, but it's hard to say if it's worth being excited for the future.

Hasbro has been very good at putting out top-notch stuff, often in small doses, often surrounded by things we've already purchased. For every Mimban Han Solo 6-inch figure there's a wave or three of Galaxy of Adventures that aren't terribly exciting, and they don't play together well either. So from where I sit, no, I'm not bouncing up and down over things right now. There are some great things coming, but the signal-to-noise ratio is hard to keep me jazzed. Sure, I love the new Skiff, the Barge, the guards, the Palace starter kit, but there's just so much else coming that I'm not sure anybody of any age is wanting or needing. I'm generally more excited for items based on movies I've seen, rather than movies I have not or from theme park attractions I will most likely be unable to see for years.

My excitement usually peaks with more toys - and so far I haven't seen or heard of any The Mandalorian stuff that seems to be a toy. I don't love Resistance (the show) all that much but I am loving the toys - and I'm unsure if we will ever see any more of those. With so many new Star Wars movies and shows and games, Hasbro doesn't even have a full wave - let alone a full year - to devote to most of them. I remain hopeful but I don't know how things will shake out in the fall, or if we're going to see a lot of love for The Mandalorian once the season (or series) ends. I'm grateful for what I have and am increasingly wary of anything from a new movie or project I have yet to watch.




3. Is it just me, or does Hasbro seem to make helmets out of scale and tiny in the 3.75 line? Sgt. Doallyn's helmet looks especially small when compared to the rest of him. Stormtroopers and Boba Fetts from years past seem to suffer from this as well. With Vader, it doesn't seem so bad. Maybe because he's a taller character? Just wondering if you see what I see.

A tale as old as time! Or at least as old as Kenner has been doing removable helmets.

The proportions of a lot of figures dating back as far as the original line have often been fudged - Leia is too tall, Chewbacca is too short, and the helmets often result in figures with tiny pea-sized heads inside the removable (or non-removable) helmets. Sometimes we'd get a figure with a slightly oversized bucket on their domes, but generally it's the other way around with Boba Fett or Darth Vader or so and so getting a helmet that's too small. Hasbro seems to be erring smaller as to not get ribbed by any "Dark Helmet" jokes.

Darth Vader's helmet always looks big thanks to the wide dome over the head and mask, but it still tends to run a smidgen small at times. Boba Fett tends to run small, and troopers are all over the map. 2006 removable helmet figures and beyond tend to go the other way - normal sized heads with normal size (or slightly larger) helmets - but if the helmet is the head, it does indeed tend to run small on the regular.

And your solution? Well, at this point, I don't know. As the OG collectoratti ages into their 50s and the youngest Xennials (born in 1977-1983) approach 40, history tends to show that not many of us are left to make a fuss. That seems to be true - while you have more fans willing to pony up on a HasLab items, the chances of a bunch of people making a petition or forum postings to get Hasbro's attention are low. Also low: the chances of Hasbro making new figures with helmets not based on existing tooling. Sorry, kids.

Exaggerations in head and hand sides tend to be pretty typical, with Playmates even calling it out on some of their 4 1/2-inch action figure lines in the 1990s. They tended to go large. Legend has it they also pitched a similarly sized Star Wars line in the 1990s, with one of the sculpts sneaking out on display at Comic-Con a few years ago in San Diego. I would have loved to have seen what that style of reboot would have yielded, particularly given how nicely most of the Trek figures have aged 20 years later. Sure nobody cares about them anymore but hardcore fans, but at least they were cheap, awesome, and they certainly felt like one of the best toy values of their era.



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It's kind of amazing how we now live in an era where franchises thrive because you have to keep trademarks in circulation and there are reasons to keep things around for licensing or merchandising revenue, rather than something just disappearing for two or three decades like a Planet of the Apes. We're all but guaranteed to get more Muppets so Disney can remind us that they still own it, and odds are we'll get the same for Star Wars in some pop culture sphere until and long after we're all dead. We may be at the point in our history where pop culture has become too big to fail.

So far we've heard no rumblings on either direction for a possible post-2020 home for Star Wars action figure toys. Things are slow, and the franchise is absolutely hitting a point where merchandise may be superfluous because Disney has a TV show to sell you. $7 a month for streaming entertainment may well take the place for movies for a while, and depending on adoption rate it may not be smart to crank out too many matching toys. We've seen Hasbro take a less-is-less approach with Rebels and Resistance, giving us lines that left us all wanting more. Core vehicles were left unmade, major costume changes for the leads were left un-toy-ed, and a lot of easy repaints just plain didn't happen. (Although I can assure you, nagging was done.)

This weekend is/was Avengers' finale - don't worry, as of my writing this last week I haven't seen it yet - and the buzz from those who have is wonderfully positive. The reviews, well. They're reviews. But Endgame feels like what we've seen from Star Wars - not much real interest in new toys. Not much "new" in the new toys. At this time I don't know how well Avengers sets up Avengers V: The Revenge of Penelope Houston but it seems like there's still an appetite for more Marvel at the movies, thanks in part to 80 years of mostly unsatisfying cinematic snack-treats and thousands if not tens of thousands of potentially marketable heroes and villains.

Meanwhile, Star Wars is harder to read. The first generation of fans is getting older all the time, and the Snap that seems to have driven them from most toy aisles - also most toy stores from our plane of existence - doesn't seem to have induced the kind of mourning I would expect. We're about a year out from Toys R Us announcing it was over, and we've seen no replacement, not much in the way of increased support at physical stores, and somehow even less Star Wars in the world around us despite a big movie coming out that will, most likely, not be the top box office draw of the year again. The second Star Wars cycle from roughly 1997-2005 never really quite stopped, thanks to an endless array of merchandising, some TV, and a lot of publishing that didn't lead to the black hole that was most of 1987-1991. (That may not sound like much, but if you were a kid in 1987, you were very aware Star Wars was dead and probably not coming back for a very long time.) I don't think we're quite there yet, but it certainly sounds like we all have different opinions on where things go.

--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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