Q&A: Star Wars Exclusive Dates and Mandalorian Wishes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 1, 2019

1. How could Hasbro NOT know that "The Mandalorian" Black Series figures would be insanely popular and constantly selling out?

Hasbro weighed product planning needs and sales needs, and went with sales. There was an emphasis on the assortment as a thing - Hasbro wanted to make sure that the case with The Mandalorian (the character) of The Black Series figures would be 8 figures, all different, at 1 per case each - so fans could just buy the whole set at once. These can still be found, were you so inclined.

Of course we know this is more popular than anything, and the politics behind the selling of individual figures is somewhat complex and not always consistent - so I'm not going to talk about it here. Hasbro will be making more of this figure in the future. If you haven't yet placed a pre-order on it at a price you deem fair, I would recommend you do so.



Ad: Awesome Items at Entertainment Earth!
Star Wars The Black Series The Mandalorian Action Figure Star Wars Rey Artist Series Descendant of Light ARTFX Statue Sesame Street Ah! Ah! Ah! With The Count Enamel Pin Jurassic Park Tyranossauros Rex Mini Co. Vinyl Figure Batman Supreme Knight Batman Blue One:12 Figure - PXFortnite Peely Pop! Vinyl Figure Star Wars Legends in 3D Mandalorian 1:2 Scale Bust Godzilla 2000 Defo Real Soft Vinyl Statue Batman Harley Quinn Rogues Gallery Multi-Part Statue Star Wars No Love for the Empire Christian Waggoner Paper Rock Iconz On Tour Pink Floyd Pig Statue


2. I was excited to find the new Target exclusive C3PO, not for him but for the Babu Frik figure. I'm so starved for interesting alien characters that I was excited to pay the 20 bucks for the tiny guy but alas it's the 4th, and apparently they are street dated for the 10th. What the Babu Frik?!? I get Force Friday(kind of) for building hype and making it fair for all the stores to get the Star Wars business but what is the point of a 2nd street date ? Especially one the stock clerk ignores. I know you aren't Hasbro or Lucasfilm but I wanted your insight since you do work for a retailer. What advantage does this give anyone?

Honestly this soured me on the experience and I'll wait for clearance out of spite now. 2nd question...how do we as fans unite and let Hasbro/Lucasfilm/Disney know that its enough with the street dates?

For your first question - the dates serve a variety of purposes. Some aren't "street dates" so much as "set dates." Sort of a "this is when we expect our aisle to be reset, so hold the product for a special aisle section" kind of a thing. Some are proper "street dates." And many of these, in my finding, aren't necessarily known which is which - and the stuff just goes out whenever the store feels like it. There are real big launch days, but a lot of stores choose to disregard them and enforcement of non-Internet stores have been spotty over the last 20 years of these marketing dates.

With the The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi there was hubbub - albeit inconsistent hubbub - about having Force Friday and a lesser second launch day for much of the exclusive product. Start with the main line, follow-up with a second wave for more hype. It's possible they were trying to do that this time too, but the fact it was not clearly communicated pretty much says it all right there.

The big reason behind Force Friday (or Frozen Friday, or whatever) is to drive foot traffic to stores to check out the new stuff - and hopefully buy it - while also on occasion drawing out reporters to get it on the news for free publicity. During the Prequel Trilogy, we got one of these every 3 years in 1999, 2002, 2005, and one last bite at the apple in 2008 for The Clone Wars. There were subsequent launch dates which most stores soundly ignored - specifics on which I am hesitant to discuss in this forum.

Some would argue "a street date is the day a fan can guarantee to go into a store and find everything," which was never true. Walmart won't stock everything. Toys R Us no longer exists. Some would argue "this is so the big stores won't trounce the little guy by flying in product early and having it out months in advance," but again, this is also untrue. Left to Retail Darwinism, stuff could show up anywhere at any time - which makes it more interesting as a fan and, from where I sit, results in more engagement. I'm likely to go hunting for toys if I think something might be out there. If I don't expect to see anything except on Force Friday - and yes, a lot of fair-weather fans think that is the only day new stuff gets launched - it hurts the entire business. I want fans always thinking that today might be a good day for a toy run - online or off!

Can we stop it? Not as long as Disney owns everything and someone has to justify their job as a marketing person, although this one was sort of a non-event so anything could happen... or stop happening. If a video game is done, why not let me play it? If a toy is in the stock room, why not sell it to someone? Admittedly a huge in-aisle expression could help in some circumstances, but as an industry person I think Star Wars as a newsworthy launch thing is long over. Maybe try again when the next trilogy happens, as you know it will, because we were told the Saga was ending for good during Revenge of the Sith and look how that turned out. Word on the street has it that, in January, we'll get an announcement for the next movie in 2022. We shall see. Three or more years is a good wait, if you ask me.

219 half-hour cartoons, 3 live-action episodes, 5 feature-length movies, and an entire unaired but complete TV series. That's what the series "ending" in 2005 looked like.





The new Toys R Us opened this week - it looks like LEGO was there, but I haven't seen Mattel or Hasbro yet. Or any video games. (Fun fact: LEGO is very friendly to new and small accounts opening up, if you ever open a new toy store they should be one of your first stops.) I can't make it out there to document it, but from the ample press coverage it seems like video games and traditional action figures are largely absent - I didn't notice any Frozen II stuff either. It isn't what it was. As regular readers I know you know this, but that era is sadly over. There will be a business for figural toy-like collectibles (and of course actual toys) for a while, but it has changed dramatically with the once diverse ecosystem of regional toy shops and department stores largely falling to bigger and bigger behemoths. Montgomery Ward, Lionel PlayWorld, Kay-Bee Toys, Toys By Roy, Gemco, and so many others are gone - thanks in part to the once dominant force that was Toys R Us elbowing out anyone who wasn't a toy discounter in the toy space, with other major big box stores helping to take the rest out. And of course, big tech has proven to be a much more interesting prize for children with the continuing advent of phones, which are displacing computers, and both of those have given traditional game consoles a good scare over the years. Everything is up for change - now there may be a ruling allowing movie studios to own their own movie theaters again, which could be a game-changer in all respects. If Disney can sell toys and movie tickets under one roof, who knows what the future may look like?

For your bottom line, this means fewer places to hunt, but more importantly a less diverse business for toys. We don't have as many toy and game makers. With Disney gobbling up all the big licenses, the "master toy license" is a thing of the past and now we have more players competing for less marketshare with some of the very same items. Thankfully the Titanium Series vs. Hot Wheels wars are over, but there could very well be other competing things as we move ahead - 2020 is the year that the Hasbro deal should be renewed, after all.

I'm hoping the future gets brighter - right now, all I want is a full-blown 3 3/4-inch The Mandalorian line. Given the shelf space devoted to new lightsabers and some dusty figures from last year, I hope Toys R Us does manage to get off the ground. I hope everybody sells more toys, and buys more toys, and that new and exciting movies can keep the business going for as long as humanly possible given the increased concerns about issues like packaging and overseas manufacturing. Like the toy retail business in the USA, it's a safe bet the golden age of Star Wars action figures will never come again - but I did find a Razor Crest Hot Wheels ship at Walmart over the weekend, so at least it will be interesting between now and whenever the line becomes completely unprofitable.

Hasbro did a pretty nice job in 2019 giving us new versions of Luke Skywalker in various scales with some of the best heads we've seen at the scale, not to mention some of the finest typos to date. Maybe next year we'll have a lot of exciting things once whatever the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back peters out, when there's no new movie coming for a year, and while we wait for more streaming shows to begin. ("But there will be a Clone Wars Force Friday Uncle Adam, won't there?" Sure there will, Jimmy. Sure there will. *sniffle*)

--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, and we're down to 2 questions per week until we get overloaded with questions to re-expand back to 3 or more.



I'm on Instagram! All Pictures from a GameBoy Camera.