Q&A: Star Wars Exclusives and Definitive Action Figures

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 23, 2020

1. Entertainment Earth in years past has had 3.75 inch Hasbro exclusives such as clean and dirty, articulated clones and droids as well as finding a home for last run figures from Rogue One. Thank you for that. My question is we have seen Hasbro kitbash a Mandalorian bad guy for the ATST. Is there a way you could work with Hasbro to create an exclusive set of figures with minimal retooling for the Mandalorian show? An IG 88/Ig11or a protocol 4 LOM/Zero droid would not be a big lift I’d think and certainly in the same realm as the bad guy with the ATST.

A lot of things have to do with what Disney, Lucasfilm, and Hasbro feel like doing. If they want to do a low-run exclusive for a big partner, they can do that. If they want a special figure for an event, they can do that. There are a ton of factors determining if they will or won't above and beyond the customer making a request, so for the time being I can say it looks like a "no" to 3 3/4-inch exclusives of any kind.

Could they? Maybe! With Chinese production being moved around, I wouldn't necessarily know where all the tools are, or if they're in working order. In the case of IG-11, Hasbro gave us a 6-inch The Black Series figure that was effectively IG-88 with a new vest. It's missing details like the correct hands and feet, and the self-destruct detonator but most fans didn't notice the inaccuracies or complain.

In the case of the redeco AT-ST with mishmash Weequay/Raider driver and IG-88, I'd wager those were determined by the needs of development time (and maybe development costs.) Hasbro may have said "Hey, we don't have enough time to do a whole line but we can get these out and they'll be close enough that fans will dig it." We saw some of this in The Rise of Skywalker too - production times for movies and TV shows decreases while demand for licensed product increases, and it still takes a heck of a long time to develop a 100% newly-tooled figure from top-to-bottom.

I don't think anyone is going to bark at me for telling you that discussions regarding exclusives continue, but for the time being there's nothing to announce and as you most likely saw over the weekend, there were plenty of new announcements. There are still more coming - but to my knowledge, there are none in the cards from us for a Hasbro 3 3/4-inch exclusive unless they're looking for a surprise. (And I had been surprised by an exclusive once, nobody told us we were doing it until the vendor announced it in a panel and lucky for all parties it just happened to be something we wanted to do.)



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2. Do you think that Hasbro has in the past (and possibly in the present) made figures with a mindset of “Well, we can make the definitive version of this character on the first try, and nobody will ever buy it again or we can make an imperfect version, simultaneously upgrade it in one area with a glaring and annoying flaw in the second, and third sometimes, version before we finally do the version that gets it all right.”

My evidence:
Exhibit A: Darth Maul
Vader Evolutions version has swivel elbows, followed by ball elbows but shirtless version, before finally arriving in TVC.

Exhibit B: Jedi Luke
2007 version with scene specific hand damage and weird tunic is followed by detachable chest piece before finally getting the hair backwards in the deleted scene version and then finally getting the TVC version.

Exhibit C: Anakin Skywalker
Evolutions with swivel elbows and hard skirt rendering the legs useless, followed by ball jointed hips and a soft skirt but keeping the swivel elbows, then TVC fixes all that but has angry Sith face, leaving only a blink and you’ll miss it version of heroic TVC equivalent Anakin in an Anakin 4 pack.

How does Judge Pawlus find in the case of DEREK vs HASBRO on the charge of milking the customer by refusing to make a definitive figure on the first try?
-- Derek

We find in favor of the plaintiff.

In all seriousness, it's been the nature of the business. We've seen evidence in the form of released figures that Lucasfilm isn't as particular about approvals as the legends would sometimes have us belief, with figures being released with incorrect accessories, the wrong boots, or heads that just fall off. Or technology improves. Or something hits a bump, so a few figures here and there aren't quite as intended during the design stage. After a few thousand figures, this will happen.

I don't think it's Hasbro's intention to make a figure "wrong" or inferior the first time - they do the best with what they've got, and sometimes they may fudge something because of a lack of readily available reference materials, or not realize the difference between Luke Skywalker's lightsaber hilts and those of Obi-Wan Kenobi or Darth Vader, or the differences between Darth Vader's costumes in each movie, and so on and so forth. I've ever actually been through the Lucasfilm approval process so I can only speculate how it goes, but there's a lot to approve and I don't doubt one's eyes glass over after seeing a few dozen Darth Vaders in a day.

The late 2000s articulation - and bafflingly weird "Death Star II" Jedi Luke Skywalker trip-ups along the way to getting something good - are hard to explain. We saw Hasbro going from trying to make a figure that's good enough to cover the major bases to increasingly scene-specific releases over time, so I would have to assume that some of the weirdness is intentional, but I can't really explain why we saw things like swivel elbows come and go on super-articulated figures after that was determined to be the path forward. It could be durability, or stress, or some other factor I don't know. I certainly didn't love seeing swivels come back - but I can't imagine there wasn't a reason behind it.

Hasbro employs a number of sculptors, engineers, and designers to budget and make these things, and I have no doubt they approach problems from different angles. For all I know the costs of a ball-jointed elbow and a cloth robe demand something has to be cut. Since costs shot up and they've basically nailed articulation down since The Vintage Collection revival around 2010, I'd say they're doing a good job.

Minus the very slow drip of new product and abundant reissues, but that's another rant. At least most of the new figures we're getting today - like Yak Face, or the Sith Jet Trooper, or the Shadow Trooper - are generally pretty good the first time. I'd be lying if I said the quality on each individual figure hasn't dramatically improved now that the total output has diminished.





The mailbag is empty! Like totally empty. Email me if you have one you'd like answered - we'll probably take a break next week because of Toy Fair coverage.

That was Toy Fair! I wrote this a few days ago with an empty mail bag and a vague notion of what Hasbro will show (and what they might show) based on things I won't get in to here. Wasn't that neat? Hey, some 3 3/4-inch releases are better than none and vehicles getting any love - reissues or no - certainly makes for a good showing. I personally would love to see the line go back the old 1-4 figures every 1-2 months release pattern of the 1990s, but that's me. At least we're seeing some new stuff, even if it means we're all going to learn to hate seeing Baby Yoda as every manufacture starts to milk The Child dry until production exceeds demand and buyers start declaring Star Wars dead again. There's a lot to like - Diamond/Gentle Giant's new offering is excellent - and Hasbro has a lot of different items on deck.

So sit back and enjoy the show - complain as we do, no other film franchise enjoys this seemingly eternal life on the toy aisle. It'll never be 1982 again - or May 1999, or July 2008 - but at least they're still making some stuff for the older fans and kids that still want to play around in a galaxy far, far away. And the license got renewed! And Baby Yoda is apparently going to get more product in a year than Boba Fett got in a couple of decades.

Now I have to pack to get back home from New York!

--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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