Q&A: Star Wars Exclusives, Barge Buddies, and Lost Causes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 4, 2018

1. It's so nice to finally be finding some new Star Wars toys in stores! I have two questions: 1. Is the Vintage Mimban Stormtrooper still a Walmart-exclusive, and if so, are there any reports of it being found in stores yet? 2. Does anyone know the release date for the Disney Store-exclusive 6" Zuckuss? I heard November 1st at one point, but also heard December 1st. Bonus question: How do YOU pronounce "Zuckuss"? I've always said "ZOOK-us," as I think it sounds better than "Zuck-us." We need a pronunciation guide for Star Wars (maybe there actually is one and I don't know about it)!

As of now, the Vintage Mimban Stormtrooper is still at Walmart. I've heard reports from overseas but not much from American fans yet, and eBay seems to indicate there aren't any here yet.   If Walmart doesn't take them for any reason, I'm sure someone else would be very interested in stocking this item.

The Disney trio went on sale a couple days ago - so check a store near you now!

Pronouncing Star Wars names is tricky, because the sources are often self-contradictory. "Han" and "Leia" are two fine examples. I've heard Boushh pronounced as "Bush" and a Return of the Jedi storybook-and-tape had it as "Boosh." Thanks to some words never being spoken in the movies, you'll hear regional and generational variations as well - and some people just have no idea how to pronounce things. In the case of "Zuckuss," most fans go with something that rhymes with "Duck Bus."

New continuity or no, the sheer volume of audio books, TV shows, movies, and other resources being made are unlikely to be checked by a single, super-picky person approving all of this stuff.  It'd be nice, but even on-screen uses of these words aren't necessarily going to be a telling point of what's correct.



Ad: Star Wars at Entertainment Earth!
Star Wars Solo Force Link 3 3/4-Inch Action Figures Wave 4 Star Wars Vintage Collection Elite Clone Trooper Figure Star Wars Vintage Collection Rey Jedi Training Action Figure Star Wars Solo C-3PO and R2-D2 Action Figures - Exclusive Star Wars Force Link Resistance A-Wing Fighter - Exclusive


Star Wars The Black Series 6-Inch Action Figure Wave 19 Case Star Wars The Black Series Dengar 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Imperial Patrol Trooper Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Lando Calrissian Skiff Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Princess Leia Hoth Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Rio Durant 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series L3-37 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Val (Mimban) 6-Inch Action Figure


2. Now that Jabba the Hutt’s Barge is coming to our homes in February 2019, will Hasbro continue to expand the Jabba the Hutt’s body guards like, Taym Dren Garen and Fozec in the Vintage Collection? What do you think, will that vehicle, the Barge, be a springboard for new 3 3/4 inch action figures?

First, let's look at new figures and springboards. The chances of a new, big line of figures, vehicles, and playsets for fans of all ages at Hasbro is about zero. You may still get some new stuff, but each movie's line has been pretty small and with the exception of the Barge and Combat Tank, we haven't seen much evidence for new vehicles. We can also count new, non-newest-movie new characters to get figures from the last few years (not counting droids) on one hand. The line is what it is - there will be some stuff for collectors here and there, and I'm sure they'll do 3 3/4-inch for kids until they decide it's unprofitable or some suit gets bored with it. We saw it slowly phasing out in Marvel, Mattel is doing fine with it in Jurassic, and there's not a heck of a lot left going on here. A big audience of toy buyers are young adults - so this is where your 6-inch figures and Pop! Vinyl figures sell. The scattershot approach to classic (mixed figures from various old movies don't build a scene and are far and few between) combined with Star Wars going from three movies, to six movies, to three TV shows & 10 big theatrical movies in the current main canon? It's a lot harder to get anyone to focus, be it the licensor or the fans.

The Barge is certainly going to serve as a hub for 2019 - but how big is the wheel? That remains to be seen. Hasbro has both hinted at and revealed some repackaged and new figures surrounding Jabba's entourage, but buzz from adjacent to the House of Mouse makes it sound like humans are less and less likely to be considered as likeness rights for a mask have absolutely no questions asked. A minor background actor is more trouble than they're worth, and when you consider just how little classic stuff we get it's no surprise everyone seems to be playing it safe. It's where we are now - maybe things will change when the license is freer outside of a movie selling window.

After all, the between-prequels lines were OK - but we got precious few slam-dunk figures from the classic saga between movies. This all changed when the marketing calendar opened up - and it might open up again after Episode IX. It's not like we're seeing a lot of anything for Resistance, and I don't assume there will be more than a year's worth of goodies after Episode IX. As of today, we don't know what will follow the third sequel film - if it's nothing, maybe you'll see some more classic stuff. More than likely, Hasbro will move on to a new expression of licensed product.




3. Also, how can I suggest to Hasbro for a mail away action figure of the 3 3/4-inch Vlix or make it exclusive for an online retailer? Did anybody ever suggested that to them? In your honest opinion, will they ever release Vlix in the USA like they did with the Rocket firing Boba Fett?
--Marco (same guy)

Vlix has been suggested to many incarnations of the Hasbro team, in many styles, as exclusive and not, mail-order and otherwise, build-a-figure, mystery figure, part of boxed sets of repaints, and so on. I've been asking for decades. I'll keep asking.

Mail-in figures are kind of a dead format. A long time ago, Hasbro said they weren't fond of this kind of offer because mint-on-card collectors find it alienating, and it diverts resources from tooling a new figure in its main line. While the Rocket Firing Boba Fett (vintage-style) figure was easily one of the coolest dang things Hasbro had ever done for the collector class, it cost them some money to make a new tool and that probably cost us a regular retail figure. (I'm OK with that.) It was a heck of a special item, and they did a great job with it - but it wasn't just another figure. It was the mail-away figure. It was the culmination of three decades of urban legend and hype amongst popular culture. Vlix is too - but he's for a specific generation of collectors. We haven't had a Hasbro mail-in for quite some time, and unless they're got some stunt planned I assume we're unlikely to see it again.

It's not just delayed gratification, but the amount of work to hire someone to open envelopes, cash checks, and count stickers. It would be cheaper in the long run just to make Vlix somebody's exclusive. Amazon, Comic-Con, Entertainment Earth... I hear their Hasbro buyer is receptive to such things.

I don't think we'll get it soon. It'll happen only as a stunt item or an exclusive, but it's unlikely without more real demand. I've been asking a number of manufactures for Vlix products when low-run opportunities become available, and generally there's always one reason or another why they don't quite work out. "Not getting the significance" is part of it, but we did get a wonderful tribute to Vlix this year from the indie world. It's lovely, on my desk, and hopefully we'll get an honest-to-goodness Vlix some day. I am not holding my breath. But if it happens, I could die and/or quit collecting happy.



Become a Patron!

Special thanks to our generous Patreon patrons, especially: JT, David, Timothy, Christopher, Robert, Bobb, Jayson, Marco, Shawn, Stephen, Matthew, Jonathan, Joel, Todd, Jeremy, Fox, and Mario. Thanks for helping us keep the servers on!



A few weeks ago we found out that Toys R Us creditors were launching something called Geoffrey's Toy Box, a store-within-a-store. Or so we thought. It looks like it's really just Kroger stores getting cardboard shippers of the former Toys R Us house brand toys, specifically JourneyGirls dolls and some faux science and animal toys. Sadly, not the Chap Mei dinosaur Animal Planet stuff so far. Find a list and some pictures here.

Meh. They don't seem to be near any other toy stores here in my neighborhood.

For those not in the toy business, the big stores often place orders for the holidays many, many months in advance. If you just want a case or two of something, you don't generally need to worry too much. If you have to fill hundreds of stores, you might order for Christmas at or before Toy Fair. Most likely this isn't breathing new life into the house that Geoffrey built so much as it is a last gasp, or that awkward thing that happens to your bowels after you die. (You know what I mean here.) More than likely, these toys were already in production and possibly paid for via wire transfer ages ago - and they had to go somewhere. With a planned Q4 delivery, there was no way Toys R Us could have liquidated them with their stores. (This is, of course, just speculation on my part - but I'd wager this is close to what's happening.)

I think we're in the middle of a much-needed "correction" to the world of toys and collectibles, mostly because there's too much stuff, no central resource to learn about said stuff, and toys are also sort of a dying medium. Like records, or cassettes, or game cartridges - all of which march on, slowly, proudly, or thanks to fans. I don't think action figures will ever die because you have guys like Matt Doughty and Jesse DeStasio and Marty "TheGodBeast" Hansen and Jeff Imel who are going to keep cranking out something, even in small runs, because they love the stuff. I don't necessarily believe less is more, but I do miss the roll-outs of the 1990s. (Launch with a big wave, then a new wave of 3-4 figures every few months.)

Hot Wheels and trading figures will likely provide fun for fans of all ages until someone decides it's a form of gambling, and we are seeing some other artifacts being elevated to the world of "collectible." Trading cards and comic books were, toys were, records were, and now video games seem to be picking up a little more steam. Retro stuff has been around for a while, but more vendors are looking at high-end clone hardware and even new productions of old game cartridges. Less common are new production of new games on cartridges. What I'm saying is I'm really still crazy about Game Boy stuff, as are a number of fans from the original Pokemon generation now that the original Red and Blue games celebrated their 20th anniversary in the USA. I don't think it's a coincidence we're seeing more game console makers put out mini consoles, like this year's PlayStation Classic. (Which is missing Castlevania.)

Of course, minimalism is pretty trendy - sometimes by choice, sometimes due to circumstances. We had a generation come up that doesn't exactly have copious spare income or time, plus precious few new toys to truly call their own like we saw with the Star Wars generation. You never know what kids grab on to for a return as adults - I didn't exactly grow up with music, but I do have a fair amount of decent records showing up lately. Maybe we'll see a surge of 20-somethings that just want toys they never had in the first place. I mean, sometimes we want to try something new, but music's not for everyone.

--Adam Pawlus

PS - Resistance is still boring. No stars, no wars. Maybe it's building to something grand, but you're not missing much yet.

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.