Q&A: Star Wars Exclusives, Retro Figures, Mail-Ins, and a Pin

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 13, 2020

1. What is up with those 3x Epic Battles TRU Exclusive 6 packs, any new figures or all repacks?

A few years ago, Hasbro put out some Toys R Us exclusive 6-packs in very dark, very wide packaging. As far as I can tell, the figures are made up of all existing tooling with no significantly new deco. The Stormtrooper did have theoretically new accessories if you missed them in the Amazon-exclusive Troop Builder Pack. If you already got that, you could (as far as I can tell) skip those 6-packs, which are obviously long since sold out.



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2. Other than Friar Tuck from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves who used Gamorrean Guard’s body, do you know of any non-Star Wars figures that used Star Wars molds? Thanks!

A very good article called Recycling of the Force just happens to contain the figures I was going to mention - the most interesting one that I was going to point out, which nobody remembers, as in the Sundance Kid figure from Kenner. It uses a bit of Luke in the head.

I'm a little surprised more Mini-Rigs weren't repurposed later on, but the 3 3/4-inch figure format was on its way out with Star Wars. G.I. Joe was successful into the early 1990s, but other lines like Bionic Six fizzled quickly and even the brief Robin Hood line only used Friar Tuck as a short figure alongside repurposed larger Super Powers tooling.

I could be wrong, but I'm aware of even less tooling being repurposed in the modern 1995-present era. The 2002 Geonosis Arena playset's base was used for the G.I. Joe Spy Troops Cobra Island playset, which is notable in that it's covered with blown-up Super Battle Droids and regular Battle Droids. Once again, the relative lack-of-popularity of the 3 3/4-inch figure size (save for a blip in the late 2000s with G.I. Joe, Marvel, Star Trek, and Indiana Jones) probably caused Hasbro to have no real use to reuse some of those surprisingly nifty original vehicle designs. If this were the era of V.R. Troopers or other kidvid, we'd probably see more toys cashing in on existing tooling - but licensors seem pickier about that, and fewer and fewer brand-new properties jump out of the gate with a toy line ready to go.

The brilliance/cheapness of Robin Hood (and similarly Congo in the 1990s) allowed Kenner to make blockbuster toys with a lower investment, and that's probably why they were one of the kings of the action figure aisle. Playmates made some of the best toys in that era, Mattel didn't do a whole heck of a lot, and Toy Biz' Marvel offerings were legendary - but nobody beat Kenner when it came to taking gambles on new licensed properties. It's a remarkable contrast from their current corporate overlords - who admittedly are doing amazing things with their long-haul license partners, their home-grown brands, and the entertainment brands they've picked up recently.

On a semi-related note I'd love to see some sort of standardized Hasbro figure system (think ReAction or LEGO or Playmobil or Imaginext GURPS) that would allow a bunch of disparate brands to "play together." We sort of have that with the 6-inch collector action figures, but by and large there's no overall toy or play pattern to encourage you to share parts and pieces between figures. In the 1980s G.I. Joe got a lot of mileage out of being more articulated than the competition - and it's possible the incompatibility of the stiffer figures, like Star Wars by the mid-1980s and again by 2018 may have not helped things much.




3. It's been years since Hasbro had a mail-in figure redemption. Has this been discussed about bringing one back for collectors? And what was the last one, and when?

I have heard zero discussions and Hasbro's interest has been more and more limited about Mail-In offers as a thing. Generally speaking, the original old-school mail-in offers were a gimmick to get you to buy old figures, stale on the pegs. If you bought 5 figures and sent away for a new guy, you did the store(s) a big favor, you stopped Kenner from having to offer a retailer any concessions, and you prevented product from having to be donated, destroyed, or marked down - and all it cost was maybe a buck and a stamp.

If you still see mail-ins as a way to get you to buy stuff you might not have ordinarily bought, they have largely been replaced by the instant gratification that is the build-a-figure piece. (This is, of course, completely lacking in Star Wars for nearly a decade.) The last few mail-in offers had fans having to pay money and send in UPCs/stickers/etc. - and the amount you were paying generally more than covered the cost of shipping and of the actual toy. Hasbro commented that they would rather just sell you the figure, given the amount of time and effort needed to set up a warehouse, hire people to open the envelopes, enter the information on the little cards, cash the checks, and so on.

Given you can just throw down your credit card and buy a figure on Pulse, it makes a lot more sense to just sell you the figure in 2020 (and beyond.)

I could be wrong but I believe the last mail-in figure might have been the 2011 Boba Fett (Prototype Armor) figure, which ran into 2012. It was super cool - I loved getting weird figures in the mail! - but Hasbro probably could do right by fans to just sell them, especially given some are delivered in perfect condition and some are not.



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I opened an Etsy store to sell this 16bit.com and Galactic Hunter Collectible Enamel Pin. I made them late last year in hopes of doing something at conventions in 2020 - that did not happen. So, if you want one, it's metal and small and a clear nod to some of my favorite things. (Also if I owe you a package contact me before placing an order.)


Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is out of on-topic questions, so if you got some, send some in.

So! Now it's official - and has been for ten days - that Boba Fett has had a few appearances on The Mandalorian and as such I'd say there are multiple possibilities for figures based on the costume configurations. It would seem a 1:6 scale figure maker like Hot Toys would be served best, given the option parts, cloth elements, and so forth - but Hasbro could do a few figures here. It's a pity secrecy prevents them from having figures out nowish, either as a "sneak peek" or to tie in to the show, but such is life.

Over two seasons the show seems to have a pretty consistent arc - the child and The Mandalorian go off on some adventure while dodging the Empire and doing odd jobs, lather rinse repeat. It's not bad - shows like Kung Fu ran for years by going from town to town and teaching people lessons. There's no reason a show like this couldn't just be a bounty of the week, so I'm glad to see creature features and backdoor pilots that so far don't seem too out of place. This week's slate of new shows is a little daunting though, and as always my big fear is more fatigue. Star Wars is great, but Disney hasn't allowed any of its new things to take root and build its place in the cultural imagination. The sequel trilogy spanned a mere four years (as opposed to the usual six), with the movies and Expanded Universe materials pretty much putting an end to the idea of adventures between movies. This seemed like a mistake because look at what grew out of the original 2003 Clone Wars multimedia project. That's the biggest chunk of Star Wars right now - and there's still demand for more stories and more toys.

I really hope that all the new stuff leads to a more cohesive merchandising plan that actually allows people to watch, enjoy, and then purchase things with a few odds and ends on-shelf when the show airs. (Remember "Sneak Preview" figures? Those need a comeback.) I'd also push hard for a new 3 3/4-inch line because the potential for new characters and reissues of old molds is exquisite. Hasbro could just crank out more Massiffs and Tusken Raiders and such if the tooling is in good shape. It's a whole new audience, and I refuse to believe fairly-priced figures wouldn't sell - even at 5 joints, there would be people buying Mando at $10 all day long.

So here's to the future, which hopefully will not be nearly as exhausting as the 2013-2019 era of the saga. And if I live in a world where we never have another Force Friday, I'll be very happy.

--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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