Q&A: Star Wars Exclusives, Shipments, and TIE Pilots

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 31, 2019

1. I was lucky enough that my Barge arrived minty fresh. Others, not so much, as Hasbro didn't package it like they promised. Fans are understandably upset. Does Hasbro ever learn from its mistakes? They had a year to plan out how to pack it securely, but they dropped the ball on this one.

I don't think companies have any sort of consistent standard as to what "good" is when shipping. I work for a company that lets you call and complain about damaged packaging, and they go out of their way to pack it so it doesn't get more dinged up en route. (Granted, there are always circumstances beyond our control, but I digress.) Hasbro put the box in a box... and that's what most companies do. I would've loved an extra layer of foam or a triple-thick box, but unless enough people complain that's unlikely. We've seen similar double-boxings for Amazon, who sometimes elects to remove the item from the protective box prior to shipment so the bare box goes out in the mail. It's nutty.

As much as I would like to say a company could get a giant 4-foot item to you with a perfect box, my experience as a collector (and a person at a company that sells this stuff) would have me believe that isn't necessarily likely. Were it a smaller item, I'd be completely on your side - but this is the size of a small fridge and FedEx has varying standards of delivery quality. These things tend to go out in mint condition - so perhaps another carrier service would be the optimal solution. "White glove service" generally doesn't apply to toys and collectibles.

Even with the best packing, something of this size tend not to hold up to carrier indifference or accidents on a truck. I heard a whole thing about shipping bikes that always arrived damaged, until the manufacturer made the outer shipping carton to look like it had an HDTV inside. For some reason, carriers respected the item a lot more when they thought it was a TV than it was a bike - perhaps Hasbro could do something similar.



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2. Walmart! I am very irritated about Walmarts distribution and their ability to keep getting exclusive Star Wars figures items. The distribution of the stormtrooper was horrible. Now we have lando and the playset to contend to. Why cant they make these online only or stocked up before they post them available for a nanosecond?

The very short answer is "I don't know." If you're patient you can usually get anything, Walmart has the once-scarce Mimban Stormtrooper Vintage figure right now.

The longer answer is you'd have to ask their buyer - I am privy to some details as to what happens and why but am not in a position professionally to share. There are reasons, they do make some degree of sense, and the entire production run has to wind up somewhere eventually. Sometimes that's a store shelf, or an ecommerce warehouse. Or a competitor, if Walmart decided they don't want it all. I have found distribution to be spotty but over time, I have found most of the Walmart exclusives I have decided to seek - I hope and indeed assume things will be as they are for the foreseeable future. The Star Wars section is shrinking, so it's possible all you may see is an exclusive - if anything at all.

"Will distribution get better?" has been a question I've been asked in these columns since I started writing them in 1998. So don't get your hopes up, cheese.




3. new vintage collection Tie fighter pack in pilot. New figure or reissue?

The big wing TIE Fighter has a pilot that as far as I can tell is different enough to make you mad. The helmet (now with no Clone head underneath) and chest buttons are a little different, unless I'm forgetting another Pilot to which they are identical. You should probably get this one... but don't pay more than you feel is appropriate. I am the biggest supporter of buying what you like and supporting what you want to see - but at $80, well, free markets are what's great about capitalism.



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Things come and go. Over the last few days we found out latter-day hit toy line Grossery Gang is riding off into the sunset, while Sega is doing an all-new, supposedly not-awful Sega Genesis mini-console in September. Things come and go - except Star Wars, which has largely been here since 1991. Actually it never went away, thanks to Disney's Star Tours and West End Games' popular RPG - but you could find it pretty much in any bookshop or comic hovel since 1991.

I was puttering around the various second-hand media and junk shops over the weekend - as one does in a post-toy store era - to look for old video games, records, and toy stuff. I've seen a surprising amount of newish toys showing up, presumably not stolen, for prices I'd consider pretty fair. Even good or great, at times. What really knocked me back was that the pattern I've been noticing - nobody wants "new" movie Star Wars 6-12 months after the movie comes out - has expanded to The Black Series 3 3/4-inch (2015-2018) and The Vintage Collection (2018-present.) It makes sense - but if you told me that I'd be seeing $2.99 and $3.99 Snokes and Kylos Ren, I'd be very surprised. Per usual, Expanded Universe characters were not available at those prices, nor were "classic" (original trilogy, prequel trilogy) figures.

What this leaves me wondering is what are we really seeing here? Fans had a love/hate relationship with The Clone Wars in 2008, initially not loving it but we saw kids and fans grow to adore it within a year and characters like Ahsoka went from being loathed to loved pretty quickly. Since The Last Jedi didn't do a heck of a lot to make the costumes or characterizations of Rey, Finn, and Poe all that much more exciting beyond the first film we are in no real position to predict what their future will be. Ahsoka got to go on a ton of adventures on her way to becoming a beloved part of all things Star Wars, but thanks to the weird back-to-back narratives of Episodes 7 and 8, Rey and Finn were afforded no such luxuries. Han and Luke got novels and comic book adventures in 1977, 1978, and 1999 - the Resistance was mostly set up as "let's wait and see" instead, freezing the characters in our collective imaginations. Other new characters like Jyn Erso were effectively dead on arrival, because they died. On arrival.

Having said that, we've still got a fair amount of new stuff to look forward to at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago in just 10 days. Odds are Hasbro won't show much new. I assume we'll get a title and a teaser for Episode IX. That usually signals the time where fans can start going to web sites screaming that news sites posting news are spoiling the movie, which has made this a consistently pleasant hobby since the late 1990s.

--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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