Q&A: Star Wars Figures for Kids and Doll Houses for Adults

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 3, 2023

1. What is your take on the new Epic heroes Star Wars figure that are coming out? When, if you can share, did you get wind of the new line?

I think that leaked (but not announced as far as I know) line a good idea - I don't know how fans will react since it's not "about" anything, though. Grab bag lines are off to a rocky start. The Black Series figures that weren't Boba Fett could be had for $10-$13 on Amazon shortly after releases (I remember the angry emails.) Forces of Destiny mashed up the one or maybe two women from a show or movie in a line where customers didn't show up. Galaxy of Adventures 5-inch was at least a mix of "new movie" and "classic," while the 3 3/4-inch tube guys were a grab bag with a price increase that was ignored more or less instantly. So a new line that just seems to be a "greatest hits" package could prove challenging to mass audiences. Or, a massive hit since it's 100% recognizable.

If Hasbro supports it and lets it breathe, it has a solid chance.  Or, you can just buy that hard-to-find and really cool CommTech TIE Fighter for $30 on Amazon.  Hasbro probably can't beat that price with a new product.

Assuming the toy buying world views this as a fresh start? I like it. I think the Stormtrooper blaster is a little big but other than that, Hasbro has something pretty good here. These are all characters that should be easy to sell, but it could really use specific adversaries for Ahsoka and Sabine, or Paz. I assume everybody can beat up on Stormtroopers, and Luke (and Ahsoka) can fight Darth Vader - so that's good. But other than Sabine & Ahsoka and Grogu & Mando, there aren't a lot of friend groups. Paz & Mando are some sort of frenemies at best, Vader more or less goes with the Stormtrooper, but any new scale is going to face fan scorn until it starts to build out with something not in the other formats. Right now, everything can be bought in The Vintage Collection and The Black Series, and most of it is in Retro. It's new, but it's not new, if that makes sense - a lifer collector on the fence can ignore this until there's a character debut.

I would assume their success will be from vehicles. If they can convince the powers that be to crank out cheaper ($20 or under) Speeder Bikes, or $40 (or under) TIE Fighters or Starfighters and X-Wings, I think things will go well for them. The problem with any new format under the era of "too much Star Wars" is that you have zero chance of making a real unified brand statement and anybody wanting to buy those specific characters has a chance to buy them in multiple scales already, even kids. Some Mission Fleet may still be on markdown at a store near you.

A cheaper, not $30ish Paz Vizsla or Sabine Wren might actually wrench loose some dollars from wallets. Hasbro's deluxe The Vintage Collection figures are generally excellent - but at that price, they have to be. These things can just be toys, and that's a completely new audience that The Mandalorian largely ignored so far. (Outside, that is, The Retro Collection... and it hurts me that I'm starting to see a few more of those on closeout shelves.) I want it to be a hit, but I wonder if figures are enough to get kids excited. If Hasbro announced an Epic Outland TIE Fighter, I'd be pushing you out of the way so I could get it first.



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2. I really enjoyed the Jabba's palace set with Fat Bibtuna more than I expected. The alien sci-fi dollhouse angle was surprisingly more enjoyable than what I felt with the Khetanna. Now I'm looking at the latter wondering if I should keep it or sell it. Does anyone need two large dioramas for Jabba and his goons?

Need? No. But I can make use of multiple environments.

I see the Barge and Palace as some of the last things I'd sell. (Anyone wanna buy a slightly used 6-inch collection?) Depending on your love for this stuff, and by that I mean how much of a hoarder are you, you may well have enough figures to populate both. Maybe you keep Boba's Palace as a D+ character locale. Maybe you put the old Kenner stuff on the Barge. Perhaps Boba's home becomes a POTF2-era home for your 1990s figures. I've certainly got enough stuff to fill out a lot of playsets, although I do admit the old cardboard Jabba's Palace may be superfluous these days.

If I were you, consider this: once-popular collectibles like Hallmark ornaments (pre-Star Wars stuff, like the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s) and Steiff bears that commanded decent secondary market prices in the 1990s (price guides and all) have dropped in price significantly. As the audience gets to their 60s and 70s (and older), they don't spend a lot of time on eBay or at toy shows. They're much, much cheaper now. If you think you've got a Barge that you don't want, sell it before the market dries up. I don't mean "scalp while the scalping is good", but rather "if you want to get back your $600 or so, don't wait forever." It's not like your grandkids are going to hold the Holy Trilogy in as high esteem as the VHS generation. They can watch hundreds of hours of Star Wars at any time. These new things aren't as special for the long haul, even "rarity" may not be enough to keep prices high if the piece is not historically significant enough.





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Late November, December, and January tend to be a pretty good toy hunting season. Stores get more regular restocks, there's a lot more competition, and places that don't normally do a big toy business suddenly find room for stuff. I'm seeing a lot of closeout items pop up, including G.I. Joe Classified, Star Wars Micro Galaxy, The Black Series, Marvel Legends, and The Retro Collection pop up at significant discounts. I would say some are so cheap I'm sometimes wondering just how much trouble the future of this business may be in without some sort of reorganization, mostly because brand-new figures on Amazon are also marked down increasingly quickly.

In the coming weeks you should probably be on the lookout for increasingly surprising markdowns and next year's stuff. Heck, I'm already seeing the new Jurassic World stuff trickling out, so you'll probably see some newness on-shelf as stores sell through their 2023 stocks and need to put out something. But it's still worth a look online as stores seemingly mark down relatively new product in a hurry I haven't seen before. I'm scratching my head at why several 6-inch The Black Series from Ahsoka are ten bucks off almost immediately - it's a nice line. It's not like people hate the characters or designs.

Next year we're staring down the barrel of the 25th anniversary of The Phantom Menace, the quiet delays or cancelations of one of the new movies or shows, and I assume another few thousand bucks of non-exclusive figures and at least another $400-$500 of repaints and repacks. With multiple existing shows and movies (and games and comics), plus multiple competing formats, I assume we're going to lose a few along the way mostly because eventually, you have to pick a pony or just quit. And I am hoping Star Wars toys keep running for a while, even if some formats may not be long for this world. I guess we'll see how it turns out as things go along and we enter what I guess will be our fifth anniversary of the last new movie.

I know it's not ideal for business to say "don't buy everything," but... don't. If you have a segment you love, whatever it is, stick with it and I'd recommend supporting it at full price if you can afford to support the things you want to continue. I'd bank on some segments being around forever - LEGO, probably The Black Series (although it does get marked down quickly lately) - but the rest? Who knows. Hasbro doesn't keep a lot of lines going concurrently forever, usually something gets pulled. And after having lost Marvel Retro about a year ago... I mean, I'm just gonna keep buying those Kenner dudes for sure.

--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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