Q&A: Star Wars Gets Big, Recycling, and High Enders

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, July 10, 2016

1. Do you know if the plastic used in our favorite figures' packaging is recyclable? I have been opening many, many figures over the last couple of weeks (need to downsize the space that they take up), and, boy, am I ever producing a lot of the stuff.

Since somewhat recently, Hasbro has been stamping recycling logos on the plastic part of some of its packaging - I got a 6-inch Asty on a pegboard above my computer, and I can see it stamped on the side. I've also got a Transformers Thrilling 30 Cosmos & Payload, and it's embossed in the side as well. I'd say check 'em and find out. I'd also say just put them in the bin and see what happens because I'm a monster. Every packaged figure within reach - and I got a lot within reach - seems to have the symbol on it somewhere.



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2. I've been reading for a long time. A couple of how good is your crystal ball questions.

Do you know what's up with Sideshows 12" Star Wars license? Sideshow is trickling out things. But, it looks like it was "in the pipeline stuff." Did they loose out to Hot Toys for the foreseeable future?

Also, any word on the last wave of Walmart 3.75" black figures? Are they ever going to make it to Walmart's online store? Or, Hasbro's shop online store after some amount of time?

Any hopes of a large wing tie fighter re-release with the up and coming Rogue One?

Sideshow has happened to Sideshow - as far as I know they're still doing things, but a lot of companies have slowed down a bunch when it comes to high-end collector stuff. There's less of it being made and the audience is shrinking. It may not be obvious to you, but we're going through a demographics change where Star Wars is getting a lot of money from being a consumer good rather than a high-end collectible. There is, of course, room for both - but the higher-end customer is usually born from fans who return to the hobby after a decade or so, after the fortune and glory clock in. The new prequel fans of the 1990s didn't necessarily stick around. We've got new fans, hardcore original fans (but not as many), and post-prequel fans, but we really could use more of the returning original gangstas to bring a lot of oomph to the line. Perhaps larger runs and more fans would engage more customers, but a lot of people are uncomfortable paying $200 for a single item.

Walmart's figures - I assume you mean Phasma/Han/Leia, of which I only saw Han and saw him once so far. There are still likely many in the pipeline, much like it took them a long time for Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren to start saturating. Patience at Walmart (or perhaps Ross) will be rewarded... just don't be dumb if you see them for a buck or two above cost. I wouldn't bet on online distribution of any exclusive that is shipped in an assortment, ever - stomp the pavement, look around. Exclusives rarely show up outside of their host store unless the host store decided they don't want to take the units. (This does happen, but rarely.)

I would not expect to see the big TIE Fighter again at a price that would make you happy. The new fancy TIE Fighter for The Force Awakens was around $40, and it was a small-winged toy. Given inflation and such, if the tooling is still available, I bet you'd be staring down $80 or higher. Due to comments from Hasbro around 2012, they seem to be phasing out older vehicle tools not because they're worn or because they're bad, but because they simply cost too much to make a good toy at a fair price. You may have noticed even some new items are quite expensive - this is the new trend. Going back to the endless fascination with Transformers, a $20 toy from 2005 weighs more than a 2016 model - and the one back then may have had electronics or other features to bulk it out. We had a wonderful run in China where we had a lot of cheap toys, but these things don't last forever as capacity gets reached and people can actually demand better wages and more expensive consumer goods. You're probably better off going to the secondary market if you want a big wing TIE. After the performance of the Big Giant TIE Fighter last year, I would not anticipate such a thing at retail in the near future.




3. Given Hasbro's seeming lack of interest in catering to collectors these days, and the difficulty in finding ANYTHING new in stores of any interest to me, I have really become enamored with the Japanese import figures, specifically the S.H. Figuarts line. I have purchased three of them, despite the cost and having to order them online, as local stores don't carry them, and have been very impressed with them. I know you are more into cheaper "toys" and not so much the more expensive "collector" figures, even if they are action figures, but just wondered if you had any opinion on these? Do you pay any attention to them at all? If you compare the Figuarts Jedi Luke figure next to the Hasbro 6" figure, the Hasbro one looks like absolute JUNK. Granted, it's a lot cheaper, but, still.

There is also a line called MAFEX, although I have not seen any of them in person. It seems they are better-scaled than the Figuarts line, but their articulation seems to be less well concealed than Figuarts, and since I've already purchased three Figuarts figures, I think I'll likely stick with that line. The upcoming MAFEX Rey looks really good, though, but I'm hoping for a similar Figuarts one.

Figuarts is also doing DC figures, and the upcoming Harley Quinn looks AMAZING, as does the upcoming MAFEX one. I assume you probably collect some of the DC Multiverse line from Mattel, and to be honest, I've been very disappointed with the sculpting and articulation on those. I bought the Wonder Woman Multiverse figure, and it looks NOTHING like Gal Gadot. I'm seriously considering buying a future Figuarts one, assuming they do one. Mattel is also doing a higher-end 6" line, with great likenesses and better-concealed articulation, but for more than twice the price of Multiverse. What can you tell me about this line? Will it be online- and comic shop-only?

I also have collected the Gentle Giant mini busts, but man, are they expensive now. I can't believe how much the price has increased on these since 2002. Still, I'm buying Kylo Ren and Rey. Do you collect this line?

Sorry this is so long - just would like your opinion (if you have one) on the Figuarts and MAFEX figures (do you like one line better than the other, or neither?), and if you have any info. on Mattel's higher-end 6" line.

I'm a Hasbro (and Mattel) fan mostly because I'm interested in what they do and how they do it - I'm a toy collector first and foremost, with Star Wars being my main squeeze. I cheat on it, but still. Right now, there's nothing for you in stores by design - Hasbro is on break with the "August reset" stuff starting to ship as I write this, so it's a good time for Marvel and Transformers. Star Wars is napping until Rogue One, so the important thing is you're right on track.

I want toys - good or bad, a $20 Hasbro figure gives me about the same joy as a $50 figure from somebody else. I've learned from this lesson. MAFEX are neat, but is it for me? Nah. Figurarts? Only if the character is unique, exclusive, or excessively perfect - I might pick up figures from a video game, but Hasbro has my bases covered for Star Wars. They're nice, but I don't need them. Collector items like these are basically online-or-bust, killing the impulse purchase and preventing us from making decisions on what we want to buy based on the time-tested method of seeing it first. (Full disclosure, I pretty much buy every Hasbro figure item and Transformers Generations item blind.) I don't like spending a lot of money on things I'm not supposed to play with.

...but I do buy Gentle Giant stuff. Due to space and dollars I am not all-in, but I buy busts, jumbo figures, statues, and other stuff as I am so inclined. I'm not disappointed - but I do feel stupid not having a better home for them. A small, well-curated collection can give a statue a nice home. I'm a weirdo toy hoarder - I can barely make work what I have, let alone something worthy of a nice display. As such, I just buy a few a year and try to put them where I can see them. Believe it or not, one of the things I'm the most proud to own is the Christmas Jar Jar Binks - it's so great. It's so stupid. It's so perfect. I love it dearly. I plan to pick up more... but not everybody. I don't even pick up my favorite characters - it's very random. There are a few things I wish I got, and don't have. My favorite segment were those Animated Maquettes. I love those things. (Not coincidentally Entertainment Earth had three as an exclusive.)

Mattel's collector lines are the source of many rumors right now and I don't have any real facts that I would vouch for, mostly because they've been quiet and some of those rumors would have been just as likely two or three years ago. It still has product shipping - I just saw some Suicide Squad stuff at a big store, and of course it's sold online - but I assume SDCC will be the home for any big announcements. A very large announcement has indeed been rumored for Mattypalooza, and I hope it is not true.




Due to a fire-related injury Friday, I have one good typing hand for the next 1 (or more) weeks. As such, please submit questions with short answers. I am not sure if I will have an update for you next Monday just yet. I wrote this a week ago.

Fan's Choice is back! I miss the old ones - "here are 5 figures, pick one" or "here are 25 figures, pick one" was a lot of fun. It was neat to keep track of stats and see where fans drew their choices, and also fascinating to see how many of the "losers" made it out in some form or another. It was also for the 3 3/4-inch line, which is (and I still believe) where this would do the most good. The 6-inch line hasn't even touched on most of the original films - we have one Cantina alien, half of the Bounty Hunters, and barely anything from Jabba's Palace. And no Ewoks. And very little from the prequels. At its current clip you could probably get another 10 years out of 6-inch with new movie salted with classic, and barely scratch the surface - but hey, collector involvement is good. It's just very likely that the new fans will be the deciding factor here thanks to there being so many of them. I hope the new figures circulate enough so they may actually see them.

As someone who works on a site, tallying these votes is a unique - most of the characters get 1 supporter, some people ask for figures which already exist, and there are always joke answers. (Unless I just repeated myself.) Video games and expanded universe tend to dominate the listings early on, and as I write this very few characters from the movies - any of the movies - managed to get a second vote. I'm assuming none of the picks from this site will appeal to the StarWars.com audience, and votes are due early Monday. So far, no movie character is in the top 5.

Send in your questions. For your reference, questions make an inquiry, labeling a rant "Q&A" will not result in publication here.

--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.