Q&A: Star Wars Grails, The Mandalorian, and Completism

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 17, 2019

1. If you had to guess, would any modern figure (say, anything past 2010) have the potential for being a future grail item? I.E., an exclusive figure (Carbonized Mandalorian), a limited Comic Con figure on a special card, a transitional figure, or the Jabba's Sail Barge Yak Face?

It's possible - what it is, I couldn't tell you. Common items can be "grail items" too if everybody decides it's important. Millions and millions of 12-back Darth Vaders were produced, but now everybody wants one. A fair amount of The Vintage Collection figures have climbed up to higher prices as other packaging variants of that very same figure saw their price decrease below wholesale cost because they were in The Black Series packaging. I'm personally gambling that Carbonized figures will lose their shine temporarily in the next 2 years, and I may then scoop them up at a discount. And if I miss them, it's not like I love the concept anyway.

It usually boils down to retroactive popularity and what you missed out on, so in a line like Transformers you could see appearances by a character in a comic book elevating a previously obscure nobody into an in-demand toy. The same could happen with Star Wars if Hasbro and friends miss a classic figure that had a cameo in a new TV series, but it seems like Star Wars is on its way down right now. That doesn't mean people won't want it later - product is just too abundant and not bringing in new collectors. If you want your stuff to be "worth something" down the road, you need customers, and the old customers are, well, old. New people need to covet this stuff for anyone to care and if the new customers have ample supply of other stuff to scratch an itch, it's possible they won't care about "carbonized" figures later unless Hasbro deliberately shorted the market and demand is artificially kept high. (I have no intel on this.)

The Barge itself has proven to be one of the most expensive modern-era toys, in part because it had the highest retail price and demanded a commitment up front. It's hard to predict what could happen - the Barge may encourage a hypothetical second HasLab item to be hoarded, thus flooding the market and dropping the price. I've seen enough stuff dumped at a discount that I will very rarely buy anything for future trade fodder, it's generally a risky proposition as Star Wars is concerned - especially now that Hasbro is rereleasing so much against very few new 3 3/4-inch "classic" figures.

New things do get to be scarce and expensive, but only if someone is there to chase them down. Of course, it helps if there isn't a better alternative.



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2. I need your advice, I'M a completist Star Wars 3.75 collector. Hasbro showed in the European Conventions the upcoming TVC figures. Most are repacks but some are repacks that are getting the "new photo technology" making them re-sculpts, because of this I don't know which to get and which I can avoid as I have all the original vintage collection #1-115. If their OLD numbers with new technology do I still need them? What about the repacks that get new numbers? ARGH! So frustrating that as soon as I quit 6 inch they get all the cool ones and TVC gets just repacks! LOL

If you don't know if you want something, don't get it. This is the best advice I can give you.

To elaborate - the figures are all going to have minor differences, at the very least the packaging will have a new SKU, the European-style white circle with the 4+ age in it, and a different back-of-the-card. So sure, you may have all of the vintage numbering repeated, but there will be differences in the packaging and potentially in the figure itself. If they have new deco, they're a redeco - and since Hasbro seemed to use some old stock images for the latest reveals, we can't be sure who will or won't until final packaged samples surface.

If you have decided to be a packaging completist, you will want all of these. If you're a deco completist, usually there are at least minor batch changes like the new face printing - so you may still want these. Hasbro may further do something like add or drop battle damage, or fix the hairlines, or recolor the accessories in a pleasing way. If they're old numbers with new technology, you obviously don't need them. If they're new figures, you don't need them. You've put thousands if more dollars into Hasbro's pockets for minor differences that you probably wouldn't miss if they got lost or stolen. As such, I would urge to use your common sense with these. If you want to buy a case/set online, hey, go for it. You can compare them and keep the ones you like.

"Complete set" means different things to different people when it comes to a collection. If deco variants aren't necessary for you, save some money. Hasbro is leaning hard on repainting the same molds with The Vintage Collection with zero (ZERO) new original trilogy or prequel figures set for the near future. I'd like to see some new aliens or droids, myself - but if you're going to stick with the line that started in 1995 into its next decade, sure, go ahead and get these guys again. Do what makes sense for you. Just keep in mind that this could end in a year or two - or run another couple of decades.





So how about The Mandalorian, or "the ultimate Star Wars show for old Star Wars fans"? The TV show that takes place during the same window as Heir to the Empire would have? Every alien looked good. The actors and oddball cameos were awesome. The sets, costumes, and props were all on point. It was goofy where it counts. Sure, they can't cast two women to share a scene, at this point I assume this has got to be intentional. But you know. The Egg. I hope you have an opportunity to check out the current two episodes soon. I will be stunned if anyone who reads this column and collects these toys and doesn't enjoy it unless they're trying really, really dang hard.

But for what it was, it was really something. I won't go into too many specifics for those in markets where Disney+ is unavailable and apparently other means are not popular yet, but clearly they have a decent direction to go forward while distracting the planet from the fact a new movie is coming next month. Why they're doing a new game, and a new TV show, and another season of an old TV show, and a new movie all in the same 2-month window is beyond my comprehension given how vacant 2020 looks beyond 40th anniversary activities for The Empire Strikes Back, and given how Star Wars; 40th went in 2017 I am not super optimistic there.

At least we've got this show to watch. This one seems unapologetically fan-driven, while also being accessible to new viewers, which is pretty much what you want in a series. If you have to catch up on a dozen movies and novels, it's not a good time for the new fan, and we need the new fan.

--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, and we're down to 2 questions per week until we get overloaded with questions to re-expand back to 3 or more.



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