Q&A: Star Wars, HasLab, Playmobil, All the Things

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 21, 2021

1. I know you're a big Playmobil fan. I'm not, but couldn't resist ordering the James Bond Aston Martin Goldfinger set (I'm excited for that to arrive). With that company jumping into many new and arguably non-child centric properties, what else would you like to see? Super7's ReAction line has added so many properties, do you see Playmobil going that far? I doubt we'll ever see Star Wars, but Playmobil has done the same properties as LEGO in the past (like Scooby-Doo).

Since we're being indulgent, did anyone send me an anonymous Life Day present? (If so, thank you, whoever you are. You are most thoughtful.)

Due to licensing stuff, it's good to note that LEGO and Playmobil don't quite occupy the same space. However, Playmobil does have 3-inch preschool figures - much like Imaginext and Galactic Heroes/Super Hero Squad/Super Hero Adventures-style figures. As such, anything active in the Fisher-Price/Playskool/Little People space may be less likely for Playmobil.

I should also kick this off by saying Star Wars is pretty unlikely to get a new figural toy licensee in the USA.

I assume what we're going to see are the licenses we saw in the LEGO Dimensions game - things with global recognition, some vehicles, and where likeness rights aren't necessarily a concern. (You can make Doc Brown without getting Christopher Lloyd's sign-off on a brick figure.) Most Playmobil licenses have been - coincidentally - LEGO Dimensions ones, like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, and The A-Team. I would expect Beetlejuice, Knight Rider, Batman, Gremlins, E.T., Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings, The Goonies, and Doctor Who to be up for consideration. Which once again proves my theory, Germans love David Hasselhoff. But in all seriousness, things that work with their existing themes have a lot of potential - we just got an awesome Old West-theme Back to the Future Part III Advent Calendar with DeLorean upgrades (downgrades?) plus figures and accessories that fit well with 45 years of cowboy sets.

I don't see Playmobil going as far as Funko or Super7 just because they're a much tinier company - they don't have as many items, the runs are smaller, and they presently have little going in the US mass market toy world. (I mean, they're doing Asterix next year, and they did Heidi for non-US markets. We're not their chief concern.)

My personal wish list (and some "this would make sense" licenses)?

Star Wars - It's the only thing that would get me to abandon collecting Hasbro figures for something else. (I'm toy people, Playmobil has more going for vehicles and playsets these days.) With Hasbro's Mission Fleet (and Galactic Heroes) and LEGO's own line, I assume this will never happen. Even if they were only able to do the first film, it'd be amazing. (Or The Mandalorian.) Hasbro's license is pretty ironclad that they can sell action figures in this country - Funko's Pop!s are bobble-heads for Star Wars, and LEGO's figures have to be accessories in construction sets. I don't think there's a loophole for this one.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure - hear me out. Much like Back to the Future gave us the DeLorean - a recognizable pop culture time machine, which means Doc and Marty can visit any historical Playmobil theme - Bill and Ted are pretty much the same thing. You can make Genghis Khan, George Carlin as Rufus, Joan of Arc, even the San Dimas Mall - which is the recently shuttered Metrocenter Mall in Phoenix - all of which would be a blast. With historical figures and a phone booth (that could probably serve as just a regular phone booth too), this is a license with a lot of part reuse potential.

Batman - again, unlikely due to LEGO and Imaginext making figures in this size for this same audience, but it would be cool to add-on to existing city sets. If it means more tall buildings with rooftops, I'm in. (The Ghosbusters Firehouse could be modified to have a roof, for example.) This is easy money if they can do it, also Spider-Man, which I can't imagine Hasbro would let happen.

Final Fantasy - airships, knights, paladins, imps, Garland (who will knock you down), spoony bards, it's a rich area from which to draw. Try and tell me you wouldn't buy Vivi or any other Black Mage figures. Or Golbez. Or any of the monsters that didn't come out of the D&D monster manuals.

The Addams Family would be fun - Playmobil Mansion sets tend to do well, and monsters do great. Not that Uncle Fester is a monster as such, but the unique look of the characters and a big house filled with weird things would make for a fun toy. Ditto The Munsters, but that's a less-active IP right now. Some recent forum leaks indicate that the Victorian Mansion from the 1980s and 1990s is about to be reissued, so the parts are still there.

Universal Monsters would be a slam-dunk. Frankenstein (the movie) is about to turn 90, and Playmobil has done a good business in public domain vampires, zombies, mummies, Frankenstein's monsters, and so forth. Big castles and old villages would be fun, and would probably be welcomed by existing fans of Playmobil as just being more cool buildings with neat monsters.

From the LEGO list I would love to see Doctor Who (I don't even watch the show, but the Doctor's costumes are awesome and Daleks and Cybermen would be fun in this format), Lord of the Rings would be a fun way to build out its Knights/Castle lines, and Knight Rider just makes sense. If they did the A-Team Van, all bets are off for American car-based pop culture. (I have had fans ask about The Dukes of Hazzard, which will never happen, because the car is currently not allowed to be licensed. I don't even have to get into the cultural reasons here, it's just never happening.) I'd also love The Goonies because a) pirates b) caves c) gangsters.

I'd be really happy to see Playmobil turn into a Funko-like pop culture platform - with nearly 50 years of tooling, you could make a number of licenses with existing parts with relatively fast turnaround time. Why not just license everybody? I'd love to see Mulder & Scully, or Dale Cooper, or Jerry Seinfeld, or Dr. Zaius, or Mr. Rogers, or Colonel Sanders, or Pee-wee Herman. Or if I'm being greedy, the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

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2. don’t you think that Hasbro is bleeding it’s customers excessively on the Ghostbusters Haslab project? Yes, it is outpacing both thr rancor and sky striker, so it is clearly working, but why couldn’t they bundle the proton pack with the wand? Don’t you think it would have been a more attractive pairing, with the googles and the PKE meter as stretch goals. What say you?


No, especially given how little exists for the Ghostbusters license for adult fans. I think you're being silly. If you're a toy collector exclusively, any toy over $100-$200 is probably too expensive. If you want a licensed prop replica, though, this is cheap. A fancy prop replica-quality Hasbro trap or PKE meter is probably a $100-$125 retail item, so it being a stretch goal freebie probably qualifies as unreasonable. (Also someone else is doing costume-level ones, while Hasbro proper has its kid line.)

A few years ago Anovos solicited a Proton Pack themselves. Retail was $3,499.99, and Hasbro's seems to be a bit fancier with more ornate deco and they'll even deliver all their orders. While as a customer I would prefer the whole thing to be in a single box, the wand lets you effectively turn this into a couple of installments - if you're into that sort of thing - and lets you have part of it now if you want. (I also assume they could cut $30-$50ish by putting it all in a single box, but the wand has been selling for so long that you'd anger customers that already have one.)

When it comes to higher-end collectibles, the Hot Toys (and formerly Icons, Master Replicas, and so on) are a different kind of product that generally is more limited and costs a lot more money. Hasbro has the economies of scale at its disposal, but this is still a big, complicated thing with lots of parts and pieces. I'm kind of surprised it's cheaper than the Sail Barge (with the wand sold separately, I guess it's comparable.)

I would assume having the wand in the box with the pack would be preferable to any customer, but goggles and PKE meters are separate props and someone might want to buy just one (or neither.) Like I have a Back to the Future Hoverboard, but not a Flux Capacitor or Mr. Fusion - someone might just want a trap, or the PKE meter, or whatever. Granted, if every customer bought all the props in one big box as a bundle, Hasbro probably could sell it for less than the sum of three individual units - but that's a lot of money, and rarely what anybody does in this kind of situation.

$400 is a lot of money, but inflation is real there aren't many comparisons to this kind of item in stores this year. Matty Collector's fancy props weren't especially cheap, although I will say Diamond Select Toys' Star Trek props were painfully good given how cheap they were. I predict that if this is the only Proton Pack Hasbro ever makes, it's going to be $1500 within months of release - if not more. This is the kind of thing Hasbro (or someone) could just keep manufacturing every few years to new fans, fans who just got a better job, new costume club people, and so on.

While I do think that if you're a completist and expect that Hasbro expects you to buy everything they make, yes, there's too much and it's too expensive. But completists are not a big part of this hobby, and I think more than a few people were prevented from being one over the past couple of years anyway.

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The HasLab march continues - for those keeping track at home, the Proton Pack is funded (and rightly so given the demand for one), while the Skystriker is plodding along (and is neat) while the Rancor seems to be not going too quickly. I assumed it'll be funded - but as I've mentioned before, I'm not really at all excited about Really Big Stuff for The Black Series - especially when I've got really good, similar formats. One of which can defecate, and was only $10. (You can't beat that.) On Friday I was very surprised to see the backer number decrease every time I loaded the page all day long, with more decreasing on Saturday with two upticks of one unit per time I looked. It's weird. It's not like the Rancor includes any less Rancor than the initial pitch.

To see the final stretch goals are a Salacious Crumb and Luke Skywalker (that is supposedly a new tool, but looks to be derived from the existing digital sculpt - you can see similar folds and wrinkles but new knee joints), well, we're not missing much of anything there if this doesn't get made. Malakili and/or Oola would have made a slam-dunk, but I would absolutely have loved to see a stand. I do not trust that anything that big with that much articulation and weirdly-distributed weight can stand without assistance. Unicron got a stand, and he's pretty sturdy. I'm not saying it won't

I'm really interested in watching where this will go, mostly because I don't assume The Black Series is a collector format in the "collect them all" sense. It's a fan format. The difference being "collector" assumes it all goes to obsessive people who want every last little thing to build out dioramas and truly collect them all, while the "fan" is appealing to a much wider audience on a much narrower frequency. Tons of people buy The Black Series but few buy all of it because it took forever for the line to really take off. (This is what you get for putting Darth Vader in year two and C-3PO in year three.)

The good news is that people have a lot of options, but with so many options some low-risk items like crowdfunded collectibles could hit the wall. It seems unlike Hasbro will let this one slide - $350 x 9000 units = $3.15 million - but it is outright bewildering revising this Sunday night and seeing that backer tally continue to dip.

It is not an item I particularly find exciting - $350 for a Rancor (a bit more than I want to pay) with about $75 worth of items that are similar/identical to things I've bought recently stings, but I do think the bag of skulls is a great idea. When it comes to Big Stuff, things like the storage foot print and display stands matter. The 6-inch Tauntaun won't always stay upright - the super-articulated 3 3/4-inch ones didn't either. 3 3/4-inch scale Rancor monsters also had some stability issues. Making them at least 50% bigger seems unlikely to help that, plus the older collector (and fan) simply doesn't have a full Jabba's Palace diorama to fill out yet. So far we have had Slave/Boushh Leia, a Carbonite block (without Han), Skiff Lando, Jedi Luke, Gamorrean Guard, Jabba, Salacious Crumb, and an upcoming Bib Fortuna. It's not a lot.

--Adam Pawlus

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