Q&A: Star Wars HasLab Prices and Other HasLab HasLabbishness

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, October 30, 2022

1. What about this for haslab.
A package of 15 figures on vintage card from the prequals. 5 from each movie. 3 updates of characters they might not do in the normal line. Example: Palpatine, 3-po, padme, and 2 never before done.
Repeat for ep 2 & 3.

Then if it works do the same with ot, sequals. And sets from 3 tv shows. Repeat. Hasbro would guarantee recouping sales cost by getting the numbers needed. Fans can get the resculpts they want but Hasbro won't do: dooku, Jango, ep4 Luke and Leia etc.

This isn't to say the idea is without merit - for something completely bonkers, crowdfunding makes a lot of sense. C-3PO and Palpatine aren't necessarily bad sellers, but bundling 3 remakes with 2 new guys might be seen as undesirable by long-haul fans, as not all are completists anymore.

With 15 figures, and I assume a $200-$250 price tag (stretch goals seem mooted here), I assume this wouldn't be the kind of thing to make the bean counters at Hasbro smile. The current items - Marvel Legends Engine of Vengeance and a Heroscape starter set - are planned to raise $3.14 million and $2 million respectively if they fund, and it's a pretty safe bet the HeroScape items will just kick off a new line and we'll see some parts reuse in the mainline. The just-added Deathsaurus is fixing to raise $1.97 million. By comparison, if Hasbro sold 10,000 of a $250 figure 3-pack, that's $2.5 million. It's not chump change, but it would be a struggle to get 10,000 people to say "hey, remember those CommTech figures you can buy for peanuts? Well, here's your chance to pay more for better ones!"

While I've certainly fantasized about HasLab being used to release the unmade series 2 (and technically 3) Ewoks and Droids cartoon figures, figures seem to run counter to the vague HasLab mission statement: "Our crowdfunding platform that hopes to bring dream products into the hands of fans." $10-$20 action figures may include some improbable choices, but they're certainly not the stuff of dreams. Patience and luck, perhaps.

I think we're at a point where there needs to be more catering to the needs for the 1990s and prequel-era kids but the echoes of The Phantom Menace are still a little toxic. The Vintage Collection action figures are something Hasbro could pepper in the waves throughout the year, one or two at a time. The cheapest HasLab "action brand" (read: not a game) item has been Victory Saber at $180, and 15 Vintage action figures would set you back at about $225. Is it doable? Sure, but most of the action figure-adjacent items have been a lot more than that and I assume Hasbro's shareholders wants to maximize these opportunities while not angering their retail store partners who would ask "Hey, why can't we sell that?"

HasLab could be a good outlet for new TV show stuff - it's a way to capture orders and interest before fans move on to the next show (or several shows.) For example, I would've loved droids, musicians, aliens, and vehicles from The Book of Boba Fett, the line of which presently consists of one 3 3/4-inch Boba Fett and you could argue Fennec Shand (a The Mandalorian figure in The Book of Boba Fett packaging) makes it two. Had they held a campaign in March, maybe we could have some cool stuff on the way! But we don't, and fans may have moved on. (I haven't. But some have.)

There may come a day, soon, where Hasbro says "there's not enough money in trying to sell these figures to stores, let's just crowdfund literally everything" and I really hope that doesn't happen. But if it does, I really hope they don't try remakes of figures that can still be bought quite cheaply. (De-makes, on the other hand, I'd buy.) If you want prequel figures, the good news is that there are a lot of them already and if you missed them, entire collections can be bought at prices that would make collectors from 1999 cry - and that's not considering inflation. It's not the latest and greatest, but Hasbro is being stingy with those all-new sculpt slots. So it's not just the prequel fans getting shorted, pretty much every movie fan won't be seeing their favorites in the new, improved 3 3/4-inch super-articulated form these days.



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2. So, recognizing I'm 9 days out from deadline, at the time I'm writing this [October 21 - ed.], the Ghost Driver HasLab seems to be on a highway to failing spectacularly, and the HeroQuest one doesn't seem like it's go to fire either. That makes 3-4 of the last 5 HasLabs not making their goal... what do you make of that? Bad offerings? Higher pricing (although when you compare the H.I.S.S. Tank to the Engine of Vengeance it seems very comparative)? Or do you think people just done with pre-funding major corporations to make things they make on the regular?

I'm personally not fond of this format of doing a major company's products, but I do like the products. The question is, do you as a fan want the high-end item enough to risk it? While $200 items may show up in big box stores, anything above that just plain won't happen.

There's a limited opportunity for Star Wars (and possibly all existing brands) because after getting a few of these in hand, you might say "eh, I'm good." This has nothing to do with quality so much as space. I really like the Barge, and the Razor Crest, but do I need or have room for another giant item? Unicron is really impressive... but is he any more fun than a $30 toy from the store? Everyone's answer will vary, but I do think there will be a point soon where fatigue sets in and none of these things will get off the ground. There aren't that many fans who want $350 toys, 3-5 times a year, from multiple brands, payable in advance.

HeroScape cost a lot more than HeroQuest, and the HeroScape 2.0 has unpainted figures - so some fans may be hoping Hasbro ups the ante with painted miniatures or more stuff in the box. Also that audience is just hard to reach. Game players aren't as trained to look for new ads for product as action figure fans, plus HeroScape will most likely have a mass retail release later. If they miss it, it would not be out of the question to assume some form of HeroScape product will be available outside Pulse in 1-2 years. Given the Kickstarter board game success, it makes sense for Hasbro to emulate it too - but fans are not showing up, and all kinds of toys and collectibles are piling up in stores lately.

I don't know that anyone asked for a Robbie Reyes car for $350 where, if not funded immediately, Hasbro would take away a figure that was built in to the project's cost. After the first week Hasbro told fans "you can't have Robbie," then changed the deal to include an alternate head, by which time a lot of fans seem to have gotten angry and re-adopted the "if we wait, Hasbro will put more stuff in here" attitude that was prevalent last year. The truth is probably pretty simple - fans yell "shut up and take my money," or it'll limp to the finish line. And, sometimes if it hits goal, you'll see a massive surge once it goes from "maybe" to "definitely." But as of right now, I would bet heartily against it because of Halloween. People are unlikely to be sitting around tonight watching a crowdfunding project.

There were also roughly 9 waves of regular Marvel Legends 6-inch figures (that's about 6-8 figures per wave x 9 waves x $25 = $1350+) plus at 30-40 $27-$90 exclusive figures and multipacks in 2022, so that's easily $2000-$3000 worth of stuff before the car this year. That's a lot of money, or at least, it is to me. One checklist put it at 114 total figures this year, and if they're $25-$30 a whack, that's $2850-$3500 before tax and shipping. (Some cost a lot more than that.)

While most HasLab projects have been new versions of old toys, or things fans have been clamoring for since the 1980s, the Engine of Vengeance is neither, It's a less famous version of Ghost Rider. The car itself looks comparably sized to the HISS Tank, costs $50 more, isn't as tall, and doesn't have as much stuff in the way of option parts or light-up features. Had they sold it at $200 without all the figures it might've done well, or if all the stretch goals were disclosed on day one, but I would speculate it's not "classic" enough to be exciting to, er, "old money" at $350. It's not a licensed muscle car, it's not something that looks like it's going to be worth $400 after tax and shipping. It's only 18 1/2-inches long, which means it's similar in size to the $80ish Fortnite Victory Royale Series Motorboat Vehicle you can buy right now, and that has a stand and seats three figures. So why does the flame car cost four times as much? There's $100 or more of figures in there, $350 is the price of 14 standard 6-inch Hasbro figures. Is it worth it? (To me, it wasn't, but it did catapult me into the arms of the 375 Kenner ones.)

Robbie Reyes' car ends Halloween night at midnight Eastern and if you want one, I hope you sign up. I assume its failure to fund tonight will nudge HeroScape up quickly and ramp up the marketing for that project. You also have to ask "is it worth it?" To me, the Sail Barge was worth the premium price only because it's something I'd wanted for years, and it was ridiculously huge and gorgeously painted and engineered. The prototype looked so good in person, I couldn't say no (and decades of wishing also pushed me to back Deathsaurus immediately.) This is only because Hasbro is playing on decades of emotional weirdness, and nobody has that for Robbie Reyes' car yet. But in 5-10 years, it's possible fans will shake their fists at the one that got away.





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Wow that's a lot of HasLab. Are you still there? Happy Halloween!

Hasbro announced a surprising amount of stuff at London Comic Con, sadly much of which was The Vintage Collection reissues which are less and less exciting to fans who were here for them the first time 5-10 years ago. Given Saelt-Marae can be bought on eBay for about $20 I'd say it's a very bad idea, if only because fans can have it today if they really want it. On the other hand, Wooof ($50ish), Nikto ($50-$100), Kithaba ($70+), and Nien Nunb ($85+) make a lot of sense. I mean I'm bored by it, but I've got them and I'm spoiled. The deluxe Paz Vizsla is pricey, but the option parts are pretty exciting. Hasbro is certainly putting in lots of work with a 6-inch Mara Jade and Bastilla that are likely to catch fire this week when they go up for pre-order, but the disconnected slate of new figures can make it hard to latch on to and get excited about building out a collection unless you've been doing it for years. And that's easy for me to say - I don't have to sit in a planning meeting with dozens of opinions floating by of who to do, when, or why. (But Mara Jade certainly makes me assume she'll show up in a Disney+ show in 2023.)

Other new reveals for The Black Series: "Snips" Ahsoka Tano, Clone Trooper Phase II (White), Darth Malak, Doctor Aphra (Coat), Omega (Bad Batch Season 2), Scar Trooper. The Vintage Collection has a Kenner-boxed Speeder Bike with Biker Scout, and you'll want to keep an eye on its price tag when it joins other new pre-orders this week. Me, I'd just steer you to specialize on a scale or a style because it's getting to be a pricier hobby than ever.

--Adam Pawlus

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