Q&A: Star Wars Launches, ForceLink,Unreleased Stuff, and Conventions

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, October 6, 2019

1. What ForceLink (or ForceLink 2.0) products (either figures or vehicles) were actually produced or distributed in the lowest numbers in the US, do you think? I know the single-carded Emperor is relatively rare but what else would you put in that category?

According to anecdotal evidence, the lowest-distributed item so far seems to be the yellow Solo-line look 5-pack of The Last Jedi figures - Holographic Maz Kanata along with a Snowtrooper, Kylo Ren, Rey, and Poe Dameron. A friend says he saw it at a calendar store and did not buy - that is literally the only sighting I have heard so far. Mine is a UK release. The rest got shunted to closeout distributors instead of their intended retail partners for reasons I am not at liberty to share.

To my knowledge the single-carded Emperor was not produced for the US market - he and the red-card Maz Kanata were planned but not sold here. Unless I missed something, the single Emperors you see are all Canadian releases.



Ad: 2019 New York Comic Con Reveals at Entertainment Earth!
Dune Classic Feyd-Rautha Pop! Vinyl Figure - 2019 Exclusive Star Wars The Black Series 6-Inch Action Figures Wave 1 Case Transformers Generations Selects Hot Shot - Exclusive Transformers Generations Selects Powerdasher Jet Cromar James Bond The Golden Gun Limited Edition Prop Replica Star Trek Kirk Handmade by Robots Vinyl Figure Star Trek Spock Handmade by Robots Vinyl Figure Masters of the Universe Figural Bag Clip Display Case Transformers Generations Earthrise Deluxe Wave 1 Set Transformers  Earthrise Leader Optimus Prime Trailer Transformers  Earthrise Voyager Grapple


2. Of all your topics you discuss, unreleased toys intrigues me the most. Since you can’t give specifics, I wonder if you could go as far as to say:

- Are there figures we have not seen in any previous form which reached the point of tooling, only to be halted for whatever reason?

- Who keeps such prototypes, or are they destroyed as policy to prevent them from reaching eBay?

- Apart from Hasbro’s Star Wars Line, did you see anything from other toy lines of note (Star Trek, Marvel, DC) that never saw the light of day?

- Was it a figure, vehicle, or playset prototype that was most heartbreaking, personally, for you to not see reach the marketplace?

There are lots of things that have been shown to the public - some tooled, some even produced in very small "sample" sized quantities - that didn't make it out. I've had conversations with many a fan pushing for some of these - some merely packaging variants, or "existing figure with different accessory" - because they don't have it. Never mind the fact that they technically own the figure, it was that specific version that they did not own, and wanted. Unfortunately some of these items have very high minimum runs, which means the sucker who demanded a new run of it would get stuck with 60% of the production. (In short, not worth it.) Would you want a red-striped The Last Jedi Force Link 1.0 Maz Kanata or Emperor Palpatine? You might! But as I've got 2.0 Maz and a 3-pack Palpatine, I sure don't want to put money into that sort of thing.

Figures that come to mind that you did see (or almost didn't see release) include Fenn Rau, Lt. Sefla, the Finn/Phasma Force Link 2-pack, the Shoretrooper/Bistan 2-pack, the variant Utai, a Trophy Series OOM-9, a Trophy Series Obi-Wan Kenobi, Kitik Keed'kak, brown shirt Wuher, knee joint Dr. Evazan, CD-ROM POTJ Bespin Luke, CD-ROM POTJ Bespin Darth Vader, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. Some made it out later thanks to someone stepping up to make the run happen, others just saw release in other formats. Generally speaking there weren't many new characters that didn't make it out, but test shots and samples do exist of many of these.

Who gets the prototypes officially? The grinder. But things sneak off, get stolen, or may remain in a desk drawer for years. Fact is, people don't pay super close attention to everything and teams change over so much, an enterprising archivist could probably work there and squirrel away a ton of cool stuff to show the world after their tenure at a company ends. Sometimes prototypes are loaned to people and are never returned. I'm not saying I have any such things or know of any such things.

I have seen some cool things that never saw the light of day but unfortunately I do have a job that requires I not tell you about some of them. Prototypes of the unreleased prequel Code 3 movie poster statues were made and reside in the Entertainment Earth offices, but those aren't toys as such. It's no secret there are many interpretations of a POTF2-era Death Star prototype, but again, what can you say other than "Hey that was neat?"

The most heartbreaking thing I ever saw that never came out - which someone else discussed ages ago, so I can talk about it - was a Bespin/Cloud City playset mock-up/kitbash concept that was not intended to be a retail product. It was huge. You could fly a POTF2 Millennium Falcon under it to pick up Luke, there was a banquet room, areas to duel, hallways, and a Freeze Chamber. I saw it about 21 years ago and the prototype was confirmed as "lost" around 19 years ago. I hope it's in someone's garage - you would have loved it.

The vast majority of stuff that doesn't come out just doesn't come out and I have to be OK with it. We have thousands of figures, playsets, and vehicles - Hasbro could never release another toy, and all of us could chase the existing stuff we missed and expand into other brands we like for years to come.





Force Friday is over, finished - but probably not forever. I was in New York for NYCC and I'm off to more places for work purposes, so no proper toy run is possible right now - but from the Disney Store I popped in, FAO NYC having nothing, and anecdotes from around the web, it sounds like it was a bit of a non-event. With reports on fans asking "Where's Rose?" (I had to sell dozens of her at work for $20, so "not in your collection you cheapskates" is maybe accurate), I'd just ask where the new movie product is. We have Kylo Ren and Rey, some reissues, a few new troopers... and not much else. Vehicles are lacking, aliens and new droids just plain don't exist, so what I see is a launch without any of the stuff I love about Star Wars. But I'm hoping we get more Ewoks, as Endor is seemingly in the new movie.

I've got high hopes for the rest of the year. I hope team Lucasfilm kicks off The Mandalorian and The Rise of Skywalker with enough hooks for future stories, spin-offs, series, and other goodies - and I hope there can be less emphasis on main characters and maintaining secrets in the future. I love the weird background stuff - ships, aliens, robots - and we're getting less of all of these things. We've got more gold figures coming, tons of exclusives, and goodness knows what else between now and when the line becomes unprofitable.

With any luck, we'll see a return to the old ways - specifically, chasing figures post-movie. Hasbro and Kenner did a wonderful job with their postgame releases, giving us years if not decades of cool stuff. I'm not sure if that's going to happen under the current crew, but it looks like everything is interesting enough to warrant consideration of milking the properties instead of just giving us the main heroes and moving on.

In other news, Unicron made it - a surge over the weekend tipped it to over 8,000, or someone moved the dial and then more people jumped on, who knows. A mock-up web page for a rumored Marvel item is seemingly next, so Hasbro has seemingly succeeded on 2 out of 3 fronts. This is good.

The most exciting single thing I probably saw at NYCC was Playmobil Scooby Doo. There's a series of villain blind-bags, with the astronaut ghost and tiki witch doctor and everybody else with removable masks. It's incredible - and there are Back to the Future sets coming as well. The booth was fairly sparse but I think it's good showing for family-friendly weirdness. I'm in, of course. The future remains bright for toys in unusual places. It's just a matter of remembering how unusual Star Wars was as a toy line historically, as precious few toy lines are compatible throughout their decades-long runs.

--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.



I'm on Instagram! All Pictures from a GameBoy Camera.