Q&A: Star Wars Packaging Rumors and Bases are Basic

By Adam Pawlus — Monday, November 25, 2019

1. Not much of a question, I admit, but I just got my Walgreens Obi-Wan in the armor and he has this nifty base that actually works! Is this an add-on just for this figure or will they (hopefully) include these going forward? I've been buying acceptable third party bases, but this one is great, allowing for a dynamic range of poses.

There are no plans to sell stands by the pound at this time, but I'll be sure to pass that along. I am not currently a fan of any large-form figure stand that only secures the figure by the foot - over time, joints sag. In hotter month, plastic and gravity can cause a figure to slowly tip forward, before long you might have one or two flop over and take down other figures with it. The triangular base isn't bad in the short term, but I keep nagging people to make something that secures the figure at the waist or higher, preventing such accidents. The Four Horsemen had some great stands that came out with their Gothitropolis Ravens figures, but those are a little expensive when you need to secure over 150 figures.

A couple of other figures had these - GameStop's Battlefront II trooper and Target's Death Star Compactor Stormtrooper Luke.

I'm also impressed that the stands solved an early problem for this line - Hasbro didn't use a consistent foot peg hole size for those first few waves. As such, this is really the only sensible solution if you're going to make a base that only holds a figure at the foot.



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2. Several months ago I read a rumor somewhere that Hasbro was considering ditching the standard cards and bubbles used for figures in favor of a bag, which would likely have an image and name of said figure.

Have you heard about this? Any truth to it?

I know the change would save Hasbro money, but this seems a bit extreme.

Hasbro is not going with a bag. And most likely not a plastic bag, were they to go with a bag at some point in the distant future.

The telephone game is in full effect here. While Hasbro did post a press release about phasing out plastic from its toy and game packaging, it's important to note this key quote - this is where the wiggle-room lives. "The company’s ambition is to eliminate virtually all plastic in packaging for new products by the end of 2022. "

You'll probably never completely eliminate it, and there are alternatives to traditional plastic - including new substances based on other materials. Hasbro may also elect to keep it, reduce it, or change things up. I can't imagine The Vintage Collection continuing without the coffin bubble - I just can't imagine it would work without some sort of transparent material secured to a slab of cardboard.

On the other hand, Hasbro just put out a convention exclusive Luke Skywalker in a cardboard box closed with velcro, with sock ties and no actual plastic windows. It's safe, you can see the figure, and the packaging looks way better than the current black-and-red line look. (Will it survive in a retail environment with kids and thieves? Who knows.) I asked Hasbro about this recently and was told that they're researching all sorts of alternative clear materials for the future - we don't know what the final look will be, or if they will lean on that word "virtually" (as in "virtually all") but they're trying. It's good press when earnings and the media is watching in environment where new toy stores aren't opening and a lot of the toy news is about the tariffs that may be going into effect... or not going into effect. (The price increases, however, are likely to be real as many manufacturers are hedging their bets.)





It's time to talk toy business! We've had a lot of ups and downs over the last couple of decades - if we're talking brick-and-mortar, mostly downs. FAO Schwarz is down to a couple of locations, one of which is a tiny shop in Midway Airport. (Which I pass through on the regular.) Kay-Bee vanished a decade ago with its revival nowhere in sight. Much more of interest in the press is Toys R Us, with excited journalists frequently talking up a return that, in many respects, is impossible in the short term. While you may well see stores with that logo on it, the infrastructure is gone. The business deals are dissolved. And you can't support an exclusive product without a few more locations.

While doing research on the revival last week, I found a single article on Money.com from earlier this month promising two locations for Toys R Us to be open for Black Friday. (As of last week, they were not open.) If you drill down into the article, you can probably get a good idea of what to expect - more of a showroom than a store, with limited inventory, in Houston and Paramus. These are two places which, my guess would be, most of you are not near at this time.

For fans of old toy runs, this quote is key: "Some merchandise will be available on-site to purchase, but inventory will be limited. Customers will be able to shop to their heart’s content and order all available products online at screens and kiosks throughout the store." This does not bode well for action figure assortments and I assume a new, small store might not necessarily have all the LEGO, Nintendo, PlayStation, and Hasbro products you might enjoy. (Funko, LEGO, and Mattel tend to be friendlier to smaller stores historically, and at two locations this is a smaller store.)

After having seen the revived FAO Schwarz in New York - no slouch, but smaller than before - I'm hopeful any new toy store can emerge as a champ in the current retail market. We're seeing Forever 21 suffer, we've lost a number of store chains, and other "revivals" have so far not really worked out. Circuit City didn't come back in a meaningful way yet, and Kay-Bee has a way to go still. The malls are seemingly going higher-end or out of business, the book shops are almost all gone, record stores are tougher to find niche habitats for the analog faithful, and there just aren't as many places to buy software anymore either. And now with the news about Walgreens... well, it isn't exactly a rosy time to have a shop. With the advent of Disney+ and a new ruling that might allow movie studios to own movie theaters again, we might see a seismic shift to the multiplex in coming years too - so be sure to enjoy what you can, while you can.

As I'm fond of saying, anyone can start a store - the next big toy chain could be yours if you play your cards right. There are still a few nifty mom-and-pop shops out there and it's important to remember that Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, and Kmart were all considered "toy discounters" back in the 1990s. A new store chain, or somewhere with higher rent like a Kay-Bee in a mall, might have to charge a bit more if and when they start a new business some day. And I hope those days are soon - I really miss wandering around Toys R Us, finding new surprises and old back-room finds during lunch.

--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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