Q&A: Star Wars Price Increases and 3 3/4-Inches of All Kinds

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, October 2, 2022

1. Do you think 3.75 basic figures could make a return? With Rogue Squadron off the table until at least 2025, I'm assuming no big product launches other than a handful of releases for shows. I know when we got the Celebrate the Saga sets, Hasbro said they'd be putting the line "in the vault", meaning it could surface again at some point? It's a shame not having some sort of basic line for at least the Disney+ stuff with some of the great designs, wacky aliens, and droids that we've been getting. If we can get the Retro stuff, I wish we could get some regular basic assortment too. At least by now, you'd think a basic Mando/Boba Fett line would be out.

Toys tend to be trends, and trends come and go. Weirdly we're in a 3 3/4-inch trend now that allows for Star Wars (and seemingly only Star Wars) as super-articulated 3 3/4-inch figures, but we're also getting tons of 1980s-style retro action figures and some decent 3 3/4-inch "kid" figures from Spin Master and Mattel. For whatever reason, Hasbro abandoned it right as it found success for DC Comics and Jurassic Park.  I think figure & vehicle, figure & creature, figure & ridiculous jetpack, and the like are great play patterns worth revisiting, because figure & more figures tends to be a pretty lousy paradigm.  It's boring.

The complete lack of a full-blown The Mandalorian line confuses me - we get a few odds and ends in Mission Fleet, but everything is so scattered. Outside of The Retro Collection, no company is putting out themed waves of toys, or complete lines focusing on one movie or series. This is how Star Trek evolved in the later half of the 1990s, and I don't think it was good, either.

At some point we'll no doubt see Hasbro return to kid-specific 3 3/4-inch Star Wars figures and vehicles, but I assume someone must've done the math and found out kids will buy whatever figure exists at any price (online, offline, whatever.) I'd much rather see something kids can access, right now the kid $5 6-inch line at Walmart/Five Below/grocery stores seems to be the go-to. (What I wouldn't give for $5 4-inch figures, even with limited articulation.)

Some day, one or two of the other lines will fade and Hasbro will explore other new (or old) options. But there hasn't been a ton of demand, which is a pity - Solo: A Star Wars Story had some of the very best vehicles (TIE Fighter, Han's Speeder) alongside some of the very worst (Millennium Falcon was just a terrible figure-compatible toy for the price.) Fans haven't exactly demanded a kid line, but I hope at some point Hasbro steals a page from Mattel and does its own spin on Masters of the Universe Origins in making a new kid line that shamelessly appeals to dads while also adding in new stuff.

In short,  no I don't think it's going to come "out of the vault" any time soon because fans are far too happy overpaying for retailer exclusive super-articulated repaints.  Nobody should be eager to pay $27 or more for the same figure, with different paint, but it's happening - so unless Hasbro really wants to tackle the figure and vehicle play pattern, and Mission Fleet goes away too, it's incredibly unlikely.  I've seen no indicator that Mission Fleet is going away anytime soon.



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2. It's funny - For the longest time, I wasn't sure where my cutoff price for VTC and BS figures was. I just kept going with it every time prices increased. However, as soon as prices for VTC hit $15 (let alone the exclusives for even more!), I had the reaction of "I don't need those at that price". I am now being incredibly picky about what I pick up. I am getting the sense from online forum chatter that many others feel the same. I'm also seeing products not selling out anymore.

My questions: Do you think we have hit the tipping point for figure pricing? What do you think the optimal pricing for figures should be? What do you think the future holds for us in terms of pricing, articulation, and availability?


With Hasbro Deluxe Vintage figures selling for $20 or close to $30, we can see Boba Fett will sell without a lot of concern for price - people want him, they're going to buy him. That's not going to be true of lesser characters, which could probably do a lot better as 5-10 jointed releases in a lesser, not-as-fancy assortment. But that's not how these things are going to go, Hasbro wants $15 for a repaint of a guy they made their money back on 12 years ago.

For me the cut-off was $14 for Carbonized The Vintage Collection figures. I've bought countless Lava Reflection, gold, silver, or other releases that mostly don't do much for me - they're just more debris that may be fun as a one-off, or in a tiny collection, but in a collection of hundreds of figures they're just out of place. I'd happily pay $15 for something I want, though - if they want to make the Tonnika sisters with drinks and a stool, or a Grogu multi-pack with a non-jointed figure in multiple poses, or Imperial Dignitary Sim Aloo? OK, you've got my $15. For a slightly improved repaint of a figure I bought 12 years ago? ... I don't know.

A bigger issue is that there's a lot going on - Hasbro has at least 4 successful competing scales (Mission Fleet, Black Series, Vintage Collection, Retro, plus 6" Value Channel stuff to name a few) and the company is moving toward more expensive products. The Vintage Collection doesn't have to include multiple lightsabers or alternate hands, but it does - they could make a $10 or $12 product, but they won't. And when they charge $12 for a Vintage R2-D2 when the same mold was in a 2-pack with C-3PO for about $12... well. Do I need to spell it out?

Most stuff I see - unless a store is impatient - tends to sell out pretty quickly, with some lesser human characters from The Mandalorian sitting around and, weirdly, Lando Calrissian as of late. Target slashed the prices of their Vintage exclusives pretty quickly, while Walmart's showed up at some other accounts (but that's not too unusual these days.) The character selection, though, has been pretty lackluster - without new "classic" (as in, original trilogy or prequel trilogy) characters I assume any line is going to slowly bleed off fans as there's no deep bench of weirdness from the new era. Where are my droids, my speeder pilots, or my aliens? New or old, I'm not picky - it's just a constant churn of the same characters with few new exceptions that aren't title credits-level characters.

My prediction is to keep the dollars the same, Hasbro will make fewer items and charge more money for them. The lines will all continue, they'll just be less interesting. The bench from each new movie or TV show has never been shallower, and I assume there as many flavors of Mando as there are other characters in some lines. Without the other aliens, robots, troopers, vehicles, and humans, though, it's all kind of boring. A figure with no ships or playset is just more clutter, and at $15 I don't want an army of Din Djarin.

And if you disagree, go look at the Christmas, Halloween, Carbonized, and Credit Collection releases. They're going to get their money and they don't have to make a diverse cast of characters to do it anymore. They're even going to charge you more for the 10th release of the same mold, and most of the times, it's going to sell out - if one or two fail, they're still making money and/or saving development money.



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ANDOR! Four episodes in - that's 1/3 of the way through the season - and I keep reading people say they love the show and enjoy the pacing. I do not understand this, as most shows, if I watched four episodes and found it to be slow, I'd probably give it a rest. Or not watch it. (I'm still watching.) The funny thing is that this poked me to re-watch The Book of Boba Fett, which at one episode per night was a very enjoyable rewatch. Maybe Andor will be at some point too, but Rogue One is similarly lauded when - while arguably a fun movie - it's a very good remix of the original film with lots of everything that made being a fan of the Expanded Universe (and RPG) great in the 1990s. (So if you're near 40-50 today, this movie was made in a lab specifically for you.) It's funny because a lot of stuff got great reviews before people turned on it, like Resistance and The Book of Boba Fett, not to mention several of the Marvel shows. There's definitely a honeymoon period, and hopefully one that will pay off. The Corporate Sector goons are a curious bunch, and arguably steal the show as a fun house mirror into... well, you know.

PULSECON! The most interesting non-Star Wars item was the Marvel Retro 375 Ghost Rider with Motorcycle, based off an obscure and expensive toy from Fleetwood in the 1970s, which are all pretty pricey today. What made it particularly interesting to me was the fact that it's the first Kenner Retro vehicle - I'm not counting The Vintage Collection because those are largely retools and frequently the very best that Hasbro can do. Premium products. This motorcycle looks cheap, and that's the point - it's like something a kid would get for his birthday 30-45 years ago, and I want one. The retro Indiana Jones is also lovely, and a remake of a series of expensive figures from 40 years ago.

TRANSFORMERS! The new offerings look like a lot of fun - the new Junkions seem to be customzable, so you can take a chunk of one, slap it on another, and it'll still transform from figure to vehicle. Tarn looks great, Breakdown is, of course, excellent. Mini dinobot combiner might be a hot seller, and I love seeing a new Armada Hot Shot.

G.I. JOE! I found it dull. I assume it may have spent a lot of its fuel already, but there are still goofy variations of Snake Eyes and Cobra Commander to do eventually. Marauders Barbecue and a Crimson B.A.T.... well, I don't collect it, so let's move on!

INDIANA JONES! If the last go-round is any indication, the line for children will tank - it doesn't matter if it's good or bad, few kids will want it, presumably because parents aren't going to show their children movies about Nazi arrogance before God or monkey brains or Shia LeBeouf. I assume a lot of adult fans are going to jump on the prop replica/premium roleplay items as well as at least one version of Indy himself as a retro or 6-inch action figure. I don't believe people will want to buy a lot deeper than 6-8 figures per film... and may not want to buy more than 6-8 figures, period. The last round of figures was mixed, but pretty good, and I didn't collect more than a handful. I don't doubt they'll do a much better job this time but the 2008 line isn't that expensive, all things considered.

I assume we're going to see a lot of irrational exuberance from retailers buying into the hype followed by a big crash after the new movie comes out - if it's good, or bad, it won't matter. (I have heard people say "It's a new opportunity, modern collectors never had a crack at Indy!" which ignores all of us that did have a crack at it and we didn't really show up to buy.) Once the masses see the film and get one or two Hasbro and Funko items in their hands, it'll go dormant again.   I think you're going to get diminishing returns when the line starts to shift to "middle-age white guy in suit with hat" and "without hat."  The costumes aren't all that exotic, and a some costumes are never, ever going to be made as toys again.

STAR WARS! Most of what we saw was fine. Not exciting, but fine. The Indiana Jones stuff will probably pop for a couple of waves before Belloqs start piling up and stores stop ordering, and it's nice to finally see some more The Book of Boba Fett figures, but it feels like a whole lot of blah. I'm not yet enjoying Andor, but even that seems like a paltry line-up of figures so far. The only new sculpts for classic are existing characters, like new versions of Darth Vader, with only a 6-inch Wicket figure making a "character-at-this-scale debut." And at $25 for an Ewok, I mean I hesitate to say "rip-off," but that's likely a similar amount of plastic and complexity to a 3 3/4-inch The Vintage Collection figure, and either Hasbro or the factory are just enjoying the extra points. (Not that I have an alternative. A mini 6" scale assortment would be nice though.)

Mostly what I find disappointing is that there's nothing to really build out any existing area of the toy stash - an extended Cantina Band is nice, but I have bought the entire band at least three times so far. There's no new Cantina barfly, specifically the fly. There's no new members of Jabba's entourage, no new Rebel pilots, Pod Racers, Rebels people, or so on. Boba Fett's gang is absent, but a couple of Tuskens and a Pyke are a nice start.

They're doing a marvelous job trying to make one or two items to appeal to specific generations, none of which fits in with "classic" as defined as "anything pre-Disney" particularly well. Their higher price points are, from a business perspective, probably pretty smart as the children who saw Return of the Jedi in theaters are now all over 40 and if they haven't aged out of it yet, I don't know if the line-up will keep them around with all the 6-inch reruns but if it makes the line accessible to a new group of fans every few years, it might work out just fine. Admittedly there's not a whole lot of new 3 3/4-inch stuff left to remake, but if ever there was a time to announce Sim Aloo as a modern-era sculpt wouldn't it be the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi?

--Adam Pawlus

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