Q&A: Star Wars Repetition, Points of Focus, Crimson Dawn, and Repetition

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 25, 2018

1. I've been collecting 3.75" Star Wars figures basically since they first came out, minus the dry years. I'll always have the warm fuzzies for the original Kenner line, but the super-articulated stuff is my favorite.

Recently I've been struggling with whether I want to collect the 6" Black Series or the basic/Vintage Collection stuff (I find that the different smaller styles mix fine for the most part). I came across a bunch of the new Force Link 2.0 Solo figures the other day - Beckett, Val, Quay Tolsite (who is awesome), and some others. They look pretty great and I sort of decided I'd stick with those and the occasional Vintage.

Then I got the Black Series 4-LOM, who looks great and has a fantastic paint job, and I realize I'm gonna buy Black Series when I want them.

Do you think others are as poorly disciplined as me and just buying multiple scales and styles? Most of my friends have switched over to Black Series and I seem to be an anomaly. What we have in common is that we're all frustrated by Hasbro's inconsistency in releasing characters across the various formats.

If you're the kind of person who can stop, you should pick a pony. If you've been a 3 3/4-inch fan and you prefer classic stuff, staying in that format will probably make you happier. You won't have a lot to buy, but on the bright side you will not have a lot to buy.

If you want more frequent purchases, I'd nudge you to 6-inch. I'd nudge new fans to 6-inch, just because there's less to go back and buy, and there will ultimately not be as many of them. (I'll put that on a certificate you can frame.) Thousands of 3 3/4-inch figures versus hundreds of 6-inch figures would mean a more satisfying and less troublesome effort.

At this time no one is working on a "definitive scale." 3 3/4-inch has the most stuff, be it Vintage/super-articulated or simplified. 6-inch probably provides a more satisfying experience, unless you want vehicles and playsets.

From my experience, most people are all-in or have rules they sometimes break. Disney-era 6-inch characters tend to get really cheap over time - it might be due to their being packed much more heavily, or fan interest. Or both. Some people just love 6-inch as a size, while others just want original 3 3/4-inch trilogy stuff - and nothing else. I don't think Hasbro is even considering the notion of long-term collectors, things "missing" in 3 3/4-inch, or how much space we have left - after 23 consecutive years of the modern line, only people like us have a solid idea of what the complete line looks like without the need for research.

A lot of newer fans and lapsed collectors love 6-inch. Hardcore long-term collectors tend to gravitate toward Vintage and sometimes 3 3/4-inch basic figures. And some people just buy them as souvenirs here and there. The line presently has no specific focus except, perhaps, during a new movie launch - otherwise every line is scattered across nearly a dozen movies and TV shows. That's just the weird way things are now, so anyone expecting to see Dagobah waves of Jabba's Palace waves will probably be disappointed until further notice.



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2. Where is Crimson Dawn? With the Solo basic line coming to an end, I'm getting the feeling that the chances of getting Dryden Vos, Maul and a Crimson Dawn guard are getting pretty slim. With the basic line switching over to Resistance, do you think there will still be any more movie figures added before the next switch over to Episode IX?

While Hasbro has had some almost-cut final-wave figures in the 3 3/4-inch Rogue One and The Last Jedi lines, both of those were cut short due to a change of direction and stores moving on. They launched in September, and were basically done by around January or February. (So, 5-6 months.) Meanwhile Solo has enjoyed 8 months and counting with new waves coming and, as far as I can tell, selling. They're not backing up - just pumping out new figures is enough to get people to keep buying. It's possible Hasbro is sitting on mountains of old waves, but I have no way of confirming this.

With that tangent - as of now I know of no unproduced figures. That doesn't mean there aren't any - I was surprised to see Bistan and the Scarif Stormtrooper at Toy Fair in 2017. There may be some stragglers on the way, but I'd probably assume we'd be more likely to see a 3 3/4-inch Dryden Vos as a The Vintage Collection figure, if at all, at this point.

Hasbro has yet to reveal its upcoming plans for Star Wars in the new year, but if you look at previous years you'll notice that a "new movie" line since the Disney takeover rarely lasts more than 6 months of new figures. Given what we've seen, I'd assume Solo is on borrowed time and that the newest wave is probably the last one. I would love it if I am wrong.




3. I've been collecting since the modern era began in the 90's, it's been a dark time the last few years (I wasn't going to start a new collection in a slightly bigger scale and 5poa felt like a giant leap backwards). So the news of TVC returning was like sunlight on a stormy day. However it has been predominantly filled with repacks, of figures I own and have no interest of owning multiples, photo real isn't a deal breaker for me, however different accessories or paint apps to make a new character are. So now it feels like the skies have clouded over once again. I understand the need for repacks I absolutely do, but not at the ratio that they are being released in this line. I appreciate carded fans will be happy but are their numbers sufficient? I also find the reason 'to attract new collectors' to be underhanded, if anyone was to start a collection today they have many more options than they did in the 70's-90's as there are more lines of toys/ collectors items aimed at collectors. So what are your thoughts? Do you think the line has any longevity in the way it's being handled? What should Hasbro consider to make it more interesting?

Buzz is that Disney's Lucasfilm is more hands-on with character selection in all toys than pre-Disney Lucasfilm. I don't know how this extends to every format, though, so it's something to keep in mind - corporate interests are helping to keep some characters in circulation, rather than letting fanboy interests run the show. I preferred it when we saw some of each - one assortment filled with characters for mainstream interests made a difference. Saga Legends from 2007-2011 brought out main characters, droids, and troopers - all part of a balanced fan diet. Currently we're mostly just dealing with multiple versions of the main characters, in the same outfits, with varying points of articulation.

This is a huge drag.

I'm glad Hasbro made 3 different Rose costumes from The Last Jedi, but I'm not happy that Yellow Jumpsuit Rose was released with 5 joints alongside another figure with over a dozen joints. Similarly, I'd say the same about Finn, Luke Skywalker, and so on - it's repetitive and carves up the sales per SKU. If Hasbro made white robes Luke the super-articulated one and the brown one was the 5-jointed one, and that either opened up another slot or just meant one less figure got made? That'd be great.

Despite being online, fans suffer from a lack of the complete vision. We don't know Hasbro has a super-articulated version of a figure coming in 2 weeks because of all the secrecy, which is kind of silly. We also know it's very possible Hasbro will make a better version of a 5-jointed figure in the neat future. I'd love to see that eliminated. Heck, I'd even be happy if we got cheaper 5-jointed figures on Vintage cardbacks - pick a format, and move on.

As far as editorial control goes, I'd love Hasbro to do two things. 1. No repacks from wave 1 in wave 2 (and so on.) Wait a few months to a year, or just make more of wave 1, or make special runs if one is really needed. 2. Themes in waves, please. If you can make a wave of 8 figures, maybe do something like "4 people form the Solo prologue and 2 people from Jabba's Palace, with 2 duplicates as needed." I would love it if the figure line encouraged themed purchases, just because I think more fans would buy multiple figures at once. As things stand now, if you want to buy a bunch of stuff from one movie that may not be possible.

I don't think there are new collectors to attract - but there's a big audience of teens and 20somethings who buy a few figures as a form of entertainment. There's a real adult audience that buys toys, more so than in the 1990s, and they don't buy as deep as we do. What we're getting is a line fractured by multiple eras of fandom and multiple needs. I'd say there's an Original Trilogy contingent that is shrinking, but will never go away since those three movies will always be the most famous. There's also a "new Star Wars" need from Disney to promote its newest show/game/movie - and that's not going to go away any time soon. Given fan desires for Boba Fett and Darth Vader as well as Dryden Vos or K-2SO, it may not be possible to ever create a balanced, collector-friendly line until Disney puts new Star Wars on ice. Look at the mid 2000s - we got a bunch of movie/planet theme waves, and with no new projects to interrupt the older fan was happy. But right now, the older fan is small potatoes as millions of kids want lightsabers and blasters, so the Star Wars toy business isn't quite the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago.

Hopefully things will get more cohesive with time, but if Disney wants to promote old stuff, new stuff, upcoming stuff, and home video releases all at once? Well, thankfully it's not my concern at my job. Good luck to them.



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Black Friday has come and gone, and the only nifty item I saw that I had not seen previously was at Walmart. They had a 12-inch R2-D2 in the yellow Solo box with a Walmart sticker on it. I don't think the figure was different from previous releases, and I didn't see any cool bundles or redeco items. Targets had a vat of lightsabers. Walmarts had 12-inch Marvel box sets on the cheap. I didn't go out of my way to get anything special on Black Friday, but I did go hunting for Record Store Day stuff on Saturday. And some old video games. (Again, someone reading this should send/sell me their old GameBoy games.)

Star Wars generally has something interesting going for it on Black Friday. This year we've still got the missing Mimban Vintage Stormtrooper, and I've been seeing a lot of older stuff dumped at various clearance centers and deep deep discounters. Star Wars now feels a little like Star Trek at the end of the 1990s - we still love it, there's a lot of it out there, the loyal remain and the rest are kind of signaling to wrap it up. And as of this moment, we know of at least 3 seasons of TV in development in addition to a movie and... well, I can't talk about the other things yet.

As a fan, the most exciting prospect right now is that Disney might let the franchise take a nap and let Hasbro do what Hasbro does best - pick weird stuff and sell it to us. They haven't gone whole hog on doing it themselves in years, so seeing what they come up with on their own might be exciting. Or not. I felt like I was one of very few fans left cold by the 3 3/4-inch carded The Black Series assortments.

Anyway, get your butts to the weird closeout stores. I'm seeing $9 TIE Silencers - which you are a putz if you do not buy - and a lot of other goodies. Happy hunting. And remember, take advantage of these lean times - things can always be leaner.

--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.