Q&A: Star Wars Rogue One Specilation, Toy Hunting, and Molds

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 26, 2016

This week in Q&A - Walgreens Toy Hunts - how are they? Access to molds - are some toys truly gone forever? And Mon Mothma - is it reasonable to expect a third figure for Rogue One?


Don't forget, my mail bag is empty so if you want a column, send in your questions for next week. Read on!

1. Hasbro has made a rather criptic statement a ew times over the past few years, "we don't have access to the molds." What exactly do they mean? I know business in China means that you have a company together with a Chinese citizen. So, does that mean that Hasbro doesn't rellay have 100% control of what's going on in the production process or that the molds are partly owned by a non-Hasbro entity?

Hasbro employs multiple factories across China - a very large country - and I've heard this come up in conversation a lot. Another toy line (which shall remain nameless until I get permission) informed me that some tools were in danger of being melted down unless a deal was brokered to do something with them. Old Kenner tools are famously rumored to be big, giant metal blocks serving as anchors for boats in Hong Kong. After they have outlived their usefulness, they can get misplaced, lost, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of. Not everybody keeps good tabs on this stuff, so "we don't have access to the molds" could mean "they're lost" or "they were destroyed" or other stuff. It's kinda sad, but it happens.

One famous (and fun) story was from the 1990s, in which the otherwise blah Batman: The Animated Series Robin Dragster. This toy became popular after word got out that there was a fire at the factory which burned down during production. Some made it out, some did not.

These things happen, and Hasbro doesn't 100% own the factories in China. Legally, they can't - which is why Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and other countries are popular for manufacturing. China affords some amazing synergies in manufacturing, but China must own a majority stake in the factory (or so I have been told.) If you don't own the factory, things can go wrong and you have minimal recourse other than yelling and demanding satisfaction or whatever it is that multi-billion dollar entities do at one another. If I leave my computer at your house, maybe your dog will pee on it, chew the cables, and some repair guy might knock it over. These things happen.

As long as a full run took place, I'm actually kinda glad to hear some items may not see additional production - newness is good, and Hasbro really knows how to milk some molds for a very long time.



Ad: Buy Stuff at Entertainment Earth!
Transformers Generations Titan Masters Wave 1 Set Transformers Generations Titans Return Leader Wave 1 Twilight Zone Marsha White 3 3/4-Inch Figure Color-Con.Excl. Transformers Platinum RID Grimlock and Bumblebee - Exclusive Twilight Zone Don Carter 3 3/4-Inch Figure In Color-Con.Excl Captain America Civil War Marvel Legends Action Figures Set Twilight Zone Jerry and Willie 3 3/4 Figure Color-Con. Excl. Twilight Zone Hansen 3 3/4-Inch Figure In Color - Con. Excl. Star Wars Hot Wheels 1:64 Character Car Case Wave 8 Twilight Zone Bandaged Patient 3 3/4-Inch Figure In Green Star Wars Takodana Encounter Action Figures
Free U.S.A. Shipping - Spend $79+ on in-stock toys!


2. And a wildly speculative one: Do you think we'll get a new Mon Mothma or Rebel Trooper with Rogue One?

I would probably bet heavily on no Mon Mothma, given how Hasbro treated Princess Leia for The Force Awakens. Her lack of inclusion in her main outfit at all - and her lack of mainline availability - is almost hilarious in its short-sightedness. (I assume this had been done due to some edict from above?) It's the same with Luke. With that in mind, if Hasbro didn't see Leia as worthwhile, I don't think you're going to see a new Mon Mothma in Q4 this year.

After the Resistance Troopers, I am assuming you won't see many Rebel Troopers or if you do they're going to be white. It's possible they'll find a place for them - I can only assume they'll want a familiar counterpart to Stormtroopers, but maybe they'll have something new. Between the two, I would not place any bets on Mon Mothma.

We're slated to get a Rebels Leia this Fall, but I'm not exactly bullish in Hasbro's approach to fleshing out women in this toy line unless they're the star of the movie. I'm not saying this as a knock, either - Star Wars is largely a boy-driven line and I doubt the doctor who patched up Chewbacca has a big enough following to warrant a figure just yet. (But maybe in a year or two after repeated home video watches.) Heck, I don't even know her name. Let's look it up. Hold please.

...Ah, here we go. Harter Kalonia. I'd like to see her made too, but my guess is we won't see the likes of her, or Mon Mothma, or those endlessly awesome Takodana aliens until the new movies slow down and this line goes on some sort of collector life support.




3. Overseas Transformers collector surprised at the news Titans Return Brainstorm will be a Walgreens exclusive: https://twitter.com/stevenganne/status/746447117481349120

My memory has it that there's some horror stories with SW exclusives & Walgreens. Locations not getting them, mixed cases of standard figures and 1/2 exclusives.

Can you remind those of us with dodgy memories what form Walgreens have had with exclusives and availability?

I have to say nothing was officially confirmed yet, but that was indeed an interesting tweet and my ears perked up as a big fan of Transformers*.

So! How is Walgreens? The short version is... a mixed bag, depending on what you want and how fast you want it. For me, the nightmare exclusive was the Jakks Pacific World of Nintendo retro NES figures - they took me several months to find in my local stores, despite going to several locations each week, some multiple times. They come and go quickly, and the low price point ($4.99) made it too easy for speculators to grab a bunch to flip on eBay at higher prices, but also collectors could buy spares to trade or give their friends without breaking the bank. It was too easy to clear them out if you ever saw them, so that - for me - was a huge spend on gas, time, and frustration.

For Hasbro exclusives I've had an easier time. Usually the opening salvo for a Marvel Legends or Black Series figure has an assortment with a few - not many - of the exclusive hitting, and eventually selling. Typically we'd see a slow roll-out, a dumping of the item online, and a few months after that we'd see Hasbro and Walgreens make it rain. Concept Boba Fett went from scarce to available at many locations pretty quickly. I remember seeing many many many stores with loads of Daredevil, Agent Venom, and Ant-Man - like 8 or more per location. My hardcore Funko pals say the company has made huge steps to making sure those exclusives are easier and easier to get - I'm certainly seeing more.

While it is true a new item can be tough to get, that's true with exclusives almost everywhere. Walgreens has, so far, given time and patience, largely delivered - but that part we forget. What we remember is the first sighting, and then the weeks (or months) until the wide second or third salvo hits and we find ours. So far I've never had to pay over retail for a Walgreens exclusive, but that doesn't necessarily mean I was able to do so quickly, or without a lot of time pounding the ground. The night I found Concept Boba Fett was after a confirmed sighting online where I had an evening to myself and I spent several hours hitting up about 10 locations, and it ended up being at the very last one on my battle plan.

Since Walgreens has a lot of locations, that unfortunately means it's not as simple as "Hit the one remaining Kmart in your area code repeatedly." There are more locations, with lots of traffic, and a lot of us have a lot of health problems that keep us going back to Walgreens more than once a month for pills. I'd by lying if I said each and every announcement of a Walgreens exclusive didn't make me panicky, but I'd also be lying if I said I was ever left not getting the figure I wanted at a price I was willing to pay. I still see Emperor's Wrath Darth Vaders around, and he was a huge pain in the neck to get for the first couple of months. If you're only going to 1 or 2 locations, it's like hitting Targets or Walmarts - luck may not be with you. But if you're like me, and you could easily take a bicycle to 4 or 5 locations without breaking a sweat and could probably hit more than 20 if you made a day of it... well, may your obsessive toy hunting complex be with you.

* - The tangent: where I work, Entertainment Earth, got a bunch of Titans Return Transformers in and I got my Leader and Titan Masters case over the weekend. They're great! Click here to see if some are in stock. The Leaders are both excellent. If you plop Loudmouth (Siren)'s head in the Powermaster Optimus Prime's helmet, it gives him red eyes - like the original toy from the 1980s. Terri-Bull doesn't look much at all like the original Horri-Bull, but it is a fun toy in its own right. Nightbeat, uh, you can skip Nightbeat. But get the rest... and get Nightbeat if you don't mind having to force something hard to just do what the instructions say it should do.

For kicks, I took the UPC of Terri-Bull to 3 big retailers to see if it would scan. Target ($4.99), Kmart (no scan), and Walmart (no scan) makes me think it won't be hitting in the coming days.




My mailbag is empty! You know the drill. (Also, questions should be questions, not editorials. That's my job.)

on Twitter, my bio reads: "Adam Pawlus has been writing about toys for a long time." This was probably no more apparent than on Sunday afternoon, when I walked in to - because someone else wanted to see it - Independence Day: Resurgence, the first of which I remember writing about online in 1996 back when I was doing the now-defunct and barely-remembered Adam's Star Wars Newsletter. It's easy to forget, but in the mid to late 1990s super hero fare was uncommon. Fantasy fare was scarce. In 1996 you got maybe one big sci-fi movie in the top 10. In 1997-1999 we got three - depending on how loose we define sci-fi. This meant the original Independence Day was a huge deal in 1996, complete with a toy line (which included 3 1/2-inch floppy disks) making it one of the better examples of a big-budget movie of that era. It traded on the pop culture and folklore of the era, which included such prerequisites as "the truth is out there," Area 51, and of course, Will Smith. What's more, the disaster movie template allowed for several concurrent storylines showing how everybody was dealing with one big problem, and this let you inject big and small stars from music and television in there to give pretty much everybody a reason to go see it. Love it or hate it, it was the Ultimate Sci-Fi Movie and its position of the #1 blockbuster of 1996 shows that it was indeed possible to engineer a movie that pretty much everybody had a reason to go see. Good or bad, it doesn't matter, because someone in your family would have paid $7 to see Harry Connick Jr. fly a jet, or Randy Quaid do Randy Quaid things, or Jeff Goldblum be his Jeff Goldblumiest.

20 years later - why 20, who knows, it's not like time would be calculated the same way in other star systems - the aliens are back with a movie that brings back some stuff from the original, but borrows a little more from what has come since. The original film owed a lot to Star Wars and classic disaster movies, while the new one borrows liberally from video games - you even get boss fights. It also attracted no one. I wouldn't say it's really all that much better or worse than the original, but the question of "why" will raise its head more often and it's certainly not as fresh as it was. And if you watch box office receipts, nobody's really showing up in the USA for this one. You can smell some of the cynical moves to get overseas butts in seats - a city in China is destroyed, a requirement for this kind of movie - but there's a lack of iconic, new stuff to bring to the table. "Welcome to Earth" is probably going to be in the background radiation of popular culture for a while. The anti-gravity sequence in the movie - arguably the centerpiece of the film - was pretty much what we saw Unicron do to Lithone in the opening of the 1986 animated original Transformers: The Movie. Depending on your nerdity and savvy, you've probably felt like you saw most of this in some capacity before.

Before the movie, we were treated to yet another showing of the Rogue One trailer along with Ghostbusters, serving as a reminder that brands and franchises are indeed valuable - but need some substance. Fallout Boy doing the theme to Ghostbusters probably isn't going to help... and the newfound confirmation (that pretty much everybody knew) of Darth Vader returning to Star Wars will certainly be things fans of this kind of genre film will talk about for decades - good or bad - but the real question I have is "So what's new?" Do we have any hope of creating something so iconic that it will serve as a cultural shorthand for years to come? Are we doomed to repeat remakes until the money runs out? Or are things going to get weirder first? (I vote for weirder, at least that's what I'm hoping.)

Unlike 1996, Independence Day didn't get a figure line - just a few Funko Pop! releases. Warcraft seems to have a decent smattering of product, but it's not going anywhere - and Captain America seems to be winding down, despite the fact there's still strong interest in many of the characters. I should also note that I saw and enjoyed Finding Dory, another very-late sequel to a movie that a lot of people really dug. We've got what seems to be a pretty tepid July 4th as movie releases go, but at least Ghostbusters and Star Trek are up later in the month to make things, to say the least, interesting. And notably, Star Trek doesn't have much of a merchandise presence.

And the mailbag's empty! Yes, again. Send in your questions. For your reference, questions make an inquiry, labeling a rant "Q&A" will not result in publication here.

--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.