Q&A: Star Wars Screen Size Skirmishes and Speculations and Wishes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 15, 2019

1. With the launch of Disney+, do you think this is a sign of the future for movies being released in the theater vs. home streaming service? In the past, watching Star Wars on the big screen was the way to do it. In today's world, you can watch it on in 4K (which Disney+ is offering), screens as large as 80 inches in the comfort of your own home. Not to say that the movie experience would go away completely, but I would think it is less expensive for Disney to produce "The Mandalorian" (however many weeks it runs) vs. a big-budget "The Rise of Skywalker".

My hunch is Disney is seeing what they can get away with. Disney is no doubt looking for new revenue streams. In the 1980s, The Disney Channel was a paid revenue source not unlike HBO or Cinemax. Today it seems to be a more basic channel - now Disney has a new way to get $7 a month from you. They would also like to sell you books, comics, video games, and any new storytelling paradigm.

If they can get $7 per month from nearly every American home as a recurring payment rather than $10-$20 from a chunk of Americans maybe 3-4 times a year, it may behoove them to put a lot more emphasis on streaming than on box office receipts.

My assumption is that ultimately Star Wars is a better small screen property - pulling from George Lucas' "weekly serial for a modern age" kind of an idea is a great idea, and it reduces the pressure on the studios. Everything doesn't have to be an epic clash of cataclysmic proportions, you can tell small stories, or if you're really out of ideas, prequels to stories you've already told. Look at Star Trek in the 1990s - some weeks were awesome, some were just OK. The whole "novel for television" that is the modern age may not be sustainable, and I'd love to see weekly adventures that aren't necessarily one big story myself. And Disney and Lucasfilm build a giant library of sets and props for their key franchises, I don't doubt we'll see some amazing and weird stuff as people improvise new tales based on the assets at hand.

I assume Disney will still want to put Star Wars in theaters as that's a big revenue stream, but now they can do streaming every year and maybe only do a movie every few years - which would be for the best in terms of merchandise sales and attention spans. "Midnight madness" wears off after a short time, and it wore off real dang quick under Disney doing it every year.

Look at it this way - under Disney, they want to sell you Star Wars stories as movies, in books, as comics, in video games, as a cruise, as a theme park "world" you "interact" "with," and whatever else they can think of. This is just one of many channels where you'll be sold a galaxy far, far away.

Going back to "what can Disney get away with" I'm sure they're going to see how well this experiment does for them - if people pay and watch, maybe they'll say "just kidding" to the Game of Thrones guys movies and Rian Johnson movies... which I am half-convinced aren't coming out. This has nothing to do with the creative team, it's just a comically long-gestating. Consider Disney bought Star Wars in 2012, and we had a new movie in 2015 with a new TV show in 2014. If they're not making these other movies until at least 2022, they're probably counting on you to watch Disney+, forget the announcement, and quietly pretend their future box office plans never existed.

It worked for Star Wars Detours. Which I supposed they could also just release and/or finish, too.



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2. Pick 10 Wishlist items for Hasbro according to this criteria: 3 new molds to address size issues for vehicles (eu, ot, and pt) 1 play set never before made 3 figures needing updated sculpts (eu, ot, and pt) 3 all new sculpts (eu, ot, and pt) not including anything already

I assume you're saying "3 3/4-inch figures." Now that the 6-inch line has punched it in the stomach and took its lunch money, whenever you make a request to anyone for new products, I would strongly recommend you lean heavily on the size or line - if you go up to Hasbro at a convention and demand Pong Krell, they may take note of it and give you a 6-inch one. Be very specific when talking to anyone that might be in a position to hear your request, everyone.

When it comes to vehicles we get so few that I don't think I'd ever want to waste a new one on "addressing size issues." We still don't have updates of Kenner toys like the Rebel Transport, we never got a Blockade Runner or a decent Star Destroyer, and not to put too fine of a point on it but I've got too much Star Wars stuff that's good but better/different versions exist. There's no vehicle that I own that I would say is "good but not good enough" at this point - there are mechanisms that could be better, we do have scale problems, but these are toys. If a ship looks like the ship, and you can fit a figure in it, I don't want to be asked to pay $30-$100 to "fix" it when we could just get something brand-new and awesome instead.

Given the chance to make three more ships: Blockade Runner, Star Destroyer, The Rise of Skywalker-flavored Y-Wing. (New is new.)

When it comes to playsets those tend to be interpretations of an environment, so I'd say "bring on the remakes." We never got a nice modern Death Star, and I doubt we'd see anything amazing outside HasLab. I would love to see an amazing Cloud City with a Freeze Chamber and Banquet Room and some random hallways in it. I personally don't have any environment as-of-yet-unmade that I'm dying to own, but there are a few classic ones where a revision could be really exciting. I can't say there's anything from the Disney era I'm dying to get - we're lacking too many figures for me to want to make a home for figures that don't yet exist.

So I'll take a Cloud City if I had a chance to make a new playset. Jabba's Palace or a Cantina if I could pick more - I want places for my figures to go if I buy a new playset. I'm not exactly believing Hasbro will give us more figures from the prequels or sequels in big numbers, so I don't really want anything from those movies yet. It's 24 years into POTF2 and it certainly feels like all my army building was for naught - I have Stormtroopers that have yellowed before we ever got a Death Star for them.

With Figures needing new sculpts I'm going to cheat and go to vintage (and since they're 20 years old, rope in pre-CommTech POTF2) remakes. EV-9D9 hasn't had a 100% new sculpt since the original - which I think is a bit nicer than the 1997 version. Let's get a new one. The 1980s POTF Imperial Dignitary needs an update - we never got a modern Sim Aloo. I'd take the Bespin Security Guard (with mustache) just to cross him off the vintage update list.

And 3 all-new sculpts for figures - let's surprise no one with Vlix, pretty much any screen-shown Sanyassan marauder, and Bazine Netal. Vlix is Vlix, the other two are amazing costumes that can fit in with several dioramas. I got into Star Wars because of Luke and Chewbacca and the Droids as a little kid - I stayed for weird aliens and strange droids and monsters. Hasbro is not scratching that itch right now.





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Toys R Us has been over - finished! - for almost a year and change in many markets. Kay-Bee Toys' revival has been greatly exaggerated, with the body cold for about 10 1/2 years and from the whispers I heard behind the scenes, no overtures seemed to have been made regarding getting product for the alleged revival stores. Things change, but we haven't heard a peep. Toy City's coming had been exaggerated, and Toys R Us' "return" with two stores is sounding a little lacking. But hey, at least there's a real FAO Schwarz in New York - I might visit it when I'm in town to do my New York Comic Con toy panel deal in October. (See you there?)

It's been a tough adjustment - things come and go as we get older, and lately a lot of things have been going. People, stores, toy brands, and various troves of knowledge and information seem to be slowly going offline too. There's something very wrong about the largest concentration of toys I see on a regular basis being in my home rather than in a store near me, but here we are. In recent years my job has allowed me to watch more of the toy birthing process, from seeing prototypes and concepts from some of the biggest toy companies to their casting aside at thrift stores near my house on a lunch break - particularly since there are precious few places to go look at new toys these days. The great thing is that the internet is making up the shortfall, but I'd be lying if I said I was thrilled to no longer have a stomping grounds for toys on a more regular basis. The big box stores just aren't scratching that itch and turning over product as frequently as I need, and that's possibly on the manufacturers more than the stores - there just aren't as many waves. Transformers Siege has been out for 10 months and we've had 3 waves in various size classes, which does not really warrant a lot of hunting.

s If Hasbro is going to compete in this world, I can't help but wonder if HasLab will play a bigger role. The 3 3/4-inch figure fan now is probably bored and willing to buy some expensive stuff - even though my Barge is still boxed until I clear out some more room for a proper display, my sickness tells me I could go for a Death Star or another large display piece for my figures. I assume a lot of fans are in my position - we want to be engaged in weird ways. I love not having to chase stuff all over town, but I didn't mind more frequent weird exclusive toys to seek out from time to time. I've been haunting Fallout Games for NES and GameBoy kicks lately as the world of toys is just kind of slow, and some of the older non-Star Wars items I've owned have lost their shine.

The good and indeed bad news is you're starting to see leaks for the next big - and possibly the last big - push of Star Wars at retail. I think that Force Friday as a concept is, well, forced. "Hey nerds, we won't show you the new toys so show up at midnight with your wallets open" is kind of a tough pill to swallow more than once or twice in a lifetime. I've participated in at least eight of them since 1999, either as a fan or as the industry. I'd love to see this concept revised if it must happen, with less secrecy and more focus on what fans (not necessarily you or me) like. A sneak preview wave would be fine alongside a "greatest hits" or "greatest misses" encompassing favorite characters and items overlooked from previous movies. "Show up and buy some random dude from a movie you won't see for three months" is tired. "Hey, we finally made 'Fake Wedge' and redid EV-9D9 and the 1984 Imperial Dignitary" is the kind of thing that would get my butt to the store, alongside more aliens and droids from The Force Awakens and Rogue One.

I feel there's excitement to be mined out of Star Wars but the Powers that Be need to take a cue from 1985'a The Power of the Force - mix in new with familiar, and make it fun and weird. Take more cues from the products sold in 2006, 2007, and 2008 to bring fans things they've always wanted, rather than things they don't recognize, can be good for business. I love seeing new Pod Race aliens, even new Gungans, rather than being given a new human figure that might well be excised from the movie. The Last Jedi surprised us with new, really good takes on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda alongside some new versions of not-different-enough costumes for Poe Dameron and Finn. Kenobi and Yoda seemed to sell pretty quickly. Even the Jyn Erso redux fans whined about sold darned fast, thanks to fans having seen the movie and going "Oh, I like her." Just throwing that out there.

--Adam Pawlus

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