Q&A: Star Wars Sniping, Holes, and Cases

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 19, 2020

1. Did HASBRO cancel TVC Darth Revan 3.75 inch figure and why?? Is Hasbro planning on selling him in the future????

Because Chico needed the money.

Hasbro did indeed confirm the 3 3/4-inch Darth Revan announced previously would not be coming out - but to my knowledge, has yet to confirm why. My hunch is someone said "sure we have those molds from 2007 still!" and then found out that they didn't. It wouldn't surprise me if a new mold were some day made with more up-to-the-date articulation, as figures were still all over the map in 2007. Good, yes, but not consistent.

Hasbro has a Darth Revan Force FX Lightsaber this year as well as GameStop's exclusive 6-inch figure, so I assume they know there's good, easy money in selling more Darth Revan stuff. I'm a little surprised it took them this long to do GameStop-specific figure exclusives and assortments on the regular, but it's possible they could do even more if a) the fans demand it and b) brick and mortar survives 2020.



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2. A new rumor list for the Fall 2020 Black Series line shows a Beskar armor (read:shiny!) version of The Mandalorian.

We all know how that's going to play out: sold out instantly, Hasbro repeating their decades-old "We didn't know how popular it would be, or we'd have packed more per case" excuse.

So my questions are: does anyone at Hasbro read this column? Does anyone there say "Gee, these fans are right: we need to make solid case assortments of Boba Fett/ The Mandalorian/etc. to make them happy?"

Why do they never learn from past mistakes? The modern line has been going for almost 25 years now, and they keep repeating poor judgement.

Does anyone ever stand up in a Hasbro Q&A and say "I'd happily give you my money if you'd just make more Mandos/Fetts/etc.?"

When it comes to any figure, there are so many factors at play here that a slam-dunk, where your big retail customers are saying "I will order this obscene number, please make them," does not guarantee it'll get filled. Now that there are a lot more hands on the line, anyone from Hasbro to Disney to Lucasfilm could step in and say "no, because so and so is doing this or that and we don't want product backing up in the marketplace." Or "We want scarcity." (Seriously, this is a thing some toymakers do on purpose and no I won't name names.) Also there's "last wave syndrome," which this figure will not have. (...trust me on that one. It is not in a "last wave.")

In the case of The Mandalorian (the character) Hasbro is indeed making another run of the first figure. And another run. Possibly another run. We don't know how many will be made, or if that is intended to satisfy demand for the character or that specific version of the figure, or what. And we don't know what they think that we think, either. It's kind of crazy - as fans we assume (and are probably right) that Mando is going to be a character that will sell well as a toy/collectible for years. In the tradition of Boba Fett and Darth Vader, particularly if there are costume variations, we're likely to buy them all. But there's always a ceiling, and it's really hard to know what that may be. Think of it like musical chairs - you don't want to be left without a seat at the end.

Making a new run of a figure isn't easy - particularly now with the disruptions from Chinese New Year and COVID-19 piggybacking on each other. It can take a few months just to rerun an existing figure, mostly because you need to be sure you've got raw materials, which Hasbro is now saying may be in short supply. Course correction isn't always easy, but with time things can usually be rerun, inserted into upcoming assortments, or otherwise adjusted to make money and to make fans happy.

As to why they didn't do it in the first place when buyers were super excited at the prospect of The Mandalorian, I don't know. With Triple Force Friday, we saw Lucasfilm put weight on a mix of old rerun items, new Mando items, stuff from the Jedi Order game, and stuff from The Rise of Skywalker - and no one category came out as being satisfying. It was not an exciting whole with that many different categories to service. I'd give them a break on this one, as it would appear the corporate mandate kept them from focusing on what might be the hottest thing thanks to there being only 8 slots in a case and a lot of people to please across multiple divisions of Lucasfilm. I mean, of the three things Mando was clearly the most exciting - but they hedged their bets.

A lot of this stuff is like a game of chicken. I don't think I'm speaking out of class when I say that sometimes I am in on conversations to rerun figures, and it's really tough to know what the market truly is. I don't want to see figures selling for $50 on third-party sites - it means there are fans missing out. At the same time, sometimes the margins between "too much" and "not enough" could be a very small number - and a minimum run is bigger than the size of that margin. If Hasbro said "OK let's run a preposterous number of a figure to meet the obvious demand" and misses - and this has happened a few times - it could cause all sorts of problems. Hasbro missed this one, but it's my hope that if fans actually placed orders on these figures after the fact (as in, by today) that they should get their orders filled. And if there's still a need for more, hopefully Hasbro is willing to run more, or make more of the next version of Mando if/when one comes out, and so on and so forth. Ultimately we all want you to get your figures somehow because that means everybody gets paid, too.

If we get some sort of Mandalorian Monday this year and they skimp on him again, well, then I'll complain. Kylo Ren and Rey and Finn were all pretty much equally weighted in 2015, and it ultimately shook out working fairly well in most markets. Heck, 2019 The Vintage Collection Rey is now in short supply. Who would've guessed?




3. Why can't we get a decent sniper figure? Is it simply the mechanics of getting the elbow joint to bend right? G.I. Joe did it with [Jodie "Shooter" Craig in 2016]. Why can't Habro get this for a Scout Trooper?

Each line has different design teams and different needs. When they're on top of things, Hasbro goes out of their way to make their G.I. Joe figures the very best they offer - more gear, more articulation, more detail, and quite often a lower price.

I didn't get a Shooter myself, but the pictures show pretty great articulation - and Hasbro is still learning, after all of these years. We saw The Black Series 6-inch figures start out strong with a lot of double-elbow joints allowing extra movement. A year or two later, they pulled back with the classic bend-and-swivel - in some cases, they couldn't even go 90 degrees. By 2008, they redesigned the joint again to allow a greater range of motion, which newly-sculpted figures like Count Dooku and Zorii Bliss enjoy.

Could they do this with 3 3/4-inch? Sure. We're seeing a bit of it. They could also make it so figures could sit properly in the vehicles. It worked great in the 1970s and 1980, but struggled in the 1990s with some ludicrous misses in the 2000s. I assume the vast figure output is partially to blame, as is the fact that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that these are toys. In the 1970s figure-and-vehicle play was the core element of the product. By 2020, it's a figure as a souvenir for countless fans. Interaction with accessories and vehicles isn't always a priority, and hopefully that'll change - but you've seen this line. It's been around for 42 years. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Not every figure serves its primary function as a vehicle driver, or a sniper, or as a barfly.



Last week we saw the cancellation of 2020 San Diego Comic-Con International and Anime Expo. Those are two big July fan events, which is the month before August, which is when the yet-to-be-canceled Star Wars Celebration is scheduled. As I write this I have no information as to if the exclusives will still be made, or postponed, or sold online, or held for next year, or just plain cancelled. We don't know yet. We're asking.

At this point my various business toy travels are off until at least August or September if not later. There are all sorts of rumors about some things in 2021 being a non-starter, but nothing in stone yet. Nobody knows exactly how everything we're facing will actually turn out, or mutate, or evaporate, or just persist. I suppose the good news for now is you won't have to spend any money on plane tickets or hotel rooms, and there is one thing in particular I'm very excited to tell you about that I would be murdered if I even hinted at what it was. But it's good news. It may not be what you expect but I think you'll go "Oh, OK, yes, that'll do nicely."

As I may have mentioned elsewhere, even if things get better there's a general sense of unease around being in very large groups. I mean tens or hundreds of thousands of people in one big convention center. Maybe it's fun for you, but given the dense sea of humanity and the chances of getting through any given convention weekend without being close enough to other humans that they could sweat on you, well, maybe not for me this year. You do you. I don't like the idea of having to pay eBay prices for con exclusives if things go sideways but it's a lot cheaper than whatever my copay is these days.

I mean, I'm home. I'm saving a fortune on gas. Maybe I'll get that new Donny Benet record from Australia. I hope you're all doing well, or maintaining, or whatever it is you need to do to eat and to not go crazy right now.

--Adam Pawlus

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