Q&A: Star Wars Troopers, Toy Fair, and Filler

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 9, 2020

1. Don't you think that 15 years of strong sales of articulated 3.75" stormtroopers (going back as far as the VOTC version), why doesn't Hasbro just keep it out there in every wave...like make it an unwritten rule that the basic stormtrooper MUST be a part of every wave. If some claims in collector websites are to be taken as fact that collectors are buying 50-150 (!) at a time, then there MUST be demand...and the way the plastic yellows, it's a figure that basically requires regular replacement!

I guess the short answer is "Because Hasbro doesn't want to." They hear the demand, fans keep asking for more at conventions, it's been an endless demand since 1995 and it's never really been met. Plain white Stormtroopers - short of the super beefy 1995 ones - were never really in what I would consider to be ample supply (especially not peg-warmer status) at any point in recent history.

"Strong sales" mean different things to different people. While I think having some sort of classic Imperial Stormtrooper in constant rotation is a smart thing, I'd say the same thing about Darth Vader and Boba Fett - and they really didn't make a ton of those out. I don't necessarily believe people are buying (or can buy) 50-150 at once, as few retailers sell quantities that large. (And as someone who works for one of them... well, I see things.) How and why the Stormtrooper was never packed at 1 per case in every other wave is beyond my understanding.

There is demand - you rarely see these in stores, in any quantity. Hasbro probably could keep rotating this one back in assortments for as long as it likes, but there are complications. Disney has other figures it may want out there, for example. Stores order figures, but not necessarily specific waves - so bad timing could mean things get missed. (See: almost all waves after wave 2 since the 2018 reboot but before Triple Force Friday 2019.)

Thousands of years ago back in 2007, Hasbro took this advice - the removable helmet best-of-breed Stormtrooper was in almost every wave, and was used as "filler" for the online-only mixes of some 30th Anniversary Collection assortments - and it did fine. I still didn't see them rot on pegs. By 2009 and 2010, Hasbro was singing a different tune - that troopers weren't selling as well and were starting to sit. (Plain-Jane Stormtroopers were not included among them, but Clones and Sandtroopers were, and I didn't exactly see a ton of those sitting around either.) It should be noted, Hasbro has more data points than we do, and they also measure using a very different yardstick. Their "troops don't sell as well" are our "well, not THOSE ones" and this can go on and chase its tail for years, until someone stands up and sees things in a different light.

As history seems to show, there's a big demand for Stormtroopers and Hasbro hasn't been the best at filling it. The plain white Stormtrooper of 1995's The Power of the Force collection was in pretty short supply until the third major packaging variation in 1998, at which point it started showing up because entire cases were being dumped on clearance in early 2000 (and a better mold was finally used in fall of 1999.) I know and you know that there will be demand for Stormtroopers for quite some time - but it might not be quite as high as you think. Demand exists, and as far as I recall Hasbro has never sold a proper box of Stormtroopers as an army-builder at retail. The best I can remember are a Tantive IV Battle Pack (2 troopers) and a Fan Club white box army builder set with 4 of the CommTech-era figures.

I would not anticipate ample Stormtrooper supplies to be considered for a while, unless Hasbro plans a year around a giant Death Star or Star Destroyer. We had two movies - recently - with Imperial Stormtroopers, and neither really met demand for the bucketheads.



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2. Is that really it this week?

Yes! We didn't get new questions and it's rare, but the mail bag is totally empty. But they are airing the 1990s dating game show Bzzz! on the Buzzr channel so there's that.





The mailbag is empty! Like totally empty now. Email me if you have one you'd like answered - otherwise we'll probably take a break next week.

Toy Fair is coming up and it's shaping up to be a weird year - Hasbro has a ton of items slowly leaking out that haven't been announced yet. This is by design - it happens on occasion, but rarely, that the announcement is dragged until after items hit US shores. (There were a few times when the announcements came at conventions weeks or months after release.) I'm not saying "don't get your hopes up for Toy Fair," but with the Imperial Troop Transport and some recent The Black Series leaks, we've collectively opened our presents early. (Or they showed up late, however you'd like to look at it is totally up to you.)

A number of Hasbro items are showing up (relative to what we were told) early - I've got a bunch of Earthrise toys on my desk and the Imperial Troop Transport box is here waiting to be opened. Some new Marvel Legends like Venom just went up for sale, and there are a few other things that may also show up early - but even if it doesn't, we've only got 12 days until Toy Fair. This year is the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, and if you'll recall the 40th anniversary for the original Star Wars was an across-the-board snooze with little new from Hasbro, LEGO, and Mattel. This should be better - but I wouldn't get your hopes up too high. "Better" just needs to be "more than a bunch of repacks," and we're pretty much already at that stage just from the leaks.

Leading up to Toy Fair, Dino-Riders may be coming back with some new items and that's no slouch. I know of a few surprises coming up, a few of which got out, but it should be an exciting month for toy news. Provided, of course, you like things other than Star Wars.

--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.



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