Q&A: Star Wars Vehicle Prices, Jumbo Figures, and Retro Collections

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 16, 2020

1. Over the past few years I've noticed a drastic increase in 3.75" vehicle prices:

The Barge was $500, but that was a huge new toy with added figures and is understandable. The new Smuggler’s Run Millennium Falcon is a slightly-changed TVC for $400, up from the original's $150.
Amazon's Slave 1 is $150, while the last version was $70.
Best Buy's AT-ST Raider is $80
Imperial Combat Assault Tank is $80
Walmart's TVC TIE Fighter was $80
Imperial Troop Transport is $70
Luke Skywalker's X-Wing Fighter is $100
Poe Dameron's X-Wing Fighter is $100
While the [redacted] Black Series Snowspeeder is $120.

Of all these listed, only the Falcon has electronics.

Is Hasbro deliberately driving up the prices just to see how much we're willing to pay?

Or, for future wants, say "We gave you another X-Wing/TIE/Falcon but you didn't buy it, so why would we make other ships?"

Are the days of "cheap" vehicles long gone?

A big part of the problem is that around 2012, Hasbro had significant manufacturing cost changes with China. This is when they were faced with the option of making new Jedi Starfighter molds - an expensive tooling investment - versus drastic price increases on old molds. Around this time, any Chinese-made vehicle (also Transformers) gradually got price increases. The big Millennium Falcon shot up to $250 for its Toys R Us rerelease, as compared to $170ish just a few years earlier. We've also seen Transformers toys that were around $50 in the 2001-2008 range shoot up to close to $300 for some reissues. Inflation is real - and so are higher prices with lower-run collector-focused items where, as you speculate, there's probably some element of "what is the customer willing to spend?" and also "what kind of licensing fees will Disney and Lucasfilm impose on its licensees?" It's possible to make a good, almost super-articulated 6-inch figure for $10 - just look at some of the Marvel kid lines. But you can also charge $20 for a Marvel Legends figure with a build-a-figure part. Giving the customer an option is generally good, but it also splits up the market and results in differing (and often higher) price points. If everybody buys the same thing, and a lot of it, your price goes down.

The amount of detail, deco, and tooling in vehicles has increased dramatically, plus the number of vehicles has gone down. Hasbro is putting more parts and pieces in each new release, and if they skimped a bit they could probably make that Imperial Troop Transport $20 or more cheaper. It's loaded with opening doors, hatches, lids, and even little bits that look like exposed wiring. Does it need to be there? No.

Hasbro is making these vehicles for a higher-end collector, but it's also true that as of Solo and The Last Jedi, they were struggling to deliver electronic vehicles while costs kept going up. ForceLink was an interesting workaround to this, but it didn't always work out well.

If you can somehow convince children and parents to buy this stuff again, cheap vehicles are indeed possible - but there would be concessions. Simpler vehicles, smaller vehicles, fewer features, less fancy sculpting, anything is possible if that's the direction the manufacturer wants to go. Hasbro once sold a $30 31-inch X-Wing Fighter with no moving parts and no figure compatibility alongside a $60 one that was much smaller but had tons of bells and whistles. You can't have it all.

Also, a lot of manufacturers have increased prices from China as a bet-hedging thing in light of the trade war thing that came up over the last year - and prices did not necessarily come down when the various taxes did not go into effect. So far this doesn't seem to have impacted Hasbro Star Wars vehicles - but it has impacted a number of other items and from other manufacturers.

If Hasbro were to do cheaper vehicles, they would be cheaper vehicles. It's possible, but it might go against their strategy with the catch-22 of a shrinking market that buys less because it costs more, and maybe is repetitive. I'd love to see Hasbro do more ships like the Force Link 2.0 Imperial TIE Fighter from Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was cheaper, it looked gorgeous, it did neat things... it's a lot better than going in the other direction.



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2. I'm a big fan of the Gentle Giant Jumbo Figures. Any news on if the "new owners" of this line are going to continue it at all? As far as I know there was no SDCC exclusive figure announced for the line, and hasn't been a release since Bib Fortuna. I'm not greedy, I would just like a few more classic figures made to just about finish my collection. I love them, and in some ways they are more of a bargain and more for your money than trying to find the exclusive 3 3/4 retro figures for some elevated ebay prices. I would just like a few more... General Madine, FX-7, Imperial Commander, Endor Han, Luke and Leia, Skiff Guard Lando, and maybe even a Lobot and Bespin guard... Not too many more to cover the old toys I miss from my youth!! I got so close to the end.... Any chance they get completed?

So far Diamond hasn't announced (or discussed) Jumbo Kenner-style figure as part of its future product offering. If memory serves they even showed some stuff that never came out. I've been needling some people about this, but reissues of existing figures on new cardbacks might be a more sensible place to start if and when they do it. I wouldn't bank on them finishing the set. After all, it's been 25 years since the Kenner relaunch in 1995, and Kenner/Hasbro still hasn't finished what they started from updating the 1978-1985 line - what chance does anyone else have?




3. I have enjoyed Hasbro’s Retro series (at least the ones I can get find at retail). I have had to buy many of the first series figures online. I would love to be able to get the original 12 for nostalgia and display purposes. Do you think Hasbro will release the other figures (C3-PO, R2-D2, Tusken Raider, etc.)? Thanks!

I would have said yes a year ago, but now I don't know - it seems like it would be low-hanging fruit to do so, and those figures seemed to do well from where I sit. I would encourage you to make a fuss, write Hasbro, post on boards, and so on - because the back half of the 12 would make a lot of sense. Jawas and Tusken Raiders appear on The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Death Squad Commander, R2-D2, and C-3PO are also pretty well known - and lend themselves to deco variants were Hasbro so inclined. It's good and reasonably easy money, but they're clearly going with the stronger sellers so far - so it might be a while before we see another round of remakes. After all, demand for Walmart's The Empire Strikes Back wave still needs to be filled!

There will also undoubtedly be a time where rerunning the first 6 retro guys from 2019 will be needed - but when? And how many? Who knows?



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It's a new week, and we're out of Q&A questions! Send in some new ones, and I'll do my best to answer them as soon as possible. It's a great way to support this ongoing feature, as is kicking in $1 to our Patreon to support hosting costs and other necessary things to keep the site running! (Like the occasional broken camera.)

The Vintage Collection continues! I just got the new wave with the Power Droid, which is actually the Lars Family Droid we saw in the movie and not the one on the 1979 Kenner cardback or the one that Kenner probably came up with on their own when doing the figure design. It's good, and it's a rare thing to get an actual new original-trilogy-era figure of any kind that isn't something we have on a new cardback. I'd say "not that there's a problem with that," but really, part of why The Vintage Collection is such a drag is that it's mostly reruns and new movie era characters that I don't think the 3 3/4-inch collector wants (at least not without the promise of being able to build out an actual collection.) I love The Mandalorian as much/more than the next guy... but we got 4 figures in that sub-line. That's not a lot. It's not fun to collect things I already own.

On the bright side, Hasbro's new things are all pretty great. The super-articulated K-2SO is completely unnecessary - and maybe a hint at these droids appearing in the new season of The Mandalorian - but it's good. Bend-and-swivel wrists, lots of moving parts, and superior deco are always a welcome new addition but I don't think anyone has been building out Rogue One dioramas lately, there just isn't enough stuff able to be bought. The old "theme waves" we used to get from most of 2003 - 2011 did wonders in making everything seem better - even if you got some repeats and updates, they came with all-new guys and all of them fit together pretty well. Now I've got this K-2SO figure that may be Hasbro's best yet, but there's no ship or diorama for him, nor is there another figure for him to fight in this or any known-to-me upcoming wave. (Admittedly, I don't know a lot about the upcoming waves.)

We've got months of fun ahead of us - heck, years now with the license renewal - so let's keep an eye on the increasingly weird future. And sock away a few bucks, because you're going to need them.

--Adam Pawlus

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