Q&A: Star Wars Vehicles, Shuffling Exclusives, and Running Changes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 14, 2019

1. Realizing online retailers' insane prices, might Hasbro re-release the [HasLab Sail] Barge in the near future, perhaps minus the Yak [Face] figure?

At Toy Fair 2018, Hasbro said there is a chance they could put it out again in new and different packaging. Having said that, I would question if there's enough interest for another full run. There might be - but I would expect it to cost more, too.

Vehicle reissues aren't impossible but they're exceedingly rare. We did get later runs of the big Millennium Falcon and but AT-AT vehicles, but very few vehicles got reissued since the downsizing started around 2012. I think it's more likely you'll see a dip in Barge prices in the next few months - after flippers flip and the market evens out - than a new production might happen in the next couple of years.

While I agree it is totally awful if you didn't have the money ready when Hasbro did its interest-free loan from fans to get the Barge made in 2018, it was probably the most fair, easiest to buy, most hassle-free purchase. How often do we get told when something goes on sale that (assuming it gets made) we're guaranteed to get ours, and roughly when we'll get it plus or minus a week?

Not that this helps people who missed the boat (so to speak), but I hope Hasbro gives people a small heads-up in the future. Nothing too specific, just a very loudly broadcast "the next HasLab item is going to be up in 3 months so start saving!" would be nice. I also expect diminishing returns from speculators. A $500 investment yielded $400-$1000 in returns last year, so a lot of people are probably planning on buying multiples of something. I don't think I'd be comfortable taking that risk now, there's always a chance you can get stuck with something and the last thing I need is a second barge to fill up my house.



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2. Do you think, given the landscape of big-box retail today, we will see more & more items "cancelled" or "relegated to online companies"? Truthfully, I find purchasing online much easier then hunting Walmart/Target and other stores for items that are either just being missed OR never trickle out.

Due to which customers exist, possibly. GameStop and Walgreens both reported earnings problems, which may mean nothing and may mean they refocus what they sell. Best Buy never had a huge toy section - but that can change. Kmart and Sears are all but gone, and Toys R Us is gone. There are only so many places for product to go.

What is far more likely is a rapid decline in product. Star Wars has been running at Kenner/Hasbro for nearly 24 years without interruption - longer if you count the die-cast metal Action Masters toys. Normally their attention span doesn't last that long with action toys, Transformers have sold somewhere on Earth nonstop since 1984 but even in the USA, it went away for a while. With the license's future not yet written, it could continue at Hasbro, and it could not.

Given the last couple of years I would assume a much more conservative line across the board would be in Hasbro's future - more of what works, less of what doesn't, and a dash of experimentation to keep thing going. It would not surprise me if we got a year with no vehicles in the near future.

As much as I like things showing up online - for your reasons, and the fact I work for an online toy store - I do worry that things could go south real quick if there aren't figures in stores to advertise the fact that you can "collect them all." Your average person doesn't sit around thinking about hypothetical toys they may want to buy and then go search out toy news on the comptuer - but if they see it in a store, they may consider seeing what else exists.




3. The upcoming TVC Wave 7 R2-D2 on "Star Wars" card: I LOVE getting this figure on an Episode 4 card, but the sculpt choice seems so basic for TVC. It's basically an $8 figure for $13, and his dirty deco doesn't really match the cleaner card image. Any chance Hasbro will change the sculpt or deco before release?

One of the problems with repacks is sometimes, the factory goes with the tooling it finds and not the tooling we were initially shown. This sort of thing happened semi-regularly with the Saga Legends reissue figures from about 2007ish to 2012ish.

Quite frequently, Hasbro will put a figure - regardless of price - in an assortment of reruns. We saw this go the other way around 2010, with The Vintage Collection Bossk and Greedo being sold for about seven or eight bucks - with a bonus box of guns and a display stand! - for $2 less than we got with the TVC line. (Was there any doubt we're being charged more for special packaging?)

This is a long way to get to your answer - unlikely, but not zero. Once you see official glam shots out of Hasbro, that's usually pretty close to the finished product. I'm sure the deco was intentional to make the figure different, and possibly even to minimize the fact that it is a rerun of a cheaper mold at a higher price.

I don't know Hasbro's current policy on figure pricing, but back in the day some companies like McFarlane Toys and Toy Biz priced action figures out as an average of the assortment. This is why you saw big giant figures shortpacked (Malebolgia) alongside smaller, more basic figures in the same wave - to them, it all came out in the wash. Back in the early 2000s - the only public statements I've ever seen from Hasbro on such issues - Hasbro said that each item in an assortment had to carry its own weight. You couldn't have one figure throwing off the average, everybody had to come under budget. It would not surprise me if they had revised this sentiment since 2002.



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So. Hasbro revealed a couple of new things, we got a movie title from Team Lucasfilm, and apparently there are not one but three multipacks of The Black Series figures for the Disney theme park thing. There's a part of me that wonders if this is how it felt in 1982 and 1983, when Return of the Jedi loomed large and licensees thought "Hey, this might be the last big shot at making money." I can tell you that is what happened with some companies in 2005 with Revenge of the Sith, although which ones may violate decorum.

From what we saw of Rise of Skywalker - a title for which I will continue my no-new-Star Wars-logo-shirt streak - I am not sure what I should be feeling. They tugged on heartstrings and are playing on very real themes of aging and loss, which are probably going to resonate extra hard with older fans who are aging into the part of life where family members may be leaving us, kids may be moving on, and friends just lose touch. It makes me miss the trailer for The Phantom Menace, a slam-bang piece of marketing that gave us nearly every movie cliche in the book plus sea creatures, big stars actually speaking, and - and I know this is strange - plot. They told us Anakin was some weird special kid helping out on some crazy space fight. Heck, it showed us a lot without giving away the actual tone of the movie, which was a kind of magic that you could almost call misleading. It was brilliant.

Rise of Skywalker shows me stuff I've seen, with new pants. Rey looks like Rey - the costume isn't wildly different. Finn gets a new look, Poe looks different enough, Kylo Ren only shops at the yard sales of Tim Burton or Robert Smith, and the Emperor fits into it all somehow. This is, of course, interesting. Unfortunately we're not sitting here with too many weird things hanging over our heads like finding out who Jabba the Hutt was, or how the Jedi all got axed, or if Han is dead. I'm in the bizarre position of not feeling like questions are unanswered, mostly because The Last Jedi didn't leave me with many specific questions other than "OK, now what?"

I look forward to a future where Star Wars could be a much less-hyped weekly TV series, something that doesn't ask quite as much from fans in the way of midnight launches and exclusive scavenger hunts. I'll buy the toys, but I can't imagine standing out in front of Target at midnight is going to be better than sitting in my basement playing Abadox while cranking the first Van Halen album... and then going to Target the next day over lunch. Look, if you're not going to give me something awesome and new and different like Jango or Maul or Phasma or Rilo Kiley to get excited about, can you really expect fans to come running to buy Poe in a new jacket? I don't know if Star Wars toys have much of a future with the focus on the rear-view mirror, but I'm more excited about buying stuff from The Last Jedi now that I've seen it than I was before it came out. It worked for Star Trek in the 1990s - almost every figure Playmates did, except for the sub-par new movie tie-in lines in weird scales, came to be after fans had a chance to watch the episodes from which the figures came. It made it a lot more fun for everybody.

Anyway, I hope you guys had a nice weekend, be it at the convention or at home. Now I'm going to go back to finally playing that copy of Gun.Smoke that my friend James gave me 21 years ago.

--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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