Q&A: Star Wars Vintage, 3 3/4-Inch Figures, HasLab Again

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, July 19, 2020

This week in Q&A - 3 3/4-inch figures! Because of course. And skipped waves aren't skipped yet. Also HasLab, because, well, why not. That Sentinel sure got funded fast, didn't it?

Be sure you send in your questions for next time. Read on!

1. What are my chances of getting the following in the 3.75 scale:
1) the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian
2) (Non-Sith white) First Order Jet Trooper
3) The Mandalorian in Beskar Armor

I can't give hints as to unreleased items, but I'd say these are all consistent with the kinds of thing Hasbro makes to please a broad audience. If you guys make a fuss for these things in a big way, Hasbro will notice. "We want more vintage!" - well, you're getting many more waves of vintage. What's in them? I don't know.

Now ask for which vintage guys you want, and it's possible Hasbro or another entity can step in and deliver the goods once big enough demand has been established. I don't think I'd put my neck on the line for anything from The Rise of Skywalker these days but I'd definitely make a fuss for the Heavy Infantry Mando. (And have! People love him!) I suggest y'all join me.



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2. Recently we've seen a few pre-orders for single items like the new TVC Leia (Bespin Escape) that will assumedly ship as part of a whole assortment, and these single figure pre-orders are many months before the actual release date (about 8 months in the case of this TVC Leia). I am in no way complaining about that. I'm just curious if you know if such early pre-orders give Hasbro a much better chance to decide how many of an item to actually produce, or maybe if this is done simply to keep fans engaged and aware of some future items. I have been wanting an updated Bespin Escape Leia for many years, even though the last one looked great (just not highly articulated), so I pre-ordered several of her myself.

Sort of.

For example, let's say I'm a store. And let's say I'm a buyer for a store. Advance pre-orders allow me to see exactly how many people are demanding a figure - and all I have to do is anticipate if that demand will continue or if pre-orders are an accurate read of actual interest, and also if these people may experience financial hardships or other disaster.

As solid cases of figures go, there's still time to change production to meet demand when you're like six months out. Order what you want, and if you meet the deadline, Hasbro can make it. Having said that, the case assortment ratios are set and rarely change - you can see pre-order listings where it's 2x THIS GUY and 1x DON'T KNOW YET. The character names are known (to Hasbro) and that's all taken care of - but depending on when Hasbro (or any manufacturer) set their deadlines for production, it can be possible to still change the run size.

The big question is "are fans pre-ordering or just waiting to see what happens at retail when the items hit?" and the answer seems to be a little of each. The Black Series fans are stepping up to pre-order in huge numbers, and early. I don't think I'm telling tales out of school to say The Vintage Collection figure fans - by my data - seem to be waiting until after the figures start shipping to start placing orders. So if you want to affect what you personally will get, I would recommend placing a pre-order. (Somewhere. Anywhere. Doesn't have to be where I work.) Sometimes figures get rerun, and sometimes they don't, so order early and your chances are significantly improved.




3. Online forums are buzzing with speculation as to what the HasLab Star Wars announcement this summer is going to be, a ship.

The front runner seems to be the Razor Crest from The Mandalorian series.

Does this seem a logical choice? The show is just 8 episodes old and still very young, so wouldn't a vehicle/playset from an established movie with a much wider audience be better?

I know that, by the time the finished product is shipped to backers, the show may be several seasons old by then.

It seems like a Razor Crest would fare better as a store exclusive, saving the HasLab spot for something fans have wanted a long time (*cough* BIG item).

The answer is... it depends!

We don't know how big this might be, or what it might cost, or when the funding starts, or when the planned roll-out might be if it indeed happens this year. Right now Disney is all about The Mandalorian, it's brought in a lot of new fans, and it managed to do something impressive - it washed the taste of the sequel trilogy right out of the mouths of fans. In theory, now is the ideal time to do it - people still love the show, it hasn't disappointed them, and it gives them a chance to include The Child and The Mandalorian (or other figures) inside for those still demanding those hard-to-find characters. Hasbro could probably sell an extra couple thousand Razor Crest vehicles by including The Child, All-Beskar Jetpack Mando, and another figure inside as bonuses.

This raises the question of costs - how many will Hasbro need to sell, and at what price? To get money from old collectors, going Original Trilogy tends to work best - but even we dragged our feet a bit on that Sail Barge, and other than a Death Star it doesn't seem like there's much fan agreement on what they would like to see. And even then, we all have our idealized ideas as to what "Death Star" means. Is it a docking bay big enough for the Falcon or a shuttle? Can you hang TIE Bombers in the rafters? Do you get throne rooms, trash compactors, conference rooms, hallways, detention blocks, and more? I don't envy Hasbro if they go this route because they can't make everybody happy. If they include too little, fans ignore it. If they make it too expensive, some fans can't afford it.

When it comes to store exclusives, costs are a big thing to consider. A good Razor Crest might be $300 or more. Considering foot traffic in stores is way down, that would be an issue. Considering Hasbro's marketing efforts are hampered a bit thanks to no conventions or events to rope mainstream press into showing off these items, that means you're relying on mostly fan word-of-mouth, and maybe a big media partner, and that only gets you so far. There's no way to show it off in person to a group of influencers.

If it's a Razor Crest, with no kid line in place at retail and smaller $80 Vintage vehicles rarely making it to store shelves, I don't think Hasbro would squander it on mass retail. That's a crowdfunding item which will probably be smaller than the barge. Best-case scenario, such an item would take at least a year - and that's not taking into account any COVID-19 delays or other manufacturing or delivery complications. Also the fact that finances may be stretched thin could make this a tough item to get made. When times were good, Hasbro failed to get its lower-run Cookie Monster made, struggled to get Unicron funded, and somehow made the Sail Barge at almost the last minute. (The Sentinel, on the other hand, got funded in a day.) Whatever it is, it's going to be hard to predict how it will do in the current climate.



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What a week! On Friday, Walmart.com rolled out four new The Black Series The Clone Wars figures - choice gems like Ahsoka Tano, her Clone Trooper, and two Mandalorians. Amazingly, they were in stock on and off for over a day - you might even be able to check to see the pre-order status, as they keep changing around. This is particularly amazing since we just had one of the worst exclusive roll-outs a couple of weeks ago with Walmart's Gigawatt, a Transformers Back to the Future DeLorean that not only didn't launch when announced but was also seemingly bought by sneakerbots to flip on eBay. (This happened with NES Classics a lot in 2016.)

If you checked the site a few times on Friday, you probably had multiple cracks at most if not all of those figures - and in theory they're going to come to the stores, too. I'm not complaining, a day of availability for a Walmart exclusive is a job well done. (I also picked up some Transformers and that oddball Venomized Captain America.) It's my hope this is an example of what we'll see with future roll-outs, and hopefully they can even be improved upon from this. Nobody is a winner when you can't get your stuff - I can't imagine anyone wants fans to quit collecting because they missed an item or two, and hopefully we'll all have another crack at these guys. And Gigawatt.

As of my writing this I'm not aware of any big launches this week, but perhaps we'll see something cool soon - probably not a HasLab item, as the Sentinel still has a ways to go before its funding period ends, but there's plenty of cool stuff to tease out and announce between now and when the license becomes unprofitable.

--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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