Q&A: Star Wars: The Vintage Collection and HasLab Hopes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, July 17, 2022

1. I've been reading the Q&As (and reviews) for a long time, and your comments this week made me wonder: How close are we to the end of the Vintage Collection? Are we already in the fizzle out?

I initially jumped into 6", but stopped because I couldn't justify continuing: No space in the Star Wars room for shelves of 6" figures, and no joy from boxes of MISB 6" figures in the storage unit.

Retro doesn't click for me, so it's a little maddening that I see more of those at retail than VTC. (I know some cases make it stores, but at least in Boise, ID, you can't count on seeing figures like in olden times.) The Vintage Collection figures have been amazing lately, but seem like de facto online exclusives at this point.


It's kind of amazing that it's still going - the current stretch of The Vintage Collection has run since 2018, which would make 2022 its 4th anniversary. The previous longest run went from 2010-2012. Based on some comments the last time it launched, I assume that Hasbro is just going to keep it going until (or unless) another scale of figure product takes off in a big way with the masses, and I don't think that's going to happen any time soon. (It could, it's just no one format seems to be offering an accessible first-handshake to any group of people at a given time.)

The 6-inch line seems like the perfect fit for the fan who won't buy everything - or, like vintage, one that would probably be more enjoyable as a smaller line. It strikes me as odd that there are more 6-inch scale Kylo Ren figures than astromech droids - but that probably speaks of the perceived customer of that line being someone who wants a few figures, not necessarily an entire collection.

I genuinely don't see The Vintage Collector as ending until Disney kills its output of new Star Wars (or Hasbro decides to switch to a different style of 3 3/4-inch figure.) It's still a cash cow and even diminished, we'd probably get waves with just the leads of the new show(s) for quite some time. As a thing for original trilogy fans, it's been pretty over for a while given the fact you can count the number of new sculpts of pre-Disney characters in pre-Disney costumes on your fingers. But I will say that new Obi-Wan Kenobi Darth Vader figure, with its fantastic helmet paint, swappable hands, and excellent overall articulation, is the kind of thing that could really drive excitement in both new and old collectors. You know, if they can find it.

As to the selection at physical stores, I agree it's pretty bad - the lack of Midnight Madness/Force Friday-style launches means no store will likely have more than 1-2 cases of a new figure assortment at any given time. At least for right now, collector action is consistently being driven online - so (and this might be bad for business growth) I assume you're going to still be needing to relying on things online for the foreseeable future, with online pre-order launches and such. Brick and mortar toy collecting isn't a thing of the past, but it's not as central to the business as it was in the 20th century. I've written about this toy line since 1995, and I can tell you it's very rare that the on-shelf selection of toys was ever particularly amazing outside of launches or periods where fans were checked out due to everything being a pegwarmer - and there was a lot of that in the 1999-2002 period.



Ad: Save up to 64% on Bundles at Entertainment Earth!
Get Free Shipping on Orders $39+ with code SUNFREE2022
Star Wars The Black Series NED-B Deluxe 6-Inch Action Figure X-Men Retro Marvel Legends Apocalypse 6-Inch Action Figure - Exclusive Star Wars The Black Series Imperial Clone Shock Trooper 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Vintage Collection The Mandalorian and Grogu (Maldo Kreis) 3 3/4-inch Action Figures Transformers Vintage G1 Optimus Prime - Entertainment Earth Transformers Generations War for Cybertron: Kingdom Leader WFC-K37 Maximal T-Wrecks The Real Ghostbusters Fearsome Flush Ghost Retro Action Figure The Real Ghostbusters Peter Venkman Retro Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Tala (Imperial Officer) 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Vintage Collection Darth Vader (Dark Times) 3 3/4-Inch Action Figure Star Wars: A New Hope Han Solo Stormtrooper Disguise Milestones 1:6 Scale Statue


2. The HasLab Cobra HISS tank looks phenomenal. Why can't Hasbro extrapolate those goodies into a decent Jawa Sandcrawler? It's everywhere in the new Star Wars series, and fans have been wanting a better one for some time.


Looking at Hasbro's history with HasLab, you can see what works - the Sail Barge (which previously didn't get much bigger than LEGO or Action Fleet) and the Razor Crest (a shoo-in) as 3 3/4-inch scale vehicles were hits. The Third Sister FX Lightsaber (an unknown) and Black Series Rancor (a big version of previous clearance fodder at a smaller scale) did not. Ideally they'd reserve this format for really cool, really big, really not-available items. Now if they wanted to make a giant Sandcrawler playset of some sort, I'd probably buy it. If they made a Sandcrawler figure carrier - that is, a giant box filled with compartments for figure storage - I'd be very interested in something like that too. But it's not a vehicle known for its famous action scenes inside, so what we have pretty much scratches my itch for this particular vehicle - and I don't know if I want to shell out $300 or more to upgrade a toy any fan could buy, right now, for less money on eBay.

But I think making a new one for HasLab would be a terrible waste of a slot. But I think absolutely every fan looks at each and every product announcement and says the same thing: "That's dumb, why didn't they make the thing I wanted instead?" Which is a reasonable reaction to have, but at least you have the opportunity to vote with your dollars and argue with your fellow fans if you don't think it has a right to exist.

I would argue that the big Cobra HISS is a flagship vehicle for Joe - this is probably the biggest 6-inch scale vehicle they can do without getting to ridiculous pricing, and I'd say this is ridiculous pricing as it is. I appreciate all the bells and whistles, but $300 is a lot of money when a $180ish non-electronic version without the option parts and bonus figure could probably do spectacular mass-market business. But, you also get $100 worth of figures, so it's not awful. That line has precious few non-bike vehicles, so doing something like this is required to keep it interesting and vital. A Sandcrawler would not make Star Wars more vital.

I would say "why now?" Disney's 2018 figure-scale Sandcrawler can still be bought for a mark-up that's a little above recent inflation ($170ish on eBay shipped.) I think I paid around $110-$120 shipped when it was new. While it's not as fancy as what Hasbro gives us for a HasLab, it is big and it's bigger than the HasLab HISS is going to be. It also has some electronics and a few play features, but sold for about 1/3 the price. Yet another Sandcrawler isn't really a "dream project" so much as it is an "expensive upgrade of a thing you could've bought twice." And I would argue that's a lot of what makes collecting some of this stuff boring - upgrades can be nice, but do I want to buy the same thing again?

The existing Original Trilogy Collection Sandcrawler also seems to go for $100-$200 - again, probably about what it would cost to reissue (remember Hasbro charged $500 for a reissue of the $180 Millennium Falcon and over $100 for an X-Wing redeco for a new figure last year - a ship that was sold for as little as $30 and as high as $50 before recent inflation/collector tax/whatever got involved.) Recent reissues of vehicle have been quite expensive, so I am hoping that if Hasbro puts development dollars into something 3 3/4-inch scale, it's something we can all look at and hopefully say "OK, I don't have that, I want one of those."





Become a Patron!

Special thanks to our generous Patreon patrons, especially: JT, Jared, Bobb, David, Galvatim, Christopher, Robert, Marco, Dan, Stephen, Matthew, Jayson, Todd, Kristine, and Mario! Thanks for helping us keep the servers on!



Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is out of on-topic questions, so if you got some, send some in.

A question on absolutely nobody's lips has been "Now that Hasbro has been a bit more bullish on Kenner-style 1978-1985 action figures, will we see other eras?" Back in the 1990s when Topps did their very first Star Wars Galaxy trading cards, I thought that would be an awesome gimmick to apply to action figures. Different artists had different interpretations, so why not see what Hasbro o-ring G.I. Joe figures might do with Darth Vader, or what McFarlane Toys would do with Amanaman, or what BanDai would have done with Boba Fett? It'd be an idea I'd love to see for the 50th anniversary of the action figure line.

But I'd also love to see them play with other house styles. "Make the best figure for a price kids can afford" tends to be my favorite price point - whatever it is, however it is - but it would be fun to see them crank out another CommTech-era figure, or a Power of the Force 1995-style figure or two. It's not for everybody, of course, but Kenner (and Hasbro) did a pretty good job updating most of the 1970s and 1980s figures in their 1995-2001 line. We got all but about 16 movie-line figures as "close enough" in that short period, which sort of makes it baffling how come we still don't have a 1990s (or later) update of Sim Aloo. It would be fun to see 6-jointed figures done in that style again, particularly since I would love to know what a ca. 1998 Amanaman or a 1996 FX-7 might look like. Some of those figures were surprisingly good and hold up particularly well.

While some may disagree, the 1996 Shadows of the Empire line was a lot of fun with some weird new takes on classics, like Bounty Hunter Chewbacca or the wide Dash Rendar. I would love to see a Starkiller in this style, but I can't imagine there will ever be a good reason to do it. I don't know if nostalgia exists for those 1990s figures, or if those kids just get shouted down by the older fans or what. The old toys are surprisingly cheap (adjusted for inflation) with the vehicles costing more than a bit more - such is life, there aren't better versions of many of them. Boba Fett's 1996 Slave I is effectively just a much prettier version of the 1980s Kenner toy with all of the functionality intact, and better stickers, and better paint. Is it worth the asking prices north of $50? ...maybe? It's fun. I don't think the Outrider held up over time too well, but it's nice that they made it.

Those 1990s figures don't carry the weird timelessness of the originals, nor are they as fancy as the latest incarnations, but they served a purpose delivering affordable Star Wars toys to kids and fans back when the very first ones really started getting pricey. The once-$4.99 (or cheaper) EV-9D9 still sells for about that price and isn't a bad stand-in for the original Kenner toy. 1997 Gamorrean Guards could be had for around $5... and still can. And they're all pretty good - I very much like the 1997 release of Saelt-Marae (Yak Face) too.

It's Comic-Con this week! I'll be reporting from the sidelines at home once again, missing my first in-person con for the first time in nearly 20 years.  I hope everybody who goes has a good time and stays healthy.  And if you could tell me if Seaport Village is still more or less empty at lunch time, I'd love to hear about that.

--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.



I'm on Instagram! All Pictures from a GameBoy Camera.