Q&A: Star Wars Vintage Returns (info, not so much), Repack and Vary, Extribution Disive

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 25, 2017

1. Weird question-now that we have 6 inch sculpts for the Jawa and the Tusken,how likely are we to see variants? The Tusken is great and the Jawa is...ok...but I think a lot of fans and army builders would be willing to buy box sets of these if they came with different robes/accessories/droid parts/whatever. Possible or no?

Anything's possible, but significant variants are far and few between in the line so far - things like new Sandtroopers are actually new product numbers with new UPCs, completely different products in Hasbro's catalog. The recently released red-eyed K-2SO is a strange exception. The Tusken Raider has so much variety built in to it with the accessories that I wouldn't assume we would ever see a variation, and I assume it might be a while before Hasbro decides to do another flavor of Jawa. Although with the Jawa, there are some pretty easy variants - vinyl cape and cloth cloak come to mind. I wouldn't bet on it, Hasbro seems to have lost its religion with army building around 2012.



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2. We have had time to bask in the news of the Vintage collections return and time to speculate about what it actually means. So far we know of a straight repack of Rey and the fan choice of Aphra, but who else? How many? I am concerned it will start with repacks of the Walmart exclusives which are welcome but without anything 'new' for collectors who already have these it will bottle neck the line and reflect badly on the format. Do you have any insight? What would you like to see personally? When do you think we will hear further announcements? and what do Hasbro need to do to make it a success?

Hasbro hasn't officially announced it yet, but you bring up a topic I like to drop in conversation - what does this mean? Fans didn't ask specifically for more classic characters in vintage packaging, they just asked for "more vintage" (whatever that means.) Right now we're 2 for 2 non-trilogy guys - and we don't know how long the line will run. I would bet on it being a limited release like in 2004 (12 figures), 2006 (5 figures), and 2007 (6 figures). I would be shocked to see it run for 100 figures without another break, and if Hasbro told any of us that their plans were to run it for more than a year at the outset I'd be suspicious. Things change, so whatever the 2018 plans are I would expect that the 2019 and 2020 plans won't be known until they get at least some real feedback from retailers - and until we know what the figures are, it's going to be tough to know. While fans of this style of packaging will often say that they'll support everything, they're only a sliver of the shrinking action figure collector pie - a lot of us won't buy a package variant if we already own the figure. Without a new accessory, I can't say I'm all-in for a set myself.




3. Where are the latest Walmart 3.75" TBS figures? I see them (Ponda Boba and friends wave) come and go for online orders at Walmart.com, but there is no sign of them in actual stores. Even when I have been able to locate Walmart exclusive TBS 6" or 3.75" figures using Brickseek, the actual stores are never ever able to find them because Walmart has no backroom inventory system?! Why is that? How are you able to acquire these elusive Walmart figures?

If history is any indication, Hasbro requires a sizable number to run an exclusive for Walmart - and a lot of times, the first shipment is weak and it takes a while to trickle out. Since the Spring I'm still finding Phasmas, Scarif Stormtroopers, Death Troopers, and so on - old product continues to ship. Before you say "yeah, that's the problem!" it's also the good news. If Hasbro continued to make the same minimum amount of this new wave, you might be seeing it for quite some time starting in a few months. Keep hunting, and keep your eyes open elsewhere too. We've seen Walmart exclusives show up at Ross before any ever showed up at Walmart. It's rare, but it happens - Target had some G.I. Joe exclusives that behaved similarly. It's bizarre, but also remember the figures (if in stores today) could very well sell for under $6 since the assortment is still on clearance. Hopefully Walmart's just sitting on the new wave until the old stock clears out at a lower price, but I don't know if their supply chain is sophisticated (or interested) enough in such minor details. Toys are a sesame seed on the bun of Walmart's business. Don't give up hope, keep looking, and don't be surprised if it's a year or two before we know the final fate of the wave. There's no way they just made a few hundred to sell online, these have to wind up somewhere.




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They fired who now? The news of the exiting/firing/quitting of Phil Lord and Chris Miller from the Han Solo movie was a disappointment. I'm not used to franchise features firing a director this late in the game, plus I wasn't exactly thrilled with the project as an idea in the first place. Like Ant-Man, it took something I didn't necessarily care about, and it put it in the hands of a creative person who I really do trust. And now? Who knows.

Now that we're in a new sort of "studio system" like we saw in the first half of the last century, it's strange to think that the Company is really the author and things like casting, story, even the very tone of the film could be dictated by the producers so tightly that the person with the bullhorn is little more than a hired gun or, perhaps more precisely, a babysitter. We saw a little bit of J.J. Abrams in The Force Awakens and I don't know enough of Gareth Edwards to know if we really saw a special stamp on Rogue One - the former had a few dazzling shots that I'll remember for as long as I live. The latter felt like a damned good attempt to make the best movie that the 1990s could have imagined.

While it was easy to lambast the prequels for their faults, they delivered new history, new stories, and more freshness than it seems the Disney era has given us so far. This isn't a knock against it - most franchise fans bristle at abundant change, and weirdness like we saw on The Clone Wars is nowhere to be seen in Rebels. We're in a much less risky era, and the original movies that we knew well and fit like an old shoe are now being sequelized in the form of that well-known old shoe. We've seen it before. It's not bad, but we've seen it before.

I haven't seen all the Lord Miller oeuvre, but I've yet to be disappointed by anything. Similarly, I was heartbroken when Edgar Wright left Ant-Man a few years ago - but you can feel some of his fingerprints on the final movie, minus one scene that totally feels like what he left over. You know the one. All of the Disney action brand movies have considerable charm and are an atomic blast of likability, but we're lacking in risks. There's admiration, but less love. I'm not yet at a point where I'd be prepared to break up with Star Wars for that very reason. I've not been disappointed (not even in the prequels), but I am certainly getting a sense that my time in this arena is starting to feel long. Too-frequent movies with unfinished merchandise programs sting a little, and it's always weird to sit here thinking that these multi-million dollar projects are sadly going underexploited. If all goes according to plan we're going to have Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and Transformers movies each and every year until goodness knows when. Given that the Han Solo idea was a movie I never much wanted to see, barring a massive surprise, I have a hard time saying I'm particularly excited. The high levels of secrecy make it hard to get jazzed for The Last Jedi too, particularly since I feel there's a lot to digest about the two movies we've already had. How can you breed a superfan when there's a new distraction around the corner?

The "event" nature is being lost. I don't expect I'll stop seeing these movies in theaters, but now I know if I wait 3 or 4 months I can just buy the Blu-Ray. And I'm unlikely to be able to see the movie to decide if I want the toys or not. And that there's not enough time between movies to get new figures from the last one. And for the second time, Disney is parting business with a major funny player of whom I am particularly fond. I got no problems with Ron Howard... can't say I'm excited like I was for the Lord Miller duo, though. Hopefully books will be written and footage will be released before I die.

...one more thing to chew on, a few people have asked me "Well, the Han Solo movie toys are being developed, might we see a delay like with the G.I. Joe sequel where the toy hit but the movie doesn't?" And as much as I'd like to say "Impossible!" Disney really is in a weird place here. As it stands now, the Han Solo movie will be released a few weeks after the next Avengers - possibly cannibalizing its own momentum there, because two mega-blockbusters with toy lines opening a month apart doesn't feel like good programming. With no Avatar 2 until 2010, I'm more than a little surprised Lucasfilm hasn't already delayed Han Solo. I don't want movies to stack up six months apart mostly because I don't need to live in a world where Star Wars toys only exist based on pre-release movie scrap and we can never get an "off year" movie line again. Off year movie toy lines are the best - see Power of the Jedi, Clone Wars (2003), Original Trilogy Collection, The Saga Collection, 30th Anniversary Collection, The Legacy Collection... you can probably ignore The Vintage Collection and The Black Series, though. But I digress.

Things are changing in Star Wars a lot, and it's my hope a few more things keep changing. I do think Summer movies will mean better toy lines - you have to do another push for Christmas, which hopefully means more stuff that lasts longer at retail. Let's hope the third time is a charm!

--Adam Pawlus

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