Q&A: Toy Storage, Ship Happenings, Classics, and New Stuff

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 17, 2013

So you want to know if 2013 looks slow? Well, yeah. And how about carded action figure storage, since you're going to have a lot of time to think about the stuff you already bought? And let's complain about 2013 some more since, I guess, that's what people are asking about now. Please feel free to send in other questions, and read this week's update after the jump.


1. Gathering from what was revealed at Toy Fair
- Movie Heros Line 2013 will not be released in US
- Clone Wars Line 2013 will not be released in the US
- Yoda Packaging is "What is out, is Out"
- The Vintage line will "continue" to late Summer 2013 until "Black Line" debuts

So then, if you are all caught up on the Vintage line from the fall, will there be no figures on the pegs to hunt for until Fall 2013?
It seems like all new figures debut in Fall 2013, which means Aug/Sept 2013?
Do I really have 7 months off?

Possibly - there are still 4 exclusive vehicles and 2 exclusive figure packs of varying levels of quality which may interest you, plus 2 Star Tours 3-packs and who-the-heck-knows how many Droid Factory theme park exclusive astromechs. Also, some of the Jedi Force stuff shown at Toy Fair seemed pretty far along, but so did the Naboo Fighter last year and that sucker made it out pretty late.

Plus: "Fall" for Hasbro can mean anything from late June to the first weeks of August. The toy lines usually have a line-wide reset to coordinate with Target and Walmart's restocking the shelves in mid-August, but the last few times we saw Toys R Us and a few other stores disregard this with some items getting on shelves weeks (or months) earlier. My guess is you'll see the first new stuff trickle out just before Comic-Con in July, if not sooner.


2. Hasbro says sales are down and are cutting staff. I only buy OTC products. If the next wave of OTC figures don't ship until fall - as I've heard, it will have been a year since I made a Hasbro purchase. I have to think OTC only collectors make up more than %10 of buyers. Any stats on this? Can't Hasbro do a better product mix?

Me being annoying: "OTC" is an abbreviation for Original Trilogy Collection, the first modern-era black-and-silver packaging line which started in 2004 and spilled over to 2005. For the sake of this question I am going to assume the reader means "OT," referring to any Original Trilogy products as anything in the 2004 line look is pretty unlikely.

OK, so you took a year off-- what did you miss? Not much. There were quite a few great Vintage figures though, like a new (and good) Dr. Evazan, Kithaba, Lumat, Nikto, Nien Nunb, and as Sandtroopers go, one of Hasbro's finer attempts. There were also a couple of really good Toys R Us exclusive Ewok and Pilot packs. If what you're after now is exclusively never-before-made original trilogy product, it's going to be increasingly cheap to follow this hobby into the future.

The mix wasn't just bad for older trilogy fans, it was bad for everybody in 2012. Did you want a new Naboo Fighter? It was a de facto online exclusive. Are you in love with The Clone Wars? Of the 18 figures, 8 were new enough to be interesting, 8 were basically straight reissues, and the remaining 2 were nigh-indisinguishable from existing figures. Why make new Anakin and new Obi-Wan figures that look exactly like the ones already not selling on the shelf? Why not just stamp out more of the same ones? Anyway.

Since 2006 Hasbro has been swimming in uncharted waters, trying to make new characters is increasingly difficult without a movie to dictate the hits. In 2006 and 2007, the scales were tipped more in favor of things which were new and awesome, and 2008 wasn't bad. 2009 was good when you could find stuff. 2010 was a lot more of "don't I already have this?" which continued in 2011 and 2012. As a movie-based line it's amazing that Star Wars continues to thrive when other franchises shrivel up quickly. Star Wars has been consistently on the market since 1995, and other lines like the Ninja Turtles, Batman, He-Man, even G.I. Joe have come and gone a couple of times since then. As of late 2011 I would make the argument that Hasbro may be doing what's right, I'm not entirely sure they are acting in their own best interests right now, or perhaps that the company is too big to make the kinds of decisions that might succeed (or even work well) for a smaller company. In other words, too many cooks.



3. First off, I would like to thank you for the tackle box information to store my loose figures. They work fantastic. I labeled each box so it is easy to find the contents while they are stored. Here is my question, I save the card backs from my open figures. I cut off the plastic bubble and just keep the card. Do you or have you heard of a good way to store these? I wanted to do some sort of a box to hold them but I am having trouble finding one that works very well. Thanks for your help.

Your best, cheapest, off-the-shelf solution is probably the long, white comic book boxes sold at your local comic book store. Most Star Wars cardbacks are 6x9-inches (or smaller), and a good comic storage box is about 9x13-inches... perfect for figure cardbacks, or even carded figures if you have some of those. Due to the density and weight of cardbacks, I would suggest going for the short boxes... those suckers get heavy fast. Amazon has a decent deal on 'em, 10 boxes for $35. That's probably more than you'll need, though shipping for 1 box is about $10 and shipping for 10 boxes is about $10... so check your local stores first.


4. I skipped the Y-Wing Scout Bomber when it first came out and always kicked myself for that. I'm curious if it could see a re-release under the 2013 assortment that has two figures considering its size and the packaging. I remember the first release being pretty stuffed with only the one figure.

Extremely unlikely, the new mini-rig assortment was pretty much killed before it started (as Hasbro crippled it in 2011 and 2012 by shipping a new wave 1 with reissues of pegwarmers from the previous year, this year being a notable exception.) I have heard of no plans for a "wave 2" and as far as I know there are no plans to continue it in the Lava packaging for Fall (but hey, things change). I saw a few Scout Y-Wing Bombers in circulation in 2012, and eBay prices are around $30. I strongly suggest that if you see one for around $30 that you just buy it.

If someone gets more mini-vehicles with 2 figures as an exclusive, that's a possibility. The concept merged Battle Packs and Mini-Vehicles, but it seems Hasbro changed their mind before the figures came out and instead are moving to new lower-cost figures and vehicles... for now.  These things do change, although it's a pretty safe bet that anything out now is going to suffer due to lack of support and lack of 3 3/4-inch newness driving collectors to shelves to buy anything.


5. So I saw the street date posted online for Feb 11th? and there is all the green Yoda packaging which should have coincided with the release of 3D AOTC. The UK Toy Fair had the Rise of Vader Packaging featured which should have coincided with the release of 3D ROTS. So with Disney pushing these back to whenever, or if ever, it appears Hasbro had the rug pulled out from under them.

I have a feeling we r going to have another crappy year collecting for a similar but different reason.

That there is no Clone Wars product to go with a show that is on TV and plenty of product for bad or no movies is mind boggling. I think the lack of CW toys helps contribute to what they say is lackluster ratings for the show. Really? Still no Krell, Spider Maul, new Visla, Mandalorians galore or individual Bossk or Dengar. Plenty of easy $ here.You could even throw Krell in with a pack of 101st Clones that equals one new fig with four repaints! Maybe a Blue Snaggletooth with Obi-Wan, Maul and a repainted Weequay pirate or Hondo?

I get that it takes about a year for the process to get a toy on the shelf. Weird things happen with movie toys. We saw GIJOE toys still ship without a movie last year. Of course there are expected bumps along the way with the Disney transition. But really?

So, you think there is enough AOTC product to the clog the pipeline again like last year with TPM? Dude, it's going to be like Ground Hog Day all over again right?

While Hasbro can rejigger a line to save face in light of an aborted marketing plan (see: 2000's abandonment of POTF2 and Episode I branding), they have elected not to do that here. So far, anyway... things could still change between now and August. Don't blame Disney, though, because it takes 12-18 months to develop a line and get it in stores, and it would take more than a miracle to change stuff up in under 6 months. What we're seeing now was most likely in place while the Disney thing was, at best, a rumor or a mild consideration inside Hasbro.

I've heard answers as to why Hasbro deep-sixed Clone Wars and while I am more likely to side with your understanding of the situation, well, we don't work there and it all boils down to this: Hasbro does what it wants to do. Sure, they could crank out awesome Mandalorian troopers, or have rereleased the best-selling (and expensive on eBay) ARC Troopers in 2012, but didn't. You know and I know they sold well, and eBay confirms that those blink-and-you-missed-it releases seemed to do just fine. But Hasbro has decided to look at the glass as half-empty, and if that look came from executive management, well, there's not a lot you can do if you want to have a future at your job. Sometimes you nod, bite the bullet, and try to do whatever makes your bosses happy, even if you might know, in your heart of hearts, that there's insane, crazy money to be mined from those stories. "The ratings of the show are terrible, stop working on it." That's it, it's dead. You're in no position to argue, even if you're right. (And if this speculation on my part is wrong and the team decided on this move? Well, OK, someone needs to be shuffled off to manage B-Daman's inevitable demise.)

If what we saw at Toy Fair is really the entire 2013 line plan (which it shouldn't be), well, OK it's going to be a weak year. Because all of the lines are getting new SKUs, which means new DPCIs, you'll be able to find the stuff but it's pretty likely we'll have some stuff hang and prevent other stuff from coming out. Jango's vehicle is in stores now, but Jango won't be available until Fall, and then he's in a 2-pack. (Last year we had Sebulba's ship without Sebulba everywhere.) The line is not shaped in a way that can encourage deep purchasing this year. Even the collector-driven stuff being offered to us this year for the Classic Trilogy is a drag. Sure, the Black Series might be cool, but Biggs? Ceremonial Luke? Scout Trooper? Another 2005 Vader with new accessories? Who could possibly be excited by this?

We know 2012 was a drag, but supposedly it performed well. (Depending on who you talk to, some people seemed happy-ish with the performance.) In 2013, Hasbro also has Iron Man 3, an Avengers cartoon, the G.I. Joe movie, more Transformers, Thor 2: Thorly Legal, Wolverine, a new Spider-Man cartoon, plus more Beyblade and B-Daman and who the heck knows what else in the boy's division alone. After 80% of this goes away by Christmas, it's possible they'll rejigger the Star Wars line in a meaningful way for 2014 but, for the time being this is a caretaker year. Hasbro is trying something drastic with the 6-inch line, much like they did with bringing back Vintage "permanently" in 2010, and this might just pay off. Or it might be the last big, untapped idea in their bag of tricks and well, the line as it was is still pretty amazing. What else that was hot stuff in 1995 is still around today, let alone without being rested? Just Power Rangers and Transformers?

There simply aren't hundreds of thousands of customers (or speculators) left, and the approach to kids has been spotty. This line will probably continue for a good long time, but it might be time to start changing your expectations from what we had in 2005 and, instead, consider what Hasbro did for its Marvel movie properties. Maybe we'll get a few solid items in a year, and a line that's (in all fairness) about 50% skippable by volume. It's possible all the real money will be in lightsabers and a small rotation of 20-30 core characters with, at best, 5-10 new characters for collectors per year. The way 2013 is shaping up so far, I think we'd be quite lucky to get 10 brand-new, never-before-made characters in plastic this year.



I cracked open my two boxed 12-inch 2013 Anakin Skywalker and Clone Trooper figures this week, and they're pretty retro. If possible, they're even less advanced than some of the 1970s 12-inch figures. The Clone reminds me a lot of that 1978 Stormtrooper 12-inch figure, minus the fact the clone's gun is molded to his hand. It has few paint applications and lacks a few spots that could stand to have some black paint, so in many respects this figure might be better as a canvas for creative types than a toy. I'd also go so far as to say that it's an ideal display piece for a desk at work, because it's simple, big, and cheap. And seemingly hollow.

I rather like the big Anakin Skywalker because the articulation feels very much like a vintage 3 3/4-inch figure, the legs in particular seem as if they're designed to sit inside a vehicle (which will never be made.) His jointed wrists are nice, and his lightsaber - with removable blade - is embedded in his right hand. I haven't seen any customs of him yet, but the fact that it's incredibly light on paint applications makes it feel like it might be more at home next to Gentle Giant's jumbo Kenner 12-inch line than anything Hasbro is currently making. It's quite delightful. Having said that, I'd also be curious to see how the sculpt looks if properly painted. The face and hair, given some shading and definition, might look really awesome as the head sculpt doesn't seem at all bad. Is anyone up to the challenge?

The line is, by my count, not scheduled to grow much with an Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader coming later. I honestly don't really get the direction of the line - why not put out Darth Vader first? - but there you are. For the asking price these are pretty good and I'm debating going after the similarly sized Iron Man and Spider-Man figures if there's a sale. I assume these won't catch on and these are basically a neat souvenir of the oddball transitional year that is 2013. The size and price mesh nicely, despite the lower end of the quality spectrum. They're not great toys, but they're OK. As display pieces, again, they're charming but not high-end stuff.

So yeah, there's not much else to get for Star Wars Hasbro toys right now. I might chase down some Von LMO or A Frames records instead. Do you have any to sell? Let me know.

--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.