Q&A: Vehicles, Bad Vehicles, Big Playsets, and... Walmart Again?

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 23, 2012

This week in Q&A: Slave I 2013 speculation! Let's talk MTT. Did you buy one yet? And can you trust eBay sellers calling something rare? (OF COURSE NOT.) All this and me complaining about Kmart's substandard AT-ST, arguably the worst Hasbro release of 2012, after the jump!


1. The slave 1 they teased at the [Star Wars Celebration VI in Orlando,] will it have a new and more accurate frozen Han solo with it ya think?

I will be stunned if they don't. The new Jar Jar Binks Carbonite block is very close to being a perfect fit for that larger vehicle, and the 2006 semi-melting Carbonite fits fine. I would say that you can count on there being one, and I'd probably bet heavily on it being included.


2. I know you have talked about this before but will Wal Mart ever start ordering the Vintage Style figures? My two area Wal Marts have had the same 3 figures hanging since February. Are we done until they launch the Build A Droid Line again?

Your mileage may vary, but I have had reports of figures from after wave 2 showing up there in the last month. A thing to remember is that one collector can usually absorb all new figures from a case quite easily now that they're all technically "shortpacked" at 1 per box... I'm not saying there's no new figures there, but geez, must we go through this every week? There was an exciting one. What's next?


3. With Ep 2& 3 being launched late next year do you think that will help the flow of product and avoid the Ep 1 disaster from this year? What do you envision the first half of the year to be like then?

[edit] I saw an interview online with Hasbro saying the response to the MTT will determine the direction of future big vehicles. Seriously? Of all vehicles to put your eggs in one basket? I love the majority of what Hasbro releases but I swear they have lost their minds with their strategies. Lets not make vehicles kids and collectors want or playsets but lets build a huge brown turd instead? Again, hope I'm wrong.

Not knowing what the directives were for the Episode I line this year I really don't know if we can entirely blame what we call a disaster completely on Hasbro. I don't know what kind of mandates on existing tooling were handed down, but one thing is certain: if you put an old toy in new packaging, collectors are going to notice. With no new movies due for another year, I suspect we'll have a decent trickle of new figures early next year. I believe Hasbro confirmed the newer small vehicles plus a couple of waves of figures are currently scheduled for the first half of next year, but hey, we all know these things can change all the time due to the whims of the Walmartians. If I were you, I'd say you should probably have $250-$450 on hand for exclusive and non-exclusive toys. (Hasbro could do a real marketplace purge to make up from unsold 2010 Vintage product plus unsold 2012 product, as there has been a precedent for this, but I doubt they'd want the brand to vanish for 3-6 months again.)

So the MTT? OK, here's the deal: Hasbro has said "we gotta see how it does before we do another one" after every large vehicle, but I'm pretty sure they also said there were no plans for a new one next year. Which, honestly, isn't surprising. If they're going to exploit existing tooling for the prequels (and they should), there's an opportunity to bring back the Turbo Tank or AT-TE. Republic Gunships have been more or less gone from store shelves since 2008 as well, so if costs in China aren't prohibitive, it's certainly a good time to consider giving the big vehicle thing a rest. Plus it's not like any of us were really expecting the MTT to be a slam-dunk.


4. First I love your site and you seem to know what your talking about so I thought I would ask you this question. I don't have a lot of funds for collecting so Ive found that the vintage line gives me the look and the sculpts that I like. Now that they are not making them anymore Im not sure what to get. I really liked the packaging because it looked like the old time packaging. I don't open my figures because they lose there value and If I did I woudnt know how to display them. Sorry I guess I m all over the place. Im just afraid to waist money when I don't have a lot. Do you have any suggestions on what line I should pick up if any and are there ways to display them with out looking like a childs bedroom.

If your room is filled with toys, sports and/or character collectibles, then no, there is no such thing as any line (vintage packaging or no) you can pick up to avoid looking like a child's bedroom. If you keep stuff in the package, then it means your bedroom looks like a child's toy store. What child's bedroom would have sealed toys?  That's ridiculous.   Thank you for the fake question.


5. Ebay worried about whether or not I'll find the K-Mart Ewok Scouts and AT-ST Drivers in store. Currently, there is one available on ebay for a blown up price. That same vendor claims "THESE WILL BE LTD EDITION...KMART STORES WILL BE GIVEN ONLY 1 BOX EACH...AND WHEN THAT SELLS OUT,THEY WILL HAVE TO SEE WHAT OTHER STOCK IS AVAILABLE BEFORE THEY GET ANY MORE.....MEANING THAT MORE THAN LIKELY ONCE THEY ARE GONE...THERE GONE."

Based on what he's saying, it's may be weaseley, but there's a kernel of truth in there. Sure, all exclusives are usually Limited Editions with the order determined months in advance and generally speaking there aren't a lot of second (or third) runs on things. The orders are very large, though, but the one-case-per-store thing is something the seller probably has no idea of knowing, and he knows you won't be able to confirm it with your sources as a private collector. It's possible the one store he went to had one case and that's what he saw, so that's what he's reporting.

If Rebelscum's report of 30,000 or so figures on Toys R Us' exclusives is true, we can assume Kmart is in a similar ballpark. New items are historically tough to get, I haven't even seen and am only just now hearing reports of people finding these. So it's basically not possible for each store to get only one case. Don't be impatient-- these will show up. Keep looking, because you could still miss them, but it's not like Jodo Kast or Commander Lock sold out overnight. Kmart's increasing lack of stores is really the only thing keeping fans from finding the stuff most of the time. (That, and most of you simply do not shop at Kmart. Admit it. Given the option of Target and Kmart, where are you going to go? That's what I thought.)

Wikipedia tells me Kmart operates about 1,300 stores and I'm unclear if that count includes the Sears stores or not, and we now are hearing some Sears-branded stores are getting these... so let's assume it doesn't. If a case of figures has, let's say, 8-12 2-packs, and there's 1,300 stores, you can do the math right there. That's 10,000-15,000, which is lower than any publicized edition size out of Hasbro by a factor of at least a half. Some high-traffic stores are going to need more than one case, and for all I know some are going to need no figures because if you shop at some of the Kmarts I shop at, it's pretty obvious no fans of our favorite furballs shop there.

But all of this doesn't get at the heart of the issue, which is this: Hasbro's real numbers are top secret. I don't know them, you don't know them, Kmart employees might (but probably don't) know them, and for all we know if Hasbro made excess inventory which could show up in another channel some day. We don't know. Do you really think the eBay seller has a firm grasp on national toy distribution, production numbers, and excess inventory? I have no doubt that "once they're gone, they're gone" because that's like saying "if it isn't one thing, it's another." Sure, that's a basically true and meaningless statement. And I'd also like to say I haven't found mine yet and I'm not worried in the slightest. We go through this constantly as a group - nobody seems to remember that the bulk of exclusive items get pretty fantastic distribution, with few exceptions, in Star Wars these days.

Let's not forget the real issue: The stock out-of-the-box Vintage AT-ST is a pile of garbage. I'm on my second one and the leg joints are awful. Hasbro: please retire or repair this tool immediately. This thing can't stand up without removing the head. Gravity is a cruel mistress, but my 2009 and 2010 AT-STs based on the same design are still upright years later. This one lasts, at best, about 3 days before imploding on itself. Fellow collectors: if money is tight, skip the AT-ST and buy the Speederbike at Toys R Us instead. Reward quality when it's offered to you. Unless I'm forgetting something, this is currently holding the slot of "Worst Star Wars Toy of 2012" and may be the worst of the decade so far. I ask for very little- I want my figures to fit in vehicles, I want my vehicles to be able to stay on a shelf without divebombing my other toys and/or committing toy suicide. Anything else is a nice bonus, and this piece fails. If I were a kid and got this, I'd be in tears, as I am a weak, weak crybaby.



I had a whole thing on not trusting eBay sellers, retail store employees, and toy columnists (me) but eh, that's boring. You know what the deal is: people trying to sell you things can't always be trusted, and sometimes people just goof. (And yes, I realize I work for an online toy store. Do not trust me. I'm hideous.)

Far more interesting though? Japan! Takara-Tomy cranked out their take on Battle Beasts for the 21st Century this week with Beast Saga (GH-sanctioned write-up as... I wrote it). I bought... a lot of them. And yeah, I had to pay import fees. And shipping. And order online, because they're not sold anywhere in Arizona and I'm not patient enough to wait to see if Hasbro decides to bring 'em over here like they did Beyblade. An unfortunate part of this hobby is sometimes you have to add up things like what information you have at hand and weigh it against your options... and sometimes just cough up some dough or do without. It is, like it or not, the nature of the hobby.

These are pretty nifty figures, about the same size as most current Ewok figures and priced a smidgen lower than current Vintage figure. Instead of a heat-sensitive sticker in the chest, they now feature a dice launcher, which is arguably more action-packed than waiting for your cold, fat fingers to warm up a black sticker to show fire, wood, or water symbols. There's a trading card game too, but I don't speak the Japanese nor do I grok the card games.

I realize many of you are much older or much younger than I am, so not a lot of you give a lot of thought to a remake of a generally forgotten 1987 Hasbro/Takara toy line. I live for this stuff, as most new "Japanese Toys" are really $200 12-inch collectibles for old people and those are boring ways to show off to rich toy collectors. These things are toys, maybe more a game than a toy, and there are dolphins, fish, sharks, deer, lions, and all kinds of crap. (No carp though.) Orcas are coming! And owls! And an armadillo! Short of manatees and dinosaurs, this is pretty much making 8-year-old me very very happy. Granted, the look of the upcoming Minimates (with colorful glowing eyes) seems more in line with the aesthetics of the original, but these are fun to play with too. Oh, and they're more expensive. Like twice as much as the American Battle Beasts are gonna be, give or take a few bucks.

You can order Beast Saga toys online at places like our sponsor BBTS, or other toy sellers who don't pay us to name-drop. Unsolicited advice: even if you're a completist, don't order the BS13 Battle Dice Field. You're welcome. I'm still of the mindset that the Diamond Select Toys Minimates will probably be more up my alley, but I don't dislike these. Well, OK, the lion could be better. But the rest are pretty nice.

Also notable: Mattel is going to try and make a Castle Grayskull for Masters of the Universe Classics, as was announced at PowerCon this past weekend. Basically if they hit the target number of preorders on this $200 playset, they'll make it next year. Of course there's a catch: preorders are taken before a final product is available to see, and all fans will have to go by is a sheet of drawings and some specifications. While I know you're not all He-Man fans, this is an Earth-shattering announcement for fans of this kind of collectible toy product. "Hey, we can make this thing, but you have to put up before you see it."

From where I sit, this is pretty fascinating stuff. Could Hasbro do it with a Death Star? Would they? (OK, I can tell you right now the current team in place wouldn't, but it's worth watching to see how this whole thing turns out.) If it works, it's certainly going to alter the expectations of fans of any traditional American toy line going forward.

--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.


displaying figures (question #4)

Unfair answer to question #4, Adam (begs the question why you even ran this). Anyway, displaying massive toy collections as an adult is tough--but it can be done to be attractive and stylish. I'd recommend the poster look into display cases and other cabinetry. Rebelscum and other sites often run views of collectors' collections which can provide inspiration. It will take some investment in furniture and maybe even rehab work--but it definitely can be done. I do agree, though, that just pinning these things on walls is not going to look good. He's going to need to invest some money.

I love the MTT, it's a great

I love the MTT, it's a great vehicle. Whoever hates this thing is crazy. I hope the people complaining about this enjoy the endless run of smaller versions of vehicles WE ALREADY HAVE. Unbelievable.

TESB Slave I

Here's to hoping the REAL Slave I sees release, with a paint job that is not as embarrassing as the TRU Speeder Bike and that horrible Scout.


I know that my local WM hasn't received any new figures since late Feb./early Mar. as I know the overnight stock guy & not only has he not seen anything either (on the couple of nights a week I don't swing in to pick something up), he hasn't even seen an order placed in the system for them. It's been the same 5 figures from the TPM line since March. 1 Darth Maul has mysteriously appeared, but as there was no corresponding Qui-Gon I'm guessing it was someone returning it. Same deal with MH & CW figures. Same exact stuff for months. I think they may have gotten a case of MH once. But that's been it.