Q&A: Vehicles, HasLab, and Star Wars by Disney for Disney

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 6, 2018

1. Once quick question: what do you think the chances of Haslab doing a cantina playset that comes w/SA versions of the Modal Nodes (think about it -- one mold for 5 figures)? Maybe include throwback Blue Snaggletooth or updated Wuher? Or maybe just a small stage & the Modal Nodes. I would love to see this iconic group get updated w/maximum articulation...

Assuming this was an actual question and not a stealth "let's take the temperature of the community" type thing - seriously, we're not going to answer any more HasLab "I want X" questions - I'd say low to no. Doing a playset wouldn't be unrealistic, but including a whole smattering of newly-tooled figures seems unlikely, particularly the band (of which collectors may have as many as three different versions for Complete Figure Power.) Disney parks sold electronic stage pieces with the five figures from the band around 2007-2008, so that exists if you want them.

This is very much a "be careful what you wish for" era because Hasbro might actually deliver it - and if it fails, their incentive for trying again will be diminished. I'd love to see a Death Star, a Cantina, a Blockade Runner, Cloud City/Freeze Chamber, Jabba's Palace, and so on but fan demand has been kind of all over the place. The Barge was the last thing we saw people get behind, and from where I sit using HasLab to update things is kind of a waste. The Barge? OK, we're doing the right thing here. An updated Wuher? I'm snoozing. I've got two Wuher figures, and he doesn't really need to be improved. What we've got is adequate. Throw me a new alien, or something I can't buy on Amazon or eBay, and I'll be happy.

The existing Cantina band is pretty good - but I don't know if I need maximum articulation. I'd rather they give us 5-jointed figures that can stand (or sit) as needed with their instruments, because at 3 3/4-inches it's difficult for Hasbro to get a good enough range in the arms to look good holding an instrument.


Ad: Star Wars and Scarce Hasbro Exclusives at Entertainment Earth!
Star Wars Black Series Admiral Piett 6-Inch Action Figure Marvel Legends Thor, Rocket, and Groot Action Figures Star Wars Salacious Crumb Vintage Kenner Action Figure Star Wars: The Last Jedi C'ai Threnalli 3 3/4-Inch Figure Star Wars The Black Series 4-LOM 6-Inch Action Figure Transformers Studio Series Thundercracker - TRU Exclusive


2. In terms of modern vehicles, why are they so ugly? Specifically, things like Rey's speeder in TFA, and the speeders from Solo. I can't help but think those were designed from underarm deodorant containers.

The Rey Landspeeder is basically just Luke's Landspeeder rotated 90 degrees, while a lot of the other vehicles look like existing vehicles or concept art. There's something missing in terms of freshness - I think it might be moving from kitbashing to digital renders, but that's just a hunch. How you work and your tools inform you work, and now we're getting a lot more in-the-computer stuff plus a mandate to keep a certain kind of look. An AT-AT with gorilla legs is certainly an evolved design, but it's not necessarily better. It's just a little different.

I like a lot of what we get - it seems to fit - but it's not exciting. I think part of the reason is the excess of movies with a lack of vehicle toys - we got a Phantom, but no Ghost. We got a U-Wing, but it wasn't the large vehicle that can store a small group. We got an X-Wing, but it doesn't have a removable droid socket or on-board storage features. We also don't really have time to enjoy what we have either - we barely get used to the new thing, and it's the old thing. I assume we'll get fewer interesting new vehicles or a lot more recycling as time goes on and budgets are cut as Star Wars' success at the box office wanes over time.




3. I hope Hasbro gets the renewal for the Star Wars license but have to believe strategically and smart business will drive Disney in a different direction. I mean their ultimate goal is to control everything right? Does Disney have any actual toy manufacturing element even on a smaller scale within their empire?

Disney has its stores and theme park operations with house-brand products, so were they inclined they could do something on their own for Marvel and Star Wars without Hasbro. Take a look at the Starspeeder 1000 or Droid Factory figures - they seem to be derived from Hasbro designs or factories, and they're supposedly not Hasbro products.

I'm surprised Disney has so much of its licensing in one basket - Disney Princess, Marvel, and Star Wars are all under Hasbro with a few exceptions. (LEGO is LEGO, Jakks has Incredibles 2, but boy's action toys are mostly Hasbro.) I could see a real benefit to having Hasbro split off Marvel or Star Wars just so they could put more focus on one of those - but they'll do what they'll do. I like what they're doing and rarely do I see a competitor put out something that's clearly superior, although it's hard to deny the size of Mattel's Jurassic World offering is spectacular. (Gravity, however, seems to be proving many of the dinosaur designs to be poorer than they seemed.)



Become a Patron!

Special thanks to our generous Patreon patrons, especially: JT, David, Timothy, Christopher, Robert, Jayson, Marco, Shawn, Stephen, Matthew, Joel, Todd, Jeremy, Fox, and Mario. Thanks for helping us keep the servers on!



So Hasbro bought Power Rangers, formerly of Saban, formerly of Disney. Hasbro also bought Popples, My Pet Monster, and other toys which will probably get released as a Comic-Con exclusive to preserve a trademark and then who knows what. Hasbro often fancies themselves to be an entertainment company, so this is one way to make that happen. We haven't seen much action out of G.I. Joe as of late, and the Micronauts relaunch may well be just like Stretch Armstrong - bland, exclusive, and basically a new thing that will hopefully resonate with the new generation. I don't know if this is a warning shot about the supposedly still-not-signed renewals with Disney or just Hasbro growing into their being the next Disney, but for now it's certainly going to create more competition inside Hasbro for resources which may result in diminishing returns and attention paid to current properties. (Just look at the Hasbro Star Wars section at Walmart this month. It ain't pretty.)

The company has loads of potential and is still capable of making truly great things, although there are so many great things in the marketplace that it may be a challenge to compete against clearance $4 super-articulated figures at Walmart and 20+ years of milking nostalgia brands that resulted in a lot of mint-in-package product in the marketplace, online, quite cheaply and just as easily available as any other product. Amazon lets you sell old toys alongside new, and prices aren't bad on a lot of commodity items. What do I mean by that? The Force Awakens Millennium Falcon is a bigger, cheaper, more compelling product - with three figures - for less money than the new Solo version (which has its charms.) I never really thought we'd see Hasbro get this big, with its competition increasingly diminished, with so much mint-in-the-box product out there for the taking.

It seems like I say this every week, but it's a new world here. Every couple of months, something genuinely astounding happens to shake up the business from the loss of Toys R Us to the Sail Barge to Walmart's shrinking support for the brand to fan reaction to the new movies, but then I remember 1999-2009. We lost Kay-Bee, and nothing really changed. People wouldn't stop screaming about the prequels, and we're all still here. A new cartoon started, yet new movie items persisted and flourished alongside it. I'd be lying if I said the 2018 line was the best ever, but seeing the improved faces on 6-inch figures and the new Wampa make me happy. Everything isn't perfect, but after 40 years and thousands of figures the fact that there's anything for the original generation of fans that remained interested is something of a miracle. Hopefully we'll have a few more miracles, after the Sail Barge anything seems possible.

--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.