Q&A: Vintage Production Number, Star Wars Vehicles, and "Repacks"

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 28, 2020

1. What is going on? Really? what the hell is going on with these repacks in the 3.75 line?
I respect you, because you have been here for the last 25 years like I have, can you help me?
These repacks...
Give me your insight, why am I the only person in this hobby, that sees right though these black series repacks?

When they made the OTC, did they remold the Gamorrean guard or Bib fortuna? No, no way!
They were using old figures from the power of the force 2 Right? Just repainted “EXSISTING PLASTIC”

I think you know where I’m going with this or hopefully you do?
Is hasbro using “old plastic” To make these repacks from the black series and TVC?
They could have easily used the build a droid R2 for the EE pack but instead they used the TVC version.... Why? Did they miss some kind of quota?
What I’m I asking ?
I’m asking straight out! Are they repacking existing TVC and black series figures from 2012/13&14?

How in 1995, do they remake the millennium falcon after the mold had been decaying since 1978 And then say they can’t remake the echo base trooper From 2011 because the mold is breaking down?
If anything I’m just looking for some perspective.

--Chad [question edited for length]

The short answer: to my knowledge, in the modern era, Hasbro has never taken existing product, taken it back, and repackaged it. (Although there were instances of replacement packaging being shipped to stores into the 1990s if the store wanted to replace a damaged box on some vehicles or bigger toys. I have some POTF2-era flat unused boxes in my collection from this very purpose.)

"Repaints" are not literally repaints. Hasbro has not and does not take back product, pay freight to return it to a central location in China, unbox it, paint it, rebox it, and send it back to the USA. It is not cost-effective, the 2004 Original Trilogy Collection line was all-new product in all-new packaging. To sell a figure for $4.99 back then there's almost no wiggle-room for profit - and it costs a couple of bucks to send a figure from Point A to Point B. While Hasbro did have very few figures over the years that it allowed returns for, those typically were donated or destroyed, or unconfirmed to be sold at closeout/deep discount chains. (The only toy which I have ever witnessed Hasbro sending empty boxes for return purposes to send back to Hasbro was Beast Wars Transmetals Scavenger, the ant, around 1999 or 1998.)

If you don't believe me - and it's up to you if you do - the figures have production damps printed or stamped into them. You'll notice the toy's SKU (which is changed for each new release) as well as a date stamp (for example, Kennerian Hoth Leia has 00531 as a date stamp on her foot and a SKU stamp of E9649 molded on the other.) It would cost Hasbro a fortune to paint over/remold the figure to put new date stamps or SKUs on them in addition to repackaging and repainting the figure - it would be cheaper to turn the old product into regrind (or burn it) and just make new production in China. I have asked numerous people at Hasbro over the decades variations on this question regarding the fan theory that figures get repackaged. It just isn't financially feasible to do so. Fans use terms like "repacks" and "repaints," but other fans misunderstand what these mean because there's no better term for "new production of a figure from existing tooling in new packaging" or "new deco on new production of a existing figure from existing tooling in new or different packaging." Hasbro has long known that fans don't always understand these fan terms. We're not a monolith.

Why we're getting specific molds usually comes from "follow the money." Also a weird game of telephone fans and Hasbro have been playing for years. Around 2010, I overheard countless fans in Hasbro's convention booths approach the designers and because I am a bad person, I love to listen in and see if what they say is consistent with what you guys write in to the column. I like to be proven wrong. What I heard shocked me - "We want vintage, more of it, anything on a vintage cardback" was a consistent fan mantra. Hasbro would say "Really, anything, as long as it's on a vintage cardback?" "Yes," the fans would say, "reissue R5-D4 [or whatever OT character was on their mind] with no changes, it'll sell."

It is important to remember that Hasbro reads fan forums and listens to fans. It is also worth remembering that like anything, they only know what you tell them - not what you think or what you feel. If you make a bad suggestion, and Hasbro hears it and goes "Oh, we can do that," there's not much we can do here.

Before the 2018 relaunch of The Vintage Collection Hasbro's Star Wars team introduced it explicitly as being a mix of greatest hits/reissues and new characters, the latter of which would be part of an "ongoing conversation with fans," if memory serves. The problem is that this statement was true - but fans didn't ask for exactly what they wanted, so both fans and the manufacturers came away with very different concepts of how the line would progress.

As to why Hasbro uses some molds and not others? Tooling can get misplaced or lost, or Hasbro just prefers one over another, or one isn't being used and one is. Fun trivia - I was asking Hasbro to use the 3-jointed R2-D2 mold for the last Astromech set in an effort to get costs down and make it cheaper. Other molds were used instead. Some factories don't have all the molds - they're spread across multiple vendors in multiple countries in Asia now. As such, if Hasbro wants to make a case of figures all out of a single factory, they're going to use the R2-D2 mold that's on-site and working if they can. That may not mean you get your top choice - you get the best choice they have and can use in the budget.

Based on the tales of the 1995 Power of the Force vehicles, some Kenner interviews and fan legend: Kenner borrowed some vintage fan vehicles to make new tooling based on the original toy molds - some may or may not have used existing tooling. (The Imperial Shuttle from 2002 has both 1983 copyrights and 1983's bigger, fatter foot pegs and may well have been at least partially old tooling. Everything else had at least a few changes.) It would not surprise me if some parts were found and reused for some ships, but most older molds get destroyed, sold for scrap, or used as anchors for boats in the harbors of Hong Kong after a small period of inactivity. These car-sized steel molds are generally not archived for the long haul - after a couple of runs, they're disposed of. Nobody wants to keep them.

Some of the repacks of the 2018 figures do have minor or subtle changes to the molds too. They're not old production. Hasbro does not sit on warehouses of old toys for very long... with a few exceptions for legal reasons which I can't get in to here.



Ad: Pre-Order New Stuff at Entertainment Earth!
G.I. Joe Classified Series Profit Director Destro Figure G.I. Joe Classified Series 6-Inch Action Figures Wave 2 Case Star Wars Black Series ESB Boba Fett Action Figure Star Wars Black Series ESB 40th Anniv. 6-Inch Figures Wave 3 Star Wars Vintage Collection Carbon-Freezing Chamber Playset Star Wars Black Series ESB Luke Skywalker Dagobah Figure Star Wars Vintage Collection Princess Leia (Bespin Escape) Transformers Generations Selects Deluxe Tigertrack Transformers Generations Selects Deluxe Rotorstorm TMNT Ultimates Michelangelo 7-Inch Action Figure TMNT Ultimates Metalhead 7-Inch Action Figure TMNT Ultimates Rocksteady 7-Inch Action Figure TMNT Ultimates April O'Neil 7-Inch Action Figure Conan the Barbarian Conan (Iconic Movie Pose) Action Figure Star Wars The Vintage Collection Imperial Death Trooper Star Wars The Black Series IG-11 Action Figure - Exclusive Star Wars Vintage Collection Skiff Guard Action Figure Set Star Wars The Black Series Porg Action Figure Set Star Wars The Black Series The Mandalorian (Beskar) Figure Star Wars The Black Series Ahsoka Tano 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Zeb Orrelios 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Clone Trooper Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Darth Vader 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Sabine Wren 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Imperial Stormtrooper Figure Star Wars The Black Series Ezra Bridger 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Admiral Ackbar Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Luke Skywalker & Yoda Action Figures Star Wars The Vintage Collection Stormtrooper Figure


2. We've heard a little about Hasbro production numbers on figures over the years.

The YakFace included with the Sail Barge had about 8,800 units.

How does this fare with the vintage POTF YakFace?

Another question...

Hasbro made retro waves for Star Wars, Empire, and next year, Jedi.

Will we see a POTF Retro line which should include a YakFace?

Word is the Sail Barge was closer to 10,000 pieces because there were units made for markets above and beyond the HasLab run to get the factory quota - I don't know if every last unit had a Yak Face but I assume it did. Some went to VIPs and international customers.

Nobody knows what the tail-end 1980s Kenner figures were run at. We know the 1978 guys were run in the millions but I can't find anything specifying The Empire Strikes Back-and-later quantities in anything that may prove useful. The rule of thumb is that anything produced for the Canadian market (like coin-carded Yak Face) was usually about 10% of what the US market could take - so I would assume it's just a few thousand. Kenner's minimum factory run on most toys by the 1990s was 30,000, but the 1980s? I have no idea.

Because Hasbro started the "Vintage" line in 2004, and it's 2020, and we've had one figure on a legit Power of the Force cardback, my assumption is they have some weird hangup on wanting to do more - despite it being sensible because they can throw in the coin and charge us an extra $1-$2 per figure, and we'd pay it. What's the deal? I don't know. Nobody's talking. And I don't think they'd do a "retro" line in this style yet either, even though it would be wholly fabulous to see all 100%-newly-tooled never-before-made characters in the original POTF trade dress.




3. So, I recently picked up the Vintage Collection Slave 1 and Imperial Troop Transport, as well as the Disney Sandcrawler. All are fantastic in their own ways. But it got me thinking...here we are, nearly 45 years since the launch of the franchise, and there’s never been a 3.75” scale toy of one of the most recognizable...and revisited...ships: the Tantive IV.

It’s now appeared in all three trilogies and Rogue One, and has never been just a fleeting glimpse in the background. From the first ship on screen EVER to getaway vessel to resistance HQ, the Tantive IV is a fairly central ship.

Now, I know you can’t talk about anything planned or in the works, but can you share if the ship has ever been close to production (other than the mid-80s mock-up, had the line continued past POTF)?

To my knowledge there are no plans for any large-scale 3 3/4-inch vehicles. If there's anything $100 or higher on the docket, it's not on my radar - so if HasLab is doing one, it's not something I know about yet.

I 100% support a Tantive IV vehicle - the only representations we've had in the 3 3/4-inch scale are a Battle Pack backdrop and a display stand from Revenge of the Sith. Something with the ship's exterior that can be opened and figures placed inside would be great - but if it's $80 for a Troop Transport, considering the previous one was $20 for Rebels, I wouldn't get your hopes up for it coming out or being cheap.

I did at a couple of points ask Hasbro about making one as an exclusive, and as you can see, there isn't one. If they had plans to make a standard action figure scaled vehicle of this ship, I've never seen any plans beyond the aforementioned Return of the Jedi-era mock-up.



Hey, there's a decent week. Hasbro announced a new playset - and sure, you'll want 2 of it - with the Carbon Freezing Chamber. I was hoping for a new one of these for years, but I was also hoping for upsized MicroCollection 1982 playsets - maybe some day? Anyway, this one comes with a Stormtrooper and a Carbonite block. Buy 2 of them, and you can make a complete, but environment - hopefully you still have your old, dusty Ugnaughts from 22 years ago. Now you have a reason to use them!

Bespin Escape Leia was also previewed as part of an upcoming wave - but a few waves before hers have not been revealed yet. This is not an accident, or incorrect numbering. This is what Hasbro intended to do, which is probably good because it telegraphs just how many waves they have planned between now and May of next year. And that seems like a lot more than the previous year. If those figures are new, reissues, or retools, we don't know - but more are coming, and with a HasLab item supposedly also coming there's more to like here. Just be supportive, if you like it, and don't wait for clearance if you want these things to keep coming. I can tell you that stores may skip items if the last high-price-point item didn't do well.

The era of getting multiple waves of $30 vehicles is probably gone forever, thanks to rising prices and a lack of new kids to help buy tons of things to keep costs-per-unit down - but at least they're still making a few things for us every year. I'd personally love to see fewer reissues, but that's me - a lot of people are late to the game and are just now buying 6-inch Boba Fett on this third non-exclusive major packaging variation.

As always, I hope you're all doing well. It's really hot here, and there's nowhere to really go. After having gone to toy stores several times a week if not multiple times a day for the better part of 20 years, sitting at home all the time is a real change of pace - and it's weirdly exhausting. But, I've dug in to some of my other favorite things to do - including my underloved Atari VCS and NES hardware... and an old CRT TV.


Some guy ported Berzerk to the NES, which I have running on a Raspberry Pi I got in 2013. It plays well. Speaking of the NES, Namco put out new NES ROMs for Pac-Man Championship Edition and Gaplus as part of its Namcot Famicom port collections - in the USA, they're download-only, but someone did post the ROMs on a certain archive on the internet to prove they are indeed NES games and not 8-bit style games for Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. This may not mean a lot to you but I find it incredibly exciting to see even more NES games after the likes of Micro Mages and Nebs & Debs. I hope Namco cranks out NES cartridges of their two new ones.

I should probably buy some of those fancy Atari homebrew cartridges.

Sadly the used game store isn't somewhere I can go right now, so I'll probably have to start trolling eBay for old game cartridges soon. I'm also surprised there hasn't been more of a mass-market approach to putting out old game consoles and cartridges... there are all-in-one units where you can't add games. There are high-end FPGA consoles that use old controllers and cartridges. But you can't get new game cartridges for old systems in stores, or new hardware to run old games at most stores save for the odd Hyperkin clone. At least my dad's generation got a lot of stuff like this - but for music - in the old Rhino Catalog.

--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.