Q&A: 2012, Casepacks, and Other Equally Fun Stuff

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 6, 2011

Some long ones this week! So are casepack ratios getting you down? You aren't alone! Do you like Fighter Pods? You aren't alone! Did you like the Unleashed Battle Packs? ...you might be alone there. All this and much more, so read on!

1. Imagine this hypothetical scenario. I'm a Star Wars action figure collector with a couple thousand figures. I'm no longer a completist in any sense. Usually I can't tell whether "new releases" of core figures are rescuplts, repaints or a mishmash of arms and legs from different previously released figures. So, now I want to buy new figures from either the Vintage or Clone Wars line that look new, as in when I see them I can clearly say, I don't have that figure. Now, imagine this. I don't want to buy cases of 12 for the 1 to 3 figures I want. At the same time, I try to be a responsible, global citizen of the Earth, living in a sustainable way. That means I simply will not drive around explicitly on "toy runs". If the wife goes to Target or Wal-Mart for shopping, she has the list I have composed of figures I am looking for. Believe it or not, using this strategy, we have very poor look finding new figures in our neck of the woods. The alternative is therefore on-line vendors. However, it appears that there are no longer any sites on the web that will sell any recent figures at the MSRP. If you get lucky, you can find loose (off-product?) samples from Asian ebayers. What else is one to do? Be patient, wait on ebay, until the price goes down to something that is only a few bucks more than MSRP plus shipping? Is this the best alternative? Do you think this strategy will work for Armored Savage Opress or Bastila Shan? As far as I can tell this is the only strategy left to collectors like myself who want to enjoy Star Wars Figures and be a environmentally responsible citizen. It's clearly a bad business model for Hasbro. It seems clear that they must know that this is the situation facing many collectors, but they refuse to adjust their case assortments to make new figures more plentiful to the more casual (but still weekly) shopper at Target/Wal-Mart. It just seems that the problem can be easily stated and the answer is relatively simple to see and Hasbro simply refuses (I guess) to believe that they can make as much money implementing this solution as they can doing something else that irks collectors. I guess the simple solution is to quit collecting figures. It's hard to stop doing something that you could enjoy, that you've been doing since 1977. How can I convey this message to Hasbro? A paper letter? To where? Should a SW figure site start an environmentally conscious petition for Hasbro to adopt a more sustainable distribution model to end toy runs? That might just break the hearts of many a collector!

That's quite the insincere jump you're making here.

Environmentalism and toy collecting are not really compatible ideologies. Repacks have nothing to do with environmentalism, it's what keeps the line going in slim times so we can have our insane 100+ new figure years. It's also not a bad business model for Hasbro-- are they selling product? Do they keep making new things which also sell? Like it or not, it seems to be working for them, which is why you're complaining at me about this nearly 16 years after the line re-kicked off in 1995.

I wouldn't use environmentalism as a conduit for your argument for better casepacks. I just looked at a bunch of Hasbro figure packaging, and I could not find a "recyclable" symbol on any of the items I just happened to have around-- and this is all 2010 and 2011 stuff. That might not be a bad place to start, assuming you are actually concerned about making a difference, and not just getting your figures, so let's stop pretending what you're asking has anything to do with the environment. I'd like to see smaller packaging footprints (and less in the way of plastic, rubber bands, and inserts) myself-- but what your letter tells me is what you want are your figures, the enviro-spin being an afterthought. So let's continue.

If what you want are solid packed cases with 12 each of new figures, this will never happen. Hasbro makes assortments and ships the same ones to pretty much all its customers, so this kind of special mix doesn't make necessarily sense for them to do. (There are rare exceptions, although I can only name two, one of which Hasbro/Kenner denied happening despite my having the empty case to prove it. But I digress.) If what you want is an evenly packed case with new figures (and unique variants like the Black Endor Rebel Trooper) packed so that a case can be evenly divided into reasonable "sets" with no repackaged figures, that's what I want too. Hasbro did a good job of doing this on and off from 2007-2009, but it went away when waves got larger than 6 new figures. (Plus the issue of "variant vs. new" reared its head a few times in here, as it does with other manufacturers.) Hasbro can do this-- as in, they are capable-- and fans have asked and was told we should be hearing something new soon, but that might be next year given what has been postponed and how far in advance casepacks are selected.

So what can you do?

Stop trying to pretend there's some other reason for your complaints. Just write Hasbro a letter, hopefully others will join in, you can find an address in their instructions, web site, and probably quarterly reports. It's out there. You can find it. Stop trying to find some moral loophole, just be direct with your complaint and maybe they'll make a change and maybe they won't.

I'm not sure why you tried to play the environmental angle on this one-- unless this was a bit, in which case, bravo.


2. I saw the pictures of the Fighter Pods from the NYCC. These are awesome! As the father of a ten year old son, we collected all the galactic heroes over the years, and my daughter who is three has been playing with the Disney "Squinkies" princesses. I told my wife if they ever make Star Wars "squinkies" I will have to have them all! So, my questions: are these store exclusives? Can I order them by the case through EE? Price? Dare I say play sets? These remind me so much of the Micro Collection from the 80's it's ridiculous.

There may be store exclusives, but no, this line is not going to be a store exclusive. You most likely will be able to order cases online, but that doesn't mean you'll get a whole set. I expect they'll be like the Marvel Handful of Heroes-- randomly packed, blind-packed in spots, and it might be difficult to acquire an entire set without resorting to eBay or trading on forums.

Since they're tiny deformed figures, don't expect playsets. Vehicles are confirmed, but unless the playset doubles as a carry case I sincerely doubt you'll see playsets for this line as they're more of a "collectible" or "action" toy than an honest-to-goodness vehicle-and-playset line like we're used to getting.


3. Looking at photos from New York City ComicCon got me thinking about Star Wars sub-lines from the past. Particularly it was photos of the new Pods line and the return of titanium. What I mean by sub-lines are Star Wars toys not based on 3 3/4 inch figures. Some of these lines are pretty substantial. I was going through some photo achieves and saw the Star Wars Unleashed Battle Packs, which I paid little attention to when they were being sold. There are a lot of them. They remind me of the vintage Micro Collection which I paid a lot of attention to as a kid but never collected. Micro collection for me was much more about the play environments, which were amazing, than the metal figures, which somehow never captured the characters quite right. The Unleashed Battle Packs seem to capture the characters spot on. My question is, are the battle pack figures a scale compatible with the micro collection play sets? And my second question is, of all the Star Wars sub-lines, which is the biggest and in your opinion which is the most successful?

The Unleashed Battle Packs (2006-2010) are not scaled to the 1980s die-cast MicroCollection line. They're significantly bigger, and honestly, scale is a real issue inside this line. Some figures, like the Snowtroopers, are significantly larger than other characters like the Clone Troopers. If you put them all on a shelf, they're not quite all the correct height-- close, but off enough where you'll notice a problem.

As far as the most successful spin-off line? Probably Star Wars Transformers, which seems to be doing quite well despite active scorn from most adult fans and a plodding schedule of new releases. My favorite is probably the Galoob MicroMachines run from 1994 (or so) until about 1999, the prequel line didn't exactly do it for me. I like Action Fleet, but the tiny vehicles really were something special.


4. The R2 with the retractable leg in the Target 3 pack. The 3PO in the Target Genosis Arena pack with 4-LOM parts for added articulation (I'd like o see a gold version). The all new AT-ST driver in the Target Hoth set from 2010. The MIA second Imperial scanning Crew Technician.

Does Hasbro plan to make these figures available as single carded figure or otherwise?

Let's all say it together: "no plans at this time." We're also still missing the variant Utai, a couple of Clone Wars vehicles, at least four "ships in August" Wal-Mart exclusives, and a few other things I'm sure I'm forgetting.


5. Adam, I'm sure you hear this ever so often but I'd like to put it out there again. What is your honest opinion on the fate of Hasbro and the renewal of the Star Wars license by the end of 2017? Many collectors are tired of Hasbro and the way the line has been handled the last few years. You know the problems the community has issues with. The countless repacks, crappy distribution and puzzling figure choices; and for God's sake all of the clones! Even with the all money that was thought to be lost during the Episode 1 release in 99, one would think that Hasbro would have,at least, broke even by now forcing carded collectors and even loose collectors to purchase and even repurchase items to keep their collections up to date.

I doubt that, at least, some of the collector community would mind "the end" of the line. That way, maybe some collectors can final say they have a complete collection. What do you think?

Right now, it's fine and depending on what Lucas has planned for the next few years, it's entirely possible its best days are ahead of it. Collectors are a small part of the picture-- a big small part, the part that gives the brands millions of dollars of free marketing, but there is a lot of money in lightsabers, Star Wars Transformers, and the other stuff aimed at kids under 10. The line would still be fine without us, it might look more like The Clone Wars with less emphasis on new figures but hey-- at least they don't have cases with 3 new figures most of the time.

Due to the nature of collectors, well, who cares what we want? Hasbro is a financial eatbeast and they want to make money. Collectors are toy-collecting eatbeasts, the original line in the 1970s and 1980s was not made with people like us in mind. The relaunch in the 1990s was made with a very vague idea as to what a collector was and what they might want. If Hasbro stopped "vintage" tomorrow and switched entirely to "Movie Heroes," we'd switch. Because that's what there is, and as an audience, we want to buy this stuff. I know it may not be the answer you want, but you can print money with this license without ever addressing the desires of older fans. If the Four Horsemen and Mattel teamed up tomorrow to make "Star Wars Universe" 6-inch figures, they'd get a whole new audience, some of the old audience, and probably another 3-5 years with minimal effort.

With Return of the Jedi theoretically hitting 3D theaters in 2017, the line has at least that much meat on its bones-- odds are we'll still get one big vehicle a year, 30 or so new figures to coincide with each movie rerelease, and at least 20 new animated figures for as long as the cartoon continues. (And odds are next year many of them will be Darth Maul.) Right now, I'd say the most interesting that could happen to Star Wars is to jettison the collector mentality and focus squarely on kids-- fun figures with neat gear that will, I hope, be designed to sit inside vehicles. I'm far more interested in next year's electronic, spring-loaded, and otherwise funky "Movie Heroes" than I am in the continuation of the vintage line. We haven't had a completely new Jake Lloyd Anakin since 2000-- one with a goofy backpack should be fun.

If you look at The Clone Wars since 2010, one thing that's been sorely lacking is generic Clone Troopers. You can't buy a plain white clone by itself, or any generic trooper of any of the various squadrons without buying a $20+ set of toys. This, I find to be bizarre, the line has moved to mostly specific hero characters with a reduced emphasis on unnamed heroes. (There are, of course, a few.)

So if you're sick and tired of the line, I suggest either altering your focus or quitting. As long as there are toys, there will be toy collectors. Gormiti has adult fans, even if Hasbro changed course to be a completely kid-focused series we'd probably still buy a lot of it. (Although, admittedly, I have little interest in new, smaller-scale figure lines outside of Jedi Force.) If Hasbro plays their cards right, and they will, you will still have the opportunity to buy new and "new" stuff for at least six more years... hopefully with a decreasing package footprint.



Sooooo... what's left for this year?

Probably not much. Now that Target's items have hit, it seems there are few to no items yet-to-be-released as the movie lines go, with a smattering of unreleased Wal-Mart exclusives (overdue from August) from The Clone Wars not yet showing up.

It looks like no additional Vintage will ship before year's end-- although we might be surprised-- but right now I'm wondering if the Wal-Mart items are being held for a late November launch for the holiday season, or just got kicked down the road to 2012 or even to another retail partner. For the record, Wal-Mart had repaints of the BARC Speeder and AT-RT as well as a pair of figure/DVD sets with two new Clones added to the mix.

With the Episode I relaunch just around the corner, it seems possible-- even likely-- that the bulk of the 2011 product line is done with. Granted, some items are still making it out, like the newer The Clone Wars waves, but the stuff is out and it's a little depressing to think that we might actually not see much new ship for the next 12-13 weeks. Unless of course the mass retailers all ignore the set date for the Phantom Menace stuff and put it out as soon as it shows up after Christmas, which is where I'd currently be placing my bets.

The onslaught in 2012-- with a mix of new 2012 product and unshipped 2011 product-- is going to be mighty. I do suggest you all whip out your abacus and estimate what you'll probably want to have around for January, because it looks like-- and I could be wrong-- my conservative estimate is in the low hundreds, and that's not counting any surprises between now and then. There will be a lot of repacks, and a lot of stuff so similar you might skip it, but there are still going to be hundreds of dollars worth of new, movie-based product in a very short window.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now!

This is why I come Here

Since the forums went down, Adams FotD and Q&A are the only reasons I still visit the site everyday. The amount and variety of responses has been spectacular and fun to read. Adam, I hope you are able to do this for a long time to come, even if it becomes necessary to do it on a less frequent basis. I have been reading his coments for well over a decade, and even though, yes I can see how sometimes some of us can think he is being elitest, he is in the position he is in because he worked for it, and the simple fact that the rest of us didn't have the forsight to persue the same career that would eventually highten our collecting ability is no fault of Adams. Good for you Adam. I won't sit here and not say that I'm not jealous, I am, but by no means doe that de-value what I think he brings to the collecting community. Lets face it, withought Adam, there would not be a collecting community here (at GalacticHunter) at all. It is his profession and insight to that profession that makes him so valuable to the collecting community. Really, why do those people who so often disagree with him keep coming back every week to read what he has to say. Adams original comments about the environmental aspects of the original question seemingly being disengenuous to him, also seemed that way to me, but as Adam stated in his recent comment, and many, many, times before about the waste of the packaging being used should help aleaviate some of your concerns about how he feels about things that are not done as efficiantly as they could be.

Separate issue, when are you just going to merge Galactichunter and 16bit, seems like a little time and effort could be saved on your part. If that is even an option. Or just shut down GalacticHunter and move everything over to 16bit. It would make it easier all around I would think.

I've thought about doing just

I've thought about doing just one big site with everything, but Star Wars people generally don't usually like chocolate in their peanut butter-- I've been told there's a reason most collecting sites break out to their own specific categories (Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Transformers, GI Joe, etc.) 16bit is basically a dumping ground for anything I want to keep track of and/or share with people I've met over the years, so if I see or hear something interesting (non-SW) I want people to know about, I post it over there.

I could be wrong-- and would love to know if I am-- but I think if I started posting about Outer Space Men, Glyos, Playmobil, and vintage Zoids on the same site as Star Wars Q&A and FOTD I'd have even MORE people calling for my head. (And they would probably be right in doing that.) It's the same reason I try to keep holiday or other sentiments off the front page... you come here to read about Star Wars toys, not to have me wish you a happy 4th of July or Easter or Arbor Day or whatever.

...plus GalacticHunter is way, way more popular than 16bit.com.

Critical Thinking Skills?

Look, I agree, Adam is being glib. This is the basic line we're talking about here. Yes, the case assortment is designed to make collecting difficult. Yes, Hasbro has been monkeying with the case pack assortments to drive sales of figures collectors would be otherwise over quickly (including the constant glut of Clone Wars figures I see). Yes, it can be an environmentally-conscious decision to not make special trips to stores for toy collecting. I should know because I made the same decision.

Adam, as a columnist, hasn't ever really felt obligated to empathize with the perspectives of others, and his answers regularly reflect that. Some feel he's a jackass and I've shared that viewpoint from time to time. I'm sure in the back of his mind, he feels he's shooting from the hip and calling 'em like he sees 'em. But it's his column -- read it or don't.

I know the impulse is to argue your viewpoint. And I believe you all feel he's got a platform that you feel should reflect more than just his opinion, and you feel a dialogue should be expected when it comes to discourse, but I think you should all recognize that it is no secret that Adam does not.

At your most basic understanding of Adam, you must know that he works for Entertainment Earth, a company that quite shamelessly charges a premium for access to things collectors are frustrated trying to find elsewhere. Does it make any sense that someone who works for a company that engages in, essentially, institutionalized scalping, would be sympathetic to the frustrations of collectors? Do you think one such as he would have any qualms about giving frustrated collectors a raspberry? Entertainment Earth wants the money you would otherwise spend on gas. That gas money is Adam's paycheck. So stop you're whining and buy a case of repacks.

But none of this is a secret and none of it is being glossed over. You want an insider scoop from someone with an ear to what's going on just backstage. So you read this column. Bring your critical thinking skills, consider the source and be aware the guy you're listening to is not only competing with you in the aisles, he's also profiting from you.

Questions and comments

Questions and comments regarding distribution may have no satisfying response from anyone outside of Hasbro. When it comes to distribution... what is it you would like to hear? "They're coming!" may not be true. "Scalpers!" is also not entirely true-- looking on eBay BEFORE I WROTE Q&A THIS WEEK I saw a handful of Bastila/Ponda/Hoth Rebel in lots or individually averaging about $10-$13 before shipping. Seeing as they were $10 at the Kmart I saw them at, "buy it on eBay" is not, to me, a dismissive answer when they're around $15 or less. It may be your best option, and it's certainly cheaper than buying the entire case and similar to the cost of a figure plus a gallon or two of gas. If "rare" figures sell for $10-$15 on eBay, supply & demand tells me that Hasbro more or less nailed it-- "less" really, given you can't find them, but it used to be rare figures sold for $30 or more, and in the case of at least one recent release (see below) they still do.

For anyone in any walk of life, it makes sense to do the math and see what makes the most sense for you. If the nearest Kmart is 50 miles away and that Kmart exclusive you want is $15, but $25 shipping on eBay... eBay probably is the most sensible venue. Not all options are good for everybody-- I'm like 10 miles from a Kmart, but it's on the way to somewhere I need to go, so I'll just check. But if I knew I'd have to waste that much gas to get a CHANCE at it? Yeah, online. Or wait for future eBay sellers at a loss.

Yes, I work for Entertainment Earth. I don't make that a secret. I want you to know PRECISELY because I don't want someone to feel what you're seeing here is a surprise. (Granted, I started at Galactic Hunter 3 years before that and have been writing basically this kind of answer since 1999 when I started Q&A on another site and roughly 1995 when I started a newsletter via email in the Old West days of the web. I was even more jerkier and glib as a teenager, feel free to look me up.) I get flak from people in the toy business because they don't want news getting out here, and I get heat from you guys because I'm in the toy business. It's a fun line to walk, let me tell you.

(I take issue with the "charges a premium" comments, Michael-- most of the items are in line with SRP if not cheaper. There's also [marketing pitch incoming] a low price guarantee so call us and complain and we'll give you the lower price on whatever it is you wanted, provided it's not some crazy clearance you saw at a Kmart or something.)

I realize distribution is still a hot-button fresh issue for some of you, but I've been getting people upset with me (or so it seems from their emails) for about 15 years when it comes to not being able to find stuff. No matter what, people are angry, but that's because we have options and not every one works for everybody. (Me? I hate release/street dates and midnight madness. I've never been more insulted than when I overheard what people at a shop which shall remain nameless were saying about my fellow collectors at a ROTS event in 2005, but I digress.) All I'm trying to do is share what I see-- tinged, tainted, or colored as it may be-- and I try to base most of what I write based on what I see in the wilds of retail and not online because I know most of my readers do not like to order online. Nobody is saying you have to. I certainly am not saying you have to order a case, but sometimes ordering online months (or years) after the smoke clears is the best option if you can't get what you want cheaply, locally, and easily.

Someone called out a $200 vintage Wedge on eBay to me. The last time I looked, it was about $90, and today I see it closing for around $36. (Which is still too damn high.) And by this time next year, if Hasbro gets him out, he'll probably be under $10 on eBay and around $9 in stores. That's how this thing works most of the time, with few exceptions. I hear you when you're frustrated that you can't find your figures TODAY, but if you look at a lot of my recent columns, I do point out that waiting is often one of the best solutions. If you don't want to order it online today at the current price/configuration, fans are a fickle bunch. We'll sell our collections on a whim, and prices crash when we do. Today's hot figure may be tomorrow's extra crap in a case, meaning it'll sit unsold at retail, meaning you can get it. (It may also not mean this, but that's part of waiting.)

If you can't wait, or map/price out your various options, I will admit I have a hard time feeling your pain. After doing this for sixteen years, and after I (and presumably most of you) have dozens or hundreds of figures, I actually learned to be a little more patient. (Emphasis on "little," I still like to go looking.) You can't win 'em all, especially when there are as many as there are to be had.

I didn't write here because I spent HOURS writing and re-writing responses on Monday and I didn't like how any of it turned out. And then I did it again today, and it turned out a lot like this-- too long and not very interesting. All I can leave you with is I hear you all, I disagree with many of your points, and I understand you disagree with mine. That's great. Just remember that as someone who has written about this hobby since 1995, I've also been the person everybody writes to in order to complain, and guess what? I hate being yelled at by strangers because you don't like how some other company distributes toys. I don't handle the casepacks. I do want to be able to communicate to you what I'm seeing and (based on evidence) why I believe it's happening, and while you may not like it, well, I don't like it either. But it's information, and hopefully you can make use of it (and that includes ignoring it or calling it a bunch of hooey) in any way which suits you. Since I use this information to find stuff at retail, well, I can't complain that it has worked for me. If you're driving somewhere and pass a Target, go in. It's worth the look.

There are things I've never seen at retail-- a fair amount, actually, but after thousands of figures that's bound to happen. In some cases, I waited and bought a small collection online for the price (or less than the price) of the items I wanted in it, which is great! (Well, for me.) Other times I trade, or I wait long enough until I stumble on an item at a comic shop for what I consider to be a fair price. (The 2005 Clone Wars Wal-Mart boxed sets come to mind-- never did see them in the wild, found them about a year ago for $15 each.)

I'm not sure where you get I'm poo-pooing things for the environment, but I do sense a lack of genuineness in SOME of the emails I get on the topic. I honestly do not equate more new figures per box with helping the world. That might mean more tooling needs to be created to stamp out figures faster, and old tooling often ends up on the bottom of the sea in China used as a boat anchor or left for the ages. But packaging? There are real things you can do with the packaging, and packaging is, ultimately, a waste product to most consumers (not collectors [and there are more consumers than collectors of this stuff]).

I went on dissecting Hasbro's packaging a few years ago and realized Star Wars (2009 TLC/CW/SL) had 50% more material by mass than G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary's smaller footprint. 50%! Do you know what that adds up to over HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of products? It's huge! Do you know what kind of response I got? All negative. I got hate mail for being some hippie tree hugger or other similar sentiments despite just pointing out that there's a lot of wasted cardboard and plastic, and Hasbro's "vintage" styling actually reduces waste, reduces cost (less materials = cheaper), and freight (smaller packaging means more items in a smaller space, which helps by volume and lets us store more in less room.) It's a winning proposition for everybody. So why does everyone jump down my throat when I insist that a major manufacturer's MILLIONS OF PRODUCTS wasting less materials may be more significant than a few hundred-- maybe a few thousand-- people wasting a few gallons of gas looking for toys? There's a big difference here, and a real opportunity to save everybody a lot of waste.

Hasbro could reduce waste today by decreasing the size of the bubble on figure packaging-- and there's a lot of wasted plastic on Transformers and Clone Wars/Saga Legends packaging-- and that cardboard and plastic costs money, and you are paying for it. Packaging isn't free, and neither are the resources from which it is made. Gas isn't free either, but the amount of people making toy runs is statistically insignificant compared to other problems which have an arguably greater impact on the planet as a whole. You'll never convince Americans to stop driving, but convincing someone to waste less because it improves their bottom line? Who DOESN'T benefit here? (The fact that Hasbro's GI Joe/Star Wars vintage packaging uses less material is just a happy accident. But it's the same with Hot Wheels-- efficient stuff. LEGO has significantly reduced the amount of "air" they're shipping in large, mostly empty boxes in the past year, they really nailed it.)

I guess what I'm getting at is this: what is it you want to hear from me? I relay your comments about finding stuff to the appropriate people in the biz when I get the chance. Most of the time, they're already aware of the problems.

Personally, the best thing (which I wrote about in the column) would be the return of evenly packed cases so you can order a set or get a case with 2 of everybody, if that's what you want. I've brought it up to Hasbro and was told they were revisiting it-- and I mentioned that in the column. I'm not one of the top 3 major toy retailers, and that's who drives the ship of this business. (TRU and Wal-Mart helped kill GI Joe more than once-- they, along with Target, really do control the future of this business as mass retail goes and Star Wars is a mass retail line.

We're never, ever going to have a day where all figures will be easily available all the time. I wish I could be more optimistic but I've been watching the toy biz somewhat closely since the early 1990s and I've learned there will always be shortpacks, there will always be rare end-of-the-line figures, and there will always, ALWAYS be someone who beats you to the aisles.

So there, I wasted a few hours concocting a reply that probably won't matter.

We're all on the same boat-- we all want new figures. It's just that some things get better, some things get worse, and when things DO get better next year with the big relaunch and all items being available everywhere on the same day, it's going to be Episode I stuff, so I'm going to get more hate mail for another decision I had nothing to do with then too. (And then I'll get MORE hate mail because I'm actually excited to see new Episode I sculpts with honest-to-goodness toy features for once.)

I have more to say on the matter, but this can go on for weeks. I don't have the time to keep addressing the same topics again and again so distribution, you are now expelled from any Q&A installments beyond those I've already written.

As someone who shops at

As someone who shops at Entertainment Earth, let me just say that the reason why I have ordered from them for well over a decade now is because they are one of the few online retailers that ARE fair with their prices.

Their cost for a case of Vintage figures is $109.99 - that's $9.17 per figure. The TRU price is $9.99 and the KMart price is $10.99.

And before anyone cries out "don't forget shipping!!!" if you're like me and you live in a state full of corruption and a ridiculously high sales tax, EE's Super Saver shipping is on-par with the sales tax you'd get charged.

Is $9.17 more money than the $8.96 that WalMart charges? the $8.99 that Target charges? It sure is, but with EE, I'm guaranteed an un-punched card in a mint case and if the figures aren't mint they replace them. That's definitely worth the extra $0.21 on each figure.

When shopping at Target/WalMart/TRU/KMart you have to contend with the condition the figure may be in as a result of: 1) the case box being cut open by an employee who works that box cutter like he's Wolverine; 2) the endless kids who take the figure down and ask Mommy to buy, only to be told "no" and the figure gets just tossed anywhere; AND 3) the bitter/disgruntled cashier who acts like every item you're buying has to be forceably crammed into a single bag when there are plenty of other bags available.

So depending on what type of collector you are, EE is a very reasonable, viable alternative, to running around to multiple stores every day.

For the record, I also ordered two cases of the Clone Wars Wave 12 case from EE - the benefit of scoring a set of the final SotDS Clone Wars figures to keep MOC and another set to open, far outweighed the extra costs I had to pay as a result of eating the extra figures.

I've decided to drop the extra figures from my Vintage cases and the Clone Wars cases into the Toys for Toys box we have at my job. So in my mind, it's a win-win all around.

environmental poster

I don't really see the conflict between having environmental concerns and being a collector. The original poster (David) stated his case quite well. I guess I don't understand the skepticism on Adam's part about the environmental concerns. And even if Adam doesn't share those concerns, there's really no need to be so dickish about it.

For both environmental and $ reasons, I don't like to drive around needlessly either. But I suppose that makes me a less serious collector to someone with Adam's cliqueish/high school worldview.

Gas costs just as much, if

Gas costs just as much, if not more, than buying them individually online. When will people figure it out, it's not worth it to drive 20+ miles to save $4-5 on shipping? your stress level will lower when you start ordering online.

The real problem here guys is SCALPING. Go take a look how many Fordos and Bastillas are onsale right now MOC on eBay, and look at your local pegs. Stores order this stuff, then the early-bird dealers buy everything, and you guys buy it from them encouraging them to do it again. Wedge was an invitation to do it even more... How does my local flea market have six, seven Wedges (for $200 a piece) and every booth with toys having every new TVC figure, for $20-25 each, every weekend, and I still can't find a single figure Spring 2011 waves?

In my area (north nj & nyc) the only brick & mortar store that is guaranteed to have anything is the Times Square TRU, and it only does because of the high markup, about $2 above regular TRU price. I think the folks in my area will confirm this, we are the most heavily scalped area in the US!!

All the folks driving around looking for these (to sell or to keep) IS an incredible waste of time, money, gas, and the planet's sky. Caring about what you do to the environment- even in the context of complaining about star wars toys- is NEVER petty or misguided. Blowing it off is. Environmentalism and collecting are NOT incompatible in any way. That is a really sad, lazy way to look at things. Better to at least try to do the right thing than be cynical and do nothing. Driving around looking for toys at big box stores who are already picked clean by re-sellers is easy to do if you have money to burn and could care less about the future.

Not everyone works for a toy site- they have lives that do not 100% revolve around getting SW figures. Some people work and have kids and have to do things with their lives other than drive in circles to big box stores. Sometimes taking your loved one out on the town is much more important than spending the night driving around looking for toys and saving $5-6.

Want to make a change guys? Stop buying them on eBay is step one. Calling out scalpers in public and alerting the stores and higher-ups is step two.

Even distribution

This Q&A came right at about a time when I was thinking about how I used to be more enthused about purchasing whole cases of figures from EE than I am now.

Before, there used to be a wider variety of cases and I could try to pick and choose what I wanted and what I needed. Then, during the build-a-droid run, I was pretty much buying every single case because I'm a sucker. I knew darned well that I was buying dupes for the purpose of getting a neat little droid. I saw right through it, but I didn't mind because I thought those droids were worth it.

Currently, I'm seeing "wave" after "wave" of figures come out with a couple of new figures and a whole mess of figures that have been out since wave 1 that I've already gotten duplicates of - sometimes within the same case. More and more, I look at the distribution of figures in a case and try to talk myself into thinking, "I can do without those three figures."

Obviously, Hasbro should know what they're doing, but filling up all those cases with the same figures time and time again makes me wonder if those should be sold in the vintage waves or repacked to the best of lines. I want to give my money to Hasbro, I really do. But they make it so hard for me to do so.

I guess I can always give my dupes away in those Toys for Tots boxes.

Sometimes even hitting multiple stores isn't enough

Since the comments have also touched on the aspect of frequent toy runs, I feel like I should mention that depending on where you live, even making two or three store stops EACH DAY may not be enough. I am fortunate to live in an area with multiple Target, WalMart, KMart and Toys R Us stores all within driving distance and several of them along the route I take to and from work each day.

So for me, it is VERY easy to hit two to three stores every morning.

Does that mean I always find what I need for my collection?

Nope. Like I mentioned in my first comment, I bought the last three 2011 Vintage Waves, by-the-case, from EE. Why? Because finding the Vintage waves locally has been impossible. It was only until recently that one WalMart was clogged with Sandtroopers and ROTS Clonetroopers, got cleared out leaving six AOTC Obi-Wan figures as the only Vintage figures on the pegs for over two months. Then, all at once, this store got in mountains of Vintage figures - all Wave 6 (the General Lando, Dagobah Landing Luke, etc... wave) - a wave that I had found months ago at other stores. If it had been Wave 7, at least then it would have meant numerous Rebel Fleet Troopers and ARC Commanders that I could have picked up to help out other collectors with, but no, it was a wave two waves back.

From a collectors stand-point, on a line aimed at collectors, now what is this WalMart going to do with at least six cases worth of Vintage Wave 6? The answer is simple, if not obvious, they're gonna sit on them. And two weeks later, that's EXACTLY what has happened, all of the figures from those cases are still there, clogging the Vintage pegs.

So I've now taken this WalMart out of my daily on-my-way-to-work toy run and switched to a different WalMart. And last week, that WalMart got in about six cases of a Clone Wars case that has Pre Vizla and the Flamethrower Clone. No sign of any figures from the Riot Control Clone wave to the Chewie wave.

Having waves that shipped MONTHS ago now show up in mass quantities, including more and more repacks from previous waves that no one wanted in the first place, only makes the situation worse, not better. And no matter how many times you visit these stores, the stock situation isn't going to change if no one is buying what are now considered "old" figures.

So from that stand point Adam, I'm afraid your formula may not apply anymore either. It used to be that if I hit 1 WalMart, 1 Target and 1 TRU each day, I would always find what I need.

Now, the only way I've been able to keep up is to hit multiples of each store type every day and even then, I get shut out on entire waves and end up having to resort to buying by-the-case or via eBay, online.

I've mentioned this before on discussion threads on various sites, but why couldn't major online players, like Entertainment Earth, pressure Hasbro for collector-oriented cases? I have yet to truly get a legit answer, besides the theory that the big box stores pressure Hasbro to NOT offer those types of cases since it would essentially keep the collectors out of the stores.

Maybe I'm wrong, but...

I read several comments from several posters on several sites, and with so many people saying the same thing, you've got to wonder if there is really some truth to what's being said. Now, to me, it doesn't matter, but I think I know why things are the way they are.

I will admit that I am a total niche collector - the only thing I have any interest in is the vintage collection. It's what brought me back into collecting after I had been forced to divest myself of whatever I had collected because of divorce/loss of job a few years back. I currently have amassed of decent collection of them, but having adopted a lifestyle of extreme moderation, I sometimes think I have too many (I don't know the exact number, I only know the amount of space they take up), and when vintage ends, my collecting ends. That said, I hunt for new stuff much like the others here have mentioned, in that it only occurs when I happen to already be out. I find new things sporadically, but I am always grateful when I do, because I am enjoyng this while it lasts. I don't get upset, and I don't feel the need to lament. However, I cannot help but notice that it seems to be a lot harder to find new product nowadays than, say, ten or twelve years ago, and I think a lot of that has to do with the diversification of the brand. There was no distinction between 'kid-focused' and 'collector-focused' toys back then, and there is a glut of unwanted items on both sides as a result. If Hasbro has made any missteps, I beleive this is at least the biggest, and is likely the biggest contributor to the distribution problem. Retailers aren't going to order new cases of product that isn't selling, period. But they aren't discerning enough to know why they aren't selling, nor which assortments would sell, so it becomes a viscious circle.

Is there anything that can be done at this point? Probably not (we'll see how early 2012 pans out), but as I said, I'm grateful for what I find because eventually, this is all going to come to an end, and I'm gonna enjoy the ride for now.

maybe you're wrong

You know Adam, you always give a hard time to anyone that brings up the "environmental" topic. Perhaps the person whom posed the question actually means what they are asking. I think it is an excellent position and speaks for more than just a small percent of adult collectors. For me, I do understand I collect plastic figures with plastic packaging that are not good for the future of the planet. Overall, I run a pretty environmentally conscious lifestyle, and although I make a concession for these items for me and my family, I do nonetheless limit and consolidate my travel for said items. As a family, we only "hunt" where we are already going, we only buy what we really want, and we recycle everything we can. We also discuss the harm of the waste (for food and particularly in material consumerism). Perhaps we should shun the hobby altogether, but in a way we are doing our part overall and continue down this path as it bridges a generation gap and is something we enjoy doing together.

You've panned a completely valid question. Not everyone has the time or desire to make several toy runs to several stores several times a day. More so, some of us think it is irresponsible to do so. Just because you have extra time or cash doesn't excuse your lack of regard for the bigger picture, nor does it mean you have a right to collecting that we don't. it just means you find more of what you want than we do.

Your answer about Hasbro is spot on, but your typical elitist attitude towards getting the toys first because you work harder is immature. Hasbro SHOULD re-evaluate it's business model, and as a high-profile collecting website, perhaps you should be more vocal about the benefits of such a change rather than shoot your readers down because you feel they are playing an angle.

And for some 'lulz', no, I am not the person that submitted the original question.


While I agree that adopting an environmental impact angle, while it might be legitimate, is unlikely to sway minds at Hasbro, Adam, simply put, most of us cannot afford the time or money your recipe for finding figures at retail entails. I can't make daily or near-daily toy runs both on account of time and expense. While I appreciate you sharing your methods with us, I feel the frustration that many do that for YEARS going to the store once a week was good enough to net you most of the figures, and you could pick up the few rare or hot figures elsewhere (the lone exception for me since 1995 was the wave with the Solo kids in it. I knew I would never see that at retail and planned accordingly). I don't have the money or desire to buy cases -- I don't want 4-6 figures I can't unload for 4-6 that I might want. From what I'm parsing here, what you're telling me (and those like me) is that the old way of collecting simply isn't good enough any more, which from all evidence seems to be completely correct. But the irritation I think most of us feel, besides not being able to find anything at retail (I've found FOUR new figures at retail the entire calendar year of 2011. FOUR.), is the fact that it is now and seems in the future highly likely that this is the new normal. Those of us who hit a big box store once or twice a week for some other reason (wife, kids, other shopping), well, we're just screwed. And for a decade and a half, this was not the case. Since this is unlikely to change any time soon (forget ever getting a Bastila Shan, at least any time before 2015), I have adapted my collecting habits accordingly. I go to the store with the same frequency, and if something is there, I get it. If nothing is there, which is most usually the case, I just move on. I save myself a lot of grief (and money), but I now have huge gaps in my collection that in all likelihood I will never fill. So Hasbro's strategy for retail delivery, while it obviously works for them, is a major factor in shifting some (many?) of us from near-completists to causal (or even random) collectors to people leaving the hobby. And while I understand that this is a business and that in the grand scheme of things collector dollars are a tiny sliver of the pie, I'm sorry, but being ushered out of a hobby by poor or insufficient distribution (or whatever the real culprit for retail barrenness is) just strikes me as sad.


Despite David attempting to take a "stand" for environmental reasons, I agree that for me also it is just not reasonable for me to make daily toy runs. I live in a very small town (pop. 450) 20 miles from the city, and now that I have started my own business, cannot make the trip everyday to the city, even though every time I am there, which is still 2 to 4 times a week, I have been missing a lot of releases, actually, entire waves. The problem is not the environmental impact of driving a vehicle that much as it is the impact on the wallet driving that much with nothing to show for it afterwards.



While say, a Vintage case shipping with 4 Bastilla, 4 Echo Base Rebel Troopers and 4 Walrusman figures is a bit extreme and should never happen, what would the harm have been putting those three new figures in the other two cases that also include the "Revenge" variants? Both of which are technically, solid cases of nothing but re-packs - so the "cost of the wave" should be incredibly low.

I bought all three cases from EE - and even with taking advantage of the extra Rebel Fleet Troopers, the extra Fordo, wanting the MOC "Revenge" and "Return" variants of all figures involved (including the "Return" versions of Vader, Fett & the Stormtrooper), I still ended up with over six figures, that anyone who WAS buying by-the-case, would have no need for, so why not have all three cases have one each of the three truly new figures? Wouldn't that mean spreading the "cost of the wave" down to three casepacks? As an added bonus why couldn't Wedge have been in one of these cases with some of the other "Return" figures?

So, I think the biggest argument now regarding case packs isn't "we want each case to be nothing but new figures", it's more "we want the case packs to contain more informed choices". And before anyone responds with "well, case packs are set months and months in advance" - ask yourself if ANYONE saw there being a run on demand for the AOTC version of Obi-Wan Kenobi. That figure has been in almost every Vintage case since the AOTC wave came out.


Adam, I have to echo the sentiments of the above posters and express my dismay at the elitist attitude you have displayed in regards to the question. This is sadly not the first time I have seen you take to task someone bemoaning the state of the collecting union. To boil things down to "well you need to look harder" is an insult and a poor response. While I appreciate that you can hit your haunts with invested frequency many of us do not have that option due to work, kids, school, gas, or location ( I have 2 Walmarts, 1 Target, and 1 TRU that is self admittedly not invested in SW because "they don't sell" as Hot Wheels is the bread and butter). I am struggling to find the latest CW waves. According to your terse replies it is my fault. But how can that be when the pegs are clogged with 2010 figs or when they do come in they are smothered by 3 older figs to every one new one. Should I take responsibility for clogged pegs of figs that I refuse to buy? I am not a case buyer for the simple fact that I see no point in paying a large amount of money for a very minimal return and a large amount of figs I do not want/already have. Why is a more rounded case pack not feasible. I know there are more than a few people who never saw S3 Ahsoka; is that fair to fans who have supported the line? All folks like me want is for Hasbro to be more invested in ensuring new stuff gets to collector/kid hands and not just to ebay/or people who are arrogant because they have the freedom to hit stores on a higher frequency. It's not cool to turn your nose up to people who are only asking for the chance to fill their collections as well.

runs and new stuff

I belonged to this site before it got changed- I go everyday to al stores--I got to talk with my local hasbro rep and she promised there would be new product on the pegs by the second week of oct--its is now nov--I did buy hondox2 but he was due out in the spring and original release never hit around here. I want the mando assault transport but have never seen it out--the artillery piece is awesome but have only seen 2-bought 1. They-habro-have all but wiped out the hobby from most of my friends who collect. I do like CW but even that is months behind-kids huh? The clone shuttle will only be bought at 50$ or less and next year with epi. 1--Nothin' but junk! Junk in 99 and still junk!! Some here used to say we had to buy the big vehicle each year to get another one next year-queens flopfest ship re-release next year combined with this years shuttle---they better have a deathstar at toyfair! Oh yea--wait for toyfair-then for comic con and then for nyc comic con---Hasbro is the CON!!!