Let's close out 2013 with the final Q&A of the year! Watch me ramble. Watch someone else ramble. Let's all ramble, and we'll regroup after the New Year with whatever new questions you send in - keep them coming!
1. Having collected Star Wars Vintage and modern items since 1978, I have to say that this era we are in right now has to be the worst time ever to be a collector. Substandard product, limited availability, rising prices...it's been tough. The thing that's finally pushed me over the edge is the problem with the 3 3/4" Black Series bubbles. As a carded collector, I'm keeping these toys sealed, but these things are falling apart on the shelves. It's the first time in the modern line I'm not buying or hunting because I'm not spending 10.99 on what's going to become a loose figure. (In not even going to get into how fugly the cards are, the worst since the light blue '02 line). So tell me this....are they correcting it? Has EE had to replace cases of figs that have fallen apart because of the Mint Condition guarantee? Does Hasblow even know their factories are using Asian spit instead of glue? When's it gonna be safe to buy a case? Hasbro answered some questions for other websites at SDCC but not one cat asked about the bubble problem. (Which just amazed me. It's the elephant in the room and not ONE person brought it up? Really?) And if Hasbro IS gonna correct it, will all figs from wave 1 (and any other waves that are falling apart) be reissued in later case assortments? Has EE let Hasbro know that it's costing them some bucks? This is the worst debacle in Star Wars collecting history, they can't CARD A FIGURE, and there's dead silence from them on it. What info, if any, do u have?
I had a response written for this, and then I figured today would be a good way to close out 2013. As soon as I see "hasblow" my eyes just kind of roll back and I stop wanting to read the rest of the email. I get a lot of very varied notions on who I am and what my opinions are on things (too picky/not picky enough, indifferent/rude/nice/funny, etc.) and I can safely tell you that I am absolutely sick of this kind of question. I get a lot of them too, and while no one can argue that 2013 was the finest hour for our favorite toy line, it certainly was a year where we all spent a lot less money on toys. Well, collectively at least. Per-toy got a little more expensive.
If you take a big step back at the toy aisles, you'll notice Hasbro cranked out fewer toys in many of its brands this year and the focus has moved a little more toward kids than collectors. (They spend more as a group.) Marvel has more kid stuff, Transformers was a little lighter than some years as "adult" stuff goes, but it is what it is. Not every year can be perfect, and the era of new toys every 30-45 days is probably long over. It was fun, wasn't it? This year was a little less fun, but geez, I don't want to read email like the above letter. What kind of reply would be a good one? Strategic use of delete? I say this as someone who lives and breathes this stuff about as much as you can do without doing anything else, too - if one figure line disappoints me, someone else will give me something neat. Sure, Star Wars was a little soft but there's this guy John Kent who got the licenses for Robo Force and Mordles/Rocks & Bugs & Things. So now those are sitting on my desk. I looked into Hot Wheels and found the awesome Speed-a-saurus for 49 cents this month. That's what I say to bad packaging - there are other toys that you should look at, or you can put it toward lunch somewhere new and interesting.
2013 had a lot of highs and lows, and some of the highs also had lows. I assume most of 2014 will be similar in the sense that we'll plod along more toward a future with more movies, where I really do hope fans like them. Note, I didn't say that I hope I like them - I just remember what it was like during the prequels to get endless hate mail as if I had the ability to change something, or someone "just wanted to vent." It's draining when this is what you do before bed at night. Use the forums to vent, please, we need posts! If Hasbro sees lots of quality control issue posts, they'll realize there's a real problem - if it's one or two reports, that means nothing. One or two bum figures is inconsequential in their production runs - there needs to be more evidence of problems so they can act on it, unless they see it themselves. My cases of figures came in more or less fine.
I'm thankful that Hasbro and Disney didn't put out more "Droid Factory" figures. I'm thankful that I managed to snag all the Asia/Europe figures, even if a couple of them really cost me. I'm thankful that the Black Series started, especially if the attention to detail improves on the 6-inch line. I'm thankful that my favorite line isn't G.I. Joe right now. Generally writing about these toys is a fun experience, and even a crummy year is generally at least mildly entertaining. I can't say that the commentary coming at me (send it to Hasbro!) has me feeling great - but I do have other hobbies, as I hope you do, and if Hasbro fails to give you what you want just remember that Nintendo is giving you more Mario and Zelda games than you can shake a stick at this year. The less seriously you take your hobbies, the more fun they are - I could give a crap about collecting all of Hot Wheels, but the six (or less) I buy in a month as of late are a lot of fun. I assume Pokemon is better if you don't obsess over getting the entire set of cards or in-game characters, too.
Here's to a more prosperous 2014 - may the toys be cheap, plentiful, and may you not complain to me about it when you see a figure you have on-shelf more than twice.
2. I stopped at my local TrU and observed all 3 of the Black Series Biggs they had pegged were falling off thair cards. Nobody stole anything, the bubbles were just detatching and dropping to the shelf.
I guess Hasbro has an issue with glue or the card surfaces? Bummer for carded collectors, huh? Looks like the and of the linae for a real good run when they have to cut costs on the bare-bones zero-accessory vintage line at ten bucks a pop.
See, here's another one. I appreciate the brevity and general tone, though, thank you PR. I've seen far fewer figures falling off cardbacks in recent weeks myself, but I don't even think this is a question, really so let's see if I can find any more in the mailbag before calling it a year.
3. Hey Adam! Hope all is well. My question is do the early production samples of Mara Jade have the "five head"? I just picked up one and the forehead and hair situation looks pretty alright. Not as bad as your assessment (I went and checked out the FOTD again). Also where can I order those super 7 Alien figures? I got the loot saved up and want to spend on the set. Plus which was the bonus figure given to those who preordered? Thanks again for providing great reviews that help me decide where to spend my hard earned cash.
I am seeing conflicting information on the Black Series Mara Jade, which may mean a running change - mine looks iffy, most people who got one agree. Pretty much every figure you see in Figure of the Day is a carded sample that came out of a retail case from an online store (can you guess which one?) or was purchased by me at a store in my neighborhood, as Hasbro does not love me enough to send me/sell me early samples. What you see is what I got, but feel free to post a picture to your Tumblr/Flickr/whatever and send me a link so I can see how yours turned out. Mara will return in wave 3 so I expect to be able to find the running change if it gets produced in decent numbers.
As to the Super 7 Alien figures, I don't have an answer just yet - I preordered too and I haven't seen nor heard anything as to what the sixth figure will be as of yet. If anyone has seen an answer, do share - I'd be stunned if it was anything other than a variant of one of the existing five figures. A "test shot" Ripley, for example, or a glow-in-the-dark Alien would make a lot of sense.
Where to pre-order them? Well, because they pay my bills, I'm a big fan of Entertainment Earth. Keep in mind the sixth figure is only available (as far as we have been told) to Early Bird Kit pre-orders, so if you didn't jump on that you can only get the five. On the bright side, it's a lot cheaper to just get the five - I paid $100 for the Early Bird set.
4. Hi Adam, I can give some additional info on the Sam's Club Millennium Falcon display from this week's Q&A. You were correct, this was an actual in-store display for the OTC Collection release of the Falcon. I have this piece (picture attached) and got mine from the Sam's Club near the Scottsdale Airpark back in the day. Interesting tip on how I got it: I was looking at it saying how cool the display was and my wife just picked the whole damn thing up and took it to the register and made them sell it to her for the on-shelf item price. I was impressed, and couldn't believe I had never thought of that. Even though the BMF has made the original Falcon mold obsolete, the overall impact of this Sam's Club display piece still makes it one of my favorite SW items in my collection.
I guess that's how it's done! Good for you, Martin, thanks for sharing the story! I think I was at that store and saw it before you got it - if memory serves I remember being stunned they wouldn't accept Visa at Sam's Club when buying a really cool Prowl vs. Starscream set of Transformers.
Some years - not every year - I put the column on ice around Thanksgiving until the new year. Questions have been slow coming, Figure of the Day has been taking up more time, and work is going bonkers - thanks everybody for your business over at Entertainment Earth, and please buy more. We'll be back on/around January 6, 2014 with a new column with whatever questions you send in by then. So, keep 'em coming.
Until then, stay tuned for the home page for... whatever it is that comes up. Use this time of year to check out what's left of Blockbuster Video, keep an eye on Walmart's always surprising new and unannounced exclusives and specials, and don't forget the people at ToyFinity are remaking Robo Force, for both of you who know what that is. It's pretty fun.
If you have the means, I suggest you join me in my favorite ongoing holiday tradition. While you people are stuck listening to Christmas songs I substitute my collection of all five episodes of the amazing Chunklet Podcast from a few years ago - I don't even know where you can still find the files, but if you have the patience check it out. It's a mix of comedy and the kind of rock you can only get on 7" records by mail order, and is one of my favorite things to put on the ol' MP3 player after Thanksgiving. Where else do you hear Scratch Acid, Maria Bamford, A-Frames, and Patton Oswalt all in one place?
I don't have hugely high hopes for 3 3/4-inch next year but I'm all smiles for 6-inch as long as the quality improves. What we're seeing now is a decent if bumpy start, and if the list Hasbro posted to their site is indeed final we're going to be having a pleasant selection of toys in 2014. Assuming they make it out, so be sure to pick up wave 2.
See you next mission!
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.