Q&A: Amiibo Venting, Toy Delays, Expanded Universe Foibles

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 14, 2014

1. I've heard about an issue in California regarding the shipping/dock yards on strike or backed up packages that haven't shipped yet. As someone who works in an industry that relys on mail order, especially during this season, can you provide any insight into this. How much of an impact does this have on product around the country. Do items that ship from factories in China (like Hasbro action figures for instance) go through California ports b/c of logistics/Pacific Ocean?

This is very true! There are some really hot items now not going to make the holiday because of the issues at the docks. For example, Funko has a great Pop! Vinyl Dancing Groot figure coming. Given that it hasn't yet arrived, it may not make the holiday season unless you air freight it in from China at great added cost. (I'm going to add: "may" is the key word. Anything can happen at this point.)

There are other ports you can go to and since I only work in California, I don't know about most of them. I do know there's a Port of Texas where something can land in California, get put on a train, and go through customs in the middle of the country. It's weird, but the long and short of it is that you get inspected at your "final" destination. Since it enters the country, supposedly, in Texas that's where they take care of that business.

I don't believe all toys go through California, as both Hasbro and various sellers sometimes take in the product directly in addition to coming from a manufacturer's warehouse system. Sometimes you'll have a company that just picks it up from China directly and it's not too uncommon for a company to even have some items available only if you pick them up in China. Toy Biz not only did this, but was pretty open about it to the point I learned about terms like "FOB" in Action Figure Digest when I was fairly young.

While there are problems that it looks like may not make the holidays, well, that's sort of life. It will impact a business' bottom line. It will hurt some surprises under the tree. But people need to buy gifts - and collectors are patient in the sense that even though they want it yesterday, they'll wait a few weeks if it means getting it. You can't buy someone a present that isn't there, so in many cases people will just have to purchase something else - and thankfully we as collectors live in an era where there are constantly dozens of "something else"s to be had. No Star Wars? Well, try Amiibo.



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2. I know expanded universe is gone, my wife and I don't really follow it outside of Zahn, but we were talking recently, and the fact that Leia and Han named one of their sons Anakin, seems crazy to me. I don't know the context of how that happened, but that seems like a big stretch.

Vader pointed Leia's head at the screen when her planet was blown up. Vader tortured her and Han and he apparently killed baby Jedi's in the temple. On the one hand, I get that you have to forgive and forget, and there's a degree of sentimentality, but naming her son after him? I don't buy it. He helped BLOW UP her planet. Wouldn't Han just laugh at the suggestion.
--G V

The movie seems to take great pains to distinguish between Anakin Skywalker - a good guy, more or less - and Darth Vader - an armored tyrant. I'm assuming this name was selected, even with this in mind, because of Obi-Wan Kenobi's monologue in Return of the Jedi. When you get right down to it this movie series is a fairy tale in space, so there's more than a little bit of exaggeration and myth running around. My guess is this is there to spackle over the craziness of twincest and the like.

The thing I don't get is why you'd wait to name a kid after your dad until #3. I always thought that tended to be more of a first kid tradition, but hey, whatever. If you follow any train of logic too much in this series it starts to unravel the whole thing. There's also a genetically engineered race of slave labor in the army and in less than 20 years the warrior monk race that lasted 10,000 years is seen as a hokey ancient religion. Nevermind the fact that there were people practicing it when you were younger.

And that's just the movies - the Expanded Universe has a lot more going on and a lot less oversight, so as much of a non-answer as this is: a lot of stuff just doesn't click here. So we get to jettison a lot of it, for good or for ill, and maybe we'll get some characters in new forms. Who knows? I don't.




3. Hey me, what's the action toy line right now that feels like Star Wars: The Power of the Force from 1995?

I'm so glad I asked! Amiibo by Nintendo is basically their answer to Skylanders and Disney Infinity. To call it hot stuff is something of an understatement - series 2 broke street date on Friday, and over the last 3 days I've only seen one entrant from the second batch with Princess Zelda. (I was hoping to get a Little Mac.) Everything is being bought, and we're seeing a lot of online flipping like we did a lot in the 1990s. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is "scalpers" all over again. The scalping community provided big business and big irritation, buying up dozens of figures while Kenner made more and some of us overpaid on the secondary market while others waited. It wasn't the ideal situation, but it allowed Kenner and later Hasbro to have massive install bases of collectors with increasingly crazy obscure characters and nobody batted an eye for years. The momentum kept it going well, and we really didn't see too much sputtering until 2000 (the Phantom Menace crash) and a gradual decline that started in 2008.

Given the vast number of stores carrying Amiibo product and selling out several units per store, math dictates that there's a lot of it out there. Plus it's also the Christmas buying season, so in addition to regular fans you've also got the dealers and the moms and dads, too. It's a big toy line with a big potential audience - even though it's a game accessory, I ran out and bought Samus Aran on day one because I love 2D Metroid. I was hoping to get Little Mac over the weekend, but well, apparently that ain't happening.

The supply and demand issues - complete with less than fully honest (or at least wildly illogical) statements about what's "not selling" given everything other than the "popular" ones are sold out. Back in 1995 there were statements from Kenner employees that Star Wars would be like Starting Line-Ups in that some would be permanently phased out and the word "collectibility" came up a few times. They backpedaled a bit as things went on, but it looks like 19 years later another line with another long-gestating, largely underserved franchise is getting some action. Sadly, the idea of a complete set is totally out of the question today but if as many people are buying these to flip as I assume it might just be a few years until they're on eBay and worth pennies on the dollar. After all, that happened with Star Wars of the 1990s as well.




It's a bizarre time for Star Wars. I think most of us are sleeping or quit, because when I make my rounds I'm seeing 6-inch Yodas, Green Clone Troopers, and TIE Pilots. On shelves. During the Christmas shopping season. Obviously people are still buying the stuff - it's selling - but my luck is rarely quite this good. Meanwhile I'm seeing Transformers churn through product and while I've seen Chromia in the wild, I've yet to see Arcee. And, like I mentioned above, Amiibo seems to have stolen the collectible toy crown this season, for reals. I was considering collecting that line and had to throw up my hands in frustration within the first week of release. (Just as well, I don't know who Shulk is nor do I care to find out.)

If you're in to Glyos, The God Beast put up new Kabuto Mushi figures Sunday night (and they're gone) plus 481 Universe has a new listing November 19.

If you supported the Four Horsemen Ravens Kickstarter 18 months ago, the first figures from that are starting to arrive as of Saturday. Check your mailboxes this week, 700 orders have gone out so far and by my estimates there are about 1300 Kickstarter supporter boxes with figures for them to get out.

--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.



Six Second Toy Talk - Because You Don't Have a Minute
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"I don't know who Shulk is

"I don't know who Shulk is nor do I care to find out."

If you remotely like RPGs, you owe yourself to checkout Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii.

Send some of those Yodas east!

Target has become completely pointless in southwest Connecticut - nothing but endless pegs of Slave Leia, Han, and Greedo at every store. I counted 8 Leias, 4 Hans, and 3 Greedos at one store today - nothing else. I've honestly never seen a 6-inch figure at any Target beyond Wave 1. Did find Fett at TRU a few months back, but have had to go mail order for the Stormtrooper, Vader, and Luke Bespin.