Q&A: Big Ships, Star Wars' Biggest Toys, and Other Sci-Fi Events This Week

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 8, 2015

1. While I don't have room anymore to collect the giant scale 18 inchesh (and above) figures, I'm really curious as to why we've seen zero female figures in this line (outside the androgynous looking Captain Phasma)? I'd say it's because they know that they can't really compete with similar scaled female figures aimed at girls but we already had several 12 inch Padme/Leia's from 1995-2004 or so that were far more doll-like. What happened here and why? It seems like we'd get at least one token Rey figure with the corporate "girl power" memo that's been leaked recently in how they are marketing TFA.

It's not just women, but anybody less than a "AAA" player in most cases - franchises are a numbers racket, and not everybody gets a toy. Just that top percentage of a percentage, and historically Star Wars has shockingly few women in any role of consequence - the original trilogy's big players are Leia, Sy Snootles, and Mon Mothma. Of those, I'd argue only Leia is of any actual consequence and her toys are all over the place. It's not surprising that a historically kid-driven model like we see from Jakks Pacific would shy away from 20- or 31-inch Leia figures when Luke, Han, Chewbacca, and Scout Troopers - the mainstays, the low-hanging fruit - are showing up on clearance racks. As far as the movies go, Star Wars has historically let girls down. There's not a lot of women in key roles here.

...and if you keep going, there's no R2-D2, no C-3PO, no Lando, no Prequel figures of any kind other than Maul and a Clone or two, and I could go on. It's just not a deep line yet - it's not meant to be, so it's unfortunately reasonable that Leia get shaved off. And so does Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Phasma's a huge step in the right direction and as far as girly or not, it still counts - most action figure lines are lacking in women unless the form factor is squarely driven to adults. (See DC Direct/DC Collectibles, Marvel Legends, McFarlane.) At its best, for its first three decades, Star Wars really only had Leia and Padme - and Padme didn't get a lot of little figures, either. Leia got pretty much every major costume as an action figure by 2001 (24 years), although Padme, 15 years on, has barely scratched the surface. If a collector line - arguably the collector line of its day - can't do it, I wouldn't expect a lot from the big, jumbo figures where there really isn't a huge collector base yet. I know, the prequels had a number of background women players as Jedi but background is background. I don't care if they hold a seat in government, they're not recognizable to the man on the street.

With The Force Awakens I can name three women who have talking parts and are cool enough to potentially warrant toys - for a Star Wars before its release, that's a record.

We don't have full details on the Padme/Leia lines Hasbro tried in 1998 and 1999, but we do know they didn't last all that long. In 1998 Hasbro (as Kenner) had its first admission of a product glut - numerous items got axed because they had, according to their words, too much in the marketplace. In 1999, I would argue that it happened for real - confusion with numerous similarly sized toys in multiple scales in packaging which didn't quite identify what was different about it, it was easy to skip things and not realize they existed. The deep clearance of the Padme dolls and "Princess Leia Collection" action figures showed that whatever they made didn't sell. It doesn't mean they can't do it again, but it may mean a different approach is in order. Perhaps something more like Nerf Rebelle - roleplay items, blasters, wigs, dress-up - might be better than action figures. As we speak, DC and Mattel have an all-girl toy and TV line coming up called "DC Super Hero Girls" with real action figures in addition to roleplay and dolls and who knows what else. This line is going to be a fascinating experiment - and sadly, maybe a short one. Its success or failure will inspire others to give it a try, or not. DC has done wonders developing its women as symbols - quite literally, they make great t-shirts, stickers, and so forth. Harley Quinn is a huge deal, Supergirl and Batgirl are all over the place. If anyone can make action figures work for girls, it's DC. I don't know if it's Mattel, but they did have a few wonderful years of huge Monster High success. So this kind of thing is possible, but it might result in a format the average collector (over 30, a dude) will enjoy or recognize.

Not knowing what's going on with Rey - because we don't know - it's possible Hasbro is waiting to see how she plays out. We've seen disappointingly little with Hera or Sabine from Rebels and Ahsoka from The Clone Wars wasn't exactly overmerchandised. (Seriously, no lightsabers?) It's possible Hasbro just decided to go with what they knew worked for the launch, and perhaps we'll see more new and interesting things next year. The toy industry has been (at least in my lifetime) very split along gender lines, and while people are starting to experiment with more variety and fewer barriers here I think it'll be a while before Hasbro really markets its traditionally boy/collector-driven lines to girls. Then again, I'd have said the same thing about Mattel six months ago, so what do I know?



Ad: Buy Stuff at Entertainment Earth!

Star Wars Desert Assault Walker with Figure - Entertainment Earth Exclusive Star Wars Black Series 6-Inch Action Figures - Entertainment Earth Exclusive Star Wars Mandalorian Symbol Stainless Steel Matte Gold Ring Love Live! Eli Ayase Swimsuit Version 1:7 Scale Statue

Free U.S.A. Shipping - Spend $79+ on in-stock toys!


2. I just became a homeowner after living for many years in a tiny city apartment. This means all the vintage and POTF2 vehicles which have been hidden in my parents' attic can now come live with me. I don't plan on displaying much or any of it, and so I am looking for advice on the best way to store these things. Do they need to be on shelves? Will they survive alright in tupperware bins in my cool dry basement? What do you do with yours?

While I prefer to have my vehicles where I can see them, it all depends on your space (and budget). I finally got a house in 2011, and it had numerous built-in shelves which were employed to make a home for my many (many) toys - I needed more, but it was a good start. Since I am rarely in those rooms for more than an hour or so at a time, it doesn't get all that dusty - so I'm pretty happy with using whatever shelves I can get and putting my vehicles out where I can see them.

The best advice I can give you is if you put them out, put them in a room with no light. I mean zero light. You can flip a switch when you're in there, but black out the windows and don't let the sun shine in. You don't want discolored TIEs and X-Wings.

If your vehicles are still in boxes - leave 'em be. They're probably best stored in boxes. If they're open, maybe put them out - see what kind of shelving Target, IKEA, or Craigslist have to offer. I worry for some vehicles not holding up well in long-term storage situations (X-Wings, in particular) so you may want to inspect them just to be safe. I'm sure they'll be fine in bins in the basement as long as they're not bent out of shape - my office (and collection) is in the basement, and I try to have as much of my stuff out as possible. It works for me, but some vehicles sag over time - not every AT-ST is built equally, so some ships will need support. The "FX"-style X-Wings have saggy wings over time, for example, and it looks like The Force Awakens TIE Fighters may be similarly prone to warping wings.

If nothing else, now is a great time to revisit your stash - see what broke, or warped, or what just plain needs to go.





This was a big week for sci-fi news and controversy! Two pretty big things happened to delight and also anger fans - the Slave Leia incident is, as far as I know, still a rumor. For those not in the know, buzz has it that Disney is considering resting the Slave Leia costume as far as all licensed merchandise goes. Considering any products with this costume were a real rarity in the first 15 years of the franchise and how it is one of the most played-out gags at conventions, I think I'll manage just fine. We already got our 6-inch Slave Leia figure for The Black Series and I assume someone at Disney crunched the numbers and saw that the number of people buying those items are adults and we're a dwindling part of the fanbase - whereas little girls are legion, and there's probably a lot more money emphasizing the other eight or so costumes from the original movie plus whatever she has on in the new one(s). We've heard recall rumors before - they've always been bogus. Remember how some fans said that C-3PO was tough to get in 1995 because it had lead paint? And the same thing was said about the then-hard-to-get Speeder Bike? Or how Carrie Fisher had regular Leia recalled for looking reportedly terrible in 1995, or how "they" (whoever they are) had Unleashed Padme pulled around 2003 because of her perkier assets? Now I'm not saying it's unrealistic that Disney might have looked at its portfolio and said "This sort of thing courts controversy, let's sweep it under the rug." But really, as long as they don't edit the movies to change the outfit - which is important, and I'd argue a useful scene in how it shows Princess Leia will literally use the chains of her oppressors to kill anyone who would keep her down (an apt metaphor for her arc in the movies) - it doesn't quite work if she's wearing a dressing gown and Uggs. Perhaps the world was cost a Disney Infinity or Disney Store die-cast metal figure of Slave Leia. I'll live. At this point I’m more interested in whatever she wears in The Force Awakens or the comics. Or you know, the dozen unmade Padme costumes. Hopefully Disney won't exploit the costume if there's a sensible reason to do so - after all, Funko's got an exclusive 3-figure boxed Pop! Vinyl set with Jabba, Leia, and Salacious Crumb due nowish. (I haven't seen it yet.)

...most interesting, though, was seeing how Amazon prices for Slave Leia figures had a sharp rise as soon as word spread. This is funny because Hasbro hasn't made a new Slave Leia in 2 years, these aren't any rarer than they were and frankly, they were undesirable to many until they were told otherwise. Speaking of desirable and ignored, Star Trek got another lease on life with a new series in 2017. That will be paywalled behind the CBS All Access app. The reaction seemed to be irritation, shrugs, and "Well, I'll find it using other means" - I'd expect nothing less from a fanbase who has been historically associated with getting computers and digital media to dance to their tune. No casting or premise has been announced, but if you're like me you're crossing your fingers for Captain Jeff Goldblum. While Slave Leia's costume being diminished in the merchandise world, Disney stands to increase its long-term fanbase by adding more young kids to the stable - this is kind of important. By paywalling a new Trek CBS stands to continue to ensure Star Trek fandom outside a movie every few years continues to be a small, self-selecting group. This is kind of not great.

And of course, all was forgiven this week because a new Star Wars trailer from Japan made everybody ignore everything else. What's kind of funny is no matter what new happened in Star Trek during the prequels, it seemed a new trailer or announcement for Star Wars would pop up around the same time. Star Trek: Insurrection came out around the same time as the first Phantom Menace trailer, which dominated the news. Deep Space Nine ended when that movie came out. Enterprise (and indeed nearly 18 years of Trek on TV) evaporated under the hot lights of Revenge of the Sith, with many fans having jumped ship on the show just as it was improving. I'm not saying Star Wars is better than Star Trek, but it certainly seems better at getting and holding an audience's hopes and dreams these days.

--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.