Q&A: Big Star Wars Ships, Future Movie Toy Lines, and Exclusives

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 14, 2016

1. I love the large X-Wings that are properly scaled for 3 3/4 inch figures. Seeing as the X-Wing is iconic and continues to be a signature vehicle for the new trilogy, do you ever think we will get a proper scale T-70 version as seen in TFA, you know without a rubber nose cone, and warped cannons? ;-)

Considering that the very first "FX" X-Wing I ever saw in person in 1998 had warped wings, I'd say it's very unlikely. The most sturdy one has been the original Vintage mold from 1978-2004. The bigger X-Wings fans love tend to get saggy wings over time, too. Nothing's perfect - and with the Boiling Water Trick, you can probably reshape The Force Awakens X-Wing Cannons back in the right shape. I'm not saying this as an apologist but as a realist - we've had bent accessories, hands, and limbs in Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Masters of the Universe Classics (among others) over the past decade thanks to rubber bands and strange packaging. Apparently Hasbro and Mattel and others aren't super-fast on fixing it, so at least in some cases we can.

The funny thing is I was hoping Hasbro would go back in the other direction - when the 2013 "Great Downsizing" started, I thought it was fantastic. While figures and vehicles had fewer features, they were cheaper (big plus) and sturdier (even bigger plus) than their forerunners. Sure, the Fighter Tank lacked wheels - but man, it was good fun. I really was expecting a TIE Fighter and X-Wing in that format, but apparently it was not meant to be.

It's possible Hasbro will some day revisit the new X-Wing - or just rerelease the old one - but I would say it's more likely to feature a Nerf dart launcher or some sort of crashing action than to be bigger. $50 for what amounts to a small X-Wing is inflation for you, but it would also mean a plussed-out fancy-pants X-Wing in the right size (let's assume with electronics) would probably set us back $75 or more. (Before you say "no it wouldn't," let me preemptively counter with "yes it would." Plus add a couple more years worth of potential inflation on top of that.)

The only way we'll get a bigger (or cheaper) X-Wing is if Hasbro gets a black eye on the line - this would probably mean carving out features, and the last X-Wing didn't exactly have a lot to remove. The figure, maybe the rocket launcher? It wasn't the best example of an X-Wing toy as it was, but I have little doubt all Hasbro teams are currently examining what factories can do for them in different countries to crank out a better product for the money. I think it's going to be a while before we see something really, truly bigger than usual again, as it seems Hasbro is currently trying to keep things Kenner-sized rather than latter-era Hasbro-sized.



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2. Several months ago I asked about comparisons regarding the lead up to TPM and TFA. Now that the TFA cycle is pretty much dead and we gear up for Rogue One, are there any interesting comparisons or conclusions you see when looking back? Was there anything really interesting about the TFA merchandise efforts and events for you, and is there anything you are interested in keeping an eye on for the future?

I think Hasbro took more lessons from The Phantom Menace and tried to make The Force Awakens a little more diverse - like the awesome but not as loved as it should be line for Attack of the Clones. Episode II, if you recall, had only 5 vehicles that were new in 2002 (not counting exclusives) and a figure line that contained characters from the original trilogy, the first prequel, and even an Expanded Universe Darth Maul. Similarly, TFA brought us a couple of classic guys, surprisingly nothing exclusively from the prequels or Clone Wars, more non-movie vehicles, and stuff from Rebels too - although I think it was probably not the best move to rerun the 3 most common figures from the first couple of years of that line as "just different enough to make you mad." And now, we're just about to get the new Inquisitors which, well, if you saw the finale you know why bringing back most season 2 characters without alterations could be troubling. Many are going to look a lot different.

Before I continue, don't forget that Rogue One was developed back when Episode VIII was slated for May of 2017 - so it's entirely possible that the line will end up truncated because Hasbro was working on that original schedule, a necessary requirement for doing blockbuster toy lines. If things change, you can't always make a course correction - at one point "Force Friday" would likely have been in February or March for the second sequel movie, likely placing it before (or during) the home video plan for Rogue One.

A big problem with The Phantom Menace was that Lucasfilm told its partners - who told its customers - "Whatever you order, order double." Target had an aisle that was just Star Wars and it was mostly Hasbro. We've never seen anything like that since, and The Force Awakens pulled in more non-Hasbro items to stores. If anything, Hasbro probably went conservative - or supply was outstripped by demand - save for a few pegwarmers. The Force Awakens was the Second Coming, but it was treated like a normal Hasbro line. (I think this was largely a good move.) The Phantom Menace was marketed as the Second Coming, and that only held until people saw the movie.

If they can ditch the non-movie gear to keep costs down, minimize repacks from previous movies (except where demand exists), and avoid the usually welcome in collector lines (but bad mojo for movie years) evenly-packed cases across the board? We should be OK. It's bizarre that unmasked Kylo Ren was packed as heavily as the Fifth Brother, but that's life. 2 per case is usually welcome, but some figures probably should have been three. Or more. Thanks for nothing, build-a-weapons.

If I were Hasbro I'd also do whatever I could to keep ships at $50 or less - if it's big, maybe wait it out. The big TIE and Millennium Falcon were neat, but probably less essential for many fans. If there's one thing I've noticed in the last few years, it's that fans generally don't want to spend a lot of money unless something is 100% exactly what they want - and when it comes to big ticket items like playsets, vehicles, or figure sets that's kind of impossible. The push and pull of costs, features, and new-movie-ness can make that a challenge.

Even though I'm in the business I'm not sure what to expect from Rogue One. Right now I'm assuming the general public has little idea that it's coming - Lucasfilm has been far too quiet marketing it - and big box is probably going to go conservative compared to last year. Which would probably mean increased collector interest if things are in short supply, but this is all a hunch based on nothing right now.




3. Thanks for your part in getting 'D-Squad' represented in the latest EE exclusive! Not fully understanding the logistics of exclusive sets, most of the EE sets revolved around existing molds, with the Joker Squad & Mandelorians having some all new figures. Just curious if you can share background into how the exclusives come to be, and how much 'newness' gets included.

Given your awesome power and predilection for droids, what are the chances of a D-Squad exclusive (the Colonel has to be there, and throw in Gregor for good measure)? That series of episodes had a lot of great moments, including Kenner Walrusman appearing in canon.

When it comes to this line - all aspects of it - things are different depending on the day. There's really no cookie cutter template that you can use to say "Hasbro did X so now Y should happen" or even "Disney says this is off limits today." I know there are still a lot of fans expecting a 3 3/4-inch scale Sail Barge - a lot of fans who will die disappointed until/unless there's a movie appearance. But, heck, we're 4 months away from Rogue One and 9 months away from the 40th anniversary of the original film, and it's not like there's an action figure-sized Death Star on the docket that I know about at press time. And that's arguably the most important playset/location in the entire series. Our last new action figure playsets for the Death Star were 1996, with the last playsets (environments) having debuted as Toys R Us and Target exclusives back around 2008 and 2009.

Hasbro's exclusive program changes from year to year, depending on budgets, who is working on it, which molds are available, and so on. Most of The Black Series-era exclusives were largely repacks in new boxes with largely unchanged deco - Hasbro doesn't share why this is, or why some sets got budgeted for new tooling. There's very little insight as to how everybody does what they do, and I can only say I know how what most of what I work on does, and that's mostly confidential. The goal is always to do the best set - for all parties - with the resources available at that time. Believe it or not, things like price point and delivery date are as important as the box and what's in it - especially with the new movies.

I really hope Hasbro does more of D-Squad some day, but the first Entertainment Earth Astromech Droid packs were in 2006, and this next one is in 2016. I don't even know what 3 3/4-inch will look like by 2026, or whenever the next time it makes sense to do more robots for Hasbro or for Entertainment Earth or for someone else like Toys R Us. The Clone Wars has received little love in toys since Force Friday (let's go with "none") plus R2-A5 is the first new original trilogy droid since - geez, 2014? It has been a while.

I'd love to see more D-Squad, somewhere. I'm not sure it's going to be with Entertainment Earth yet, because (as I've mentioned) I don't know of any more 3 3/4-inch Hasbro action figure exclusives for Entertainment Earth as of my writing this. I'm not saying there won't be any, but if there are, as of my writing this, I don't know about them. If the Droids sell well, I don't think it would surprise anyone to say that every business likes to repeat their successes.




Oh, I need to write something here. What can I get away with?

The Outer Space Men revival has 3 new figures coming, which you can see here. Two are New York-based convention exclusives. Why mention it here? Well, where else would you hear about it?

New Rogue One trailer! ...it's certainly a new trailer! The toys are still under wraps, but odds are Instagram will succeed where SDCC's panel failed. I'm kind of beyond the point where I think secrets for a toy launch are a great idea, particularly as far as new movie stuff goes. Don't get me wrong, I like the new Rebels stuff but assuming there is a midnight launch, that's not why fans are going out.

Things are looking interesting for the future, but probably not in the way you were anticipating. (No Sail Barge.) There are lots of neat things on the horizon, although some of them in the short term remain a bit of a mystery. Much like The Force Awakens last year, we've only got a glimpse to what Rogue One will offer us for its toysplosion shopping holiday, which is something I could do without. I just wanna see announcements early so people can get excited and line up knowing what they want instead of looking through the pegs and deciding on the spot if something is interesting. When forced to make a snap decision, I'll usually opt out of making a purchase - but that's me. If I didn't need something 10 minutes ago, I certainly don't need it now.

--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.