Q&A: Discount Star Wars, Box Variants, and Lulls

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 18, 2017

1. Question for you, do you know of any websites other than ebay or possibly amazon that sells those 6 inch value figures? I would love to get my hands on a set of them.

I've been unable to find a constant source of the value channel 6-inch action figures. The first batch of The Force Awakens ones came out in 2015 to Mexico, Australia, and possibly elsewhere with Finn, Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, a First Order Stormtrooper, and a Snowtrooper. The second batch hit in mid-2016 in the USA at Dollar General, Family Dollar, and eventually Big Lots! with Kanan Jarrus, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader in new packaging. That quartet seems to have also continued shipping later in 2016 with Rey and Darth Maul figures - and so far, that's all I've seen. (There were also value vehicles last year, and I've never seen any of them in stores - just online.)

If any of you know who might be selling any online, I'd love to know. I work in the toy business and as far as I know in the USA, these are not available to any internet or collector-oriented channels, and when you can find them they sell for $6-$7. They're pretty awesome, and I hope Hasbro considers opening up distribution to more stores like Walmart or even Walgreens.



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2. Do you know if all of the newly released 6" Star Wars Figures such as the Jawas, Tusken Raider and Death Squad Commander will also be available in the regular Black Series red and black box in the future?

The only one we know of for sure coming out in the black and red boxes is the Tusken Raider - if the others are on deck, they haven't been announced yet. We've seen Hasbro more prone to repacks lately - and some surprising variations like that red-eyed K-2SO - so I wouldn't put it beyond them to surprise us with more of these guys. Goodness knows they've been pushing Jyns and especially Cassians long beyond their expiration dates.




3. So far with the release of TFA and RO we have seen a fairly structured release window for new toys from Hasbro (September through to April) A lull for collectors during the summer, but it must of been profitable over the Christmas period. So we know Force Friday2 will happen this September, the vintage collection will return in the spring and the solo Han Solo film is released in May, what do you think the schedule of toys will look like next year? and in theory the 'lull period' will be over Christmas so do you think Hasbro will do anything differently then?

As of today I don't know when Han Solo: A Star Wars Story toys will launch, if I was told I have no memory of this. Since 2015 we see toys released about 3 months prior to the movie - I would anticipate Hasbro will take full advantage of February's New York Toy Fair in 2018 to reveal and launch the toys. It would not surprise me in the slightest if the toys went on sale during Toy Fair, but it would be my hope that they would wait a week or two to a) build anticipation and b) give me the chance to come home from Toy Fair to handle it all.

We really don't know what this means for the post-season. For 2018, Hasbro's movie slate is as follows:
February - Black Panther
May - Avengers: Infinity War, Han Solo
June - Deadpool (provided they do something), Bumblebee
July - Ant Man and The Wasp
October - Venom (provided they do something)
December - Animated Spider-Man

...also X-Men movies which, history seems to show, they'll ignore. If Hasbro wants to have a Q4, they're going to have to pile on existing properties - the two Spider-Man-adjacent properties aren't enough to carry Christmas, so I would assume they might take advantage of Han Solo's DVD/Video window for a refresh or push more on the house brands. With two back-to-back Star Wars movies and a year gap, Christmas presents Hasbro its richest opportunity in nearly a decade - a new movie before Christmas and Halloween so that kids can ask for props, roleplay, costumes, and toys for the holidays. Provided the marketing push is there, of course.

May and June are going to be big deals for Hasbro, with the rest of the year potentially diminishing their returns. If you ask me, there's no better opportunity to try to reignite collectors than by launching something at Comic-Con in July and releasing it in August/September to keep foot traffic in stores and interest high until Santa makes the rounds, launching the next movie line at the 2019 Toy Fair.




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You know things are bad when He-Man collectors can say "well, at least we don't have it as bad as G.I. Joe." Joe Con was over the weekend, and no news wasn't good news. The venerable toy line - the first real action figure line - has had a rough few years. Action figures as a toy aren't really in vogue right now, so the announcement of there being no toys in development for mass retail this year or next should come as no surprise. What did come as a surprise was the reveal that next year may well be the last G.I. Joe convention, and not much seems to have been said one way or another about the club sticking around. A lot of these older properties eventually die if they aren't regularly reinvented or reinvigorated with young fans. Star Wars has been good at that, with a new flavor of the franchise on a regular basis in numerous formats. There are book fans, game fans, toy fans, movie fans, TV fans, and crossovers galore. Meanwhile, He-Man hasn't really had any kid fans since the early 2000s, and even that may be a stretch. G.I. Joe has consistently struggled to find footing with a wide audience, and without some new angle that may be a tough revival in the era of a new superhero movie every couple of months alongside movies that are fast and/or furious.

This week, we're going to see a new Transformers movie. We'll have another one next year, and probably one the year after that, but as that movie series hits its 5th movie in 10 years it's starting to look a little crusty. There are at least four concurrent toy lines aimed at multiple age groups, but we're also seeing a lot of the same characters over and over, in new sizes or with different gimmicks. Some of the same molds are being trotted out again and again as well, and they'll hopefully find success Franchise fatigue is a real thing, though, and seeing studios driven to get us a new installment every year - or multiple times a year in the cases of Marvel and DC - I assume stuff has to burn out eventually. Much of what's hot now comes from properties that may be eternal, but we're also seeing a lot of stuff trading on what dad liked when he was a boy in the 1970s or 1980s. I assume the current generation of superhero stuff will inspire kids to revisit it later in its future form, but I have a hard time determining if any of it will create new collectors. Way back in 1999 Hasbro revealed that they saw The Phantom Menace existing as a success with adult collectors and fans, with a lot of kids picking up very few figures as souvenirs of the experience. (I think the price was cited for this.) We're in an era of $20ish Wonder Woman figures, Transformers selling for about 50% more than they were a decade ago, and Star Wars figures with higher prices and packaging that rarely instructs the consumer to collect them all and never provides them a roadmap to a collection. I think that's one area across the board that toy companies let kids and themselves down. If there's no outlet for "that's the next thing I want!", it's over. Kids aren't necessarily going to log on and drool over toy news sites to find out what's next, and any customer may only be aware of what is directly in front of them. If the product itself doesn't inspire the next purchase, we could be in trouble. (See also, Marvel movie tags.)

Everybody with some form of intellectual property wants to milk it, particularly since we saw Transformers go from a kid line to something that's a proven global success. You can see it in how Mattel occasionally gives updates on a He-Man movie, how talk of Voltron comes up from time to time, and how pretty much anything you loved as a child since 1980 has someone, somewhere, trying to revive it as something. I'm really happy to see some new stuff slip through the cracks, albeit as part of a larger program (Deadpool, Star-Lord, etc.) providing some opportunities for something that this generations may be able to claim as its own. I mean, Batman's superbly old but reinventions give eras something to latch on to - Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, and so on. Fans had years to bask in an era of this stuff, which seems to be tougher to do as things come and go more quickly. Han Solo just died, and we're already getting a new one. I don't think any of us asked for a new one. I don't think I sat around wondering what Han Solo was up to a few years before the cantina but if it inspires a new era of fandom that's good for the long run. In the short run we might just see new movie toys, but recasting Kirk doesn't stop new Shatner stuff from getting produced.

Super7 seems to have He-Man's back. I hope Hasbro lets Fun Publications extends G.I. Joe a lifeline through its fan club for a few more years. Star Trek may be fine if the new show ever airs. But for how long? Are we cultivating enough young fans to keep all of these things going another decade, or two, or until I can retire?

Speaking of, the Kmart I've mentioned here a few times ended its strange Inventory Reduction Sale and seems to be... uh... the same. Lots of bare aisles, long, long lines and few to no people at checklanes. Interestingly their exclusive The Black Series figures are still in stock at $24.99 (they were $14.99 for a while), but they're also on Amazon for $12ish a lot.

--Adam Pawlus

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