Q&A: Disney Droid Defects and Star Wars Troop Packs

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 24, 2022

1. A quick 2-part question for you. Hasbro is currently having some success with their 4-packs of TVC figures, with the latest announcement being the Death Trooper 4-pack. As far as I can tell, unlike with the Rebel Fleet Trooper, Shoretrooper and even the Stormtrooper 4-packs, this latest Death Trooper 4-pack appears to contain figures that are identical to their TVC carded versions.

Firstly, am I correct please? Are they in fact identical to their carded versions, or is there something new / different about any of them that I haven't spotted? And secondly, if they ARE identical, what do you think motivated Hasbro NOT to include something different in the set? I've bought all of the other 4-packs they've released, even though I already owned the carded equivalents, because they offered me something new. However, if the Death Troopers are the same as their carded versions, I will be passing on the set, and Hasbro would seem to have missed an easy sale, which baffles me!


As far as I can tell, there are no major changes. While not terribly new or different, other than adding some dirt or damage there's not much you can do here that would be interesting. If anything, I more or less prefer things like this when there's nothing new and I don't have to buy it. (I don't want to pay $25-$50 for "just different enough to make you mad." That was fine at $5-$10. Not $50.) My hunch is that this set will be in stock for a while unless Hasbro cuts the run down, unless Death Troopers figure heavily into the Cassian Andor or Obi-Wan Kenobi shows. I think they're cool, but I've never been inclined to amass a bigger army of them.

Given how much stuff Hasbro will be making in the next year or so - and we've got a Return of the Jedi anniversary coming up - I'm just going to be grateful that they made something I can skip and not feel like I missed out on something. Now that we're getting things like Boba Fett's Throne Room, it really does put into harsh relief what is or isn't "worth it." Is a $230 playset expensive? Yes. But if you don't blow $45 to re-buy something you already own... it's a tiny bit less painful.

The purpose of the army builder packs - when done correctly - is to deliver an instant (lower-cost) group of figures for openers to add to their displays. You get 4x Death Troopers for $44.99 - $11.25 per figure is the cheapest they've been as far as I can recall, as the bepauldroned Death Troopers on The Vintage Collection and The Black Series (Walmart exclusive) packaging cost a smidgen more than that. The no-pauldron troopers have so far only been sold with the Nevarro Cantina playset... or you, with some scissors, and a pauldron trooper.



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2. Two of my friends went to Disneyland recently and I was fortunate enough to see one of your 'mystery crate' droid reviews just before they left for Anaheim. I sent them one of your photos and asked them to pick a couple up for me. I was very excited, since I've never had access to Disney-exclusive Star Wars stuff before. I love that they are cool, weird new droids in the scale I collect. The crates themselves make amazing little diorama pieces for photos. And $15 isn't too absurd. But the toys themselves... well, maybe one out of two ain't bad? I got two of the BB-8 style droids. They're cute and I like the way they look. But one of them will just not stay together. The top part does not fit securely into the weighted ball. It falls apart when you pick it up. I assume it's a quality control issue, but it's not like I can get a refund or do a return. So, my question-- how common are quality control issues with Disney droids, historically? Has anyone else reported problems with these little BB-8 style robots? I can glue it or otherwise fix it, but I just want to know if this is a relatively normal thing.


I haven't experienced this with any of my many Disney BB-series droids. Given there are very clear pegs, posts, and guides as to how these go together, I assume you may have just got a defective mold pull. Normally that would be caught by quality assurance on the assembly line, but one out of thousands (or tens of thousands) of figures will sometimes have bum eyes or a missing hand. (Seriously, I got a Battle Beasts Flamingo as a kid that was, somehow, molded with no fingers on one hand.)

This isn't normal - you can ask Disney for replacement parts (which they will not provide - you might get a rando replacement blind back though!) or you can just try to fix it to your desires. But it's not super common. I got the Chopper droid from this set, and it was missing one of the "head arms." I asked Disney for the missing part, they had none to send. Very upsetting.





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Hasbro revealed its Marvel Legends plastic-free packaging this week. And surprising no one, it looked pretty much exactly like the windowless, plastic-free MODOK packaging we got recently. Other lines will follow suit, and unsurprisingly a lot of fans are upset. Fans being upset is nothing new, people didn't love the packaging in the 1990s, and they didn't like the $1 price increase in 1998, and they didn't like the new movies, and they didn't like the prequels, and they supposedly don't like The Mandalorian, and they hated The Black Series, and to some extent, many of us are still here. Maybe fans are looking for a reason to jump ship, but the only thing that spooks me about the new line look are thieves and swappers - openers, it's more important than ever to inspect those toys immediately upon purchase.

I theoretically want to embrace the new packaging along with the new "pre-order everything 1-2 years in advance" paradigm... but I really want to see some efficiency gains and cost reductions. I don't see it alone as a reason to quit, but the lack of any figures you probably want might be an incentive to stop.

When retro/vintage packaging as we know it gets phased out - and you know that it will - I would hope Hasbro just says "we've got something new" instead of "we're going to try to make this as close as possible but without plastic, so you're going to hate it." A vintage cardback with a cardboard tray isn't ideal, but a smaller windowless box could be efficient and sensible. Of course, they're not making the Marvel Legends boxes smaller despite there being a lot of air in there - so I wouldn't get your hopes up that what we'll get will have a significantly different footprint or a wildly new design aesthetic yet.

That's a real pity, because one of the biggest factors in the increased prices of your toys is freight. (I've seen the bills.) The more toys you can put on a boat, the slightly cheaper they are. It would be easy to put 50-60% more toys in a cargo container if you reduced the packaging footprint to remove the spare air in so many of them. If you pick up any Black Series figure, you can see about 30-40% of an average figure is air - and if you tuck the accessories behind the figure, you can probably carve out even more space. The Vintage Collection and The Retro Collection figures are 6x9-inches, but the area with the figure is only about 2-3x5-6-inches. Again, there's a lot of potential savings if you just made a smaller box, and if you have to make "deluxe" figures the bigger ones (and Hasbro's doing that anyway) so be it. Cardboard's not cheap, so a 50% reduction in cardboard materials saves the consumer money. Similarly, being able to ship things in smaller boxes means cheaper boxes, which also weight less, which in turn saves the consumer even more money.

But is that going to happen in the short term? Definitely not. But I'm really hoping that when or if they change the packaging form factor across the collector brands, they give us something smaller. The angled corner on The Black Series 2020 was a good start - now shave off another inch, and we're getting somewhere.

--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.



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