Q&A: Displays, Rex, The New Figures, and Tales from the Road

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 10, 2013

It's Monday Q&A time! It's shorter, I've been on a lot of planes lately in between collecting Miis in airports. Let's talk about making your purchases count - do you matter? The answer may surprise you! Not really, but let's also talk about Captain Rex figures you don't have yet. And the big leak of 2013, which has nothing to do with what I had to do after getting off one of the aforementioned planes. Read on!


1. When I purchase one or two of a specific Star Wars action figure, I like to think that on some very microscopic level I'm saying with my dollars, "hey, make more figures in this category" (that category could be EU characters, Cantina aliens, astromechs, etc.). If that assumption is correct, then let's pretend that I could buy said figure from all the different outlets (Walmart, TRU, Amazon, Entertainment Earth, and so on). Does giving my money to one retailer over another make a difference in terms of letting Hasbro know that a specific figure is selling well?

Bonus question: does purchasing a figure at full price vs. waiting for it to go on sale make any difference either?

The short answer is anything that you do doesn't matter. If a trend results in instant sell-outs on a certain kind of figure (KOTOR) it still doesn't matter. With Knights of the Old Republic we had one-wave (plus revision) wonders Darth Revan and Darth Malak sell incredibly well and not see an additional shipment, let alone a reissue. Very few characters from these games get made and they not only performed well, but are expensive on eBay. Most companies would see this as a mandate, but Hasbro tends to do what they feel like doing - while data does prevent some things from happening, "because I don't want to" has been a valid reason in the past. Internal desires kept the Cloud Car from being made until 2010 - we were told one guy was largely responsible for not wanting to make it, and when it came out it did do what appears to be decent business.

Hasbro has said certain kinds of characters don't sell and that's why we don't see them, but history has shown us lots of figures that do sell and we don't see follow-ups to them. Video game-based figures tend to do pretty well with a few exceptions, and the Vintage line from 2010-2012 showed a rather scattered approach to figure selection. We got a little bit of everything, heavy on remakes, and from there on we are in something of a rut. There are characters that have had fairly large campaigns behind them without any real pattern of failure for that kind of figure, and yet some still don't make it out. Why? Because Hasbro didn't want to do it.

Hasbro does have the ability to note which figure(s) sold at certain stores, and with what other products, but I don't know the extent of this information. Pricing likely matters only on a global scale - do figures sell at $6.99? No? Then it's time to adjust. In theory. The funny thing there is in an earnings conference following the first G.I. Joe movie, Hasbro said they learned the pricing was too high and that the next time they would make the figures cheaper. And the second movie's figures were two bucks higher... so things can change all the time.

Right now your best bet to get any one thing made is to whip fans into a frenzy. Want a certain Cantina alien? Start asking for it in every forum, Q&A session, or convention. Encourage others to do the same. Increased awareness can help a figure get produced and sell to some extent, but it doesn't always work - especially if Hasbro seemingly disagrees with you (Kitster).




2. Adam, wasn't there a plan to make a Vintage-style, realistic-rendered, 3 3/4" figure of Captain Rex? What happened to it?

Yes, but a lot of those figures are being doled out slowly over the course of The Black Series. Other displaced figures include R5-X2, R8-B7, and a new A-Wing Pilot. Pretty much everybody else from Droid Factory 2013 is out or is on the way out soon. It's also worth noting that there's a "Saga Legends" Captain Rex due out soon, and it's possible it may be all we see for a while. I am not hopeful that we'll see Rex in the near future.


3. I'm wondering about your thoughts on the lists of (maybe cancelled/maybe upcoming) Star Wars figures that were recently gleaned from the Hasbro customer service website. (See, e.g., http://www.jeditemplearchives.com/content/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=12630)

What percentage of the listed figures would you estimate might actually be coming out one day? Your attitude towards the future of the 3 3/4" Star Wars line has sounded kind of pessimistic lately. Do these lists change your outlook at all?

As far as I can tell, most of those are (or were) real or should be filed under "rumor that's not a rumor." It's legit Hasbro data, but sometimes legit doesn't mean that we'll get them - we weren't meant to see these yet, and there are a few SKUs on here which are clearly canceled products with a few abandoned ideas in there.  We've seen numerous "leaks" over the years that did not result in released products, but were true at one time in history.

The list doesn't seem terribly exciting to me - I would assume Pong Krell is never going to see the light of day, but I could be wrong and hope that I am. Stuff like that is exciting, but there's a lot of stuff that doesn't seem to be all that much different than what is already in the marketplace, and that's where I get annoyed. In the 2012 line we saw what can happen when Hasbro rereleases vehicles that are still widely available and not desired for the third time (mini Naboo Starship) or are worthless on the secondary market and are now missing features (Pod Racers).

Newness is important, be it a massive improvement like the 2010 Tauntaun or something that's actually new like Darth Plagueis. Love him or hate him, you don't own him - so it's more interesting than another take on Ten Numb or another Clone Trooper.

I've seen no reason to expect 3 3/4-inch will be revived or improved in a meaningful way in the near future so far. It has been largely mined for its best resources, and while there are opportunities to make it interesting I worry we're still a ways off from that happening.

Most of the ideas people float toward me tend to be things that we've done. I can't say I'm excited at old figures in new packaging (vintage or otherwise), and the character selection has been pretty consistently samey for years.

Other than the movie, Hasbro has only a few big grabs at collectors. We haven't seen Power of the Force-carded Vintage yet, nor the Ewoks or Droids TV shows. We have a new TV show coming, plus new movies. It's not impossible for Hasbro to pursue video game characters where it makes sense - but by and large, the toy giant has made most things that we've asked for, and the list shows that most of what's new should be similar to things we already have. The "rumored" 6-inch Jabba sounds like a great idea to me, as does the previously confirmed Speeder Bike.

That's why I'm big on the 6-inch line - the chances of new-enough-ness are slightly higher. Well, at least the product has to be new - a big C-3PO, Jawas, or Jedi Knight Luke would be fun new additions to the line. And if they did those in 3 3/4-inch again, I'd probably shrug and throw my hands up at another dull year - but bigger, better, more accessorized toys?  OK, sure, why not?

I can see people who are new to the game being excited by some of this stuff, and things like the new 3 3/4-inch Dagobah and Yoda sound interesting as they haven't been really tackled since 2004. But having said that, we do own multiple versions of both figures and even vast improvement won't change the fact that we're probably going to be subjected to another couple of years of waiting before Hasbro finally finishes updating the original 1978-1985 figures, longer still if we count the cartoons.



4. I saw a picture of an OTC Millennium Falcon with 6 figures (the same ones from the Sam's Club exclusive 6-pack), but they were all inside a clear rounded container. It didn't look custom built, and I can't find anything online about it. Do you have any idea what the heck this thing is?


I attached a photo for you to look at too.

I'm 90% sure that was an in-store display for that very item - I could be wrong, it's been a long time and Sam's Club has never been on my toy runs. (I went into one in 2004 to look for Transformers and Playmobil and I think I remember seeing that.) Can anyone confirm? If it's not one that was actually used, I assume it has to be a concept for an in-store display piece.


Another week of business travel done, and with any luck, that's it for me until Toy Fair 2014 in New York City. I've got a lot of sitting around I need to get done! I spent a lot of time with a Nintendo 2DS (I figured I'm on a plane for 16+ hours, may as well) and my one game for it. So far, so good. I'm not a big fan of the 3D aspects of the units I saw in stores, so this is cool. I'm curious to see how it continues to evolve as it seems there aren't too many games for it right now, and the 3DS/2DS branding will no doubt confuse the snot out of customers. I'm in love with the various real-world applications of the device, specifically a pedometer that rewards walking around with stuff and also a wireless communication system that trades Miis and gifts in-game items if you happen to pass someone with a 3DS or 2DS on the street called StreetPass. If you travel and you like video games, go ahead and get one.

We're probably looking at another 1-2 weeks of Figure of the Day tops before it goes on ice again. And odds are that's when Black Series wave 3 will hit, knowing my luck. I forgot how much work this was. (If you enjoy these columns, click on my Amazon or Entertainment Earth links. Thank you.)

For those hunting, I did see a whole case of 6-inch Black Series Wave 2 at a Target this week so I know they're out there. I hate the fact that they came out in November because, historically, new waves that hit in November sell really well to non-collectors and I'll get a lot of questions like "did this ever come out?" early next year. So be vigilant, or order online while you can. Heck, I suggest doing the math - if you can get the case of 4 for $80ish with free shipping, do it, sales tax alone is more than that. Factor in gas (plus missing one of the four figures) and you're probably better off... unless you're doing the Black Friday insanity, in which case you might score nicely. It seems that's a day collectors tend to stay home.

--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.