Q&A: Droids, Star Wars 6-Inch Figures, and More Black Series Concerns

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 31, 2015

1. It seems that as the 6" Black Series line has continued the sculpting on some of these characters has declined in quality. The X-wing Luke was a great sculpt and figure, but the subsequent Luke's were not as good. The Empire Luke had a good body sculpt but the facial likeness was lacking. The ROTJ Luke was really just not very good at all and his neck, they made it so his head can only tilt so far forward as if the only thing this figure will ever do is look up at his father in imaginary shelf based light saber duels. Have you found this to be a problem with these figures? What about a New Hope version of Luke or Leia or maybe be a little diversity and throw us a bone like a Lando figure. I've never understood how they come to the decision on what figures they should make especailly in this line, perhaps you have insight into this? Since this line doesn't seem to want to be the juggernaut the 3-3/4 line is will they only be offering certain versions of characters? We've already got three versions of Luke with two more on the way, and one version of Han with two more on the way {not including the frozen SCC version}, but only slave Leia, and no Lando or Threepio or old Ben? What's the deal?

I can't really write an answer to what is essentially "I don't like how these figures turned out." After 19 years of Kenner (and now Hasbro) figures since the 1990s, inconsistencies in size, color, and likeness are sort of the norm. To expect otherwise is not going to leave you happy, as you can't really square "this is a company that makes toys for kids by the barrel" with "this is a company that makes top-notch collectible items."

Character choice is what it is, and agree or disagree Lando is generally not one of Hasbro's better sellers. He's one of my favorites, but I can't argue with who sits on most retail shelves. Maybe he'll get some more love with additional appearances on TV or in the new movies. C-3PO will probably show up eventually, as will Obi-Wan Kenobi, and I assume Hasbro will eventually get to most of the heavy hitters. Remember that this is a line with no Jango Fett, no Grand Moff Tarikn, no Snowtroopers, no Gamorrean Guards, and so on and so forth - I assume they're playing a long game here. The good news is this means they're probably planning on this line to last five or ten years, and they're spreading out the big guys accordingly. The bad news is Hasbro sometimes changes their mind and if they didn't get to who you wanted, well, that's that. After all the 3 3/4-inch line is 19 years in with no Sim Aloo, no blue Power Droid, and no mustache Bespin Security Guard. However, you can buy over 150 different Astromech droids. Galactic Heroes ran a few great years, and there are a few unique Clones and accessories which only exist in this line so far.

Generally speaking they want to go with collector-friendly characters, things they can rework into other figures, and things that should grab an entry-level fan. Things like the Emperor are sort of (OK, totally) baffling at this stage of the game, but Slave Leia was catnip for fans until pretty recently. Their reasoning to include her to get our attention to the new format makes sense, but they probably didn't account for the figure not turning out as well as it could have. I think people are now over it thanks to the fact that the costume has gone from some sort of forbidden fruit to something that inspires eye-rolling at conventions because you didn't pick a cooler costume. I can't say their line-up is the exact same one I'd make but given that it's mostly original trilogy, mostly main characters, and generally the kind of thing that has sold incredibly well (a few exceptions granted) I don't really know what it is you want me to say. It is what it is. Hasbro puts them out at a decent clip for a brand that has been bleeding interest up until the new movies. The real question is how things will go with a new movie and in the future. This is just the trial run for a much bigger and higher profile campaign, unless it tanks, because let's be honest - if they switch over to only new movie figures without any old guys on the shelves, I assume collector interest will wane in the days after their debut come this fall.



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2. Why does the Black Series 6 in. Biker Scout look so wonky, while the black repaint from the Target 2-pack look so much better? They are the same mold, but the white version looks so off, helmet, paint apps and proportions-wise. Meanwhile, the Shadow Scout is one of my all time favorites so far. Do you think the original Biker Scout just needs better paint apps, or a whole different sculpt? Thanks!

With action figures, it's easier to notice large figure flaws than little ones. A 6-inch figure expands on the scrutiny, and on every last Speeder Bike I've seen the visor is painted skewed to the side - left on some, right on other - basically just showing that the factory didn't do a decent paint mask here. As a manufacturer you have to be significantly more careful, and as a fan it's significantly easier to see flaws on the larger plastic canvas. In this case I don't think the Biker Scout needs a new sculpt, but really only slightly better QC and possibly revised paint masks. Since you'll probably never see the figure/bike set reissued, and I doubt Hasbro will rebox the scout individually, all you can really do is hope you find one with better paint applications in your hunts or just settle for what's out there. It ain't perfect.

The black plastic of the Shadow Scout manages to hide a number of flaws, particularly any paint applications that weren't exactly perfect. It's not much of a stretch to hide things on a black plastic figure, but it looks like the paint masks for that figure may have been tweaked or at least I got a good one. Even if they missed the mark, it'd look better.




3. This is turning out to be a busy summer (maybe the busiest ever) for astromech collectors. Disney has 25 build-a-droids as well as the carded holographic R2-D2 and R2-D60. Plus there is some R2-D23 emerging. Moreover, the dream of having an astromech on an astromech card (R2-D2 on a legacy collection droid factory card) can be realized for a hefty chunk of change.

My question is this. If you go on ebay today, only one of these figures mentioned above (the formerly canceled droid) is more expensive than Rebels Saga Legends "Chopper", released at retail. How can that be?

What you're seeing is a rare but very real phenomenon that was a lot more common in the 1990s. It's all marketing and kids - we saw a lot of kids (not collectors) going in to collector shops in the 1990s to fork over $20 for a $5 or $6 wrestling figure on a fairly regular basis. This happened to Ahsoka a few years ago, and we saw it with Bumblebee from the 2007 Transformers movie. Hasbro, oddly, doesn't necessarily prep for what kids want, or realize what will hit big. Groot is a fine example - we had Rocket and Star-Lord masks last year, but Groot? Nope. Since we liked Chopper, and the kids liked Chopper, and Hasbro's treatment of Rebels assortments are generally conservative across the board, here we are.

Granted, people like you and me saw Chopper and we all simultaneously said "good show, bad show, who cares? I'm buying Chopper." Hasbro didn't get wind of it, or maybe all of us just talked over IM and email - we need to make a bigger fuss online. The Disney droids, while neat, hold no cultural significance to any but the droidcore collector. Were I not who I am, I guarantee you I'd say "Disney wants me to buy 25 droids, and another 25 droids, at inflated prices that I have to travel and hope that I can assemble myself? No." But I've got a very good friend who is willing to help me out from time to time. It's not hard for a collector to add up what it costs to buy all of these non-movie figures and say "Well, it's a theme park exclusive, therefore I can skip it." We easily rationalize decisions to skip things once we get a few gaps in our collections.

Kids matter - that's what this tells us. If kids decide BB-8 is the most popular figure for the new movie, you're going to see this scenario play out again. If Hasbro doesn't release more Chopper figures, it might get worse as the summer drones on - parents can and now will overpay for figures on Amazon if that's what their kid wants and they can't find it.




I just got back from Atlanta a few hours before this went live. I saw a Boba Fett Hot Wheels car at a place called Richard's Variety Store, which seemed to be about 40% toys and gifts by volume. (Hasbro? Playmobil? Yes. Bought a Playmobil Vampire 2-pack.) I also picked up some records - last week, I picked up some record bins from a closing antique/junk shop - mostly for fun. I like finding new-to-me music (or larger versions of things on CD) and the record format ensures I stand up in my office chair every 15-22 minutes. Since it was a trip to Athens as well, I was sure to pick up as many Fred Schneider side projects as possible as well as the first B-52s, because really, not doing that just seems like a bad idea. Didn't see a whole heck of a lot of Star Wars toys out and about, but there were a few nods to the original film in the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum. Oh, and the CDC Museum was neat and free - and both of those tell you a lot more about guinea worm than you'd ever want to know. I think it was on the Stuff You Should Know podcast a while back as well. I suggest you not look.

Figure of the Day is going on a break as a result, mostly because of the difficulty involved in not sleeping while trying to get those all done. I should be back with more later this week or next week, or maybe I'll just sit on these for later to sprinkle in after (I hope) new fans come back to read the site and the column returns semi-permanently.

--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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