Q&A: Epic Star Wars Figures, Pricing Woes, The Usual

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 14, 2023

1. What do you think of these "Epic" 4" Marvel figures? I think I'll be picking up the whole Guardians line and maybe a couple Spidermans and supporting characters.

The lack of support for Star Wars vehicles, aliens and robots has me picking up pretty much every spaceship offered in a 2"-5" scale and dipping into customizing. Do you think that'll be a bonafide trend amongst 40-55 year olds? Am I gonna completely skip over the model train period of my geriatric years?

The big question I have for you all is this - are you going to be buying these Marvel guys for the kids in your life? While we say "it's for kids," a lot of toys are bought by adults who have no idea what kids want and given to kids. It's an important market - and hopefully they come out for this kind of product. But it's also possible smaller figures are part of the upcoming trend for a forecasted recession/depression, not unlike the mini-rigs of the 1980s coming out of the late 1970s oil crisis. But if you wanted me to make a bet, I just assume kids are tired of Marvel and outside evergreens like Spider-Man, they're going to struggle a bit. Collectors have 20 years of Marvel Legends, so asking them to try a new scale - again - is sort of like what Star Wars fans were asked to do in 2013 with 6-inch figures. Some liked it. Some detested it.

I bought a case of the Spider-Man figures from work and have so far opened two - Venom's great. Classic Spidey has some issues that I would normally excuse as a "first gen product" but Hasbro has had the Marvel license for over 15 years, so really, this shouldn't be a problem. $10-$11 for a 4-inch figure with accessory is a pretty good deal in 2023, although some of their competition is offering more accessories (but no photoreal paint like on Star-Lord's face) for $7-$9.

I really do think adult collectors could dig these. I wanted 4-inch guys for the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie (and still do!) It's my hope they try again with this kind of figure with Star Wars - maybe X-Wings, an N-1, an Outland TIE Fighter, or some other small ship plus a handful of figures from one specific TV show or movie and not a weird grab bag and they might have success. You need a line with some degree of focus, even in a collector line - themed waves (or themed assortments) tend to do better than weird, scattered things.

Is it a trend? I'd argue it always was, and Hasbro may  have misread some product decisions and decided nobody wanted the figures, rather than the figures they were making (or the groupings) may not be conducive to generating excitement or maintaining kids and ne collectors. They shouldn't have kept pumping out "more of the same thing that didn't sell but at higher prices when the old ones are still on clearance" figures (looking at you, tube-with-comic waves) when the characters were already proven as things that weren't selling while Spin Master was doing DC Comics and Batman and Mattel was having a pretty good time with Jurassic - but that's my armchair quarterbacking. My hunch is we're on a downward trend for Marvel in general so it's possible Guardians is predisposed to not having a massive toy hit on its hands. We'll see how it goes. The stuff looks good, it's priced more fairly than a lot of other stuff. The main worry is if stores and fans have an attention span when Target marks everything down in a month anymore.



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2. According to the Hasbro Pulse site ( https://hasbropulse.com/products/star-wars-the-vintage-collection-krrsantan ) the Black Krrsantan Vintage Collection figure is $27.99. For all SW action figure collectors, especially fans of the comic books, this price is a shocker. It's more than a black series figure. Is it an all time high for a single 3.75 inch figure? What gives?

My hunch is someone at Hasbro recognizes that these figures sell and decided the most popular characters could be "plussed up" and sold at a higher price - and we've seen similarly high-priced figures before, like The Book of Boba Fett Boba Fett and Paz Vizsla. From what I can tell, either Hasbro made more or fans said "uh, no" because they're a little easier to get. Walmart had some exclusive repack-with-accessory figures that never actually made it to most store shelves, dumping them online or at other online collector stores.

It's important to know that these are businesses trying to see what they can get away with. Retro Kenner Boba and Krrsantan cost the same as their peers - the added deco and accessories on Vintage figures, if you ask me, is a bit of a croc and not worth the asking price. But if they sell enough to make the accountants happy and fans don't complain much - and complaining on their own forums doesn't count - you're going to see more things like this. It's ridiculous, but you have to vote with your dollars and then send letters, make social media campaigns, post YouTube videos sharing your thoughts, and so on. Nobody cares if there's a forum post somewhere with angry fans, you have to make an issue of it. Hasbro is backpedaling on plastic-free packaging - if there's an economic reason to do something, the customer is always right.





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Hasbro Pulse is already shipping out the Retro 6-pack of the back half of the original 12 Kenner figures. That means C-3PO, R2-D2, Death Squad Commander, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jawa, and Tusken Raider figures could be yours if you ordered some. I did, they're here, the two I have opened so far are both really good and really... different. C-3PO is excellent. He has the metal rivet in his back, and the level of detail is on par with the original - maybe 98% as good. It's very close. Compared to the Stan Solo mold for C-3PO, which is softer and missing a lot of sculpted details, Hasbro wins. Usually Stan Solo's production quality is better than Hasbro's retro remakes, so this was a surprise.

This year in particular is looking really good for retro fans. By my count, we've received 1 prototype figure (Mando), 6 ROTJ figures, 6 Star Wars figures, and we are expecting at least 8 Book of Boba Fett figures (4 new, 3 with new accessories, and 1 redeco with new accessory) more. At 20 figures just this year that we know of, it's probably the best single year of introductions the line ever got, even if it's mostly variants and remakes. The Death Squad Commander is very much the same but different. It's like another figure made from the same design specs. He's a bit shorter, the hand and pistol grip are changed a bit, the colors vary a bit, but he's still recognizable. The skin color isn't as good as the original, because the new one has a hint of translucence to it. But for what you get, and for the price? I'm having fun with him. But mine came with a black blaster - not blue like in the picture.

Of note, if you don't want all six figures you may not wish to buy a single one on eBay. Fans are breaking up the sets and selling individual figures for $20-$30, with someone selling just R2-D2 and C-3PO as a set for $60. Remember, the whole set of six is $70.

For purely selfish reasons, as a retro completist, I want them to make more six packs. You can bundle a dud (or two) with good figures, so you can reduce pegwarmer risk, while driving up your dollars-per-order and reducing cherry-picking the hottest figures. On the other hand, some people just want Luke or Boba Fett and aren't going to pay $70 to get him. Maybe some day Hasbro will do a Power of the Force box with Amanaman, Yak Face, Han Solo (Carbonite), and so on and we'll all buy it just for the novelty of doing so, but I do feel there are some figures that may be worth selling individually (at mass retailers). But if Hasbro wants to sell me everything as a bundle of new-to-The Retro Collection figures, fine, here's my money.

I also wish I lived in a timeline where Hasbro just said "we're making retro figures for dads and children, with Mini-Rigs!" If I didn't already own vehicles, it'd be pretty depressing. But if Hasbro wanted to do The Retro Collection Millennium Falcon for $100 or whatever, I'd probably buy one. Again. I'd be much more interested in seeing mini-rigs based on the new shows though, like the Scythe shuttle for the Inquisitors or Mando's Speeder Bike.

I'd love to see more things to play up the "toy" angle. I'd buy a Kenner-style Blurrgh or Bantha at Hasbro prices. Or any new vehicle, really. I just want to have fun with these things - if all they're going to do is sit on a shelf until I die, I don't think I need to collect these things anymore.

--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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