Q&A: Figure Complaints, Retro Future, and Quick Fixes for Warped Plastic

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 8, 2013


1. Hey Adam, as one of those who was on the fence about the 6" Black series( I broke down and bought the Sandtrooper which is good) I was wondering if you know about the scale of these figures, are we gonna find our Darth Vaders and Chewbaccas the same size as our Lukes and Hans, as in are they all going to be 6 inches period.

Based on the figures so far, Hasbro is already aware of tall figures versus short figures. (I think they goofed on R2-D2, but that's me.) Luke is a shorter character, and his figure is a good deal shorter than Boba Fett and the Sandtrooper - it would stand to reason that, much like in the 1978 line and the 1995 line, our bigger characters will get bigger figures if and when the time comes. How accurate they will be we won't know until they show up.



2. Thanks for answering my question about the Vintage and Black Series figures at Target. I'm really getting worried I won't see the 3 3/4" Black Series at either my local Target OR Walmarts BECAUSE...the Walmart closest to me finally re-set their toy aisles, and guess what? ZERO pegs for the 3 3/4" Black Series ( but still tons of unwanted 2012 Vintage figures), and ZERO space for 6" Black Series. This is turning out to be a nightmare for a collector of the Black Series. Walmart had about five pegs each for both the Mission Series and Saga Legends (boring!), but nothing for the Black Series. Is this going on nationwide, or, as usual, do my stores just suck?

If Walmart is your only option, you are in trouble.

Each store is a little different - the toy departments carry different brands depending on the store's relative size, so the smaller stores (i.e., not Supercenters) don't seem to have any Star Wars right now. Some of the larger stores are transitioning over to the next batch, but stores of all sizes are still dealing with product left behind since early 2012 - so I would suggest checking back multiple stores over the coming weeks.

Target is another mixed bag due to the DPCI handling. Target never put the Vintage DPCI on clearance, so many stores with dud Vintage figures still have them, and the same DPCI is shared with Black Series 3 3/4-inch. Target believes its software is smarter than humans, and they made a mistake here - you can trust computers for a lot, but this was a human error that the chain probably will never realize is responsible for costing them more than a few sales on this and other lines where they didn't manage their own internal numbering system as well as they could have.

I got to many stores regularly - we've got a lot of Targets and Walmarts nearby, so I can see a lot of variation from store to store here. What you're seeing isn't uncommon, but between Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us I'm seeing pretty much everything out in force as of late August.


3. Do you have a fix for the [Vintage Hasbro Star Wars Toys R Us exclusive] biggs xwing warped cannons?

I suggest the boiling water trick - which is like the hair dryer trick but with less chance of melt, but obviously, nothing is foolproof. So don't do it unless you're willing to risk other misshaping, because that's always a risk.

What you do is boil a cup or mug or pan of water until it's bubbling like crazy. Take it out of the microwave/off the burner, and dip (or drop) in the offending item for a 5 or maybe 10 seconds - and then pull it out with tongs or whatever will not get you burned (or for legal reasons, don't do this at all.) Usually the plastic will form back to its original shape, or be a little limp due to the heat. If this is the case, straighten it out and run it under some cold water, and presto - you're done.

Some types of plastic do not react well to boiling, so be careful with any item you try under these conditions. I am not responsible for any harm you do to yourself or the product, but usually this does a world of good on figures, accessories, and parts.



4. Wow Adam a new Star Wars movie shot on 35mm film. That's more unbelievable than them actually making the sequel trilogy.
I'm glad George Lucas isn't dead. He'd be rolling over in his space grave. Its shocking, shocking the new movies will be shot on film. And great. Movies like the Avengers look fine shot digitally. Movies like Bridge in the River Kwai look a little better. Crystal Skull was shot on film, so there is precedent for Lucasfilm projects after the prequels [II and III] being shot on film - and shows that being shot on film doesn't mean the film won't look CGI at times. Red Tails was shot digitally and had an unusually look to it.
Do you have an expectations for the new movies? The main actors will be much older than how I imagined them for their continuing adventures when I was a kid. I just want to be surprised. This 35mm news is a nice surprise.

Before Episode I came out, I seem to remember saying things like "collectors say they won't buy any of it, but there will be new stuff similar enough to the originals that people will want to keep collecting." If Hasbro doesn't deep six the line, I still believe that. I also remember saying "hopes are so high for this movie that people are going to be disappointed." I think the same holds true here. To use a more recent example, it's not like Arrested Development was at its creative peak in season 3 and the Netflix episodes helped to prove that it was probably time to let it go. When it comes to pop culture, since the boomers, we're very interested in holding on to our pasts with an iron grip.

Right now I don't have a lot in the way of specific expectations, and like you said - the actors getting older may not necessarily be the best thing for the long-term value of the franchise. Bettie Page stayed out of the public eye as she aged which kept her, for all intents and purposes, permanently youthful. Mark Hamill is rarely seen, so a lot of fans remember him for how he was rather than how he looks today - I'm not saying he looks bad, but nobody tends to look as good 30 years later. (Maybe Famke Janssen.) Seeing what role they will take remains to be seen - will Leia be about as significant and get the same amount of screen time as Mon Mothma? Will Luke be the new Yoda or will his role be a cameo?

The most dangerous expectation is that the new movies will be just as good as the originals. Impossible. You saw those movies when you were young and your standards were a lot different than they are today - it's possible the final result might be an impressive zippy action festival, but the fact that few of us really have any solid idea of what we want to see in a new sequel trilogy is really telling - it's not like these were stories we needed to have told, and adapting the books and comics to the big screen would be a bit of a drag. Hopefully we'll see these veer off in a far-away direction and we'll enjoy places that aren't Tatooine for a change.

The opening of Star Trek Into Darkness showed us what the team can develop and photograph, so we know there are good people at the wheel with colorful imaginations. I could watch R2-D2 and C-3PO and Chewbacca all day, but it's my sincere hope that we won't have any moments in the movie where our hopes of a slam-bang adventure with our childhood heroes turns into a glance of pity instead. I don't think any of us want more reminders of our mortality.


5. The Mission Series and Black Series releases have been welcome, to at least start erasing some very bad times for fans of 3 3/4-inch SW figures.

After all of the complex reasons and theories, what was the biggest cause of this 2012 debacle? If the issues with repacks and SKUs were obvious (as discussed), why didn't anyone at Hasbro address these issues?

If I'm a salesman, and I hear that my products are simply not getting to the people who are willing to pay $$$$, I'm going to unclog that blockage. No one did, and I fear it can repeat. I'm not willing to pay beyond suggested retail anymore, simply because I never had to with previous SW lines.

2012 I can give you a mix of speculation and facts. And you've probably read it all before.

Why revisit this? I'm really not sure. Toy lines do have a bad year here and there, and Hasbro Star Wars is unusual in that it's basically ran straight through since 1995 - few movies can boast that kind of longevity. Even the line ending would still be impressive by industry standards.

If you saw the story last week - Mattel is now #1, LEGO is #2, and Hasbro is #3 - I'm sure someone in Rhode Island is getting a lecture about how things are going lately. With thousands of products made at Hasbro, there are hundreds of opinions on how to do things - in 2005-2010 there seemed to be a strategy to get something new on shelf - Titanium, figures, something - at least every 1-2 months. With the broadening of the line, that's not happening - it's really nobody's fault, it's just that Hasbro tried to juice the lemon a new way and got something pretty lousy.

Hasbro seems flummoxed on how to deal with "new" for Star Wars, so we should probably all start posting lists to message boards. I'm not kidding here - we live in a world where we haven't had any Dejarik Monsters, Ceremonial Han hasn't been done properly yet, we have yet to see a Queen Amidala designed to sit in her throne from the Royal Starship, and there's a decent smattering of Cantina, Jabba's Palace, and Pod Race aliens left to do. Beyond that? Well, short of revisiting something that was pretty good (or OK) before, there's not a heck of a lot that begs for a completely new sculpted figure, and when it comes to characters that a wide variety of fans want, those days are more or less over.

The problem is a mix of bad line planning (Hasbro's assortments), fan fatigue (admit it), and a lack of a push from Lucasfilm that gave the line enough gas to make it to the finish line. 2012 was a bad year - most toy lines have bad years early on and it kills them. Our line keeps going. I'm sure we all see the writing on the wall for The Black Series 3 3/4-inch, but well, it's been a good run. Golden ages never last forever.



By now you've no doubt seen the Zica Toys Six Million Dollar Man and Super 7 ALIEN figures. The retro-Kenner thing was moving along nicely until it was announced Funko bought a chunk of Super 7, and the license list is now expanding to include Aliens, Terminator, Terminator 2, Firefly, Dark Crystal, Predator, Back to the Future, Escape from New York, Goonies, Buffy, Universal Monsters, and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Seeing as the prices are dropping to closer to $15, this may, in fact, be the real competition for Star Wars figure collector dollars. That and for those wanting real retro Star Wars Kenner figures, the real things are still available and many are quite cheap. Get those $5 1979 Hammerheads and Greedos while you can! ACTUAL retro figures are cheaper than their descendants.

If you're of the age that had original Kenner figures as a kid - and I'm sure many of you are - this is where things get murky. Sure, I love Star Wars but it's not like Hasbro tends to release more than a handful of new, never-before-toy characters (or outfits) per year. Last year from the movie line, we had a grand total of about a dozen or so in Vintage, a few exclusives, and of course the Disney "Screw You Fanboy" Droid Factory program. And this year so far... uh... hm. Have we had any yet?

Seeing this license list, if true, is astonishingly exciting but it also splits the fanbase. There aren't many things where you could transition the entire Star Wars fanbase on to another line, even 6-inch from 3 3/4-inch is going to take a while. But seeing this? Well, it's not like it's a stretch to say that one of the reasons I've been writing for you these past (ugh) 18 years is because I loved those original Kenner figures a great deal - and as much as the license is a big part of it, so is the format. And as far as I'm concerned, this kind of product is very much the kind of thing we'll be covering in some capacity on this site as new items get announced and produced until I hear overwhelming complaints (combined with reduced traffic) to tell me otherwise.

As a teenager, I read about Kenner's aborted ALIEN line and thought "Oh, that's a shame, I would have liked to have had those." Since the 1990s began its toy renaissance, I was wondering where our Back to the Future toys would come from - and here we are. Between me and the Mrs., these are all licenses we're probably going to want to chase down and possibly even review here - it's certainly something open for discussion given the nature of our age group.

The added bonus may be that Hasbro will see this and go "oh, we need in on this action." I know a lot of you are clamoring for retro Kenner Star Wars - I'm excited about the idea of it - but when you get right down to it, in the wrong hands, we'll be right back where we are now with endless remakes. I'd love to see Hasbro try their hand at maybe 20-30 figures per movie in the spirit of the original line (i.e., no "just different enough to make you mad" and few to no repaints) but my guess is that will happen based purely on how the new Funko x Super 7 venture goes, and how well The Black Series continues.

Since the 1990s, we've had a lot of (for my age group) overbearing nostalgia for Mego figures - now I guess as a Kenner fanatic, it's my turn to love the turn of events... while other people look on at my 5-jointed figures and shrug. At least it'll be a nice run!

--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.