Q&A: Force Friday, Star Wars Holiday Boba Fett, and Kickstarter

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, July 9, 2017

1. Was wondering what your predictions are for the 3 3/4" Hasbro line for Episode 8, especially in terms of vehicles. I agree that this scale is currently waning in popularity, but hope that the line is more robust than those of Rogue One and Episode 7.

Hasbro has made no comments as to the direction the line will take, although we can make some safe assumptions - we know there are more 6-inch figures, we know there are more 6-inch vehicles, and we know 3 3/4-inch vintage-style figures won't be back until 2018. Beyond that, based on my line of work it would be pretty improper to say much more at this point. If you're expecting hundreds of figures and an entire aisle of stuff, the latest Transformers movie toy line was soft, as were recent Marvel movies. If you look at Hasbro's attention span with franchises at the box office, there is clear evidence that the line decays after a big push. And we had a very big push a few years ago.

I would argue that the launch of The Force Awakens was pretty good for vehicles, but the follow-up wasn't. Admittedly the quality of materials was not what we were used to, but we did get a TIE Fighter (in two decos), a Millennium Falcon, a Snowspeeder, a Desert Speeder, Ezra's Speeder, two flavors of mini Scout Walker, a new Speeder Bike, a repackaged Slave I, two flavors of X-Wing, Rey's Speeder, a redeco Y-Wing, and that's just off the top of my head. 14 vehicles ain't bad - for Rogue One we got the TIE Striker, U-Wing, AT-ACT, Rebels Imperial Speeder, Rebels A-Wing, plus a few repacks which I really, really wish never happened. (Good stuff, just too much in the marketplace already.)

That's the data. For more, cross your fingers Lucasfilm starts to embrace the benefits of revealing product early so we can anticipate it rather than go to the store and shrug.



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2. So wanted to ask, is there ever a chance we'll see Boba Fett Holiday Special properly done. The figure they've done in the past is no more than a different paint app. But something with the more correct looking chest armor and cartoon color scheme.

Fun story - the 30th Anniversary Animated Debut Boba Fett figure actually was prototyped to have a different helmet, but the final figure didn't have it. Why? I can only assume the factory goofed, as a few strange things in that era were factory communications issues. That Boba Fett did get a new holster, a new blaster, and a prod - so it wasn't totally without any new parts. I don't anticipate seeing a new take of that figure unless Hasbro decides it needs a new 6-inch Boba Fett figure, and even then I would anticipate minimal newly sculpted pieces for it.

I know I should say "anything is possible!" but when it comes to lesser bits of the 1970-1990 Star Wars saga, I don't feel the current regime currently cares unless it's also a part of another new piece of the franchise. So if Boba Fett shows up in Rebels in that color, sure. Otherwise, no.




3. Have you followed the 3 3/4 Kickstarters that have cropped up in the past couple of years? Marauders, Boss Fight, Eagle Force, Chicken Fried Toys, Hell Screamerz, Animal Warriors, Amazing Heroes to name a few. In my opinion, they are killing it right now. They put the Big H to shame with their creativity and passion. Probably their biggest draw for me is they diversity they bring to my 3 3/4 collecting world and they fit right in with my Joe's, Heroes, and Star Wars figures. Cowboys, Ape Soldiers, Spartans, indie heroes(Nexus, Flaming Carrot!) I could go on and on about this subject but I'd like to hear your opinion. What are your thoughts on these lines and Kickstarter in general? Thanks for everything you do and sharing your toy passion with the rest of us rabid collector.

I supported a few Kickstarters, but not a lot of 3 3/4-inch action figure ones - I was a big fan of everything October Toys put out, and I'm a supporter of other indie toy lines like The Outer Space Men. I got a look at some of these up close and some are really nifty, but part of the problem of being in this hobby for as long as I am is that my enthusiasm wanes as my collection increases. When you see an update of a classic toy line, sometimes it's hard to get excited without built-in enthusiasm. Boss Fight Studios makes absolutely gorgeous stuff, and I personally can't fault Hasbro for doing what Hasbro's doing. Usually. Those "Armor Up" figures, no, just no.

For those looking to scratch an itch, Kickstarter provides an emotional investment that you can't get elsewhere - your money supports this line and with it comes some anxiety about if you might actually receive your figures. Most of my experiences were great - very few fell outside my acceptable range of delivery (about 3 months late), I believe the Four Horsemen's Ravens (which took a few months) and Freezepop's new album (still waiting) are the only ones that seemed to be extraordinarily long. I typically withhold Kickstarter support if I have an outstanding project, and I try to mostly support people where I have an existing relationship so at least I know who to reach out to if something went wrong.

This business model is good for indie creators, but if you're a big company it doesn't make a lot of sense other than as a PR stunt. If you're only going to sell a few hundred of something, and you employ enough people to fit in a small bus, this is a good way to go. If you're Hasbro, Kickstarter takes so much money it's really only worth exploiting as a marketing platform - as we've seen with many video games, particularly Shenmue 3.

Right now I try to give as much support as possible to the people who make what I like that don't require blind payment months (or years) in advance. Onell Design puts out great stuff and I try to drop a few dollars in their hat even if I don't necessarily need every new release. (I need a few, though.) Culture Pirates distributes Bit Figs and some cool shirts and records, so I also buy some of their other products which I very much enjoy. The Outer Space Men, well, I just buy what I can, which is pretty much the lot of it. As a collector of Star Wars I need to be careful about space in the era of unending movies, so there are people I love with products I like that I can't support because I want to be more than someone who stores toys in my home.

I love what people are doing, and I still keep my eyes open for stuff I just gotta have. But I'm also going through my stuff and seeing figures from The Simpsons, which I loved but have not watched in ages, or G.I. Joe, which Hasbro expertly revived and I just don't really feel anything when I look at those figures even though they're clearly some of the best 3 3/4-inch action figures, ever, particularly for their original asking prices. I mean, they did $10 HISS Tanks with figures for a while. Bonkers. We never knew how good we had it in that 2006-2010 era, which I think is a recurring theme throughout the history of most of our fandoms.




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Another one bites the dust! Sort of. Kmarts and Sears have been closing for years, but the last Phoenix-area proper Kmart just got the axe. I've been going there regularly before lunch on weekends for years, and it is and was a crappy Kmart since I started semi-regularly going there around 2000... which is long after the last time it was renovated, seemingly. In Arizona, I remember buying toys at Kmart, Kay-Bee, Lionel PlayWorld, Toys by Roy, and Kmart in the vintage era of Star Wars. Even Long's Drugs. Target didn't get here until Transformers (or at least we didn't get out to one), and Walmart wasn't easily around until later than that here - so Kmart was really one of the last retailers of my youth, and now? Well, it's got a couple of months. Liquidation starts this week but this is the location I've mentioned has had strange "Inventory Reduction Sales." It also has no more than two registers open at a busy time, and I've got stories about purchase attempts gone wrong. They often had neat stuff because the local collectors didn't seem to want to go there, but you can't get by with two registers on a Saturday. Or an in-store pick-up desk for online orders that takes about 40 minutes despite the whole "your order is ready, come get it" email.

The only places still open where we may have got figures that I can recall are Sears and JC Penny, both of which seem on the bubble in their respective malls where they're still standing. Of course, this is also basically just my saying "pretty much all of the chains I visited 32 years ago are gone," but that's probably increasingly true everywhere and in most industries. Come to think of it, a lot of the places I shopped for toys in the 1995 The Power of the Force relaunch are gone too - but enough are still around (or were renovated) that it doesn't seem quite as distant as the increasingly intangible era of the original trilogy.

I know Kmart won't be missed by most, but they have had a decent smattering of Hasbro exclusives over the years from that golden Optimus Prime to Checkpoint and Prowl to Jodo Kast to the Vintage Box B-Wing to those Black Series figures that, seemingly, nobody wants. Which is surprising, as that Jyn Erso is pretty distinctive.

I don't assume that the I-17 and Northern Kmart will take long to clear out - many aisles and sections of the store have been largely empty for a while and toy restocking seems infrequent at best - but I'll keep going to it as long as the doors remain open. It's not like I've got a whole heck of a lot else to do when I'm out for lunch.

Fun aside, I did stop by this weekend and there were no signs indicating the closing, but it was a lot deader than it was a few months ago, particularly for a Saturday afternoon.

--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.