Q&A: Helmets, Black Series Assortments, and the Future of the Expanded Universe

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 27, 2014


1. I just wanted to write in and ask what you thought the odds were of the Hasbro Talking Boba Fett helmet from [2010] getting a re-release. After it came out,a lot of adult collectors realized it was the perfect size for cosplay,and many folks bought it just for the viewfinder. As a result,finding one complete on Ebay for under $80-$100 bucks is pretty hard. Should those of us who want one just bite the bullet,or is there a chance of Hasbro getting it back out at retail?

Right around 2012, we saw a pretty big disruption in materials and Chinese labor costs, and they affected Hasbro in a significant way. (Those who say "no they didn't!", well, OK, enjoy being wrong.) The popular talking helmet segment became a half-helmet, specifically just the front half, around that time because sometimes making a price point is more important than making something truly great - these are toys, after all. Numerous other toys were simplified to keep certain price points in the marketplace, but that didn't stop a few items from coming back as retailer exclusives - so it's certainly possible. If there was a big Boba Fett push like we were expecting (he was supposed to show up in his armor in The Clone Wars if memory serves), it's possible an appearance in a new movie or Rebels could warrant Toys R Us bringing it back as an exclusive. We did see a few reruns for the 2004 Darth Vader Voice Changer helmet - but there were some big gaps in there. Boba Fett isn't Darth Vader, so I would grab it cheap if you can. Loose samples appear to be $50 or less on eBay, so consider that a reissue would probably be priced more than the original release - I think it was about $40. If you can get it for $50 or less in good shape, do so before people realize they can't get one anymore.

Rising costs should be your key factor in deciding what to buy or what to cross your fingers on, if good ol' fashioned impatience doesn't do the trick. A $7 figure in 2007 will probably be $10 or $11 if reissued today - and if it's on eBay for $5-$10, and you can get it right now, waiting is for chumps. Prices can go up or down, and kids (yes, kids) are a big influence on the secondary market. I remember seeing a lot of young kids paying $20 or more for hard-to-get wrestling figures in the 1990s, and Ahsoka's secondary market prices in 2008 weren't because collectors loved her at the time. Frozen toys are going through this right now - kids want it, prices are going up. Kids that buy them aren't sitting on packaged samples to flip later, they're playing with them and they want more. Heck, Bumblebee from the 2007 Transformers movie spent a lot of time at $20 or higher (instead of $10) because little kids wanted it and couldn't get him. If a new cartoon or new movie makes an existing character desirable and Hasbro doesn't have product on the shelves, prices will go up. I was getting a haircut back around February of 2012, and the lady was telling me how much her kid loved Hulk stuff and she was paying $20-$40 on Amazon for them. I told her "Whoa, there's this Avengers movie coming out and a whole bunch of new Hulk toys will be at Target, so if you can wait there are going to be a lot more cheap options any day now."

I know some people roll their eyes, but kids are a big driving force in the world of collectible toys - even if not directly, their wants and unmet demand can make a big change on what sells on the secondary market. Kids won't ever bid on eBay, but you can bet that a panicked mom or dad will shell out some serious green on Amazon if a manufacturer didn't properly anticipate demand for a specific character when their birthday rolls around. It's not unthinkable that Hasbro could miss the boat on Boba Fett in the future - or be a few minutes late - so if it's $50 loose for the helmet now, just buy it. And some Febreze. I don't know what people were doing in it before you bought it, as I've seen plenty of... interesting photography involving these helmets.




2. Entertainment earth just put their solicitations up for the 6" wave 4 black series: where is Chewie? Is he delayed because of technical issues? Because I could swear from Toy Fair that he was going to be in wave 4. Or are the repacks of the stormtrooper and the fett man taking his place? I'm glad to see these get reissued as I can't find the damn trooper anywhere. The 30 I paid for it without having to "hunt" for it was nice but no where near satisfying as finding it in store like the 2 bobas I found.

Here's a funny thing. I checked my notes from Toy Fair and it didn't quite match my memory - I think I may have either written it down wrong or something. It's also possible Hasbro changed their minds - they said that the boxes needed to be changed to fit bigger figures. Of course, we've seen leaked shots of Chewie in the current boxes - he's cramped. Based on the presentation and what I heard during the event, it sounded like a few things weren't quite coordinated - some things were alluded to and left out our not followed up on (exclusives, Mission Series, Saga Legends) so... this may not have been the finished presentation.

Anyway, Hasbro did indeed say Jedi Luke, Anakin, a Clone, and Chewbacca was wave 4. My notes didn't specify (but I seem to remember) wave 4 was an ETA of fall - I may be mistaken on this. As such, it is possible they just decided to push some figures up to get us something before we all quit and start a family or something.

It's uncommon, but Hasbro does change waves, delay figures, or drop things from time to time. Or for all I know, the Clone and Anakin will be back and shipping with Chewbacca and Luke in a few months. I actually don't know the final wave 5 breakdown yet, but as you can see here things change (or were reported wrong or reported based on out-of-date-information). You'll still get Chewbacca, eventually. I'm pretty stoked about Boba Fett and the Stormtrooper coming back, mostly because I feel as an industry pundit that they're necessary to rope in more collectors. If you find out you missed Boba Fett, you might be less likely to hop on board. If you get Boba Fett in your hands, you'll go "Oh, this is awesome, where can I get more of these things?" The most important thing for us - for all of us - is for Hasbro to engage new blood while keeping us on the hook. If there's no new people, they're just going to keep bleeding customers year after year, and new blood has to come from somewhere. I certainly don't want 100% of the products to be focused on kids, so here's hoping the 6-inch figures grab more eyeballs as the best figures return to the shelves.


3. Hello their I've been liking the Hasbro Star Wars The Black Series 6 Inch Line a lot and enjoy it. Got most of them from Dorksidetoys I have from AHN Han Solo , X-Wing Luke Skywalker and ROTS Obi-Wan Kenobi and soon I will have in a month Bespin Luke Skywalker. My question is Adam of the 6 inch Black Series figures that have not been announced yet what would you like to see from the 6 inch line? Take Care and keep up the good work

I like most of what Hasbro is doing now, slowly, except Luke. Luke's probably the figure I'm always the most interested in seeing updated, which is why I hope they cool it in 6-inch - right now, the format hasn't evolved much. I'd kill for a cool Dark Empire comic-based Luke Skywalker in that size, but not now - maybe in a few years, after they integrate some new features into the figures. I'm sure we'll see a really cool light-up lightsaber that isn't hard-wired to the figure's body some day, or perhaps the return of the Force through magnets or something. I'd love that.

As to realistic choices, though? I want Max Rebo (and his band), Admiral Ackbar, the original 12, and anything they want to do from Jabba's Palace - Skiff Lando, Boushh Leia, these were some of my favorites as a kid. I don't personally feel that they'll need to update every last character in this bigger scale, but it would be nice to have all the Bounty Hunters and every unquestionably major character before they put the line to rest. Seeing Hasbro's attention span with new sizes and scales, I'm not hopeful that they'll be around forever. It could end up getting rested at some point like the 6-inch Marvel Legends range, which disappeared for a couple of years shortly after Hasbro took it from Toy Biz.

Seeing Jabba the Hutt and the Speeder Bike have me very excited - but again, these are already coming. It shows Hasbro is dedicating a little more thought to this scale and price point, and as someone who likes figures a bunch I'd rather see new tooling dollars go in 6-inch remakes of figures I bought as 3 3/4-inch figures in the 1990s than new 3 3/4-inch remakes of figures I bought in the 1990s... and 2000s... and 2010s. Bigger may not be better for all fans, but I'd die a happy collector to never see a new 3 3/4-inch take on Malakili.




So by now you've no doubt heard the news - the bulk (if not all) of the Expanded Universe is no longer canon. Here's the thing - the new stuff they're doing for the new canon? It's going to get contradicted, too. Those of us old enough to remember the 1980s and 1990s know that there were a lot of things tossed out and essentially rebooted around 1991 when Timothy Zahn kicked off Heir to the Empire as the crown jewel of the new Lucasfilm publishing program. Depending on when you got in to Star Wars, we've been through numerous reformations and at one point Marvel's original comics were completely excised from any and all guide books - unlike, say, the radio dramas, or the Han Solo novels, or the RPGs. Bits and pieces come and go, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that this sort of thing continues to happen - we saw a few changes as to how the Mandalorians and Clone Army have been treated over the years, with various things coming and going. Remember the 2006 Clone Headed versions of the Original Trilogy Imperial armored guys? We started to get Stormtroopers and Gunners and all sorts of things - even TIE Pilots, as recently as a couple of years ago.

The Ewoks telefilms and cartoons as well as the Droids cartoons were largely ignored in the late 1980s and through most of the 1990s guides and Expanded Universe - we only started to see more attention paid to Droids as elements from that show began to creep in things like Shadows of the Empire in 1996 and yes, even The Phantom Menace in 1999. In those cases, we saw the movies start to make those old, dusty, and ignored stories relevant to the canon again instead of lining the metaphorical bogwing cage. And don't get me started on the newspaper strips from the likes of Archie Goodwin and Russ Manning - if it weren't for Dark Horse, odds are we'd never even know what those things were all about.

I'm not saying I don't care about the perceived or actual loss of status, but this is like someone who got out of the pool complaining about the fact that it started raining. You're still wet. Nothing has changed. The massive trove of stories must be purged so Disney and its licensors gets a return on its investment while opening up the playing field for the new movies. Boba Fett has had countless origins over the years. Shaak Ti has been killed multiple ways. Star Trek fans have lived under the dubious benefit of a less unified publishing program, or at least, most of those fans weren't operating under the delusion that everything was a tight-knit unified story. Heck, this is one area where the hardcore fans probably were basically shrugging the most. We've been through this before. We know that it happens all the time. Contradictions are part of what made the gargantuan tapestry of paper we've consumed since 1977 interesting. Did you know there's a comic that refers to a battle involving three different Jedi, two of which were Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader? While we can all dismiss this as goofy today, nobody really know the true story back then and as a result, setting stories in between or before existing stories starts to make a lot more sense.

For people who love those original Marvel books or Tales, the early-2000s ambiguously canon anthology series, well, nothing is really changing. For those who put thousands of hours in the Old Republic (and/or its Knights), well, you'll always have your memories.

As I was young (or old) enough to have consumed much of the 1970s and 1980s Expanded Universe (before it was even called that - that name didn't come up until Kenner popularized it in 1998, and if you say Extended Universe you're in the wrong) and I began to see that things like the Bill Slavicsek A Guide to the Star Wars Universe left a lot of stuff out. I didn't make a big stink about it as a kid, it just seemed that some things were considered less relevant to the mythos and it's thanks to things like Wookieepedia, Leland Chee, and the increased availability (and indeed piracy) of all things Star Wars that allows these things to exist in our collective continuity consciousness.

In a perfect world we'd see R2-D2 and C-3PO show up out of the blue on Star Wars: Rebels before being handed off to Captain Antilles and forever canonizing their master-hopping adventures in Droids, but I'm not sure if the people in charge love me that much. From where I sat, anything was basically canon until something in a movie said it wasn't. I suggest you all continue to take this attitude because as far as I'm concerned the Fromm Gang is in prison, the Sanyassan Marauders are out there somewhere, and that's how I likes it.

--Adam Pawlus

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