It's Q&A time! Let's talk about the new 2013 action figures hitting stores near you right now. And also 6-inch figures, and Cantina aliens because these are things that are, in all seriousness, very important. While we're at it, let's also discuss the new Vintage Collection Slave I and Biggs Red 3 X-wing Fighter vehicles, because we can, and you need to know which - if either - are different enough to warrant buying. Read on for more!
1. I've been to two Targets lately, and it's great that they're reset their toy aisles, which includes the new Saga Legends, 6" Black Series, Mission Series, 12" Anakin-to-Vader, etc. However, one thing puzzles me: there are ZERO pegs available for the 3 3/4" Black Series, but there ARE four pegs for the Vintage series, which should have been clearanced out at this point. These stores have the usual pegwarmers from January 2012 (man, am I sick of seeing these figures in the stores!), and they are still at full price. What in the name of George Lucas has gotten into Target? Why would they not be carrying the 3 3/4" Black Series, but still have unwanted Vintage figures as part of their "plan-o-gram"? Do you have any insight here?
This is a really strange one - are you ready for some toy business inside baseball? Well, you're going to get a kick out of this.
Basically this is a result of Target doing things in a way that is very unusual. Normally, Target makes a new DPCI for each new product SKU. So for you old farts, this would mean 30th Anniversary got its own SKU (87500), which was separate from the Saga Legends/Saga Collection assortment (85770, oddly, Hasbro shared the same for both). Each of those two got their own DPCI and their own peg real estate space. It's not entirely uncommon for two kinds of Hasbro assortments to share a 5-digit SKU (for example, Transformers Generations Deluxes with the IDW comic books have the same assortment SKU as the previous 2012 waves without the comic) but it's not something you see all of the time.
With The Black Series, Target instead recycled the current Vintage DPCI, despite the fact that they have different SKUs. Most stores order by the 5-digit assortment SKU, and stock their products so that each SKU gets their own shelf space. Target (and as far as I know, this is unprecedented) decided to merge multiple Hasbro assortment SKUs into a single DPCI - I am not able to name another time Target has done this, but if you guys can, please write in. I'd love to know.
The big problem here? When Hasbro doesn't discontinue a DPCI, the product doesn't get put on clearance. Which means old product sits for years - which we saw happen with Vintage dating back to 2010. This could mean Vintage product will stick around and get in the way of new Black Series on pegs at certain stores.
For years, Hasbro told us that Target tracked each assortment separately. This was true - even though you saw Saga Legends on the wrong pegs, they were still being tracked correctly in Target's inventory system. Now, we're seeing the vintage assortment merged with the Black Series assortment, which I assume will result in some confusion in the stock rooms, from employees, and so forth. I don't believe it will affect reorders assuming Hasbro is most likely done with Vintage inventory in their warehouses and distribution centers. If you want 3 3/4-inch Black Series, you're probably going to have to fork over the DPCI for Vintage. Weird, and this throws a wrench into the works for how was as fans see how Target has previously done business.
2. Thanks for all your reviews of the 6" Black Series. I was loathe to start collecting in a new scale (I'm going to cherry pick the few characters I like most; at $20 a pop I can't afford to do anything else). I spotted all of them in the wild except for Artoo, and was impressed by the quality of the work (I picked up Maul). My question is, and I know it's very early, but do you yet have a sense --from your own observations and your day job -- that these are being embraced by collectors or rejected? Again, I know they just hit, so maybe I'm asking for more of a gut feeling than an answer based on something as trivial as fact. The little I've seen on the web they seem to be a hit, but you're far more plugged-in than I am.
Right now it appears the 6-inch Black Series is doing spectacular business - I haven't seen a single one at a store near me, I got mine from Entertainment Earth (where I work) but I do hear some people seeing them out in the toy stores. The 3 3/4-inch line seems to be doing well too, but the 6-inch seems to be doing more than a little better.
Grudging delight seems to be the best way to describe fan reaction - nobody seemed on board at first, minus a few of us, but once fans see them up close they tend to flip pretty quickly. My initial reaction when I saw these a while back was "Oh, this is going to bring lapsed collectors back." I'm curious to see if I'm going to be right here - this is a real jumping-in point for people who like figures but were burned out by 18 years of 3 3/4-inch figures, particularly given the samey nature of much of 2010-2013.
For those of you who say "no way no how" from a budget perspective, I get it. I understand. But if you get Maul or Luke or Boba or the Sandtrooper in your hands, you're going to cave in. R2-D2, well, he's probably not going to win you over for the price point. A short guy in a $6-$10 assortment I can take, but not at $20. There needs to be some bonus item in here - a training remote for Luke, C-3PO's arm, or something. That, or the Astromech droids need to be build-a-figures like Hit Monkey or Puck in Marvel Legends.
Fake Jabba (or Mosep Bineed [white hair]/Taws Khaa [red hair]) is one of those many Cantina aliens that just haven't made it out yet. Part of the problem here is going to be making sure Hasbro understands what fans are trying to ask for, as now we've got two Nimbanel figures to ask for and as we've seen over the years, Hasbro sometimes gives us what we ask for (Imperial Dignitary figures) but not what we meant (Sim Aloo).
You want Mosep? Great! Start asking. Post to forums. Start a petition. Talk to other fans - make this a key talking point for everybody when you go to a convention. If you want an obscure alien made today, you are the source of action here. I'm not going to do it - neither is anybody else. Make it your goal to raise awareness for the character and get people interested. It's happened before, and it can happen again.
Given the direction of the line, which heavily favors "star" characters and remakes of things you already own, you're going to have to make a lot of noise. People are still making inroads for Yavin Ceremony Han Solo with the proper shirt, and obviously I'm continuing to make my wasted efforts asking for Vlix, but the power to get anything made is going to mean a lot of fan involvement. So get crackin'.
4. You think C-3PO will be the vacumized metal look or another crappy dull gold paint when they get to him for the Black Series? I have heard that's expensive and on top of that it's already a $20 figure. What do you know about the process that makes it so? Maybe that winds up being your San Diego Con exclusive next year?
It may be a unique process but "expensive" is not the right word for it - it boils down to if Hasbro wants to do it or not. They can cut corners on rereleases of that mold in other colors too, so it really boils down to what Hasbro thinks fans want (and will cost out correctly). Do we want removable limbs? Would we prefer vac-metal? To both, I say yes. But we're not sure why Hasbro is giving us a matte gold figure - is it because it's cheaper, or because they think that's what we prefer? With R2-D2, I prefer matte silver. With C-3PO, I prefer shiny vac-metal gold.
I do not anticipate C-3PO being next year's exclusive, but then again, I wouldn't have banked on Boba being this year's. We're going to have to wait and see - a Chewbacca/C-3PO 2-pack would be a lot of fun!
5. Are there different markings / decals / paint apps between Biggs's X-Wing (coming TRU TVC exclusive) and Luke's Red-5 (previous releases)? Are they the same toy, but packaged in different boxes? I know the pilots helmets are all different in ANH, but I am unsure about the fighters.
The X-Wings do differ. There are unique features on each one, specifically the red stripes on the wing. "Red 5" (Luke) has 5 stripes. "Red 2" (Wedge) has 2 stripes. "Red 3" (Biggs) has 3 stripes. All we need now is "Red 6" (Porkins) and we're in pretty good shape. Red 4 is John Branon, and nobody gives a crap about John Branon.
The mold for the X-Wing differs a bit - there are a few changes between the releases. The Biggs Red 3 X-Wing is the same mold as the 2010 Death Star Trench X-Wing, which has a removable nose cone section, a tethered control yoke (seriously, the panel pops out and is attached with rope), lightsaber storage, a flip-out proton torpedo launcher, and a few other cosmetic differences. If you missed the 2010 Trench Run set, get the Biggs one. If you have the Trench Run set, the Biggs X-Wing is fun for the 6 minutes you take to open and assemble it, and then off to the storage room it goes.
The new Boba Fett's Slave I hit this week from Amazon to what I would call the most negative reception I've seen. I got the smashed box pic in my inbox early Monday morning, and about an hour later mine showed up in a white mailer box in what I would consider to be impeccable shape. Granted, the wings need some help, but other than that? 'tis a fine vehicle. Diorama builders and people who have yet to embrace the action figure as a toy will love it, kids will experience some frustration with it, and you MISB people, well, I'll never understand you anyway. But the boxing situation is, to say the least, not the way any consumer product should be handled. I'm actually still kind of excited for the cheapo "Class II" version due later this year since it's nice and small and I can futz with it on the couch.
One aspect of this line - OK, another one - I figure you guys and I will disagree on is the quantity of everything. I've noticed a lot of you upset at the pace of releases being too slow, when I'm thinking slow is good. We're at a point where nearly every major line has a lot of interesting stuff to offer collectors. Don't like Batman? Well, now Mattel has Adam West Batman. Big Lots has $5 Batman. Funko has Pop! Vinyl Batman. Iron Man not only has neat Hasbro figures, but $120 die-cast figures, Marvel Legends, 12-inch imports, statues, and so on. If peak oil is a thing, so is peak action figures - and we're at a point where there's very clearly more product than a collector can keep track of. Without Uncle Tomart's Bathroom Reader or another easy go-to publication dropping in our laps showing us all the new stuff, we're going to miss a lot. Daily peeks at news web sites are ephemeral, fleeting looks at a very large industry and there's no resource showing you what's out there, what you missed that you can reference in a digestible way anymore.
Right now it looks like Hasbro's entire output for the US market will be about 8 6-inch Black Series figures, maybe about 12 3 3/4-inch Black Series figures, 4 Mission Series 2-packs, and 8 Saga Legends figures. It's not a lot, but it's a quick burst in Q3 and Q4 with the entire rest of the year being a deadzone, and that I don't care for. It's my hope Hasbro staggers its entire line in 2014, with something new every month that would maybe keep it at at least 3 or 4 assortments of each SKU per year, just so there's something to write about.
In the "the grass is always greener" department, one of my favorite figure lines, The Outer Space Men has seen insane price increases this year. They used to be about $10 each in 2010, which is high but not bad for 3 3/4-inch low-run figures. They creeped up to an average of $20 this year, with single small figures at $16 and "deluxe" figures at $31 - keep in mind, it's for largely unpainted 3 3/4-inch action figures. Mattel's He-Man line is creeping up to $27 per, plus shipping. I'm not saying you have to give thanks for the relatively low pricing for our line, but take a look around - it could be a lot worse for us than having fewer and in some cases cheaper figures released.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.