Q&A: Indiana Jones Figures, Kid Toys You Love, and Shopping For Toys Online

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's time for Q&A, because we have to post something. Is it Online or Bust? Maybe - I don't know where you live! And how about kid-friendly action figures - sure, I like those, let's talk about that. And how about that Indiana Jones - could he slide in to Star Wars assortments? All this and tips for keeping those ankles extra sexy. Read on!


1. I am one who has remained a collector from the beginning. I also agree that Hasbro has over saturated the market and as a result, led to collector fatigue. In addition, the joy of Hunting has become grueling, when carry over figures mar the pegs, ebay and amazon inflation, and online ordering often forces you to buy figures you don't want or already have.

Brick and Mortar was an adventure, but stopped paying off. My optimistic approach is now, "eh, I owe it to myself to at least walk down the toy aisle since I'm already here."

My new curiosity is the six inch line. I find them all the time. I'm tempted to grab some specific ones, but worry it'll be the same old song and dance once I get hooked. $35 + online isn't going to work for me. What might send me over though, is knowing whether or not they have interchangeable heads.

Can I easily put Han's head on a Stormtrooper body? Or switch heads between Luke and say Obi Wan? I want to display them and have fun with them, but don't want to buy them at this price point until I know more about them.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but what you say has basically been the norm since 1995. Ever since there were new figures in the late summer of that year, people have complained they couldn't find stuff - in the early (and pre-) days of eBay, it wasn't uncommon for the newest figures to be in terribly short supply, shortpacked, and as many would say "scalped." Princess Leia and C-3PO were hot tickets back then as they debuted at about 2 per case when cases were 16 figures - and Han, Luke, R2-D2, Chewbacca, and sometimes Darth Vader would sit around a bunch. It's great that human memory sugarcoats the collecting experience, but the sad fact is that outside a few massive launches there were always a couple of figures - if not entire waves - that were in short supply for months after their release, often until the next wave hit and speculators moved on to the next new thing. There were severe pegwarmers in 1996 and 1997, to the point where things backed up so bad in late 1998 that some stores affixed $2 off coupons on figures with price tags reduced to $3 - and they still rotted for months. And there were still thousands of cases of product that Hasbro was sitting on, and this was all Power of the Force 2-era stuff. The scenario of today's super-scarce Black Series 3 3/4-inch figures is pretty much exactly what we saw in the latter days of CommTech, with POTF2 R2-D2 with Holographic Princess Leia being a superbly rare item and then-newer figures like Admiral Motti and the Stormtrooper being tough finds.

Today we have slightly more communication - and some of us have more time to actually check stores - but what you see now has always been happening to some extent. However, I totally agree with you on casepacks and carry forwards - Hasbro has learned their lesson on this numerous times, but seems interested in carrying forward figures beyond the expiration dates set by customers.

The 6-inch line - I'd say grab a couple. You can't swap heads between Han and the Stormtrooper, but they're fun figures - I'd suggest treating them like you would a different license. I like Marvel, but I don't collect Marvel - I get a few a year. Do the same with 6-inch... pick up Greedo and Han Solo, or a Trooper. If you're expecting Masters of the Universe Classics-style swappability, you won't find it here.




2. I know that you're a fan of the more kid-friendly products Hasbro has been releasing lately. I am too. Do you get sick of the attitude of the collector community regarding this stuff (Saga Legends/Rebels are "Happy Meal toys", the 12 inch figures are "shampoo bottles")? I've been collecting since the Mego Super-Heroes days and I understand that what I'm collecting are toys. Why does it seem that people want to bash something that is clearly designed to be played with?

In short: I think you partially hit the nail on the head. People feel sheepish saying they collect toys, especially younger people. Some of us are old enough to remember when Kenner's original toys were considered "junk" at collectible shows and flea markets, and were $2 disposable playthings sold at every toy and drug and department store in America. I'd love to see how people's ages correspond to their opinions, as my findings over the years tend to show that fans were pretty self-conscious about their love of toys/comics around High School (ages 13-19, give or take) because they had delusions of wanting to seem "cool" or to "date the ladies" or "date the dudes." I had no such delusions - I had a mirror, I did the math. I kept at my toy hobby. Being a nerd wasn't "in" until relatively recently, and even then... you should meet some of the nerds I've hung out with.

I've always liked it when a toy company makes a toy I don't like - I don't have to buy it. So far Hasbro has released precious few characters in the Mission Series/Saga Legends style that aren't in the main 3 3/4-inch line, so it's pretty skippable. When it comes to 12-inch, well, that's super-skippable. They're huge hits for Hasbro, so collectors not liking them is a difficult thing for me to deal with. On one hand, OK, I can see hating these so-called "shampoo bottles" or "soakies" or whatever, but I collected a few shampoo bottles myself so I don't have a problem with a figure in this format. And going back to where I started, you don't have to buy it. Like the motorcycles, or 2-inch Unleashed, or the Playskool stuff... there are a lot of things that you as a collector don't buy. What's one more?

Given the relative price point, I set my expectations accordingly. A $10 12-inch figure, I have low expectations - and Hasbro more or less meets them. We were paying $20 for cloth-outfitted figures in the 1990s, so given inflation and the relative lack of adult interest in this size (I don't care if you like Sideshow and Hot Toys, their runs are tiny) it's really quite impressive that Hasbro has managed to tap into the younger kid/gift giver market with a figure of this size at a fair price. Mine are on a shelf, and look pretty great - but I could see not wanting to buy them. When I compare it to a 12-inch Jumbo Gentle Giant figure, it's sort of a coin toss - when you strip away the nostalgia, you're basically dealing with a similar product at vastly different prices.

I don't mind people skipping stuff - it's painful to be faced with a decision to stop doing your hobby, of which you spent thousands of dollars over several years, because the manufacturer has lost its imagination/direction/exploitable cheap source of labor/etc. It's exceedingly difficult to come up with a line plan that works in the face of new owners (Disney), aborted marketing plans (3-D prequels and sequels), and new media (one or more TV shows and 5 movies). It's tough to tell what new item is for who - I assume Star Wars Command will faceplant unless Hasbro supports it out of spite - but right now you're looking at a toy license that any other company would probably just shelve for a few months. Sure, what we're getting is confusing and may do long-term harm to the collector market, but I think the fact that you're actually reading me still write about these damn things 19 years later proves that it's entirely possible that Star Wars can do no wrong. There's a market, even for stuff we don't all love.


3. Would Hasbro ever consider slipping an Indiana Jones into the Black Series 6" assortments? Or would a Disney decision or suggestion need to be made in order to use up a slot for another franchise?

Would they consider it? Sure! Will it happen? Probably never.

I won't say it's unprecedented, because Medicom did slip in a "chase" Han Solo figure - which was actually Indiana Jones - in the Star Wars Kubrick line a few years ago. Due to how licensing can work with caricatures, sometimes you can get away with figures that are similar to others as long as you don't flat-out use trademarked names. (Or so has been what I've been seeing.) If they call it Han Solo on the box, don't show a picture of it, and don't use any of the (then) Paramount stuff? Well, maybe you can sneak it in.

If you put out an Indiana Jones figure in a window box, with that name on it, and that likeness, you might be asking for trouble. It's theoretically possible - I don't know if Hasbro still has its Indiana Jones license, or if they're sitting on it - but it's not something we see a lot of. When it comes to things like royalties, there may be more to it than cutting Disney a check. I don't know how much (if any) Lucasfilm or Paramount might still get, and if you do anything that upsets the bean counters you generally can't make it happen.

Multi-license assortments are pretty uncommon in the USA outside of McFarlane's old Movie Maniacs figures, or (for some reason) there are a lot of horror licenses that get bundled together for various product. (See: Minis, Funko.) It takes a lot of work to get two licenses in one assortment, and Star Wars has largely remained pure outside of Titanium Series Battlestar Galactica inserts. So it could happen... sure. But it's not like Indiana Jones is something people are asking for a lot now, so I wouldn't get your hopes up.

Now if that whole Bradley Cooper as Indy thing holds any merit, sure, it's not unlikely that someone will some day make some figures if it goes well. And I do mean old figures, too - you just have to wait and see if the new movie does well, after last time's, uh, intriguing performance at retail.




Ohhh... it's press time and I didn't write something here? Hm. Well, it's sort of fascinating if you follow the toy business, but earlier this week I realized that indie toy company Onell Design (creator of Glyos, Pheyden, etc.) will most likely release more toys than Hasbro will for Star Wars this year - they had a "mini drop" last night with 6 new releases. So far in 2014, we've had 4 6-inch figures (and some Angry Birds). The previous Black Series, Saga Legends, and Mission Series figures all hit in December. So it's April tomorrow, and Hasbro has put out 4 figures. It's a cheap time to collect, but it also explains why there's less action on the front page these days - the big news tends to be something popping up on clearance.

Right now, it seems there should be a trickle of new Marvel stuff, but Mattel doesn't have much going on for boy's toys outside of Hot Wheels at retail for a while. Transformers will probably be slow until the new movie line hits, in which case I expect it'll be pretty crazy for about six months. G.I. Joe may as well be dead. And Star Wars, I think we won't see anything new until June or July unless there's an unannounced exclusive to be had - so other than those wave 3 Black Series figures in both sizes, you're probably going to be pretty all caught up for a while. If memory serves Rebels should be launching in late summer, hopefully August/September unless things move around.

Rather than have new toys every 1-2 months, now it seems we can go entire quarters without having a reason to go toy hunting - I used to buy a lot more stuff from other lines because I was always chasing down something, and nowadays it seems a lot of my toy shopping comes from online exclusive series. This is, of course, why LEGO probably continues to thrive - there's an endless supply of the stuff, it's reasonably well-communicated, and there aren't expectations of waves of product you haven't seen and may actually never see.

So here's looking forward to the next reboot - hopefully the new assortments for Fall will clear up things and the unsold 2012 Vintage figures I continue to see at my local Walmarts, Toys R Uses, and to a lesser extent Targets and Kmarts will finally be sold or burned.

Got a lead on Life Force!

--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.