Q&A: Jabba Backsides, Lando Changes, Star Wars Keeps Getting Old

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 24, 2019

1. The new Jabba's playset: (1) what does the REVERSE side of it look like? Hasbro has lately done a nice job with fun, hidden surprises--any here? Or is it simply non-descript beige plastic on the back? (2) Do you see this as the start of a modular Jabba's palace? (3)...and if so, does this bode well for a similar approach to the Death Star? Or is this just a one-off stoking the wishful thinking of long-time collectors?
--Rash Flembar

Does no one read our coverage? I work so hard for all of you!  You can see the reverse side of Jabba's Palace here close to the bottom. It's nothing special - it's a back of a playset. There are no special details.

I don't yet know if there will be more of htem, or if they're connection to other things. The craggy tops look like you could lay a roof over it, but there are no obvious hooks to expand it just yet. I assume there will be another one in the future, but when and where? No idea. I can tell you no such thing was mentioned within earshot of me.

This is clearly the year Jabba gets a lot of love - which is odd, but maybe it's also foreshadowing for Episode IX - but I wouldn't get your hopes up for a Death Star this or next year, particularly with the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back next year.



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2. I just read your comment on how long you foresee the vintage line continuing - and I (unfortunately) agree with it. New figures seem to sell (the "Solo" wave seems to be doing well) while the Walmart "exclusive" black series repacks are collecting dust. With all of the different lines being offered (vintage, black series, resistance, etc), it feels like Hasbro is spread thin in trying to find its golden goose. However, with Hasbro’s new website, do you think that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Star Wars collector? With Hasbro crowd funding a sail barge (successfully - with a high price point no less) and with cool items like the Rogue One tank (overpriced - but cool) and the new skiff (a much better price point - also cool) being largely offered online, do you see Hasbro shifting to online marketing and sales for collectors? By reducing its vintage offerings (whether figures or vehicles) and increasing the price for a collector market, this would allow valuable retail shelf space to catering to the kids with the cheaper 5-points of articulation at retail markets. Is this viable in your opinion? Strangely, we had this discussion a long time ago when castle grayskull for masters of the universe was crowd funded and you mentioned that you didn’t foresee Hasbro adopting this for the Star Wars brand. Thoughts?
-- Darth Parker

Things change on the regular at Hasbro - teams change over every few years, with people cross-trained and transferring all the time. Their hang-ups and knowledge go with them, which is sometimes good - we got a Cloud Car because the veto person left - and sometimes bad - because many of the teams do not have the deep knowledge of what has or hasn't been done.  Very few people understand that there are thousands of figures.

Star Wars is old. It isn't reasonable to expect they're still catering to kids from 1977, particularly when so many of them are selling off collections or quitting. Even if you're not, many are. From where I sit, the action figure range is being tugged in numerous, possibly incompatible directions and has been for several years. While the 6-inch range was a shot in the arm and a great clean start, it also bifurcated the line. Other new scales will continue to push and pull the fandom while someone, somewhere, seems interested in releasing as few new figures as possible. While I'm happy to see a new Jabba thug, I'm disappointed it's another Nikto.

The thing you'll notice is that things change. A few years ago Hasbro was very disinterested in direct-to-consumer affairs and wanted to do more sales of fewer items. Today we're seeing the market shaken up in the wake of the end of Toys R Us, which kicked off last year. I didn't think the Barge was likely to make its HasLab goal, and the last-minute numbers probably were fueled by a lot of speculators buying more than one of them for those who missed out, and we'll see just how many of them there are. Castle Grayskull now goes for a decent chunk of change, and I don't know if there are fans with enough figures and space to absorb all those Barges.  It's going to be interesting.

I've heard some things about the future of the line I can't discuss, other than to say for the time being it does have a future and they have some creative ideas of giving 3 3/4-inch fans a slow-drip of new items. This year's Skiff and various Jabba guards shows they're trying - if they can do more like this in 2020, and hopefully beyond if/when the license is officially renewed (assuming it hasn't already), it's something. As long as Hasbro can manage the sales expectations with the ebb and flow of fan interest, we could be doing this for a very long time. It just might not always be exciting.




3. the re-release of Lando Skiff Guard - is it the same as the previous release, with the added PhotoReal technology, or are there other new things with it? I heard the legs might be longer this time around?

Hasbro confirmed new head deco and longer legs.



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Hey, may as well try - this is a questions and answer column, after all. All of a sudden I saw some weird static on screen, and after the second time I smelled something like old vintage slot car racing burning smells - you probably know what I mean. Any ideas? I'm wondering if the optical drive is dying - and if so, how to deal with that. Or if it just needs to be cleaned or something. It's a 2001 launch day unit that has been kept out of drafts and sunlight, so I assume it could just be reaching end of life. (Until it gets fixed, that is.) Maybe it's the memory card. Either way, it's weird.

Toy Fair sure is over! I'll say that this is the best year we've had for The Vintage Collection - and indeed original trilogy fans in general - since maybe 2015. If you look at the ups and downs of the line over the last few years, it seems that Hasbro does well when they release original trilogy (and recognizable, popular) prequel and TV figures. And the new movie stuff seems to be overproduced - I don't mean that people don't like it, but it seems the quantities are higher on the Disney-era stuff while the interest is pretty high on Lucasfilm-era stuff. People will throw down cash for Ahsoka Tano thanks to her getting relatively few toys, while Rey has been made, remade, given variations, repacked/reissued, and it might be all a little too soon. I'm sure demand for Rey will continue for years, but the supply already exists in spades until she gets new, cooler costumes to create some more demand.

It definitely seems that the classic stuff is not only a smaller percentage of the line, but with its smaller quantities and greater recognition, you can see the trends in the marketplace. I'm not saying all old trilogy stuff (or indeed old stuff in general) are sure things - Darth Revan's demand has been met and his price dropped as a 6-inch figure. The Dewback and Landspeeder 6-inch toys can be had for less than SRP. There may be far more Jawas out there than the market wants. It's a tricky balance and the likes of us get to armchair quarterback the whole thing.

The only (seemingly) consistent pattern I see is that it seems most Disney-era movie "Force Friday" toys of new characters are almost assuredly going to be had for low prices if you wait. I find this irritating on many levels - in part because I really wish they put out stuff that would be an easier sell (Leia, Luke, Han) at launch rather than pretend their appearance is a surprise. (I still don't get why we didn't get General Leia in September of 2015 instead of Zuvio or Sarco Plank. Low-hangin' fruit, we're easy when it comes to our favorites.)

This year, Hasbro is definitely going for what we like - Skiffs! Guards! And apparently, an archway! Look, I'm into it - I hope it keeps going in this direction, mostly because it might fan the flames for more than one single lone new guard. Perhaps one day, one blessed day, they can announce two once again.

--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.



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