Q&A: Just For You, Here Are Star Wars Questions Answered

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 6, 2019

1. Earlier this year, Steve Evans did something that Hasbro has never truly done. He asked longtime collectors what characters, vehicles and play-sets they wanted for the VC. Anyone who chimed in had a voice. This was much different from the chats Hasbro had with smaller groups of collectors at the toy fairs and conventions. The IG polls touched the larger collector base. Anyway, with 2018 being an underwhelming year of repacks and head-swaps, how serious should we take that weeks’ worth of IG polling and the data that they compiled from it? Until a new contract is signed, 2019 looks to be the last year of the modern line as we know it. Plus, Steve Evans is gone (which also doesn’t bode well for those who think the license will remain in Hasbro’s hands). What do you think about our chances for a Hasbro hail Mary (with good product for collectors) in 2019?

It's great when people listen to us. Does it matter? Sometimes. Listening can be like an apology - it's nice and cheap, and doesn't necessarily make a difference. At Comic-Con last year the notion of Vintage being a "conversation" hit my like a bullet between the eyes - they were clearly interested in hearing about what we wanted brought back, and when brand managers change so do the directions of the brand. Did they organize and collate that data? Was it already deployed for 2019? We don't know yet. But I can say Hasbro has been listening to fans for years - and fans are remarkably contradictory when you perch yourself by Hasbro's booth at a convention. Some were very happy to see Yoda on the Kybuck, and some were not. Some were thrilled to see Darth Revan, and many had no idea who the heck he was. Whenever we see something, someone wanted it - maybe a fan, maybe a Hasbro team member, maybe a Disney executive.

Each generation has different needs, and I've had the fortune of speaking to many of the makers, brand managers, engineers, sculptors, and so forth since the mid-1990s. Sometimes they're interested in what we want because we're a good resource. Other times they want to know what we want because some figures are very expensive now, and bringing back the hits could make a lot of people happy. (Or angry.)

I can't say what, but there are some remarkably interesting things in the works for 2019. I don't even know if I'm allowed to say that, because I know that they know what I'm thinking about right now.

I don't think the license will move right now. I don't think collectors are going to love the bulk of 2019, being a movie year the product development is under Lucasfilm scrutiny. I love Lucasfilm. I don't think they know what older fans want, and older fans are blind to what "new movie" people want. Also "new movie" stuff has been made at a weird ratio that's been alienating to casual (easy) fans. It's a big lose-lose - Hasbro dropped the ball by not giving us Luke, Leia, and Han at launch in 2015 for The Force Awakens and I have no doubt that was at the directive of the licensors. Rogue One did a nice job, but The Last Jedi dropped a boring line with some very good figures (Obi-Wan Kenobi!) and some choices that just make me sad (Paige Tico?)

Until the new movie season is over, we're going to be gnashing our teeth over the selections. New TV shows, new movies, and new video games will always hold sway until they get to a point - like in the late-00s - where someone just lets Hasbro do whatever. And Hasbro did whatever very well - we got a Sith Infiltrator, a V-Wing, tons of Clone Wars miniseries Jedi, Imperials, revised costumes of main characters, weird aliens, and we were even spared complete boredom with weird things like droid repaints and holographic figures. It's my hope that these things get pursued again - although I can't say I was at all depressed by the scope of the 2018 line. Solo new movie figures were mostly sensible selections, if lacking in Han. Old characters were in short supply, but at this point most of the older fans - specifically people that used to read sites like this one - have either moved on, or are bickering about the remaining figures they want. Like one more Yavin pilot, or Jabba's human thugs, or that jackass that keeps asking for Vlix. You know the type.

I think Hasbro Star Wars seems to be going along the lines that the lessons of 1999 would have it go - 3 3/4-inch figure collectors are jumping ship because the product is over-feature-filled and too expensive for kids. (Drop the mini-comics and sound chips, get the price down for an impulse buy!) Lightsabers are hugely popular still - however, there are so many in the market from the last few movies that any new developments could be kneecapped because Hasbro has created its own worst competition. High-dollar prop replicas over $100 (that aren't lightsabers) seem all but guaranteed to fail, while fans are interested in nice $100-ish helmets. (I'm very fond of Hasbro's offerings there.)

Right now I see Star Wars as I saw Star Trek in the early 2000s. We've had a lot of it. The classics are eternal, but people need time to absorb everything still. Some weird decisions will undoubtedly lead to an earlier demise, but when? Remember when everybody hated 7-inch Unleashed? And the 2 1/2-inch guys? And Titanium? And Jedi Force? And... I could go on. I expect a bumpy 2019, but I also saw the 40th anniversary line as a royal bore. We'll see how things shake out soon, and hopefully Toy Fair will reveal something - anything - that could last long enough to hold the attention of kids and retailers. (I don't think Resistance is going to have toy legs.)



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2. Been reading your stuff for years and wanted to thank you...lifetime Star wars fan. If you were a betting man, what's the next haslab offering and when?

I would probably go with the Blockade Runner, a Star Destroyer, or a Death Star if I could pick - Star Wars fans have a lot of figures and no playsets for them, so that could be really swell. I don't know that any other line - as of today - seems sensible to do a small-run high-dollar big collectible toy thing, but for all I know Star Wars is no good, either. But they sold more Barges than I would have guessed, so hopefully we'll see an announcement for something come Toy Fair in February.

The rumblings are that HasLab would be trying different ways to sell things - not just crowdfunding - and also not just Star Wars. Most of what I have heard would lead me to believe the next thing would be for another collector brand, but no date was given and obviously no other product has been revealed. And it's been 11 months since the debut.

I wouldn't bet on it being Star Wars, and there's no guarantee the next Star Wars entry will be big, or a ship/playset. Hasbro could say "Well the little buggers want Brea Tonnika so let's see if we can sell 7,500 of her" or "They won't stop asking for Darth Malak so let's see what a reissue would look like."

As to Hasbro's other collector brands, I don't think G.I. Joe has enough gas in the tank to get a new U.S.S. Flagg off the ground (but that is a frequent rumor.) Some fans say they would pay $700 or more for a new one or a new run of the old one - and as a fan of holy grails and big things, it's too rich for my blood and for my space. For Transformers, the most wild thing I could think of would be an appropriately scaled Metroplex or a much larger Unicron, and neither would seem exciting as those - and the Flagg - already exist, whereas the Barge did not. The 1980s world of Transformers had a number of weird things fans wanted to see, most of which - like Arcee, Unicron, and so on - made it out in the retail line to some degree of success. And Marvel? Well... there are lots of weird, big, and oversized Marvel possibilities. I don't know if I'd throw down the bucks for a giant Galactus, though.

It would be my sincere hope that Hasbro do something small, or for another brand, before the Sail Barge gets here. I want to see how that's going to work in my collection before I have to buy more furniture specifically to display a single toy - seeing them try out weirdo figures would be a fun thing too, particularly since the 3 3/4-inch line hasn't had a lot of new, classic characters as of late.

I would really love HasLab to be a place for "Fan's Choice" stuff - maybe a big item in each line every few years, with a couple of smaller, really weird items every year. I know not everybody wants Jaxxon, but this would be the place to try it. Very few people are going to want vintage 1983-style Gargan - a prototype for which exists - but again, this would be the place to try something weird. I'd love Anakin's Twilight freighter, or Vlix, but would anyone else? (Yes.)




3. Do you ever purchase Star Wars items with the intent to re-sell to continue to fuel your collection? As a rule, I do not do this but I keep seeing folks who purchased multiple barges and. based on the market, these could go for well over $1000.00 out the gate, if not more. This is a hobby but can also be a business if played correctly and I wonder if this instance with the barge is an example of folks "investing" money for 1 year+ to make a 100-150% profit.

My career path fuels my collection - employee discounts and other niceties are good things to have.

The hobby is unpredictable, so I don't (intentionally) buy things to put away. There are times I've bought a case of figures and needed to rehome an extra duplicate here or there, but when it comes to big things, unless there's some wacky clearance bonanza, I generally shy away from bringing something big in my house that I don't personally want to keep. (Having said that, I didn't turn down $20 G.I. Joe Pit playsets. Anything goes on the clearance rack.)

The Barge left me wondering the same thing - would there be a market for it in 2019? I assume the answer is yes - probably shipping internationally, and definitely for the Yak Face. The revelation that you have to open the Barge to get Yak out could hurt interest in the long run, unless you just wanted to use Yak to get a few bucks back on your Barge, and generally speaking any sort of long-term pre-order has a few fans change their mind. Someone spent $500 last year, and maybe they need it back in 2019 - a few people are going to realize they don't have the space once it arrives and also dump it in short order, especially if the box inevitably comes in a condition worse than mint. And at that size, it probably will, but big items take a while to recover from the glut and sometimes they don't necessarily go above retail.

I will be very surprised if a lot of people can sell that Barge for a big mark-up. Over time as the market shakes out, that's a bit harder to predict and a lot of people have storage spaces filled with 1990s Star Wars and Star Trek product that aren't increasing in demand and the only person making anything is the guy renting the aforementioned storage unit. We know thousands of the Barge got made, but will everyone want to keep it after they see how big it is? My guess is no.

A downside of "investing" is sometimes a lot of stuff gets hoarded in perfect condition, devaluing everybody's collection. If every collector that supported the HasLab program bought 1.5 each, and remember it struggled until the end, it's possible that a few hundred or even a thousand might have been bought specifically for resale. Will that many fans be eagerly awaiting this item - and are they willing to pay the extra shipping to get it?

Personally, I'd advise against people from investing in new toys. Today's rare figure might get reissued in better packaging with more accessories later - that's probably not true of vehicles, but we've also been slowly trained to wait for price drops on items over $100 in recent years. With things like the Black Series Archive line and Hasbro's desire to reissue more figures in The Vintage Collection, I would assume more fans would be nervous to dump a lot of cash into something that could be easily reissued in a few months.

My hunch would be that the Barge is going to be expensive in a few months, and then drop significantly, and it might rise in a few years. The big stuff tends to follow that path, but it doesn't always go back up. I wouldn't risk it.



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Once again, the mailbag is empty! Send in your questions today.

New 2019 toys are hitting. There are two things I think you should know about. One, classic LEGO space in the LEGO Movie 2 line - Benny (Charlie Day) and 3 classic space astronauts, including a pink classic spaceperson for the very first time, and some bricks in classic 1980s Space colors. I don't have it yet, but I'll buy it when I see it in a store - it looks great. Two, Prehistoric Clash is hitting Walmarts. These are basically Dino-Riders, in 3 3/4-inch size, as done by Lanard "The Corps" Toys. So far I've only seen a few, and these are the ones sold overseas as "Jurassic Clash." You can see some on this forum. I have not yet bought these, but I was so taken with a Lanard Rampage Lizzie set last year that I'm eager to see what else they're doing.

I admit, I'm not caught up on Star Wars Resistance yet. I have been keeping on top of The Orville and Short Treks, and remain hopeful that The Mandalorian might scratch the itch left without having Rebels on the air. Star Wars on television seems largely interested in backstory, with a few exceptions like The Star Wars Holiday Special. It seems unlikely that the new Lucasfilm would be in a hurry to give us a narrative-pushing story rather than hold it for the movies, but hey - I can hope!

It's a new year and new things are making the rounds. Slow resets are showing black-carded Hot Wheels Starships alongside Hasbro's tubed Galaxy of Adventures figures, which are interesting from the perspective of how Hasbro is trying to sell people on this kind of product while being about as exciting as tube socks for Christmas if you're a collector. At least the first wave does look nice together and it gives you a crack at some pretty good figures you may have missed - give that Darth Vader a look if you missed him on the Solo Force Link 2.0 cardback... which is cheaper, and talks.

In the coming weeks you'll see more from Captain Marvel, while LEGO and Hot Wheels toys are already showing up to a lot of stores. Star Wars Resistance stuff should slowly trickle out now, and there are some other things coming that you know about that should be hitting pretty soon. Keep an eye open and your wallet handy if you like 6-inch figures.

Also you should send/sell me your old GameBoy games. Which I'll keep saying on and off until someone does. Oh, and if you're thinking you have a dollar you don't want, how about supporting the Patreon? I use this to pay for servers and, soon, I'm going to need a new camera for figure reviews and conventions as mine has a bunch of cracks. It still works, though.

--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.