Let's talk Yoda's jacket in Q&A this week! We'll also talk about new Disney toys, as that's in this season. And how about more Black Series stand issues? Oh, that's a doozy. My mailbag is empty, so read on and send in some questions for next time!
1. Hey Adam, Having seen all there is to see from the Disney event [in late April], what's your take on it all? Is this a good "restart" as Disney has full control of what's going to be official to Star Wars lore and everything else that has happened with the shift in ownership. Also, those 12" figures! For sure the stormtrooper is a buy but the rest is whatever to me (at least until I see Fett painted). What was the articulation like? Are these just statues a la the potj from 2001 or can I put him in some pose on my desk at work? Plus, are these Hasbro's doing? If they aren't would this be a testing of waters so to speak of future toys being made by some other company? Ditto with the metal ships, takes me back to the mid 90's when my allowance for chores allowed me to buy two to three ships a week. Extra work for neighbors and relatives bought me action fleet vehicles.
What Disney showed us was just their Disney Store products. We met some of the designers and I can say that these are not Hasbro products - they're making their own stuff. As far as I can tell, they're trying really hard to not butt up against Hasbro's licenses but the die-cast metal ships seem to be similar in size and scope to the Titanium Series ultra vehicles from a few years ago. I assume Hasbro must not be happy at the "slicensing," but carving up each property to get as many people paying to make stuff as possible seems to be the new normal.
To nitpick: the large talking figures aren't 12-inch scale. They're 12 3/4-inch scale, meaning Luke is 12 3/4-inches and everybody else is bigger - Chewbacca is closer to 15-inches. This is (to my not a lawyer self) likely so it won't impact existing 1:6 scale licenses or Hasbro's 12-inch figure lines - these are different. Not a lot different, but different. They have more articulation and pretty fantastic sound effects. The lights are acceptable, and the overall range of movement is OK but ultimately probably won't make them any better as toys. They still can't sit - it's just going to help you balance them more easily on a shelf. They're not statues, I would say that they are a few notches below The Black Series in terms of mobility. They were sculpted digitally by an unknown in-house Disney sculptor.
Going back to the metal ships, these are most similar to Kenner's die-cast metal vehicles of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but larger. There are a few more moving parts, but they seem to look pretty good for the money and if you ask me are probably the most enticing thing we saw, from a collector's perspective. Not to knock the big figures - but I've got a lot of figures. I haven't bought many vehicles lately, and I should note that their $10-$20 price might put them out of what our allowances were back in the day. Or maybe my parents were just super-cheap.
From where I sit, Disney is in a position I haven't seen with Star Wars in the past. They're basically making their own product, which (were I Hasbro or a shirt licensor) seems like it would be something bad. You have to pony up big money to Lucasfilm and pay a royalty to make this stuff - and now the license owner is going to make their own stuff? It's nothing new as Disney (and recently Marvel) goes, but for Star Wars the closest we've ever seen to something like this would be theme park or convention merchandise. I asked flat-out if they were going to make 3 3/4-inch compatible items (like the StarSpeeder 1000 at the theme parks) and they continued to dodge it instead of giving me my preferred answers of "no plans" or "can't talk about that yet." It's neat stuff, but let's face facts: it's kid stuff. I do like kid stuff, but mostly in the context of Hasbro. As a collector, I am less interested in starting new scales unless there's an interesting new opportunity or a way to make characters do something truly special or unique. The big figures are indeed special, but with $30 31-inch figures from Jakks, $20 6-inch figures from Hasbro, $80 Jumbo Gentle Giant Kenner guys, $10 12-inch figures from Hasbro, and $TBD 20-inch figures from Jakks, I can't say the last couple of years has left me wanting for new and bigger action figures. I'd rather start putting money in displays for the stuff I've already got - this isn't a knock at the quality of the stuff, I'm just too old and frankly fat on what has come before to have a strong desire to start a new line. I love and will buy the 6-inch line, I'll pick and choose elsewhere, but we all know that it's all about 3 3/4-inches and bigger sizes don't allow you to do bigger vehicles, anyway.
2. So, Hasbro found a smart way to get an adult collector to buy something he already has: make it bigger! I just bought my first 6" Black Series figure. The first non-3.75" scale toy I've bought in 30 years, actually. I might be hooked.
My question is, are peg holes just considered obligatory for action figures, regardless of scale? The chances of Hasbro issuing stands for these things ex post facto are slim-to-none. Are there any third-party stands that are confirmed compatible with the 6" Black Series?
I have bad news for you - Hasbro put less thought in this than you did. They have used at least two different peg hole sizes in the feet of 6-inch The Black Series figures so far. Some have holes the same size as 1978-1985 Kenner figures, while others have larger holes roughly the same size as modern 6-inch Marvel Legends. This means that unless Hasbro (or a third-party) makes a stand with two pegs on it, there will be no one-size-fits-all approach. On the other hand, this also means you can use existing stands for some of these figures, too.
I would suggest against using traditional peg-and-disc stands for these big guys. More plastic in a big figure means more weight, more articulation means more places to sag. As things heat up for Summer, it's not unusual for a figure to sag and jump off the shelf. I suggest using doll stands instead - these have a clip that can go around the figure's neck or waist, and you can find these online or at certain craft stores that aren't Hobby Lobby because they're dead to me. Each stand is a couple of bucks, so you'll have to ask yourself if it's worth your while to shell out more money just to keep your figures upright. My Bespin Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi keep falling, and because I don't want snapped lightsabers I'm going to have to make a decision soon myself. Remember, the doll stand claw will generally hold the figure safely even if it sags and falls forward - disc stands just fall with the figures. Again, trust me, I've had it happen to me here.
3. Looking at the new Black Series 6" Yoda, I'm super stoked about the sculpt. I think this is one of the best looking Yoda faces yet. The weird thing that's been overlooked and always has been with any soft goods Episode V Yoda are his robe sleeves and arms. They are supposed to be really long, you know, puppet style. Why do you think this is always overlooked? And do you expect the robe to get weathered for the final product?
While some people have written in to say all soft goods (that is to say, cloth or hair elements) on action figures are terrible I disagree. Back in 1998 and 2000, Kenner/Hasbro experimented with The Princess Leia Collection and a more than competent wave of Phantom Menace guys with some cloth bits. The end result were decent looking figures (for the time, at least) that could sit. This isn't to say the figures were perfect - but I admired the experimental take and how they did indeed work out.
After the terrible packaged sample of 3 3/4-inch The Black Series Yoda (which followed a pretty awful 2004 Original Trilogy Collection Vintage Yoda's soft goods) I do not have high hopes for this version being greatly improved - weathering is possible, but I'm more concerned with things like texture or thickness. In the proper lighting I bet Yoda's robes in the pictures we've seen will be as see-through as whatever the right name is if the stuff they sell at Agent Provocateur. The plastic bits look very good, but let's face it - since 2006, Hasbro has had a spotty record on cloth elements.
As far as weathering goes, there is precedent for soft goods Yoda weathering - the aforementioned 2004 "Vintage" figure, the 2011 The Vintage Collection Yoda, the 2006 30th Anniversary Collection Episode III Tin action figure collection, and the 2011 Revenge of the Sith Blu-Ray figure packs come readily to mind. It's not always overlooked, but generally they're sharing the same pattern for Revenge of the Sith Yoda and everything else. If you cornered Hasbro on it, I bet they wouldn't have realized there was a difference - Lucasfilm either - not to knock them, but there are thousands of details and a lot of things can get ignored for years. Let's hope this raises awareness, and if it doesn't? People do sew replacement or custom figure robes on eBay, and given there's no law against making action figure-sized jackets and shirts this could be a great place for a "third party" company to get up and running. Do it, enterprising fans, and I'll buy one.
I got a house in October of 2011. I have not unpacked all of the toys yet - not even close.
Two weeks ago I got started on fixing up my Transformers Closet. (My Star Wars collection is massive, my Transformers stash is merely decent.) I lucked in to a house that has a sizable closet with shelves in it, but the amount of wasted space was getting to me. so I could have a bunch of guys standing there but you couldn't really see them, and there wasn't much going on in terms of access-without-knocking-over-toys. I picked up a circular saw and some lumber, basically cranking out small "risers" - tiers so the back row would be a few inches off the shelf, the second row would be maybe 2 inches off the shelf, and everybody else would be shelf level.
Basically it works - no nails, no glue, and it's cheaper than buying more expensive expand-a-shelf units from The Container Store at ten bucks a whack. After the saw, safety goggles, and saw horses, you'll need to crank out a ton of these to "save" some money but it's certainly cheaper than buying the plastic equivalent. I should also point out, I have zero woodworking skills and I do believe this is the first power tool to enter my home. It's pretty easy to pull this off.
I'm pretty sure I can adapt this to Star Wars, especially if I can get most of the figures in display stands or leaning back just a tiny bit - for those of you who have read our Figure of the Day feature here, it's obvious that there are a lot of figures to place on a shelf. The big question is, how many can you cram in a small space without looking wonky or hoarder-esque? That last part may prove impossible, but I figure that since I haven't been able to display my entire modern Star Wars action figure collection in a single shelf unit since the late 1990s, it's about time to come up with something that works, dammit. And hopefully something that will leave room for the next batch of figures, mostly because I figure this is going to keep going for another... rest of my life.
Anyway, new Transformers movie toys are due out this week. There's a smattering of repaints of older molds including a G1-inspired Grimlock at Target with lots of color and gold chrome, several Beast Wars repaints for Walmart, and a bizarrely great Bugatti Drift toy. Of note, the slate of exclusives are quite diverse but all have one thing in common - they're almost entirely new versions of mainline characters. Optimus, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Slug, Strafe, and others are getting remade, repainted, and repriced for different stores - Target has some swell higher-tier items, Walmart has some lower-end cheap items, and Toys R Us has a few items that shoot down the middle at that sexy $15-$20 price point which some in the industry consider the ideal birthday present price point.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.