Q&A: Mandalorian Mania and Star Wars Retro Sublets

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 4, 2022

1. Disney/Lucasfilm has a relationship with Hasbro.
Disney/Lucasfilm has a relationship with Super7.
Hasbro has a relationship with Super7.

Do you think there's a universe where Disney/Lucasfilm carves the Retro license in such a way to let Hasbro continue making reproductions, new media stuff, and Lukes/Vaders/Bobas/etc, but lets Super7 go nuts with deep cut ReActions of alien weirdos that haven't been touched yet? Or a universe where Hasbro outsources a segment of Retro to Super7 so they still get a cut? And, if so, do you think people like us would go for it since they aren't properly Kenner?

I feel like there is unmet demand that Hasbro isn't inclined to take advantage of with only a dozen or so releases a year, most of which we either already have or are from entertainment too new to have nostalgia for. I'm grateful for what we've gotten, but I can't be the only one that would trade a wave of Inquisitors for one cantina patron.

Never say never, but when it comes to Hasbro sub-leasing 3 3/4-inch figures? Probably never. On the whole, modern Hasbro goes great lengths to preserve its licensed brands while licensing out its own brands. Funko's Pop! Vinyl figures are 3 3/4-inch tall - which is why Star Wars and Marvel Pop!s were bobble-heads. Heck, they had to go a step beyond with Star Wars and put them on stands to satisfy Hasbro's license for 3 3/4-inch action figure toys. Now the terms of a contract can change with time, but Hasbro has generally gone out of its way to ensure others can't encroach on its space. For example, there were some 8-inch $79.99 Luke and Vader figures you didn't buy and forgot existed, which most likely only were created to keep people away from slicing that price and that scale off. (I hear Mego expressed interest, as have other Mego-like manufacturers.)

I assume a Super7-produced Star Wars slicensing plan under Hasbro would result in extra licensing fees and $25-$30 figures. Other than Vlix (or maybe Wedge or Jaxxon) I don't think I could stand for that. I completely agree Hasbro isn't taking full advantage of its 3 3/4-inch toys, but I assume that has to do with the bean counter mandate to maximize dollars per SKU. Hasbro wants to sell expensive toys and big runs of every toy, which is antithetical to a business of collectibles. Super7 is a smaller company with reduced requirements to make a buck and knows roughly what it can sell and keep older fans on board. But we also know any company would leap at a chance to make retro Kenner Star Wars figures if given the chance, because what Hasbro considers not worth their time could feed many a family at another toy company.

It is possible at some point Disney will (for lack of a better term) redistrict the Hasbro licenses akin to what DC Comics did with Batman. There are multiple price points, scales, and channels. If you want a $20 collector figure or a $8 kid figure, or a $11 kid figure, or a $300 collector figure, or a $8 kid figure 2-pack, or a $12 Funko figure (I could go on) you've got options. Too many options.

I can't imagine Hasbro will ever willingly cede a chunk of its 3 3/4-inch action figure license (not IP - license) to another company. I'm sure Hasbro sees Super7 ReAction Figure Power Ranges as additional revenue that it knows it couldn't make enough money to see as worthwhile, as opposed to Hasbro making Kenner Star Wars which it will only make money on if they make themselves, and more figures. Which Hasbro is very slow to make. Which I don't understand, it seems like easy money.

Hopefully Hasbro releases at least six (or 12, or 20) figures from Kenner from the archives per year so Generation X fans can theoretically get a complete remake collection before they retire/die. I would love some new figures too, and with one new "Kenner" wave in 2020 and two this year, it's getting better. As of now we know of at least 12 remakes planned for next year and I have to assume they're planning more D+ Kenner figures (sales willing) for 2023. I just hope they pick a better assortment than 3 Inquisitors, because what a snooze. (Also it's not like it worked when the Ewoks cartoon line was 1/3 Ewoks and 2/3 Duloks in 1985. Even I passed on those until clearance!)

If the Kenner style keeps being made, I assume we'll finally get a The Phantom Menace wave for the 25th anniversary in 2024, but I could also see Hasbro abandoning the format entirely due to unsold Obi-Wan and Mando waves in 2022. (I don't think people will bite without access to a few main classic guys.) If the wave ever does happen, I'm betting you'll get Maul, Anakin, Padme, Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and let's say a Battle Droid. Although I hope they skip the Battle Droid and go straight to George R. Binks.



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2. With Mandalorian mania running wild, I'm surprised nobody has thought to reissue the likes of Rav Bralor and Isabet Reau and their friends... would there be any issues about putting those particular figures back into circulation because they were supposedly based on real people who worked for Hasbro?

Now that we're in the off-season, Mandalorian Mania has definitely cooled. It's still difficult to find a lot of Mando (the character) products, but online shops have stock of a lot of the various troopers and other Mandalorians from the recent saga. A few years ago I would have said "absolutely any Mandalorian will always sell," but if that were true we'd probably see Obi-Wan in Mando armor from The Clone Wars by now as a consumer product somewhere.

I'd love to see Hasbro's homegrown (I assume) Mandalorians that were sold as Entertainment Earth exclusives in plastic again, be they reissues or in some other figural format. The only issues would probably be tooling and the desire to bother. I don't know how they would feel about some ex-employees' faces being used today, but mostly I assume Lucasfilm would look at non-movie, non-comic characters that exist solely as action figures and frown. But if fans make a fuss, maybe they'll make a return - so go for it, and I will fan the flames that you start with the matches of your love. Have I tortured this metaphor enough? I think that's good.





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Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is out of questions! I can't even do a Patreon preview for next week, that's how out of questions we are.

Hey, Willow was watchable! Low-budget, sure. Aggressively modern in some portrayals, yes. But it was a thing and you can watch it. This will run the month for Lucasfilm on Disney+, and we'll get The Bad Batch in January and after that should be The Mandalorian season 3 in March. And I assume we're going to get some new toy pre-orders in there, hopefully more for Return of the Jedi turning 40 this year. I am told to expect some new pre-orders this week, so stay tuned.

Amazon's exclusive Obi-Wan Kenobi The Vintage Collection 3-pack is shipping, and mine just showed up on Sunday. It looks pretty good - and it's in stock, if you still want one. There's also a $25 Micro Galaxy Millennium Falcon, which ain't bad.

There are many sales running right now and more are assuredly coming as even more stuff hits stores... and sits. Or doesn't. So keep an eye open on all the stores today because I expect we'll be getting a lot of Monday markdowns for the remainder of the season.

It's been kind of a slow month.

--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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Hasbro + Super7

It's not hard to imagine Hasbro allowing a company like Super7 to carve off a slice of the action figure market, especially after they've divvied up the small vehicle category between Mattel and Jazwares. Yes, Hasbro's forté is arguable action figures rather than small vehicles but price point also plays a role.

So long as Super7 doesn't step inside Hasbro's price market, I don't think they'd mind a sub-licensee doing all the work on a Retro line while Hasbro reaped the rewards. The MSRP would definitely be higher but many 5POA collectors have been used to paying $20 a figure for awhile now.

Then Hasbro can increase their budgets on their other Star Wars lines.

Not gonna happen. Hasbro's

Not gonna happen. Hasbro's license for that scale requires Funko - FUNKO - to change their products to be bobble-heads rather than 3 3/4-inch plastic figures. The bases on the Star Wars ones are to make sure they don't step on Hasbro's license.

It seems incredibly unlikely that we'd see Star Wars 3 3/4-inch figures at another company until Hasbro decides that they're done with the format. Since Hasbro has no desire to do 3 3/4-inch 5-jointed Power Rangers, Joes, or non-transforming Transformers, they get a small check with minimal work outside approvals and licensing and lawyers and... OK there's more than a little work there.

The Titanium vs. Hot Wheels ship thing supposedly had to do with percentage of die-cast metal in the product - which I do not have confirmed in writing anywhere - but it's a sufficiently different thing. I would not doubt Jazwares' has to do with scale and format, as Jazwares' is a figure-and-vehicle product like Action Fleet, which Hasbro seems to have abandoned. No MicroMachines, no Titanium, no Action Fleet. I would assume that Hasbro probably let it go in a recent round of contract renewals since the "Galoob" format did not prove fruitful in 2015-2016.

The only place I've seen Disney (specifically in Marvel and Star Wars) carve off other figure licenses has been in PRICE and/or SIZE. In the case of Funko Hikari, they charged a $30 premium to hit the $79.99 price point to avoid whatever it was Hasbro (and possibly others) already had in their contracts for Marvel and Star Wars. Diamond got around the Hasbro contract to do its faux Mego figures by including extra costumes at an $80+ price point as well.

If you want to see a $80 single retro figure with an accessory pack, maybe there's something to be done there. But I wouldn't hold my breath unless Disney completely redid their entire licensing program, more like what we're seeing from WB/DC these days.