Q&A: New Big Star Wars Playsets? Return to the Hobby! Printing the Future!

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 15, 2014


1. hey just started or will be collecting again
been outta the game for 5+yrs
what should i be looking for
i gave up due to all the repaks and getting doubles of stuff and lack off hasbo stocking stores here in australia but now it so confussing to figure out what i have and havent got
ps also in australia and kinda stopped as we only got every other wave and each figure was $20ish :( and i got sick of the PT starting with black series 6inch so far from what i can find in aus which is sweet fa :( $35+ here

Despite our sharing a common language, our continental differences mean vastly different prices for some reason. Australia doesn't benefit from surly, cheap Americans demanding lower prices in bulk on dang near everything, plus the current exchange rate puts US$20 (about what a Black Series 6-inch figure costs here) at AUS$21.35. Which, well, that sucks any way you slice it so I'd suggest ordering online and paying shipping accordingly. If you can get a few things on a single order, it'll probably pay off - particularly if it's from China or Hong Kong.

What did you miss? Well, I have no idea - but if you were really gone for 5 years, you'll want to check out 3 3/4-inch The Legacy Collection (especially the red-carded stuff), The Vintage Collection, and if you've an aversion to the prequels that'll pretty much be it. Brand new characters from the original trilogy are far and few between, with few boxed sets like Toys R Us' Rebel Pilots and Ewoks to add more to the mix. I'd suggest the self-serving plug of skimming Figure of the Day, which we did for Galactic Hunter and still updates on occasion. You can skim thousands of figures relatively quickly.

I realize this may sound flippant, but if you've missed 5 years of product and don't feel you really missed anything, hang on to that feelingand just start fresh. There's a lot of repetition, new versions of things you already own - they're generally new and improved, but you may not wish to drop a few hundred bones on things like better wrist joints or retro packaging. Few fans would poo-poo The Vintage Collection from 2010-2012, though, and I would suggest you give those a look and start there if you have money that you no longer need. There are quite a few gems in there, along with numerous figures that seem a little unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. If you go this route I'd suggest trying to buy a collection off someone on eBay, as generally the per-price figure drops when you get a whole set at once. Few fans want to buy 100+ figures at a time, which means if you can swing it you can save some money.



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2. Hey, Adam. I have a question that hopefully you may be able to shed some light on: Now that 3-D printers are indeed a force and seem to be changing the way we look at designing toys, are those same printers able to change sizes, as a paper printer is? My thinking is that if they ARE, it could open the floodgates for collectors who would like to have some of those old Kenner Micro Series environments (Death Star, Bespin, etc. ) in a larger scale. Could this be possible?

As we move ever closer to the replicators of Picard's Enterprise, I'd have to say "yes" with the caveat of I don't know when this will be easy. You should be able to enlarge anything you scan without too much difficulty. The ability to pirate music and comic books will surely one day expand to action figures, thus rendering all of your toys worthless - but at the same time, you'll be able to do as Chad describes, somehow, some day. It may not be on a consumer level but 3-D scanners and printers get cheaper every year, but actually finding a perfect loose, mint specimen of any playset that you can take apart (or perhaps destroy) to properly scan each individual component may prove difficult. It's one thing to scan a figure's gun or backpack, but to get all the joints right and interior structures may require someone who is more clever with a hammer than you or I.

I assume it might be more likely that we'll see fans develop something totally new, bigger, and better - a piecemeal construction kit, for example. It might be a while before pricing gets to the level where anyone would want to do this - making those really big pieces from the MicroCollection at a 1:1 scale is probably prohibitive for most of us now - but remember that technology moves quickly. The first-generation iPhone hit in 2007, and it seems few people can live without some sort of smart phone these days... manufacturing on demand at home may be something we get sooner rather than later.

If someone out there does make an upsized Hoth World, Bespin World, or Death Star World collection do let me know - I have some money I'd like to exchange for your goods and/or services.




3. At this point we can only hope the 6" Black Series lasts long enough to see C-3PO join the ranks. If/when Hasbro gets around to bringing everyone's favorite neurotic protocol droid to the 6" line, what would you say the chances are of us getting a vac-metallized six-inch-scale C-3PO? Sure, some articulation might have to be sacrificed, but I would gladly trade articulated wrists, knees, & ankles for a shiny, metallic-looking 3PO at this scale.

It's hard to say - with R2-D2 last year, we got an actual chrome dome so that's one mark in the favor of shiny. With nearly every 3 3/4-inch C-3PO since 2010, we got gold, dull droid toys. Given things like accessory budgets, prices to make stuff in China, and Hasbro's whims this week it's going to be impossible to know what is planned for C-3PO until we see it - and even then, it wouldn't stun me if things changed during production. We've seen a vac-metal, 6-inch C-3PO before with the Epic Force figure from 1998, so it's not without precedent. Hasbro has also overdosed on vac-metal on its Leader-class Transformers, specifically Movie Grimlock, Movie Optimus Prime, and Generations Jetfire.

I don't think vac-metal super-articulated figures are out of the question, but when it comes to being smart about product development I've seen high points and low points. I'm still learning, but it seems if you pick ABS plastic and use gold or silver, you're going to be fine. If you use reds, blues, and others, flaking is almost inevitable without special care. If you do the vac-metal process on PVC plastic, you are begging for heartbreak. Thankfully we have a recent precedent for vac-metal in Star Wars but like you said, we don't know how it'll be jointed when it comes (because you know it's gotta be coming) or what other things they're going to want to do with that mold down the road. Maybe super-articulation and removable limbs don't mix with vac-metal.

So there's your cop-out answer. Thanks for asking!




New stuff! Lots of Black Series items are now up for ordering online at your favorite stores. Rebels toys went up for pre-order, but no action figures or (sadly) vehicles - the Command line seems that it's off to the races, and I'm going to watch with great interest. I hate to add to the din of "HATE" but there are some products which I just look at and can't quite grasp beyond the need to fill a price point or perception of value. I'm sure they're going to be neat, and I do love micro toys, and I do have a lot of unpainted mini-figures from when I was a kid thousands of years ago, but it just seems... ill-timed. I wish it well, but looking at things like a 6-inch scale Speeder Bike or Darth Vader, as a collector, there's no contest. Heck, as a toy nut, the recent Canadian Saga Legends are just spectacular and I love them dearly - I also loved Galactic Heroes, Unleashed (in hindsight admittedly), and a lot of those quirky short-run things. The motorbikes, not so much.

For those of you who don't know - or just decide to plug your ears and shout "la la la la" - the Titan Heroes experiment is, reportedly, a huge success. The 12-inch, $10 hollow figures tend to do quite well with children and those who buy toys for children. It makes sense that it seems (seems, key word) Star Wars is struggling here while stores can't keep Hulk, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, and the rest on the shelves - plus even more figures are coming, and so are assortments. I don't want to say "it's here to stay" due to the mercurial nature of Hasbro with many of their new ventures in plastic, but it certainly seems like it's a category with strong legs as long as they can keep coming up with new characters for the format. Given the nature of so many big movies having one or two strong characters, this is the kind of thing that would make a lot of sense to see other manufacturers copy to some extent - we're seeing it with WWE and Mattel. We'll probably see a lot more down the road, but it seems that the category can only go so deep - it's not a superbly "collectible" format.

I'm starting to miss the one-size-fits-all approach of Kenner, when "collector" just meant "adults buy this kid stuff too." The 1990s figures weren't perfect - at all - but it was certainly nice to see a cheaper line of toys sell to a wide audience and, for the most part, generally available. Hasbro has 12-inch, multiple flavors of 3 3/4-inch, the new mini Command line, 6-inch, and goodness knows what else out now. Plus Jakks has 31-inch. Disney has 12 3/4-inch scale. Sideshow and Medicom and more have their 12-inch lines. While I certainly don't need the breakneck pace of 2006-2008, I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the entire license retooled, reduced, and refocused to cut down Hasbro's development dollars while also helping to do the most important thing: save us some space and some money if there's any real intention of keeping us around beyond our late 30s and 40s. Unfortunately 2 of the 3 "rumored" exclusives for Toys R Us have been revealed - and the Cantina Showdown is all repacks, and the Battle on Endor set is all repacks. I'll shell out for a neat variant, but when the only significant difference is packaging (or a tweak to eye color) that's usually something I can skip, especially when we have big adult bills to deal with. I'll take a new, reduced articulation Snowtrooper over a $100 rebox of toys I already own anyday.

It's worth pointing out I'm not saying this to knock Hasbro - if you're watching the toy industry as a whole, Hasbro is trying new things (and more things) for boy action toys than anyone else. Mattel, at retail, has a little Batman, a tiny bit of DC, and Max Steel figures. Jakks is emerging with Nintendo, but not much else. Playmates has TMNT and, as far as I can tell, absolutely nothing else other than one line of dolls for girls. Traditional "toy" action lines are tougher to find these days with the likes of Funko being incredibly fascinating to watch as a newcomer to this space as they ape old Kenner and modern Hasbro styles. Hasbro has a decent lineup of Marvel, Star Wars, and Transformers right now with Joe on ice and seemingly everything is being handled rather conservatively... but still, Marvel Legends is going to get a couple dozen (or more) figures in 2014 and the Transformers lineup is pretty damned impressive (even if some items are exclusive to Europe or Japan.) Complain as we do, it's sort of sobering to look at Hasbro as the best action figure manufacturer for our group today, although LEGO has its own category that has basically trumped action figures at this point. It's not unthinkable that we might be dinosaurs and just can't admit it yet, as this category continues to get squeezed out slowly and on fewer shelves.

--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.