Q&A: Piloting Star Wars Vehicles, Lost Figures, and New Joints

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 7, 2021

1. Your 1/24 Q&A stated an obvious fan irritation with Hasbro:

"...Hasbro could probably sell a lot more if it had Stormtroopers on-shelf when the Troop Transports were shipping, or Skiff Guards (or Lukes) with the Skiffs, and so on and so forth."

Can they just not plan ahead to have vehicle releases around the same time as figures, or vice-versa?

When the Razor Crest will be sent to backers this December, it should be obvious that there should be some Stormtroopers, Jawas, and Tusken Raiders readily available.

Target's Smuggler's Run Falcon included a Chewie and Porgs pack-ins. But currently there are no Reys, Episode 4 Hans, Lukes, Kenobis, Leias, Stormtroopers, etc. to go with it.

Boba Fett's Slave I re-release doesn't even come with a Fett, but it does have a Carbonite Solo. Good luck finding him on pegs.

Sometimes vehicles launch with pilots (when they're not in the box) and sometimes, they don't. The AT-ST came out in 1995, and the AT-ST Driver came out in 1997. The TIE Fighter came out in summer of 1995, the TIE Fighter Pilot came out in March of 1996. If you don't launch everything at once - like you might do for a new movie reset, for the prequels and sequels - it's usually a challenge to hit a moving target wherein the vehicle (usually shipped by itself and not in an assortment) ships with a figure (which ships in waves, and there's never a real on-shelf date stores will hold to after wave 1.)

My hunch would be that programs built around a common theme - take the 40th anniversary 6-inch figures all from the same movie in stores around the same time - helps boost sales. Vader will sell, but you'll probably also buy Stormtroopers and Lukes and other things for him to display with - as opposed to seeing a Vader next to a random smattering of figures from other movies. The same is true with vehicles - any kind of program that lets you say "I want a vehicle and also this figure and maybe a droid or two to go in it" makes things a lot more satisfying. It's just not how things seem to be going right now. But, Hasbro does tend to make sure a few items around a common theme are sold over the course of a year - which is worthless when buying birthday presents, and not ideal for new fans making their first impulse-purchases.

Lately, the figure-with-vehicle rollout is best - but after 25 years, there's a good chance that some figures are available for a ship - even if not the intended new ones. A lot of us have dozens of Stormtroopers, but not the new fancy ones - so Hasbro could have Stormtroopers on-shelf, which have been in short supply since 1995, or fans could just buy whatever old Stormtroopers are on eBay or Amazon. With the Barge a lot of us already had enough figures to fill two of them.

Just due to what you can find in stores lately - which is generally not much - I assume there's an opportunity to do some sort of permanent "best-of" fun. I think that's what the Black Series Archive was, on some level, meant to do but everything goes away very quickly and so far, nobody ships for more than a couple of months. It's a very different market from the 1980s, where you could expect a figure to ship for a couple of years. Today, most figures stop shipping after a wave, and the odds of you being in the store the day that case is opened and put on a shelf is low. Having a themed wave hit the same time as a vehicle is tough if it's not during an aisle reset, though, so I wouldn't get hopes up too high.



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2. Adam, did you ever see this set? In your mind, based on your trade knowledge, how many of these exist? If it's more than just this one, who is likely to own them, and why do you think none have ever come to market? Finally, among many Hasbro employees you've met, are there any who are infamous hoarders of product ( guys or gals who have taken advantage of working for Hasbro in order to procure for themselves a plethora of figures that they are patiently waiting to dump on the market to make a huge profit)?


The set here was never actually announced by Hasbro - there was a cover-up! The very last wave of Star Wars Comic Pack was exclusive to Entertainment Earth, and there were stickers covering up this Han Solo and Luke Skywalker 2-pack on the back of their cards. Unless there's a forum post I missed, it never got manufactured, and I don't know if any carded samples exist. For all I know there are hand-painted mock-ups used for package photography and maybe a PDF of a comic somewhere, and that's it. I would not count on Hasbro employees squirreling away samples as the order of the day is typically to have such things destroyed or kept on-site, but we won't know until they show up for sale somewhere.

There's a very short list of things that got seen by the public and went unreleased, and a short list of things that were shown behind closed doors that went unreleased, and I would not be hopeful that any of us will ever have a crack at them. If one of the infamous eBay sellers who allegedly cranks out stuff after-hours on Hasbro tooling had access to them, maybe we'd see some, but it's been close to 10 years so I assume that window has long since closed.




3. It looks like newer Black Series figures are being produced with single point of articulation knee and elbow joints, compared with the previously very common double point of articulation knee (and sometimes elbow) joints. The first version of the Imperial Stormtrooper compared to the recent total re-sculpt of that figure is a perfect example of what I mean. I really love the newer single POA joints here because they look better to me, and they also move the figure in a more realistic way compared to real-life human body mechanics.

How do you feel about this? Do you like the new joints better also, or is there some reason you prefer the older double POA joints? And why do you think they ever started with the double POA joints in the first place?

I am not a big fan of resculpts for the sake of resculpts, but there's a lot to like with the 3 3/4-inch style joints on the 6-inch figures. Hasbro made a small announcement regarding this change during its 2020 Marvel Legends Toy Fair presentation, saying they wanted to put out figures with no visible pins in the arms or legs. I don't doubt that the fact that it takes fewer parts to make figures in this style had anything to do with it, as it lets them save a few pennies here and there and put it into things like deco or accessories.

The new Stormtrooper looks and moves better than the old ones, but we also got a ton of video game-themed repaints of the old ones before - and during - the switch to the new ones. I'm a little concerned we may see remakes filling out assortments rather than new figures, which in the cases of some figures will be good but do I really need to contemplate Clone Trooper reissues on the new body?

So few figures got the double-joints in previous years that I don't really miss them, and I really like the fact that they're developing elbows and knees to bend deeper with the bend-and-swivel designs. They're even adapting that deeper cut in Transformers! As long as the figures can pose nicely and hold their accessories correctly I'm not too picky, but the improved newer designs look better in the boxes and so far, on my shelves. I just don't need to see everybody redone.



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Toy Fair is coming! Maybe next year, not this year. While we wait, we're seeing some neat reveals like GameStop's deluxe Cal Kestis - which is not Starkiller, but what are you gonna do? - as well as a new black Bad Batch trooper. For the 3 3/4-inch set, there's a new Ahsoka and Darth Maul, both of which are pretty gosh darn exciting. The split between what you get in 6-inch and 3 3/4-inch is always annoying, as it was my hope we'd sell 6-inch as the "souvenir" format (one-offs like video game stars, main characters, stuff a mass adult audience would want) and 3 3/4-inch would be the "main collection" line - that is to say, anywhere you'd build out a scene, you'd want it in this size. Maybe there's still hope, but the 6-inch size remains significantly more popular overall, in terms of sales. In terms of old toy fans complaining on the internet, it may prove impossible for anything to surpass 3 3/4-inch figure collecting.

More new things are to be revealed - some rumored, some obvious - but as always there's no hubbub on whatever the next HasLab thing is. If you want to make an impact on such a decision, I'd advise you to start making petitions, forum threads, and social media noise right now. The 50th anniversary of Star Wars is just 6 years away for those who want a Death Star, or if you can't wait, the 40th of Return of the Jedi is only 2 years away for that Death Star. I'd probably bank heavily on it tying in to a new media project, whatever it is, and if Jabba's Palace becomes a central location of The Book of Boba Fett (spoiler gloves are off for 2020 now) it would probably not be a bad bet.

Funko Fair went pretty well with nearly two weeks of reveals, and Hasbro has been dripping out new figures from its various brands already this year - and more are coming - and there's some pretty exciting stuff to come. Obviously it won't be as exciting as the stuff from when you were a kid, or when your nostalgia genes kicked in as a teen or young adult, but you won't be left bored. Completism is unlikely to continue for everybody, but really, who wants to go hunting in the current climate? Stay tuned for more fun. Not a lot of weirdness. Well, maybe some weirdness, depending on what all you feel like collecting in 2021.

--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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