Q&A: Putting the Wal back in Walrus Man, Exclusives, and New Star Wars Walkers

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 24, 2017

This week in Q&A - the missing Walmart wave of The Black Series! I haven't seen them yet, still, either. And exclusives on eBay - should you be wary? Maybe. It's tough. And is a new Walker toy coming this year? Ha ha, no.

And send in your questions for next week. Read on!

1. My question - when did the Walrusman wave hit at WalMart? It didn't get much buzz on your site or the others that I read, but it apparently made it out since there are a few on eBay.

And since I'm on the subject of figure releases, the Admiral Raddus wave never made it to retail, right? Again, he's on eBay, so obviously the wave made it out.

While nobody seems to be (or have been) begging for the return of Forged figures, the line seems pretty nice to me as display pieces. I bought, opened, and displayed the Darth Vader, and it really pops. Not that I am optimistic about the line's future - I got Luke at a Best Buy yesterday for half price. Whenever I decide that I am done buying pieces for the line, I need to make an acrylic display cover for them so they don't get dusty.

I've never seen the Ponda Baba, Boba Fett, Sandtrooper, and Tusken Raider wave of 3 3/4-inch The Black Series action figures in person. I'm still of the mindset that either it hasn't been fully released or is stuck in a pipeline, coming soon to Five Below or Ross or TJ Maxx or even Walmart. I could be wrong, but since precious few packaged samples come from US sellers I would wager there have to be more coming. (And I hunt a lot, and found The Last Jedi wave the first weekend.)

Admiral Raddus and friends are a de facto online exclusive - all were sold through online collector channels, and if any made it to stores it was more or less an accident. Similarly, if you want Fenn Rau or the Bistan/Shoretrooper set, you will need to order those online.

Hasbro's decision to relaunch die-cast metal Titanium Forged Figures in The Black Series is sort of baffling - there's nothing particularly distinctive or awesome about these, like a Kylo Ren with frozen blaster bolt might have been, or a metal droid would have just been plain cool. I saw people buying the early waves at full price in local stores over Force Friday II, which given their low selling price on Amazon for the last few months was something of a stunner. It's not a fondly remembered line and most people don't even realize that Jango Fett got released to clearance houses (yes it did - I got one off eBay for ten bucks.) It's just so... why waste the slot on these? I'm very sorry to see the die-cast metal vehicles seemingly go. I bought all of those. All of those.



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2. I've noticed that a lot of SDCC exclusives are showing up on EBay unopened for ridiculously low prices (the black series first order stormtrooper and the Kylo Ren for example). The sellers are all located in China. Doing a little research I've noticed that on the 2015 SDCC First Order Stormtroopers some have a Chinese sticker on the back of the outer sleeve. These sellers seem to have large amounts of these figures when they do put them on sale. So I guess my question is are they fakes? Is someone sneaking into the factory late at night and making these and selling them on the side? Since I don't attend the comic cons I want to get these and future exclusives...but it seems like something's rotten here. I'd ask Confucius, but he doesn't do a Star Wars Q and A. Oh yeah and he's also dead...

I actually don't know - I open it up to you guys! I know it has happened in the past (some fake "Pimp" Destro G.I. Joe SDCC figures exist), so I would be very wary of paying for these from China. I do not keep track of these after I get mine unless (unless there's chatter), so I plead ignorance here. We've seen enough fake 6-inch figures that I would advise caution and if you buy one, do so under the pretense that these may be fakes.




3. Now that the first wave of The Last Jedi toys have been released, do you believe a 3 3/4" Hasbro gorilla walker will be released? Given how badly Hasbro bungled the Rogue One AT-ACT's promotion, price, and release, and considering that the gorilla walker is much larger than an AT-AT, do you think one will ever be produced or would it be seen as cost prohibitive?

Is it going to come this year? No. Ever? No idea. By not focusing on it as part of Hasbro's opening salvo, I doubt it has a ghost of a chance given how few "old" ships get made lately, but it's possible there could be a push for the Episode IX line if fans begin demanding it.

It can happen. It is possible. But you have to adjust your expectations - remember that $30 31-inch X-Wing Fighter? Hasbro delivered a giant vehicle for cheap, but it wasn't quite what you wanted. If Hasbro cut out the gimmicks and maybe made it a solid toy with sturdy, non-articulated legs and maybe an opening cockpit to seat a few figures, it could happen for a decent price. Will they do this? Probably not - if a reissue of a formerly $30 AT-ST for $60 is the new normal, I would strongly encourage Hasbro to not make these things for collectors. Make a big, sturdy ship for kids with seating for a couple of drivers. As much as I love (and will buy) the new Hover Tank... it's likely not worth the money. I don't have to wait for the final one to tell you that a non-electronic vehicle with no pack-in figure that's the size of a laptop computer isn't possibly worth that much money.

Just like I don't need to tell you that most vehicles (from collectors) see little play, so a nicely designed craft with minimal parts or features would likely do better on the market. Jakks has proven you can do big and simple at a reasonable price, although once you start working in things like articulated cannons and seating your price supposedly shoots up fast.




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How was HasCon? Glad you asked. I had a good time. I've been to five Star Wars Celebrations, over a dozen Toy Fairs, something like 15 or more San Diego Comic-Cons, a New York Comic Con, and countless toy and antique shows and other industry things you'll (not bother to) read about in my book some day. And this was a pretty good, low-key show (to which Hasbro gave me a press pass, because hey - I've written about their stuff since 1995, they can give me a press pass.)

It wasn't cheap, but there was a lot there. I can't say you would like all of it, but when you walk in you're greeted by what seems to have been a life-size monument to Optimus Prime. And people in Autobot suits. And props. Tons of tables of toy demos. Grey prototypes for Transformers. Props from The Last Knight. Tons of toy Trypticons you can play with. And that's just the Transformers section. There were costumes from Marvel and Star Wars movies on loan, fan-made vehicle and droid props, hundreds (if not thousands) of figures on display to look at and even play with, plus D&D, Magic, Trolls, My Little Pony, games, Littlest Pet Shop, Play-Doh, Nerf, and man, so much more. I know a lot of people didn't love it - it's more of a kid/family event, and that's been my general political leaning with toys. Make what sells to the kids, I'll buy what I like, let's keep this thing going.

When my pal Matt and I were walking around the show to scope out the building during the employee-only preview/test night, kids seemed super happy with their Trolled-up hair, wacky face paint, and paper hats. The one complaint I heard, which I laughed at, was "I wish they had LEGOs!" (Me too!) They offered a lot if you were into it, but Hasbro isn't necessarily the best presenter for Star Wars content. I would've liked to see a fan panel or someone involved with the history of the line doing something a bit more... out there, but it wasn't that kind of a show. The adult collector panels were sparsely populated, while events appealing to kids and sports fans were overrun with enthusiastic fans. It was a sobering look at how the market is, versus how collectors like you and me see it thanks to Comic-Cons and other events.

The exclusives line was a wreck in the morning, but emptied as the day went on and product didn't sell out. I appreciate that - plenty of inventory, and a second shop opened up to speed things along when I, uh, may have complained about it to several members of management who I love and respect and work with. They did a great job meeting demand, and in the evenings you could just walk up and buy your stuff. Nice job, Hasbro. I hope to go back to a future HasCon, it was really a fun, low-key event that was filled with toys and several of my good pals from the Transformers world.

This will get more timely, I swear.

--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.