This week in Q&A: Let's talk Vintage Wave 7, the internet exclusive batch! And how about those 7-inch Unleashed figures, aren't those great? The prices seem to have come down again. And how about Droid Factory now that we have official word on that? All this and more in this week's Q&A - send in your questions for our next column!
1. The question is where can I find the final wave of vintage, the supposed "internet only wave"? Paying $30+ for the royal guard is just too much for me and for several of the other figures. I'm down for the whole case as it seems more cost effective going that route. I've tried entertainment earth and other sites but can't seem to find it. Also, how the hell did it become so difficult in finding this stuff? Granted I don't hit stores like I used to And I no longer work at target but I can never find squat. From the business side, did Hasbro really screw up distro or are there just really alot of factors at play that the normal collector such as myself can't see/grasp?
The wave itself was a one-shot deal and is over. (Unless Hasbro decides to bring one or more figures back, of course.) About half of the figures were dumped for half price on Amazon over Christmas, while the rest skyrocketed to $20-$30 in short order. The Royal Guard shot up. Due to its inclusion in the prequel sequels and of course Return of the Jedi, it seems like it would be a good choice for Hasbro to bring back in Vintage or another line. Right now it's not scheduled to come back and as far as I know all units made were probably shipped, most online shops sold out of their cases pretty quickly. Entertainment Earth only had stock for about a week after filling pre-orders.
Why is it so hard to find? Well, Hasbro made the "last wave" of vintage online-only, although some comic shops picked up cases from wholesalers and some people decided to return them to retail stores (really!) Everything else is a mix of factors and you can point a finger at Hasbro, the retailers, and the fans. I would mostly point it at Hasbro and the retailers, as Hasbro has been iffy about getting a lot of waves of product from many lines to stores. (Even Iron Man!) It isn't so much an issue of Hasbro screwing up, but it is possible that Hasbro's casepacks resulted in retailers putting the brakes on getting new shipments of certain assortments. That or they're just gunshy in general, which, looking across their boy's toy portfolio, doesn't seem all that outlandish.
2. So the Build a Droid line has been cancelled. Is there anything we can be hopeful about?
The question really is "what could this mean?" How far along did Hasbro get? Will we just see the currently tooled figures (and repaints) in another line, on vintage cardbacks, in a big white mailer box? Is Star Wars going on hiatus? At press time nobody knows, but things have been in sort of a state of decline since Toy Fair 2010. I expect things could get a little bumpy on the road to the new movies, because (as with the previous question) it's sort of tough to tell where things are falling apart. The Q4 2012 shipments of new product show that yes, fans will buy new figures, but Hasbro has data that says Star Wars sales may not have been exceptional in Q2 and Q3. You can basically make an argument using real data that a) things are working or b) things aren't working or even c) things would work fine if Hasbro let nature take its course. As a fan I know that new product sells when fans have access to it. If you ship it, we will come.
The last time we had a big, nasty glut followed by a drought was around 1998, which resulted in coupons, markdowns, a few products getting cut from the line, and the Great Clearance of 2000. I may be the only person who will keep writing this, but if things slow down for a year (as a collector) just take it as a blessing. There could be 3, 5, or potentially unlimited Star Wars movies coming down the road, all of which will be accompanied by a strong merchandising program. I lived through the drought of 1985-1993, in which there were largely no toys and a couple of books, comics, games, and trading cards. Star Wars came roaring back better than ever after that, so if everybody is deciding to let the giant sleep for a few years, I say bring it on. (As long as they try to keep the line alive with lightsabers or whatever it is that actually sells to kids this month.)
(And of course there are things to be hopeful about. But you have to wait another month.)
3. Having grown up with the Prequels throughout the years and with it Hasbro's acquisition of Star Wars, there have been some things that I regret getting (or not getting) back in the day as a child. I feel myself not necessarily moving away from the 3 3/4 figures line but wanting to expand into other merchandise, some of which I never held any interest in till now. One of those items that strikes my fancy now is apart of the now-defunct (or heavily miniaturized) Unleashed line. Back in 2004, as part of the series there was a Unleashed "Clone Trooper" who came in two varieties: the White Grunt or the Red Captain. I'm curious if this distinction between the two versions (specifically the Captain) was indicative of some sort of rarity, or it was just a variation that was created just for the purpose of adding more things for collectors to purchase at the time. I saw an old review that you did on the figure at the time, but there was no mention of such a difference. I'm interested in purchasing one now, but I'd like some background into this before picking one up.
If memory serves there was a special case mix with 3 red and 3 white in addition to cases shipping out with the white 7-inch Unleashed Clone Trooper and other figures mixed in. My sample of the Red Clone Trooper had a Suncoast Motion Picture Co. price tag on it but I'm pretty sure it came from Entertainment Earth, so... yeah. That's not helpful, is it?
There's definitely a good number of the reds out there, but what that number is, is unknown. It's a legit variant, but (as you wrote) one can only speculate that the reason for it is to sell more figures to suckers like you and me. I just opened up my red Unleashed Clone over the holiday break, and the good news for you is that they aren't worth very much. Looks like about $15-$20. Entertainment Earth (correct me if I'm remembering wrong) sold sets of the two Clones for a short time too.
And hey, is that an Amazon ad on which you, the reader, can click on and order absolutely anything and the author of this very column gets a few cents? Why I do believe it is.
4. Recently we've heard quite a bit about Vintage rereleases and even seen a few of the small vehicles from the yoda look line for 2013. What we haven't heard anything about since celebration VI are the droid factory figures. I thought we would at least have some preorders posted online by now. Is there any info you have from your day job about the timeline for releasing these that you can share with us? If not, then wild speculation will do.
To date it's very unusual for Hasbro to tool up figures and not release them, and while there are a few examples it would seem unlikely that they would let such development go unexploited. (And if they would, hey, it sounds to me like these would make great exclusives for an awesome online retailer, wouldn't you? We should all write letters suggesting they do that. Because I need an excuse to ask for a raise.)
Things have been shaky for the last couple of years and based on how the line played out in 2012, anything I could make up and wildly speculate about would probably be on par with what could actually happen. Right now, I'd say let's wait for Toy Fair and let's see what they do (or don't) have to say. Some pretty funky stuff has been happening across the board over the last 2 years, to the point where I just don't understand from a financial perspective what's happening.
5. Just had a question that I hoped you could answer. Is Hasbro still producing the Starkiller, Shae Vizla, Darth Malgus, etc.. action figures? If you know could you please let me know. Thanks.
Sort of, yes!
Hasbro sent out a press release late in 2012 confirming that Vintage "Greatest Hits" waves would be coming out, and not just in the USA either. Some of those figures are still available from whole case assortments available from online retailers, and a few of them were listed on the upcoming batch of "greatest hits" as well. This could change between when I write you this answer and... later, but yeah, as of right now there should be more of these figures entering circulation. Where and when, well, that's always up to debate and things could change at any time. I would advise against paying $25-$35 for the good ones, though.
Looking over the Droid Factory list of waves 1 and 2, I have to say that the biggest loss here (assuming none would come out, we're being told some may come out) are those four droids. The other 16 figures were largely repaints (which I assume we'll get) and tweaks of existing figures. I can see why they want to redeo Ceremonial Luke, but Pilot Biggs? Mara in the black suit again?
It's sort of like the 2010 Vintage line-up, which was largely repacks, retreads, and, again, new heads on existing bodies. This isn't necessarily an affront to my habits, but I have to say I'm not too sorry that nobody will have to bite the bullet to pay $10 to buy a figure just to complete a droid. If all 4-6 figures were cool or new, it's great! But who here was really, really excited to buy another Clone Pilot, A-Wing Pilot, or Darth Vader? Captain Rex was the only real "new" character in wave 2, and he's just a redeco of 2011 Fordo... and basically a new Alpha ARC Trooper.
For old-timers like me, waves of new and different figures (which I guess at this point is "anything we haven't had since 2000 or ever") are far and few between. This is why I figure new movies can be good for us... we really need new blood.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.