Q&A: Retro Tarkin Musing, Star Wars Casepacks, Exclusives, and Sizes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 12, 2019

This week in Q&A - Casepack sizes! Also Lost Exclusives! And Sizes matters! It really does!

Be sure you send in your questions for next time. Our mail bag is empty. Read on!

1. I recently saw that the Vintage [Kenner 1970s-style] Retro wave comes 1 each in a case of 6. I've never seen Hasbro do this before. If Hasbro were to do this with every wave of TVC figures, it would make it very convenient to collect waves, and avoid damages from lousy shipping. Do you think this is something they might do more of in the future?

Yes, but it's complicated.

The rule of thumb on assortments is generally consistency. There have been some rebuilt assortments for various reasons over time, but usually once an assortment is 6 figures, or 8 figures, it tends to stay that way until the next new 5-digit assortment comes out. There are rare exceptions, but generally if a wave of figure starts with a case of 12 in wave 1, wave 9 is also going to be a case of 12.

Given the circumstances of this item, this strikes me as an odd choice - it's white-hot. If 1 case gets shipped to a store, one collector will buy the entire thing and probably also a second or a third. I'm a little surprised it's not a case of 12 or 18 or even 24.

Another thing is that depending on who is selling it, that case don't mean squat. If Amazon got it, there's no guarantee they wouldn't split the case into 6 different silos of product, increasing the number of human fingers touching it. It could be sold as a case - but not a lot of places sell a case of figures as an unbroken cardboard box with 6 figures in it. Also those outer cardboard boxes sometimes get kicked around, so the inner figures can (and sometimes do) get damaged by the carriers between Hasbro (or China) and their final retail destination. There's really no way to guard against someone packing a cargo truck incorrectly.

Given the nature of The Vintage Collection (super-articulated figures) I would say see that first example. Hasbro has, at times, done a case with 1 each of all figures or 2 each of all figures, but rarely do we see a case that's 100% 1-per-box of 6-12 all-new figures. In this case I assume it won't do much to help fans get what they want - but I don't know how many each store will ultimately get.



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2. Whatever happened to that Last Jedi 5-pack with the holograpic Maz? It was supposed to be an Entertainment Earth exclusive last I looked, but it never seemed to show up. The red A-Wing (Force Link 2.0) and R2-D2/C-3P0 2-pack also seemed to not come in (though the A-wing made it to Ross last month).

It's also complicated. I'm not sure if I can share the entire story, but the very short version is the product did not ship where it was supposed to go in the cases of C-3PO & R2-D2 and the A-Wing, and Entertainment Earth has since cancelled those orders. The 5-pack, at this time, I don't know if it hit the USA or not - I still need to track one down myself. Entertainment Earth has also cancelled those orders. I don't know if a US run was actually produced yet, but I'm in the market for the 5-pack if you guys hear of them showing up somewhere... let me know.




3. I wonder whether you know or if the question has ever been asked of Hasbro. I assume in recent years all the figures they produce have a digital file, we've seen Jabba in both scales. So why haven't we seen more of the figures? Surely cost is lower because the design and research is already paid for. Collectors of either line are envious of characters in the other scale so why the hold up?

It sounds like there's a lot going on between Lucasfilm, Disney, Hasbro, Jakks Pacific, and other manufacturers. The Big Figs from Jakks often share sculpting with Hasbro products in various sizes - so while people have been coy to confirm it, it certainly looks like Disney consumer products and/or Lucasfilm are providing a figural sculpt which the various toymakers are using as the basis for their products - regardless of scale or manufacturer. The final quality of the figure tends to be up to the factory and budget.

Character selection is a beast that is inconsistent. Sometimes Hasbro makes selections of who they think their audience wants in each scale, and their beliefs do not take into account all fans. It can't. I'm the kind of fan who is happy to have a figure in any of its "realistic" 3 3/4-inch formats, be it Force Link, Mission Series/Saga Legends, The Vintage Collection, and so on. They all interact pretty well and I see the entire thing as one big line thanks to how the evolution over the past 41 years and how many vehicles were designed to fit any figure with halfway decent hip joints. Hasbro may decide one character is "collector" or "kid" so it doesn't appear in all sizes, formats, and scales. Also Lucasfilm/Disney put the thumb on the scale (especially during new movie season) telling them who they should (or allegedly in some cases, must) make in a certain size. I've heard some interesting stories about K-2SO.

An issue I've brought up with Hasbro - and I think this gets to the core of what you're asking - is "Where is the definitive scale?" For years, we all basically assumed that the 3 3/4-inch scale was the Definitive Scale of Record. If a figure would be made, it would either debut in or eventually be made in the 3 3/4-inch size. With thousands of figures, I think a lot of us still assume this - but there are various figures like Resistance Vest Leia, a Red Imperial Stormtrooper, and Pilot Jaina Solo that don't (and possibly won't) exist in the 3 3/4-inch scale but do exist as 6-inch figures. There are also quite a few figures in Galactic Heroes (2004-2011ish), Fighter Pods/Micro Force, Sideshow's 1:6 line, and other formats that don't (and at the rate things are going, won't) appear in the standard 3 3/4-inch size. Given conversations I've heard and had with Hasbro, I don't think Hasbro is going to be the best steward of this size as long as they have other products doing better business for them. 6-inch is supposedly more popular, and based on what I do for a living, I would agree with that supposition in part because the 3 3/4-inch figure lines have mostly been repeats.

On the bright side, Hasbro has brought some oddballs in multiple scales - we got Jabba in both sizes, but also Doctor Aphra, BT-1, 0-0-0, Hoth Leia, and a bunch of others. It would be my preference - not that it matters - that Hasbro make everybody as a 3 3/4-inch figure, with core characters, fan favorites, and stars of the new movies/TV/games as 6-inch figures. 3 3/4-inch is great for kids and the crazy collector class. 6-inch is great for casual fans and souvenir seekers as well as lapsed-returning collectors. The fact that no line - not Funko, no Hasbro, nobody - is a complete source of all available characters for the best possible set is consistently irritating. I've had the same problem with micro lines, Hot Wheels vs. Titanium, and so on and so forth. When lines share 50-75% of the same products but each one has a few exclusive to that scale, I get annoyed and drop a scale or just wait to buy it all on clearance. That's not good for anybody. If I know one line/size/etc. is the one it's easier to be more loyal, proactive, and generous when it comes to how I spare my extra cash. Because of these annoyances there are numerous scales I just plain ignore in favor of the 2 figure formats I prefer (which I would rather be 1 size if we're being honest) and enjoy my freedom from being a statue or 1:6 completist so I can buy cheap Famicom cartridges on eBay.



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It's almost always a weird time to be a fan of nerdy things.

I now live in a strange universe where Marvel has conquered the pop culture world, rather than being the domain if kids and teens - 1991's big comic story has become 2019's box office champ. 1985's top game console has new releases - new cartridges are shipping for the NES with Morphcat Games' Micro Mages, Dullahan Software's Nebs 'n Debs, and a bunch of others too. What's even more surprising is that this sort of thing is sort of normal. Vinyl made a comeback and between reissues and bands getting back together, we've seen things like Plant and Page's "No Quarter" and the rerelease of the Beatles' everything for boomers for years. And now, once more, Kenner has graced us with 6 reissues of 1978 action figures plus a seventh almost entirely new one - Grand Moff Tarkin.

I've got a review that's set for release shortly, but I'm mostly just sort of basking in the possibilities of what could come in the future. (As of my writing this, I assume it'll be an uphill battle to get a lot more of these.) Kenner did a really good job representing the original trilogy back in the day, with precious few unmade figures from Ewoks and Droids and fewer fan-demanded characters from the movies. Sure, fans were itching for the Cantina Band, Tarkin, Slave Leia, Wedge, Sandtroopers, and a few others - but back in the 1990s, there weren't a lot of figures everybody agreed were "missing." The line was the line, we all wanted more, but the very idea of Kenner (now Hasbro) going back and doing one just seemed like something they'd never actually do.

And right now, Grand Moff Tarkin is on my desk, in the MTV-7 I got from a flea market in the 1980s. Sure it looks like they cribbed the Imperial Commander figure's sculpt to do most of it, but I'll take it. I'm still impressed.

I'm hopeful Hasbro does more of these, hopefully semi-regularly, and hopefully without the pill of a board game around it. As time goes on, we don't get a lot of additions to the past, but it seems that for now, we'll get a few. If you're one of the faithful, still here since the original trilogy era, go ahead and get yourself Tarkin. You'll be glad you did. He goes great with my Rocket-Firing Boba Fett, Kenner's last mail-in figure which came out about nine years ago. Hopefully the next new "vintage" figure won't be another 9 years off.

On the retail guillotine watch...

Party City is closing 43 stores as the long-seen-coming helium shortage kicks in. A lot of local stores - like Dollar Trees - have been out for at least a couple of weeks. "Toy City" didn't seem like it really was a big thing, and it looks like the business - now under siege by Dollar Tree's cheaper party stuff and endless alternatives for costumey roleplay stuff year-round - may not have that kind of too-necessary-to-fail status we would've assumed a few years ago. With more general stores replacing the specific specialty stores, I can't assume it's looking particularly rosy for anyone wanting to start up a brand-new nationwide chain. I mean, we live in the country that basically let Big Bookstore die off.

--Adam Pawlus

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