Q&A: Robots, Retro Things, 2013 Again, and Real Old Kenner Stuffs

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 7, 2013

I'm still here! Q&A is back with your questions, and apparently you really want to talk about Vintage and 2013 and the lack of new stuff on the shelves. You also want to talk about real vintage figures, and of course which 2013 new figures are different enough to make you mad because you have excellent taste. All this and crazy ramblings from me, after the jump.  If you have questions for next week (that aren't about the 2013 line) please be sure to send 'em in!


1. Welp...as I've stated before, once Vintage came to an end (or on hiatus, whatever that actually means), I'd be bowing out of SW collecting - and I'm holding to that. So, that amounts to a long stretch of nothing for me, and my checking account is already thanking me. However, as an expert(?) in this kind of thing, I'd like to ask if you think Vintage will return for the Sequel Trilogy. I'm already pretty sure that by the time it arrives in theaters, the super-articulated SW figures we've come to know and love will be a fond memory, but it'd still be great to have the new series go retro. Truthfully, I don't think it will happen - the branding for the first new movie is going to be so ubiquitous they'll have to keep it all unified, and I can't see them going with the silver bars...

Don't read too much into Hasbro and anything they do. They say silver bars are for collectors, and there's an Angry Birds pack with silver bars. If Disney asks them to bring it back, they will. (So start bugging Disney?) It's possible and likely we'll see black and silver packaging for at least a few figures whenever a new movie comes out, mostly just to rope people like you back in. I like "vintage" packaging due to the fact there's less cardboard and plastic used to make it (and therefore less in the trash) but well, it's always weird to try to get excited about it. It's nice, sure. But since 2010 the new Vintage has been less about capturing the excitement of my childhood then it was about seeing Dengars, AT-AT Commanders, and 4-LOMs sit for two whole years, and hearing never-ending distribution complaints. Hasbro seems to think it needs a rest, but it's hard to argue that it was executed in a good way.

We don't know what the branding will be for the new movie, or if Hasbro might decide it's good to focus on original trilogy over the mishmash we've been getting mixed with new stuff. A new movie with retro vintage packaging would be very exciting to me, because that kind of graphic design has been associated (to me anyway) with trying to recapture the past with more expensive versions of figures I've already bought two or three times over. It would be nice to see it deployed without reruns.


2. Did you see this coming? That is Disney doing what they've done? As you're in the biz, does it make sense to deep six an active show and toy line with nothing on the horizon but maybe two arcs to support a dying franchise? If there's an upcoming series then why disassemble your TV team? Isn't there enough cash out there to invest in Disney for an Ep7 than to effectively piss off a good segment of collectors? Is Star Wars going to turn into the other lines with a movie, some toys to support it, then disappear? I know I haven't helped much as I got out of actively collecting EVERYTHING seven years ago when I liquidated everything except the closest things to me and only now buy from the sales or clearance racks or if it's 'cool' or 'exclusive'. But I've followed the toys ever since and read you in case there is something out there that I would still like to get from your FOTD. Just one long time follower to the master collector... rant please.

Yes, but I was off by a while. I thought Disney was going to buy Star Wars in the early 1990s, before it all went nuts again. We do not know for a fact if it's Disney calling the shots with the 2013 line (specifically "let's ship this to Mexico and Canada but not the USA"), but we've all heard rumblings that retailers were complaining about the product mix for at least a few months if not a year. Since late 2010, Hasbro has been iffy about getting new product on the shelf in a timely fashion, but they've had no problem repackaging the same figures and vehicles while fan-demanded characters get produced and don't appear to buy anywhere. Don't blame Disney. Disney didn't make Walmart stop carrying vehicles after one wave last year. Hasbro decided to ship 4 Starfighter vehicles that were so bad, the big stores didn't go for wave 2. And they did vintage vehicles that offered nothing new but boxes. There's a lot wrong going on with this brand.

The death of The Clone Wars has been discussed for a while, but I'm not at liberty to go into too many specifics because I can't remember who told me to not say what. But yeah, there was real buzz that it was ending last year despite what the animators said, and you can probably find it in the Q&A archives.

Part of the problem comes from Hasbro as an organization. A small toy company would nurture this line, ensuring you were entertained and releasing reasonable numbers of each item. Hasbro has a minimum quantity which an item should sell to be considered a success, and that number has gone up. To make matters worse, they built their 2012 line plan off a movie that was considered so toxic in 2000 that Hasbro management asked the brand to shift back to more original trilogy product. Crap in a hat man, is this the same answer to the last question? Haven't we gone over this a bunch?

The long and short of it is this: Hasbro put out a line that put off collectors, retail buyers, and kids. However, it's still supposedly bringing in a lot of money, but this sort of thing can change quickly and when massive toy lines die, it's usually sudden and results in a lot of unsold product. Hasbro may be trying to avoid a closeout glut, but it seems like that's kind of hard to do at this point given last year's iffy lineup. Are you guys as sick of reading about this topic as I am writing about it?



3. SO, I'm not understanding something. The new yoda-look line was cancelled, yet they got released to every country it seems BUT the USA. If they could release all of these they had to all those other countries, why couldn't they release them to the USA as well? I mean, I understand them not going to Target and Wal-mart, or other big names like that, but why not Big Lots, Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, hell Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Dollar Tree!

It almost seems like Hasbro is punishing us for not buying their rehashed Darth Maul-look movie hero CRAP from last year so they decided to offer the Yoda-look to everyone BUT us!

On a side note, after viewing the coverage from the Toy Fair and seeing Hasbro's 'offerings', then looking at all the awesomeness that all the other companies display, its almost like I feel as though Hasbro is that kid in class that waits to the last day to cobble together his science project while the other kids (other toy companies) have worked hard on theirs and have fantastic projects to show off. Yeah, it MIGHT work in the end, but probably will end up falling apart or blowing up.

...yeah, Hasbro will never blow out new figures with market demand to Dollar Tree. Or it's pretty unlikely. Family Dollar is incredibly picky about what goes on their shelves, it's not a closeout chain like Big Lots, Ross, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx. (They have, on occasion, had some blowout items like Transformers Dark of the Moon deluxes for $5 each and G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary figures at an insane $3 per figure but most of their cheap stuff was developed for this channel.) Stores like Family Dollar make a lot of money in lower-income areas by having unique products developed for them, many of which seem cheaper but the price-per-ounce on say, food, tends to be higher than the normal-sized product at Target or a grocery store. It's quite insidious. As far as I know (for reasons unknown) Hasbro never manufactured US English packaging for the 2013 Yoda Line look basic figures. Everything we've seen online has been Canadian, European, or Asian.

People say to me "Hey Adam, I thought you liked Star Wars, why are you so down?" Because this is all I get in my mailbag. I hope you guys are also writing letters to Hasbro and maybe even Disney now too. We've been over this a lot, there's not a lot we can say as armchair quarterbacks here, but you can all contact the manufacturers and let them know how they missed out on your money this year. I had to send off to Germany to get the green Yoda figures, which I hope are still en route. I still can't find a lead on Movie Heroes Boba Fett and the MH22 Battle Droid from Germany. I'd love to buy one. Are any of your German? Can you get one?


4. Ok, so I know there is the new 2013 light-up Anakin and Sandtrooper figures from the final/Canadian Movie Heroes wave. I also know there is a new 2013 Anakin, R2-D2, Obi-Wan, 501st Legion Clone Trooper, Captain Rex, and Battle Droid from the final/Canadian Clone Wars wave both in Yoda Packaging. My question: Are any of the other figures that come in those two waves "new" or "new enough" or are they all just repacks?

As far as I can tell, of the 9 2013 The Clone Wars figures, Darth Maul, Savage Opress, Commander Cody, are not different enough to warrant tracking down unless packaging matters to you. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin, Captain Rex, R2-D2, the Battle Droid, and the 501st Legion Trooper are new enough to be notable.

For Movie Heroes, it appears Jango Fett, Anakin Skywalker, the Sandtrooper, and the Battle Droid are the winners. Darth Vader, R2-D2, Yoda, and Darth Maul appear to be repacks, although I won't know for certain until they get here. Obi-Wan Kenobi seems to be a repack with a bonus accessory, which was (is) available with the 2012 Movie Heroes Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn figures.

Much like 2012, there are basically no new characters here either. Which is why I'm as bored as all get out with the selection, even "snow Anakin" is at least different enough so a kid might go "Oh, OK. I can tell this is new." This is, what, the third basic carded Ankin in his default Season 3-5 costume on a basic card? Kids won't notice the difference. Hasbro would be better served to repack the old one and save some money if the changes are going to be minimal that nobody but hardcore collectors can tell the difference.


5. Since this first half of this year is so slow for new Star Wars products, I've been thinking about trying to acquire the last eight or nine original vintage figures that I don't have. Do you know of any good online stores, other than the obvious eBay, that I should check out? I'd be looking for loose, but complete, figures.

Our advertisers are pretty great, and they help us keep the lights on here. (You may not know this, but I don't get paid to write this - we need help keeping our servers online.) Brian's Toys is sort of legendary for actually having stuff, and quite the selection. Depending on what you want, they're worth a look because they tend to get some pretty scarce old stuff.

I am a big fan of Toy Anxiety in Phoenix, I used to work there in high school (really!) when I first started writing about toys on the internet part-time. It used to be called Empire of Toys. The owner sold me most of my original collection back from 1989-1992, before it got expensive (and Sise Fromm was like $3), so maybe go ahead and give them a call. They have an extensive vintage selection despite not having a lot on their web site, and they pretty much know their stuff better than a lot of people. It's worth giving them a call or, if you're in Phoenix, a visit.

(And also order your new stuff at Entertainment Earth because that's where I'm working now.)

A lot of vintage stuff is really cheap. The 1979 Kenner Creature Cantina playset is about $15, numerous figures are $10 or under, and one key thing they have over modern figures? There's never going to be another "first" Darth Vader. This is as original as figures get and the line is mercifully finite, so you could collect a loose set for less than an average recent Hasbro year would cost you with money (and room) to spare. The catch is, of course, a few figures are $100-$200 nowadays, but some guy sold all 8 original movie Ewoks for $75 in a lot. I think the glut of licensed Star Wars product caused a lot of people to ignore this stuff, which is a shame because it seems the vast majority of you are here because you're looking to recapture this era. Skip recapturing it, just go for the originals. I mean, all of you should run out and get a Walrus Man - now that he appeared on The Clone Wars in his 1979 Kenner costume, everybody should have one!



So this week we found out that in Orlando, you can go to Disney's "Downtown Disney" area and buy Droid Factory figures without a cover charge. This is a very big deal. To any enterprising young people out there, I have a proposal for you: take your birthday money, allowance, and whatever else you've got and buy a full set of 25 different figures (bodies configured as you see fit, there are at least 25 domes) and sell it on eBay for $100-$150 more than it cost you. And repeat. You're going to be able to maybe not pay for college, but definitely help spring for whatever new iPads, video games, and car payments you need plus you'd be doing the rest of us who can't afford the time/plane ticket to Orlando a huge, huge favor. And you'd be making $100-$150, without having to spend all day in a theme park. I normally never advocate behavior like this due to it being what people in the 1990s called "toy scalping," but this is a rare instance in which the seller (who claims to be doing us a favor by charging a markup on toys) is actually doing us a favor by charging a markup on toys. I guarantee you, if I lived in Orlando, I'd be doing this. (Hell, I DID do this back when they had a Han Solo Stormtrooper Froot Loops mail-in figure in 1995 and 1996 - I charged a couple of bucks extra per box so people could get the hard-to-find order form, of which there were many in Phoenix, and it helped subsidize my collecting while in high school while I was running the now-dead and fondly not-remembered "Adam's Star Wars Newsletter." Don't worry, I only netted about a dollar per box and donated the cereal to a local preschool.)

Anyone out there in Europe? Your ol' buddy Adam's in the market for some Movie Heroes figure in the Maul packaging, specifically Boba Fett and the MH22 "Blast-Apart" tan Battle Droid. Any help?

I realize this may sound counter-intuitive but the whole Star Wars implosion is potentially more interesting than what we've been getting. Back in the 1990s, when I first started writing for you people for free, ANY bit of information was a Big Deal. A new novel? Shout it from the rooftops! Pizza Hut has somehow received unproduced Galoob toys as a kid meal premium? Holy cow! A vending machine in Wisconsin is spitting out original trilogy-themed Pepsi Cans? Share this with the world! Part of the problem now is that (at least from where I sit) it's hard to find novelty in the glut that I would have guessed should have let up around 2007 or 2008 - instead, it seemed the Revenge of the Sith-wave just kept pushing and pushing, which is actually pretty incredible considering the bad taste in the mouth fans got from the previous prequels.

If Disney's pulling back on things, that might mean that it would be manageable for most normal humans to be able to follow the franchise and the collectibles. I would argue right now that it's unlikely any one person is capable of tracking all the band-aids, towels, shirts, hats, statues, and other items for this hobby. While it's not ideal that we're seeing a bunch of things get axed all of a sudden, I can't honestly say that the last three or four years have been the most exciting time to be a fan. I'll take what's behind the curtain rather than more of the same, but who knows if I'll come to regret that after the second or third new movie comes out.

--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.

Pizza Hut Galoob

What are these Pizza Hut Galoob toys you speak of?

Most of the last few

Most of the last few unreleased-in-the-USA mini playsets were sold at Pizza Hut for like a buck per (or with a kid's meal). Somewhere in my archives I've still got a bagged set or two still. Duros, Weequay, and a few others were available this way.

Pizza Hut

We're those the little heads from Galoob? The heads open, revealing a small scene and micro machine action figure?

Yup. Nifty little things.

Yup. Nifty little things.


Oh gawd... as a huge fan of all things micro machine related, I demand... -erm request a pictorial write-up!

If somebody seconds it, I'll

If somebody seconds it, I'll put it on my to-do list as soon as I dig them out of my stash.

Pizza Hut Galoob

What are these Pizza Hut Galoob toys you speak of?