Q&A: Rogue Trooper Popularity, Star Wars Pilots, and Tie Ming - er, Timing

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 29, 2017

1. I have to admit, I am very surprised about the lack of "time" allowed by retail establishments when it comes to pricing with Star Wars products.
- AT-ACT starts at $299, you can buy now for $89.90 at Target 2 weeks after it hits
- Millennium Falcon Air Hog starts at $299, you can buy at Target now for $89.90
- 3 Pack Rogue One pack (Target EXC) starts at $59.99, 3 weeks later you can get for $29.98 now.

Is the day of high-priced Star Wars items dead? OR, will they put them out and accept they may sell "X" at full price and the majority at clearance/sale? I think of the 6" Tie Fighter? You can buy them for less then $50.00 or the EE Exclusive 4-pack, started at $99, now $45.00 for 2 awesome 6" Figures.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the blame goes mostly to people ceding these decisions to computers/spreadsheets without giving thought to data. For example, Target put series 3 of LEGO blind bag minifigures on clearance immediately upon release. The new 2016 Ghostbusters toys were on clearance before the movie even came out. In 2003, the newest (and most final) waves of Star Wars (Clone Wars, Saga) were on clearance within weeks or days of hitting retail shelves. Target decided that product cycle was over, and it was time to reset - and those items had no new waves and no new shipments, so they were gone. Similarly I'm seeing Titanium Series on clearance at Toys R Us right now, although I must confess I do not know if the line carries forward to the next movie. I hope so. I like those. (I'm not yet buying Hot Wheels.)

Because of how all high-end Hasbro products performed in the last year - you could find HasbroToyShop.com slashing prices on higher-dollar Transfomrers via eBay or its own store quickly, and items were at Ross in under 6 months - I don't think Hasbro has faith in high-end products. We're seeing a gradual shift of people's interests. It used to be people saw the movie and then bought the toys - now with a lot of lines, all the buzz is before the movie. Your buying a toy is done as a sign of your faith in the franchise (let's be honest, it's always a franchise) rather than a real-world "like" button these days.

The big giant 6-inch TIE Fighter was probably a huge mistake. The AT-ACT was not a great product and how it was handled - and when - was a huge misfire. Hasbro puts a lot of dollars in marketing, but higher-dollar toys (and indeed, most toys) are a lot harder to push now that the monoculture is effectively dead. You can't count on Saturday morning cartoons on 3 (or 4) networks to drive sales - now you've got apps, multiple cable channels, and distractions galore. Stores don't have long attention spans, and neither do customers. Anticipation has largely replaced satisfaction, although I hope Hasbro exploits the 40th anniversary of Star Wars and the upcoming Episode 8 to sell original trilogy and more The Force Awakens items, respectively. (I also hoped they'd crank out more tie-in items from the original Star Wars as part of Rogue One, but here we are.)

In the case of exclusives, what you're seeing is how the free market reacts to items. Generally speaking, an item selling well means you don't need to mark it down. (This isn't always the case, as Toys R Us circulars had the NES Classic on sale for $45 during the holidays. Don't worry, nobody could actually find one.) Fans vote with their dollars, and a vote for clearance is a vote for discontinuing products and price points. If 6-inch figure multi-packs are no longer viable, you're going to see fewer of them. Perhaps none of them. If $100 items don't sell, perhaps Hasbro will try more around $50 - that seems to work for Transformers.

The 1995 relaunch gave Star Wars a huge shot in the arm thanks to pent-up demand for new action figures at retail that had been growing for ten years. As a bonus, we had tens of thousands of fans buying two or more of each figure to save in the packaging, which means that instead of (for example) a 20,000 figure exclusive run, sometimes you could get numbers that were reportedly significantly higher. Speculators are the bane of our existence on the day-to-day collector circuit, but they also purchased so many extra figures in the waning days of Kenner that, if the rumors I've never been able to confirm are true, it was normal for a figure to sell 250,000 or more copies each. That's a lot. And that era's over. Some of it is economics, some of it is waning interest and aging collectors, and some of it is reality butting up against hope. A one-off 6-inch TIE Fighter is a dumb item in your collection - it's big and it's awkward. Similarly, army building is less and less important since there are no playsets or big vehicles to populate with said army. Why buy 20 of someone without a Death Star?

At this point I'm assuming we're going to see more products hovering around $20 and far fewer - other than prop replicas - over $100. I'm not saying we won't see any over $100... but if 2016 was any indication Hasbro needs to rethink its high-end product strategy.



Ad: Star Wars Entertainment Earth Exclusive Liokaiser and Droids In Stock Now!
Star Wars Black Series Chirrut Imwe 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Baze Malbus 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars TFA Black Series Ahsoka Tano 6-Inch Action Figure E.T. ReAction Action Figure 3-Pack Star Wars Nocturn First Order Stormtrooper Hikari Figure Star Wars Boba Fett Bobble Head Star Wars The Black Series 6-Inch Action Figure Wave 10 Case Star Wars Black Series 6-Inch Clone Troopers - EE Exclusive Star Wars Black Series 6-Inch Action Figures- EE Exclusive Star Wars Rogue One Shoretrooper Egg Attack Figure - PX Star Wars TFA Black Series 6-Inch Action Figures Wave 5 Case


Special thanks to our generous Patreon patrons, especially: JT, Jayson, Marco, Shawn, Stephen, and Matthew. Thanks for helping us keep the servers on!


2. Long time listener first time caller.....all the way from down under

Saw the stellar rogue one in the cinema here recently with my 8 year old boy whom is a huge fan of all things Star Wars (like his father before him ). The shared experience itself was pretty special. In particular the last 30 mins when we both yelled out 'the rebel alliance is here!!!' And 'oh yeah here comes the X-wings!!!!!' Took me back to my youth sitting in the cinema with my late father...,oh the feels. And seeing the pilots from the battle of yavin was pure unadulterated joy and an absolute highlight.

Now to the question part. I'm putting together all the 3.75 rebel pilot figures for the collection shelf. X-wing A-wing Y-wing and B-wing pilots. Was really after some sort of list or advice around the best offerings for these pilots (and girls) with SA or at least close to SA as possible

Due to just how many there are (and how my collection set-up isn't set up yet) I can answer your question with a link - most (but not all) Figure of the Day Rebel Pilots are tagged. So click that to see many of them - a couple hundred need to be ported over to the blog still, and obviously not all are super articulated, but this is a great place to start. The good news is that very few pilots aren't available as super-articulated sculpts - Hasbro didn't really go bonkers there until 2008/2009, so that means you won't need to suffer through a dozen Wedges. The Y-Wing Pilots don't have a ton of options, so you'll be getting what you get. Also keep in mind many of the pilots were in multi-packs and/or were exclusives, so that's going to cost you.

Oh... and vehicles. You're going to need to buy a lot of vehicles.




3. My local observation bias seems to indicate that the 3 3/4 Scarif/Shoretrooper figures are more popular than the Death Troopers. I find it odd that a weirdly highlighted tan trooper would outsell an all black, seriously equipped trooper. (And, man, is that Black Series 3 3/4 Death Trooper a nice figure!) Both the 2 pack and the black series figs sell much quicker than the Death Trooper options around here. Is this just a local phenomena? And, any insights into why one would outperform the other?

So many reasons!

#1 - the Death Trooper came out before the Scarif Stormtrooper - and was sitting first. (But, as of now, seems to be sold out.)

#2 - the Scarif Stormtrooper has significantly different deco and a minor sculpt change from the 2-pack Scarif Stormtrooper.

#3 - Due to the Walmart Death Trooper hitting first, there are many more in circulation. An "army" is a squad of six, whereas Scarif Stormtroopers are basically unlimited.

I'd argue that black troopers are overrated in the sense that they've been done too many times. It feels like a design holdout from the kind of thinking that made the 1990s - I'd argue much of Rogue One feels like the kind of thing a Star Wars fan would've dreamt up in the mid to late 1990s. We had black Stormtroopers before, but we've never had sand-colored ones with nifty red, yellow, and blue markings. Scarif got the superior, more diverse, and more interesting trooper. There's more visual variety with three ranks that we know of, only two of which got toys - who wouldn't go Scarif?



Special thanks to our generous Patreon patrons, especially: JT, Jayson, Marco, Shawn, Stephen, and Matthew.


Got a question you've been sitting on? Please don't hesitate to send it in! With Toy Fair on the horizon, anything I can bank early is great - some of you know this, but in addition to Toy Fair coverage (and the real reason I go to New York) is to go to a number of toy meetings to find out all the cool stuff that, uh, I can't report. And some that I can. So any stuff we can get done in advance makes a huge difference - please and thank you!

As always, thanks for supporting our Patreon to help keep the servers plugged in! Thanks for helping us keep the servers on! Don't worry - it's not going to feed me or pay the rent on the office, it's going into a fund to keep the site alive. And maybe some day a replacement camera when mine finally breaks, and it's getting there. So if you can kick in a buck a month, you're awesome. If you keep reading the site, also, you're awesome.

In case you were wondering, The Black Series 6-inch Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe are shipping from Hasbro (and stores like Entertainment Earth) now - if you ordered a case, your case may be on the way. If you ordered singles, keep an eye on your order. I'm hearing Walmart is getting the 3 3/4-inch Wave 3 - that's the one with Thrawn, Bodhi, Shoretroopers, Death Troopers, Leia, and Jyn in disguise - so keep an eye out for that. Or just buy a set online.

We've got a Jedha 4-pack on the way with 3 new figures and a repack of Jyn Erso. For those who can't wait, it's time to play catch-up - I've seen the Rogue One 2-pack of Finn and Phasma at Target this weekend, and I'm seeing many markdowns at all kinds of stores. If you're out and about, take anything you think you might want to the price scanner - I've seen some lovely surprises. I'm also seeing Hot Wheels' AT-ST, which looks pretty sharp. Oh, and Walmart's, but only in the very very large Walmarts.

Right now I'd say the most exciting things on the horizon are Toy Fair in just a couple of weeks - I'll be there! - and the upcoming home video release of Rogue One. But after the second, better release of The Force Awakens I'll probably drag my feet until we see if there's a special "3-D" Blu-Ray with double the extras later. I still need to score that The Force Awakens special fancy edition.

--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.