Q&A: Solo Distribution, Star Wars Completeness in Collecting - Is It Possible?, Force Ghosts

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 10, 2018

1. Solo has been released and I am yet to find ANY Hasbro Solo toys in ANY shop (toy shop or supermarket) here in the UK. Lego and Funko are available. Do you have any insider information why the UK has been missed? Are they experimenting with the market? Do you suspect trouble for the line behind the scenes?
I've reached out to Hasbro UK and they say they can't reveal information for product releases.

International toy distribution is what it is - iffy. Hasbro has different standards for each region despite the fact that the packaging is merging to one or two styles for the globe, and toy distribution is anything but uniform. I can't speak to the UK as I don't get a lot of hands-on information about countries that aren't mine, so given the toy industry woes it's possible that stuff is there and you missed it, or that the line is so small Hasbro UK skipped it. I would suspect the latter - here in the USA, we're seeing greatly diminished support for the new movie with some decent supporters of toys bypassing it completely.

If you shop at Target and Walmart here in the USA - or, of course, online - you would be somewhat aware of these figures. But Walgreens skipped it entirely, Kmarts and Toys R Us have all but closed, the Family Dollar/Dollar General/Big Lots! stores don't have anything, JC Penny didn't have much of anything from my hunts, and I confess the Disney Store chain is too out-of-the-way for me to have checked it recently. I don't think GameStop had much of anything either.

Hasbro sometimes is selective about what toys go where - some things are just for China, or South America, and there are rare occasions that Europe or even the USA get left out of something significant. It's weird - it generally doesn't happen - but the fact that you're the first person to write in to me, and it's been a couple of months, makes me wonder if they made the right move for their overall business strategies.



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2. Additionally and slightly related, are Hasbro aware that the basic (5poa) articulation is hurting the line, 6 inch line feels incomplete with each new film (Broodi RO, Leia TLJ) and TVC started with a lacklustre wave 1 with wave 2 nowhere in sight!
--Michael (same Michael)

I disagree that 5-jointed figures are hurting the line as a product, but I don't think character selection is helping much. "Here's another figure of something you just bought" isn't helpful, and the lack of themed waves is probably not helping either. If Hasbro were shipping original trilogy figures in this format - especially ones you wanted - I bet you'd be pretty darned pleased. The sad thing is that if you only buy new character figures, you could probably spend very little money in Solo with the likes if Qi'ra, a Kessel Guard, Enfys Nest, Moloch, two troopers, and precious few other new additions to the toy world. Star Wars is many things, but it shouldn't be boring.

Hasbro is very much aware of those and other "missing" figures and conversations have indeed taken place on many of them that you would hope. I use the air quotes only because every toy line is missing a ton of characters, and as soon as we get one any community can probably name another two or three that should be next. We've got 18 months to make up for lost time, and I really hope Hasbro is able to give us new stuff from (golly) all 10 live-action theatrical releases. My main gripe about Star Wars collecting today is that everybody seems intent on selling us 3 3/4-inch toys from movies none of us have seen yet - and once the movie comes out, that's it, it's all over. That's not what we're about, we're a nostalgia-driven fanbase. We love buying things we can recognize - and there are 4 Disney-era movies with a lot of really awesome aliens, droids, pilots, and other characters we could really stand to buy as action figures now.

I think completeness is a real problem now - LEGO and Funko do a pretty good job in the Disney era of presenting the most characters per format. There are numerous characters Hasbro hasn't even touched in any of its formats, and there's no definitive "complete" format anymore - despite the overwhelming popularity of 6-inch I think it would be wise to try to get absolutely everybody a super-articulated or 5-jointed (not both) release in 3 3/4-inch just to keep it "complete." There aren't too many figures that need to be done to keep things complete, but there are a few Micro and Galactic Heroes and others that are still unrepresented in 6-inch or 3 3/4-inch. Heck, Sideshow's done a few things Hasbro hasn't. Since 2010 we have seen them cede some ground in this space - meaning that ultimately, there's no definitive format. We've had the same problem with vehicles, as MicroMachines used to be the most complete. Then Titanium Series came around and did a bang-up job - but left some out. And now Hot Wheels is doing its thing, duplicating a lot of Titanium, but again still being largely incomplete. And what did we do as fans? Well, I skipped out. My enthusiasm for the action figure world is waning because it sucks to have a 6-inch Holdo en route with no 3 3/4-inch equivalent. And where is my red 3 3/4-inch Stormtrooper, Hasbro?




3. Will Hasbro ever decide on a consistent way to do a Force Ghost?

Unlikely - over the years Hasbro has been pretty inconsistent about Force Ghosts and Holographic figures. Or shades of white plastic, which makes it a bit tougher to army-build across styles of action figure. I would blame the shifting nature of the design teams and probably executive involvement. I guess if there is a bright side, it's been less of a problem since we started getting fewer action figures per year.



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The Solo post-mortem is in full swing, with the latest movie likely to do less bank than last year's flop Justice League. Both movies had a question of "Why should we see this?" For years Star Wars has coasted on "this is the next chapter in the saga," which, well, this wasn't. It had a late, small toy launch. Unlike other films, there wasn't a marketing campaign going eight months to two years before it was released.

What's kind of funny in an era of annual releases, we haven't seen the Disney Lucasfilm give us the kind of ridiculous publicity Marvel gave their movies - specifically, teasers, trailers, and in-movie end credit promotions. Having a post-post-credit teaser, or a trailer, that would be great. The sneak-preview figures during the prequels (and original trilogy) couldn't hurt either, but I think when you get right down to it you can't have movies with overlapping promotional windows. The Last Jedi was still in theaters and had a Blu-Ray to sell when normally all your focus would be on the next movie, which was running late and largely under wraps due to the production kerfuffle.

Episode 9 won't have the same problem, but I imagine future movies - if not properly exploited - will go under the rug. Look at Rebels - it launched on deep cable. People by and large didn't see it. The toys didn't come out until a ways in to the first season, and it always felt like Rebels never properly launched. There weren't many really cool figures after the initial year, and we got preposterously few minor guys.

Star Wars as an action figure property was always some level of "Come for Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, stay for 50 other figures your parents won't even recognize as having been on-screen." Since 2010 we've seen a marked reduction in those obscure characters, particularly the masked actor-likeness-free droids and rubber alien masks we love so much. Chewbacca and C-3PO are gateway figures, the kinds of things we all got as kids that drew us in to the bigger world of it. All of us probably had Han, Luke, Leia, Vader, R2-D2, and C-3PO as a kid... but we also had a few dozen (if not more) other figures of weird creatures, robots, troopers, and other things which not only kept us engaged as children, but bothering to write about them online for strangers to this very day.

I'm not hopeless. I'm at a weird point where I'm awful curious to see what a non-Hasbro 3 3/4-inch line might look like, which has me increasingly excited were it not for the fact that we probably wouldn't get any new classic characters for years. And years. The remakes would be off-putting. Wait, why do I want this again? Oh right - so we can get more than 0 classic aliens, droids, or other goodies per year.

As someone born during the original trilogy, I remember being a superfan during the era where Star Wars was pretty dead - and let me tell you, it was wonderful. I'd rather have new movies than no movies, but if Star Wars morphs into a thing that alienates people and gets weird I'm going to have a very happy few years. Also if it's still in theaters next week, I'll probably go see it again since I have another day off for such nonsense.

--Adam Pawlus

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