Q&A: Star Wars Boba Bounty and Indiana Jones, Continued

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 20, 2022

1. Another botched preorder for Boba Fett from Target. What's your take on this new "Fett Tax?" For a TVC figure, it has the same number of accessories as the current Mythrol or Bo-Katan, yet it costs much more.

This new Target exclusive is very much the same as the other "deluxe" Fett version that went up for preorder last Fall.

Has Hasbro realized collectors will pay more for any Boba Fett, no matter how much they charge? Will this give them a green light to overcharge for popular character figures in the future? Or is it that they're just going to raise prices across the board? If so, the TVC line is going to be close in price to the Black Series. They wouldn't pull this stunt with a Lobot, droid, or Jawa.


My hunch is that Hasbro saw a shift in buyers to adult collectors. I remember a lot of people (back when Kenner was Kenner and dinosaurs walked the Earth) when I was younger say that "if you can't keep an item in stock, you're not charging enough for it." It's possible Hasbro has adopted this philosophy across the board. After decades in this hobby, the most frequent complaint is "distribution problems." That's code for "my store is out of stock of what I want." It's not price, it's not quality. It's just being able to give Hasbro any amount of cash for a toy.

While some of these fancier figures seem to be pretty much the same as a basic figure, I can point to some elements which may result in higher production costs. But it's just a hunch - only Hasbro knows for sure. But also remember Hasbro wanted to charge $350 for a Rancor that's maybe twice the size of a $40 Rancor you bought a few years ago, with a little more articulation, and a lot more paint. Is it worth it? It is if you run to get your credit card.

I assume Hasbro has realized that some figures are nearly impossible to meet demand, so by releasing them as a solid pack outside an assortment they can keep them coming indefinitely. The upcharge is likely just a bonus to justify additional SKUs, as a $30 The Black Series figure (well, $34 now) is certainly much more enticing if you're looking to make a return on your investment. I don't doubt things like fancy helmets and superb battle damage cost money, but Boba Fett (Tython) isn't necessarily that much different from Cobb Vanth. Cobb has a bit more color, so it's possible there were more tools produced so you could mold some pieces in yellow, in green, in red, in brown, and so on and so forth - and that ain't cheap. (Nobody invites me to budget meetings.)

Hasbro hasn't been able to make enough of a Boba Fett figure almost ever - I've very rarely seen him on a peg. Maybe a few times around 2003 and 2006, but generally speaking he flies of the shelves. Doing what they're doing here - also for Cobb Vanth, the Probot, General Grievous, and the Heavy Infantry Mandalorian are kind of troubling. While some are slightly larger, size isn't the core driver of cost - but piece count and complexity feed a lot into it. Remember, The Black Series Chewbacca is huge, and is made of many parts - but doesn't have as many deco hits as Cobb Vanth and his ilk. On the other hand, Wrecker is bigger but they forgot a few paint applications on his armor. (He's still a little better than the basic figures.) And on the whole most of these experiments are selling.

All Hasbro toys are going to see a price increase this year. As of my writing this I haven't seen a full price list, but I can tell you comparing apples to apples over the August 2021 price increases, so far we're looking at about a 10% increase when you look at new pre-order listings. So yeah, you're going to pay more for Play-Doh, your little ponies, your snake terrorists, and your teenagers with attitude. While I would prefer to see effort put in to coming up with a cheaper line that's more affordable - see Mattel's inexplicable adherence to a $1 Hot Wheels car after six decades - Hasbro would rather sell adults a more premium product than put cheaper toys in the hands of kids. I have no idea which is going to yield more fruit, but if you can sell a fan a $250 mass-produced mass-market lightsaber you have clearly achieved some level of business acumen that few could foresee.



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2.Regarding kids and Indy, I agree and disgree with you. I was under 10 for Raiders and Temple and loved them, as did my sister and close friends...but also I knew a lot of kids who had no idea who Indy was. And even some people younger than me got it--I remember seeing articles before Indy 4 that Kristen Bell said she was into Indy as a kid (I so wish they had cast her as Indy's daughter instead of what they did...so hopefully Waller-Bridge makes up for that some). Anyway, I'd agree with you about the toys--in fact, even though I was a big fan of the 3 3/4 last time, the quality and availability was so tough on some of the line that I'd be very happy if there's nothing that scale for me to have to think about buying. Except the one idea you didn't explicitly mention as far as exclusives or collectibles: do you think a retro series would do well, especially if they stuck mostly to the new movie and/or a few Raiders characters, for those of us who remember the original line? I'd love to see a Raven playset exclusive and they like making cantinas....


To clarify, when I wrote that kids today didn't like Indy, I mean as a group - not literally "no kids like Indy." LEGO sold some toys, Hasbro sold a bit, and after four movies the driving force is largely nostalgia and adults (and some kids who like retro properties.) It's not enough to sustain a long-term collectible strategy, although it may be more in tune with how Disney handles Star Wars int he 2020s. (Which is to say, a shallower line that may not necessarily deliver all the main speaking characters.)

I really don't think kids are going to clamor to see the new movie in 2023. Older movie fans will want to see, it, and I sure will, and obviously the kids of fans may be exposed to it, but I wouldn't expect a Marvel-esque phenomenon. (Maybe Eternals-level.) They really tried hard last time and it's a movie that adult fans liked, and anyone a bit younger largely despised.

A new fancy vintage-style 3 3/4-inch line feels like a pipe dream, and a playset seems pretty unlikely at any size outside the HasLab ecosystem. I'd love to see a retro Kenner-style line, but if history is any indication it would be small. Star Wars has been about 6-7 figures per year, while Marvel has been able to do multiple waves per year. How? Why? I have no idea. It'd be a good fit for the license, but I wouldn't put money down on it happening. Of course they could just do one Kenner Indy, and sell a ton of him, and call it a day.

The good/bad thing about retro figures is they're cheap and expectations are low - it doesn't have to look perfect for it to be a huge sell-through hit. (And/or Hasbro doesn't make enough to meet market needs, it's hard to know which is which.) With a shift toward higher price points across the board I wouldn't get your hopes up too high for much there, but who knows what may happen with a movie delay? Or multiple delays? "Classic" is probably easier to get approved, anyway, but I still wouldn't count on it being incredibly likely.

But, Indiana Jones-as-toys is probably going to have a pretty short selling season, unless they keep it tight or potentially perfect. And Harrison Ford heads are hard to get right - so a retro line would be a more achievable good fun thing than a 6-inch scale (or 12-inch scale) series of figures. I don't doubt a collector line will see some success, or a kid line could have a decent launch window, but I'd keep those expectations tight. We're probably looking at one good solid year of product before this goes to bed again, unless it becomes some online exclusive thing in short bursts that are built to order.





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Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is out of on-topic questions, so if you got some, send some in.

For Hasbro collectors, there are some pretty amazingly cool things coming up. Some you'll expect, some you've been wanting to see for decades, and some you've already seen but the pre-orders will just go up this week. But which is which? Well, stay tuned.

If you're like me (old) and like video games, you may have heard of the MISTer project - it's basically a specialized box that uses FPGA (the same stuff in the Analogue systems) to replicate old computers, video game consoles, and arcade cabinets. I've started putting one together and it's an impressive little toy - not unlike a Raspberry Pi or emulators, but it does a lot more, and does much of it very well. (The goofy thing can play PlayStation 1 games now, much like a Macintosh G3 computer in 1998.) I also played a little of Sega CD Star Wars: Rebel Assault, which is grainier than I remember. I never did give a lot of love to my Sega CD that I got second-hand a million years ago. (It doesn't play 32X games, so no Star Wars Arcade yet.)

It's pretty neat because it can, in theory, play a lot - Super Star Wars looks great for Super NES, and Game Boy's Super Return of the Jedi... well, it certainly looks no worse than it had in the past. It's a lot of fun to play my old games on newer (bigger) screens, but this gizmo also has hooks to put video out to CRT TVs and as luck would have it, I have a couple of them from college still. (Sadly no old tube VGA monitors. I really wish I still had one of those. Who knew? Hopefully I can find an old one somewhere for sale. [Call me if you have surplus.])

And messing around with that is what I have been doing since New York Toy Fair isn't happening this year. Star Wars Celebration and Comic-Con International are both still on deck, but I'd expect more and more to come from Hasbro directly via online news blasts. Which is a lot to keep track of, especially given what feels like more open pre-orders than we may well have ever seen in the history of collecting these action figures.

Right now there shouldn't be any new shows to watch until May, unless we get a cartoon surprise, but there are plenty of theme park hotel tie-in comics to not buy.

--Adam Pawlus

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