Q&A: Star Wars in Canada, Vintage Redux, and More Fun in 2015

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 21, 2014

1. 1) Is the Black Series 6" Target exclusive Imperial Shadow Squadron coming to Canada? If so when?
2) What is the release date on the Target exclusive AT-DP with figure for Canada?

As a Canadian collector you might feel that the rest of the world doesn't necessarily care about you. And let me assure you, you are correct. Canadian release dates are rarely - possibly never - discussed in an official capacity, and usually Target's exclusives are bilingual these days so they can easily trot them over to the great white north's toy shelves. Since The Black Series Shadow Squadron set is 100% English, I'd bet on it not coming any time soon.

The AT-DP and with Driver hasn't even been spotted in the USA yet, and since Hasbro never explicitly said if we'd see two waves of this assortment (which also includes the Inquisitor and Phantom) nobody knows for 100% certain that this toy will come out, period. Hasbro announced it, but we don't see it. I can only assume it'll be out sooner or later, but a lot of things tend to get swept under the rug. So we'll see, I guess. And it's anybody's guess about Canada because, once again, nobody cares about Canada. Except when they get something weird, like Saga Legends 2014 Darth Maul - which is one of the lower-run figures that nobody cares about just yet.

One of the unfortunate things about collecting new stuff on a global level is we get to see just how much stuff we don't get. For example, I like Zoids, Transformers, and Playmobil - and there are tons of international exclusives here. Back in the 1990s I was big in to Super NES RPGs, many of which never saw release in English. And today, for whatever reason, there are lots of toys that just don't happen to make it out to the UK, Australia, Canada, and the like because of one reason or another. In Canada's case, the market wants unique packaging and as a rule takes only about 10% of the US run, and the US runs aren't exactly huge. It's painful to do this, but coming up with a good trading buddy may be the way to go here. I was all about Beast Saga figures a couple of years ago, and that entire line remained exclusive to Japan. I realize this isn't much in the way of comfort, but if nothing else you can know that your region-locked shopping opportunities are not unique to you and not unique to Star Wars. With Playmobil, it pays to be German. If you like Zoids, life is better if you're Japanese. Doctor Who collectors have it good here, but there's still plenty of neat stuff in England that doesn't make it to the USA. One of the advantages of being a cultural empire is we get more better toys than most countries, but we don't get everything.



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2. Any chance of the big H ever doing a Re-Action (which you got me into through your reviews) line? I know there's a rights issue there but can't Hasbro do their own similar series seeing as how they bought out Kenner who created the format in the first place? I know we have Missions and the defunct vintage line but I'm talking classic 70's/80's style figures of 90's/00's/10's and beyond characters from the Star Wars universe. TVC has proved there is a demand for such retro memorabillia and I admit I'd even love to see the Prequel/Sequel ones in that format.

Hasbro has said more than once that they have no interest or intention of taking a big step backward, and they're also not interested in letting other companies try their hand at it and giving up a slice of the pie that, to be honest, they're being stingy with anyway right now. As the line continues some avenues are pretty narrow, and the sliver of "vintage" figures is probably pretty tiny when you get past the main guys. For any company that's not Hasbro, Mattel, or (maybe) Jakks Pacific this sort of retro line would be a slam dunk. It would be sizable for a non-billion-dollar company. But for the big guys? Until they get desperate - and they will eventually - it isn't worth their time or money.

As far as the style, nobody owns it. Funko flat-out made Kenner prototypes in their Alien line, and vintage figures from Fisher-Price, Mego, and many others looked very similar to the Kenner Star Wars template. Nobody owns the license for crappy 1980s action figures, just Star Wars. And as things go on, Disney and Lucasfilm could re-slice the licensing pie to break this out as a separate category, much as how the once "Master Toy License" at Kenner and Hasbro was carved up to give construction to LEGO and the 20- and 31-inch figures to Jakks Pacific.

If Hasbro did 12 The Force Awakens figures in this style - and stopped - I bet it'd be a modest hit. Similarly if we got about 12 from the prequels, I bet those would do well too. Jango Fett and Darth Maul would be fun, but as someone who scrutinizes Funko's ReAction and has consulted on Twilight Zone retro figures I can say that the chances that anyone would nail a proper "vintage" look is difficult to say the least. Funko's ReAction line tends to have problems in the production phase - things like figures that aren't glossy, or have a little too much paint, or in a few cases (Terminator) awful joints. These are things that Hasbro could probably better nail down with their larger runs and factories, but odds are the novelty of this kind of figure would be a huge hit at Hasbro for a very small number of waves. I bet they'd be surprised to see how well they would do, but only if they kept a tight leash on the line's variety. Vintage styling would be best assisted by vintage release schedules, but authenticity is the real issue here. Getting the gag right will take tons of work, and the effort it takes to really deconstruct those old figures and getting everything just so is, to say the least, a difficult process. If you've never argued with people over the finer points of what makes a 1980s-style figure "correct," I assume you are a much happier person.

It's also worth noting that the clock is ticking for this kind of product. Some younger fans like and get it, but the fake vintageness of it all doesn't necessarily work for everybody and a lot of people forget what made that original line special. It's not the sculpting. It's not the packaging. It's certainly not the articulation. If you remove the figures from their legendary context - the first-ever Star Wars figures, and likely the ones you had as a child - it's just another goofy toy line. Had Hasbro done more than 6-12 such vintage-style figures for the 1999 The Phantom Menace line, I guarantee we'd not be having this conversation today.

...having said that, Hasbro, if you're reading: Darth Maul, Jango Fett, AOTC Obi-Wan Kenobi, ROTS Anakin Skywalker, General Grievous, Count Dooku, AOTC Clone Trooper, Sebulba, AOTC Arena Padme, Mace Windu, Jar Jar Binks, and some sort of Palpatine/Sidious would be my picks. Please and thank you.




3. Don't you usually put the column on ice after Thanksgiving? And really, just two questions before you go on break?

That's right, The Mascara Snake. Fast and bulbous... tight, also.




As a toy collector I've found it very useful to listen to those quiet, nagging hunches. I don't know about you but I frequently get a weird sense of "OH MY GOD I HAVE TO GO TO THE [INSERT STORE HERE]" and it pays off a lot - for example, I found on Saturday that one of the local Super Walmarts had a partially stocked display of Star Wars Hot Wheels - including their 8 exclusive repaints, delivered in December, as promised. The set cost me less than eight bucks, which is, of course, the right price for eight recolored versions of existing cars. While some might dismiss this as lazy, I find it interesting - seeing them apply various Rebel and Imperial markings to goofy sci-fi cars is a lot more interesting than making yet another totally competent and accurate TIE Fighter. I mean, I've got TIE Fighters. I've got a bunch of TIE Fighters. If you bought one of each flavor since 1995, you've probably got too damn many too.

This time of year is something of a nightmare for collecting toys. It's also great. If you're the kind of person who finds much of your time is spent out and about, it's great - product turns over quickly, so stale stock goes away and is replaced by something new all the time. One Walmart I hit nearly daily (it's real close) and I see that after months of no action of any sort, they're burning through Hot Wheels and Transformers like nobody's business. Multiple waves come and go in two or three days, so if you aren't hunting like a hawk you aren't going to see new stuff. Considering this is a store that I have personally written off as a place to find decent new figures - I mostly go for the purposes of killing time - this was nice to see.

Anyway, here's hoping you don't miss the good stuff. Wave 6 of 6-inch (Yoda and pals) is hitting stores still, as are restocks of a lot of older items. I'm seeing Target put out more cases of 2014 exclusives of all strains, so it's probably worth your while to grit your teeth and see what's out there on the way home or during lunch. I mean, it's paying off for me.

You may not know this, but when I started writing about Star Wars action figures online back in August of 1995, I assumed we'd all be done by 2007ish. I assumed I'd be going from the young guy to the old, cranky guy who would shut the lights off after everybody else left - and thank goodness, we've got more movies coming so I'm hoping that 2015 brings us not only new blood, but more young people. I don't know if the prequel era brought a lot of new collectors on board, but remember that today's (not slow) high school graduates are too young to have seen The Phantom Menace in theaters. There's a lot of room for new fans, new fan sites, and indeed replacements for all of us as we realize we're a lot closer to 40 or 50 than we care to admit. I'm really glad to see that even in slow times you're all still here with me, because if it really were just me left here alone we wouldn't be in a world with new TV shows and movies just months away. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you'll stick with me into the new year. (Even and especially if you don't like the new movies and toys.)

Good hunting. I'll prep some other stuff for you to read over the next two weeks, but Q&A won't be back until the new year. (Get those questions in.)

--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.



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New unpainted figure prototypes leaked just now of Finn, Rey, Chewie, and BB from China. They look good except Finn looks a little chunkier than I imagined but I'm not familiar with the actor yet and BB looks larger than he did onscreen.

There is also a trooper looking figure that could be Kylo. I'm afraid to link for the spoiler people here.

They are in 6 inch btw, So I guess that's a confirmation that the Black line will continue until next year. I'm assuming that the 3 3/4 figures will be done in the Rebels/Missions style too?

Looking forward to your speculations. In the coming year.


Thanks for responding, Adam! I apologize for the bad grammar which has never been my string suit.

I guess it's all a waiting game them? Well, I'm down. The last 20 years or so since they revived the line have flown by.

It's also mind boggling how many Star Wars figures are avaialble in all sizes at this point. Only one not done yet is lifesize ones. Toys anyway not replicas.

Good choices too. I'm going to look and see if anyone's thought to do customs of these. I tried my hand at it with some Toy Biz figures and the results were......well, Hilarious would be putting it nicely.