Q&A: Star Wars Conventions and Toy Shows, Plus Vintage Figure Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 13, 2019

1. Do you plan to go to toy fair this year? Which conventions are you planning to go to? How has the convention scene changed?

I will indeed be at Toy Fair, Comic-Con in San Diego, and a lot of other toy industry events on which I am not allowed to report. (There are also some I am going to report from, but I can't talk about just yet.) There's one I'm really hoping to go to again and that's D-Con - Designer Con in Anaheim. I went last year on a lark when visiting one of my really good friends, and we had a great time - it was mostly makers and small manufacturers, but you also got to see George from Toynami, Matt from Onell Design, and some other really cool figure people doing stuff. I got some Glyos, OTMFG, and Mechazone stuff. D-Con was a lot like Comic-Con 15+ years ago - quieter, more indie, less corporate sponsorship. I can honestly say it's the most fun I've had just tooling around at a show and looking at cool stuff in ages.

Right now I'd say it seems conventions are a big deal, but the barriers to entry make a lot of people not care. If you can get the news on the internet, and the exclusives cost you a little bit (but not as much as the trip) maybe they're not necessary except for things like meetings, signings, or real confidential stuff you don't want to ever post online. (See: Ben Burtt's home movies.)

I won't be heading to Star Wars Celebration because I haven't found the convention itself to be particularly compelling in quite some time. It was cool to hang out with any friends I had going there (hi Mike! Hi Shannon!) and the industry people I know, but there wasn't much Star Warsy that had me jumping for joy to be there. Ralph McQuarrie's dead, I got to see Ben Burtt a while ago, and I would say the things that were the most interesting I didn't know were the most interesting until later. Who knew that Star Wars Detours panel would be the only time I got to see stuff from that never-aired TV show? This year might be exciting with the Cassian Andor and The Mandalorian shows, but in the digital age I'll be just as happy to wait and see the reveals online later.

Comic-Con has gone from a small show to an amazing, industry-defining slog. And some companies are starting to turn away. It started with the toy companies getting bigger and bigger, with the exclusives requiring more hoop-jumping and then the studios taking over. Now it's a fight just to get a ticket if you aren't in the biz, and with certain studios pulling out I don't know what the San Diego show is like as a non-business thing. I don't know if I'd have fun. I've generally started calculating what buying something on eBay would be against paying for parking - or a hotel, or a plane ticket - and it's arguably cheaper to stay home unless you have other interests. Camping out for a panel is sort of a non-starter for me.

Toy Fair is usually a hoot. Thanks to my job being entertaining, and doing such amazing advancements as growing and not going out of business, I get to see a lot of fun meetings. I'm one of the people that can have a great time there, mostly just because I'm one of the few people there to do business who also really wants to see all the new toys - even the stuff that's not sci-fi or collector-oriented. Toy Fair has seen a lot of improvements - more booths, more floorspace, more toy companies - but also a lot more stuff I never actually see in a store. There have been more exhibitors in recent years, which is great because a few years ago there was a Toy Fair with empty booths from no-shows and massage booths opened up in their stead. Last year they had to open more aisle space, but with Toys R Us going away and more and more mergers it's possible this year could be a last hurrah for growth or a year in decline. BanDai didn't show up in 2018 - with no Power Rangers, what's their showing going to be in 2019? Hasbro is and always will be mostly off-site (except for the Entertainment Earth booth, we've got Hasbro come say hi.) Funko's booth has gone from a lovely small affair in 2006 to one of the biggest booths in the lower levels.



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2. the new vintage collection boushh. Is this a new head sculpt or just a new deco?

I haven't seen a packaged sample of her up close yet, but it might have new deco. Hasbro confirmed they're trying to do that hyper real face paint we got in the 6-inch line for the 3 3/4-inch line, as we saw Mattel do with Jurassic World, but they didn't specify when it would debut. It seems very likely it could be here based on the photos, but I won't know for certain until I get it in my hands. It should be pretty similar to The Black Series release from a few years ago either way. At this time we're not expecting any new sculpted parts.





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Once again, the mailbag is empty! Send in your questions today.

Toy Fair is a month away, and we're all hard at work on things like booths, meetings, and getting ridiculous ideas to ask for during those press events. That's what we do. And right now, we're doing it amidst reports of some Walmarts reducing their 3 3/4-inch Star Wars to the Galaxy of Adventures line, with some bringing in Micro Force in lightsabers where you can't quite tell what it is you're getting. It's one of those times you look at the products and say "Oh, of course this isn't going to work for them" while things like regular lightsabers, 6-inch figures, and LEGO should keep on truckin'.

The new year is usually a good time for toys, as old stuff hits clearance (and how - I found $5 3DS games last week!) while new stuff makes the rounds from LEGO and the like. Hasbro is a bit less predictable, sometimes ushering out their new wares this month and sometimes not. I do miss the old push-and-pull of "old" and "new." In one year we'd get a new movie - and the next, things would usually be split between classic and new, with a good chunk of "classic" being new things we never saw as toys before. Due to some possible legal issues being rumored (specifically human background talent) there are some officers, pilots, thugs, and guards that may just never see plastic. Given the quality of some human likenesses I don't understand why they don't just fudge it - if they want to do Fozec and make him a different person, a different ethnicity, or something I bet most fans wouldn't realize it - but that seems to be a tall order. We're not even getting all of the rubber masks or droids I would expect, instead we're getting repacks of figures from 4-5 years ago at double the price. I appreciate the focus to "classic" in Galaxy of Adventures, but the unappealing packaging, lack of freshness, and off-putting price point just seems like someone, somewhere is saying "I'm done with this, let's make sure we all move on now."

There are also new Resistance figures hitting but other than the droids and a couple of armored figures, I can't say I'm feeling it like I was for the last couple of shows. Hopefully The Mandalorian and Cassian Andor bring in more fun. If not, I guess we've got a new Captain Picard show to which we can defect.

For now, at least, I can get back to work on what's really important - dumping parts of my old Trade Stash to clear some room for a certain Sail Barge, which could be shipping as soon as the end of next month.

--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.