Q&A: Star Wars Exclusives, Sequels, Reproductions, and Robots

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 6, 2016

1. Do you think that restored/reprinted/repainted vintage figures, vehicles, and playsets should be considered and sold at lower prices compared to untouched vintage toys on eBay?

If I understand this question correctly, I'm all for reproduction replacement parts as long as they're identifiable from the originals to an lay fan/morons who might resell it later. The old Marvel Star Wars comics had the word "REPRINT" in the little box on the cover of some issues, so stamping something like that would be most welcome. As to the going rate? That's for the free market. If someone wants to pay more for a restored (and identifiable as restored) piece when compared to a vintage real toy, that's up to the free market. I worked at a collectible toy store in the 1990s where people would pay more for a loose Amanaman than a Trilogo one on a beat-up card - but the actual figures were in the exact same condition. It doesn't make sense, but that's not really something we can decide.

I'm not a huge fan of reproducing entire toys - that's IP theft and generally something I'll frown upon. But if someone prints out better-than-vintage reproduction labels or alternate cardboard backings for certain playsets? That's fantastic. If you're going to make new molds and squirt out new stuff, do yourselves a favor and make something new or different.



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2. Why does Hasbro hate us so much?

Why make the general release 6" Black Series C3PO the stupid looking one with the red arm and make the one that I'm sure 99% of collectors want, ie: the gold arm, silver leg, an exclusive? The chances of being able to get one of the latter here in the UK at a reasonable price is probably slim as these exclusives only seem to make their way over here in specialist Sci-Fi shops at stupid prices.

Given that C3PO comes with no accessory wouldn't it have been sensible to make the left arm removable and pack the gold arm as an accessory? Or is that too simple/costly.

I had to rewrite this, so I'm going to tackle two issues here: One, UK. Two, exclusive character choice.

It is my ongoing policy that in any country that isn't the main focus for a toy line, you can complain, but you'll get no sympathy from me. The reason for this is because I collect Playmobil (Germany) and Zoids (Japan), and also Transformers which has a large Japan-only (and increasingly Asian-only) exclusive product selection. It's part of the business - not everything you want will ever be available in every country, even if we all share a language. This is unlikely to change.

However, doing some quick research it appears Toys R Us UK sells a Black Series 6-inch figure for about £22.99. That's US $28.07. Most Walgreens 6-inch Black Series exclusives end up leveling out on eBay and US Amazon for about $30.00 or less - as I write this, Emperor's Wrath Darth Vader (the 2015 Walgreens Exclusive) is $25 on Amazon with free shipping in the USA. So if you've got a pal in the USA who can re-ship it to you, that's great. I see this same figure on eBay UK for £25.99 shipped to the UK. C-3PO will likely be in the same boat in the next few months.

C-3PO is, historically, not the best seller nor the most popular figure. He and R2-D2 are among my absolute favorites, and if a figure line lacks these two I lose interest fast. The lack of accessories is no doubt to keep prices down, and in the USA - and I'm sure elsewhere - mainline figures are harder to find. Stores don't get as many, and since about 2006 or so I'd say the only exclusive figures that have been genuinely tough to find have been single-carded (or single-boxed) figures. Everything else tends to sit and rot for a while, bringing secondary market prices down, which thanks to your increasingly terrible exchange rate (thanks Brexit?) you can still get stuff at pretty decent prices as an importer.

...we've also just had it pointed out that there's a different torso sculpt between the two figures.

If England was the primary market for Hasbro Star Wars - that is to say, if Hasbro were centered in the UK and it primarily sold its products within your borders - I'd agree with you, this is awful. But it's an American company that primarily focused on the American market with the American exclusivity as the main priority and everywhere else is secondary or tertiary. I can rarely recall a big announcement of where any exclusive product will show up in England, usually I just hear about it shortly before they arrive if at all.

If your primary issue is "I want to buy 1 C-3PO and not 2" - which it may be, you tap a lot of issues in your question - my answer would be "well, too bad." Hasbro's been going with "just different enough to make you mad" for years and a deco variant like this is far more significantly different than some of the minor changes we've been offered on other figures, like variant colored trooper pauldrons or fake snow painted on droid feet in a multipack. Is it different? Sure. Is it as easily distinguishable and significantly different as the C-3POs? No. I'd do what Hasbro is doing here in their position. Plus or minus the international communication of where exclusives will (or won't) be offered - I'd rather be more on top of that if I could swing it.

Figure distribution - international distribution in particular - has always been wonky. I've been following this line closely for its 21 year run (and other lines prior to its debut) and I've heard issues regarding not being able to find figures from everybody, everywhere, since they started appearing on pegs. This is unlikely to ever be truly "fixed," leaving us all in a situation where the best we can hope for is to take advantage of any international buying opportunities created by the exchange rate and lulls in the market for a once-hot item that we can. The good old days only seemed better because we had yet to find one another to trade notes.

In the last couple of years, Walgreens has mostly delivered on exclusives if you're patient. Things I thought I'd never see, I've eventually seen a few times. Sometimes it's months after the fact, but they show up and more than once. Good hunting.




3. Does the Toys R Us Force Awakens multi-pack of figures that is hitting stores now have anything new in it (see attached photo)? The Kylo Ren has a "dusting" of snow on him that might be new and the FN-2199 figure was previously only available in an Amazon exclusive box set, but everything else looks like a regurgitation of figures I already have..

Not as far as I can tell - the multipack seems to lack Poe's helmet, too, and that was included with this version of the figure previously. The one thing I haven't yet been able to check (as I did not buy it) is the TIE Fighter Pilot - it looks like there are probably two versions of that mold, and I don't know if the plain pilot deco is unique for this particular version of it. I might need to sneak in the figure and get back to you.

Rey is similar to the Takodana Encounter or Basic Carded version. Kylo Ren is the Armor Up version without the armor. Poe is the X-Wing Pilot version without the helmet. The TIE Pilot, I'm not sure. The Finn is the same as the Finns. The FN-2199 is the Amazon exclusive version.




Some new stuff is making the rounds - if you're hitting up Target stores, those exclusives are showing up. I found the battle-damaged TIE Striker at a Toys R Us - interesting that the box looks very similar to the normal version and has no "exclusive" sticker on the box. It does, however, include a differently painted pilot (silver marks) and has 5 Nerf darts rather than 2. I'm reading C-3PO is hitting Walgreens, but I've not seen him personally - nor the Hovertank Pilot from a month ago, nor the Walmart 3 3/4-inch "Rogue One" Wave which is supposedly filtering out. The Kohl's set has also supposedly just hit, I have yet to read a report. But the Toys R Us 6-pack mentioned above is out in - appropriately - force.

I generally dislike bringing this sort of thing up here but it seems that the omnipresence of a big news story has resulted in eyeballs being pulled away from what matters - you know, movies. Toys. Comic books. Doctor Strange and Trolls seem to be having respectable November box office takes, and it's hard to get a read on toys - but if Saturday night at Toys R Us was any indication, long lines and checklanes that I could basically call ghostly show that people are definitely looking ahead to the holiday shopping season even if stores are not. Me, I'm always in the toy stores - otherwise I'd be dead. I'm looking forward to my own personal season of misery as toy stores fill with cranky people who would make the industry and indeed hobby better by being more involved year-'round, but such is the way of Santa's domain.

So with any luck, the news of the day will pass peacefully or at least move into its next form. We've got a good season ahead of us with Rogue One in December as well as Fantastic Beasts, Moana, and I assume the death of at least a few more beloved pop culture icons before the year is out. I'm ready to just fully wallow in the goofy pursuits available to us.

But hey, it was a good year. We got more Star Wars. Playmobil's gonna do Ghostbusters, and in classic no less. (Why? No idea. I'll take it.) At this point the only thing that could go better is Hasbro supporting Star Wars beyond the movie window as we saw for the previous 20 years, where we were pretty much guaranteed a new wave ever couple of months. Well, I guess we can't have everything, but at least I got this glow-in-the-dark Boo Amiibo.

--Adam Pawlus

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