Q&A: Star Wars Han Solos. Rancor Rancor

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 12, 2021

1. Adam, the included photo below is my kit-bashed TFA Han Solo, made from a tvc Echo Base Han and 5POA Han from TFA. [Editor: we have opted to not include the picture.]

Instead of getting this figure in the [3 3/4-inch Walmart exclusive boxed] black series, we got Leia in her blue outfit with baboon hair (Carrie Fisher's own words, not mine).
To me, it seems impossible to form a logical argument for tooling a figure of Leia that doesn't feel exciting at all (if you're going to pick Leia, why not this one?)
Could you give us your best educated guess as to how Hasbro decided to not make an 'action' figure of TFA Leia, and how neither her nor Han got the SA treatment?
Do waves of figures have checklists/quotas that must be filled? For example,
- must have a droid
- must have X amount of rebels and imperials
- can't have more than one bounty hunter


To my knowledge there are absolutely no quotas for a wave of figure in any size or scale - but it's possible they're trying to balance something. (Which is baffling, I still don't know why they're averse to all-The Mandalorian waves. Easy money, easy way to grow the fanbase.) If I were in charge I'd probably push for more themed waves - even if the theme was not to my liking - because growing a theme/collection shelf one figure at a time is a bore. You wanna do prequel guys? Do at least 3 per wave. One-offs are great for The Phantom Menace or Rise of the Skywalker, but everything else, let's get some friends together. But Hasbro's present grab bag is probably better at getting more people out and looking for figures than mine would be. (Which probably makes a good case for them to put an original trilogy figure in every wave.)

While I have never been able to hear Hasbro confirm it, other companies who have worked with Lucasfilm say they are frequently nudged in certain directions - specific characters, or specific price points. (If true, this sort of explains why everything went from gloriously weird character selections from 2000-2013 to an increasingly bland selection around the dawn of The Black Series 3 3/4-inch line.) Lucasfilm may well be saying "you're making this figure in this outfit." It would make some degree of sense - I don't understand at all why Force Friday 2015 didn't lead with things we saw in the trailer like Han Solo, Princess Leia, and so on - you've got a captive audience literally waiting hours in line to give you money. And you're not going to give them what they want and what you're marketing in the trailers? Baffling. But that's probably why. (I also don't understand why we're not drowning in Mandalorian toys.)

If you licensor dictates your approvals, reference documents, and final product, "logical arguments" (which we are defining as "what fans on the internet want") go out the window. If Disney and Lucasfilm say that they know more about toys than toy companies, well, that's how it goes. I have worked on developing non-Disney non-Lucas lines that did have people involved with the property suggesting their preferences, which usually involved one or two joke characters prior to the main cast. (I love weirdness but you need to put out the regular/main characters before you can get collectors on board with a joke figure. Star Wars is an exception, during the "sneak preview" pre-movie phase you can sell literally anything to an excited and hungry fanbase.) And I've worked on properties where the license holders don't care who you do as long as they have the rights to their likeness.

I don't think anyone at Hasbro would elect to not make Action Vest Leia without external input. Jacket Han over Snow Han, though, I could understand - if Hasbro already had a jacket Han, and wanted to keep the line looking different with New Snow Han, I'm OK with that. Otherwise you end up with Finn and Rose in the same outfits, as both $8 regular figures, $13 super-articulated figures, and $20 6-inch figures all at once. And that's awful dull.



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2. Do you think the Rancor's performance has been influenced by what's going on around it?

At the start Haslab had just run their Victory Saber campaign and the Skystriker & Proton Pack were running at the same time.

While some Star Wars fans will be JUST Star Wars fans, I'd assume there's some overlap between the fanbases for SW and the other 3 lines involved.

Plus Christmas is looming too which always soaks up a good bit of anyone's spare cash.

I know when these started I looked and thought "three at once, at this time of year and just after $180 on Victory Saber? Is Haslab trying to do too much at once? " though my bet for this year's Cookie Monster was the Proton Pack. Shows what I know!


I admit a Proton Pack is more appealing than Yet Another Rancor, and as someone with a 12-inch scale Tauntaun, 12-inch Speederbikes, Granamyr, and other big stuff, it's not easy to find a spot for everything. Do I need another toy of something I have, at 10 times the price and 50% more mass? Is there any reason to "collect them all" if they can't put everything in a single scale? And do I even want everything now that there are metallic/rainbow/otherwise arty versions of figures that would cost me hundreds of dollars just to be "complete" while there are many figures I can't even get that I want? I'm leaning toward "no."

If they put this up in summer, during a real in-person convention, I bet it would have gone differently. (If it were maybe $100 cheaper... those $100 worth of "bonus" figures are not being included for free, you're paying for them, like shipping isn't free, it's built-in to the price of the item.) The hype versus the value proposition just wasn't there. Unicron was undeniably cool in person - so was the Barge. (I hope the Razor Crest will be, it looked neat.) But I've got Rancors. You've got Rancors. We can get more Rancors if we want. Most of Hasbro's XL The Black Series items went on clearance, including Rey's Speeder, Luke's Landspeeder, the Dewback, and that massive TIE Fighter. I just don't know that the appetite for spending that kind of money exists unless something is truly spectacular. And that Rancor is pretty cool. But nobody was sitting around going "Man, Hasbro is totally missing out by not having made a Rancor!"

I think a lot of fans may be getting older, which doesn't help, but it's also an unexciting item... which doesn't help. Victory Saber was a new version of a very old and expensive pair of toys - which helps. (I mean, I had the Robot Masters ones but bigger is nice!) The Barge was something fans actively demanded and petitioned for. The Razor Crest was something that probably would have done good business if Hasbro/Disney/Lucasfilm did a (let's say) $200 version at brick and mortar, but they seem actively disinterested in selling Mando to the masses. Unicron was the first transforming G1 Unicron toy. All of the successfully funded toys had some sort of built-in demand, which Cookie Monster didn't. And apparently the Rancor didn't either.

Timing seems like the main thing to blame - there is a lot of product, a lot of confusion about a lot of product, a lot of poorly executed pre-orders, and I assume a lot of frustration. Things are announced and it's not obvious that something got released unless you look at eBay as confirmation. I assume a lot of people spent hundreds - or thousands - of dollars on pre-orders this year and a lot of stuff is still in the air. It's not fun after a while, and of course so many of us still have undelivered Razors Crest.





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So that was the week that was. HasLab's Rancor Monster numbers crept up after it ended, I saw it cap at about 8,500 before sinking back to earth. It would have been cool! But it also would have been absurd. (Speaking of absurd, got a dollar? Pledge to the Patreon to support our servers here! Please and thank you.)

A few of you have asked what Hasbro will learn from this, and it's hard to say - it's clear they want to offer high-high end items to The Black Series customers, which is unfortunate. I'd love to see that line more or less continue as it is - maybe less so - as a great entry-level place for fans ages 4 (or 8?) and up can hopefully buy their favorite characters - basically, the Disney+ title characters, the faces on the movie posters, those should be in circulation every year or so. A $350 Rancor strikes me as a hardcore collector purchase, and hardcore collectors have a lot of Rancors already.

It would be great to see more emphasis on 6-inch being the line for main characters and the big faces of the franchise... and maybe go back to making 3 3/4-inch its old "anything goes" self with waves of important guys and then something utterly weird. I haven't had many genuinely exciting and weird choices in years, with the final wave of Solo ForceLink 2.0 dudes giving us a wealth of newness after waves that mixed repeats with a couple of new guys here and there.

It's hard to keep fans - and collectors! - happy when newbies can't buy Boba or Vader, and the very few on-shelf figures tend to be new versions of guys the old-timers already have. I know it's difficult (perhaps impossible) to come up with a selection to please everybody, but I'm sure they could just do a year of nothing but weird The Mandalorian aliens, troopers, droids, guests, heroes, and so forth and most fans - an a lot of collectors - would be very pleased.

Until the 6-inch line gets more depth, I don't think there can be a lot of successful high-end, high-dollar items. Fans are still clamoring for vintage-era characters (some more than others) and there's probably a lot of money on the table if they consider appealing to The Clone Wars fans, or reissuing the Emperor again, and generally building a base who may be into spending some serious dough down the road. $350 is a lot of money - most buyers don't spend that much at once because it simply isn't possible to do in any store anywhere, ever. Maybe you can buy 2-3 figures that you don't already have. Maybe. Most shelves are empty and that kind of sticker shock is a lot to take in, while 3 3/4-inch fans (especially Kenner-era fans) have seen some really, really expensive collectibles at toy shows. And $500 isn't that much for a Barge when you see what a single 12-back figure can sell for these days.

This week was absolutely a setback, but hopefully one that will result in something a little more meaningful than "what you have, but bigger" going forward. I certainly feel that the fact that some characters are only 6-inch and some are only 3 3/4-inch is ultimately not a good move, so hopefully we'll see something done there and the biggest items can be kept at the smaller scale.

--Adam Pawlus

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