Q&A: Star Wars HasLab (again) and a Different Rancor

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 26, 2021

1. I know I've seen a lot of collectors grumble about Mission Fleet on the internet, but to be honest I've really been enjoying the line. As someone who uses figures for stopmotion and videos, the Mission Fleet vehicles are a really nice and affordable way to get pretty good looking ships that we wouldn't be seeing otherwise, like the Tie Whisperer and the Mandalorian ship. The figures are small, but the animated look is kinda fun and they're affordable ways to get some neat characters. The stand out for the line for me has to be the Bluurg. It looks great, has some nice features like the opening jaw and articulated tail, and again, is an affordable way to get a sought after creature. Do you know if they plan on making any more creatures for the line? I am not sure how well it is actually doing at retail, since many of the posts about it on social media complain about these toys taking up shelf space. The line itself has so much variety in its releases, so I'm hoping we can get some more creatures like the Luggabeast, Geonosis Arena creatures, or even something like a smaller Rancor!


Given how often the Rancor comes up - and you don't hear about all the times it comes up - I would not be shocked to see a Mission Fleet Rancor down the road. But I don't have any insights I can share as to the future of unreleased, unannounced products in this or any line, but given that a younger rancor appeared on The Bad Batch I assume someone at Disney Consumer Products has plans for more of the Mr. Potato Head monster.

I skipped Mission Fleet just because I didn't want to collect another scale - Titanium got taken away and Hot Wheels more or less took over. 3 3/4-inch is competing against 6-inch, and neither is really coming out as a clear winner here. There are things in Mission Fleet I would absolutely buy as Titanium or 3 3/4-inch scale - a Blurrg, especially - but I don't want to spring for yet another format. I've got Galactic Heroes, 12-inch figures, Unleashed (2- and 7-inch), and so on, all of which are on the trash heap of formats. There are good items in there, but Yet Another Scale for me - at this point in my life - is a non-starter.

Fans who have picked up the sets (like you!) speak highly of them, and I'm glad to hear they're great - but I've got 40+ years of toys in other sizes, so short of a massive clearance haul or someone sending me their collection, I don't know that I'll want to ever start a new Hasbro Star Wars toy scale ever again. (I'll make an exception for 1982 Kenner-style MicroCollection - mini metal figures with tiny plastic ships and playsets, I'll buy that.)

If it continues, I assume we'll see the major players eventually - Tauntauns, Wampas, Ewoks, and so forth - but right now it just seems to be a few main characters and core ships, which is sensible. Without the depth and weirdness of other lines, I just don't need to go there.



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2. One last (hopefully for us all) Rancor / HasLab question...it seems to me that Hasbro showed us all a little more than they maybe should have with this latest batch of projects, specifically the Rancor and the Skystriker.

As they languished, the teams revealed the Cobra takeover pack (three! figures and stickers) and Hasbro pretended they were 'listening to fans' by working in an all new Rancor Keeper figure...neither of these were bonus tiers, they were included in the base funding.

So like you said in [December 13's] column, the cost of the tiers are baked into the price (not 'free')...and now we're getting told that there's even more wiggle room for extras - not for extra backers and money, but for the base cost. I cannot imagine getting Cobra Commander and his goons had the Skystriker funded in the first week, and if the Rancor had been funded as revealed, I can't see any way the Keeper would have happened.

These extras obviously worked...the Rancor ALMOST made it past that gate, and the Skystriker came quite close to reaching the Pit Crew funding levels...So going forward, what's the incentive for early adoption of these projects? Why jump in on Day One if we're possibly going to get even more 'stuff' by waiting until the last week or so?


Now if Hasbro makes a compelling offer, I'll support it on day one. And if you really like what you see, it's not a bad idea to tell Hasbro that you like and care about what they made. (And if you don't... well, yeah, wait.) Now that we've seen we can get good stuff if we wait, it really shows how important it is to put your money where your mouth is - on both sides. If we like what we see, we get the toy. If we don't, Hasbro has to sweeten the deal... and we may still not get the toy if the offer isn't compelling enough.

The margins on these items are probably pretty good - they cost more than similar items at a retail store, and Hasbro doesn't have to offer them at wholesale prices. As such there's probably more than a little wiggle room for adding bonuses, but it does cut into their profit margin. (It may be worth their while to do this, because a smaller profit margin is better than the loss from developing an item and getting $0.)

I assume they ran 3 HasLabs at once in part to experiment. The Proton Pack revealed stretch goals as time went on, but also had a day one (Pulse member only) bonus item - which is a neat idea to avoid people waiting for the last minute. But more importantly, it was a very good item that fans (and store buyers) were demanding. The Rancor was a typical roll-out of information until the end - start with the grey model, revealing stretch goals and the painted model as time goes on. (I think they need to drop the grey model nonsense, myself.) They tried a last-minute addition with no illustrations of any sort, and it ultimately didn't help achieve victory. The Skystriker revealed the entire package - but that means they had nothing else to reveal for more press coverage and social attention. So it, too, got a last-minute addition with a fairly nice reveal video to boot.

I still like the phrase "vote with your dollars." If Hasbro comes to us with a 3 3/4-inch scale Death Star playset of some sort - and it has a bay for the Falcon, a conference room, a trash compactor, a detention block, a control room, and some other odds and ends? They get my support. If they give us a fairly priced AT-ST 6-inch scale vehicle, I'll probably support it on the first week if it can fit inside an Ikea Deltof. If they come to us with a giant 6-inch scale giant monster or starfighter that won't fit on a shelf... I don't want it. Hasbro takes notes when things do well, and it may well not be worth your while to support it until we squeeze every stretch goal opportunity out of them - but, as the Skystriker shows, you can't necessarily hit every mark at the last minute. Better support would probably mean you'd have got that last bunch of figures, but then you wouldn't have had the Cobra stuff. What's better? It's going to vary, and it's certainly going to be fun to see what they do next time.

(I want things that help me play with and display my existing collection. Barge = yes, Razor Crest = yes, Rancor = meh.)





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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.

New stuff is showing up, and it's good. Really good. Hasbro has consistently upped their game over the quality of The Vintage Collection when we get new figures (and not reissues), and figures like Bo-Katan Kryze, Kuiil, and Lobot have ball-and-socket hips (like Beast Wars figures) that use fewer parts, are easier to assemble, look better, and have a great range of movement than figures like the Mythrol - which has the greatest accessory pack-out I've seen in years. He's got a puck! And his hips can move so he can sit, it's just a heck of a lot more complicated than the simpler new joints Hasbro uses. Excellent effort there.

A new Disney park exclusive Droid Factory set based on The Mandalorian is making the rounds and may be their best yet - an awesome blue-domed droid, a Republic R1, the Ferry Droid, and another seemingly gold robot that looks just fine? I like it. I look forward to being able to order it.

A new collection of 3 3/4-inch Disney Droid Factory Mystery Crate figures have also started to appear. (How I'll get these, I have no idea.) So far five droids have been spotted that I've seen between eBay and Yak Face's social media - B5-5L, C1-4B, CH-83, G4-58, and JB-9. I haven't seen a price tag yet, nor do I know how many flavors there are. But this is way better than trying to assemble something from a parts bin when you're out of state.

As of now New York Toy Fair is still on for February, as is CES in Las Vegas in January. However, so far Google, GM, T-Mobile, Microsoft, Intel, TikTok, AT&T, and more have pulled out with under 10 days until the big show. Generally I would anticipate pull-outs weeks - if not months - ahead of schedule, but things can change in a hurry these days. Toy Fair is expected to be February 19 to 22, but there haven't been any confirmed announcements of exhibitors pulling out as I write this.

What can I say? January should be interesting. Especially with the Boba Fett show starting this week. I hope it's going to be fun!

--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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