Q&A: Star Wars HasLab, and Rancor, But I Repeat Myself

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 28, 2021

1. I was wondering what your take on the Rancor debacle was. I haven't tracked it as closely as I did the Barge or the Razor Crest projects, but I have checked in on it a few times and followed the reaction on some forums. The reveals of the 3rd and 4th tiers sparked a serious backlash. It wasn't just online chatter either. People responded by canceling their orders. I can understand why they shied away from Oola, but not including the Rancor Keeper is just dumbfounding to me.

They've lost over 300 backers since the announcement of tiers 3 and 4. I honestly think this may not get funded. The stretch goals are a pipe dream for sure.


This question was sent on November 22, and I've been semi-obsessively reloading the screen to see the numbers go down (and sometimes up, but mostly down.) And I gotta say I'm surprised seeing it dip below 4,800 after it passed 5,125 - the item started off as a $350 Rancor, and what Hasbro delivered was a $350 Rancor with attention to detail so good, it's almost upsetting. (The silver eyes do nothing for me, given every product we've ever seen showed them as black.) It seems to have been hovering around 4,750, going up slightly over the last few days. As of my writing this it's 4,766.

What's curious is that there seemed to be more "outrage" over the Razor Crest last year, which made even less sense to me. Regardless of it blowing up, it's still a big, cool ship that didn't exist as a toy and I'm looking forward to getting it. And it's not like anyone who ordered it and changed their mind can't sell it for a profit.

I genuinely don't understand why people canceled orders. I love the skull pack, everything else in the stretch goals is a bit of a snooze but it's not bad. It's not like they said "if we don't hit this milestone, we'll leave out an arm." I wouldn't be surprised if we're seeing a possible breaking of the fever that is the current toy bubble, but it doesn't explain why so many people - be it for trolling reasons, or genuine disinterest - would cancel after going through the trouble to whip out their credit card and say "I'll take one."

Given the item's size - and price - we're all going to have a take on what an item like this should cost. It's clear they're giving it the best paint job they possibly can with tons and tons of articulation, but a leaked prototype of a 31-inch Jakks Pacific prototype shows there are other ways you can make an item of this size without charging the customer quite so much, too. (I love articulation but for 90% off, I'll give up some articulation.)

I find the whole situation weird - the Sail Barge got a repack (prepack?) of Yak Face, which gets some people excited and others not. Me, I liked it, it's a nice bonus - but I'd have bought the Barge regardless. The Rancor was something I wasn't sure I wanted in the first place, mostly due to the size and my general interest in Big Things that are going to take up a lot of space. (I've got a lot of Rancors and the 6-inch line has failed to really solidify itself as a playset/vehicle/diorama format.) Doesn't mean I won't buy one if it gets over the 9,000, but I'm still leaning toward "no." Not that Hasbro did anything wrong with it, but it's possible that The Black Series fan had higher expectations in the form of things like Malakili or Oola and fans got neither and shrugged. If this doesn't get made, the only character fans will miss out on is a Rancor - and they've got Rancors. Heck, there's even a The Black Series Rancor that a lot of people forgot about. It's just in the smaller scale.



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2. the number of [HasLab] backers has been steadily decreasing.

With less than [8 days] remaining, there's barely 50% backing.

Do you think it's because other HasLabs are up for funding (and money is tight), collectors don't seem to want the Rancor, or both?

I'll admit, the GI Joe Skystriker and Ghostbusters Proton Pack look way better.

It seems Hasbro has misread collectors yet again, and is offering something we didn't ask for instead of items we've been asking for.

We already had a 3.75-scale Rancor Target set that went on clearance, so why do they assume we'd want one in Black Series scale? It's just a larger and more expensive version of what didn't sell.


Not only did we have a Target Rancor set that went on clearance, it got repainted and repackaged for a 3 3/4-inch The Black Series Rancor set with Jabba, Slave Leia, and more - it was quite a package, too! And before that we had The Force Unleashed Rancor, the Power of the Force 1998 Rancor... we've done pretty nicely for Rancors. It's also important to remember the 3 3/4-inch Black Series Rancor was nearly eight years ago and the Target The Legacy Collection Rancor was around 2009 - over 12 years ago. That's multiple kid generations turning over, and it's pretty likely not even the same audience. (The Black Series 6-inch fans are many, and are not necessarily completists by any stretch of the imagination - and a lot of them are new collectors who aren't all lifers.)

What went on clearance doesn't necessarily measure actual demand for a product. I got a Transformers Blaster reissue for $2 earlier this year. Does that mean the character - or G1 reissues - are a bad idea? Not necessarily - clearance happens because a store wants to make room for the next thing, because fans didn't buy up the item as quickly as anticipated. You can work around that by adjusting the order size down. Fun fact, The Black Series Dewbacks were on clearance and impossible to sell right up until they appeared on The Mandalorian - at which point anyone selling them for at or under SRP found themselves out of stock quickly, and today the going rate is $165 on Amazon. Attitudes change, and if the rumors of the Rancor showing up on a future project are true, well, you'll see.

The decline - and increase, followed by a decline - has been weird to watch (as mentioned above.) A lot can happen at the last minute - someone buys a large quantity for an international store, or perhaps a bunch of fans get together and finally pull the trigger, or maybe a VIP buys a ton as gifts for Lucasfilm employees. Anything can happen - the Barge did drag a bit until the end, too. (There were rumors going around that Kevin "Mr. Marvel" Feige bought a ton to ensure it got over the finish line but that strikes me as cuckoo bananas.)

I don't know that it's fair to say Hasbro misread collectors - product development sometimes comes from someone really wanting to do something and having the clout to push it through, or trying to reach a specific market that may or may not exist. Heck, if we're really in a toy bubble, this could be an interesting indicator that things might be ready to change - that fans won't necessarily buy anything, and a reminder that the "one of everything please" club isn't nearly as big as some people claim it is. (Trust me, when you seen an exclusive fail to sell out, you have numbers.) Again, the Barge is a good reminder that sometimes things are slow, or that despite massive fan chatter the reality can be tough to read. If Hasbro only did safe things, you'd probably be getting an animatronic $700 robotic 8-inch Smart Phone-powered Boba Fett. And who wants that?

After the success of the Galactus and Sentinel projects, which apply to long-time fans (bigger, better versions of existing, scarce figures) and newbies (big, centerpieces of a collection), I have no doubt Hasbro gave its employees a sort of a "think of the best big creature you can do, and do it." But they already did the Wampa, Jabba, Tauntaun, and numerous smaller ones - even the Dewback. Short of doing a vehicle like the AT-ST (which I hope they consider!), this was probably the best HasLab idea that wouldn't be something like a big version of a one- or two-man starfighter. How exciting would a $350-$450 X-Wing be? Or an XXL Darth Vader's TIE Fighter? Or a $650 Slave I? The possibilities are endless... and to fans with near-complete 3 3/4-inch collections, not at all enticing. But they - more accurately, you and I - are not necessarily the only target consumer.

If fans want the Rancor, I hope they step up and buy the Rancor. I also wouldn't be surprised if some fans, after a few very large toy purchases, are asking questions like "where would this go?" and "am I buying this because I want it, or because I don't have it?" Or with the buzz around the Omicron Variant, maybe some people will stare down 2022 and say "well, I'm probably not going anywhere fun, let's buy a Rancor." We have a week to find out what may happen, and seeing the numbers climb over the last week - even double-digits - it could still happen. (I believe that it'll probably make the 9,000. And if it makes the 9,000 with 3-4 days to go, it will hit 20,000. That or Hasbro could just extend it, like they did with Unicron when he wasn't making it.)





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It's exceptionally rare that any IP holder put out a statement acknowledging something is dead - usually a toy license just lapses or a show just never airs. But hey, Empire Magazine had an interview with Kathleen Kennedy and she confirms that Rangers of the New Republic is a) dead and b) a show that would've focused on Cara Dune. (Which was always the assumption, but as there's a plural and we know at least 2 other possible rangers, there was some hope it could have been retooled.) The excerpt also indicates that some of the plans are likely to be absorbed into something else - which makes sense, as The Mandalorian and its spin-offs seem to be intertwined. You can probably keep a good chunk of the costumes and worldbuilding, just plug in another character with a journey and my goodness this does sound like some sort of factory doesn't it?

We're about one month away from Boba Fett getting his own show, which I assume is going to be pretty good with a lot of fans being angry that this version of the character talks too much and doesn't have his helmet on at all. The 1990s comics did quite a few stories without you ever seeing his face and him acting more as a shadow, something scaring other characters into talking about him. He really didn't have to do anything to achieve his Expanded Universe infamy, but at least he got to be pretty great on The Mandalorian last season.

Right now we're expecting the Andor show, the Obi-Wan show, and more Mandalorian over the next year - plus more Bad Batch. But what of movies? I hope we're done with them, but I probably won't get my wish. (I'd be very happy to never deal with another midnight madness.)

Anyway. Masters of the Universe: Revelation ended well (Danny Trejo cameo!), I'm enjoying Cowboy Bebop on Netflix as its own sort of weird new live-action thing, Shang-Chi was great, and I'm watching Seinfeld for the first time in a very long time. Lots of good stuff to enjoy for those with the time to make the most out of a ridiculous bounty of stuff to watch between now and the next coming of Unicron, which is what I think I heard on the news.

--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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