Q&A: Star Wars HasLab, HasLab Star Wars, and Pre-Order Windows

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 7, 2021

1. So what's the deal with pre-orders being so early these days? I mean, I just ordered the next retro wave from Entertainment Earth, which has become my go-to source in the past few years. I was really surprised to see that the shipping date is like next August. Ten months away! The date was so far out, in fact, that I figured it had to be a mistake. That doesn't seem to be the case. While I can accept long commitment times for a Haslab item, this doesn't seem like the best development for collectors, retailers or Hasbro. Extremely delayed gratification for collectors isn't good for the health of the business overall. What's the deal here?

Longer delivery times has the potential of an upside. If Hasbro's partners leave pre-order windows open longer, perhaps Hasbro can build more things to order - which would certainly be handy for me getting the things I want. Remember: small quantities of these items will trickle out earlier, so someone may find a handful of units. Don't panic. Don't feed the scalpers. More are on the way.

You may have been hearing about rolling black-outs in China - that's definitely part of it. With factory closures due to COVID, unprecedented demand for product, and lots and lots of other projects being made by each factory (not all of which are necessarily - I believe - Hasbro), delays are inevitable. Heck, Target is posting pre-orders without an ETA - I have zero idea when my Droids cartoon figures are coming, and the HasLab Victory Saber set that just ended in October never put an ETA on the page for supporters prior to its conclusion. That's really, really weird. While I am privy to the issues disrupting some items, well, you know how it is. The good news is you won't be left high and dry if you're patient, vigilant, and can wait a bit for your pre-orders.

With the retro The Mandalorian figures we expect some may show up before July - but July is a guesstimate when new orders placed as of the day you wrote this might ship. (Dates change a lot.) And July is still just an estimate - we don't know how long things will take on the boat. Some will show up earlier! But not all. It used to be 4-6 weeks (30-40ish days.) Now it might take over 90 because of the delays at the ports and the high demand for containers. Next summer it might be better, and it might be worse. With the factory, the container availability, the vessels, the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles, the local truckers, and so on and so forth, it's hard to know precisely when an item will arrive. Even domestic shipping partners have been shockingly slow (and also very normal) for stuff I've been ordering in September/October of this year.

As much as we want to wrestle our way out of it with logic, it's not like Hasbro can do much about it - stuff is getting delayed a bunch, a lot of existing pre-orders are rarely showing up on time. Hasbro Pulse just pushed a bunch of Transformers exclusives into next year, after delaying them from coming out last month. In the press, you've no doubt read a lot of stories about shortages for the holidays of toys being expected, which is going to impact most if not all toys made overseas.



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2. So, the Haslab sky striker revealed all its stretch goal rewards from the start, but the rancor has its all kept close to the best. Why? Is it because they are afraid that they'll be laughed at because they suck? Tier 1: the bone Luke jammed in its mouth? Tier 2: the gammorean hand you can stick between its teeth? Tier 3: the vintage 5 poa Luke figure that came with the rancor of the potf era?

I hope that the rancor is going to be beaten badly by the Joes in this side by side project comparison, so that Hasbro changed their presentation approach.

The Joe project is arguably more interesting - it's an updated version of a classic popular vehicle that is tied in to the holiest of grails, the U.S.S. Flagg. It comes with up to six retro-style figures - and given that Fun Productions charged $20 or more for its new exclusive O-ring Joes with the conventions and fan clubs, it's a pretty enticing deal. If HasLab put up a Mini-Rig vehicle with 6 new retro collection Star Wars guys - even repaints - for $120-$150, I'd buy it, no complaints and no questions asked. New things for retro collectors are underserved, so this vehicle is particularly exciting. I gave up collecting Joes but I can see why this is exciting for people that don't already have a complete collection. Imagine if Hasbro put out a revised Tatooine Skiff with 1980s Kenner-style Barada, Nikto, Pote Snitkin, Jedi Luke, ROTJ-style Chewbacca, and Slave Leia. On one hand, you may have a skiff or two, and some of those figures. But not all, and not in that style.

It's also worth noting that G.I. Joe fans aren't given a lot to buy right now. Super7 helps build out the action figure business, but all of Hasbro's exclusive and non-exclusive Joe product doesn't amount to a lot of money. Asking $230 for a vehicle isn't outrageous, the market is hungry for stuff. Hasbro Star Wars fans may be asked for $350 for pre-orders nearly every 1-2 months - most of which are repaints or updates of things the current batch of collectors may have had more than one chance to buy in recent years.

On the other hand the Rancor Monster is big and without a new pack-in figure, is arguably skippable. A Gamorrean Guard repack isn't terribly enticing. Collectors may be missing missing existing big stuff like Jabba, the Tauntaun, the Wampa, the Speeder Bike, Rey's Speeder, and so on - so missing another giant creature won't be a huge deal. If Hasbro did include a new (or first-on-sale pre-order) of a figure in the box that'd help a lot. Some of the stretch goals have been iffy - like Victory Saber had key, important parts of the toy (like weapons) as a stretch goal. The Razor Crest had the escape pod, which was in the very first released renders, as a stretch goal. It's a little silly, and I assume Hasbro kind of knows what will sell.

I don't know how they pick what tiers to reduce and when - but part of it is to get more media attention. The Skystriker campaign lays it all on the table - in color, with pictures. The Razor Crest and Victory Saber and Rancor kicked off with greyscale renders and mystery tiers, meaning they were planning on going back for multiple news releases to get more attention for the item. I assume this means Hasbro knows the Skystriker is a slam-dunk, but it's just a hunch. If I were a dealer, I'd see it as an amazing opportunity - $230 for a jet ain't bad. But I assume that $230 jet will also mean each of those figures will sell for $40-$50 if someone split it up, and then they can sell the jet separately for $200 or more too.

I can pretty much guarantee the Rancor will eventually get funded, and that a lot of fans won't put down the money until "we're making this, and you're going to miss out if you don't buy today" stage kicks in. I personally don't care if this item exists or not -- but if it exists? I'd like one. I also want a display stand for it because I don't believe for a second that Hasbro can accurately predict weight distribution on a toy of this size if its 3 3/4-inch figures struggle to find a good balanced pose.




3. The 6" Boss is up for preorder at GameStop. Can you look in your crystal ball and see when and where the rest of Republic Commando will be released? I don't want to miss out on a complete squad.

I assume the rest of the boys of Delta Squad are inevitable, but there are no known dates as to when they'll go on sale, or if they'll be produced. I'd call them all a safe bet - if GameStop decides they don't want them, other retailers would happily carry them - but Hasbro sometimes spreads a set out over months or even years. (See also, The Bad Batch. Vehicles released before pilots. Studio Series incomplete Dinobots and the long stretch between movie Devastator's components.)

I would expect regular releases at GameStop every few months to a year. With only Boss so far, it's hard to predict when the next one will come, but with Hasbro doing several announcements a month it's a safe bet there will be another soon.



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With three active HasLab items, it's obvious that toy collecting has entered a bubble phase. The 1990s fans that read ToyFare, Tomart's Action Figure Digest, and Lee's Toy Review are middle-aged (or older) with some cash to spend given no conventions and no vacations, plus new fans are getting a crack at some pretty amazing items. The Rancor isn't too exciting, but a $400 Proton Pack Replica and a Skystriker with a box of new O-Ring Joes? That's enticing. (Considering what G.I. Joe Fan Club and Convention exclusives used to cost, I hope to see more things like this.)

With Star Wars, picking a good item can be a struggle. While I'd love to see a wave of retro collection figures or a new vehicle, Hasbro seems to be looking to maximize its dollars and to do that, you need something big with a broad appeal. I don't know that the Rancor Monster is it (cool as it may be, it was killed off fast) and unless they're planning to drop one in The Book of Boba Fett (that is a rumor going around) it just seems like an odd choice. Given Boba won't debut December 29, there's no chance of you knowing if you wished you got this one until the show is over, sort of like you didn't know they'd blow up the Razor Crest until after the crowdfunding ended.

Last year fans were griping about the choice of the Razor Crest, which I thought was a perfect pick - old fans don't have it yet. New fans see it on TV and want it. It goes with the new figures you're buying, and as a bonus you get some figures in the box in case you missed them at retail (or online.) There's no other similar product that would come close to it, as opposed to the Rancor which Kenner and Hasbro have made several times and this one doesn't seem to offer much beyond its size. HasLab wants to make something, but vehicles are tricky as they're often too big, too small, or too niche to be a good fit. Jedi Starfighters and A-Wings could be done as (expensive) retail items, but the Slave I or anything bigger than the X-Wing Fighter could be too big for a lot of collectors to absorb and display. (And before you say "they should do more 3 3/4-inch items," we already got two, it's time for 6-inch fans to get something.)

So far Hasbro hasn't done a great job building out the 6-inch line as a real collection - each movie has the top-tier characters, with only the original Star Wars and arguably The Empire Strikes Back replicating most of the old Kenner figures from each batch of vintage toys. (And they're still missing a bunch.) Playsets are prohibitively expensive, vehicles are increasingly costly, and trying to come up with something that will fit in a collection without requiring special room considerations is difficult.

If it were up to me - and it's not - I would hope The Black Series tackles something like the AT-ST in its next HasLab pursuit. Why? One, it can probably fit in the Ikea DETOLF cabinet. Two, it has a small physical footprint. Three, you can throw an AT-ST driver in it on a special package, and also have one in the main line. Four, depending on which version of it you do, you can remold it for variants down the road. For example, you could do an AT-ST Raider for HasLab, and an AT-ST for the main line later - or vice-versa. Even at $200, an AT-ST could be big and impressive - and you could throw in Ewoks, Stormtroopers, Han, or others as decent pack-ins. There's also a diorama-builder element in there too, as some fans will want two or three. It would also have fewer moving parts than the Rancor, but still may require a stand for support depending on how the articulation is designed. (I don't know how many of you got the Rebels AT-DP, but with very little leg articulation I've found it to be one of the sturdiest walkers on two legs. Hasbro did a great job making a good toy that's cheap and sturdy.)

When it comes to The Black Series there's not a lot of big stuff I'd want - I'd consider a Cantina, but as of today we've just only got our second and third Cantina patrons this year after eight years of Greedo being all alone. Jabba's Palace has been devoid of his goons other than the Gamorrean Guard and Salacious Crumb up until just this year, too. Hasbro's incredibly shallow line has hundreds of figures, but very few of the kind that would make it exciting to start building scenes and dioramas around them. They're all very good, but a Cantina without Hammerhead isn't much of a cantina and a Rancor Pit without Oola or a trap door to throw Luke down seems like kind of a waste, too. It might be awesome, but it doesn't strike me as particularly fun.

Having said that - if anyone can make a custom Jabba's Palace floor that looks like the Rancor Pit grate, but just happens to fit the Ikea DETOLF shelf placement, I'd like to talk to you. Right now I'm hoping the Rancor fits on the floor of the DETOLF with one shelf removed, and if it does, having a grate above his head would be perfect. Please and thank you.

--Adam Pawlus

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