Q&A: Star Wars at HasLab, Limited Run Games, and also What's New?

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 19, 2021

1. HasLab time frames. It looks like Star Wars projects are on a 2-year cycle: we were offered the Barge in 2018, delivered in 2019. Razor Crest in 2020, hopefully ships in 2021.

How much effort would it be for Hasbro to offer projects more frequently? Say, Star Wars in January, Transformers in June, GI Joe in December, so we could have more toys sooner?

Then we'd have 1 Star Wars project every year, and Hasbro would have more opportunities to dig deep into the fans' wish lists.

Marketing isn't free, and HasLab offers competition with the hundreds of other collector products Hasbro does every year. Also, space is a real concern.

While we did get the Razor Crest campaign last year, we've got a Rancor due shortly this year - that's one a year. They may do another one next year. I'd say it's too much to ask fans for $300-$600 every year a full year or more before the item leaves Asia. We're not a bank - and Hasbro is undoubtedly losing a lot of orders and customers doing their business this way. But if they want to make ridiculous stuff while assuming minimal risk, this is it.

If Hasbro were to do a giant $600 Vintage toy every year, it would undoubtedly cut into the sales of other items - as it is, I'm unsure I want a Rancor for $200-$300 (I'm guessing), as well as a $200 Victory Saber. I'll probably cave when I see final color images, but it's a lot to keep track of and it's not necessarily fun. I like the Barge because I have it out and I play with it - new 3 3/4-inch figures tend to visit the Barge upon arrival. There's room. Right now my Desert Rat Matt Doughty figure is hanging out with the Healey Made Raider and the usual gang of Jabba thugs. It's lovely.

So I can't speak for y'alls, but I got more interests than Hasbro - video games, records, Playmobil - and some of you guys are LEGO fans too. It all adds up, we're getting older and some of us have mortgages, kids, ex-wives, and so forth.

I am absolutely fine with HasLab doing something every 1-2 years, mostly because there's not that much I want and it looks like they're getting a little less ambitious. Marvel's giant figures are nice - short of making them simpler and cheaper (like Jakks did pull off 48-inch figures for $100) I doubt there's much different to do, short of a playset some day.

There are few Transformers holy grails to do outside traditional price points, and I'd argue Unicron makes a ton of sense while Victory Saber really doesn't. It's very expensive for a not-too-big toy, although the limited interest makes sense for HasLab. (Regardless, it'd probably have sold as a retail toy at a lower price point.)

G.I. Joe, who knows. All anybody is asking for is a new U.S.S. Flagg, and it'd have to be 3 3/4-inch scale if they did it - and it'd still probably be $1200-$1500. Maybe they could do a Terrordrome or something, but I doubt there's much reason to do anything too fancy for the 6-inch guys. Maybe a MOBAT or a HISS if they aren't planning main line releases.

Star Wars is the one that matters, and at this point what I want are obscure figures (Droids cartoon guys, please and thank you) or a Death Star or Star Destroyer. If it's not a big playset I don't know that I'll care - a bigger Rancor Monster with no hope of a playset for him or other figures for him to eat seems boring. Even if it's the best Rancor ever and perfectly made, how exciting is it really? It probably won't fit in most display cabinets or shelves either, so it's hard to absorb all this big stuff. I had to buy special furniture for Unicron - this is not sustainable for any collector. We can't expect to fit a Barge-sized item in our homes every year.



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2. I know you're a big vintage video game collector as well as toys; have you been collecting Limited Run Games' releases (Star Wars and other)? I love the various line-inspired cards and packaging, but just don't have the space personally to buy them all.

I kind of wish Limited Run Games could be Unlimited Run, and just keep pumping stuff out as demand required, but it's a risky proposition when you're dealing with a market that's mostly old, weird dads. If you're asking for me to vouch for them, they've done right by me every time so far. But delays are a real thing, so prepared to be patient. They're supposed to be shipping my copy of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 very soon!

I've bought some, one of my favorite video game collector people works with them (HI JEREMY) but I haven't bought any of their Star Wars stuff - I don't collect PC stuff, and I have the originals (with boxes) of all the Nintendo stuff they've reissued so far. (Maybe I'll regret not buying Switch reissues.)

When it comes to collecting reissues of anything, there's a big question of "why?" It's not the original, so it's a copy - and sometimes it's worth having a copy. When it comes to records, as long as it's mastered well, I'd much rather have a record I can plop on a turntable. Sometimes the mixes are different, or you can hear things you couldn't quite pick up when you heard it on the radio - like this little gem. Video games occupy a weird place in that ROMs are widely available for many, and in some cases things may look better on a PC than on actual hardware. (I was very surprised how good N64 F-Zero X looks on a computer, for example.) With the advent of ROM carts and hacked Analogue firmware, you can replicate the original gaming experience on actual hardware too - so the question is, why buy a reissue?

I'm very fond of buying Limited Run stuff for download-only games (Blaster Master Zero) and games for dead consoles (Jay & Silent Bob' Mall Brawl), and I'm not opposed to picking up reissues of things I just plain can't afford (hi, Shantae.) But that's me - some people aren't even interested in playing the games, they just want a box to put on a shelf, or paw through the contents. And that's OK too - LRG does great stuff and the quality, at least of everything I've bought, has been exceptional. It is expensive in some cases, but given the rising secondary market prices of old video games (and, I must say, shockingly high prices on some old comic books from Dark Horse) reissues do hold an important place in that it lets collectors scratch the itch without spending hundreds of dollars on something they couldn't have due to when they were born.

I thought what they did for Star Wars games from the 1990s - packaging similar to the Kenner Power of the Force and Shadows of the Empire cardbacks - was very clever. But a) I wouldn't want to open them, and b) I hate some of those games something fierce. I love the NES to bits - 8 bits, in fact - but I remember playing Star Wars when I got it for my birthday in 1991 and saying "...this isn't very good." But I'm glad they're reissuing older games because it's important to keep these things in circulation so new generations can enjoy them, and for fiends for old hardware - like me! - there are some things we missed that are great to pick up for reasonable prices. But mostly I love Limited Run Games putting out stuff that otherwise wouldn't exist in physical form, mostly because download-only software is terrifying to me. We've already seen numerous video streaming services shut down, and Microsoft killed its store for the original Xbox, plus Nintendo ends support for its older consoles too. Eventually, if you don't own a hardcopy (or pirated copies) of your favorite games, they may well be lost forever. Even though what they're doing today is mostly for weird collectors, I have little doubt they're doing something good to help the preservation of software down the road too.




3. There have been so many re-releases in [The Vintage Collection from Hasbro], and the coverage is so scattered, especially with the figures announced and then pre-ordered so far ahead of time, that it's hard to recall which figures are totally new sculpts (like Bib Fortuna or Lobot, right?) and which are re-releases or just-slightly changed (even if the figure hasn't been on a TVC card before). It would be super-handy if you could put an asterisk or something on the new sculpts in your checklists (and maybe a different symbol on re-cards...). Wasn't Teebo released before somewhere (Kmart set maybe?)? Isn't it confusing to call most of the Walmart ones "New Releases" ("Section III" of the newsletter)?

From 1995-2000 I used to do an all-text Star Wars email newsletter - which I revived earlier this year as a way of keeping tabs on news and updates for people who don't keep up with social media or feel like watching Hasbro's 40-minute videos. Click here for Adam's Star Wars Newsletter. Yes, that's what we called it back then - and so far that page is all 1990s-era vintage graphics.

Short answer: probably not possible.

So, can we call out new versus reissues? Yes and no - there's a problem in that fans can't agree on what constitutes "new." Heck, even in your very question, you get right to the heart of my point - are the Walmart ones new releases? I'd say that they are - the Carbonized ones are metallic repaints, but they're new and distinctive. The 50th anniversary of Lucasfilm figures, and the Clone Wars ones, all have some changes made to them - even if minor - and it's really tough for me to make the call of "this is new" and "this is a reissue" until I get some of these guys in my hand. I thought the 2021 Bespin Escape Leia was going to be a very partial retool of 2010 Hoth Leia... and it's extensive. There's so much new here, it's a new figure - but none of us guessed that from the early mock-up renders.

I'll be highlighting what's new (and not) as we get to figure reviews, but I can't be sure exactly how new a figure is until I can get it here to compare to another sample. With so many figures getting paint face-lifts, there could be a new head sculpt in there too - and it's not obvious until I can put it next to the previous release. I can look at Barriss Offee and tell you immediately that her extensive costume recoloring makes her a new figure, but looking at Aayla Secura I can't say for sure or not - and since so many of these figures presell out in 30 seconds, it's not like you (or in many cases, I) can even order the figures we want in the first place.

(So far this year - of the ones I wanted - I haven't been able to get Walmart.com's ARC and ARC Trooper Commander figures, nor Target's retro Stormtrooper prototype, nor Walmart's Shock Trooper, nor Clone Wars Obi-Wan or Echo from Target, to name a few. It's frustrating - I haven't been able to get R2-RNBW either! I've missed enough stuff in the last few years where completism is pretty much over, unless my hunch is correct and we're in a collecting bubble that'll burst in a few years and - for a short time - I may be able to pick up stuff I've missed for fair prices. As much as I hate to say it, right now it seems the best thing we can do is just buy anything we think we might want - and flip it later if it turns out we were wrong.



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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.

For those of you like me who will continue to behave as mole people for the foreseeable future, Disney+ will be plopping the entire Star Wars Visions series this week. And I'm not sure what to make of it. It's the kind of thing my best pal from college and I would shoot the breeze about for years, but he passed last year, and as an anime stalwart he'd have dug seeing it. Well, hopefully you'll watch it and hopefully it'll be awesome so we can all love it just a little more. We all still miss you, Zac.

This week, we saw tickets go on sale for San Diego Comic-Con: Special Edition and we're just under two weeks away from New York Comic Con. It is my understanding there will be very few exclusive toys for the events, as many will be moving online, which is sort of a good thing for the end consumer. I am not particularly fond of convention-only toys - debuts, sure - but generally speaking I want to live in a world where anyone who wants to can sell all the toys they possibly can. Nobody wins when somebody goes home sad - so selling things online is good, and I would love it if they all just plain made everything possible to get without having to go to eBay because you didn't want to get a hotel room, a plane ticket, and a paid day off to get an admittedly awesome action figure somewhere. At this time I'm not aware of anything (that matters to me) on my collecting radar being sold only at an in-person event in 2021, but there will be plenty of neat things in the coming month that will be sold online.

There's a lot to look forward to in 2022, assuming all the rumors are true and the schedules are all kept. We can expect more new action figures, multiple new streaming series, and if we're all really good there will be a new Avatar movie in theaters for Christmas that I get to ignore. I can hope! Anyway, I'm excited for our new cartoons this week. For which there are, as far as I know, absolutely no figural collectibles of any kind planned for this or any future year as of yet.

--Adam Pawlus

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