Q&A: Star Wars Licenses and Japanese Stuff

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 2, 2022

1. In a hypothetical situation where Hasbro did not get the Star Wars license renewed, what company/companies would you want to take the license and why? Personally, I think splitting it up between companies would be interesting. Hasbro's Black Series have been great, but I think having someone like Mattel or Spin Master do a 3.75 basic line would be pretty cool, given their Jurassic and Batman stuff.


If we lived in a world and someone else got the license, it wouldn't be pretty - look at Jurassic and Batman. You don't get a lot of humans or vehicles in Jurassic, but you get a few, and a lot of repaints, and a lot of dinosaurs. And a lot of dinosaur repaints, and new molds are hard to find. The grass isn't greener - it's the same deal. Spin Master does a good job on Batman but the vehicles are few and the playsets are skinny. I know this is not the answer you want, but if you like the Vintage 3 3/4-inch format it's probably best that Hasbro keeps it. Mattel has done a good job with its Jurassic humans, but each line has its pros and cons - Mattel does a good, small line that's decent and make good toys. Hasbro does more expensive figures - and more of them - with tons more articulation. No matter what, some fan is going to be cranky about it.

I'd say Hasbro is doing a great job with 6-inch, as realistic consumer-priced human figures go nobody does it better. Sure, Super7 does good stuff - but it's $55. McFarlane does good stuff too. But who wants to start over at a different scale? Presumably if Hasbro lost the licenses, who ever got them would start 3 3/4-inch from scratch - which could be good or bad. If they decided to do dedicated Disney+ lines with all-new kid characters and vehicles with rocket-firing gear and nonsense, I'd be very happy. But not if it wasn't 3 3/4-inch.

Since Galactic Heroes seems dead (and I haven't bought into Mission Fleet beyond one set) I'd be curious to see what Playmobil or Imaginext did with the kid stuff. 3-inch kid figures from either brand would be a lot of fun - Playmobil's stuff is durable and replacement parts are available for years and years, but it's expensive. Even if it's just Best-of Classic or New Stuff Only, I'd be into it. Imaginext could probably also make a line for the ages, assuming kids buy into it. Right now none of Hasbro's lines - and very little in LEGO - offers much of a "collection," it's mostly a grab bag, which represents a lot of the saga (that's good!) but if anyone wants to start and have two figures from the same scene together, that's probably not going to happen (that's bad.)

I would love to see someone else get the Retro license - not because Hasbro isn't doing a good job, but because 6-7 figures per year is slow. In the old days, a slow year was 9 figures. Usually you got about a dozen or more. It would be nice to see it treated as an ongoing concern - not a "special thing." Why do 3 waves of 6-7 figures over 3 years when you can do 6 waves, cycling in old and new figures? (Stormtroopers are always in fashion. Bring back Darth Vader and Boba Fett.) If Hasbro could just bump it up to 12 - I'm not asking for the world here! - I'd be very happy, and I'd be happy to see old Kenner figures return on variant cardbacks with the latest TV or movie logo on it. You know, like the old days. (Would I buy them all? Maybe, who knows.)

After four decades, the the thought of another reboot - even a new scale from Hasbro - makes me wince. I don't want to start over again, unless it's going to be an existing, successful toy format (retro Kenner, Playmobil, Imaginext) that is going to be supported a very long time. I assume Mattel would do even more high-priced repaint exclusives, while Spin Master would be a very good line - but very small. Playmates would probably start a new (albeit awesome) form factor. I don't know that the alternate timeline where Hasbro shrugged off Star Wars would result in happier collectors, unless they quit and just enjoyed what they had. (Which, as we all know, is impossible.)



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2. Thoughts on the Target exclusive SH Figuarts Karre and Am figures from Visions? What does this indicate for the future of "legit" import figures at big box retailers? And how do you think Hasbro's 6 inch figures stack up against Figuarts and Mafex?

The only thing Hasbro's 6 inch line has done for me is get my toe into imports. The Black Series face sculpts and articulation at launch were awful. And while they're slowly catching up I'm mostly using Hasbro's figures as set dressing and background. In 8 years of hording all my Amazon points and using them for import figures I've got every general release for not completely insane prices... Anywho my thinking is this: if I'm gonna pretend to have the time, space and cash to collect at the 1:12 scale I'm going for the bestestest figures I can find... I know this isn't an advice column, but am I wrong?


Collectors are all different - some want the very best and are willing to pay for it, and some want a decent priced product. I'm more of the latter. When I see $50 (or higher) imports, I just don't even start with it. Some look amazing! But do I want to spend $50 for a figure when I buy dozens (hundreds) of figures in a line? Not at all. But for those who only buy a few, those other lines are great. Buy one Luke, it's awesome. Buy a Mando, it's great. And maybe you'll be happy with a figure every couple of months!

I'm glad they're making some Visions stuff, but I thought the Karre and Am segment wasn't one I loved - and the whole series just reminded me how much I liked watching anime in the 1990s and early 2000s. A lot of the Visions episodes are good, but since they seem to be grasping to capture the spirit of other series (and Star Wars) I realized I was much happier rewatching The Irresponsible Captain Tylor, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Cowboy Bebop. (And I'll be rewatching Martian Successor Nadesico soon.)

That isn't to say those figures aren't good - for those who stick with another format or aren't already embedded in an existing format, it's great! And those who buy them tell me they're great - but like anything, some sculpts are better than others, and when only one of the many figure lines offers the figure you want, it's moot. You buy what you can, or you don't get anything. (If MAFEX put out Vlix tomorrow, yes, I would buy it. JusToys could return with Bend-Ems and I would buy that Vlix.)

"Bestest" is a hard thing to measure, because the MAFX/RAH/whatever that was awesome 3 years ago may get leapfrogged by Hasbro. Remember when Hallmark's ornaments looked better than Kenner's figures in the 1990s? That era's over. Hasbro continues to improve its stuff and offers the widest character selection over time - for realistic, human figures - so I like those. I bet a lot of the imports will be amazing today, but when Hasbro comes up with some other decent technical improvement and sells them for half the price, it sometimes swings the other way. I guess what I'm saying is until you're happy with what you already own, there will always be something better just around the corner.





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The Book of Boba Fett hit last week and I would say the first episode is on par with Solo: A Star Wars Story, but I'm getting the creeping sense I might not want to rewatch it. It looks good, was cast well, has some great droids and cameos, and tells you nothing you don't already know from having read old books or wiki pages. It's largely empty calories. For those who have seen the trailers, there are shots of a post-Tusken, pre-re-armored Boba in his jumpsuit entering what appears to be Tosche Station. This means that there will be even more flashback episodes, meaning we're going to see a lot of spinning-of-wheels that won't drive forward the story a whole heck of a lot. I'm not terribly interested in Boba Fett's recovery as a story, at all. He's fine. We know he's fine. Let's just see what he's going to do with his new buddies, please and thank you, I don't need to see how he clawed his way into black robes before he got his armor back. We've also seen additional footage of Board Room Fett talking about how he plans to run the underworld, which has me more than a little concerned that we may leave this season with little more than a showcase of cool aliens and maybe a few fights.

The pilot episode would be a great comic book, much like how Solo: A Star Wars Story probably would have also been great game cut scenes or a print project of its own. The Mandalorian opened with an incredible bar fight, followed by a weird cab hailing sequence, which was followed by a sea creature fighting a space ship, that brought us to Carl Weathers, who sent us to Werner Herzog, who sent us to Nick Nolte, who in turn took us to Taika Waititi and a little green guy all in about the same amount of time. It's probably not fair to compare, but so far The Book of Boba Fett looks like it's running behind with a lot of ground to make up if it wants to be more than something derisively sneered at as mere "content."

The Mandalorian came out the gate strong, with a dense show packed with action on multiple planets packed with new (yet familiar) faces every few minutes. (I am befuddled by anybody who didn't like it.) The Book of Boba Fett was mostly on one planet, but we had one most excellent setpiece - you'll know it when you see it - mixed in with what amounts to at least the fourth on-screen introduction to Boba Fett after the Holiday Special, The Empire Strikes Back, and Attack of the Clones... and the season one tease, a season two tease, and a full-blown introductory appearance on The Mandalorian. If there's one thing I absolutely neither need nor want is anyone explaining who Boba Fett is or where he came from - all of those stories are already on Disney+.

Love it or hate it, good or bad, the show was shot well, costumed better, cast amazingly, and I could probably point out 20-30 things I would love to buy an action figure of just from the first episode. I have to assume the design team truly loves their job, that the photographers and directors are having an absolute blast playing with all this stuff, and everything looks pretty spectacular on camera. I look forward to the art book.

--Adam Pawlus

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