Q&A: Star Wars Lines Aren't Always Huge, Face Painting, and Random Updates

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 26, 2020

1. I REALLY love that Hasbro is using new head sculpts and photo-real printing to give us updated versions of human hero characters (especially from the Original Trilogy), so that our hero figures look great next to the newer alien/droid/helmet-wearing figures that look WAY better than most older versions (like the new TVC Rogue One Stormtrooper).

I've noticed that Han, Tatooine Luke, and Leia (non-ceremony) from ANH are all highly-iconic versions of our OT heroes that have not yet had this upgrade. And I've noticed the same for Endor versions of Han, Luke, and Leia. My question is just, do you think these are likely upgrades over the next year or two? I feel like OT heroes (or anything OT) still sells very well in TVC, so I would assume Hasbro will keep plowing through hero upgrades until they're all done, but do you have any insight on this?


Hasbro has moved from "let's make a lot of cool new stuff" to "let's focus on core characters and remakes." The "conversation" has resulted in zero proper animated The Clone Wars figures, but we are seeing improved face deco and some new heads for the main characters - if these are the farewell tour assortments, it's a decent way to go out.

You'll probably see new versions of those main characters again and again for as long as Hasbro has the license, particularly now, when they've got more incentive than ever to keep selling remakes as that seems to be what's working for them. As to how well it's selling, it's tough to say - when we don't see things rot in store, it can tough to tell what Hasbro is sitting on in their warehouses.



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2. I Just curious, did Hasbro actually say they were "holding off 75% of the product" for E9 until after the movie came out?

I seem to remember hearing this, and people are referring to it in discussions, but was it an actual Hasbro quote?

No, the plan was always to keep the line more or less as you saw it. It was never some big giant line plan. A couple of items drop off for every film - some before you learn about them, and some after.

The plan for most of these Disney-era Star Wars lines were for most of the product to hit before theatrical release, with things generally coming to a close when home video begins. This is very different than how it was 10-15 years ago, when toy companies played up home video as a second major push with new product and tons of new eyeballs. Blame short attention spans and increased choice through streaming services, I guess. It's not like a kid buys a DVD and watches it 100 times anymore.

I was in more than a few meetings about this kind of thing - can't reveal too much, it'd make for a fun story - and what you saw is pretty much exactly what was planned. Triple Force Friday as a capital-e Event was always a big plan, the Hasbro product is pretty much as-planned. There was never a plan that I heard any hubbub about for more 2019 Hasbro The Mandalorian and Fallen Order stuff, and this was the Ep9 plan for everything else pretty much. There's no lost kid line that made it far enough along to warrant that kind of discussion, there were no more vehicles, there weren't any fancy exclusives, and the general feeling is that 3 3/4-inch as a kid thing is dead. Wrapped in plastic. My heart broke for this and other reasons the day this was relayed to me.

Should Disney, Hasbro, and Lucasfilm renegotiate - and since the deal expires this year, such things are possible - it's not unthinkable that the 3 3/4-inch kiddie line could get carved off and handed to another toy maker. Lanard's Alien range has a hit:miss ratio not too far off from the 2019 Star Wars 3 3/4-inch line from Hasbro. Super7, Funko, Spin Master, and Mattel have all done interesting things with 3 3/4-inch human figures lately to varying degrees of success. If Hasbro's done with it specifically as a kid line, I hope it goes to someone who will treat it like Lanard does its licenses. Decent quality, wide availability, no collector bull. Just make stuff and make sure we can get it, even if it's a small line, and I'll be happy. No exclusives, no chase pieces, just glorious gift sets and off-model colors.

...seriously, how amazingly happy would I be to see Boba Fett and Darth Vader in odd colors (not unlike the 1979 Cantina aliens) today? You can't dazzle me with authenticity anymore, but you can certainly appeal to my sense of novelty and low price points.





Oh, and if you're still reading this? If you're inclined and have a dollar, please feel free to support the Patreon, which pays for things like hosting, computer repairs, and so forth. The home office had some massive appliance breakages and if you've been considering pledging at the $1 a month level, and you've enjoyed the last 24-25 years of this nonsense, I can say it would be appreciated.

Who says life isn't interesting? A week and change ago, the entire server was taken down for a few days because of a vague complaint from our host, which the tech support crew did not entirely understand either. This past week, the phones and internet all went down for over a day. If I didn't know better, I'd say someone is trying to stop me from reaching my 25th anniversary of writing about Star Wars toys on the internet - that'd be August 1, for those wanting to send presents - but we just plain keep going.

So what's new for you?

Star Trek: Picard premiered this week and I'd go as far as to say that it's good. A show where characters putter around on Earth is something I've always wanted to see, mostly because all we got to see was Joseph Sisko's restaurant and various Starfleet installations. Future Boston? OK, I'm sold. If you watched the show back in the 1990s - and I can assure you, it's OK to be a fan Stars, both Wars and Trek - this is probably something you won't dislike. I'm pretty generous with my fandom love, even if something isn't as I would have preferred it I can usually find something to enjoy in it. (Plus or minus the Armin Tamzarian ending of a recent Trek episode and most of Ep9 and a lot of Resistance.) The Picard show is a different animal, and that's probably where all these old genre things need to go. Lou Grant's show wasn't a comedy, and doing something different doesn't really hurt anybody. It's a big world out there.

One of the notable differences about the current space landscape is that the show itself, rather than the merchandise, is the product. The idea of Star Trek and Star Wars effectively being paid television would have been unthinkable 30 years ago, when you'd buy a movie ticket or turn in to a fuzzy over-the-air broadcast for entertainment and then hobble down to the toy store to pick up a figure or a ship or a blaster or a phaser. CBS and Disney are going to get $7-$10 out of you even if you don't want the toy - and it would not surprise me if that's the goal. You don't need media domination of you can slow-drip a few bucks out of everybody just to tune in, and with what may be good (but small) audiences paying every month the licensing revenues may not be as consequential. They got your money, you're a smaller audience, and you probably have too many toys already anyway. I don't know if it will last, but I bet a lot of comic fans had similar feelings when their pull lists were as long as your arm. The transaction has happened, you don't need to bring more stuff into this.

2020 is shaping up to be a good year for streaming, plus or minus a delay or two. We'll probably wind up with new Mandalorian adventures, at least one or two more whole (by streaming standards) season of Star Trek shows, and goodness knows what else. Genre movies don't seem to be going anywhere too interesting (I don't have high hopes for this year's super hero slate) during a year without a major December genre movie as we wade through a big political year prior to the return of one of the biggest single not-yet-a-franchises. Avatar 2 is still coming in 2021, and I can't begin to tell you how disinterested I am in it.

The Obi-Wan show is now set for 2021 - or later - and has reportedly been slashed from 6 episodes to 4, despite all the scripts needing to be tossed out and rewritten. So with that in mind, I'd say just about anything can happen between now and when the show does - or doesn't - start arriving on Disney+. Until then, you can take solace in the fact that the finale of Star Wars Resistance aired a few hours ago and you probably haven't even watched a single episode yet.

--Adam Pawlus

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