Q&A: Star Wars Mail-Ins and Old Professors

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 6, 2022

1. Any chance Hasbro might revisit their mail-away figure redemption program like they did before having to deal with Di$ney? Seems like a good way to get rid of those Landos, Reys, Greefs, and Leias clogging the pegs.


Never say never... except for this. It's probably never. Before Disney took over, Hasbro generally said that mail-in offers weren't a very good business proposition. Hasbro can just sell you a figure via Hasbro Pulse, or any of its exclusive partners. The main purpose for mail-in offers tends to be to clear old, dusty products off shelves. These aren't "buy 10 subs get the 11th free" things, this is "hey we need to come up with a way to give our retail partners some relief" promotions. And sometimes there was a nostalgia kick to it, but on the whole, it was a relic of the past. It's over. I couldn't even tell you the last mail-away figure offer from any toy company in recent memory. I'm sure there must have been one, or for which line, but I feel like it's been roughly a decade.

Given the high price of plastic, and the fact Hasbro often charged money for the figure and shipping in recent mail-ins, it's probably not worth their while to do. There are very few figures in stores around here - your mileage may vary - but it's usually 1-2 characters per store tops. It's not really a problem - it's not like the aisles we saw before. And where are you seeing any Rey or Leia figures? I haven't seen the Dark Side Rey in stores in ages, and the other costumes are long gone.

The amount of work involved for a redemption offer - fun as they are! - is kind of a waste. Sure, you buy your figures - but you have to get a form, and maybe stickers, and UPCs, and mail them away with an envelope and a stamp. People hate mailing things, too. Hasbro then has to hire people to go through tens of thousands of envelopes to verify they did indeed put the right things in. Someone has to go through hand-written forms to enter your name and address in a computer to mail you the figure. Someone has to sign and cash all those checks. A warehouse has to pick, pack, and ship all of those orders. Or they could just put it on Pulse, you enter a credit card order, and everything except pick/pack/ship is pretty much taken out of the loop.

Some mail-in offers make a lot of sense when you have a product and nowhere for it to go - the coins in 2007, or the Kenner-style rocket-firing Boba Fett in 2010 were both excellent uses of it. But they could also call any collector shop and say "Hey, want to sell this?" and the shop would likely say "yes." And nobody has to go through thousands of envelopes.

Having said all that, I'd be super-excited to see another Kellogg's cereal mail-away offer. Given that these things are at least ten bucks in stores now, I can't imagine it would ever happen.



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2. With the recent announcement of Hasbro renewing its license agreement with Lucasfilm, we learned that this will include revival of the Indiana Jones property.

I collected the 4" line when Crystal Skull was released and overall loved it. While the initial quality was at first a little dodgy, especially regarding quality of paint apps, the line greatly improved with release of each subsequent wave. Despite this, sales never really took off, product stagnated on shelves, and the line was eventually cancelled. Why do you believe this happened? While a 6" line seems inevitable given the scale's popularity for Star Wars, do you think Hasbro will revive the 4" line?


Only Hasbro knows for sure! Our last (and biggest) toy journey with Indy was a real mixed bag, with bad eye paint and iffy availability of non-launch products. Many of the Raiders and Crystal Skull figures were easy to get, but the bulk of later waves of action figures were things I rarely - or never - saw in stores.

If I were Hasbro, I'd only do Indiana Jones 3 3/4-inch as a convention or retailer exclusive. I'd also keep anything that wasn't the most awesome 6-inch Indy figure ever made in very limited quantities, mostly because I assume everybody's going to buy Indiana Jones for their dads for Father's Day. It could be a flash in the pan, but a very bright flash.

The full product range is an unknown right now - but if you look at other Hasbro properties, 3 3/4-inch figures aren't a priority. Star Wars is pretty light these days. There aren't any for Marvel outside of bagged figures in Walgreens. G.I. Joe is mostly reissues (with more gear.) They're not doing anything for Power Rangers or Fortnite or Ghostbusters or kid brands like PJ Masks, either. I would assume you won't see any Indiana Jones 3 3/4-inch figures unless someone finds the old tooling and decided to do "photoreal" reissues - which would be cool. But I doubt it.

Why did it flounder in 2008? No young blood. In many respects Indiana Jones is not unlike Ghostbusters, except more kids like Ghostbusters. I think they made too much product for the first two waves, and the then-new Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was not well-received by the kind of people who write about movies on the internet. Waves 1 and 2 had a reputation for terrible paint, and waves 3 and 4 were practically a de facto online exclusive. But the real problem is that this is not now nor has it ever been a movie for children. On some level, kids have to be into whatever it is for the revivals to succeed in a big way. Kids loved (and love) Star Wars - and Transformers, G.I. Joe, Power Rangers, Marvel, and so on. Every year a new crop of kids turns 4 or 5 and gets into this stuff for some reason. (OK, less so with Joe these days, but the original kids grew up and still love it.) Indiana Jones may be an iconic American movie hero, but he never got his due in the toy world of the 1980s - ergo, there's not much nostalgia to mine there. LEGO's line was excellent, but could be found in abundance on clearance in some markets an were generally easy to find.

It's the same reason Blade Runner will never take off as toys. (Collectibles, maybe - toys, no.) Great actor, visionary director, incredible film - but no kindergartener hears about it and goes "let me see that." Jason, Freddy, Aliens, and Predators had a tiny bit of that kid cachet - Terminator once did too. It's the stuff that got talked up on a school bus, and Indiana Jones is more for film buffs and adults than it is for kids or genre fans. Dr. Henry Jones Jr. is all about archaeology, kissing, and killing Nazis, few of which are concepts your typical 4-11 year olds demand from their entertainment.

It's also worth noting that Hasbro's big 3 3/4-inch renaissance declined around the time of Indiana Jones' demise. Marvel lines dwindled (we never got a 4-inch Guardians of the Galaxy), G.I. Joe started to ebb, even Star Wars had a few waves of figures that most Americans don't realize a) were made and b) only shipped in Europe. By 2013, other than a couple of odd Marvel releases, some G.I. Joe exclusives, and of course Star Wars, 3 3/4-inch was kind of done. (Thankfully Super7, Spin Master, and Mattel are doing some stuff today.) I would bank on Disney pushing for a lot of Indy merch from all of its partners, many of which who will probably sign up in hopes of getting their feet in the door for other licenses. (The same could happen with Willow on Disney+.) There will undoubtedly be stuff, but will it be a hit? Eh. It'll probably be a very exciting couple of waves.





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The Book of Boba Fett ends this week, and it's taken some neat turns. (You really should be caught up with this show if you're reading anything at this point.) The hard-left turn into The Mandalorian-style adventures was a real welcome surprise, but not entirely without warning. You may recall, before the show was announced we were told "the next chapter in The Mandalorian's story" - and not season 3, and not The Book of Boba Fett - was discussed in one of those Disney streaming summit speech things a year and change back. While woefully undermerchandised so far, it does show what Star Wars can be in the streaming era. There's no reason this can't be like the old comic books, zigging and zagging between stories that sometimes overlap and meet again down the road. Given what happened last week, and a couple weeks ago, the season (or series) finale this week could be almost anything. There are seemingly no rules on this show, and it's rare that an episode ends and it's almost impossible to guess who or what may be the focus of the new installment. It's bold. It'll be interesting to see how it holds up while we all wait for the next show.

Weirdly it feels like the toy roll-out has been kind of soft. The main character is in short supply despite plenty of lead time based on the costume from his previous appearances, the show itself is kind of hard to wrap your head around. As I write this, after six episodes, if you asked me if I liked it I'd say yes. If you asked me if it was good I'd have to say I'm not sure yet.

I'm not shocked there wasn't a massive merchandise roll-out, but I'm a little surprised there wasn't a massive dump of Boba Fett stuff for back-to-school with some generic classic action figures in stores. Maybe we'll get lucky later this year, as Hasbro starts to reveal its not-Toy Fair plans. While we all wait for our HasLab Razor Crests to start showing up.

Of course, this isn't necessarily unique to Boba. Shang-Chi and Eternals had pretty small lines. Spider-Man got some stuff, but for a movie this big, with this much of a built-in audience, it wasn't exactly huge. It remains to be seen what we'll get out of this year's Thor, Blank Panther and of course Spider-Man movies but I'm not getting my hopes up too high. Kid/fan lines seem to be getting much smaller lately, and things like Transformers and Indiana Jones got pushed to 2023. (It remains to be seen if, like Ghostbusters, anything comes out early.) More emphasis is on higher price points for collectors - $23-$25 figures, $100+ masks, $250+ lightsabers, and so on - which probably means there's little investment going in to the collectors of tomorrow, while the collectors of today are spoiled for choice. But I assume Mattel will knock it out of the park with Jurassic World Dominion in the very near future, barring any delays.

--Adam Pawlus

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