Q&A: Star Wars Missing Figures, The New Small Hasbro Figure, and TV Shows

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hey kids, welcome to Q&A! What kind of things are still missing and might be at Comic-Con? Good question! What's going on with Star Wars on TV? Not too much, but some stuff is in the works. Or was, anyway. And what's up with the 2 1/2-inch Guardians of the Galaxy figures - could this be the ghost of Christmases yet to come?

Also, don't forget to send in your questions for next time. Read on!


1. To invoke an overused quote, "I have a bad feeling about this." I just don't see sdcc delivering the realistic Rex I've yammered on about to you for the last two years. He'll either be made of inferior quality materials (read: flimsy plastic) or he won't be made with vintage quality articulation. What do you think?

I think the worst thing that can happen to any collector is to have high hopes and then to experience crushing disappointment. I just went through that last week - being told "you can't have this" is about the worst thing you can do, and well, did you see the Super7 Alien Playset? This is killing me.

It's a safe bet that Hasbro has tooled up Captain Rex far enough to get to him eventually. But when? That's a fine question. "Flimsy plastic" is a problem we've had for years now, so that's nothing you shouldn't have been worried about since he was first revealed back in (oh dear lord) 2012 now. A "movie" Rex without "vintage quality articulation" already exists - the one we saw for The Black Series was basically the ARC Trooper Captain, but more Rex-like. Odds are it's more trouble than it's worth for Hasbro to make a new Black Series Rex not based on the Vintage Clone designs. We will probably see him at SDCC, or at Toy Fair if he's going to come out. I assume he's going to happen, but quality control - mostly in terms of paint - has been a bit of a sore spot for figures from many companies in 2014. And that's not something you'll be able to deal with until the figure comes out, and even then we're probably looking at months or even a year until it happens.

Look at it this way - if it doesn't come out, it can't disappoint you. This may sound glib, but after a couple thousand figures I would argue a bad figure is worse than no figure at all.



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2. Wasn't there supposed to be a live action Star Wars TV show that due to arrive a year after the Clone Wars cartoon started? I Think it was supposed to focus around Boba Fett, whatever happened to that?

The short answer is "Disney." George Lucas was supposedly done with movies and wanted Star Wars to continue as a live-action program on television - the project was shelved before the Disney buy out (or perhaps because of it) due to, as the report said, the episodes costing too much to shoot in their scripted form. Supposedly 50 scripts were completed and are in Disney's hands, and are widely speculated to provide the basis for the spin-off films coming in 2016 and/or 2018 and/or beyond.

To continue the theme from the above question, it could be a mixed blessing. Maybe, some day, Disney will cash in on the scripts and adapt them as comics or put the content in novels. Or even make them as a TV program - perhaps animated? For the time being it's dead, and seeing the lower-budget approach to Marvel on TV it seems unlikely Disney wants a multi-million dollar sci-fi opus on their balance sheets right now when the movies will do a fine job of promoting themselves. And by that, I mean suckers like me will continue to do free, unpaid advertising for their stuff.

If the spin-off movie is indeed Boba Fett as reported, the TV show could provide the basis for more movies, a future TV show, and of course an endless pit of Expanded Universe stuff. Disney bought the brand, as well as all the unaired scripts - and the well of Lucas-derived and unused stories is not infinite. I would expect that we'll see some fascinating sites over the next few years document the movies, and what those scripts are as leaks (hopefully) get out. By not airing, it'll be a legend - like so many deleted scenes and other "lost" tidbits from the franchise.




3. I saw the Guardians of the Galaxy figures you alluded to and wondered what else you can tell us about figures in that scale. The last time I remember seeing figures of that size was for Phantom Menace (http://www.rebelscum.com/episodeIminifigs.asp); my specific concerns are as follow:

1.) Why 2.5"? If vehicles are the objective, won't the scale used for Micro Machine's Action Fleet be more economical? On a side note, if you'll permit me - why did Micro Machines ever fail anyway? My father always claimed it was due to new laws regarding choking hazards, but I've never come across anything of that sort in my reading; moreover, the continued existence of Gogo's Crazy Bones, Squinkies, and (the seemingly in deep decline) Fighter Pods suggests choking on toys isn't the terror it seemed to be.
2.) Why only now? Between Phantom Menace and Guardians, I don't recall the 2.5" scale ever making a significance presence felt - even counting the Sigma 6 figures, which were pre-posed and thus not as blatantly intended for vehicle play.
3.) Why in such significant numbers for Guardians? The run for Phantom Menace included only one vehicle; if Hasbro was hedging its bets back then, why is it going full force now? Why isn't there a 3.75" scale of Mission Series-like figures, if only for compatibilities' sake? A scale-switch seems like quite a gamble, especially for a property that's banking on being established as part of a larger, continuous universe.

Hasbro has not issued an official statement on Guardians of the Galaxy 2-inch figures supplanting the traditional 4-inch figures, but here we are. If you take a step back and look at the action figure portfolio as a whole, you'll see Hasbro did a lot of "cheap" reduced articulation 3 3/4-inch figures in 2013 with very few new entries in 2014 and disturbingly few refreshed waves ever since they debut.

These are cheap figures - $6 for a 2-pack is ridiculously cheap. (They're $10 at Toys R Us.) The quality is lower on some, as the Star-Lord's I've seen have off-center faces and a lot of five-head. It was pointed out to me that Groot looks like he still has rapid prototyping lines on it still, unsmoothed out by the sculptors - a final product with signs of preproduction sculpting. Obviously, they're not meant for us - Hasbro decided that this was the most viable way to make a kid line with vehicles, and they've been big on doing fewer varieties and selling more of a single product.

Hasbro did release a line of figures between "Micro" and "Action Fleet" in non-US markets for The Clone Wars after 2010. I've only got the two carded vehicles - an AAT and a Jedi Starfighter - and am still trying to get the figures myself. These, like the 1999 Episode I figures, were made as cheap toys for international markets because Hasbro wants their money and a single $7 figure was deemed too expensive. Isn't that adorable? $7 used to be expensive.

The decline and failure of MicroMachines as a Star Wars brand came up a few times - I was even asked this question by someone from Galoob on their way out. My hunch was that the entire Star Wars brand was overexposed, but the real problem came from too much at once with no real variety. If you compared an Action Fleet playset and a MicroMachines playset on the shelf, the boxes looked similar. The logos weren't terribly different in 1999, as they were in the mid-1990s for the Original Trilogy toys. Also, nobody needed that much Star Wars at once - the toy industry's aim is to get you to part with as much money as possible, and because there was a miscalculation across the board, some lines died. Revival attempts come and go - 2002 had Action Fleet, 2005 had a larger Micro scale similar to the X-Ray Fleet ships - but people didn't bite. Titanium Series did well, based off the Galoob Die-Cast Metal line. Hasbro got about four decent years from that, which is actually quite impressive in this increasingly impatient marketplace.

As you've pointed out Hasbro has tried this scale before on various lines, and given the eccentric nature of the property so far it seems like a good place to try something new - until it bites us if it turns out to be a success. Hasbro wants kids to buy toys, and parents might look at a $6 2-pack and see it as a favorable alternative to a $30 LEGO set or a single $10 figure. I flat out do not understand how 2 figures are $6, or 3 in the case of Rocket Raccoon and Groot, but here we are.

Clearly the ways of old aren't working, with Thor's sequel getting only a single wave of figures and countless pretty great figures from the first Thor, Captain America, Iron Man 2, and even Star Wars being blown out in giant bundles of figures on Black Friday over the last couple of years. Hasbro's #3 now, behind Mattel and LEGO. They want a win, and you can't succeed by doing the same thing forever. I was heartbroken when I found out there would be no "Mission Series" Guardians figures, but like other recent toy heartbreak it just means I won't be spending as much money on a specific license. There's a lot less Marvel from Hasbro - there's zero G.I. Joe outside exclusives. Even Transformers is light compared to previous movie years, at least as movie product goes.

...but look at the bigger picture. Who else is giving us mass-market collector figures? Mattel's putting DC and Batman to bed for the most part. Jakks is just ramping up whatever it's doing with Nintendo. Jazwares and Neca have some neat stuff, but they're both more niche-oriented. Nobody else is doing for action figures what Hasbro is doing right now, with maybe only Power Rangers and (definitely) Ninja Turtles being the carriers of the torch for this kind of toy. If kids love it, and really love it, it will succeed. They'll ask for it, they'll enjoy it. Sometimes what you get is Star Trek 2009 or the Hobbit toys... not every line is destined to run forever.




The Four Horsemen started shipping their 3 3/4-inch Power Lords action figures, and I suggest anyone who enjoys fun to give them a shot. They're priced well for the quality and have an excessively high level of good articulation. If you're a toy snob - and let's face it, so many of us are - these stiff-jointed carded figures are worth your money.

Hasbro's Guardians of the Galaxy resets started - you'll now see things like Marvel Legends big display dumps at Walmarts, mini-figure 2-packs at Target for $6 (and Toys R Us for $10), and here's the most fascinating part - no 3 3/4-inch movie figures. For the first time ever since the first Iron Man movie, a Hasbro Marvel toy line doesn't have a single 3 3/4-inch component. (Sure, they've skipped movies, but 3 3/4-inch were always the core.) As far as I know they're not even on deck - unless a surprise exclusive is in the works, that's it. The 2 1/2-inch mini guys are all over the map in terms of quality, so you'll want to examine the face paint up close on all humans. My pal Seth pointed out you can see the extruded lines from the rapid prototyping on Groot. It's a big change for how these things are done - I was really disappointed because, as I have mentioned, I was hoping for Mission Series 2-packs here. As I stated above, the market has really changed.

As far as I know - and possibly we'll see more in San Diego - Mattel's collector-focused 3 3/4-inch line doesn't seem to have a known wave 3 yet. Will it continue? I really don't know. The Batman 1966 6-inch line has no known new releases other than Surf's Up Joker. Matty let us know Masters of the Universe Classics in its current format will end in 2015. We're in a very different marketplace than when Star Wars debuted in 1995, and the relaunch has weathered almost all other competitors. I know people hate hearing this, but this is a great time to take stock of what you have - and buy what you don't, especially if it's cheap on the secondary market. The sheer quantity of toys that you can buy from the past decade alone crushes what we had in the 1980s and 1990s combined, so remember: if things slow down a bit, that's only because everything has been really spectacular on and off over the last few years. Things might get better - maybe - but just remember that up to this point, we've had a better run than any of our collector sibling lines... maybe discounting Transformers thanks to the super-collectory collector stuff and strong kid component. But even then, it's not like their new movie lines have long legs.

Also, I've been re-watching one of my favorite TV shows from when I was a kid, and am almost finished with the first season of The Black Adder. It's a great show - silly if you're a kid, but the more history you know the better it gets. Oh, and there are jokes kids shouldn't see, but such is the fun of seeing it when you're single-digits because you won't get it. Anyway, one of the big highlights is seeing Brian Blessed as the mad alterna-King Richard IV, which may be one of the best roles anyone on TV could ever get. You may know Blessed as Boss Nass in The Phantom Menace, which makes about as much sense as putting (hot girl name here) in a voiceover role. Sure, they're talented people, but c'mon man. Get your money's worth! I hope somehow they manage to sneak Blessed in the sequels (or sidequels) as an on-camera personality. Here's hoping! If nothing else, go watch The Black Adder just to see how great this actor is and then scratch your head how come he was Boss Nass and not a Jedi or some other random dude.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.