Q&A: Star Wars Pipe Dreams and Crowdfunding Artifacts

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 27, 2023

1. What are your thoughts on the SDCC TVC Pipeline reveals looking mostly like reissues or recent characters with slight updates, and the supposed Hasbro-approved leaks of the TBS re-releases? At first I thought these could be cost-cutting efforts by Hasbro, but then the Hollywood strikes have me curious if they could be stop-gaps while the shows' productions are stopped.

I'm not excited about Star Wars collector figures right now. I think we're in late-stage collector line - back in the day, it usually meant cool weird stuff. It isn't as exciting, and it's a little more repetitive to have the same characters in multiple scales, sometimes with more accessories or shiny paint as an exclusive. Now licensors and manufacturers want to do recognizable stuff that appeals to the widest possible audience... which is boring to anyone who has been here for 20-50 years. A few years ago we had a Fan's Choice poll where people voted for Darth Maul. I don't have a lot of faith in fans ever being allowed to make decisions if this is the kind of thing we're going to ask for when we get together as a group.

There's a lot of new tooling so I assume we'll be getting new sculpts or new parts, at the very least, but I guess we'll have to wait and see. But don't kid yourselves - Hasbro doesn't make cool droids anymore. We don't get awesome aliens anymore. The best days of collecting 3 3/4-inch action figures based on the original trilogy (and prequel trilogy) are behind us, so fill in those gaps because it's probably just going to get less deep and less exciting as we move forward to an increasingly bland future in this hobby. (I've said it before, but really, consider quitting or cutting back if you haven't already done so. It's possible this line could never end and there are more Christmas figures per year than there are original trilogy figures - and that sub-line already cost you hundreds of dollars if you're complete.)

I would like to think the SAG-AFTRA/WGA strikes combined with Disney's hesitance to spend more for new content would result in them doing more with less. Why not make a streaming series like a comic book - monthly? Why not make each episode stand alone a little better, and that way you can have enough time to get more toys on-shelf so people can buy it while enjoying an ongoing series? (In the 1990s, it worked for Star Trek - and you got 52 episodes a year for about seven years too.) And if you're unable to make new content there's an endless well of figures fans continue to ask for from older shows and movies. Heck, Lucasfilm could cease all production and Hasbro could probably make good bank pumping out 6 Kenner-style figures (new, reissue, unmade prototypes, etc.) every month or two until all of us are retired.



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2. I enjoy tracking the progress of the HasLab projects, and I've recently branched out into Super7 and Mattel's crowdfunding projects.

For all the ones that fail, who gets to keep the prototypes? Those have got to be considered valuable, if for no other reason than they would be 1 of 1. Do you think they are destroyed for this very reason, or that the owner has to agree not to ever resell it?

Nobody has ever said for sure - but I have asked over the years about some items and while the official story is always "they get destroyed." Someone did tell me that a few prototypes from the 1990s that I wish I could have secured a photo of to show y'alls "just disappeared," though, so I assume it may be in someone's house somewhere. Some companies keep a morgue of old products, some say it goes to the licensor, I assume any scenario you can imagine for the fate of an item is likely to be true. Some will get destroyed, some will be given to management, some will probably just vanish to never be seen again. I'm willing to bet that, some day, as older employees pass and collectors die off, there will be some fascinating stolen prototypes to see.

I would love it if Mattel, Super7, and Hasbro could auction off those prototypes for charity. I could never afford it, but it would be nice for a supercollector to be able to own it, and for tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to go to a good cause. (Or, just give it to Steve Sansweet's museum. He's worth it.)





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I watched the two-part premiere of Ahsoka this week. I thought the first episode was a little slow, but wonderful costumes, great sets, tip-top performers, and that awesome song made me go "OK, I'm liking this, I'll wait until tomorrow so I can enjoy the second episode." And the second episode was pretty slow too, without a lot happening, and mostly the same characters. One of my big complaints ab out the modern era of streaming entertainment are when shows stretch a single story over an entire year. If you mix it up a little bit (Star Trek: Discovery season one had multiple arcs in it) I'm pretty happy. But if it's pretty much one very long story (Star Trek: Discovery season four) it can get more than a little repetitive, especially when you're comparing them to snappier shows.

The dialogue in Ahsoka was pretty slow. You could drive trucks through the dialogue. I started counting the seconds between verbal volleys and once you hit four or five seconds, multiple times, it becomes obvious the show could use a little tightening up. I believe a wise man once said "faster, more intense" was a good place to go, and maybe this show will go there. Eight episodes is a long time to stretch out a story/budget, and you as a story teller have to give the people funding your show a full series on whatever amount of money that was agreed upon.

Maybe less is more - I felt like I got more out of the prequels being every three years, with toys, guide books, and comics between them. Getting to consume a story, and then revisit it in various ways over a couple of years is probably more budget-friendly to Disney while being conducive to selling us more stuff. The Book of Boba Fett is jam-packed with awesome concepts but it's taken us nearly 12-18 months to get toys that weren't The Mandalorian Season 2 stuff in new logo boxes, and also we've sat through something like four or five seasons of shows before stuff started to hit in earnest. Kenner was able to have Return of the Jedi toys for us on-shelf in 1983 - what's the problem in 2023? It's not COVID delays. Is it fear of spoilerphobes who can't deal with knowing Ahsoka is in Ahsoka should something leak out? Is the cultural patience to watch, enjoy, and really digest a new Star Wars a thing of the past?

We've still got six more weeks of Ahsoka and Disney says to expect Star Wars: Skeleton Crew later this year, which is a preposterous amount of Star Wars in a single year. And that's just the back half of the year. It's too much.

Supposedly we're getting two more theatrical movies in 2026. I wouldn't bet on it, but I'm old and cranky. Those new Rian Johnson movies haven't materialized after six years, and The Last Jedi made good money. I assume that is possible Indy V's James Mangold's Star Wars might also enter some sort of development tailspin between the strikes and the business of Hollywood when your movie underperforms. Don't get me wrong, I'd be curious to see it especially if it pulls more from midcentury biblical epics than Star Wars. But if it doesn't get made it's not the end of the world - Rian Johnson not doing more Star Wars gave us the excellent show Poker Face with the tense Megan Bloomfield vs. Hellboy showdown you never knew you needed.

Where was I? New York!

New York Toy Fair is back in about a month and I am scheduled to be there. Hasbro's plans for a press event (if any) have been quiet, but you can see who will be in the main convention center here. (Hasbro's never been on the show floor during my time in the toy business. Mattel and Mezco are not going this year.) LEGO, Super7, Funko, Jada, Playmobil, Spin Master, BanDai Namco, and other companies you may be excited about (but don't know it yet) will be there. Despite being in September instead of February, it is arguably a return to normal after being canceled in 2021 and 2022. And of course there are reports of new COVID surges and mutations. While I can't believe any in-person event will ever be canceled due to the disease ever again, my sense of cosmic irony is tingling.

--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.



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