Q&A: Star Wars Playset Prices and Hanging It All Up

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 27, 2022

1. Wow, I had to do the math. I started this hobby of collecting 3-3/4” star wars figures and vehicles nearly 44 years ago. With some money here and there for things like the Big AT-AT, Millennium, Sla... Err Boba Fett Ship, etc... my inter-child has been overjoyed. And, I could die a happy man if Hasbro would make a comparably scaled y-wing and tie defender to the recently scaled x-wings. But, I find myself asking; When is the right time to hang it up? So with the philosophical question; have you ever considered when might be the right time? Like, what’s the straw that jumps-the-shark on this hobby?


I think "collecting them all" is a fool's errand for a variety of reasons, given the variants, the barely-variant figures sold as new figures, and so forth. Do you need literally thousands of figures? Probably not. So I'd nudge anyone to try to just buy what they want. I skipped the gold guys and the Carbonized 3 3/4-inch guys - I'd take 'em in a good deal at a fair price, maybe, but to pay $16 for something I've got, but shinier, seemed like a bridge too far for me. $29 for a The Black Series remold was also too expensive for me. Everybody should pick up what makes them happy.

When it comes to vehicles and playsets, at this point, I've got no reason to stop if the total output of both, per year, combined, is about 3-4 things. But a friend of mine jumped ship at anything that wasn't original trilogy - which is probably a good place to go too. If Hasbro kept doing sequel trilogy I'd probably start backing out, but I'm absolutely into/interested in the "Mandoverse" part of all of this if they can keep it interesting.

I think the 6-inch line was a good time to stop (or start) for a lot of people, but the toy line diverged far away from the original reason I liked it - they were toys - around 2006. Super-articulated figures can't always stand or sit, or pilot ships. Action features could sometimes add fun to a figure, but those are almost completely absent from new releases. There are also so many collector toy lines right now that if one or two ended, I'd have a lot to keep me busy. I mean, this isn't unique to Star Wars - look at Batman or Transformers. You could buy dozens of scales right now. But why?

For anyone that sees collectors as one kind of person who basically shares a mind, well, that's wrong. Some people like 3 3/4-inch stuff, and some have never touched it - but have hundreds of 6-inch figures, Funko figures, Japanese figures, or other things. Money is no object for some, especially those who buy only a couple of high-end products per year. But for those who like what they have, and who are paying rent to store their collections off-site, I assume we've already seen a lot of people stop buying new stuff. Quietly. While still hanging on to their existing collections until they stop wanting to pay to store it, or until their kids have to clean out their houses.



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2. The book of Boba Fett throne room set looks great. The price is surprising and considerably more than we thought, especially with only one figure. Is this down to the current market and a shape of things to come or hasbro vintage collection now being pitched at a premium rate?


I'd say this pricing is nothing new. We've had a $500 Millennium Falcon reissue, $110 X-Wing repaints, $80 Imperial Troop Transports... there's a smaller audience, so Hasbro is making higher-end stuff to keep the dollars rolling in. No kids are going to buy these, but we'v also seen $50 Falcons, $20 Troop Transports, and $30ish X-Wings. It can be done - but Hasbro is definitely positioning Vintage as a "premium" product.

As to the playset being too expensive, it's a tough call. It's pretty big, and not that far off from similarly sized Playmobil sets when it comes to pricing. You get a lot of little parts and while I would have insisted they included Boba Fett and/or Jabba in there - even as just a (ha ha) slug figure to sit on the throne. I would have even paid a bit more for it if they could get out some figures from the show that may be years off in the main line, like Krrsantan, the Gamorreans, and so forth. Really, it's a missed opportunity to squeeze a few more willing bucks out of us. (Especially if they were carded. Non-Mando fans could probably sell the carded figures pretty easily.)

If you consider we've gone from a company who can - and still does - make a 3 3/4-inch figure for $5 (Marvel, drug store line) you may be left wondering if it's worth paying $14-$15 for a basic Vintage figure, or $16+ for a premium one with one or two extra accessories. It's probably not worth it. But they're selling out. When that stops maybe they'll reconsider the pricing, but if you can't make enough to keep up with demand, price increases are sometimes how this sort of thing goes. Since I've got four decades of aliens, I want this playset - but now that it's coming, there's a lot less left to keep me interested in the future. Maybe we'll finally get a classic Cantina, but after that, what's really something we can all agree would be cool?





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The most surprising thing last week was from Toy Fair. Coincidentally, New York Toy Fair should have been still going on last Monday, but COVID and/or changing market needs resulted in nobody really wanting to go right now. For 2023, Toy Fair in staying in New York, but moving to September in a break with over 100 years of tradition. I've been to New York in the fall, and it's nice. I've been to New York in February... it's less nice. This places the industry's biggest show in America after summer convention season, so it remains to be seen if Hasbro/Mattel/LEGO/etc. will hold reveals for Toy Fair or just throw up their arms and keep putting out announcement when they feel like it - it has worked for Nintendo for years, and it seems to be doing well for everybody else.

I really hope to be at Toy Fair 2023, and I hope it can remain relevant. There are lots of toy industry showcases around September, plus New York Comic Con in October, so it's a pretty busy time of year for the toy world. Will everybody be able to show up - and will it even matter by 2023? That remains to be seen. A lot can happen in a year - a year ago, Paradise Valley Mall here in Phoenix had open doors and a few still-open shops. Today? Smashed flat. I don't assume we're in a post-trade-show, post-convention world yet but Nintendo has been playing by its own rules for a few years now - Hasbro has done well, and so has Disney, when it comes to handling their own messaging direct to the customer.

Trade shows are a great way for new and small businesses to be seen by the big guys, or the medium guys, so if you're here for innovation and newness then you'll understand how Toy Fair can be really important. New board games, import model kits, plush like you've never seen, and other weirdness graces the halls of Javits Center and odds are you'll never see most of it in Toy Fair coverage on action figure sites. But it's neat. Unless those people seek out the press and buyers at stores, a lot of these things may never make it to market. And that's no good. So let's hope Toy Fair 2023 is a roaring success, if for no reason other than my hopefully getting to tool around Brooklyn to buy some records and stuff myself at Xi'an Famous Foods.

Also I assume we need to start making a betting pool on when they'll announce a delay of 2023's Rogue Squadron movie... especially since Paramount just announced a new Star Trek movie to open the day before Star Wars' alleged release date.

--Adam Pawlus

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