Q&A: Star Wars Pre- and Post-Toy Fair Edition

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 14, 2016

1. Is the TBS Deluxe 6" Line dead or do you think we can expect some news about it at Toy Fair. I'd really like to see a Luke with Taun Taun set, an Endor Luke with speeder bike, and an Endor Leia with speederbike as well. They could reuse a lot of stuff that they already have, except we'd just need a new Endor Leia figure.

I've had to write this before going to New York Toy Fair, so I'm going to write this answer based on what I knew as of last week - and update with a revision below if I have time, as needed. Right now I expect that the performance of the SKU was poor enough that if any higher-dollar (let's say $40+) items were in production, they're going to be revised or jettisoned based on the performance of Jabba the Hutt (ignoring the Hoth guys) and the TIE Fighter. Hasbro makes decisions based on the performance of the assortment as a whole, and if stores are drowning in unsold product it doesn't always mean that Hasbro gets thoughtful and goes "Oh, look at this - we made too much of Wave X, but Wave X+1 did great so let's give it another whirl." Sometimes they just say "screw it" and move on, which is what I am expecting here. Figures sell, and their two attempts at bigger things weren't slam-dunks. Heck, right now (as of Super Bowl Weekend) I just came back from going out and seeing most of the first three waves (sans Phasma) easily purchased. Yes, including Reys, lots of them. I assume Hasbro is probably going to focus on figures and pull back in the other stuff, except maybe as an exclusive as needed.

...at Toy Fair Hasbro expressed interest in doing more vehicles, but which ones remain to be seen. No new big vehicles or creatures were on display.



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2. So.....

TPM - Theed Hanger
AOTC - Geonosian Arena
ROTS - Mustafar Facility (aka repainted Boulder Hill from MASK? Am I right on that)
ANH - Death Star Space Station
TESB - Echo Base, Dagobah, Cloud City
ROTJ - Jabba's Dungeon, Ewok Village

It just dawned on me now that TFA is the first Star Wars film that gave us no action figure playsets. It's not very surprising considering they seem to be just about extinct now in the toy market adding to the fact that the film's story didn't really lend itself to many playset ideas other than maybe a mini Starkiller Base in the vein of the 70's or POTF2 ones. Is there any oft chance we'll get anything along these lines before Rogue One or VIII is out? Is the age of SW playsets over forever?

Hasbro has declared the playset dead many times, and has made various attempts to try to bring them back. The best solution they've ever done as far as risk are the 1998-1999 pop-up dioramas of Jabba's Palace and the Cantina made of cardboard. It frankly disgusts me they aren't even trying to do these again, especially as they can fold up in the same footprint as the comic packs at - I assume - a similar development cost. If Hasbro wanted to, we could have a deluxe assortment of figures with dioramas in no time. They just don't want to. (It's easy. Just pack it with Phasma or Kylo Ren or the sure-thing sellers.)

As a whole, Hasbro has said that playsets are dead for years. If you look at other toy lines, Hasbro isn't exactly wrong - there aren't many once you get beyond the Imaginext years. Big vehicles double as playsets, but after that how many have we really seen in the last decade? It's not like Mattel has been putting out a ton of Batcave toys for kids, and while we got Castle Grayskull the promised Snake Mountain seems less and less likely (unless, of course, they confirmed it the day before I print this.) Hasbro's only real recent playsets are Metroplex and Fortress Maximus, which are really just jumbo action figures. Playmates also did a sewer lair that turns into a giant action figure, which seemed to do just fine. Tampa's Figures Toy Company does mostly Mego figures, and they're probably giving more thought and love to playsets than anybody - they did do a Batcave last year, and they could do more of this stuff, too. Will you buy it? Probably not. But it does exist, it's just increasingly a niche product because action figure collectors are a dying breed and for success Hasbro would have to make a playset for a wide audience.

What does that mean? You'd better hope that they have an excuse to do a Death Star or something multi-generational, otherwise you ain't getting squat. If you really, really want playsets you're going to have to be more vocal and accepting of the possibility that Hasbro will need to do it on the cheap. Cardboard is the way to do it, that way there's really no excuse to say "it costs too much to tool." If Hallmark can do pop-up greeting cards, Hasbro can do pop-up playsets.

(Also: no, that Mustafar set wasn't Bounder Hill. Mustafar was repurposed as an Indiana Jones toy, though, as was the Geonosis Arena for G.I. Joe Spy Troops.)

...and at Toy Fair, no new playsets were shown. Or vehicles, really.




3. I have a problem and wonder if you have any idea how to solve it. I like the shampoo bottle 12" figures, but lately I have been having the problem that their hands are stuck in their sockets and can't move. What's worse is twice the hands have broken off when forced too much. Do you know of a way to loosen them without breakage. Once they get unstuck they seem not to stick again.

I would suggest the Boiling Water Trick. Caveat: do not do the boiling water trick. You may get burned. I accept zero responsibility for you doing what I would do in your situation as described below as burns to your person are indeed possible and if you screw it up somehow it could damage the figure in ways I can't predict.

So having said that...

Boil a glass or mug of water. It should be bubbling - and removed from the microwave/heat source, but still steaming and possibly bubbling. Dip the figure's hand in it for 20-30 seconds. Remove the figure and try twisting the joint. It should budge, because odds are the problem was that the paint was functioning as glue and you've just caused the paint to melt a tiny bit, freeing the joint. It is also possible that (depending on how long you leave it in, and the kind of plastic this particular figure uses) that you could damage certain kinds of plastic. I've only had one figure get damaged ever - so I don't expect this to be a problem.

It's not guaranteed to work. Sometimes hands are separate pieces and weren't meant to be articulated - and you'll need to ask around or do research to see if this is a figure in that situation. I've used this technique to straighten plastic hands, weapons, and also to liberate fused joints on numerous figures. If something is wrong with how the figure was engineered (Funko ReAction, I'm looking at you) sometimes it will not save the figure. So far with Hasbro and Mattel, though, my track record is nearly perfect.




Toy Fair is on so I'm needing to go back to work - in addition to panels and such, I've also got dinners, meetings, and business things to do because I'm actually in the toy business by day. I got to see all kinds of neat stuff - some I can't talk about - so I'll just say save some money for later this year. No matter what you collect, this probably applies.

Based on what was shown to the public, well, it's not exciting. It's not bad either. Seeing Maz Kanata in a set similar to the digital release boxes from about a year ago is not my top choice of releasing her, and at this point it pretty much guarantees the market will always have more Finns than it needs. 6-inch fans got a look at Darth Revan, Leia, Sabine, and a few others. It's not bad. It's also not thrilling. 3 3/4-inch seems to be dealing with having been designed before anyone saw the movie still, meaning - I hope - they keep making new stuff during the upcoming movies. They might not, back in the day each new film usually put a stop to the previous movie from getting a lot of love. Secrecy for the sake of secrecy helps no one, and we're dealing with Disney who sees it fit to hide classic character toys when that would actually be a safe thing to reveal just to give fans something. Oh well.

Transformers and Jurassic World are both looking sharp. The Robots in Disguise cartoon line continues, and Generations has a lot - lot - of Titans Return toys. Wheelie, Scourge, Chromedome, and more are looking sharp. "Hybrid" dinosaurs recall Chaos Effect, a great Kenner line of neon and mixed-species dinosaurs from the late 1990s. The reason I am bringing these up is that both are currently more exciting than Star Wars from a promotion perspective. The fact that there's a Chris Pratt and wacky dinosaurs means I've got something new and fresh that I want - creatures. Creatures are something Hasbro has ignored for a few years in Star Wars. Meanwhile, Transformers offers a new line with updates of the old Headmasters - tiny robots can pilot the vehicle modes as drivers, and Star Wars has no known vehicles confirmed for the market this year so far. Oh, and Entertainment Earth got to have an exclusive announced which is fantastic for Transformers, a Platinum set with Bumblebee and a Voyager-class Grimlock with premium deco. And Fortress Maximus with an electronic head with a G1 transformation sound effect. And, again, Skullcruncher.

I am by no means bitter, because even if Star Wars is dull between movies I've got options. I'm genuinely excited to see what else Hasbro has to offer, although their adoption of an annual release schedule for new Transformers films feels like genuine overkill. (Full disclosure: I don't like the movies.

If you want to see what I've been up to at work, or not, take a look at this. Does it get more retro than this? Probably, but this is what we've got the license to do.

--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.