Q&A: Star Wars Prices, Crowdfunding, and Missing Rereleases

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 20, 2022

1. With the price of figures skyrocketing many in my collector group have been discussing where to cut back. It seems that Black Series is the first place getting cut since many collect both Black Series and TVC. The plastic free packaging seems to be the break line for many. For those who focus on 3.75”, it seems that Retro is being cut as it is considered a novelty and, with the ROTJ wave, many see it as complete enough (of course a POTF wave with coins would probably change that). Still others are moving away from Hasbro with Jazwares Micro Galaxy Squadron getting a lot of love. I guess my question is – Where do you see collectors cutting back and where are you cutting back personally?

My prediction for 2023-2025? The Black Series and The Vintage Collection will continue, especially with the price increase on the latter, but I wouldn't be surprised if TVC's days were numbered as fans start skipping reissues of toys that are cheap on the secondary market, which will eventually be misinterpreted as "Vintage doesn't sell so let's not make any new ones." Disney will probably keep the line extremely superficial across the board, rather than giving us the weird aliens and droids that some of us came here for in the first place. I assume The Retro Collection will probably get another shot of price increases, but that won't be what kills it in 2-3 years - rather, Hasbro will probably see them as too cheap to bother making at some point if the overall collector market takes too much of a dip. Right know we know there are at least 14 The Retro Collection figures set for 2023, all of which are original trilogy Kenner remakes. I would hope they remake the entire line before pulling the plug, even if it's in a few big boxed sets. Let's be honest, Warok is going to be a tough sell unless you bundle it with other Power of the Force figures.

I assume there will continue to be new fans who are happy to pick up The Vintage Collection reissues, but it's going to be a limited resource unless Hasbro can get out the major players in a regular way. I assume a lot of fans won't collect without a classic-style Darth Vader or Boba Fett, and now that the entire saga spans hundreds of episodes it may be difficult - if not impossible - to keep a big enough minimum number of fans excited. Back in the 1990s, you could guarantee that the fans of three movies could be satisfied with some non-movie stuff sprinkled in the sides. Now you've got a bunch of feature-length movies and at least five full seasons of streaming television, and almost nothing since 2019 has had a big-enough-to-be-satisfying crop of action figures.

No matter what Hasbro puts out, it won't be enough. There are too many bases to cover and Hasbro will never have a 250-350 figures-per-year schedule ever again. The only exception to this might be The Retro Collection, because at 12-18 figures per year they could potentially remake the entire line before the 50th anniversary.

My hope is that there's a kid line that gives collectors some articulation comparable to Spin Master and Mattel kid lines, for around $10-$12 each, with a mix of major characters and new weird guys. I don't know that the collector line vs. kid line thing as multiple separate entities is going to work for the long run as both audiences start to atrophy. I don't thing 1980s nostalgists are a growing market.

What am I buying these days?

I didn't pick up on the Micro Galaxy Squadron as of yet. It's 100% what I dreamed of getting when I was a kid (basically, more MicroCollection) - and I previously collected similar scale toys with Action Fleet. I don't want to start a new line/scale, mostly because they're already playing with "chase" items and blind packaging plus some series 2 items are already on clearance at Target. I don't have it in me to play the "chase forced rares" down or wonder if something brand new will get marked down in a week. If Jazwares wants to make their Micro Galaxy Squadron easy to buy in, I would be interested. I just don't need to start another new series after so, so many 3 3/4-inch figures if I think it's going to break my heart down the road. And since I can't find the Sabine Wren TIE, which is exciting, I'm going to probably skip all of these. Having said that, it's entirely possible I'll pick up someone's collection on the cheap some day if I can afford to do it in one or two fell swoops.

I don't dislike The Black Series and I can't argue with the numbers. There were 5 roughly $23 Christmas figures in 2020. There are 6 $28 Christmas figures in 2022. Before tax and shipping, that's $283 for 11 figures that I would only be buying ironically. If Hasbro did one per year? I'd be interested. If they were 3 3/4-inches and under $15? Sure. Add in hundreds of dollars in Carbonized, Credit, Anniversary same-figure new-face repaints, and so on - do I want to spend thousands of dollars on figures I won't even enjoy that are technically the same as what I already own? Being forced to skip some 6-inch figures due to non-availability made me realize I don't really appreciate the ones I already have. If I don't appreciate the ones I have enough so there are some items I'll be skipping I may regret down the line. But I think it'll be OK - but I'll still keep an eye open for The Mandalorian and original trilogy-era stuff. This has been percolating since 2017, the "hunt" for exclusives for The Last Jedi Force Friday was such an unpleasant experience that I considered quitting buying new movie stuff completely. (I'm glad I didn't, the Solo new toys are superb.)

For The Vintage Collection 3 3/4-inch figures, I missed most of the gold figures from 2019 - which was the start of things. When Walmart upcharged $3 per Carbonized 3 3/4-inch figure, I skipped those. Even at the same price, is it worth taking up more room? If the vehicles are new, I'm still buying. I bought Target's Kenner Boba Fett, but only because it was Kenner. Given we literally just got this mold in Droids deco with a most excellent coin for $15.99, the $22.99 price really sticks out as being something they're trying to stick to fans. Or they know it's going to go on clearance. Or someone made a mistake in accounting.

Conversely, I'm in the tank for Kenner-style The Retro Collection and Marvel Legends 375 as long as prices stay reasonable. The lines are small, the prices are low, the figures are beautiful, and they're not going to pull some "we made the leg articulation better!" gimmick down the road. You can't improve them - to do so would defeat the purpose. So I've got Kenner Reva on my desk, and I love her. She's great. No complaints. The Kenner-style Star Wars figures are the one thing I will not cut out of my collecting diet - I'll stop everything else before letting these go. I even picked up the Kenner Marvel stuff because it's a generally pleasant experience. Nothing breaks, nothing is painted poorly, and nothing was too hard to find.

Vote with your dollars, buy what you like, and at this point recognize that a complete set for most things is going to be several years and possibly hundreds or thousands of extra dollars - so better you just get what you actually want.



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2. Previous [Habsro-run product stream announcement] pipelines mentioned "figures coming for the second Specialty/Reissue wave for 2022
The wave is said to consist of VC01 Dengar, VC106 Nien Nunb, VC55 Logray and VC111 Leia (Bespin Gown)."

Out of which only VC106 Nien Nunb is now mentioned again.

"VC Galen Merrick (Starkiller) - The Force Unleashed games
VC Phase II Clone Trooper
Vintage Collection celebrating the anniversary include Han Solo and Admiral Piett
Vintage Collection ROTJ Darth Vader, Weequay (Reissue),And Endor Bunker Playset
VC Book Of Boba Fett Tusken Warrior
Bad Batch pipeline reissue Vintage Collection Hauser/Howzer"

were mentioned as well.

My question is what happened to these pipelines, are they lost to time? (4 skiff guards came out but why not Weequay?)

Well, we don't know - Hasbro has a lot of time to fill and those pipelines can be months off, for all we know they may move a rerun up (or back) depending on the availability of new tooling. We don't necessarily get reveals in chronological order. It's possible we won't get the reissues - it's happened before - but they could also be holding them for yet another stream event soon. Given how many out-of-order reveals we've had in the last year, I would bank on their just telling us what reruns to expect early. Which is nice of them if true - after all, if it's coming, you may not need to buy one on eBay right now.

I would suggest standing by because you'll probably get a lot of this stuff later, but Hasbro's not always final with dates and wave numbers. Some things move, some things get re-numbered, and a lot can change over the course of a few months to a year with reruns. The 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi probably means announcements aplenty are imminent.





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Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is out of questions!

HasLab continues to be having not a great year. I know most fans have one or more "I would rather have had something else" reactions to each new reveal, but if you look at the last year and change of Hasbro's crowdfunding it hasn't been going well. Some speculation among fans has been the abundance of pre-orders from last year shipping combined with economic anxiety and rapidly filling closets. There were about eight projects in the last year, four of which failed to fund. (And two of those were Star Wars items that I didn't particularly want at those prices and/or with the advertised features.) A ninth item - a Transformers Deathsaurus - is plodding along and I hope will make it. The 1989 original starts around $800 in unboxed but good condition, so this one at $180 seems acceptable and is a stone's throw from hitting the minimum goal right now.

I would argue one needs to target older fans who have been in a line for a long time. With nearly 20 years in Marvel Legends, over 15 years of "Transformers Classics," and 44 years of 3 3/4-inch Hasbro figures, those are shoo-ins. Fans and kids wanted a Ghostbusters prop proton pack replica since 1984. But The Black Series is pretty new, and it makes sense that not enough people wanted to spend that much for a bigger Rancor. Or an FX Lightsaber, or a 1:12 scale black car with a $25 figure.

I don't think anyone has unlimited funds for expensive toys (or overpriced store exclusive repaints), and certainly very little of what we're seeing is a "dream project." It's cool stuff, sure, but a $150-$200 toy with $100 in figures bolted on to it to drive the price point up doesn't seem wholly necessary. As of right now I don't know of any upcoming 3 3/4-inch scale HasLab items of any kind, but I'm hopeful we might see a Ghost vehicle pop up next year. Failing that, the 25th anniversary of The Phantom Menace is in 2024, so they would need to launch something pretty soon to ship before the end of that year. While I'd buy an action figure-scale Bongo I can't assume 10,000 others would also be on board. It's entirely possible that crowdfunding is a concept that has run its course, but I'm sure Hasbro will squeak out something or other before putting HasLab out to pasture. I couldn't tell you what though.

As of right now there are no known planned launches for HasLab left to go for 2022, but maybe something is on the horizon. I hope there would be something for February - but I should also add a programming note, there is no New York Toy Fair in February 2023. It's scheduled for September right now. It's entirely possible the toy industry will still push for toy announcements without the long-running trade show because it's a good time to get retailers talking and to capture pre-orders before tax season kicks off.

--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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The Lament of the Real MisterPL

I'm pretty confident MisterPL did not ask that second question. ;) However, THIS MisterPL would also like a second chance at that Nien Nunb.

The "problem" is that there's so much new Star Wars content that it's impossible to keep up with. What started as a slow drip back in the 20th century has become a hemorrhage. Manufacturers had no problem when we got two hours of Star Wars every three years. Now we're getting dozens of hours annually and even "bad" Star Wars yields fun toys.

It seems the days are gone when one could say, "I'll pass on this figure for now because they'll reissue it later." That only applies to a small fraction of specific versions of certain characters. (Crait Luke is right next to Blue Snaggletooth on my wishlist.)

This is why I've gone from "Collect Them All!" to narrowing my focus to the segment of the franchise I enjoy most.