Q&A: Star Wars Prices, Distribution, and Sizes

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 26, 2019

1. It seems like the Star Wars distribution is such disarray
- Target has street dates, then does not have street dates, then people arrive on the street date and there is no product
- Walmart has pre-orders that don't ship on time or get "Delayed" over and over. You then need to cancel your order (Lando Skiff) to reorder and the price is raised from 12.99 to 29.99
- Amazon cancels "pre-orders" of the skiff 3+ months in advance of release with a generic, BS email
- Online sites put up pre-orders to just continue to push back delivery date
- EE picks up 3 exclusives and all 3 are cancelled

What gives?

"Star Wars distribution is in disarray" is right up there with "water is wet." It's been like that.

Target street dates not being adhered to - or items being put out before the date - happens more than you might think. If you collect any line but Star Wars, you're probably acutely aware of street/embargo dates for toys that come and go with no product actually hitting store shelves. It happens a lot. We're entering a weird era where Star Wars isn't dead... but let's be honest, it's pretty dead despite having a new movie and TV shows in the works.

Walamrt is Walmart - if they ran out of stock, I don't doubt the third-party seller prices went up like Amazon. But like anything, once they get it back prices decrease - and as of right now, he's back to $12.99. (I wrote this in the past, May 18.) Delays on pre-orders is just a fact of life, it's difficult to nail down a supply chain and Walmart is new to dealing with collector pre-orders. I'm still kind of shocked they got me my Lando and Jabba's Palace sets at all, even if they were delayed a few days, with minimal problems.

I can't speak to Amazon's pre-order problems. I have hunches but out of professional courtesy it could just be an error with their ten billion items, one or two go wrong? That I can't say.  I can say I was on a call with Hasbro last week and we did get an updated ship date for the Skiffs, and they're currently likely to all be here by (if not before) September.

Pushing back delivery dates on online pre-sales has been a thing since the line started. The manufacturers may have a delay in approvals, the boats may be late picking up from China, US customs is not always consistent about how long it takes - especially depending on the business of the ports - and then the trucks have to get from the ports to distribution centers and then to you. And before that they have to be picked, packed, and shipped - and depending what else came in, it can take a while to process.

And speaking of professional courtesy, all I can really say right now is that Entertainment Earth's exclusives not showing up were not the fault of Entertainment Earth. All 3 orders were canceled, but so far I've pieced together where some of them have gone. Someone on eBay and Amazon got the R2-D2 and C-3PO sets, so they're gettable. Ross got the A-Wing. A good friend of mine (HI SCOTT) tells me he saw the 5-pack in closeout calendar shops, but I haven't seen them at all yet - and I would like to buy it if it shows up somewhere. So while it's not at all what was intended or planned, they did indeed get manufactured.

This is more or less normal. Fans being upset about distribution is what this line has been about since day one, and 24 years later I don't expect it to change.



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2. All things Jabba: seems since the barge, weve been having a number of jabba items coming out (barge, throne room, figures). I assue we are starting to wind down on Jabba. What could they have done that are missing (Bib Fortuna, Jabba with his platform in TVC packaging, Droid dungeon)?

I could see it going either way. On one hand, the long-time collector is pretty good on Jabba stuff. However if you aren't 40-50 and haven't been doing this for decades, a lot of major characters aren't always available to you. The "playset" from Walmart feels like the start of a build-an-environment, but that could just be wishful thinking.

I don't believe Hasbro has a lot more for us in this department, but there's absolutely room for more. We haven't had a Jabba's Palace C-3PO in roughly 12 years, Bib Fortuna in 13 years, Tanus Spijek or J'quille since 2004, and the last time EV-9D9 and 8D8 got updates were 1997 and 1998 respectively. My main concerns are modernized updates of the 1978-1985 line, unless they decide to do more figures in Kenner style, and I'm all for that.

I don't have an Ishi Tib from Jabba's Palace in any format. We never got Arica - the dancer - or any of a number of humans. From what people whisper to me, it's decreasingly likely you will ever see human "extras" in action figure form due to DisneyLucasfilm being gunshy about who they do and don't have likeness rights for when measured against potential gains and losses. Will this figure sell well enough to offset potential lawsuits? Probably not. As such, I deputize y'alls to come up with a way to fudge the Tonnika sisters since corporate America lacks the sack to deliver the goods. There's still no excuse for my lack of Geezum.

We haven't had Tessek (Squid Head) since 2001, but I'm very happy with mine. Amanaman was also 2001, and I think an update could be nice but isn't really necessary. Pote Snitkin was last updated in 1998, but that was one of the very best figures of his era in terms of sculpted texture - but it could be updated.




3. So what's going on with the toys and tariffs?
--Fake Filler Frank


In political-but-it-effects-you news, the latest round of Trump Tariffs with China encompass shoes and toys. Previously toys weren't included - some manufacturers of other licensed goods were starting to see what will be happening and how costs will be absorbed or passed on. (Not to ruin the ending for you, but they're going to be passed on.) With toys, this is all new and conversations are taking place throughout the business as to what, if anything, this is going to ultimately mean to anyone buying a toy that came out of China. The vast majority of Hasbro's items in Star Wars do come out of China. Very few items were made in Vietnam in recent years, although it's worth noting most of its Transformers offerings since about 2014 have been made in Vietnam. The Toy Industry Association - this is the trade group that puts on New York Toy Fair - is getting the word out. If you weren't already concerned about tariffs and increasing toy prices, here's one that is totally avoidable.

This may well mean your $13 Vintage and $20 Black Series figures will soon be $16-$17 Vintage and $25-$30 Black Series. I assume that not wanting a toy price increase is something American readers of this column can agree upon (and admittedly, I'm clueless about what happens if you were to, say, import from Canada.) Unless all you buy is vintage stuff on eBay or Transformers. At any rate. I urge you to reach out to your political representation since increasing toy prices tends to have an adverse reaction on toy development. After the loss of the major toy chains, an overall reduction in shelf space, and an increasing preference of kids to consumer electronics, the toy collectors of the world do not need higher prices and not all manufacturers may find it worthwhile to continue with this level of taxation. We've avoided various forms of VAT (value added tax) and other import duties, and I'd prefer it stay that way. I'm cheap. I like my toys to be cheap too.

LEGO makes a lot of their stuff in Europe and Mexico. Funko is pretty diversified, with a significant portion of its manufacturing in China as well as Vietnam. Mattel and Hasbro have quite a bit in China - especially Hasbro - and especially the action figure business.

Might this all blow over? Possibly! Trade is hard to predict and sometimes sense prevails, and sometimes things just get more expensive. There's nothing we can do to hedge against all costs - cardboard, plastic, fuel for boats, and all these things are going to go up. Licensors may well jack up royalty payments. Such a self-imposed price increase that doesn't go to workers, to IP holders, to executives, or to anybody won't stimulate toy job growth or do much to improve the quality of what we're getting. So write those letters! Hope for the best! Also maybe consider buying those Christmas presents early.



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If you've been reading 16bit.com lately - my other site that also has no readers - you've seen the seemingly endless development of new old software. I've long known of NES and Atari VCS games in the homebrew scene but there's been a big uptick in packaged software for just about everything, including the Apple ][. It's like Tarkin, or presumably those Beatles Anthologies for you olds out there.

The future is going to be really fun and weird as we keep getting older. I would probably bank on an Imaginext-style line (or ten) on Kickstarter for indie comics or public domain franchises in another 10 or 15 years. It wouldn't stun me at all to see the 12-inch Titan Hero Series action figures die out in a few years and become collector darlings in 2030, especially if fans can make their own cheaply overseas (or even domestically, depending on the future of manufacturing.)

The churn of time has given and taken away so much - new Star Wars movies come at the expense of classic merchandise, the return of Jurassic Park seems to coincide with a rapid decline of Batman and DC products successfully driven to non-preschool children, and Imaginext... well, even though it's going away, it continues to be the gift that keeps on giving. Super Amigos Riddler, X-Ray Man, Clawtron, Swamp Thing, and Jeff Goldblum? OK, I'm into it.

With Comic-Con around the corner I'm waiting to see if we'll finally see the so far no-show 2019 Micronauts cartoon and/or toys, but I'm hoping they just do some weird retro-looking line of Playskool toys for the tiny tots instead. Clear figures with silver heads? I'd buy 'em. I'm always a little surprised to see what comes out to market to older fans, especially as we have clearly transitioned from the 1990s way of doing things - kid lines that probably have adult fans, rather than adult lines priced so kids can't afford t collect them all. Maybe it's working! Maybe it's finite. I don't assume we'll get a future Deadpool nostalgia market without more kid-friendly stuff, but what do I know? I never would've counted on new Apple ][ games either.

--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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