Q&A: Star Wars Profits, Patience, and Patrol Vehicles

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 24, 2019

1. From your knowledge, does Hasbro make more money on a single 6 inch figure than it does on a 3.75 inch figure?

I don't actually know this one - I know wholesale costs, but not factory costs, development costs, or actual return on investment.  Obviously, one costs more, but what it costs to make? I don't know.

We also don't know how much work goes on behind the scenes on these things to get them right. I assume Hasbro would have less work (and less tooling to invest in) with 5-jointed 3 3/4-inch figures, and I've heard conflicting stories on the cost to develop a super-articulated 3 3/4-inch figure versus a super-articulated 6-inch figure. The retail prices of $20 versus $13-$15 shows that there doesn't seem to be that much room for profit without the higher price, but again, I don't know the actual costs less licensing and insurance and electricity and whatnot. (Fun tangent - over the years things have been scooted my way - but nothing on these formats or the Star Wars brand, and not recently. You can blame the rising costs in Chinese labor for a lot, because they need to eat too.)



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2.What's the likelihood of a second crop of Solo AT-DTs? I used to have good luck coming across these hard to find items when I could spend 2-3 hours a day on toy runs, but alas I have children and other responsibilities these days.

Everything that has been produced is probably all we'll see produced (failing a fan-demanded reissue down the road), but there's a possible silver lining here. We don't know what Hasbro's warehouses are sitting on to sell to big box, online retailers, or the graveyard that is Ross stores. It's very possible that there are hundreds (maybe even thousands!) waiting to show up - I've only seen them at Walmarts and online stores like Entertainment Earth (in stock as I type this!) myself, the latter of which because I got mine there. I would recommend ordering it online if the price is fair, but if you want to gamble on them showing up again I would recommend checking online shops and places you go for weird old closeout toys.

...having said that, there's an exception to the rule - I frequent a Walmart that often puts stuff out months late direct-to-clearance. They'll never add a product to the aisles for a reset, but magically 2-3 months after Christmas, there they are. At half price. In the clearance section, in perfect packaging. This year, it was a lot of Playmobil - other Walmarts have had it out for months, but my go-to store just now finally put them out. It's weird, but it can happen with pretty much any toy - this may not help you as one who no longer does the toy run thing, but at least you can take solace in the fact you were never going to trip over them in the first place. If you're not likely to go hunting a couple of times a week, and you're not ordering online, I am not optimistic for your chances of ever getting anything by stumbling on it. Despite the supposed lack of interest in the Solo line, the bulk of those toys were pretty tough to come by.




3. I'm seeking advice. The shortest possible version is: I ordered a few things from a reputable customizer, things that could conceivably take a few months to finish, it's been over a year and they're no longer returning my emails or messages, should I put them on blast or just eat the loss and take it as dumb tax?

I am a tremendous pain in the neck.

I have dealt with some preposterously slow customizers. Friends of mine can also vouch for the fact that I can be incredibly slow to send out boxes. (Thank you for your patience, Seth.) If you have reached a point where you're sure no more responses are coming, consider asking if anyone has heard from him lately on a public forum he may frequent, just because you need a status update. You might not have to say anything after that - and others may have things to say. It's hard to know if you're dealing with a scam, an overworked talent, health problems, or something else entirely. Heck, for all you know the guy could be dead. Asking around for answers is probably your best bet right now.

When I ask someone to make something special, my guideline is to follow the Paypal refund policy - or whatever policy is on whatever it is you do. Having said that, a customizer that shall remain nameless took close to a year to get me some Transformers, and then left out a part, which took even longer to get figured out. I got my stuff eventually - so if you're in no position to get a refund, you're absolutely in a position to demand answers. How you do that is entirely up to you - in your position I'd probably ask for a progress report or I'd post on any forum in which his customs appeared that I have been waiting [length of time] and have been unable to reach him, and would like an update. Nobody's accusing anyone of anything other than bad communication... and generally speaking people who keep putting off answering an email can tell when it's time to finally give someone an answer.

If you used a form of payment where you can demand a refund, I would do that immediately. You can also write an actual letter if you know the person's address, just to say you're needing a response, even if that response is "30 more days." In your shoes, I'd probably send one last email and then start asking if anyone has heard from him lately on your preferred forums or social media platforms. Maybe he's having problems - and that would be good for all parties to know.



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The mail bag is empty once more! Next week is ready to go, but after that? The next question we answer could be yours! Or someone else's. Let's see who writes in.

First, some good news - at least one 99 Cents Only store near me stocked Star Wars Hot Wheels Starfighters 2-packs. I finally picked up the Mon Calamari Cruiser vs. Star Destroyer for $1.99.

Star Wars is still slow. I've heard from people who say their Walmarts have little to no Star Wars. The one nearest to me had a few lightsabers, some dusty Black Series 6-inch leftovers, and the odd Mimban 6-inch Stormtrooper. Targets seem to have a smattering of stuff, sometimes new, mostly old, and some other odd retailers have a bit of leftover The Last Jedi which will sadly probably be there for a while. The lack of aliens, droids, and weird baddies have probably not helped, but I'm the kind of person that wags their finger at the lack of cohesiveness. I miss themed waves - getting to buy 3-4 new figures that can hang together on the shelf was always nice. Even the Dagobah wave in 2004, which was just new takes on Yoda, R2-D2, Luke, and Obi-Wan Kenobi came together incredibly well. The sequential one-per-wave "McQuarrie Collection" was sort of brilliant too - they called out figures that should be purchased together, and it would be awesome to see Hasbro try something like that again some day. Maybe brown tabs for Jabba's Palace, gold for the Cantina, orange for Yavin IV, anything to say "now go buy these guys, too."

Spring and Summer of 2019 looks a lot like early 2015, 2016, and 2017. Some new things are coming. There won't be many. We'll be waiting around a lot. It's kind of a pity that Lucasfilm isn't spreading out its star wares a bit more - a video game launch right now would be pretty awesome. Fallen Order for Xbox One, PS4, PC, or whatever is due later this year... when the new toys will hit, and there will be more competition for Star Wars dollars. There's a lot of money to bleed out of fans, and a lot of opportunity to sell us stuff in the slow seasons. I mean, I spent the weekend looking for Sega Genesis shoot-'em-ups at second-hand stores and continuing to very slowly clean out my closets. Normally, I'd have some Hasbro exclusive to track down from Star Wars or Transformers or something else - it's not like there are many new toys to track down. (Aside: yes there are new Siege Transformers. They are here.)

I got a few more episodes into Resistance and it's still Resistance. It's a bit better, but unless they're setting up future callbacks I could see a future rewatch involve more episode skipping. I very much like the toy figures, and I would be keen to hear if the target audience dug it or not. From the look of things, the future of Star Wars on TV may well set up a new generation of collectors because there are too few figures, many unrepresented as toys, and that tends to drive interest over time. Perhaps we'll see kids in 15 years clamoring for more The Clone Wars and Rebels, too, as neither seemed to fully exploit toy potential. (We did get some cool stuff.)

It's kind of funny - for years I've been looking for a bit of a break from Star Wars hunting every day, and now that it's here it feels wrong. I guess that's how it works. Hopefully this time I'll get my affairs in order by Episode IX so I can make room for what may be the last big push for a while, given the minimalist approach we've seen given to non-movie launches since the The Clone Wars.

--Adam Pawlus

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