Q&A: Star Wars Rebels Street Dates, Old Kenner Figure Runs, Titanium and Command and You

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 31, 2014

1. So is there a street date for Hasbro's Rebels line? There is much new product showing up in stores, it seems, but nothing from the Rebels line, apart from a couple of Rebels-themed Command Series sets, and certainly nothing from the 3.75 inch line. Likewise, as yet none of the online retailers have anything available for preorder. You're in the industry, have you heard anything about when we can expect to see this line on shelves? Or is this something you're not at liberty to discuss?

While street dates are hard to enforce, there's a lot of weirdness in Rebels. As you can see, many online toy stores didn't have them up for order (or pre-order) when the other new stuff like Command and the jumbo vehicles went up. You can go to the store and buy the roleplay items right now, but why? I have no idea.

The action figures are not widely up for pre-order yet, but you'll notice that they come in the existing assortments - so Saga Legends and Mission Series use the same 5-digit assortment SKU, meaning at Target they have the same DPCI, meaning the stores will be unable to hold them back once they come in. It's an active SKU, they'll put it out - there will be no midnight madness or fanfare, and while there may be a delay of online pre-orders the infrastructure of American retail will not allow "wave 2" or "wave 3" of an item to be blocked from shelves easily. I would expect to be surprised and potentially see them in September or early October... unless the black card stuff backs up.

At Target, all the new SKUs (save for the exclusives) have been set - so the shelf space is there, the new stuff just has to show up now.



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2. I've been wondering lately: What's the most common vintage Kenner Star Wars action figure? In any random box of old figures, who's guaranteed to be there? The original 12 and the next 9 seem plentiful; Walrus Man stands out, but maybe just because he's so colorful. Looking at some photos of people's hoards, I'm beginning to think the Hoth Rebel Soldier might top the list. What do you think? And more important: what do you know?

Specific numbers of each character were not released, but numbers on all varieties of figures can be found in Star Wars: From Concept to Screen to Collectible. It's a very large number, Wikipedia says 300,000,000 but I think the book got more specific. (My copy is in a box I need to get out and on a shelf.) Wikipedia says they sold 40,000,000 in the first year which means that more than 10% of the business is in 12- and potentially 20- and 21-backs. If there were indeed 40,000,000 in the first year (meaning 1978-1978), depending on how you keep time, there were 12, 20, or 21 figures on shelves. So if Hasbro sold 40,000,000 in the first year, and there were 12-21 varieties, that means - in the first year - each character could range from 1.9 million to 3.3 million on average. That's a lot - I don't think any toy line is getting those numbers today, or even in the 1990s.

There's a big difference between "most produced" and "most desirable." Supply and demand mix, meaning some guys like Darth Vader will be worth more even though there are many more of them. I saw the same thing when I looked at arcade video games - Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and the like are worth more despite being the most common. For how most toy collectors think, this is backwards, but it's true with out hobby in many places too. There were shortpacked figures in the 1970s too but the ratios do not seem to be known. I remember being told that the Jawa wasn't out with the rest of the figures at launch, but have had difficulty corroborating this. Having said that, what would you rather own - a scarce B-Wing Pilot or a relatively common Darth Vader?

Kenner made lots of Boba Fetts - and gave them away for free. He's not cheap today because he is highly prized, there's a coolness that transcends things like availability, supply/demand, and being overrated. Walrus Man was widely available, but some figures weren't favored playthings. For this reason they stay in good condition and can be bought cheaply, simply because they didn't get worn out by play, lost at school, forgotten at Grandma's, etc. It's hard to find, for example, X-Wing Luke or Hoth Han with super-mint paint on their shoes because they knocked against the vehicles and wore down with play. It happens. On the other hand, Greedo figures are usually in pretty good shape, save for the eyes.

Those first figures were bought for boys - little kids played with them, lost them, chewed them up, buried them, shot them, and generally had a good time with them. As time went on kids were more careful, had less time for play, and maybe just stored them or generally took better care of them. By Return of the Jedi some kids even kept them on the cards - and Kenner overproduced the line, which got dumped at various stores for $1 per figure. You could get Imperial Shuttles, Jabbas, Royal Guards, and even many Power of the Force figures for pennies on the dollar at some stores.

With this in mind, it's hard to say what might have survived. Kenner made more R2-D2s, but he got played with - so his sticker got roughed up, and may have been more likely to be given away when your R5-D4 stayed close to mint because you didn't love him as much. During my time working in the mines of the toy world I found figures from the sequel seemed to be more plentiful and cheaper, but the numbers say that the original 12 should be the most common - and I can tell you the original scope-free, lightsaber-less R2-D2 didn't come around all that much.




3. You are a HOT WHEELS guy. Will your employer offer cases of the ships? Or can you even discuss that yet? Not interested in cars. But ships? Oh yeah.

I wouldn't say I'm a Hot Wheels guy but I did spend some time studying them - and I can say online stores like Entertainment Earth are going to be selling full casepacks of the vehicles as available from Mattel. I can also say the full breakdowns may not always be divulged, so you might be buying blind - that's what happens with most Hot Wheels assortments. You order by a code, and while all the code cases have the same basic mix the breakdown of the 72-car case is not always published. So you might get mix "999A" and you know "999A" has a specific car, but that may not be on the retailer web site - you'll have to check for updates, but not all information on all assortments is always available. Mattel toys are done differently than Hasbro, and I have less frequently seen situations where casepacks for their products make it out. That's probably all I can say without waivers and a book deal. (Spoiler: this will not be an interesting chapter.)



4. Just wanted to say I'm looking forward to hearing your opinions on what Hasbro showed us at Comic Con. I wasn't all that impressed, overall, and was hoping for more reveals - there didn't seem to be that much shown that we hadn't seen before, or didn't already know about.

What's your opinion of the Imperial Troop Transport? It seems to be playing the nostalgia note, but seems kind of small and it doesn't seem like the troopers will stay in it for long, given the short slots for them. And NO WHEELS on the bottom? That's a shame. I want to like the AT-DP, but the screw holes on one side kind of ruin it for me, and I'm not a fan of the firing cannon on the "chin." I also don't care for the design of the pilot figure, so I'll likely be skipping this one.


Can you tell us anything about the Hot Wheels Star Wars lines, particularly the "realistic" line? Pricepoint, release dates, etc.


Not Star Wars-related, but are you interested in the NECA "Planet of the Apes" line? I think they look pretty great, and am looking forward to getting those from the original film - one of the best movies EVER. I'm also pretty stoked for the upcoming [DC Collectibles] "Batman: The Animated Series" figures!

The Imperial Troop Transport looks good but I haven't got to play with one - so I don't know how it'll work out. As someone who grew up in a house with carpet, wheels proved problematic as rolling things on tables and counters was verboten and the carpet just ruined them. So as that sad kid, no wheels doesn't bother me and the new design is a new design - I still have my original Imperial Cruiser and Imperial Trooper Transporter, so I can always go back to them. The new one looks quite nice, and my only real concern is how well the figures can sit in the slots - and to be honest, how easy it will be to buy the Stormtroopers to fill it out. I haven't even seen 12 Saga Legends Stormtroopers!

The first wave of Hot Wheels is expected in September, which may mean October. Walmart will have an exclusive assortment of cars, but before you freak out there's usually a few weeks where you can find these in there. Just keep your eyes open. And also please don't buy any, I am actually quite excited about those cars with Star Wars wraps on them. The "character cars" and die-cast ships should be under $5 each, depending on where you buy them. The playsets will vary from SKU to SKU, but if you look at the current crop of Hot Wheels you can get a pretty good idea - the Marvel "character cars" just started hitting big box stores.

As much as I love The Planet of the Apes series I probably will not collect the line. Not because they aren't good, but because I am not a fan of the 7-inch super-realistic figure as a format as they are opened, examined, shelved, and generally ignored until another series comes out. Once the line is complete, I never think about them again. I'll probably buy Caesar from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and call it quits there just because of the issue of timing. Five years ago? I'd be all-in... but I got some Pop! Vinyl apes and I'm pretty happy with those. I really do love the Apes movies, but I also love Gremlins and stayed away for pretty much the same exact reason.

Similarly I love animated Batman, but I've also still got all my original Kenner guys. At this point in my collecting career I'm more interested in getting toys - durable, hard-to-break toys - than action figures made for adult collectors.



Six Second Toy Talk - Because You Don't Have a Minute
It's a Thing You Can Watch




In my heart of hearts, I'm always trying to do something new - problem is, I'm doing old stuff and that tends to take up most of my time. I tried something new last week on my YouTube Channel with Six Second Toy Talk, which with credits is over 6 seconds and has no talking. I've seen people spend several minutes on unboxing, and then another 20 minutes on a $5-$10 toy. Now I know times are tough... but c'mon man. Six seconds! Let's do this. I look forward to being quickly forgotten, but let me just say these are a blast to make. And dumb. Really, really dumb.

For those of you who really loved Titanium Series, it's - sorta - back. The vehicles for the new army men line, Star Wars Command, are not only the same size but use the same size pegs on their display stands. You can totally put the Ghost or a TIE Fighter on any Titanium (or Galoob Die-Cast Metal) stand you happen to have lying around. Handy, no? Anyway, what's interesting here is that I know some of you fancy yourselves customizers and model makers (I myself am merely good at acquiring things) and as such, you can continue to expand your Titanium Series collection - or customize and sell to fans of that line - using these ships. This is kind of nice, because it helps the dead line remain sort of relevant with this other, cheaper scale. Of course, there's still no ultimate "definitive" vehicle line although I would wager that's what Eaglemoss in the UK is gunning to do eventually.

MicroMachines probably had the best representation of the original trilogy and the 1990s Expanded Universe (their line was called "Epic Collections" and they came in little books.) Action Fleet, while good, was ultimately a very small line. If you merge Galoob's 1990s Die-Cast, along with Hasbro's Episode I Die-Cast Metal line and Titanium Series that's probably the definitive vehicle line for the saga right now - scale is an issue, sure, but it tends to win as far as variety goes. With the new movies Hasbro won't even peep as to what their plans are - we can assume 3 3/4-inch because of tradition, but what about Command, Jedi Force, or even a return of Titanium? I've got no idea - but at least we do know that for those who really went all-in for the die-cast 3-inch vehicles of 1996ish-1999 and 2005-2012, you don't have to stop just yet. Granted, the packs with the vehicles are a bit more expensive, but you can still get yourself some ships from the new Rebels show to hang out with your Twilight and your Torrent fighters.

--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.

Original 12

The Jawa was definitely the last of the Original 12 to hit shelves, probably due to the switch from vinyl to cloth for the cape. I think the Tusken Raider and Death Squad Commander were the next-to-last to arrive. Before those, I can't remember exactly the order the rest came out - I think we got the Stormtrooper and C-3PO at the same time, and Ben, Vader, and Han together, but I don't remember the order (it was 36 years ago). We got the Early Bird Set, so we already had those four - it's possible that some others arrived on shelves with them in the first 'wave'.