Q&A: Star Wars Retro, Mini-Rigs, and More Retro

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 8, 2020

This week in Q&A - Mini-Rigs! I'd love some more. And Vintage-style figures from Disney-era stories are a thing now. We really like The Retro Collection here and hope it has a bright future.

Be sure you send in your questions for next time. The mailbag is out of on-topic questions, so if you got some, send some in. Read on!

1. With the announcement of the vintage-style Mandalorian figures, Hasbro seems to be doubling down on the vintage-style sub-line with a new focus. But how much of this do you think is driven by the emergence of vintage-style customizers over the past year or so? Talented toymakers such as Hasnotalent, Healeymade and markpoon have been sculpting, casting and selling their own vintage-style figures that seem to be carrying this niche market right now. Is Hasbro's new subline their way of shutting down this competition without the inevitable backlash if they go after the little guys? Or is this just a recognition that there is significant demand out there for figures in this style?

Fans (me) have been asking Hasbro to consider this for years - I expected we would've got Darth Maul, Jango Fett, Clones, and a few others a decade ago! I've certainly forwarded the HasNoTalent links to all sorts of people, and the endless supply of quality designs shows people want this stuff and are willing to pay for it. Having said that, I would guess Super7's success (and pursuit of licenses for ReAction Figures) probably drove Hasbro to do Marvel and Mando figures before someone else would do it. It remains to be seen if these guys are one-offs or part of a growing, ongoing line.

It's my hope Hasbro continues the line and puts some thought into what to make (Vlix) as the line continues, be it something everybody wants and will sell by the tens of thousands or things that they will sell tens of thousands of to a toy buyer at one specific company.

I have no idea what the future holds for this format as I write this - you know what I know!- and I didn't even hear about the dirty Stormtrooper with Monopoly until after a couple of days. (But $50, though, no.)

There's going to be backlash - there always is. Fans hate change, in part because fans are not a monolith. There are 50 somethings who adore retro figures and will buy them all, and teenagers who just want 6-inch figures of their favorites. I love these things, but if Hasbro starts doing carbonized retro figures I'm sure I'll just throw up my hands, too.



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2. Imaginary good news!
You’ve been put in charge of the Retro Collection! The Mandalorian looks set for 2021, but you get to choose who goes in the 2022 wave and the ROTJ anniversary wave in 2023. Who do you pick?

Well, the first thing I would do is declare an end to vinyl capes - they had a great run from 1978-1981, then we got new sculpts with cloth robes and capes in 1982 with the likes of Zuckuss. I think Gideon looks fine, but Greef Karga and Mando would greatly benefit from Hasbro pulling a page from Kenner's past with the Jawa - and making a running change. They'll sell more. I'd re-buy them with cloth capes.

Left to my own devices I'd probably waste your time in 2022 with Season 1 Full Beskar Mandalorian (cloth cape, no signet yet), Death Trooper, Heavy Infantry Mandalorian, The Armorer, Clone Wars Flashback Death Watch Mandalorian, Mayfeld (Bill Burr), The Client, and repacks of the Stormtrooper. It'll sell. Budget permitting, also a deluxe Blurrg - I've wanted one since I saw them in Ewoks: The Battle for Endor as a kid.

For Return of the Jedi, my wish list is short and poorly considered. I'd love to see Gargan because Kenner almost made one 40 years ago - there's a prototype. I'd also like to see Elom, Ishi Tib, Ephant Mon, Wedge Antilles, Slave Leia, If we're talking a reissue wave of 6? Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, Han Solo Carbonite, Princess Leia (Boushh Disguise), Admiral Ackbar, Emperor's Royal Guard, Biker Scout. And if they can do a board game bonus new sculpt figure... let's go with Hayden Anakin Skywalker. That'd be nice and weird, and can use existing design work.




3. What are your thoughts on mini rig vehicles in the 3.75 scale? Would mini-rigs of various realistic and playability features revive Star Wars with kids or is it more about the quality of entertainment product that would spur greater purchases. I am just thinking about price point and attractiveness to kids.

I loved the old ones as a kid, and haunted antique sales and garage sales to get most of them as one of my first "collecting" goals. (I just wanted to play with them.) The Imperial Sniper, One-Man Sand Skiff, and Security Scout I wouldn't get until much later - they were expensive! - and not nearly as cool as the AST-5 or PDT-8. I know fans hate it, but I have an MTV-7 on my desk right now with a Healeymade Shadow Raider in it. It's great.

I think the format has value if Hasbro plays it up right, but right now they're not doing 3 3/4-inch vehicles for kids. I wouldn't be surprised to see them have success with an Escape Pod, a Blurrg, or other small-scale things, and it seems the secondary market has been largely very kind to the new mini-rigs we got for The Clone Wars and 3-D prequel lines.

Due to the brand's expansion, and Disney's desire to focus on new stuff and retro, no one area is getting built out. The prequels enjoyed at least a year with mostly "new movie toys," which meant you could get a few guys from a single movie and build out a toy box. I'd love to see them just focus on The Mandalorian for a year with vehicles, figures, and so on - but instead they're skipping around, so I doubt any kid is going to see two or there figures from any one film or TV show at once ever again.

Mini-Rigs - as in, off-screen original vehicles that look Star Wars-y - need to be taken over by third parties. Fans, Lanard Toys, Kickstarter projects, or other areas since they don't necessarily need Star Wars branding to be good toys. Other than the Knights of the Slice capsules, vehicle-type things are far and few between in the 3 3/4-inch indie toy space so I wouldn't fathom you would see any. At one point there was chatter that Mel Birnkrant and The Outer Space Men crew were considering vehicles for their 3 3/4-inch figures, but after 10 years I don't think we're going to see them.

I'd love to do one. I can't draw or sculpt, though, so I wouldn't bet on it.



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Monday is the last day to buy the Razor Crest which includes three unique super-articulated action figures. At least two of them will be on The Vintage Collection cardbacks... and the number sold makes me think a lot of people are buying extras to either flip or carve up and sell off the carded figures.

Did you hear the news on Saturday? I've been waiting for this news for a while. I mean, we've all been waiting for the day where this would happen. That's right, Mandalorian spin-off rumors. The show has been pretty good so far - and for the curious, I consider Monday morning to be fair game for spoilers from last week's episode - so it could be interesting to see what kind of spin-offs we could get given the budget and casting that already exists. Do people want to see more of Cobb Vanth? Or Trapper Wolf and the dad from Kim's Convenience? Maybe!

This is the kind of shift in gear I want out of Star Wars, mostly. As far as merchandising goes, I'd rather the product be a bit more like it was in between-prequel years. "Here's the guys you wanted from the new movie" plus "here are more classic guys you wanted" scratched the itch well, kept sales high (where I was concerned, at least) and most of all made me happy to keep shelling out cash. Last week I saw a Carbonized Death Trooper at Walmart and could not honestly see why I would want to pay $18 for it when it seemed to look just like the regular one I had at home from a few years ago. If The Mandalorian is the hub of a new franchise with spokes poking off in all directions, that could be good for those of us that want more "classic" The Mandalorian characters, creatures, droids, and vehicles. Not only could they show up again, but releasing a character may (or may not) tie in with an upcoming episode - much like we saw with classic Emperor and Boba Fett toys. It could be tipping their hat, and it could just be a classic character. Everybody wins here.

...I also noticed Best Buy has Katamari Damacy Reroll for $12.99, which I would go ahead and say is a required purchase for Switch owners out there. This is not a paid plug, I just like it and that's cheap.

--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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