Q&A: Star Wars Returns in 2015, And We Do Too

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 4, 2015

1. The recent leak of figure images from TFA got me to thinking, when do you think we'll start to see official previews of the upcoming line for The Force Awakens?

Typically Hasbro has made Toy Fair the platform for the preview, but with the movie being given a December release date Comic-Con in July would be more sensible. I suspect Disney may be a bit sharper on forcing the media previews as things start to leak, but we're in uncharted territory here. Usually we get the toys about one or two months before the movie hit, but as we saw with Rebels we can even expect toys to hit long after the first episode aired. I can point to anything and speculate wildly.

I think Toy Fair is too soon for a public showing of a full toy line. Hasbro would be foolish to not tease it with at least a preview figure, but it could well happen. I hope they don't neglect the tradition of the "sneak peek" as we got at least a couple figures for each prequel just a few months early. If I were you, I'd bank on a full reveal no earlier than June or July from Hasbro... but you'll probably see everything via eBay or Taobao or another source by or just after Toy Fair.



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2. I've found a new way to avoid boredom when I need to sit quietly. Specifically, I'm trying to come up with my list of ten figures that I would use to represent the Hasbro 4" collection. If you're short on Q&A questions sometime, feel free to sound off on your list of ten. You can interpret "represent" however you desire, although I generally think of it as props for explaining why I love collecting Star Wars figures.

If I were giving a new collector advice to best represent the 3 3/4-inch figure collection, I'd probably ask them what their favorite character is and focus there. Are you a big fan of Tusken Raiders? Great - get the 1978 figure, the 1996 figure, the 1998 Bantha figure, and so on and so forth. You'll wind up with a great (and most importantly, portable) collection that shows everything the line has had to offer over its 37ish-year run plus you get to take opinion out of it. It's just a good sampling - you can see what worked, and what fell out of favor over time. Vinyl capes were all the rage up until around 1982 when they were mercifully terminated. Telescoping lightsabers were a hit for about a year, and then phased out of new sculpts minus the odd tribute down the road. Action features and electronics come and go, and after all this time the only figure to include integrated "speech" without a stand or talking accessory is R2-D2. I admire Hasbro's restraint.

Because of what I like - figures that can stand up, or sit down - I get more than a little grief from people who prioritize ball-jointed hip movement or rocker ankles. From where I sit now as an increasingly cranky aging collector, the best possible thing I could offer to anyone is perspective. If you love Darth Vader and get many of his various incarnations, you'll see a rich series of Hasbro's attempts to try nifty action features from the light-up weapons to the slide-out lightsaber of the 1978 original. Or the slashing feature from 2003 that knocks off his cape, usually. There are so many figures that character focus is probably what will bring the most joy to a fan with the least sense of being overwhelmed or overly obligated, and a shelf full of unique Jawas or Chewbaccas can tell quite a fascinating tale. The only figure I'd suggest not doing this with would be R2-D2, or perhaps even C-3PO, thanks in part to so many figures being derived from the same couple of sculpts. And let's be honest, even though Hasbro does change R2-D2's sculpt regularly it's not like the figure has really had any breakthroughs since finally abandoning the silver vac-metal domes and adding ankle joints. (Conversely, R2-D2 and C-3PO probably had more distinct different appearances thanks to their designs being featured in 3 TV shows so far, each of which got unique action figures.)

...and keep in mind that this is the toy line that may not end. If Hasbro releases a dozen figures per new movie (which is a low estimate) you're looking at another 72 figures in the next few years, plus TV figures, classic figures, and so forth. If you out there are a new collector or a lapsed one coming back into the fold, remember that back in the late 1990s we had something like 300 figures between 1995 and 2000, assuming you counted some pretty significant variations and pack-in figures. Even I assumed this line would be on the outs by 2008, after the prequels burned out whatever fuel this franchise had left. Granted today it really does feel like we're running out of steam, but a new movie, new kids, and new TV shows could help change that in the coming months.





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I usually take a break over Thanksgiving until New Year's because people stop reading and stop sending in questions. This year got pretty slow, so I plugged in some figure reviews while opening some new arrivals. The long-awaited Gothtriopolis Ravens arrived from the Four Horsemen and minus some stuck joints issues, seem to be pretty good. The Nintendo Wii U got marked down - and there were countless price drops on games which I kept posting on my Twitter - that I couldn't help but pick up a few of them. Super Mario 3D World is indeed a treat, especially if your fondest Christmas memory was setting up a Super NES at a neighbor's house while your parents yammered on about whatever and people generally left you alone for a few hours. Oh, good times.

Oh, and Transformers Generations Combiner Wars are hitting. We have some at work, plus I've seen Legends and Deluxes at Target so far. Obviously it's not Voltron but if you're like me and watch the old TV show as a kid, and had few to no complete combiner toys, these are surprisingly well-made. Better than most normal, not-combining Transformers.

I read a few people say 2014 was a bad year for toys, and while it was a bad year for some toys I still walked away with a lot of cool stuff. The Transformers Movie Dinobots were mostly neat. Masters of the Universe Classics brought Gwildor, tons of She-Ra stuff, and if you like Ninja Turtles or LEGO stuff it is truly a great time to be alive. No line is perfect, and Hasbro's most interesting action line for boys was Transformers. Star Wars has some waves still on the table - I'm waiting for the new Mission Series and Saga Legends - and if you collect G.I. Joe and are contemplating jumping off a bridge, well, I don't know what to say anymore. I am glad to say that as a year, even if the reduced SKU counts in many lines and seemingly dead spaces of months between waves in some lines got to you, there was enough new stuff to make it worthwhile. I was just commenting to someone that I had something like 18 new Transformers on my desk, and that's just from the past month and change. And a bunch of new stuff is due to follow very very soon, too, so if you like toys 2014 was good. If you like only one line specifically and aren't the kind of person to get excited about Jumbo Galaxy Laser Team reissues or Rise of the Beasts, well, maybe next time.

While many are posting about the lull as if it is some great offense, I'm OK with it. I want kids to have their own childhoods with toys that - I hope - are not pushed on them by their parents. (Could you imagine being a kid in the 1980s forced only to play with Marx soldiers and 12-inch GI Joes?) If Ninja Turtles are in this season, so be it. The age of 300+ Star Wars figures per year needed to end, and our last truly big hurrah was probably the 2008 launch. Since 2009, waves have been tougher to come by fairly consistently and while it's easy to look back with rose-colored glasses, I remember the emails from people not finding what they want and even only seeing some waves on shelves myself two or three times before vanishing a few weeks later. Things have never been easy since the 1995 relaunch, as there are thousands of us all compulsively collecting and some are still speculating - but I would wager that latter group has died down a lot.

So, there are more figures coming this year before the new movie but, as far as we know, not a ton. Enjoy the break. Unless of course you're new to our little game, in which case welcome and please buy our old crap off eBay or Amazon for pennies on the dollar. It's a great way to get your fill of new-to-you toys and building a collection while waiting for the new stuff, and let's be honest, how many really truly NEW figures did we get last year? The Black Series gave us something like 3 genuinely new, never-before-seen characters. We're on the verge of getting a bunch more thanks to the sequels, and I'm happy because I don't think I could suffer through another ten years of resculpting the main guys from Revenge of the Sith. Enjoy the break - with one new movie a year, plus classic and TV, you probably won't get another one any time soon.

If you love toys, 2015 will be good to you too. Star Wars has a new movie. If you believe in magic, we'll get Avengers plus Ant Man and their toy lines. I assume He-Man may fight his last fight for a while, but we'll also get more Glyos, more Marvel Legends, and more... something or other. I'm sure Funko will come up with more ReAction and one or two more lines which will be fun for you and great gifts for your parents who don't collect toys, too. And Toy Fair is just next month, so sit tight because it should be exciting. But I wouldn't get your hopes up about seeing too much for Star Wars: The Force Awakens just yet, considering how far off it is February really is too soon to play that hand for anything but "sneak peek" items. And I really do hope there are some.

--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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