Q&A: Star Wars Shipping! Exclusives! HasLab! PulseCon!

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 27, 2020

1. What does it take to get online retailers to properly package and ship collectibles?

Walgreen's did a perfect job packing their new exclusive Clone Trooper:they wrapped each box and added padding in the box if needed. Amazon usually shoves a figure into a padded envelope or undersized box with nothing else.
WalMart, same as Amazon.
If retailers are going to be hawking exclusives to us, wouldn't it make sense to package them well to keep us happy?

Because we/you are not important. Toys are a product with very thin margins that make a very small slice of most retailers' business. If you're not already equipped to ship fragile things, it can take some time to get it right. Target had a few black eyes, but they're known for doing a good job now. Walgreens ships bottles of pills and liquids, so breakages are kind of a thing they need to work around. Walmart and Amazon are in the business if getting your stuff to you as cheaply as possible - sometimes for free - and you get what you pay for.

If you want change, you have to demand it. And complain. Walmart is so big that the small quantity of collectible toys it deals with are not a concern. Sometimes Amazon slaps a shipping label on a retail box of a Hasbro item and dumps it at your door for the whole world to see - removing it from its SIOC (ships in own carton) packaging that would hide its detailing. Why? Could be training. Could be other reasons. These are overworked, underpaid people who currently are dealing with getting stuff to a world newly turned on to ordering literally everything for delivery, too.

I am not permitted to share with you the wholesale price of Hasbro products... but it's not as cheap as other kinds of products like textiles. If you've ever shipped a 3 3/4-inch or 6-inch carded figure in a box, you'd know that it takes at least 3"x6"x9" box - which can cost about 30-60 cents, depending on your sourcing - and $3.60-$5.00 for domestic USPS first-class postage. Also packing material. Also tape. Also manpower to pack the box. And electricity. Taxes. If you're huge, maybe you can negotiate better rates, but you're still paying for someone to pack and deliver your goods.

If you're selling a $20 figure with free shipping, you have to cut corners - so the cheapest shipping, in a padded envelope, does that quite handily. It also is fine for most products - nobody cares if screwdrivers or batteries or most consumer products get dinged packaging. That's why the packaging is there.

This is why you might order from Entertainment Earth or Big Bad Toy Store or Target and so on - they tend to do a better job packing, and sometimes it's not free shipping. I don't know how these retailers can afford to do free shipping for everything unless their margins on non-toy (and non-electronics) goods are incredibly good, and they most likely are. It comes out in the wash. Problem is, it doesn't benefit you, the toy fan. Hasbro Pulse can charge you $50 for all you can eat shipping because it comes with a side of loyalty. So can Amazon, and now maybe Walmart too. Or maybe you have to buy $50 in merchandise to get that free shipping... and it's not even necessarily good shipping from non-collector-focused retailers.

Vote with your dollars. (And your actual vote, election day is about a month away and the USPS is a great service that I use and delivers faster and cheaper than FedEx and UPS for your average action figure. But I digress.) Support the stores that support you best, complain when you can, and don't be afraid to pay a tiny bit extra for someone to use a box.



Ad: Stuff at Entertainment Earth!
Star Wars Black Series Rey Dark Side Vision Action Figure Star Wars The Black Series Boba Fett Deluxe Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Deluxe Jar Jar Binks Action Figure Star Wars Vintage Collection Captain Rex Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Force FX Elite Ahsoka Tano Lightsaber Star Wars The Vintage Collection 2020 Action Figures Wave 5 Avengers Video Game Marvel Legends Action Figures Wave 2 Power Rangers Lightning Zeo Megazord 12-Inch Action Figure G.I. Joe Classified Series 6-Inch Zartan Action Figure G.I. Joe Classified Series Cobra Infantry Action Figure Transformers War for Cybertron Kingdom Beast Wars Megatron Power Rangers Lightning Mighty Morphin Green Ranger Figure Transformers War for Cybertron Kingdom Deluxe Warpath Zoids Mega Tanks Turtle-Type Action Figure Kit


2. Do you think that the target exclusive [G.I. Joe 6-inch] cobra island figures will become available through other retailers later this year? I have always thought it was strange that they were numbered sequentially following wave 1 instead of having its own numbering system.

This is up to Hasbro and/or Target - right now the demand is there, and high. I don't know for a fact that the run has shaken out, but I do know that G.I. Joe is exceeding expectations - which you can see, too. Retailers can (and sometimes do) ask for second runs of exclusives, and sometimes those happen and sometimes they go to another retailer for one reason or another. (For example, Entertainment Earth has sold Walgreens' Stepford Cuckoos and C-3PO, and Toys R Us' 2006 Dagobah X-Wing, and other items when offered.)

It's worth noting for those who were unaware, Hasbro rarely (never) puts a store exclusive logo on exclusive toys anymore, and this was phased out somewhat suddenly after the decline of Toys R Us in 2018. (Don't call it a comeback. Because there was no comeback.)

As of right now I can tell you I am not aware of any shipments going to other retailers, but I am not all other retailers. In your shoes I would ask both Hasbro and Target - write real letters and let them know you want more, or where you might like to buy it if you are so inclined. It is always my sincere hope that figures are ran and reran until all demand is met, mostly because I personally don't give a rip if a figure is "worth something" and I assume more happy collectors means more customers for future items, which means we can get more great crazy action figures (see: 2006-2010.)

Keep demanding what you want from these two corporate overlords, but also know that if these figures are sold out, but selling for $5ish above SRP on online markets, that may mean demand has been more or less satisfied and you just have to keep hunting or pony up. (And also know, this request has indeed been heard... but the more voices, the merrier.)




3. I noticed today (9/24/20) that a few of the HasCon exclusive items on HasbroPulse.com are available for pre-order [Thursday], while [Wednesday] when I bought them as a HasbroPulse Premium customer they looked to be in-stock items ready for shipping. I'm just curious if you know (or think) that Hasbro is opening up pre-orders for some of these items so that they can actually produce more of these items to meet demand (like NECA has recently done with a few of their super hard to find TMNT figures). Or do you think they always had a second batch planned and just always knew they couldn't get them ready for this weekend? I love that idea that any toy/collectible company would take the time to meet demand as best as possible by producing more of an item "on-demand" because I have absolutely no personal interest as a collector in seeing crazy high secondary market prices for items that I wanted, but couldn't get (I'm especially thinking of the retro color scheme Black Series Boba Fett from last year.) I won't pay crazy after-market prices for anything because I collect SO many toy lines, I just can't afford to pay much more than retail almost ever, but I would DEFINITELY pay the original toy company MSRP prices to get more of what I missed.

As I write this I do not know - I did nag Hasbro to make more of these because that's how I roll, but I don't know if that's what is actually happening. They could make more (truly, they can make more of literally every item ever) and sometimes choose not to out of some sense of "keeping it special" or "keeping it limited," which I think is bad for morale. Me not being able to get things turns me off, just like too many versions of the same exact thing. Hasbro can't make these on demand, and overseas factories have pricing that can change depending on how many you run. More is cheaper per unit, you could get them to make you a single Sail Barge but it would be one very expensive Sail Barge.

There is generally a lot of fuss with SDCC in that they want items marketed as SDCC Exclusives to be exclusive to SDCC - although I do not know what the penalty is for making more and saying "tough" to them. Or changing the packaging and saying "this is different." Or just making a 6-inch Kenner Boba Fett that's 1978-style-sculpting, but with extra joints, and 6-inches tall. (Seriously I want that.)

But back to your question - I don't know if there's a second shipment coming (which would be smart due to distancing and processing orders), or if this is a later run for the future, or what. Maybe they have more business than warehouse workers - demand for toys has skyrocketed and I don't think I am telling tales out of school by saying everybody in the toy delivery business is seeing a surge in traffic right now. I haven't had to pay crazy aftermarket prices yet - sometimes I'll just sit and wait for a dip in the market, which usually happens - but things can change. 2013 SDCC Boba Fett used to be the only place you could get the Carbonite block, but that has since changed. A lot can happen.

It is my hope that more items can be re-opened to meet demand, mostly because everybody wins. You get your toy. The company gets money with less R&D. The factories get work. The stores can sell more stuff. The only losers in this situation would be speculators, and they can sell their stuff as soon as they get wind the pre-orders may be coming before the word gets out to everybody. Also some people stop collecting when they can't be completists - there are many lines I had to stop because I started keeping tabs on how much I spent just to be "complete" and it's rarely worth the sticker price, much less the market price.



Become a Patron!

Special thanks to our generous Patreon patrons, especially: JT, Bobb, Christopher, David, Jayson, Marco, Matthew, Robert, Shawn, Stephen, Timothy, Dan, Fox, Jeremy, Mario, and Todd! Thanks for helping us keep the servers on!



This was a mood whiplash of a week as far as my collecting fandom goes. I've been collecting (playing with) these figures since The Empire Strikes Back, and I've basically bought just about everything Kenner and Hasbro put out - until last year, I missed some of the gold guys with a sense of ambivalence regarding getting them on clearance or buying someone's collection on eBay later. (I got 2 of the 9 packs so far - the droids, and the Rey/Kylo set.)

But hey, The Razor Crest! I was guessing this was probably the most viable commercial option right now, and sure enough it funded in a day. The first "unlock" was visible on the initial renders, which makes me think this toy is going to have these "unlocks" regardless and they're less stretch goals than reveals. We're probably also owed some sort of deco sheet - and I pray it's silver paint and not that silver swirly plastic that's susceptible to crumbling. Sometimes the teams change over and this kind of breakable plastic shows up on a toy line - and I hope they remember to avoid it this time around. Because I want one of these, too.

I'd also like to note some very good news - I finally opened my Barge about a month ago. It was missing some parts - the clear struts were gone. Basically it looked like someone left the clear parts out of the clear tray, and it shipped out. Hasbro was able to replace the parts, even though I got it a year ago. I'm very happy about this, because with these higher price points customer service is more important than ever. It's not like I can just buy a junker Barge and steal a piece.

I'd be inclined to nudge you to buy a Razor Crest over the Credit Collection, Carbonized figures, and Holiday line - vote with your dollars! - but if you can afford it all, by all means, go for it. As a kid I was more interested in aliens, droids, main heroes, and vehicles - and I don't really do a lot of holiday decorating - so making up new troopers for seasonal reasons is less interesting. But if they did one? I'd buy it. Or a really cool Halloween trooper, or something that looks like an "off-camera" droid like Disney did? I'd buy it.

--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.



I'm on Instagram! All Pictures from a GameBoy Camera.