Q&A: Star Wars Solo Launch, Figure Stashing, Checklists, and Launches

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 15, 2018

1. what do you think of the practice of stashing new figures at retail and then going on a public message board and saying "Found new Black Series figures at Walmart; got figures Y and Z for myself, stashed the leftovers. Send me a message for the location." Don't you think this is a bad practice for collectors to engage in? It completely screws kids, collectors, parents, casual fans and anyone else who comes along that's looking for those same items. "Finders Keepers" only goes so far. To paraphrase a line from The Simpsons: "Oh thank you mister I got mine and beans to everyone else who wants them!"

I'm sure you're like me and get what you need and then leave what's left for whoever else wants it. It's good toy karma; stashing figures for nobody in particular is not.

I see this activity sometimes on the AZ Collector's Board on the Rebelscum forums and it's very selfish and annoying. It's akin to "I got mine, neener neener." Again, like you I'm in Phoenix. New Black Series figures in any scale are a real chore to get (not looking forward to the wave one VC figures either, what a load of a "launch"), the last thing we need is this kind of collector behavior that makes them even harder to get.

Curious as to what you think, especially since we probably hit the same stores as the "stashers" do. Missing out on figures is a bummer, especially when it's due to short sighted collectors. I'd say scalpers too but do they really give a flying Zagnut about Star Wars (or action figures in general) anymore?

Arizona has had a lot of crappy collectors over the years. We have people buy a toy and swap another toy in the box, and return it. A lot. We had a huge rash of customizers painting up broken vintage 1980s vehicles or contemporary The Corps figures from Lanard, and returning those. Just think about that - someone bought a $6.99 figure, and a $2 figure. And then spent hours painting the $2 figure, carefully putting it in the packaging, and returning it. Assuming paint is free and time is unlimited I guess I can see why someone might do it, but there's almost no real profit in it. Returning toys takes gas and time - why do it?

Stashing toys is similar, but I don't really grasp why people would do this to the underpaid workers at the stores. Hiding inventory is a bizarre behavior, and all you're really doing is screwing with their inventory systems or forcing some poor schlub to reshelve all the product when they find it later. I know there are other collectors, but these things are made in big numbers. If you want to help your fellow fan, just buy it and save the receipt. You can return it. And you'll have actually really helped somebody.

I have found "hidden" toys more than once - often exclusives, often on nearby toy aisles. I will buy those items, or put them back if I don't want them. I want stuff to sell, because that's what is important. Any store selling an item wants you to buy it - that's really all that they want. Putting any sort of barrier in front of this activity means you're kind of being a jerk. I know those who do this probably don't care, but if a store has a few unsold figures that remain unsold and unfound, their inventory says "Hey that case of figures didn't sell. Don't order more." And then you get nothing.

Scalpers were a bad thing, except for the fact that they helped Hasbro's bottom line. People buying extras and sitting on them meant demand stayed high and Hasbro sold more units. Ultimately, that's what you want - Hasbro selling so many figures that they have to make more. In the 1990s, there were collectors. Kids. Fans. Scalpers. Speculators. Dealers. People who bought multiple sets as investments. The reason for the glut of those figures is because everybody bought them, in multiples, expecting a huge payday. And what ends up getting expensive? Fighter Pods and Titanium Series, because nobody cared to buy them.

...in the case of going-out-of-business sales, well, all bets are off.



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2. Is there any way to keep up with what's out or coming out? It seems like even the most compulsive fan sites have given up on being comprehensive. (Aside from Figure of the Day, of course.) Are we back to the pre-internet days of not knowing what's out there until it's actually in-hand?

Not really. I used to keep track of all of this stuff but with the advent of new movies, it's a "secret" and people get "angry" if you "tell people what to buy." I also had issues with people screaming bloody murder about spoilers in the forms of character names. For me, it stopped being worthwhile. It would be great if someone did the whole thing keeping a list updated, Yakface.com comes closest with their guides for launches based on what Hasbro shares and/or leaks.




3. It was quite interesting to consider Steve Evans' recent questions on HasbroPulse/Instagram requesting Fans suggestions for figures in the new Vintage Collection. I fully support your request to complete the Original 92 figures in the relaunched line.

Specifically in relation to 3 3/4" Vintage carded figures, were there any proposed figures by Kenner that never saw production at the end of the toy-runs for each of Star Wars, ESB and ROTJ? For example, even a rough list of figures that the Kenner designers were planning on producing if given the opportunity for each of the 3 films. Similarly, is there any Kenner records/lists on figures most-likely to be produced if the line had continued on past the "last 17" POTF figures? If so, I just thought it would be great to see possibly 4 Lost Waves in the new Vintage Collection, giving tribute to the Kenner designer's unrealised lists.

Bits and pieces got out of the next waves of figures, including some pretty great concepts for original characters to continue the storyline. Grand Moff Tarkin was one character brought back from "death" by a last-minute escape, and new characters like Atha Prime and his Clone Warriors have been rendered obsolete by comics and canon. Post-Return of the Jedi takes on Luke and Han were considered (and still seem like a great idea), as were fanciful new battle droids and the likes of the Mongo Beefhead Tribesman. There were also numerous unproduced figures from the cartoons, including the main characters from the TV cartoon Ewoks which were completely absent from the one actually released wave and the one not-released wave.

Movie characters like Gargan were also prototyped, but anyone asking for a new release of Gargan deserves a good punch to their favorite body part. (You know the one.) After redoing the Rancor Keeper, it is my hope that there is someone on the team that can wave their arms and scream "DO NOT DO THIS BAD IDEA HERE IS WHY" but we've seen some slow-moving car wrecks. Not many - just a few.

I don't think fans are the best source of intel for this kind of thing - you want to consult someone who knows the last 4 decades of actual releases like the back of their hand, and then balances what the remaining olds want with what a newcomer might want. Vader and Boba Fett will probably sell to anybody. Gargan on a vintage cardback will find vocal advocates in pockets of the older collectors - and these people must be soundly ignored. If you're the kind of person who thinks absolutely anything will sell on a vintage cardback, why even give a suggestion?

With few figures making it along far enough to approach quasi-almost status in the 1980s, I'd say let's ignore that in favor of what actually was released ("the original 92*") as well as what the modern fan might actually want. I don't think 2-1B on a faux-ESB cardback is a smart move. Donald Glover Lando with elbow joints could be a smart move. Yak Face (which we know is coming) will make a lot of people happy thanks to the mythology and the fact we haven't had one in 21 - soon to be 22 - years. Besides, the things that got closest to production are the unmade Ewoks and Droids cartoon figures - and while that would make me deliriously happy to the point where I could actually quit a happy man, I doubt it would do the same for the rest of you. (In other words, Hasbro - if you're gonna lose the license and you find out, just do this, otherwise I'll be promoting your competition until I die.)



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4. What’s with the scarcity of Solo product on April 13? I hit 3 Targets, 3 Walmarts, and 4 Meijers - only 1 store had an endcap set up for Solo! Say what you will about street dates - they used to mean there was a day when I could reasonably expect to find wave 1 without a lot of hassle!

Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen. AH HA HA HA HA HA - er, yes.

To retail, Star Wars has stopped being special. Or rather, Star Wars is now being treated just like any old line, and it is. If you release a new movie every year with a new toy line, it's no longer special - it's normal, and you don't celebrate "normal."

The launch itself is interesting, in that this is the first "level playing field" we've seen - stores treated Solo like every other toys by putting them out whenever they felt like it. A dozen or so lines have a launch date with a street date, but almost no stores make a fuss over i. Stuff gets out early, nobody is punished, online sellers have to hold to the date, wash rinse repeat. It's not super important to the individual store unless it's flagged by corporate in their systems, and your average customer has no awareness of these "launch holidays" that are being sweated over by executives year in and year out. Just this week Jakks Pacific launched Incredibles 2, Mattel had Jurassic World (the official date is Monday), and Hasbro put out Star Wars - but you definitely don't feel like something big just happened. Maybe you saw toys, and maybe you didn't. Some stores didn't put their stuff out yet, still.

You can't make something new every year and expect fans and the media to dance like a monkey with a grinder. Stores don't even care - it's just more of the same to them, and the toy packaging is barely sufficiently different enough to really stand out as "new." It's not worth most stores' effort to play along with the licensor demands for these launch parties, and now they've finally turned on Star Wars. This is what you get by trying to make everything the most important thing ever - and lest you forget, May 4 is just around the corner too. And so is Alien Day. And nobody cares outside of marketers, thanks to nothing particularly amazing being launched in previous years.

If you're asking me - and you're not - I think Hasbro should bring back the "sneak preview" waves we got during the prequels. Have a few items with a street date, and we'll all run out to get those 4 figures and 1 vehicle. It's easy to get excited over a handful of items. It's a lot hard to get excited when you're running all over town looking for 20-30 items, and you don't even have time to enjoy things before having to run out the next batch. Spread them out - everyone will be happier.



I had a whole thing about Mattel's Jurassic line and Hasbro's Star Wars line here, but it was long and boring. In short - Mattel took over a Hasbro brand. For 25 years Hasbro has had the dinosaur movies, although they've been pretty lackluster since 2002 - you'd get an off-year line once in a while, and some neat small lines for the new movies. Mattel decided to launch something big and ridiculous, and hit a lot of good points. Target got a line of "classic" exclusives, Walmart got a suite of bloodied battle-damage dinosaurs, and Toys R Us would have had magnetic attack creatures. Maybe they're hitting today - I really don't know what's going on there exactly. Mattel also got its app up last month, and Hasbro's new Force Link 2.0 app wasn't ready and as an Old, that's maddening. Selling consumers broken toys was an inevitability once apps stop being supported or get pulled from the various stores, but to launch without the app? Sloppy.

I like what Hasbro did, mostly. I think it's extremely strange that you can't buy a 3 3/4-inch Han Solo figure for under $30 in this new line, but if money is no object it's a decent line-up. You get a lot of new characters, some troopers, and a relatively small number of vehicles. For an unknown movie - one where it seems we got "Han" faces instead of "Aiden" faces - it seems this was probably someone hedging their bets about the star being recast. After all, the Donalds Glover and Emilias Clarke look pretty spot-on so far.

The products are mostly good, with an exquisite new Wampa, a gorgeous Dewback, an adequate Vintage offering, and a 3 3/4-inch line-up that I would call worthwhile. It's my hope we see more new guys (and some old guys) spread across more waves every couple of months between now and the next movie, rather than go into hibernation and give fans more reasons to stop stalking the stores. There's something for you if you're a collector, unless you're on a strict "no upgrades ever" policy. I think that Mimban Stormtrooper is pretty slick, but admittedly I've found so many new toys I've yet to open mine yet. It's too much... and that's a weird problem to have right now.

I hit a lot of stores last weekend and saw a lot of stuff - but no store seemed to have everything out at once, and some stuff got trickled out over the weekend. I guess hunting is once again back in fashion.

--Adam Pawlus

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