Q&A: Star Wars Surprises, Licenses, and Oldses

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 3, 2019

1.As I understand it, Hasbro's 1/18th 3 3/4 scale license is up in 2020. Is this correct? Assuming they were to lose the bid to renew, who seems most likely to pick it up (Mattel?)--and are there any standard features/approaches to action figures we should then expect from the new company? And do you see a new licensee as starting the line from scratch with new versions of the basic figures for which we already have umpteen-dozen versions? Or is it more likely they will focus on the new media given the rumors for multiple SW shows on Disney+?
--Rash Flembar

The future of Hasbro and Lucasfilm is not officially known. What the new license includes - if anything - hasn't been known, and I've never heard any rumors specific to 3 3/4-inch in particular. Inside or outside of Hasbro, nobody has said anything about it getting carved off as of yet.

I doubt a new licensee would start over at 0. I figure anyone running the line would do what has always been done - the most popular faces of the original trilogy, combined with whatever Lucasfilm is trying to sell as its new offering (games, TV, movies), alongside a slice of new-retro faces for us olds.

There is really no precedent for a coordinated merchandising campaign around an adult-driven streaming show. Marvel's stuff all came out after the shows. There were some Dreamworks items with toys, but that was planned alongside the corresponding movie toy lines. I don't assume you'll get a lot from the TV shows when they happen, because that's been the way things have gone so far. If you get a dozen figures from The Mandalorian during its first season, I will be pleasantly surprised. I wouldn't be shocked to see them trickle out over the next few years if the show is a hit, though.

No matter what, you're going to be asked to buy more Vaders and Lukes and whatnot. That is the way of things.



Ad: New Hasbro Toy Fair Toys at Entertainment Earth!
Star Wars Vintage Collection Skiff Guard Action Figure Set X-Men Marvel Legends 6-Inch Action Figures Wave 4 Star Wars Vintage Collection Gamorrean Guard Action Figure Power Rangers Lightning Collection 6-Inch Figures Wave 1 Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Titan Omega Supreme Transformers Generations Siege Deluxe Wave 4 Set Transformers Generations War for Cybertron: Siege Jetfire Transformers Generations Siege Voyager Wave 3 Case Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Leader Optimus Prime Transformers Generations Selects Voyager G2 Combat Megatron Transformers Generations War for Cybertron: Siege Springer


2. I'm turning 40 this year. I'm still in the game, but I've slowed waaay down. Right now, the things I'm most interested in are the things that are most like what I had when I was a kid. I'm excited about Super7's MOTU 5.5s and ReActions. I love the G1 reissues Walmart is getting. Do you see anything like that in our future where Star Wars is concerned? I'd love new Kenner-style figs, but I'd settle for some fresh OT in the 5POA line. As great as that new(ish) Hoth Leia looks, I have a Hoth Leia. I've had her for like 40 years. How about a Stormtrooper Han? Or a Ceremonial Luke? A Tantive IV Trooper? A Cantina alien Kenner never got to? Beyond that, could Hasbro even put a non-super-articulated figure on a vintage-style card without people losing their minds?

Many questions!

Hasbro has indeed proven they will do vintage styling for vintage (retro) figures - but will they ever do it for a kid's line? I doubt it. I hope they consider it - that look would probably propel the line to new heights. Or at least, it'd grab eyeballs who were ignoring the bland looks we had for the last couple of movies. Kenner got it right in 1978 - and I'd also argue in 2002, that "Saga" look felt like a cousin of the originals. I don't think you'll see a kid line in that style for quite some time.

I am dodging your 5 POA question.

Newness is important - but Hasbro is very interested in reissues. I don't know why. I think it's a lack of imagination or a desire for a higher ROI within the division. There is a lot of potential in those old molds, but without something new it's hard to get you guys excited. Or me, for that matter. "Who wants more Gamorreans?" is kinda a nice thing to be able to say when a new playset and Barge are on the way, but "here's a few new guards!" is also very nice.

If Lucasfilm puts the brakes on new movies, the line can and probably will change dramatically in the next year or two. 2005 was all Revenge of the Sith, and 2006 was an amazing grab bag of reruns, all-new obscurity, comic figures, and just about anything you could imagine. Until 2007, when they did it even moreso. I'm hesitant to predict what 2020 will look like at this point - if Lucasfilm takes the leash off Hasbro, it could be very exciting. Or it could be a whole bunch of nothing. With so little buzz on the future of what's going on in franchise films in 2020, I assume toymakers will have to come up with something or risk low profits.




3. After all the revelations at toy fair, what was the most surprising? Recently I have seen that hasbro is looking for a brand manager for G.I. JOE and MICRONAUTS and a petition for a former Hasbro employee to fill the position. Do you think that hasbro already has plans set in motion to bring G.I.JOE back by SDCC? From the reveals that I have seen, I wish that toys r us was back in business and I worked for them. The transformers line is amazing, especially omega supreme. Speaking of toys r us, I am confused at what is going on with their potential return to retail. Have you heard any information from toy fair that you can share that could shed some light on which company is trying to make a return to retail?

I don't know that G.I. Joe has a future without a new twist. Joe vs. Cobra has been milked pretty well. 12-inch has been dead for years. Similarly, Micronauts was before my time - I only know it as a legacy brand, and I never saw one in stores when I was of an age to be able to buy them as a toy. I don't think either has a strong future right now, although both could make marvelous adjuncts to Transformers if someone had the foresight to make them all place well together, perhaps after the current War for Cybertron Trilogy ends. Who wouldn't love transforming robots sized for 3 3/4-inch (or smaller) figures? Hasbro has been considering it for years but the time is never "right." Well, I'm getting really old - if not now, the original fans will all be too old to give a rip by the time it happens.

Because I am privy to a lot, not a lot was surprising. The one thing that knocked me out of my seat was Walmart's Jabba's Palace alcove playset - I didn't see that coming, and I hope it's the first of many more similar products to come.

Toys R Us is an interesting topic. They were there, according to those who spoke to me they were seeing who wants to do business in a new toy landscape. I heard a lot of conflicting rumors - many of which surrounded Toys R Us having enough personnel and corporate-owned buildings to turn on the lights again - but more than a few vendors were absolutely against working with them ever again. Remember, Toys R Us was in the press for not paying all of its bills on its way out last year. If you were at one of those companies, those wounds are more than a little raw still.

Right now I'd say the market has too much product coming across the board, with few kids sticking with it and a lot of collectors going away. There are some interesting "in case of emergency break glass" products starting to bubble up (some are for next year) and that's really fascinating - but I doubt the children of 1977 are super pumped to start collecting anything new. I'm certainly looking around and trying to see what can go.

After Kay-Bee's non-appearance, I don't assume we'll see Toys R Us in a big way any time soon. FAO reopened one location. The Toy City and other initiatives last year don't feel like they made a significant impact. The toy store as we knew it is still dead, and while I think there is potential for someone to open a small chain of stores and grow I find it unlikely. Back in the 1980s there were tons of small and regional toy store chains, almost all of which were steamrolled by Toys R Us - perhaps another small chain can start again, grow, and give kids of a new generation a place to go get toys when what they really wanted was a Switch.



Become a Patron!

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



Toy Fair was exhausting.

I talked to reporters. Marched over Brooklyn. Waltzed to the Upper West Side and then to Beacon to talk to the Outer Space Men people. I had meeting after meeting after meeting... and this time, Toy Fair seemingly won. I saw some neat stuff for 2020 but life definitely got the drop on me before (and therefore during) the big event. There are still a lot of neat things coming, but the fanfare of the press events are feeling a lot less charming as time goes on. Generally speaking, the fan media doesn't need much other than to be shown what is new. We'll take it from there - we're very excitable.

I am delighted that Hasbro picked a theme for "classic" and is spreading The Return of the Jedi's first 30 minutes across several products. Not only do we get Jabba's Palace as a playset, we also get the skiff, the barge, and a smattering of new and returning figures. That's more than we've seen on-theme for years - other than new movies, that is. I hope Hasbro keeps doing that. Even if it's a theme I'm not crazy about, a unified line presence shows a lot of effort and makes it more fun to collect than getting a random droid or alien to put in a diorama I thought I was done assembling years ago.

Kenner is very in right now. Heck, even Mego is coming back to more stores - you could see Marty Abrams in the License2Play booth! You could see new Kenner-style Aliens and Predator toys at NECA! Hasbro showed off 7 new or "new" Kenner Star Wars figures. Even LEGO and Playmobil is getting in to the "retro" game with classic-style figures and toys in their movie-themed lines. I'm glad to see that everybody understands where the adult collector business was 20 years ago.

It's always an interesting and exciting time to be a collector, but this year feels a little better than 2018. There's a lot I can point to being exciting, unfortunately there's no central place to announce everything, or show people all the cool stuff they might like. Like the Sail Barge - apparently this week!

--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.