Q&A: Star Wars Toys as Non-Spoilers, Snoke, and Pricing

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 24, 2017

1. I sent my friend a link about the upcoming Target exclusive holographic Kylo Ren Pop figure, and she expressed concern that it was a spoiler. I told her it probably isn't, and cited Hasbro's history of holographic figures, which got me wondering how long it's been since they did one of those. They seem like a fairly easy de-paint/re-release, but it seems like Hasbro is being more choosy about character slots, especially in the six inch line. Do you think Hasbro will do any more holographic figures? They're cool to look at, but seem hardly necessary.

I will rarely consider products spoilers, with a couple of exceptions (really, decapitation action Jango Fett?) For The Last Jedi I don't recall seeing a holographic Kylo Ren. If he was deleted, or I sneezed and missed it, that's certainly possible. Hasbro was very fond of holographic figures for kicks, but the company has really gotten weird when it comes to mold reuse. It used to be a given we'd get 1-2 waves of repaints per line of Star Wars and that's exceedingly rare now. The same is true with Transformers - they're more likely to remold a figure than redecorate one.

Hasbro hasn't done a holographic figure, or a spirit, in quite some time. I think there are absolutely some worthwhile opportunities to do or redo some holographic and spirit figures, but I also look at requesting these like I would asking a teacher for homework. Hasbro decided to tool up a new Poe Dameron for this movie despite it looking a lot like the ones for the last one - I don't know who's running the ship these days, but it's certainly not their bean counters.   I'd have much rather been given Holographic Snoke rather than a not-really-different Poe Dameron or a repack of Jyn Erso, but that's me as a collector - mass consumers would probably disagree with me.



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2. Since Black Friday I have observed seemingly crazy prices on The Last Jedi related toys. Items going anywhere from 30-70% off on Amazon, Walmart, and other online retailers. I just bought the Resistance Ski Speeder for less than $15! While sales and other specials during the holidays are nothing new, it seems this year that retailers are aiming to unload as much TLJ as they can at rock bottom prices so they are not stuck with old stock by the time Episode 9 comes around. I’d be interested in hearing your take on this. Is this a sign that retailer confidence in Star Wars is waning in light of annual movies and toys?

For the prequels, we had about 3 weeks to 2 months between the toy release and the movie release. This 3-month business is excessive - and I'm hoping Disney gets the message. The Last Jedi was a very dynamic movie with a dreadfully dull toy line. (And not enough awesome villains to demand as toys.) You can't ask people to buy toys from a movie sight-unseen year after year, especially when old stuff gets marked down and people learn about clearances.

Star Wars was very rarely a "wait for a sale" line for most fans, but now even I'm looking at things like Poe's Boosted X-Wing and I can't bring myself to purchase a third X-Wing at full price. [Adam's note - I went to a few stores this weekend and they were all gone. Let's see if I was stupid in the new year!] I need a deal, I need a coupon. I've got no fear about missing it, and pretty much everything from September is fairly easy to get. Even some of the cooler exclusives are fairly easy to find, and if Solo comes out on time (we'll see!) we'll have 18 months between movies. I'm just hoping they make an effort to unload The Force Awakens completely by then, as most Star Wars stuff seemed gone by Return of the Jedi - but it didn't stay hot forever.

If you look through old newspaper adverts, you'll see that even in the old days Star Wars went from being the hottest thing in plastic to something that would occasionally go on sale or on clearance - especially after the line's climax in 1983. Thanks to the original generation of fans Star Wars had an adult fanbase providing a lot of wind for its sails in the 1990s, but they moved on, they grew up, they don't see what they want to buy. Thanks to the annual release schedule, Star Wars is - to the average consumer - just another thing that's always been around. Few people alive today are going to clearly remember a period in life where Star Wars wasn't everywhere. The scarcity helped it, as did the high demand, but we're in a new era now and retail impatience combined with a long runway to a movie means you save big.

With Solo, assuming everything goes according to schedule, it's going to be a much tighter window. You'll hear more about that soon.




3. Other than the BB-8 playset, will Snoke be released as a 3.75 figure?

I wouldn't mind seeing a holographic Snoke - or one featuring one of his action features from the movie. You know the one.

As of right now the only upcoming Snoke I know if is in The Vintage Collection. The playset one probably won't see a carded release - at least not anytime soon - but if it makes you feel any better you'll probably be able to get that BB-8 playset at Ross on markdown before Easter at this rate. I got one - it's great - but it's not moving very quickly around these parts.



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You've got 1 week until the spoiler gloves are off for The Last Jedi. I suggest going to see the movie tonight if you haven't yet done so. Your family will understand.

In a non-spoiler sense, it's kind of fascinating to watch how these movies can sometimes be controversial. I remember people hating on Ewoks well until the release of The Phantom Menace, and the original trilogy didn't become an infallible thing until a bit later - no doubt thanks to the Special Editions adding more nostalgia fuel to the fire. They're good movies, and some of my favorites, but perfect? No. Each new addition to the franchise comes with complaints, which makes sense as we're being asked to reconsider plot elements and characters that existed in stasis for years. Darth Vader taking off his helmet was one such moment, but we also had to reckon with the debut of Boba Fett as a child, Yoda at his least whimsical, Anakin's sidekick, the death of Han Solo, and Yet Another Death Star Plans Heist story. Seeing the fan reaction to the new movie isn't so much a surprise as it is par for the course.

Interest was already down (at least as far as merchandising went) and thankfully there are stories being written about that so we can talk about it. For The Force Awakens fans eagerly lined up to get Captain Phasma and Kylo Ren - two new helmeted bad guys! For Rogue One we got some new troopers and fans really dug them - especially Shoretroopers. And what did we get for The Last Jedi? Well, some paint on a Stormtrooper... and not much else. No new droids other than BB-9E who remains hard to get, and a surprising amount of throwback toys. Some are great - I'm really happy with my Rahtarr and new Probot! I'd also like to see more fun things, because as it stands right now the line is basically over and done with. Did you like it? I hope you liked it.

Seeing our heroes in a new context is never fun. When Disney bought the brand I was worried we might be watching the funeral of our friends, and Hasbro delivered with Han Solo in The Force Awakens. I almost wish we got to keep the fairy tale ending from Return of the Jedi and just focus on something else entirely, but I can't say I'm overly thrilled at the idea of midquels, sidequels, and prequels either. It's unlikely that the movies will end any time soon, and I'm a little sad that they're coming so quickly - the sequel trilogy's life is only about four years, as opposed to six years for the original and prequel trilogies. That gap between films gave us time to get classic figures, collector weirdness, and generally just enjoy the movies we just saw - I loved having a couple of years to pour through the guidebooks. And now, I haven't even found the time to watch my Rogue One Blu-Ray yet - although I did watch The Force Awakens a few times since getting it.

The unlimited amount of Star Wars is exhausting, turning something I really love into more of a chore. Midnight launches, new movies each year, and what feels like short attention spans across the corporate world doesn't seem to inspire a new generation of collectors as we old timers age out - it happened with Star Trek in the 1990s. I'll say I really did enjoy The Last Jedi and I remember people being super down after Attack of the Clones and having read a lot of complaints after The Empire Strikes Back. Maybe it's just par for the course - but we're also moving from an era with fairly little Star Wars to an era where stores seemingly can't be bothered to fully purge stuff from two movies ago. If that doesn't say they're coming too quickly, I don't know what would.

We're a week away from a new year and only five months away from a new movie - unless it gets delayed. The lack of a trailer - or really, any public footage of anything in the movie - leaves me wondering if it isn't going to make it in time, or if someone in Disney marketing doesn't want to confuse people who wouldn't be able to keep track of a new movie in theaters now and another new movie in 5 months. I'm a little surprised there was no post-credits teaser trailer, although I have to wonder if someone at Disney is considering adding such a thing to prints of the movie to get another surge of business. I mean, it'd work on me.

--Adam Pawlus

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