Q&A: Star Wars Variants, Big Giant Figures, The End of 3 3/4-Inch Figures, and Logos

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 9, 2014

1. What would you say is the best method to have my voice heard by Hasbro? I've dropped out of the Star Wars game for various reasons and I only do 4" Marvel stuff now. The lack of a 4" Guardians of the Galaxy line was a huge bummer, and now it looks like Age of Ultron will only have 2.5" stuff as well. Voting with my wallet doesn't accomplish much and there is no way to directly contact any of the people at Hasbro aside from the customer service reps.
I want to buy figures, but Hasbro does not seem to want my money.

A quick tangent - Marvel doesn't really have a definitive historic scale other than, arguably, 6-inch Marvel Legends and that's relatively new in the grand scheme of things. 3 3/4-inch is even newer - it's not a sacred institution like it is for Joe or Star Wars. It's possible that its time has passed.

Anyway, take a look at Transformers and My Little Pony. Or even G.I. Joe. Every toy line gets to a point where the normal things stop working, and you as a company (or a brand manager, or a brand manager's boss who's kind of out of touch and only shows up to work on days where there are known free donuts) want to try something new - or when you realize that you've sold millions of Iron Man at 3 3/4-inch, and now you're going to have to try something else. Since the second Iron Man movie, we've had three film toy lines starring Tony Stark and you can't expect kids to buy and re-buy the same toy forever. It doesn't always work, and it's possible we may see an exclusive boxed set or some new thing in the 3 3/4-inch scale but it's also possible that it ran its course given current pricing concerns. (See: The Black Series.) Also, the whole line has yet to be shown, so I don't know if we're going to see something pop up just yet.

2-inch changes the value proposition, and hopefully (for Hasbro and not for us) it will work for Hasbro. Lots of toy lines have fans of a house style, only to see it changed - My Little Pony's Friendship Is Magic rebranding came with a complete style overhaul - not all fans were in love with the idea at first, yet here we are. The new design and fiction fans brought more to the brand than three decades of fans had previously. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get regular facelifts in style and size, and it's a success. The Transformers movies look radically different than their forebears, G.I. Joe has changed scales multiple times (3 3/4-inch was not beloved by older fans in 1982), even Littlest Pet Shop figures are redesigned every few years. If you're not growing and changing, you're dying.

So write those letters, do not buy things you don't like, and support what you love by buying it before it goes on sale or clearance - that's right, buy it and buy it at full price the moment you see it so a store knows they should re-order more. I work at a toy store. When something sells out, I order more - and I know it's popular. If it doesn't sell, I know you don't really care. It's not just orders that dictate success, but re-orders - if an item is so hot a store can't keep it around, it's a winner. If it sticks around for a couple of years, it may be problematic. You can (and should) post on message boards, start a fan site and post editorials, and write in to the many nerd media sites and see who cares to take up your cause. Also, don't be too surprised that some things just are no longer viable as we (as a demographic) age out of Hasbro's target collector demographic and the China factor prevents them from being sensible toys at sensible prices.  When you get right down to it, it's always about money.  If you don't put money on the table, Hasbro won't either.

It doesn't appear that any of Hasbro's 3 3/4-inch lines (outside Star Wars) are a big hit right now - so with that in mind, do what you can to support the format. And don't be surprised if it comes back later - we got our Iron Man movie #1 action figures as part of the movie #2 line, after all. I can only hope Guardians of the Galaxy will enjoy 3 3/4-inch figures with the obligatory sequel, but your making a ton of noise online and encouraging others to do the same is the only thing that's going to help. Short of Walmart's buyer saying "Hey, we want this, make it." So I guess there's your answer - get a job in Walmart's purchasing department and cozy up to the toy buyers.



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2. My questions: do you know if the SDCC [6-inch 2013 Boba] Fett is supposed to be painted slightly differently than the mass retail version? They look identical in Rebelscum's gallery, although there's a note that they are slightly different paint jobs. They're identical to me unless someone knowledgeable claims that Hasbro intended for there to be differences. And I'm not worried about the Carbonite slab yet.

I missed the SDCC Jabba and would really like to have a throne room with Salacious Crumb. Do you know of any places other than eBay to get this item? Already checked EE, which does not have it.

The game on hunting for hot items from conventions is really sort of an art. There's a little science to it, but it's really a test of your patience. Figures like 2013 SDCC Boba Fett started off at $200 or more, and now he's closer to $100. He's even cheaper if you score him as part of a small lot - there's a wonderful phenomenon where a collector sells a collection for close to the price of the rarest item in that collection. You may have to choke on, sell, or trade some duplicate figures but if you do customs, or play the long game, having some credit in your trade bank can be helpful. If you watch auctions and the secondary market for a few months, you'll notice the price flux and you can snag one at a price more appropriate to your budget. Items that begin their life as "hot" generally become a lot less hot as time goes on.

Boba Fett SDCC 2013 is, if you ask me, close enough if not identical to the individually packaged version minus the packaging and Carbonite. That is, the differences are minor enough where I would advise you to shrug them off - if you had the two loose figures side-by-side, you would have a hard time determining which one is which without consulting date stamps or SKUs marked on them. Most action figures have a little variation in each batch and if you put 100 of any figure on a table, you'd notice variables in any run. As far as I can tell, Hasbro made no conscious effort to greatly distinguish the two in terms of deco to the point where most people would ever notice a difference. That doesn't mean a figure won't have some silver moved over a tiny bit, or some overspray that's a little different. But if you don't see a variation, you shouldn't pay it any mind.

As mentioned above, I'd strongly advise checking eBay, Amazon, and trading boards for the convention exclusives you missed. eBay isn't good today, but tomorrow? Who knows? I was chasing down a Titanium Series Jango Fett (not Boba Fett) figure from roughly 2008 or 2009 - Hasbro never shipped any to most big box stores, Entertainment Earth never received any. As far as I can tell it was direct-to-clearance, disappearing immediately and shooting up to $100-$130 on eBay. That was too much for me. I waited it out and watched eBay auctions for about six years before one showed up at roughly its original SRP, minus a few bucks. If you're patient on some items, thanks to the endless sea of new releases and the signal to noise ratio on eBay, you can get a deal if you're willing to wait it out. Not always, and not on all items - but if you refuse to pay a price that you feel is too high, sometimes it pays off. Collectors often stop caring.

In this case, though, $60 was retail for Jabba and $70-$80 would be considered, by me, to be a reasonable price given tax and shipping. Right now you can get SDCC Jabbas for $80-$90 before shipping - admittedly not great, but keep in mind the person selling it to you either a) lugged it back from San Diego and likely wants a few bucks for his or her trouble, or b) ordered it via HasbroToyShop.com, and likely wants to get some of their shipping charges back. I'm not saying flipping figures is an admirable thing to do, but keep in mind it's a recent release, it was expensive, and these people aren't ready to give up and lose money on it yet. A year or three from now they may be more interested in dropping the price just to get rid of it and get some of their money back, but today people are all too willing to spend $80 on it - and a $20 markup pre-shipping is, honestly, a pretty fair markup. (Let me put it this way: if I didn't already have Jabba here, I'd have paid that for one.)




3. My 3 year old has the giant "Superman Returns" Superman, "Dark Knight Rises" Batman and Ultimate Spider-Man in his room and they really are striking decor as well as playthings. I love my JAKKS Giant Vader, it is one of the coolest things in my man-cave and that brings me to my question: Wasn't there supposed to be a giant Commander Cody and Boba Fett? It's been almost a year now and I am beginning to think I hallucinated the images of these two items. These would be "purchase-on-sight" items for me, if they ever made it to retail!

Good memory!

I'm not sure who is getting 31-inch Commander Cody in the USA, but Amazon has it in the UK right now.

While a lot of people have asked about a 31-inch Boba Fett (myself included, seconds after I saw Darth Vader in person) I haven't yet seen an explicit intention of when or how it will be released, if it will be released. The 20-inch Boba Fett is making the rounds now but it is pretty hot stuff - it disappears quickly.

I saw Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper Disguise 31-inch figures and they were OK. Well, Han Solo was kind of a drag - the Harrison Ford likeness is one of the better ones, but the hair was put forward and felt like a bad toupee.

This format has the potential to be something big, just like Hasbro's 12-inch Titan Hero / Hero Series scale. The 12-inch figures provide a bigger bang for the lower buck, but the 20-inch figures are amazingly big, high-quality things that would look good in your office too. Jakks' inability to decide which is the main format is a little obnoxious, mostly because I don't need a 31-inch Inquisitor with 20-inch Ezra and Kanan. One size, please!




New movie, new title! We're probably going to get a bunch of them now that there are six (yes, six) movies coming to theaters that we vaguely know of. If Disney's move for Marvel and Star Wars - which is essentially the twinkle of George Lucas' serial-loving eye - continues to turn the movie theater experience into more of a TV experience, it's going to be packed with them. Some good, some bad, but from where I sit the notion of the title has been surpassed by brand. This is unfortunate. Back in 1980, we saw t-shirts and action figure boxes with a big cool "THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK" logo on it. We saw it for "THE RETURN OF THE JEDI" and even "EWOKS" and "DROIDS." It was nice - you got a little tiny Star Wars with a big new fresh logo letting you know that you've got the latest, coolest thing... and everybody abandoned that on the whole around 1987. Other than Star Tours, pretty much everything lives and dies by the two, giant words "Star Wars" and that kind of sucks. I know it's Star Wars. Do you know why I know it's Star Wars? Because every non-Star Wars news site, information broadcast, and person on social media who thinks they're an expert on all things pop culture (which in 2014 is like being proud of your keen sense and love of McDonalds). Your marketing works. We've done your job for you. And if you don't love your new brand name, why should we?


It doesn't matter if you like The Force Again! or whatever it is, because they don't want you to think of it. The words they'll keep beating you over the head with were and will continue to be Star Wars because they're cowards who don't enjoy fun and/or don't understand that we know exactly what this is as you carpet bomb the planet with promotions for it over the next 13 months. Your action figures will still have the same logo you've been buying for 19 years, but in a new color, and probably with a new subtitle on it. I find this abysmal, especially on the toys. I was really hoping that The Clone Wars would have broken ranks, and while we did on the Vintage figure line that doesn't really count. Don't trick me into thinking it's Star Wars and something new. Trick me into thinking it's something new when it's Star Wars. It's a brand that really needs a makeover, anyway.

We did get a neat - but rarely used, in the grand scheme of things - logo for Attack of the Clones, and a derivative (but appropriately so) one used on very few pieces of Revenge of the Sith merchandise. The Phantom Menace really didn't get a lot of graphic design love. I'm sure this doesn't matter to a lot of people, but I like it when we see a new logo - it's a new era. It's not the same exact crap for another 19 years. It's a new era, and frankly, we need a hard break from the past. The Rebels logo on the new figures released this week is small and embarrassed to be there. Have you seen it? It's basically the same size as the j-hook. It isn't proud, and there's another, even smaller logo a couple of inches down and to the left. Blech. The really sad thing is that this is a much better logo, with a bolder design and a slightly better emphasis on the new, important word added to the two words we recognize in our sleep.


I'm certainly not wagging my finger at Hasbro as a lot of the packaging templates come out of the licensing division at Lucas HQ, I've been involved in some other logo disputes in other lines and this sort of thing irks me to no end. Hasbro, Disney, Lucas, please - grow a pair and give us a real logo for this one. I don't know if The Fourth Ascot will look good on a t-shirt, but at least try to give us something interesting, or a strong color other than yellow or gold.

There is only one movie named Star Wars and I would personally appreciate it if the marketing campaigns remembered that - make it smaller. Make the new movie title bigger. Make it look cool. Please. I've bought enough crap with Star Wars on it but I do get excited when I see old The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi stuff with a prominent logo on it, and I gravitate toward the (very few) prequel items that do this as well.

The Phantom Menace had an excuse - packaged figure samples existed and leaked around the same time as the title, roughly 8 months before the movie. Now there's 13 months - there's no reason to design your marketing around the fact that all of your templates were created with "INSERT TITLE HERE." You've got time. Make us old farts really remember the old days, when a new movie meant the brand got some real freshening up on book covers and model kit boxes.

Oh, and I went out to a show and finally got to see Pissed Jeans. They put on a good show. They approve of Phoenix venues to put teenagers at shows in cages. Go see them.

--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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