Q&A: Star Wars Vehicle Bundles, New Figures, and Food Toys of the Future

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 8, 2015

1. Do you have any predictions for what Hasbro's [The Force Awakens] 4" line wave 1 might be? You mentioned the sneak preview toys in your latest column and it made me wonder, how many toys will be featured in wave 1, and what characters would you predict make that initial wave?

I would say how they're going to sell it is the most important thing, and part of the fun is that we don't necessarily know what we know yet. We saw a few leaked 6-inch figures - could these be the sneak preview guys? Maybe! Maybe not. We don't even know if there are going to be sneak preview guys yet. If I did, I couldn't even talk about it.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm they bought Star Wars and it came with a side of Episode I hype for free. It has been 10 years since the last proper live action Star Wars movie and stores are already starting to flex their muscles a bit - some Toys R Us locations have a jumbo aisle with nothing but Star Wars and Marvel, despite both being pretty iffy for collectors over the last few months. They're preparing. I expect that the launch of The Force Awakens should be fairly significant in terms of hype, but as far as waves go let's just look at the last few movies. More often than not, we get the first 2 waves for whatever assortments they're making on that first day. Often a few lucky stores get wave 3 at launch day or within the first week. For 6-inch figures that's unlikely - we've never had 2 waves at once - but for 3 3/4-inch it's de rigueur. Still, perhaps they're going to try to make a big splash this time. It's hard to say, because if you look at Hasbro toy lines over the last few years we frequently see ever-growing gaps between waves with months or in some cases close to a year between assortments in a few freak cases. Obviously, they can't get away with that in a new movie/holiday season.

I'm expecting a typical year for "collector" classic stuff, with an attempt at something really big come movie launch time. The last time Hasbro tried a big Star Wars launch was The Clone Wars, in which we received three different assortments at once. One of these had two waves at most locations. Depending on what you as a collector bought, that meant the minimum of "new figures" you saw was around 16, possibly 24-42 if you got lucky and found wave 2 and did packaging variants. Plus exclusives. Plus Evolution sets and Battle Packs. A lot of these figure delivery mechanisms have been excised from the line these days, so my advice to you would be to clear your shelves for about 24-30 new figures and a handful of new vehicles come launch day. As far as specifics, well, that's really not my place to say. But I would be disappointed if Hasbro didn't take advantage of this launch to also repackage old figures to sell to the lapsed fans... for those of you who were at the 1999 midnight shopping orgy, you may recall non-collectors filling carts with toys as either an attempt to recapture their childhoods and/or a failure to understand how investments work.



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2. Will the Imperial Troop Transport be released WITH figure? Or only without.

We do not yet know the full extent of Target's exclusive vehicle program - a plan that seems to be pretty dang smart of them. We have seen packaged samples of the AT-DP with an AT-DP Driver, but to date Hasbro has not announced anything for this, nor has anything leaked. And really, it's probably just going to be a plain Stormtrooper or TIE Pilot anyway if such a thing does happen... and we'll probably know for sure in about a week.




3. First off, Do you have any idea what Disney is doing for the new trilogy and spinoffs far as fast food promotions go? Or what direction that they might go in? I've seen you cover some in your site before so I figure you have some knowledge there. Will they just use McDonalds again like they do they do with their Marvel/Disney film properties? I know some fans find them cheap or oft putting but I enjoyed all the ones they did in the past and have fond memories of the ones at Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Burger King. I'd even be curious as to what Wendy's, Jack In The Box, and Carls/Wendys could do with license. I also found it odd that only Attack Of The Clones never had any fast food deal but I supooses that was due to the Episode I backlash from being over marketed. Even though I thought the Prequels themselves could have been better, I thought the ad campaign was pretty imaginative for what it was and made me more excited to see the films.

And if you could revive any defunt Star Wars toyline for the new films then what would it be and why? I was going to say Micro Machines but looks like they are coming back in nearly a year for episode VII. So my new answer is the cool character Transforming heads/playsets which I really wanted episode II, III, Clone Wars, Rebels versions of but sorely lack the custom skills to make myself. Like yourself, My free space is limited and so I enjoy having the ability to have an entire Rebel or Imperial fleet stored on the top of my computer at work. I'd also like to see a non-shampoo bottle 12 inch figure line with cloth accesories again and articulation like the 1995-2005 ones that Kenner/Hasbro did but I don't see that happening while the licence for that scale is in other hands. The fact that the old ones were peg warmers probably didn't help either even though I bought them all.

To date, the fast food partner (if any) for the new movies has yet to be announced. I say "if any" because Disney has slowly backed away from Happy Meals and the traditional food partners. It doesn't mean there won't be any, or that there wasn't a preexisting deal Disney will honor, but the whole kid meal toy thing will probably fade away for Star Wars as it has for most Disney and seemingly Marvel properties. Jack in the Box has pulled out of kid's meal toys in the USA so I wouldn't get your hopes up there, either.

As to defunct Star Wars toylines? I love Kenner's 1982 MicroCollection. I like small vehicles and playsets, die-cast metal figures tend to not fall over too easily, and they're great display pieces. I like Galoob's stuff but their smaller figures have spindly, bendy legs. My free space isn't exactly unlimited, so all of us need to take things like our not dying into account. In 1995, I assumed Star Wars prequels (and therefore toys) would be dead for good around three years after the final movie. And I mean dead dead, like 1988, plus I was operating from the assumption that we'd probably cap out at about 30 figures per year. Whoops.

At this point a 12-inch action figure with cloth outfits is largely marketed overseas (Max Steel) or to well-to-do adults (Hot Toys, Sideshow) so I would assume the chance of simplified 1:6 scale guys will never, ever happen again. Hasbro carved out the low-end with Titan Hero Series, and now electronic Titan Hero Tech figures. Sideshow, Hot Toys, and others have conquered the high-end of this size, and I'm guessing that like the 3 3/4-inch The Black Series line our old 1990s Collector Series 12-inch figures are no longer economically viable. They're going to be too low-quality to appease the high-end collectors, while being too expensive to satisfy parents. I wonder if the big Transforming Head Playsets would be in the same boat - in 1995 they were not exactly cheap at about $15 each, and I can't imagine inflation would allow them to be sold at $30-$45. But I'd run out and buy some tomorrow if I could! Those were great little toys.




PORT UPDATE: The Port of Los Angeles has had a work slowage since last year, which is not a strike, but has caused a lot of disruption of the delivery of all goods - toys included - across the Pacific. Toys and countless other consumer goods are basically sitting in boats, anchored off the California coastline. As of right now there are 98 vessels waiting to be unloaded, 40 of which can't even fit into port yet, as it's now taking weeks instead of days to be processed through customs. If things seem slow for toys and other imported goods, this may be why - thousands of containers are waiting to be unloaded, so when/if this is resolved a lot of toys might become a lot more common a lot more quickly. Things are getting through, just not particularly quickly.

It's Toy Fair! Almost. The entire business is focused on the Ice Planet New York as they have been for over 100 years, for reasons I still do not fully understand given that Florida is not freezing. Right now we're not expecting the world of the Star Wars showroom, as hopefully they'll display their Rebels and Black Series wares for the year because really, if you weren't paying to New York Comic Con (and nobody was) you probably forgot about a number of previously announced figures by now. Between the port issues and the slow drip that has been routine since 2012, it's also possible Hasbro won't have anything new to show for us. We still don't have everything shown at last July's Comic-Con International in San Diego, after all, and given the rate at which 6-inch figures have been released so far (1 per month on average since 2013) it seems almost unrealistic that we'd get more than 8 before the sequel movie launch begins. I'm assuming Command is dead just because we haven't heard or seen of any new previews, although there should be a fair amount of 5-jointed guys to go still.

At this point, it's safe to say that what you're looking forward to the most are the leaks. Hasbro did a good job keeping Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith under wraps until about 1-2 months before the toy line releases, whereas The Phantom Menace stuff showed up on nearly every collecting site in prototype form 8 months early and fully packaged toys were about 6 months early. With that in mind, unless there's a massive lockdown on the new stuff, I would wager May and June could be good for surprises with the actual marketing plan going in to full swing for San Diego Comic-Con in July. But given the nature of the continued port problems, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Hasbro tried to get stuff made earlier, and got it in the country earlier just to avoid problems come the street date. Which will probably result in leaks early and some of us finding stuff at a Walmart a month or two ahead of time, as with before, as is the way of things. Given the fact that this stuff goes out on shelves without a thought to street dates, and the self check-out's ability to get some people around street dates by scanning other similar items, it's certainly going to be a very interesting year for new Star Wars toys.

--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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Fast Food

That sucks about the promotion being possibly gone but not surprising considering that cereal toy merchandise is also pretty much a thing of the past as well. Hopefully there is at least some food promotion even if it's just grocery related. It's one Star Wars tradition that I'd be sorry to see go.

I wish I was around when the Micro Colection was out but I only seen them at comic stores behind glass, So I had to settle for the Micro Machines ones instead. Your right about the bendy legs too, But inability to stand up has also been a problem with the 3 3/4 line as well. One of the few things that vintage figures has an advantage over the modern is in that area.

More bad news. I think I will go back and get all the ones I'm missing then since I came pretty close to getting them all. They are just hard to display due to their size and magnetisim for dust but there are very few duds in the series. I would have liked to see ones at retail for the new trilogy but that's more money for me to spend on things like the Micro Machines.

The heads were cheap for me since I got them all like 50-75 percent off during that monster clearance they had after Episode I where they were practically giving everything away. It was like Christmas in July for me in 2000 right after I graduated from HS, got my first real job, and the economy was much healthier than today. Not to mention labor costs overseas being lower.