Q&A: Star Wars Vehicle Opportunities, Italy, and Super Articulation Again

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 25, 2016

1. Do you think Hasbro is losing an opportunity with Rogue One?

With Rogue One taking place in the OT and seeing how we have already seen X-wings & a AT-ST in the trailers, Do you think Hasbro has missed the boat on selling us OT vehicles?

They could just issue vehicles they have already made (read no tooling costs) just seems like a no brainer.

Do you think they don’t see that... or that they don’t care?

"What did Hasbro know and when did they know it?" would be a better question. I was always surprised we didn't see more stuff for The Force Awakens from the trailers, but Hasbro i in a situation now where they rely on Lucasfilm/Disney for assets - and sometimes these assets change. Rogue One toys were in development over a year ago, and the plan was always to do a line that would end in about 6 months. It'd hit in September, and wrap up in March/April to make room for the (now delayed, obviously) Episode 8. Keeping the line tight was always the intention, and after seeing hte movie I see that as unfortunate. There are lots of great opportunities to bring back older toys... if the market allowed for it.

One of the things that really surprised me was finding out, around 2012, that vehicles got expensive. Real expensive. Like, Hasbro told me (and we reported on this very site) it was then cheaper to make all-new Jedi Starfighters than it would be to keep running the same molds thanks to materials, labor, and freight. We also saw Hasbro's AT-DP, which followed those new price point regulations and delivered something pretty good.

So on one hand, sure, you could say it's a no-brainer. On another, the last release of the AT-ST was pushing $35 and I'm sure it'd be $60 or more to get it reissued yet again. It might be worth it, and it might not be - the Kmart reissue had some cruddy joints, too, so maybe it was for the best. Hasbro is currently sitting on/blowing out its X-Wing and TIE Fighters from last year, so perhaps they didn't wan to compete? The lack of TIE Strikers in the movie may make this one a tough sell in the short term before it goes bonkers on the secondary market in a few years.

A lot of things didn't get made, and most reasons why things do (or don't) happen are financial. A smaller line was always the intention, and to go beyond this too much might eat into the next movie - or it would have, had the original plan been kept. Maybe Hasbro could have done more, but with three waves (and counting) of basic figures, three waves (and counting) of 6-inch figures, and so on I assume they thought it was going to be pretty robust given the sales window. We might see more new things down the road - I mean, there's zero chance we'll go through the next 4 movies with no new AT-STs or X-Wings - but the toy marketplace is pretty crowded still, and with costs rising as they are I just hope we see new, smaller, cheaper versions of those OT vehicles.



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2. So I'm seeing Hasbro has supposedly released a Republic Trooper exclusively to Italy. Is this a legit release? It's from the Black Series that was released here from 2013 to 2014. If this a legit release, will it be released here? And what happened to number 30 because the line ended with Wedge at number 29.

Don't ask how, but I can say this is a thing Hasbro is either really making recently or really made a sample of - I don't know where it's being sold, how many were made, or if they just ran a short number of packaged samples and this is one of which that got out recently. I have zero insight or visibility as to what's going on there, other than it would be a non-USA release if it ever shows up. Hasbro has done final or final-ish packaged samples for dozens of toys that never get distribution, many of which even see official photography or a product information page on Hasbro.com. Stuff can get far enough along before Hasbro changes their minds - so to you package variant fiends, this is a thing that is out there that someone, somewhere, has. I don't know how, where, or when you can find one, but I'm all ears if you guys find something to share.




3. Walmart has exclusive rights to the black series 3.75 figures. Several months after their initial release, I recall seeing Han and Leia at some on-line retailers. How did that occur if you know and is it possible that Hasbro might allow other on-line merchants to sell the black series 3.75. I mention this because Walmart.com does allow other vendors to sell items on their platform. These figures sold via Walmart.com but not by Bud Walton’s store are sold at outrageously high prices. Krennic was going for $33.00 on that platform. I respect the free market system but this does collectors a great disservice. Could Entertainment Earth, Hasbro.com or other on-line stores work a deal with Hasbro? These decisions are not in your realm but the demand is high enough to command horrific prices and Walmart seems to be doing a disservice to its customers by having exclusive rights to a product that would sell better if it was more widely available.

I might be nitpicking you here, but Walmart doesn't have the exclusive rights to Black Series 3 3/4-inch figures. Hasbro is currently manufacturing 3 3/4-inch figures in The Black Series packaging worldwide, and in the USA the only customer allowed to order them is Walmart. Overseas, other stores can order through Hasbro much the same way other exclusives can (and often do) show up internationally at other locations. Hasbro makes a product, and then doles some of these products out to certain clients exclusively in certain markets. Sometimes an item that's exclusive to a store in the USA is a wide release in Canada. Sometimes an item is a de facto exclusive just because the big accounts didn't happen to order it. (How many remote control Hasbro MicroMachines did you see in stores in 2015? None many, I assume.) My point is that if Hasbro wanted to sell The Black Series elsewhere tomorrow, or change the deal, they could. It's not like there's an unbreakable contract here.

Part of the deal with an exclusive is that the store is getting something special from Hasbro you can't get anywhere else - and part of the cost of this special thing is that you must buy the complete run. Otherwise, it wouldn't be an exclusive. I'm not saying it's good or bad - from my perspective it's usually easier to find most exclusives (that aren't released on a Force Friday at least) than it is to find most main line items, but your mileage may vary. Would online stores love to sell those figures from The Black Series? Sure. If Hasbro ever had overstock or Walmart didn't want it, I'm sure they would consider it. They could also dump it at Ross or TJ Maxx or Marshall's or Tuesday Morning or Bealls or Five Below or whatever.

It is possible you're seeing stuff at online stores - depending on the store - that came from collections or flipping. Some online stores do go out to the shops and buy items at full retail price (or a sale price), mark them up a few dollars, and then sell them to online customers. I can think of a few places that do this regularly - if you can get a figure at a store on clearance, and add it to your inventory, and then sell it for what is in reality an obscene mark-up (but the customer doesn't know if you paid $5, $10, or $13 for that $15 action figure) you can totally do that. I've seen a lot of good, cheap stuff at Walmart and there's nothing stopping anyone from clearing them out if that was the kind of thing they enjoyed doing. To my knowledge, Hasbro hasn't offered any of Walmart's exclusive The Black Series to any American customers. That doesn't mean that Hasbro China didn't sell it to someone else through a middleman, though. These things can and do happen.

Could a customer ask Hasbro to make straight-packed cases of some figures? Sure. Entertainment Earth does sell Krennic (3 3/4-inch) by his lonesome for $9.99, and at this time they do not sell via Walmart.com. If you go to a site like Entertainment Earth you'll notice many items from several brands are sold individually - some are only in cases/sets, but some you can buy individually, and some are even offered individually via their wholesale program.

Figure scalping (or flipping if you're the alt-collector) is a common practice that has been around for quite some time - I've seen it happening at flea markets and comic shops as early as the late 1980s and has existed with hot toys since the dawn of time. Does it do collectors a disservice? Only if you break down and pay it. The endless hordes of speculators, dealers, scalpers, and MISB hoarders kept Star Wars alive in the 1990s with fans frequently buying 2-3 of each figure, and many having obscene stashes that keep the secondary market prices down after 20 years. I hate people marking up stuff they buy at the stores at regular price, but we all need as many people buying this stuff as possible - regardless of the reason - if you ever want to hope to see more cool collector stuff again some day.




So, a few of you have written to ask how I'm doing since the dental surgery. Badly. I heard a loud "SNAP" in my jaw earlier this week, and it's looking like I can't chew food for several weeks. So at this rate I'll be having a sexy beach body for Toy Fair, which is great since it's in New York in below-freezing temperatures and oh yes I also hate going to the beach. Bah. So I hope you enjoyed Christmas, what with your "solid food" and your "tolerable family to whom you are still speaking."

I'm getting through the Rogue One stuff I held off on opening until after I saw the movie, and I gotta say it's more satisfying to open toys based on a thing I saw rather than a thing I hope to someday see. As a kid I didn't have an opportunity to ever ask for a toy prior to seeing the movie or TV show, simply because that wasn't a thing you did. OK, other than Batman and Aliens. I like knowing what I buy, rather than speculating on what I might enjoy out of fear that it might sell out. Sitting on it in the box for three months is sort of a happy medium.

I hope you had an adequate holiday and enjoyed things not in a straw. I stayed home writing some future Figure of the Day stuff and listening to David Bowie records (and podcasts, namecheck Dana Gould, Doug Benson, Marc Maron) while waiting for those glorious days where I can eat and leave the house without a face that looks like I got a small internalized bee sting. I'd say things can only get better from here... but let's face it, we all have days where it's hard to know if we actually believe that.

Anyway. Do me a solid, send in a question if you got one.  And speaking of solids, since I can't eat them at the moment, what are your favorite foods that don't require chewing?

--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.