Q&A: Star Wars Vintage, More Vintage, and Classic Rarities

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 6, 2017

1. I love that vintage collection is coming back, but I am not thrilled that the few waves are all the walmart figures I just bought on clearance. You mentioned something similar last week, and I'm curious if you think this will sink the line before it even starts. Hasbro reps said over and over in SDCC interviews that they'd grow the vintage collection based on observed feedback and sales in the first year. Do you think Hasbro a) recognizes these first waves are cheap for them by reusing recent molds but will have lower interest from collectors or b) assumes there is nothing wrong with reissuing these recent figures everyone had access to and have high expectations for this wave? I fear if they think along option b that they'll interpret the vintage collection is a failed project for the wrong reasons. Noone seemed to bring this up in the SDCC interviews. I love reissues but not ones I just bought on clearance. I guess it's a question of how in touch with realistic expectations is Hasbro?

I don't know for sure, but as a collector I know this kind of thing would make me less interested in supporting the line. Hasbro's presentation focused very heavily on there being a lot of reissues, which is upsetting. I can live with repaints, but reissues are a drag. What can we do new and different?

My worry is that the line will launch, it might be soft, and then Hasbro will draw the conclusion "people don't want vintage" when the actual conclusion could be "people don't want to rebuy these figures." It's possible people will be excited to get Rey and Kylo Ren and especially First Order Stormtroopers by then, but right now it's not terribly tough to find clearance Jyn Erso or Cassian Andor figures on clearance.

I hope they look at the secondary market and sprinkle in high-dollar figures from eBay/Amazon, because Darth Revan could use a reissue and Hasbro can/should keep Yoda, Boba Fett, and Darth Vader in regular circulation. Not everybody shops at Walmart due to proximity, political, or crowd reasons, so there absolutely will be an audience for these figures - but how big? That I don't know.



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2. Post SDCC rant here... Did you see the video of Hasbro reps saying 15 figures for 2018 in the Vintage Collection? Now I realize that could be a low estimate, but have you ever seen a line restart successfully with half the figures being repacks from just a couple years prior? The vintage card backs might be awesome... but kids don't care.

I guess if the 15 figures in 2018 come out AFTER the Han Solo Movie... like in the Fall of 2018 then 15 figures might make sense, with like 30 coming shortly after in 2019? I just can't help but be a skeptic with all that Hasbro has done (and mostly NOT done) over the last 4-5 years. They managed to put money back in people's pockets... so I guess we should be thrilled.

We've seen 10 of the 15 (2 are new), so I guess if the other 5 are long overdue collector favorites like Yakface, Sim Aloo, etc. maybe I can be excited. The question I have really is, Do you imagine 5 (or 7) POA figures up until the summer 2018? And if so, do you think the Vintage will be too late by then? I'm envisioning piles of 'The Last Jedi' and 'Han Solo' figures that can't hold their guns correctly falling off the shelves.

My feelings about The Vintage Collection 2018 lineup are pretty much how I felt when they announced the Droid Factory waves that became The Black Series. It's a lot of stuff I basically already have and don't want/need to buy again with one or two fresh figures sprinkled on top. It's disappointing. It's not a line-up developed for the audience for that style of packaging, so will people come out to buy? I think Hasbro misunderstood the audience, or asked the wrong questions when polling them. There are those among us who will rebuy things in new packaging - and many of us who wouldn't even consider it.

We don't know how many figures will ultimately be produced or if they're trying to do an experiment to make the line extremely profitable before swinging in to developing new figures, but this is generally not the best way to launch a collector line. If it's just a packaging gimmick, well, fine. Do whatever. If you want old farts like me on board, at least make it interesting - if you want to give me Rey again, let's get one with a new facial expression or battle-damage. Same with Kylo Ren - I've got one, but I don't have a super-articulated, unmasked, battle-damaged deco one. (I'll buy Stormtroopers, don't worry there.)

With new movies and rotating teams on the brand, there's a lot of generation loss - we're getting a copy of a copy of a copy of brand familiarity and I'd be willing to bet money they have no idea that the original Kenner line-up has yet to be updated completely. Do they care? Probably not. There's also the increasingly sad reality that we may no longer be worth targeting, but I'd also counter my own argument with that they're not really trying very hard over the last five years. Even The Vintage Collection 2010-2012 was lacking in freshness, there were some choice cuts but it still took until the third wave to get a single new-to-modern-era character in the line.

Starting with repacks worries me - they're great filler, but not generally where you want to build your foundation. If Hasbro said "We've got 12 new figures planned and if demand is good we've got 15 returning favorites coming your way for Christmas!" I'd be very happy. We've seen things like this happen before in Star Wars with the now-familiar repaint waves, and in Transformers back when demand greatly outstripped supply. It concerns me that they're putting money in 6-inch scale statues "for collectors" when their hardcore collector action figure segment is more likely to appeal to new (and maybe casual) collectors.




3. Hi! In your opinion, what are some of the rarer, modern 3.75 in SW figures? Not necessarily talking about the minor variations. For modern rates, the list might include the overseas only European silver R2, the European pit droids, the tan movie heroes break apart battle droid, and the movie heroes Boba Fett, that was also unfortunately only released overseas. There were others that might have fallen off the list like the original Fode and Beed, Qui Gon from the Eopie, Darth Maul from the with speeder game, also only released overseas. Most have been re-issued, although slightly different. What others might you suggest? What are your thoughts?

As long as you can regularly find something for sale, I wouldn't call it rare. The late 2012/early 2013 figure line is scarce, thanks in part to their being hard to search for and tricky to identify. I haven't seen the Maul game for a while, but at the time it wasn't too hard to network and find. I actually found some of the European Pit Droid sets at SDCC ages ago for $2 a pop in a Japanese model kit booth store. There's just so much stuff you have to keep looking to find it, because most people have zero awareness of what's actually hard to find. It's just junk to some.

And I'm part of the problem - with thousands of figures, I don't keep tabs on what's hard to get once I get mine. I smile, and I move on. I'll take note if I see something after a prolonged period of not seeing it, but the sheer volume of figures means that there are things that I own I may not have seen in years, let alone had an opportunity to buy. Pretty much anything I'd cite, someone would say "hey, I have one of those." Well, maybe not that grey 1995 POTF2 Darth Vader.




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So yeah, not hopeful for Vintage. I'm also not feeling that you guys are excited for The Last Jedi, and I hope I'm wrong. There's just not a lot of reason to get excited by three. Consecutive. Annual. Midnight. Launches. I just don't like them at all, but once every three (or more) years I can put up with. Annually, it's a hassle. I like there being toys, though.

With each big revision of Star Wars we see a bit of a split. There are multiple factions of Expanded Universe materials now. There are original trilogy fans, prequel fans, Clone Wars fans, Rebels fans, and new Disney movie fans - not everybody likes everything. Certain generations who used to be the center of attention are now left cold, so it's easy for some of us to feel like we were lost in the shuffle with the new hotness taking away from, for example, adding 1-2 Cantina or Jabba's Palace figures to our collections every few years.

I like the 6-inch line for what it is, but right now Hasbro gets to trot out mostly new versions of things we have to varying levels of applause. Some people are excited, but the long-term fan has less reason to jump and be giddy each year. I don't think new vehicles based on the prequels, original trilogy, or Clone Wars without miraculous appearances in the new movies. And big stuff, forget it. (We'll see big stuff, but don't expect old big stuff.)

We're in an era with more potential than ever before, but the cycle of a new movie every few months smacks down an ongoing collector line with regular waves. There's really nothing keeping Hasbro from doing an ongoing "greatest hits" or "old story" assortment alongside the new stuff, which can live and breathe apart from the new launches every few months, but even that could be difficult to handle smoothly because while you or I may pack it with an Ewok, an alien, a droid, and something else from the first three films there would still be demand for Rex or Ahsoka or Revan. And of course Boba Fett, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and a Stormtrooper.

We are in the era of ultimate promise and permanent dissatisfaction. I'd love to see Hasbro tackle those last unmade vintage-era 1980s figures so we can get on with our lives, but I'm not betting on it happening any time soon since fan sites aren't making it a constant unified message. I'm not even sure who asked for more Hoth trooper repacks, but that's what we're getting.

--Adam Pawlus

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