Q&A: Star Wars Vintage, Vehicles, and Pack-In Figures

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 17, 2017

1. Recently, you wrote:

The Vintage line of 2018 is sort of like how I feel about Centerpiece. It's a bad idea, the execution, and it needs to be stopped (or changed) before it just comes out and falls flat on its face. Sure, I want a super-articulated Snoke... but I'm not willing to re-buy Kylo Ren to get it.

It seems more and more collectors are getting on board with the new Vintage line being a bad idea. A super high price point for a slew of figures that didn't sell out during a 3 month clearance seems like a titanic sized disaster. Collectors see this coming and aren't being shy about expressing that. How is it that Hasbro doesn't see this, too?

Is it Disney tying their hands? Or do they really think collectors will flock to pay a few bucks more for figures they either already own or passed by at 1/2 price due to disinterest just because there's snazzy cart art?

I want to see the Vintage line thrive. I'm less and less convinced that Hasbro feels the same, though.

At Comic-Con and Celebration and HasCon, Hasbro was saying that they see the Vintage relaunch as a conversation with fans. This is bad. Asking us what reruns we want can be tricky, because (as someone who's been conversing with all of us for 22 years) we're a bad group. We're unreliable. Don't believe us - believe eBay. Believe Amazon. If a figure is $4.99 on the secondary market, it should be forbidden from being rerurn. Given the fact that so much of the existing supply is still out there, carded, and often ready to sell, this could be a dangerous line to walk. There will always be new fans so a new movie super-articulated Kylo Ren makes a lot of sense, but rerunning one from two movies ago is a bit of a scary prospect. Some will sell - no question. But if you don't have to buy the case or the set to get the new guys, you might skip a few repacks.

Any product existing purely as packaging is something that scares me - ideally the figure is distinctive or popular enough to survive on its own, in case collectors don't come out to buy it. Boba Fett will sell. Darth Vader will sell. I can't say I believe the market wants pre-lightsaber Rey ever again, and now that the Stormtroopers have new helmets would people want the old one?

Unless wave 2 is a bumper crop of newness, it's likely to suffer. We saw the first two waves of the 2010 The Vintage Collection line linger on shelves for months, and nearly everything after that in 2011 was a little tough to come by for a fair amount of time in many markets.

I don't think it's Disney - I think Hasbro is trying to maximize its investment while also answering disparate fan inquiries for reruns of rare figures. If played correctly, this could work out well for them - Stotrmoopers here and there, Darth Revan, Yoda, Ponda Baba, there are things that might just do well on their own regardless of packaging. If they can get them out at $13 or less, it would be far better than the armor-up figures of 2015 and 2016. If they forget why so many of us are here - to buy new and better figures - rest assured this may not be troubling you for much longer. If it dies, it dies - most action figure lines have little traction and Star Wars remains one of the most diverse in the industry. It ain't perfect, but it's still probably the best there is.



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2. I'd like to purchase the 3.75" Stormtrooper Enforcer figure that currently comes with the Praetorian Guard and reader, but I have no interest in the latter two. Same goes for the Imperial BB unit in the Rose/BB-8 pack. Are you aware of any plan for Hasbro to release the Enforcer and Imperial droid individually in the near future?

When Hasbro has an exclusive "pack-in" figure, that figure typically stays exclusive. You should be counting your lucky stars that BB-9E comes with BB-8 and a new Rose in First Order Disguise - getting 3 new figures for $15 is a blessing given that the other BB-9E is a Disney Parks exclusive and $30. If all you wanted was the little black droid, suck it up and drop the $15 (when the chance comes up) and call it a day. Hasbro has never sold a BB-8 individually and after having seen the movie there's probably no reason to make a third BB-9E. If Disney ever sold it individually, it would be about $13. Just spend $15 and enjoy the Rose figure as a bonus.

It's exceedingly unlikely that either Toys R Us exclusive Force Link Reader bonus figures will be sold separately. However, there is a super-articulated Executioner Stormtrooper sold as a Walmart exclusive for $12, and I'd suggest buying that if you see it. If you simply must have the 5-jointed one. If you must have the reader version - and it pains me a little to put it this way, but just wait for clearance. Completists wanting every figure are being made to buy three Force Link bands this time around - and that's just ugly on Hasbro's part. Toys R Us stores are so backed up on these that I can't believe you won't see them for half price, or cheaper, next year. Why Hasbro didn't just make a 2-pack of the new figures is beyond me, because that would've been the can't-miss exclusive of the year. We'd all be fighting over paying $15-$20 for it. Instead, it's a $35 set with an accessory we likely already bought twice, so a few of us are folding our arms and waiting. (I'm waiting on the Poe's Boosted X-Wing until I have some coupons, myself. Or if it dries up suddenly, I'll cave in.)

Hasbro has released pack-in figures on individual cards in the past. The last time they really made an effort to do that was around 2007 for the Saga Legends line, thanks in part to a fan vote for reissues for scarce and in-demand figures which seemingly worked out well. While Hasbro is getting excited about super-articulated reruns (see answer #1 this week) they don't seem to be interested in a basic line of figures for kids keeping some of the major players out for newcomers. I'm a little disappointed by this, because I assume fans who want Darth Vader and don't find Darth Vader don't begin a collection.

It's not impossible that Hasbro might have an excuse to crank out a second single version of the Stormtrooper - I doubt it - and there are already two flavors of BB-9E in this size in the marketplace. I'd say pick your poison, throw down the cash, and move on.




3. I recently purchased the Hasbro U-Wing fighter and after I put it all together, I realized that it no longer fits in the box it came with. I tried to take it back apart, in particular the engines, however it seemed like it might break if I used to much force. Does is come back apart? I have limited storage space and really wish that Hasbro would design all of their toys to fit back in their original boxes! What are your thoughts on this?

Many toys aren't designed to be taken apart. I was going to consult Hasbro.com's instructions archive, but they very sporadically update this and it seems it's not yet (or no longer) available - so I can't confirm if it says you can take it apart, or not. A lot of the booklets do indicate one-time assembly on many toys.

I would advise you to find another storage method or to buy a second U-Wing at Ross for $16 as a back-up. (It's better than ruining your toy forever.) I don't see any reason Hasbro (or any manufacturer) would design toys to be dismantled for easy storage as that's not their key business, although it would really be nice - and that tends to be how it works out for Playmobil and LEGO. You might just have to make an exception on this one if you don't think it's safe to dismantle, and since I don't want to break mine, good luck with that.



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At this point, I really hope you got to see The Last Jedi. I normally don't make a big fuss about spoilers, but this is one time where I would strongly encourage you to fake an illness or ditch your family to go see the movie before some of the secrets are ruined. Some you may see coming, some you may not - but you don't want to read about these on some dope's Twitter page, or have that jackhole in your office who shouts out spoilers in meetings ruin it for you.

We're at a point in Star Wars that hasn't really existed in nearly 37 years. I don't think it's a spoiler to say there are some pretty amazing threads left dangling. A lot of fans never really got to experience this, thanks to the prequels having basically no real cliffhanger elements and anyone being born after 1980 being born having seen the films. Right now, in this moment, there are actual questions - with the prequels, we knew what'd happen but not how. Now? We actually have some pretty great reasons to speculate wildly until 2019, not the least of which is the question of if Disney will decide to add back in the old Fox fanfare now that they own it once again. I kind of hope they do.

Since we're avoiding spoilers, let's talk mergers. I'm not a fan, and this week Disney merged with/bought/etc. Fox. I understand that a lot of people really idealize Disney in a way I find odd, given a corporation is a corporation and no matter the warm fuzzies, it's a big machine - and you and I know how these things can go. Hasbro's the perfect example, as they grew their board game business to encompass over 50% of the market about a decade ago thanks to merging and acquiring, which gave them more shelf space. Hasbro owns a lot of separate entities. Kenner, Parker Bros., Hasbro, Milton Bradley, Cranium, and Wizards of the Coast used to be more or less separate entities with different voices and perspectives. While WotC has a lot of autonomy, the others were pretty much absorbed into the mothership. Competition is reduced, and Cranium is now a brand of Hasbro rather than a company sitting there coming up with different, innovative ideas on its own.

We've also seen how this has changed the toy business - with the added bonus if smartphones. Hasbro ate Kenner and most of what was neat about Toy Biz, resulting in some uneven years. We had years where Hasbro had over 250 different figures in production in a 12 month period for just 3 3/4-inch Star Wars - that won't happen again. Movie lines are at least partially dictated by Disney (or its properties) with Hasbro having less opportunity to pick things for collectors or kids - and by the time the new thing comes out, it's already time to move on. Few Transformers from movies get made if not during the release window, ditto Marvel movies, and now ditto Star Wars. Hasbro properties have been competing with other Hasbro properties for oxygen, in 2015 Hasbro had Jurassic Word competing with The Force Awakens, Avengers, Ant-Man, and its retro properties all at once. Transformers limped along fairly well as a nostalgia and TV brand, while G.I. Joe returned to its long march to the sea.

Next year, Marvel has eight movies between Sony, Fox, and Marvel/Disney - and Disney has a Star Wars and an Avengers opening 30 days apart, with both competing for box office dollars and now the toys are stepping on one another's toes causing Hasbro competition with Hasbro. While the lines have yet to be fully revealed, Hasbro frequently trims things back when there's a lot going on at the same time. We already saw Rogue One figures almost not get produced were it not for some heavy-handed encouragement from an enthusiastic toy buyer (cough cough) and there are a handful of The Last Jedi items with no known release date - are they too destined for oblivion because the next thing is already on the way? I really hope not.

The House of Mouse will now be the steward of Muppets, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, more Marvel, Alien, Predator, Avatar, Planet of the Apes, and other things I'm forgetting. It's going to be interesting to see how this shakes out - will we see the Fox fanfare return to old Star Wars movies from the Lucas era? Will the Fox brand be swept under the rug? Will we just plain see fewer movies released per year thanks to internal competition for marketing dollars - and what does this mean for negotiating contracts for licenses when Hasbro has to renew in 2020? I have no idea. I'm not optimistic, but I'm getting older. Maybe that's the problem.

--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.