Q&A: Star Wars Waiting, Toy Pricing, and Solo Ain't Ready Yet

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 5, 2017

1. I have noticed that the latest 6 inch marvel waves have been peg warming at my local Walmart lately. It seems that with so much coming out from star wars and transformers, the marvel series are slowly falling behind. I remember that it took a very long time for the doctor strange series to get clearanced out and some locations have figures on clearance for as low as $5. Would it make sense for hasbro to try bringing back the 3.75 inch line with super articulation and a build a figure? Or would an interactive chip inside the figure, either as a dlc for a game be more beneficial to future action figures?

Part of what makes toys fascinating is how they distribute them - assortments and waves are handled differently by most chains, and mercifully for fans Target (and Walmart, and Toys R Us) keep each big-picture assortment separate - Spider-Man, X-Men, Doc Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy, each are their own thing (but all of the waves are the same thing). Because these items are split by an internal brand, and it's not just one big wave of Marvel Legends like all Star Wars Black Series are in one giant ongoing assortment, stores have the latitude to clear them out when they're done. It would actually be really great if Star Wars would do this too - could you imagine how great it would be if all stores, everywhere, flushed out 2015 figures like Constable Zuvio like we saw Walmart dump Doctor Strange's assortment?

Costs are a funny thing - they're a closely guarded secret, but we're generally told that simple figures cost a lot less than complex figures. Size is less important than mass and/or complexity, which is why you can get a 12-inch figure for $10 (with 5 joints) and a 3 3/4-inch figure is $10-$13, and a 6-inch figure is $7 with minimal articulation and $20 with maximal. Downsizing wouldn't necessarily help costs - what you're seeing here is Walmart (and friends) digesting a movie line and getting rid of it when it's over. There's no wave two for Doctor Strange, so when it stops selling it needs to go and be replaced by the next movie's line. This is different from Star Wars, which has a few assortments that just continued indefinitely. (But not the 5-jointed non-exclusive movie lines, those reboot with each movie so far.)

In short, things are working like they should - in a perfect world every movie's line would sell through completely, but that usually only happens when Hasbro underestimates demand a great deal. I think we're in an era where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't - if you make more than enough of a character, it sits, fans are angry. If you don't make enough, fans can't get it, and are angry. Given the need for secrecy and massive lead times leading to production of an item, it's not like they can do a good pre-order system either. They can try, and they can get it close sometimes, but the proper calculation of how many of a product to make is tough to calculate without contacting the spirit world. In my position, I can say that based on the information you do (and don't) have mixed with the things that sometimes change, it's a wonder that things are as good as they are. You never know when your big hero will be a smash, or when nobody will care. The new 6-inch Darth Vader figure for 2017 has had a lot of ups and downs, particularly based on how he's sold multiple ways. It's kind of amazing it's doing as well as it is.

The stuff that's popular sells out at full price. The stuff that doesn't gets marked down. The circle of life!



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2. Last time, I waited until after seeing TFA to pick up any figures. Of course, by the time the movie came out, some figures were easier to find then others in my area.

Right now, most figures seem easily found, but, from where you sit (case pack wise, more than unseen movie wise), are there any 3.75" or 6" figures (out now or soon) that look like they may be pick 'em up as soon as you can or chance not seeing them later?

Also, do you know what the deal is with the lack of Rebels in the TLJ line? Both TFA and R1 had some mixed in, but TLJ has none. Is it a manufacturing/timing issue (they're in the pipeline, but not enough time to get to market yet), lack of faith in 5POA Rebels, maybe Disney only wanting movie related product featured in the TLJ line, something else?

It seems the current best practices here - "Force Friday" launch items are usually plentiful and cheap over time, but subsequently released items are a crapshoot.

Right now, I'd probably just suggest that you jump on anything new for The Last Jedi that wasn't a launch product (buy, pre-order, whatever.) Given the case ratios of the next batch of 6-inch figures, it might be a pain in the neck to get Jaina, Snoke, and Rose - maybe not Rose. But she's in a position to be a breakout character, so if she's likable in the movie she'll probably disappear overnight. I don't assume it's likely she will be - but there's potential to be significant here.

I heard no specifics on the lack of Rebels, but it seems Disney is done with it - and that would be my assumption. It's getting bumped around the Disney XD schedule and we saw very little in The Force Awakens (a couple of vehicles, Rex, an Inquisitor) and Rogue One (the Inquisitor/Maul 2-pack, Kanan Stormtrooper, Thrawn, Fenn Rau, Leia, a couple of vehicles) and that was that. I'd place my bets on Disney being ready to move on to the next thing, as they're also burning off two episodes per week - usually not a good sign - and I can only assume they're ankle-deep into the development of whatever Star Wars' next foray in television could be as we sit here waiting for the next thing.

It's sadly similar to what happened to The Clone Wars - the last "animated" toys were pretty much done by 2012, with the show airing through 2014.



3. Do you think the toyline for 'Solo' will feature a Young Millennium Falcon for the figures to play/fly/be young in? It seems that a new (or even repackaged) Falcon would make sense for a young Han Solo toyline, but at the same time I can see it being a big expensive question mark that Hasbro might pass on since there's such a tiny window between The Last Jedi and Solo.

Due to the nature of the movie we know the Falcon will be on screen, and it would be reasonable to assume there would be a new toy. Hasbro has been pretty good about having one "big" toy for each film in the Disney epoch, with a Falcon for The Force Awakens, the AT-ACT for Rogue One, and the BB-8 2-in-1 Playset for The Last Jedi. I would say it's almost bankable to assume that there would be some form of Millennium Falcon for the Han Solo movie, but the nature of the toy is always up for grabs. Can you make a smaller one? Do you do a bigger one? Do you just repackage something from an old movie and say "Eh, good enough?"

Given that the movie is unlikely to carry too many familiar vehicles, I can't see them not including the ship in some capacity. But for all I know, we'll see Sail Barges and TIE Fighters in it - they've been good about keeping things quiet.




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Star Wars Rebels continues airing in an iffy slot, doubling down on episodes before it wraps up for good in the fairly near future. The series seems to be stepping up to a final storyline, not unlike the end of Deep Space Nine wherein we just finish up a war with familiar heroes and villains. It's ending, and it feels like it needs to end. The show has introduced a few nifty characters and was a generally entertaining tour through concept art and low budgets. The show did a good job providing regularly delivered stories, but it suffers the usual pangs of prequelitis - it can get a little boring when you realize nobody's going to be killed off until the very end, if at all, among the sometimes fan servicey cameos.

We've been delivered more than a little fan service with familiar faces from the movies popping in for cameos in between commando missions on various planets - which mostly means Lothal. As I write this I just watched episodes 5 and 6, much of which takes place in dark sewers. The characters got new costumes (that's good!) which they lost almost immediately (that's bad) during an infiltration of a familiar base, staffed with a familiar face, and a new ship that we've seen before and also infiltrated in the distant past. It's a nice grab bag, but given how the movies are likely to go I can see why they're hesitant to offer too many new things on the show when you're probably better served holding back newness for any of the upcoming movies.

The lack of new toys based on the series has really done a lot to hurt my interest, with some of the most colorful characters going unmade. Obviously we were spoiled by the countless variation and storylines in the anthology-like The Clone Wars, which is one of the reasons I'm feeling like this is a good time to wrap up the show. One of the dangers of television is that when a series nears its creative peak, it tends to go on for a couple of seasons beyond its expiration date. I think we're about there now, so as things lag a bit we're just about ready to move on to the next thing. (I don't know what that is yet.)

Rebels to date has served as a consistently moderately entertaining show that trades on its source material quite handily - it doesn't really reach beyond the source material, but it was very rarely an awful show. I actually don't think I can name an episode I hated or would mock, which is an interesting shift of tone from The Clone Wars wherein season 3 had both sublimely creative and weird episodes as well as some of the worst ideas for sci-fi kid entertainment ever. Rebels gave us combat, Stormtroopers, Mon Mothma, and Death Troopers. At its worst, we had inflatable pigs and those were perfectly charming. Meanwhile The Clone Wars had amazing things like Hutt gangsters, all-droid episodes, bounty hunters, and four-armed alien fallen Jedi. Alongside substandard school lunches and an entire episode concerning banks raising interest rates. (If someone told me those existed because George thought it was funny, though, I'll give it to them as a stroke of brilliance or trolling. Bravo, regardless.)

I'll give Rebels points for giving fans a lot of what they want, with Vader and Leia and Tarkin and Thrawn among some vaguely new characters through recognizable archetypes. And Kenner things. I'm not sure what else I might want out of this show, or a next series. We've had a show about the early pre-history of the Rebel Alliance. We've seen The Clone Wars. I guess what might be the most interesting thing to see next is the founding of the First Order, but such a thing may not be compelling television for children unless it's told from their opposition. I get a lot less excited about the prospect for new Star Wars as the toy prospects get worse, and both The Clone Wars and Rebels showed a lot of great potential for plastic around the time Hasbro moved on.

--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.