Q&A Summer Spectacular - SDCC, Angry Birds, Jumbo Figures, and So Much More

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 23, 2013

It's Monday, and it's summer, so you have no reason not to read Q&A! Let's find out why the birds are so angry, and look at Jumbo Gentle Giant figures. Oh, and themed waves of action figures. That was a thing once. Also more rantings, ravings, and rampant unsourced and unreasonable SDCC speculation can be yours if you read on!


1. I have a question I thought you might be able to answer. My question is about the Star Wars Angry Birds Star Wars series 2 blind bags. I noticed that Entertainment Earth and Bigbadtoystore have been the only two online retailers who have had these available. As soon as they get them in, they sell out within a few days. I go to several Target Walmart and Toy r Us stores everyday and I have not seen series 2 in the store. Do you know if these are a limited run, will they make it to stores. I would appreciate it if you could shed any light on this.

I have not seen series 2 in the wild myself, but I can tell you that online stores and brick-and-mortar stores operate on slightly different frequencies (as I am behind-the-scenes at Entertainment Earth as part of my day job). Some details are generally just not shared by Hasbro, like production run sizes. Are there fewer? We won't know unless Hasbro comes out and says it, and they rarely do. We may not even be able to tell if units get dumped at Goodwill or overseas, or donated, or destroyed, or held back for a promo at Toys R Us for Black Friday. ...OK, we'd know then.

I can't confirm if Series 2 is out at your local stores - I've not seen it - and some of the later Fighter Pods figures were in short supply depending on which chain you were at. Series 3 was a little tough across the board, particularly when it came to 4-packs. (Not so much the Naboo Fighter set.) With items like this, it's possible that they're just hitting online first as that does happen, as we saw with virtually everything in Vintage in 2012, but there we had other issues too (glut of old product, cases 50% old stuff which went unsold making it hard to see what actually had landed, etc.)

So, short answer: I don't know for sure yet. If it got made, it's out there somewhere. And it's going to end up somewhere - it could sell through entirely online, or it could show up at Target in 4 months, or it could show up in other, surprising, not-generally-toy channels too. We'll have to wait and see. Heck, we're still waiting on those 2012 Naboo Fighters... my bet is Toys R Us in Q4.



2. With many of the earlier Gentle Giant Jumbo Kenner figures sold out and unavailable aside from eBay and conventions, do you think they will do another print run of these, or only continue to release new figures? Also, do you think they'll ever take a stab at doing one vehicle ( the Landspeeder for example) just to test the market for something like this?

Gentle Giant has proven they are not beyond rerunning variations of existing figures - we've seen Boba Fett turn into Rocket Firing Boba Fett and an Empire Strikes Back Stormtrooper end up on a Star Wars cardback. With the AFX Droid 3-Pack (Death Star Droid, Power Droid, R5-D4) that's basically straight-up reissues so I'd say if you're not picky about packaging, it would worth getting your hopes up on some of them. Just be sure to ask about it a lot. I saw how expensive Luke Skywalker (1978) got, and there's a prime opportunity to redo him as an Early Bird Kit set or as a stand-alone Double Telescoping Lightsaber figure. Or brown hair! This is pretty doable.

So far I've only been able to snag one Jumbo figure, the Death Star Droid. (Thank you, Dat!) It's pretty nice - price is of course a big issue, and if you're the kind of person that might shell out for a $100 carded sample of an actual Vintage guy, a 12-inch version is a more impressive substitute. Since I'm already behind, odds are I won't be chasing them all down but I think I'll have to get Walrus Man, Greedo, Snaggletooth, and Hammerhead eventually. (Eventually might be a long time out, but hey, I'm "young" and "patient.")

...also, don't forget real, actual Vintage figures are largely pretty cheap. You can get the genuine article for a fraction of the jumbo equivalent with few exceptions, which is pretty sobering in this era of fake-retro Kenner figures. Do you want a figure that looks like it could have sold next to Walrus Man in 1979, or do you want the real Walrus Man for four bucks? (I like that figure more than most. Sure it's an iffy Star Wars figure, but if it was an original wacky design for Adventure People I'm sure you people would be lining up in droves to soil yourself and/or bask in its glory.)


3. One of the things Hasbro has done in the past and then backed off from is themed waves. The first big vintage wave with an Empire theme was over shipped as well as last year's Phantom Menace fiasco and I remember reading somewhere that Hasbro was going to avoid doing these themes again. From my perspective, when you go to a store and see a mismatch of figures that don't interact together, and there's no advertising on the back of the figure to indicate you will ever get figures that go with what's on the shelves, it makes most of the releases feel pretty random. Most kids don't have a cantina full of aliens that they want to add a new BoShek to, but in a wave with Greedo, Han, a Sandtrooper, and Obi-Wan, a Boshek figure seems like a reasonable purchase. Does Hasbro not see this as a better way to pair collector friendly figures with recognizable characters and get both to sell? Shouldn't the figures in a given wave help sell each other?

One thing to keep in mind: whatever Hasbro tells you, they can change their mind. Staff changes, and generally today's "never" is tomorrow's "maybe" unless it has to do with the Tonnika Sisters. Themed waves made a comeback, briefly, last year early on and we did see a few Phantom Menace themed waves and I suppose you could argue Movie Heroes Wave 2 was all new The Empire Strikes Back guys. Vintage was random, but will it be in the future? Hard to say. Right now we're dealing with the fallout of the whole 3-D thing, and those non-collector figures are very much themed at first. (Well, with an exception or two.) I'd be stunned if we didn't see themed waves in the future of The Black Series, especially with 4-figure 6-inch waves. Why wouldn't you give one or two themed waves a shot there? It just makes good sense, and wave 1 was 75% Star Wars (we can argue R2-D2 later) as it was. 100% Star Wars isn't far off.

It's tougher to comment on "kids want this" and "collectors want that" because last year proved whatever they wanted, Hasbro and its retail partners largely didn't deliver. 2012 had no Han Solos, no non-cartoon Chewbaccas, and minimal Cantina representation - seeing how most Cantina guys do, I don't know that anyone would consider BoShek a good use of a slot. Although if we all keep talking about him... you know.

Part of the problem last year was line planning combined with Hasbro following LucasFilm's marketing plan - which is what they're supposed to do. It's sort of a lose-lose. In 2011, Hasbro had a year that ended less than greatly for Star Wars fans. With 2012, we got a fresh start devoted to what is largely considered the worst movie for toys that was, in 1999-2000, the last time Hasbro pulled support for the line and rejiggered the whole thing for six months. The Phantom Menace works with hype, but it's largely poison, and now Hasbro is rightfully a little shy of a lot of things. I don't think we're going to get what we used to think of as a "normal" year for quite some time, but recent leaks do seem to indicate that there will be more for hardcore, long-term collectors this year as they exhaust the remaining juice from the A-List, B-List, C-List, and whatever list BoShek is from.


4. I have a toy question not related to Star Wars. I am wondering if you have heard of anyone working on a line of figures from Game of Thrones?

Not yet - Funko is doing an exquisite line of Pop! Vinyl figures, and Dark Horse has a bunch of great statues, replicas, and other collectible knickknacks. If you're holding your breath for a Hasbro-style 3 3/4-inch line, I'd suggest not doing that. I don't want you to pass out and hit your head. It wouldn't stun me if someone did a 6-inch collector line of $20-$30 figures or a line of not-Mego figures.


5. With the 6" Black Series Boba Fett with Han in Carbonite being exclusive to Celebration Europe II as well as SDCC, do you think this bodes well or ill for those of us attending neither con to be able to get our hands on the set at its regular price? SDCC exclusives are always a hassle, especially as Hasbro Toy Shop is always overloaded, but the now-defunct Star Wars Shop always had plenty of Celebration leftovers. The set is already overpriced and the Force only knows what people will sell it for on eBay.

If your concern is "Will I ever get a Black Series Boba Fett?" let me say that I wouldn't worry if I were you.

It all depends on Hasbro - if they overproduce this figure, speculators will gobble it up and it will take some time for the market to catch up with the big quantity. Rumor has it for quite some time that Boba Fett would be in wave 2 or 3 sans Carbonite, so it boils down to a mix of patience, the zeal of Boba Fett fans, and how much juice Hasbro decides to squeeze from this orange. Remember, back in 2005 Gentle Giant made enormous runs for its Yoda and Darth Vader busts, the likes of which we will never see again. This sort of strike-while-the-iron-is-hot thing isn't unprecedented, and obviously Hasbro makes no money from eBay sales. (Although I'm sure Microsoft's Xbox One division was working on that before last week. Zing!)

It's also possible - but very unlikely - that this line could sputter out the gate and the figure might not be a huge hit. I can't imagine that scenario actually taking place, but I didn't really anticipate Hasbro making about a dozen figures into "let's sell these everywhere but the USA" exclusives. They're proving that they're capable of big surprises none of us will see coming, but hopefully they also realize they can make up a lot o revenue (as Star Wars 2013 has got to be a huge void for them) just by making a ton of it, letting the market soak it all up, and basically making Boba Fett like the 1995 POTF2 figures - scarce, speculated upon, and ultimately (a few years later) not worth all that much.

At $45, Boba Fett is also pretty expensive. If you're patient, and watch eBay, you might be able to get a deal - last year's SDCC Transformers Bruticus sold out insanely fast and was a coveted collector's item. And then Hasbro put out two more versions of the molds, and today prices sometimes dip below the original asking price. The 2012 Carbonite Chamber Set has gone up and down quite a bit, but the key difference with a lot of these was that the lines were matured and there were similar alternatives (widely?) available. 6-inch Star Wars is new, and as such people might be willing to throw down massive cash just to get the first one, and have it first. We'll just have to wait and see what Hasbro did with this one.



July's almost here, so at some point in the next 30 days we're all going to have chances to buy some New Stuff, with a lot of new stuff likely hitting in the next 45 or so days, if my abacus is correct. On one hand: awesome! The hobby is back. It's been a very slow year on all fronts with few new Transformers toys (no Generations deluxe have shipped since wave 3 in December!) and a lot of lines, like Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man Unlimited, bringing minimal post-wave 1 product. (Sound familiar?) The Christmas reset is basically in August or September, with street dates often broken by Toys R Us in July, so it's almost time to start collecting 6-inch figures while 3 3/4-inch starts to wither and decay. Or not. I actually kinda hope we see a definitive split between "kid" and "collector" figures once and for all.

I've rather enjoyed the lull. Not writing Figure of the Day has been a delight - and not getting so many new figures that I have to keep records as to what I've written is nice, too. I do owe you guys some videos or something of the new Hasbro Star Tours releases, which are pretty nice across the board. (Basically each new set has 1-2 neat things and 1 dud.) Droid fans will probably enjoy it for the most part.

I've also managed to unpack more. I moved into my current residence in 2011 with the intent of it being "permanent" and I'd say about 60%+ of the toys are still boxed away and not, uh, installed? That's a good word. I've got a decent walk-in closet that's not too big, and I've managed to cram a few small cheap bookshelves in there. Previously it was home to Galactic Heroes, Fighter Pods, Outer Space Men, Tartakovsky Clone Wars, and Battle Beasts. I'm looking into expanding to include Xevoz, Mordles (brand-new, just released, go look and buy some), and maybe Jedi Force and the Glyos guys if there's still room.

As of when I write this, one thing that's on my mind is "Does Hasbro have more exclusives for Comic-Con in San Diego?" I honestly am not throwing this out as a clue or a hint, I honestly don't know - with BotCon this coming weekend, I'm expecting another Transformers item or two and while it isn't unthinkable, I'm a little surprised there's no 3 3/4-inch Star Wars item or a single-carded, "classic" G.I. Joe figure. And I'm pretty stunned there's no Metroplex variant just yet. If what we've seen is really it, I want to commend Hasbro on keeping it simpler... but let's be honest, there's no way it can be this small of a spread. While I do like the idea of unique figures, I really do prefer it when as many people can get them as humanly possible. (This is partially out of altruism and partially because people keep asking me if an item is coming back. Just make a lot and sell a lot. Make money. Make fans happy. It's much easier.)

--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.