Q&A: Vehicles, Prototypes, Black Series, Leaks, and Star Wars Still Loves You

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 12, 2014


1. The Black Series has opened my eyes and wallet at 6" figures in general.

a. Is there a website that lists which figures are in scale with each other?
b. Aside from TBS & Marvel Legends, are there other lines in the 6" scale? (DC, other?)
c. Loved and employed your previous suggestions for using tackle boxes for loose 3 3/4. What do you recommend for loose 6"

Many questions! Let's see what I can do.

a. Scale - not really. There are a lot of lines which are very close together, and like with 3 3/4-inch there's the subject of debate. Mattel has said that Masters of the Universe Classics are in scale, but they just happen to be a bit taller and wider - I don't know if I agree with that, but I don't disagree with it, either.

b. Lines which more or less fit closely include Hasbro's Marvel Legends (also Toy Biz', and Spider-Man Classics which kicked off the scale over 10 years ago), Mattel's Ghostbusters, DC Universe Classics, The Watchmen, and Movie Masters of Batman and Superman, plus Funko has a new line coming called "Legacy" which aims to ape that style - the only license confirmed so far for it is Firefly. (I'm hoping #2 is Back to the Future.) Diamond Select makes figures in this scale for Marvel, Star Trek, Universal Monsters, and others I'm no doubt forgetting. I'd also suggest checking out the Four Horsemen's wonderful Seventh Kingdom as well as Gothitropolis.

c. I do not have an ideal storage solution for loose 6-inch yet - my stash has been somewhat small and generally I've put them on display, so it hasn't been an issue yet. When moving them I used cheap paper lunch bags - the brown ones you give to school kids - as they provide padding and generally protect most figures quite nicely. It worked during my last move for Masters of the Universe Classics so I give them a stamp of approval. I have yet to find an ideal hard box solution for this line and it's my sincere hope it doesn't get to a point where I need a morgue of some sort to store thousands of them.




2. The assumption was that with the Black Series waves being reduced to three figures, that the Stormtrooper in Wave 3 would be double packed, but it's since been revealed that Han is being carried forward. In your experience is this a good decision? Or could another character/army builder have possibly been a better bet?

My thinking is that the Stormtrooper would've been the better choice, but I don't really know how these things work
--T Japes

Boba Fett would have been the best bet if Hasbro had to carry a figure forward - the Stormtrooper would make more people who order cases happy, though.

Despite being available as a convention exclusive and as a one-per-case member of wave 2, Boba Fett remains expensive on Amazon and eBay. I've seen him in stores a handful of times, but it seems fans are willing to overpay for a more interesting figure - Revoltech and Figma imports from Japan trained us to throw down $40-$50 for some nicer, bigger figures. I don't think this is a good thing. Any time collectors (and not kids) grow to be happy to pay double or triple without a lot of improvements, that's a problem. At least grouse a little.

Han Solo is probably the #3 best choice - wave 1 is starting to dry up, but nobody seems to want more of it. With wave 2, Slave Leia and Greedo are duds (unfair, in Greedo's case) with Han Solo being beaten out handily by Boba Fett for best seller. Unless there's a cost issue - and it's possible - there really is no good reason why Hasbro shouldn't have seen Boba Fett's popularity a mile away. We can but hope the mistake is not repeated again when Darth Vader finally debuts, and we can also hope Stormtroopers appear in future revisions or new waves. One isn't going to cut it for most of us, I'd like at least two.


3. I have a question for your Q&A. Will Hasbro produce a whole new Tatooine Desert Skiff from Return of the Jedi? The older one is small and outdated and it would be cool if Hasbro packaged the skiff in the vintage style packaging. This new toy will not sit on the shelves very long for sure!

It's unlikely - possible, but unlikely. Return of the Jedi doesn't get a lot of love as vehicles go, the Speeder Bike just got a new sculpt in 2012 after not seeing anything new since 1983. Most of the vehicles from that movie are just tweaked versions of the vintage toys with very, very few exceptions.

I assume the mold is shot or close to it, so if another one were to happen a new sculpt could be likely - but we're not really in an era where Hasbro is making bigger vehicles. With the new Mission Series/Saga Legends figures, the existing Skiff looks pretty good - so if you have those, give that a try.

Barring an appearance in a new TV show or movie, I would say we might be years off - or possibly an eternity - away from a new Skiff. Hasbro puts out new Original Trilogy vehicle sculpts at a very slow rate, as most of the existing ones still more or less work. I hate to say it'll never happen, but the odds of it happening seem pretty low - not Rebel Transport low, but low. I figure we'll see a new Imperial Troop Transporter before a new Rebel Transport, and I'd bank on seeing that before a new Skiff too. Based on 2012 and 2013, I am not anticipating that 2014 will be a good - or decent - or memorable - year for 3 3/4-inch scale vehicles. I'd expect another "cheap" TIE Fighter or X-Wing, but the Skiff doesn't seem likely until we get closer to a new movie or Jabba somehow enters the 3 3/4-inch scale mix again. (You'll recall the "rumor that's probably not a rumor" is a 6-inch Jabba is coming this year according to a previous Hasbro info leak on their web site.)


4. I'm trying to remember how long before Episode 1 came out that we started seeing prototype figures and character drawings for the movie. Was the sneak preview Mace Windu the first actual released figure for the prequels? When do you guess we will start to see prototypes for the Next Star Wars movie?

Surprisingly early - the movie came out May of 1999, and the Episode I toys started leaking in late 1998. I think Carl Cunningham was the first with unpainted test shots around September/October, but it seemed like every fan site (except for me personally) had a complete packaged set before 1999 started. I believe mail-in Mace Windu started showing up on doorsteps in Fall of 1998 - mine showed up when I moved, and I was at that particular residence starting around then, so it would have to be after that. Mace Windu was the last "sneak preview" movie mail-in offer, a Captain Rex mail-in in 2008 was available as well but the figure wasn't terribly special.

Names started leaking pretty early courtesy of things like domain name registration, so I anticipate this time Disney and Lucas will either be a bit more clever about how they do this, or go with existing names from the lore. (For example, Mace Windu - before the prequels, this was a name of an RPG character, and before that it was from an early draft of Star Wars.) I anticipate much recycling like we saw in The Clone Wars, mostly because it's a dynamite way to throw people off the scent. If Disney registers Vlix.com or FeenShysa.net, it's not immediately obvious why. A new TV series also will help act as a smokescreen.

Back to the original question, we've seen very very few prototypes leak out early lately. Part of this may be because of extreme competence, but I think it's more likely that the value of them isn't what it was - Chinese factory workers could probably make several years' salary if they can sell one early set of basic, unpackaged figures to someone in the press with a private bidding war.

If you look at the last several years, Hasbro has surprisingly beaten leaks to the punch by announcing many action figures a year or more in advance. I don't expect this with the new movies, but we just saw the Imperial Inquisitor figure on StarWars.com, and it's unlikely we'll see those in stores before August or perhaps even later. With that in mind, you should be stunned if you see anything before January 2015. I'm placing my bet now that Star Wars will be delayed until at least May 2016 so there's a very real chance the toys will be done very early with a delayed movie launch, sort of like what happened with G.I. Joe Retaliation minus the toys getting out a full year early. But I do expect the situation to result in some sort of early - possibly very early - leak at some point in 2015.


5. What do you see happening with the Black Series 3 3/4 inch figures. We saw the next wave of figures in prototype form in October, but haven't heard anything since. It seems like Hasbro is switching gears to Rebels and the new movies. Do you think we'll see these figures released in the next few months as part of the black series?

This time of year has been tricky historically. In 2011, Hasbro solicited four waves (two Clone Wars, two Vintage) for pre-sale while people were in New York for Toy Fair. One of each was ready for pretty much immediate shipment - this sort of thing isn't out of the question.

Hasbro has been quiet, which could mean the line is getting retooled again. I would be flabbergasted if The Black Series 3 3/4-inch SKU isn't killed very soon, possibly before the next wave comes out. I don't mean killed dead, but the 5-digit SKU with the new figures in it (A5077) probably should be aborted now and restarted so stores can clear out their wave 1 duds. I've heard a few people overseas mention waves 2 and 3 are plentiful, but here in the USA I can count the amount of wave 2 figures I've seen on my fingers and as far as I know I've seen zero from wave 3 anywhere in the wild yet.

There's a lot of stuff on deck, but it's not impossible to think Hasbro might alter the packaging or delay things for some strategic reason. At this point I have to expect either a big delay, or a surprise February release.




And here we are again! More FOTD this week, if you're in to such things. Distribution questions are more or less still off limits. Save those for Hasbro. There's not much I can tell you that hasn't been covered here a dozen times already.

I get a lot of people blaming distribution on "Star Wars being dead". One, not true - it's reloading. I expect Black Series to be like Marvel Legends, a lot of roleplay stuff, and a few waves of 3 3/4-inch figures alongside other new expressions of toy that most of you will never, ever buy in 2015. Two, it's not just Star Wars - look at Iron Man, Spider-Man, and other lines. Wave 1 is common, wave 2 is usually late or mostly absent, and stuff shows up online months before retail stores. Some Spider-Man figures hit online last summer and, just this weekend, started showing up at big box stores. This sort of thing is the new normal for Hasbro, but seeing as how these patterns can change at a moment's notice it's probably a mistake for any of us to really put too much stock in Hasbro doing what they did last time without too many changes.

Plenty of rumors about the new movies are exploding on the scene, which always puts me in an unfortunate position. On one hand, I want to read them - mostly because I want to know what didn't happen. My interest in the final movie itself is almost nil, what I want to know are all the crazy ideas that are tabled or rewritten for later. This is true of most Star Wars movies - the movies are great, sure, but there are much more interesting stories surrounding their creation. It's a shame that on the whole, most of this stuff is kept under wraps and the official version of how the movies came to be is pretty stripped-down and lacking in color.

...also still looking for a Life Force arcade cabinet, if you got one for sale or know of one in a private collection or arcade, do let me know.

--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.