Q&A: Vintage, Manufacturing On Demand, and Expanded Universe

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 20, 2012

So how new is that 2012 Vintage Darth Vader? New enough for you, old man. Should you expect more action figure reissues in light of the recent remakes? Maybe! And how can you best store carded figures? Well, I've got a couple solutions. Read on and send in your questions for next week's installment!

1. I've noticed that in the last few waves of both Clone Wars and Vintage, that the EU figures in particular are hot stuff. I am still looking for Bastila Shan, and I can't get one for under $30, which is absolutely outrageous for something like Star Wars, which has an absolutely ubiquitous presence in every toy store/department in the US. I know that the popular stuff will see a re-release. We're gonna get more clones, and more droids. But what about the Mandalorians from the EE sets? Or the Knights of the Old Republic figures? Or the video game characters? It seems like Hasbro ALWAYS underestimates the demand that new characters have in the Star Wars toyline, and they never see a re-release. Eventually, once I get my own place, I may want to re-buy some of these figures. Hell, I'm using my remaining figures in a roleplaying game at my college's hobby game club.

What are the odds that any of those figures will see the light of day again? Better yet, what are the odds that the figures will actually be easy to find?

"Hot" figures are a tricky issue for a variety of reasons, but due to how Hasbro has handled vintage this year I will say that rereleases are more likely than they used to be. Bastilla Shan should be reissued eventually, but the real question is how long do you want to wait? There have been rumblings that we might see Darth Revan or Darth Malak again but we last heard about them roughly 5 years ago. So I would suggest one of two things: patience, or wait until a lot or a collection shows up on eBay or Craigslist where the total cost (and the toys included) aligns with your needs. This, of course, requires you do some legwork but the results are pretty good if you can wait it out.

Will Hasbro make the Entertainment Earth Mandalorians again? Probably not. That run was actually quite large, and was available for a very long time. As the person who had to market the thing, I would file it under "if you missed it you were either broke or late to the hobby." The rest, who knows? A lot of the stuff does make it out for a few months but as time goes on, gamers are generally more willing to shell out the cash for a figure than regular collectors. Old Metroid toys are also expensive, and most (if not all) exclusives over the past few years were available and were much easier to find than most non-exclusive items.

Reissues are possible, but not necessarily good business. I would suggest writing Hasbro and encouraging others to do the same, or figure out if there's a way to buy a collection that works out for your needs. (Maybe you have to sell off some duds. Maybe not.) I hope they give some serious thought to doing a KOTOR-era box for Toys R Us, but your comments do a great job showcasing what I've been trying to convey for a while: as collectors, we don't all agree on things. While you and I liked the EE Mando men, a lot of you really hated them. All I know is that it sold out, so the free market has spoken.


2. My collection is almost exclusively "new" vintage style characters from the original trilogy. I wasn't paying attention to AOTC Anakin when he was on the shelves but now want to grab one on the secondary market.

Was the Evolutions / AOTC Anakin released on an individual card? If so, which line and year? If not, what is the best single carded version of this character in the modern "vintage" style? By vintage style, I mean movie accurate likeness, neutral pose, and high articulation.

Hasbro hasn't put this one out on a Vintage cardback yet, its distribution is pretty much exclusively in various gift sets. I would suggest waiting on this one because (in all honesty) the Evolutions Attack of the Clones Anakin didn't age well. With a 3D reissue of that film expected next year, it's likely they will revisit the character, which may result in a better action figure. This particular Anakin outfit has had some of the worst head sculpts in the line for any human character, and if you're being picky and want only the best, I would not necessarily suggest jumping on any of the current ones. Give it another year, or a year and a half. And if it doesn't work out, buy the Anakin/Vader Evolutions set and call it a day because the single carded options aren't good enough.


3. With the way toys are being presented these days and offered as on-line exclusives, subscriptions, and the like, do you think Hasbro would ever consider a Star Wars line that caters to the high-end collector by means of personally custom-made figures? Bear with me here. I remember that sweet figure of [Adam May, who is not me, Adam Pawlus, lest you be confused -- AP] as a Sith and I started thinking, "Would Hasbro do that on a larger scale, but keep it personal?" Keep in mind that I know it could and would never replace the movie characters, but I am willing to bet there are people out there that would shell out $100 for a figure they specifically ordered, given the various mold options to choose from. I'm sure it would be a niche', special department, but it could have legs, especially if offered on-line. The basic gist is: There's a catalogue of molds to choose from, such as torso, arms, legs, weapons, and head. The buyer selects these via a "character creator" option on-line where every piece is coded. The pieces also have color options for diversity. Once built, Hasbro offers the price, which could vary, especially if a customer wants to "upgrade" and have their figure on official Hasbro Star Wars packaging. Once the customer pays, give Hasbro's new division six to eight weeks to mix and match the already existing molds, apply paint, and ship. Is is do-able, in your wisdom? Thanks for reading!
--Slake Jake

Hasbro will likely never ever do this, but it's the kind of thing they could license out to another company. Due to how Hasbro functions (sell more of less) and how figures are not made (they aren't modular like G.I. Joes) this is extremely unlikely to ever happen, although pretty much any fan could probably find a way to make custom 3 3/4-inch heads to put on existing figures. You as a pilot, you as a Jedi, you as a Sith... this could be done today if you're willing to accept some limitations. There are companies which actually will make one-off bobble heads (just the head on an existing body, we sell 'em at Entertainment Earth) so this kind of one-and-done manufacturing is indeed a possible thing.

It just makes zero sense for Hasbro to do it today... but maybe Disney can install something to do it in the next five or ten years. Manufacturing on demand is no longer magic, it's very doable if you have a company with the time, resources, and need to do it. Hasbro is not that company. This kind of thing is not part of their culture.


4. The new Vintage Darth Vader (VC93) for A New Hope, is it new or a rehashed figure? I picked this one up the other day in fear of never finding it again and when I got home I thought maybe it was a re-release of one of the original VOTC figs with the clamshell case from like 2004. I would check it myself; however my VOTC figs are buried in sea of Star Wars merchandise in my basement! Please advse.

Please advise? What is this, work?

The 2012 Darth Vader is a new mold. Unless someone swapped it out, the figure you just bought should have ball-jointed hips (a first for Darth Vader figures) and a new sculpt with a nifty hand with uniquely sculpted fingers. By and large I suggest that if collectors can't tell if a figure is new, they just shouldn't buy it-- this is usually the line to say "I don't need it." In this case it's a very nice figure and I really like it, but the most obvious thing to take note of? The VOTC figure was modeled after ESB/ROTJ, while the TVC figure in 2012 is clearly modeled after the original Star Wars (and screw you whippersnappers who call it "A New Hope.")


5. I think I read that the new rereleases (bespin solo, Bariss Offee, Wedge, etc.) will have indistinguishable card backs from their previous versions except for the SKUs or something correct? Also, I know this has been asked before but recomendations on storage? Bankers boxes? Totes? The totes I find all taper down to a smaller bottom (so they can stack inside each other) but it makes it hard to stack figures inside. I am a on-the-card collector..

The rereleases seem to have altered co-sells as well, so in addition to the SKUs and UPC, yes, they're a little teeny different. It's a variation, but it's up to you to consider if it's significant enough to buy another one for my collection. (To me, it isn't beyond noting that it is indeed slightly different.)

The best thing to use to store your carded Vintage figures is, if you can swing it, empty shipping cartons from Hasbro. (That's what I use, stores toss 'em out but sometimes they're willing to let you have them if you ask. They're perfect.) Failing that, I would suggest going after Star Cases or those long comic book storage boxes you'll see at your local comic book shop for the back issues.



I need to be on less planes. I did use the time to catch up on The Aquqbats Super Show, read the entirety of The Watchmen for the first time finally, and to play through the NES classic Goonies II in a single sitting (which I didn't realize was so short, despite having beat it as a kid.)

I found two smaller sized, roughly Action Fleet sized Hasbro Star Wars Epic Battles vehicles last week. They're still in the packages and I'm waffling on if I'll open them or not, as they're some of the only Hasbro toys I've never, not once, ever seen for sale. There are at least 4 miniature figures for this line too, but I haven't found them yet. The two vehicles are a blue and grey Clone Wars AAT and a Clone Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi Jedi Starfighter. They look really cool and are in English-language packaging, although it seems they were designed for Europe/International (circled 4+ on the card for the age range). Have you guys ever seen any of these? If so, please let me know, I'm quite keen to know where they were sold other than, reportedly, Mexico. (But they weren't in English there.)

...and as far as other new releases go, if you're currently caught up you might be pretty bored until July at this rate. As a Star Wars collector, I know I've been spoiled as I expect something new every month and lately, I guess we've been getting it, but it feels like a much slower trickle after the slam-bang launch of January. Where's my new vehicles, dadgummit? The Naboo Fighter feels like it should've been out by now.

I haven't seen Avengers yet but I did see God Bless America a week back and The Dictator yesterday. I suggest you go watch God Bless America and not The Dictator. This has been "Watch This Not That." (Apologies to the great Doug Benson.)

--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.