Q&A: Waiting for Mando, Star Wars Playsets, and Top Gun Helmets

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 31, 2021

1. I am a big fan of the Luke Skywalker Black Series electronic X-wing helmet- specifically the digitized voices that are heard inside. I have to confess that when I hear the all wings report in "Red three standing by, Red six, standing by, Red two, standing by, I can't help but chime in with "Red five, standing by." It is quite the memorable re-creation.

With that said, I can't help but think of the opportunity this creates to make similar pilot helmets for the Top Gun franchise. Dialog and sound effects could be incorporated into the helmets for each unique pilot from the movies for their individual flight and radio sequences. This could be done for pilot helmets for the upcoming Maverick sequel, as well as the pilot helmets from the original Top Gun. Every pilot, and even the trainers helmets, could be done, each with their own unique helmet and sound bytes from the movies. These could include Maverick, Iceman, Goose, Viper, Jester, Cougar, Wolfman. Sundown, Slider, and Hollywood, not mention the upcoming sequel pilots These would be incredible! What fan wouldn't want to collect all the helmets from this franchise? Your thoughts?

I wouldn't bank on it. Star Wars has the benefit of four decades of family film fodder, whereas Top Gun - while beloved by its fans - has not been able to support a robust licensing program, much like Indiana Jones. I have no doubt that someone could make a helmet replica, but I doubt it would be able to sell enough units to warrant electronics and the sort of mass-production you get from a Hasbro "prop replica" roleplay toy.

Now, this isn't to say it's impossible. Hasbro did do a Top Gun X Transformers crossover (that has not sold out), Mattel's got a Matchbox toy line for the sequel, and Lanard made an exclusive boxed set for Walmart. But the entire product line for Top Gun could probably fit in the back of my car, so I would have my doubts that you could get more than one helmet - or even one helmet - give that Hasbro's vast catalog of characters for Star Wars and Marvel tends to yield only a handful of new ones per year.

A good way to think of this sort of thing is that only Star Wars is Star Wars. Marvel's big, but it's also a series of popular films with eight decades of history, massive (and frequently all-ages) audiences, and incredible marketing pushes. At best, Top Gun is a few rungs below Indiana Jones, which has generally failed to do much business for very long without the support of a new movie. Unless someone does a Mattel Creations or Kickstarter kind of a thing, I would not anticipate ever seeing a toy/prop replica sound-laden Top Gun helmet - but I could see someone doing more non-electronic ones, were they so inclined.



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2. So! Jabba's throne and throne room just recently made it's reappearance in new video media at the end of season 2 of The Mandalorian. I feel like the way Hasbro has been handling TVC this past year, it's highly likely we'll finally get a really well-done (plastic, not cardboard) incarnation of the throne portion of Jabba's palace, probably complete with Jabba's throne and Bib Fortuna's added throne on top so it could work with old and new media (maybe even with a TVC carded pack-in of a new Bib Fortuna from the Mando season 2 post-credit scene).

Do you also think this is now likely? And do you think it would be wiser for Hasbro to release one version with a ROTJ TVC box and pack-in figure/throne, and another version with a Book of Boba Fett TVC box and pack-in figure/throne? I know I would buy two of each if the cost was $100 or less. Although, I'm a long-time 3.75" scale collector who would easily pay $300 for a fully-complete amazingly-detailed TVC HasLab Jabba's Palace as well, and I know some others would, and some would just complain about the cost. I'd love to hear your thoughts on all of this since I know you've been with the 3.75" scale as long or longer than I have been.

Hasbro gave us a pretty great plastic Jabba throne in 2010, which could provide the basis for a The Book of Boba Fett scenario - but is it worthwhile? My guess is maybe as a convention exclusive, but the thought of them making a really good Bib Fortuna, Boba, and Fennec Shand exclusive set seems unlikely. (I'd probably bet more on it being a 6-inch convention exclusive thing if it were to happen.)

As of right now, we don't know what The Book of Boba Fett is all about. Does Boba take over Jabba's empire? Was this just the first stop on a series of revenge killings? Will it involve flashbacks? I don't know. If the location is the central focus of the series, and fans start demanding Jabba's Palace in a big way now - I'm talking petitions, forum postings, social media campaigns, the works - it could happen. If all that happens is people write in to say "So why haven't they done this yet?" it will never happen.

HasLab has been great about doing vehicles, but so far the 21st century has been unkind to most of the environments. The Tantive IV hallway is pretty good, and the Carbon Freeze Chamber wasn't bad, but neither is a big, complete scene unto itself. Given we got a tiny chunk of Jabba's Palace with connection hooks on it we probably should see some more of it, but the snail's pace at which we get new 3 3/4-inch scale non-figural non-vehicular things makes me not want to hold my breath. I don't have high hopes for chonky Bib Fortuna.




3. The Mandalorian recently finished its second season. Hasbro knew during the first season it was a smash hit. Yet, they still haven't put out enough basic Mandos to satisfy demand. I know some of it is due to the pandemic, but shouldn't they be releasing full cases of him for a while to make fans happy? I never saw the first release TVC Mando in stores, and everywhere I try to order it, there's a backorder and delays.

Hasbro does - and indeed has - released full cases of single characters for a few years now. (You're welcome.) These largely end up at online toy stores, comic shops, and smaller sellers. The big guys tend to prefer assortments still. The demand for Mando has been huge - there are even exclusives of him that don't ship in assortments that blow out of stores. Target has had a Carbonized Mando and a 2-pack with the kid, while Walmart has had the mini Carbonized Mando and a 3 3/4-inch 2-pack with the Child. They don't last on-shelf - they're exceptionally popular.

Right now, the only figures that tend to ship exclusively outside the assortment paradigm - that is to say, not a part of a wave - are most exclusives and most "deluxe" figures. Hasbro will likely sell an insane quantity of that new 6-inch Boba Fett figure that, even at the somewhat ridiculous $30 price (with minimal new accessories) will probably be in short supply for months because it's Boba Fett, and because $30 is cheaper than the price of most in-stock 6-inch Boba Fett toys being sold online these days. Generally speaking, they sell out immediately if they're near suggested retail price.

Hasbro could probably do good business making a product that's just a new Mando - for example, the "Season 1 Beskar Look" minus the jetpack and the signet - but who knows how long it will last, and if we'll see every last armor variant? I certainly hope so - the demand is there, even if completists drop out the average person who just wants a figure isn't yet satisfied with availability.



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Be sure you send in your questions for next time.

Oh, right, I need to write something here. Well, we got a couple weeks' worth of questions but we'll always take more. Did you like the new reveals? More are coming - and I think you'll be happy with a lot of them. (Will you like all of them? Of course not, you're Star Wars fans. We have to not like something.) I really dug Amazon's Kenner exclusive deco and would love to see it applied to the 3 3/4-inch line as well. I was less enthused with Best Buy's 6-inch figures, but I did scrape a few bucks together to overpay for repaints of Qui-Gon Jinn and the Battle Droid - neither Mace Windu nor George R. Binks looked sufficiently different to buy for the purposes of ripping off the cardbacks as part of my peoples' dance rituals.

Last year was the year that finally got me to break my streak - I assume there probably aren't more than a few left buying everything Were it spread out more (or not $25-$30 a whack) I'd probably be in for the long completist haul, but it's certainly easier to get picky when two figures cost fifty bucks. The good news is things are still selling - it seems Credit Collection Cara Dune mostly sold through in my travels after a brief stint as a warmer of pegs, and the demand for Mando in any form seems endless. As I've mentioned for ages, the appetite for more good Star Wars is eternal. Diamond Select's stewardship of the former Gentle Giant house style is yielding some top-notch stuff, and Hasbro's character selections are getting better and better. I assume some bean counters pointed to a spreadsheet to do those superbly strange and soon-to-be-forgotten character lightsabers, but they may also make for some confusing birthday gifts this year. Sort of like the seemingly Jim Davis-inspired battle bobblers last year. Is it for me? No, but I'm old and cranky.

Hasbro's doing a fun enough job, if you get picky, and the same is true with Funko and Sideshow and everybody else. Completism should be the goal - I always hope the product offering is so good I'll want to buy everything! - but well, eh. It's been 25 years. I can do without the never-ending toy run for Xmas repaints and the like.

--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.



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