Q&A: Walker, Endor Ranger, Star Wars Vintage, and Kylo Ren

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 10, 2017

1. Adam,since many collectors favor jhe TVC AT-AT over its smaller, but more expensive, gadget-driven Rogue One successor, how about this for the Last Jedi Gorilla Walker:

Hasbro tells its fans to 'Put your money where your mouth is' and offers fans a mammoth walker with tons of room for figures and electronic sounds (BUT NO APP NONSENSE)...but the catch is that Hasbro does nothing until a number of preorders is reached.

Oh, and do you think Hasbro EVER in the last 22 years came close to bringing back the Kenner Death Star playset?

As of right now I know of no plans for the Gorilla Walker - at all - and your pre-order thing would guarantee that this item won't be made. Hasbro's minimums for a new vehicle are huge, and the amount of organized, online fans aren't high enough to justify it. If Hasbro feels like doing it themselves after demand, who knows - but as of right now, there's not much chatter for the vehicle.

Similarly, the original Death Star will likely never come back. The strange BB-8 2-in-1 Playset is actually pretty cool though, and a good start for that kind of a thing. Thanks to the gizmos and electronics, also the transformation, it costs a lot more - but it's more substantial and does more. I can't knock it. It could be better, sure, but it's probably the best thing we've seen for these action figures in decades. It doesn't have a removable trash compactor, but it does have a lot of other things going for it.

I think this environment is challenging for new vehicles - reissues of the AT-ST and Millennium Falcon have proven very expensive, while many of the regular main line vehicles are getting to be more expensive than they're probably likely to make you happy. The TIE Silencer is awesome. Is it worth $40 or $50? Eh. I love it, but it's expensive. I love the new A-Wing... OK, that feels about right. Big ticket items are tough to do right, and to get the costs down they'll have to be cheaper (fewer features, no electronics) or smaller. Or both. If Hasbro decided to overly simplify a ship, maybe we could get something to make all parties happy - but sometimes the features and simplification just don't balance right with price. The AT-ACT will likely be the best example of that kind of stars-not-aligning.



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2. I saw a 'leak' of the wave 1 of the Last Jedi and there looks to be a new unmasked Kylo. I guess my question is that since the current unmasked Kylo is a retail stinker that is currently under $4 on amazon for the 6" figure, why oh why would they slot a new version into the lineup?

Why would Hasbro release a new figure for the villain from what may be the biggest movie of 2017? Especially when he has a new scar, a slightly different costume, and a new cape? In a toy lines where bad guys almost always outperform the new ones, particularly during Force Friday? No idea, it's a mystery to me.

In all seriousness, the 6-inch line seems to be having some intriguing problems that could be solved through logistics and how numbers are handled in Hasbro's databases. Specifically, forced permanent clearance of old product. The 3 3/4-inch one, well, I think we could use more. One problem with the new movie line is that while things are fun, gorgeous, and well-engineered, your average fan may not realize these are new and improved toys. C-3PO still looks like C-3PO, Finn like Finn, Poe like Poe, etc. Even Rey's new outfit, other than the color, is strikingly similar to the existing figures... and we don't have a new villain figure, which tends to drive sales well. Darth Maul, Jango Fett, even though they tend to get overdone in the long run, they do get people out and shopping in ways Paige can't or won't until after the movie comes out.




3. I love that vintage collection is coming back, but I am not thrilled that the few waves are all the walmart figures I just bought on clearance. You mentioned something similar last [July], and I'm curious if you think this will sink the line before it even starts. Hasbro reps said over and over in SDCC interviews that they'd grow the vintage collection based on observed feedback and sales in the first year. Do you think Hasbro a) recognizes these first waves are cheap for them by reusing recent molds but will have lower interest from collectors or b) assumes there is nothing wrong with reissuing these recent figures everyone had access to and have high expectations for this wave? I fear if they think along option b that they'll interpret the vintage collection is a failed project for the wrong reasons. Noone seemed to bring this up in the SDCC interviews. I love reissues but not ones I just bought on clearance. I guess it's a question of how in touch with realistic expectations is Hasbro?

A big part of Hasbro's presentation at Comic-Con was emphasizing reissues, and all the places from which they can draw figures. Hasbro says they're listening, and that's what worries me - fans say a lot of dumb stuff, and are a bunch of liars. They may be making the most ornate vehicle ever with the new Rogue One Hovertank and fans say they'll pay whatever... but will they? These things can get a lot more expensive than you may think, particularly when lots of small pieces start entering the equation - and that sucker's loaded with fun bits and removable elements. It's going to bomb.

Similarly, fans ask for vintage packaging saying they want anything/everything on vintage packaging. Well, here's what you get for not being specific. Some fans do, but those fans also have no idea what a Hasbro minimum run looks like or how many other people out there have to be on board with everything for success. While the assortment will (eventually) get new characters/sculpts, we don't know what or when. Some of us really do want anything, while others want Original Trilogy only, and some (like me!) only want things I don't yet have in my toybox.

Based on the feedback I'm getting most people don't care enough to complain. Emphasizing reissues is bad for business and bad for morale. The success of the 6-inch 40th Anniversary Collection may mean I'm dead wrong - but it could also be scarcity, or the nostalgia factor.

From where I sit, I don't know Hasbro's master plan. If someone is toying with the notion of super low-run reissues, it's going to be a huge hit. As soon as fans can't get something, they want it. If it's widely available, it's a toss-up - it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Rey and a few others do just fine at first, but a lack of new product makes me throw up my arms and say "Who gives a damn?"

I rarely get to say this, but as of right now I'm super duper pleased with The Last Jedi line so far. New sculpts, new characters, and not one product in the 3 3/4-inch action figure segment makes me say "don't I have this?" Kylo Ren has a shorter skirt, C-3PO is a little different in pose and deco, Chewbacca looks way different, and none of the vehicles are a drag either. Meanwhile the 6-inch line is behaving like I'd expect for what Hasbro seems to see as an adult-driven range. The kid line is better, and I'd really rather see Hasbro put kid figures on vintage packaging if they really think packaging is all that matters and reissues are A-OK - at least they would be significantly cheaper.




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I just got back from HasCon so I pre-wrote this, allowing me to actually go to bed after being up for roughly 19 hours and counting.

One of the fun things about this hobby for me is I got to get old. I was a baby during the first generation of Star Wars, but caught it at stores before it left and that's why I'm here today - so I remember the dead years and the prequels pretty vividly. I've lived through every "Midnight Madness" and I guess that means we've gone through 7 of them over 18 years... which I think is too many. Hoop-jumping is irritating.

As I walked through the ruins, it looked like there's an interesting pattern - Walmart got rid of their old stuff. Target got rid of most of their old stuff. Toys R Us is hiding its new stuff under an aisle with maybe 60-70% old stuff, with old waves of figures and tons of unsold higher-end electronic toys from two years ago. The smart fan knows there are new LEGO sets and action figures to be had, crawling through the muck to get to the tasty treats buried within - also the Probe Droids, which ship 1 per case with 3 Rathars (which are also good) - but it seems people are less inclined to be buying everything. Or making too much. The retail environment sucked out the action figures like the cream from so many Oreos, with vehicles seemingly doing OK and the other stuff... is also available.

I know the Bladebuilders line has the ability to outsell action figures, but up front people tend to go for figures. Why they don't have more on-shelf up front, I'll never know. It was certainly disappointing to see pegs of Jyn Erso and Zuvio around, but I also work for an online toy store so it's not like that's the worst thing for business, you know?

But let's get back to the point - revisionism.

During the 1990s, most fans loved all things Star Wars except Ewoks. After The Phantom Menace, people got behind the Ewoks and then complained about the prequels. Now I'm seeing a lot of complaints about the Disney-era stuff, with fans writing how perfect episodes I-VI were. See a pattern emerging? Fans seem to hate whatever's new, so there would definitely be a bit of an advantage to goosing nostalgists by throwing us a bone in the form of one or two, but it's also fascinating to see how people who, but five years ago, would just as soon cut off a finger than collect prequel toys are now actively interested in those above and beyond the new batch. Fascinating.

I'm kind of excited to see how this will all shake out if this all continues. I assume we're going to see an average of one movie per 12 months, more or less, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if we saw episodes 10-12 some day and then saw today being lauded as "the good old days." Fans generally seem to have a late onset hype allergy, so the more someone screams in your face about a movie, the more likely we are to not care later. So says the secondary market prices of anything sold at a Midnight Madness, ever. As long as someone is in your face about running out to buy stuff, it's going to be diminishing returns for all of us. More so since it seems the media is decreasingly interested in covering this kind of thing, the circus atmosphere and novelty are starting to dry up and man oh man I can't wait for the day they stop it completely. Given how much stuff was on shelf at Walmarts weeks early, neither can they.

The good news is if you missed anything last week, there may be more shots of it coming or fans might dump it after the hype hangover kicks in. I've seen so many 2015-2017 The Black Series figures being dumped for $10 or less on the secondary market it would make you puke. Interestingly, few of these are from the pre-Disney era of characters.

--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.