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  1. #1

    Is Hasbro running Star Wars collectors out of the game?

    The last 2 years have been very difficult on collectors. Price increases, product shortages, pegwarmers, delays, and now lines that are simply not inspired enough. It feels like Hasbro is pushing us collectors out of the game, and it's not just Star Wars, they've fumbled with their other big brands as well - ask any GI Joe fan, or just look at the amount of Transformers product that ends up at clearance and liquidation - yet it's Star Wars that feels the most maligned perhaps because of how high it flew previously.

    In the premium collector 3.75" figures, the quality seems to have gone DOWN in sculpting and materials and even paint, there are huge backslides in wave after wave, very few satisfying figures per case, and most cases have holdovers that are still pegwarming.

    In the basic line, the figures are limited interest and the variety is not there, but worse is how botched the situation with vehicles has gotten. Star Wars has been a line driven by its creative vehicle toys and how figures interact with them, yet bungling after bungling has occurred so that there's now no new vehicles at any pricepoint and the last new vehicles ended up being horrible little shells nobody wanted.

    Then there's the 6" premium line, a risky experiment that might have paid off better had the line been managed as a premium experience with balanced case assortments, finer choices of accessories and features, less compromises for the kiddie set, and not cheapified horribly in its second wave and beyond. It also suffers from a significant quality control problem.

    Is Hasbro just misfiring or is this something greater, is this a sign of bigger problems in the brand that speak to collectors being thrown over?
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  2. #2
    I would just simply say "yes," but that's not enough characters to fill a post.

    Sad. Maybe it needs another "dark time" like 1986-1994 to resurrect the brand. Absence makes the...
    "That's what Sheev said."

  3. #3
    My interest has been waning since ROTS underwhelmed me, and the (IMHO, although I know it's not the common belief) mediocre Clone Wars taking most of the emphasis from everything else hasn't helped. But the past two years have been especially bad. I'm still finding tons of TPM-wave TVC figures everywhere, and seeing the absolutely wretched Wave 1 in the stores that have cleared out enough space for them. But mostly it's the 5-POA figures, which I can't get interested in. They're too much of a step backwards for me, and I'm not interested in re-buying all existing characters (especially since most of the figures are main characters and not ones you can use to fill out a scene). Frankly, the "premium" line is kind of the same; it feels junky and it's all resculpts of figures I have for twice as much money. I was tempted by Padme until I saw her in person; for $10 or more, the elbow flaw is unforgivable.

    Since the current line began, all I've bought for myself is the Ewok 2-pack.

    There's nothing I'm interested in until Wave 3, with one, maybe two, figures I'd consider. But I really don't think it's melodramatic to wonder if Wave 3 will even be released. I hear rumors of Wave 2 existing, but I won't believe it until I see it myself.

    There are still plenty of 3.75" Star Wars figures I'd go insane over. But nothing close. Darth Plagueis would be it in that regard, and he pales next to some (a Nelvaan mutant, for instance, or a proper Corran Horn).

    Frankly, the Mara Jade Skywalker fiasco, where either they knowingly misrepresented what figure was being offered, or misinterpreted what people wanted, tells me an awful lot. Collectors want a new figure that's been important in the EU since 1991. But, instead, we're getting the third (fourth?) version of the basic catsuit Emperor's Hand, which, honestly, looks like a major step backwards from even the 1999 one!
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  4. #4
    I can't imagine that they would be intentionally sabotaging the line to drive collectors out. I know we've heard that we don't bring in as much money for them as the kiddies do, but I've got to believe that it's better for their business to have us on board than not. (Maybe that isn't so, maybe they feel that they're not getting a good enough return on their investment with new sculpts of obscure characters, but it seems hard to believe.)

    However, there's no question that what JT speaks of is true. It seems that for the past few years now, there's been only one line for collectors and two or three for kids. The problem is that the collector line seems to be falling off. I used to be one of those collectors who gets a case of each new wave so I'd get one of each of all the figures. Now, I'm down to cherry picking from a given wave. Even worse, during the big hiatus this past year when there where no new figures coming out, I got out of the habit of collecting and gave some serious thought into stopping altogether. I just haven't been excited by their offerings the past few years like I was before.

    I don't even collect with the same enthusiasm as before. I used to drive all over the place looking for an exclusive if I really wanted it. Now, I've been out once to look for the Death Star troopers, found one of the two sets and haven't been able to muster the enthusiasm to go out looking again since (though part of this change may be due to the fact that the closest two Kmarts closed and so it's a lot more of a hassle to get to their stores now than it used to be).

    I wonder how interested I'll be in figures from the next trilogy.... I know there are a lot of people who don't collect stuff from the PT but I see that as part of the saga so I never drew a line. But when the next one starts I'll be 16 years older than I was in 1999 and it's probably gonna feel a whole lot less special.
    Have: CW Yularen, CW Clone, everything from CW Slave I set except Slave I, TFU Shadow Stormtrooper x2, Evo Trooper, Saga AT-AT Driver, K-Mart Jodo Kast || Want: Vintage Fordo
    Thanks to TheDarthVader, Phantom-like Menace, TheRealDubya, Jediguy, Dark Marble, Umbra, Qui-Long Gone, CrunchyNug, GH_fan and jedikiss.

  5. #5
    Well, it's important to remember the incredible number of shake-ups over the last few years. Everything was gearing up for 3D releases of all six films, and then instead we got cancelled theatrical releases and a cancelled show all due to the promise of a series that won't start for another year and a movie that won't be out for (at least) 25 months. Aside from Lucasfilm's shakeups, there's Hasbro's own issues they can't control including rising costs and a changing marketplace, to put it simply. There's also the obvious fact that, in a modern line that's almost two decades old, they've tackled almost everything at least once. That's all basically me giving Hasbro the benefit of the doubt, and a reminder that this situation isn't ideal for them either.

    Buuut . . . I don't think anybody can look at Hasbro's offerings and think that they're doing everything they can to keep people interested.

    I can't pass judgment on anything TBS 3 3/4" past the first wave, but while the character selection is mostly a snooze, I find the figures themselves to be very well made. On my samples, the paint issues aren't any more egregious than anything I've seen before. The mistmatched joints are getting to be pretty annoying at this point, though, but I think last year's examples (Jar Jar, Ahsoka in particular) were worse. The bubble glue issue was ridiculous, but it seems like it's been addressed going forward. But I can't fault anyone for not wanting to buy another Anakin, Biggs, or Clone Pilot. Wave 3 looks how a typical collector wave should look, and wave 4 and beyond look incredible (Torynn Farr! All-new Yoda!). It's just a shame that we have to deal with so much junk getting there, especially after so many troubles since January 2012.

    Vehicle-wise, I appreciate the Vintage-packaged stuff, and the $20 Jedi Starfighters are kinda cool, but again it's just stuff we've seen before.

    I've been happy with wave 1 of the 6" figures as well, though as I've stated the paint was awful on most samples I saw before the line became more widespread. I'm interested in seeing how wave 2 and beyond react to these issues.

    Aside from its execution problems, the 6" line does show that Hasbro wants to cater to collectors. But in truth, they need to be innovating in the 3 3/4" line and mixing in more interesting characters to keep the die-hards coming back.

    Yet again, exclusives are really where collectors can look for some goodness. The Kmart sets are great, and I really appreciate the TRU Jedi sets. The Amazon and Disney parks sets are also offering some unmade options that the basic line isn't giving us.

    This year has pretty much felt like a bust for not just Star Wars collecting, but Star Wars fandom in general - aside from a handful of great Clone Wars episodes and excruciatingly limited sneak peeks of what's to come in the future, it's been exceptionally quiet. I've also not been on the toy hunt as much lately simply because there's hardly anything to look for. I'm not ready to give up, but I'm certainly ready for much more than they're giving us.

    Quote Originally Posted by El Chuxter
    Frankly, the Mara Jade Skywalker fiasco, where either they knowingly misrepresented what figure was being offered, or misinterpreted what people wanted, tells me an awful lot. Collectors want a new figure that's been important in the EU since 1991. But, instead, we're getting the third (fourth?) version of the basic catsuit Emperor's Hand, which, honestly, looks like a major step backwards from even the 1999 one!
    The design team decided to go with this version - the third catsuit figure - instead of the Jedi look.
    My Photos and Reviews: SSG Toy Guide
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  6. #6
    Everything you guys have already said, plus my irritation with Clone Wars changing EU continuity for no good reason has left me with a feeling of disconnect. I can't even remember off the top of my head what figures besides Mara are in wave two, which to me says a lot.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
    The design team decided to go with this version - the third catsuit figure - instead of the Jedi look.
    If the design team can totally override the results of a fan choice poll on a whim, then what's the point of participating in any future fan choice polls?

    While my interest in collecting toys and Star Wars in general is reaching all time lows right now, I don't think that Hasbro is intentionally trying to sabotage the line or drive away collectors. I think we're just in a downward spiral where collector interest starts to wane, so Hasbro cuts back on the quality, which causes more collectors to walk away, forcing Hasbro to cut back even further, driving away even more collectors, etc… Until we reach the point we are at now where every wave feels like it could be the last wave until Hasbro just pulls the plug. If we didn't have the Sequel Trilogy on the horizon, then I wouldn't expect the Star War line to survive another year.

    With the 6" line, I'm confident that the design team has every intention of producing a high quality toy line, but unfortunately designers rarely have the final say in any large corporation. Most likely, Hasbro's finance guys and the factories micromanaged every decision and whittled down those amazing prototypes until we got the only slightly above-average figures that are appearing in stores now.

    In general, I'm not really that worried about it. If Hasbro manages to botch the Stormtrooper (still going to reserve judgement until I see it in person) AND the rumored TIE Fighter Pilot, then I will be done with the line. I returned my X-Wing Luke and second Sandtrooper to the store and currently just own the one Sandtrooper figure. If that's the only 6" Star Wars figure I end up owning, then I'm fine with that.

    Same with the new 5POA Saga Legends line. Although I was initially excited about them, the focus on Prequel characters has curbed my enthusiasm significantly. I'm in a holding pattern with that line until the Stormtrooper comes out. Then I'll decide on how or if to go forward when it comes to collecting it.

    When it comes to the "premium" collectors' line, I think I'm done with that line. I don't even have plans to buy Vizam right now. Maybe, just maybe, Hasbro could lure me back in with an updated, SA Barada, but that's not very likely. I'd probably just buy that one figure and not pay much attention to anything else being released.
    "To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence… When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

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