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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...
    'It is always nice to see you, says the Besalisk at the counter... And instead I pour blue milk...' From "Dex's Diner" by Su-San Vega

  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.
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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
    I would like to echo the "put simply, yes" chorus. To it, I would further coincide that Hasbro is doing this to its collectors on all their action figure brands: GI Joe, Marvel, and Star Wars. It seems like Transformers is keeping more people satisfied, I think, of the brands Hasbro has in its stable.

    Alas, my wallet thanks them.

  8. #8
    JJL, if the design team simply decided to do a figure they'd done twice before and call it the "Fans' Choice" when it wasn't, it kills the credibility of any future promotion along the same lines.

    I don't think Hasbro is intentionally dissing collectors overall. However, there's some serious disconnect somewhere in the chain of command. The actual teams seem to understand what people want; it just doesn't happen most of the time. I was told probably five or six years ago at Comic-Con that the Joe team really wanted to make a Billy figure, for instance; in the meantime, no Billy, but about 400 each of Snake Eyes and Duke. That's just one example.

    They also have problems marketing their stuff if no one does it for them. Star Wars and Marvel are licenses with a built-in audience. Transformers enjoys huge appeal because those live-action movies apparently appeal to some people. But look at G.I.Joe, which has two movies that are generally seen as not being very good and have zero appeal to kids. Hasbro simultaneously almost gives up on the brand having any kid appeal altogether, squeezing out incredible figures during non-movie years (for as long as the line can continue), and puts out stuff that borders on junk for the kids whenever a movie comes out. But there was absolutely no Renegades line (only a few figures on Renegades cards mixed into the 30th Anniversary line, and those were mostly poorly-chosen repaints of older figures that came out a full year after the show premiered), and they practically buried the show on their own network. Add to this that they seem to get more and more rigid in their "this is for boys, this is for girls" gender stereotyping, never minding that kids like whatever kids like. (Renegades happened to be my daughter's favorite show while it was on. And they missed out completely on that sort of market.)

    We all know what happens when Hasbro does something that's only for kids or only for collectors. We get weird crap like that motorcycle line that bombed instantly, or cheap-arse gimmicks, or we get stuff that's just plain overpriced, especially considering the relative quality for the MSRP. When stuff appeals to everyone, it does better.
    Tommy, close your eyes.

  9. #9
    I think TBS wave 1 would have done a lot better on vintage cards and was probably originally meant to be released that way. A ceremonial Luke and Biggs on vintage cards would have been great. The same with the gunship pilot. (Anakin needs to be retired for a few years no matter what format he's in.) It's a shame that the complete demise of the vintage line can be traced back to a really poor choice for TPM wave last year as well as all of its carryovers clogging the pegs like a horde of Yarnas.

    Wave 2 still feels like a bit of a place holder wave, but those are common at the end of a year and figures like Mara have been in the pipeline for a really long time. I think I even remember Hasbro talking about a vintage card for her a while back. At least we get a couple new figures in it.

    Wave 3 seems to be the first one where they are actually focused on a new line for collectors. This would have been (at least one of ) the first one they started planning after the lessons from last year really became apparent. I think the choices are good and hopefully the execution will be great. I'm really looking forward to the following wave, I really want everything they've shown (with the possible exception of another Mace Windu.)

    So no, I don't think Hasbro is trying to drive us out. I think they're doing their best to keep us in the game because many of today's collectors have kids of their own that they're buying toys for. I know my kids want anything and everything Star Wars because that's what Daddy has. Poor choices on their part, the aforementioned shake-ups from Lucasfilm, and frankly pricing have just conspired to throw a wrench in their plans at every turn.

  10. #10
    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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