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  1. #1

    The INVESTMENT of Star Wars Toys

    Anyone collecting these days is well aware of the value placed on POTF figures (1985-1986). With only a couple exceptions, these later releases (typically with the coin) are far more expensive than any of the other vintage items. Why? Because interest in the line and everything Star Wars waned fairly quickly after 1983. Those of us who were the "perfect age" to see ANH in the theaters were entering puberty around the time ROTJ came out, so toys gave way to girls. The end result was that fewer of the POTF figures were sold and their value is now inflated.

    We are supposed to learn from history, so my question is, when will this "waning" period be for the new run of Star Wars toys? Already I'm beginning to read scattered posts about people not buying everything that is released or giving up on saving pristine carded versions. Naturally we have one more film to go and interest will pick up once again. But for the "investors" out there, do you see these lulls between films as prime purchasing opportunities or will you continue to purchase everything in the hopes that it all will be worth the effort? For the "collectors," shouldn't this eventual waning period frighten you?

    See, my thinking is that after Episode III, we'll have a few months to a year of strong sales, but then interest will again plummet. I keep hearing others say that "there's plenty of time for Hasbro to make the obscure characters we want." Truth is, there isn't. We have about two years or so until Episode III merchandise hits the shelves. Hasbro won't be concentrating much on Original Trilogy material or even EPI and II stuff either as they support the last chapter. And with sales potentially dropping like a rock after Episode III leaves theaters, that doesn't leave much time for Hasbro to fill the gaping holes in the collection. We'll be left with the same situation we had after ROTJ. Some collectors will continue to buy, but the vast majority of consumers will move on leaving Hasbro with the choice of continuing for the sake of a scant few or just dropping it. And again, the items in those last few months will be the most "valuable" just as the POTF items are now.

    So given all that, the time to bug Hasbro about making our top choices is NOW. Given the lead time on R&D for a figure, vehicle, or playset, there isn't much time. And they won't be inclined to put out obscure characters post-Episode III as interests dies. RIGHT NOW is the critical juncture to show Hasbro what we want. If you want other obscure characters, get out there and buy that R2 3PO Christmas set and show them that we want A LOT more than what they are offering from the current film.

    What do you think?

  2. #2
    That is true stillakid. There is not a lot of time left. I believe there will be a time after Episode III, where the Star Wars line will wane. Hasbro will move on to other lines and us Collectors will catch up on some missed treasures and enjoy our collections.

    When I first started collecting Star Wars. I did it because I loved the movies, and because I may be able to sell my collection someday. The popularity of Star Wars grew, scalping and the second hand markets gave rise. Everyone started collecting Star Wars to keep Mint in the Box. Then it occured to me, what value will all of it be if everyone has it? Would gold be valuable if everyone had large amounts of it? So Starting with Epidoe I, I began opening my figures and vehicles and setting up scenes, building armies, and really enjoying them. There are a few figures I've kept in the box like an extra Saga Yoda or a Silver R2. I've enjoyed collecting Star Wars from the beginning, it is my hobby, and someday it'll be done and I'll be able to sit back and enjoy it. In a further time, I'll be able to pass it along with my love of Star Wars.

    As far as value goes, I have a lot of very nice pieces. I collect other Star Wars items besides figures. I believe the truely valuable figures will be the Vintage, POTF2, and select Episode I, POTJ and Saga figures such as Sio Bibble, TC-14, Jorge Sacul, ToyFair Vader, Silver R2.
    "Maybe I can help you. I am Boba Fett. The ship you seek is nearby." -Boba Fett

  3. #3
    You make a very compelling arguement about the potential waning period that looms in the future. I was 11 when ANH released and took over my life. The Early Bird Set that Christmas began my life-long persuit. And I recall the waning days only too well. My budding interest in girls did little to quell my passion for collecting, however. And though I was in college at the begining of the waning period, I managed to collect every 3.75" figure (except Yak Face) that was released, as it was released. I only missed out on Yak Face because it was made by an American toy company but not offered to the American market, go figure! I went for many years not even knowing it existed! But then you have to remeber, there was not always an internet! The flow of information was a lot different back then.

    This brings me to the crux of my post, that times have changed. Having spent my youth in persuit of my collection and the years since 1995 in persuit of my collection, Mark II, I have a very good feel for the many distinct differences between collecting then and now. One of the greatest differences is supply and demand, both of which, for the most part, are greater today than they were back then. In the late 70's and early 80's, many retail outlets sold Star Wars figures, but not as consistantly as they do today. You see, back then there was NOT a Toys R Us in EVERY major (and many minor) city. In fact, back in the day you were often hard pressed to find anyone who had Star Wars figures on their shelves on a consistant basis. I lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and the closest TRU back then was in Houston! Four hours away! You had to find Star Wars figures at Sears or JC Penny (infrequently), Toys By Roy or Circus World (the precursors of Kay Bee - mall stores), Best Products (discount store), and the ocassional K-Mart (Wal-Mart had yet to become the monolith it is today). Every now and then you could find the odd Star Wars figure at the "Dime Store" or the local pharmacy/department store, perhaps even at the grocery store at an inflated price (I remember buying Zuckuss at Mott's, a "Five & Dime"). Anyway, one important thing to remember is that you never saw so much as five or six peg facings of Star Wars in a store. We were many years from having whole sections devoted to the line.

    Another factor in the lull period concern is that it does not always take a lack of a feature film to make a lull. The POTF2-Saga lines have more than once suffered lulls. Take the tail end of the Episode I line. I finally had to buy my Pit Droids 2-Pack in the after market! I NEVER saw that one, Sio Bibble, or the Hologram Darth Sideous on open shelves! Someone else found the other two for me at a K-Mart of all places! Then there is the more recent Bo Shek wave that met with limited distribution. Or the R2-D2 with Leia Hologram which I never saw when it first came out, then found twenty or more a year later at a TRU for $1.99 each! So lull periods often occur when demand is down, and that is most often during periods when Hasbro has gone "resculpt crazy" and/or become "episode-centric". The greatest strength of the Saga line as we now know it is that, when done right, it has an ideal mix of characters from ALL films. This will help sustain the line even after the Saga propper has met its end.

    Another major factor is the "then and now market" factor. Back in 1977-78, the 3.75" action figure was something of a unique new commodity. But most of the core buyers were kids, which certainly contributed to Hasbro's outdated contention for many years that the core dynamic had never changed. The reality today is that at least half (if not more) of Star Wars toy purchases are made by adults (or teens) for themselves. I've worked enough toy and comic shows to have seen this dynamic shift. Especially given the two-collection phenomenon, where the parent or parents have their collection (pristine and untouched) and the kids have thiers (for play purposes). In that sense, the marketplace for Star Wars toys from Hasbro is today far different than it was for Kenner in the waning days of the mid-80's. The lulls still occur, don't get me wrong. And Hasbro, like many licensees, grossly misguessed the demand for Episode I merchandise. But as I've said, the long-overdue unification of the Star Wars license under a single (Saga) banner will do what the Power of the Force line sought to do, only too late. (Back in 1983 I wrote to Kenner suggesting a "Star Wars Classics" line which would allow them to release unmade characters from ANH and TESB while still maintianing the movie-centric ROTJ imprint. They told me that they had no intention of revisiting the past films in the toy line. I found it rather ironic when this concept was taken to heart in the form of POTF which included the Luke Stormtrooper figure!)

    One final note to stillakid. The purpose of this post is not to pick apart your post or critisize your concerns. The central point of your post is quite valid. That of "having plenty of time for Hasbro to produce our favorites". As you correctly pointed out, when Episode III is released we can expect at least six months or more of strictly (or at least mostly) EIII characters in the line. Then very slowly will characters from the previous lines be introduced, but the emphasis will still be on EIII for at least the first year. I think that given the present collector-favorite status of Star Wars, and the strength of the line, if Hasbro learns from their past mistakes and becomes more adult collector oriented in the absence of feature film support (one to two years post EIII), the line could manage to susutain itself for a lot longer than the original Star Wars-Power of the Force line. Bear in mind that after ROTJ there was nothing to look forward to in the Saga. After ANH we knew that TESB was due in three years and after TESB we definitely knew that ROTJ was coming. When the years moved on and Lucas announced nothing forthcoming, it is little wonder that the interest in toys began to wane (bear in mind that each movie-title imprinted line from Kenner survived for a full three years between films, something that has rarely been done with a movie license). Today the line does not have to rely solely on the impending release of a new film or the theatrical or video support of a past one. Today it gathers much of its momentum from a thriving fan base that consists of folks who were there from day one all the way through hardcore fans who weren't even born until AFTER the first trilogy ran its course!
    "Does the name "Dingo" mean anything to you?" - Jedi Boulton to DingoDad at the October Dallas ComiCon.

  4. #4
    Thank you, JediCole, for that. I suppose my "concern" grows out of the very situation you describe above. The line "suffers" what I would call significant lulls even when there are movies to look forward to in the future. Taking this as a signal, it seems evident that without future films on the horizon, the franchise won't last much longer than a few months post-DVD release of Episode III.

    But this all depends upon the generosity of Hasbro. As I mentioned, we're already starting to see signs that the adult market is drifting away. After Episode III is gone, the odds are that the mass market that Hasbro really counts on as an indicator for sales will go too. All that will be left is the "hardcore" minority. How long will our scant few dollars be enough to convince that corporation to keep producing the Star Wars line? Or is the "adult collector" market bigger than I think it is? I don't really know the answer to that and I'm not sure that Hasbro does either.

  5. #5
    I think one thing that needs to be considered, Stillakid, is that it took a revival of Star Wars' (via the Thrawn trilogy of novels)popularity to see the mad increase in value of vintage stuff, notably POTF figures. If you're expecting the end of this newer run to go through the roof in the same way, value wise, you'll of course be expecting another resurgence in the popularity of the line. No one cares how much the last few Buck Rogers figures were worth, because it hasn't been popular since. See my point? I hope Star Wars sticks around in some form for us forever, but I have my doubts.

  6. #6
    Originally posted by jjreason
    I think one thing that needs to be considered, Stillakid, is that it took a revival of Star Wars' (via the Thrawn trilogy of novels)popularity to see the mad increase in value of vintage stuff, notably POTF figures. If you're expecting the end of this newer run to go through the roof in the same way, value wise, you'll of course be expecting another resurgence in the popularity of the line. No one cares how much the last few Buck Rogers figures were worth, because it hasn't been popular since. See my point? I hope Star Wars sticks around in some form for us forever, but I have my doubts.
    Yeah, I hadn't thought of that. My excuse is that the crux of my original post titled "INVESTMENT" had more to do with the emotional attachment than purely dollars. I did touch on that element though as it does come into play for many people.

    So, for me anyway, the intrinsic value of the toys has always been and will always be how much fun they are to have around. As a result, I won't be looking to reap financial benefits from the items I purchase that others don't.

    But my own personal "concern" revolves around the future availability of unmade characters. The upgrades to previous figures are a nice thought, and I do appreciate the effort on the part of Hasbro to improve figures as the technology advances.

    But at the same time, for every resculpt I see, that's one less new character that will have the chance of being made. With more resculpts on the way, not to mention another movie full of brand new characters, the chances of seeing Jabba's Palace or the Cantina being properly populated grows weaker and weaker with each passing day. My lament is for those action figures who won't have the opportunity to share display space with the rest of my collection. Time is running out.

    I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.

  7. #7
    Weird, how I - an opener of figures and reader of silver age Marvels considered only the financial connotations of the word investment!

    Completism is a tough one, wanting one of something that likely won't be made though must be even worse. Id love a Sgt. Doallyn w Bubo pack in lots too, but would enough people? Many, for sure but really enough? Im hoping that as time passes they increase the frequency of fan club exclusive figures that everyone has an equal chance at gettting - some of the lesser known characters done with detail for collectors (like Oola and Muftak/Kabe). I wonder why that went away? (Well, I do know that the fanclub has changed hands or whatever, but didn't those do well enough to warrant subsequent releases?). One way or the other, I think between now and epIII we'll get a few choice pieces from the OT. The Dianoga with the cinema scene is a nice start. We know they can do it, let's just hope they do.

  8. #8
    Originally posted by jjreason
    The Dianoga with the cinema scene is a nice start. We know they can do it, let's just hope they do.
    That will be a cool piece, but in the end, it's just another resculpt in a new box.

    There's a rich world of aliens and droids and other B-characters who haven't had their day. As the Darth Maul fiasco should have taught Hasbro, there's a limit as to how many of the same figure people will buy, hero or not. Their concentration on primary characters stems from fear that product won't sell, but product stops selling because people already have "that guy." It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    BUT, if they work on releasing all new characters, one's that we haven't seen on the shelves yet, then sales would continue to be, at the very least, steady. Their attempts to stimulate the line with an endless string of resculpts will, in fact, do the opposite and strangle it to death.

  9. #9
    Vortex's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location, location, its all about location

    Excellent topic

    Excellent topic of discussion and everyone has good points and good assumptions as to the line. I, unfortunatly, am not so positive about the longevity of the Star Wars line.

    History of the line, my time at TRU in college, the 8 months prior to Ep II opening day, and the last few months have shown me that this line won't live long past the last showing of Ep III. Reason for this are:

    1. I was around for the vintage line, and only managed 3 POTF figures, Lando General and EV-6D6, and Romba. And all of a sudden they all disapeared off the shelves. Why? I don't have a good answer cept demand fell through the floor and some other toys became hot items.

    2. I worked at TRU in college for a short time and worked through the initial onslaught of EP I figures, and through the lean times where released figures were no where to be found. I learned something valuable in that time. All the big retailers pre-order toys anywhere from 4 months to a year in advance based on trial and tests with kids, or past sales of some line. They take a guess as to how well the line, or toy, will do and order so much of something, and then move on, hoping to take as much profit as possible and guessing right as to demand. The reason we had a "lull" or "lean" time had nothing to do with hasbro, but with the major retailers. They got burned on the initial Ep I figures after a couple of months and sales dropped, figures didn't move after a while, hence they didn't pre-order lots of later cases, and in some cases didn't order any at all. Didn't bother Hasbro much, since they get paid in advance and the retailers are left trying to squeeze every last cent out of a line or toy. Which leads into my next small point. One of my old bosses at TRU told me this and it rang home true and gave me something to think about. "Just because a toy is made, doesn't guarentee it will show up in a store, ,or that the store has to carry it."

    3. About 6-8 months prior to Ep II, the surrounding areas of St. Paul, there were 3 local Wal-Marts, 2 KMarts, 4 Targets, and 1 TRU that didn't have a place for Star Wars figures or have any figures at all in the toy isle. If and when they got some exclusive you might see a peg or two of figures on clearance, but once the exclusive disapeared the figures went with. So the big retailers in my area, or their headquarters, pulled the star wars line, order super small quantities of cases, or didn't even re-order the following collections. And I see it happening again.

    4. Again, just recently in the St. Paul area, stores are drastically scaling back on star war figures. People are claiming that they sent figures back to make room for new stuff, but I have yet to see any replacement of new figues for the ones they sent back. I believe it again goes back to pre-orders. Odds are they were credited for their returns, hoping they they would pre-order future cases. I'm not sure on this, but where are the replacement cases? Where are the new figures for the holidays?
    Even before this came about, many stores including the Target HQ drastiacally downsized their star wars section a few months after Ep II left the theaters. It hasn't even been a year and the down turn has already started. I was hoping that we'd have figures, ships, and goodies coming out of our ears at this point in time. There are rumors of lots of new items, yet again, until its made there's no sure thing, even then its not a guarentee.

    Combine these items I've noticed with the kids of today and their play habits, which is nintendo, internet, and nick shows, I don't see this line lasting long. I don't feel the collectors are large enough to keep the gears turning and granted, hasbro throws us a bone once in a while when we get to vote on figures, but we're extra cash to them. Their main target is kids and we're bonus cashs and filler for them. We pick up the slack for the kids. Some claim to see loads of kids buying star wars figures, but I cannot say the same. The only people I see in that isle or rifeling through the pegs are 20-30 somethings. I don't really see 6-12 crying for figures, or the newest sculpt of Fett (Lords know my mom wouldn't have bought me 6 of the same figure even if it was a new sculpt. I could pretend and play with one just as good as 6) and I don't think our 2,000 or so people on this forum and thousands more on other forums are driving Hasbro and the retailers to keep making, and supplying us with figures. I personally think a few months after Ep III leaves the theaters, the stores pre-orders run out, the line will fade out just like it did many years ago since demand isn't there and new hotter toy lines are waiting in the wings. I cannot see Hasbro making more obscure figures after Ep III to satisfy a few thousand collectors or scalpers when the toys are geared slightly more to the kids and play time side. What major retailer is going to stick its neck and order cases of obscure background figures, or expanded universe figures when the average buyer or kid has no clue who they are, where they came from, and why they can't remember some memorable scene with that figure in it. The diehards, like us, will buy whatever we can get, but the bottom line profit for the retailer isn't there. Our small collecting world can't keep it going.

    The investment, personal or monitary, all depends on the person. I plan on selling off half of my collection once Ep III hits the screens. I've invested way too much time, money, and storage into this hobby and I've sacrificed a lot to make myself happy in the process. I enjoy the hunt, like the figs, and books, but once the credits roll on the big screen for the last time, it will be another 10+ years before there's a revival and/or demand for star wars related items. People are fickle. Attention spans are short, we grow tired of things quick and there's too much now a days fighting for our attention and cash and fads, like toys, grow and die in the blink of an eye...cabbage patch, tickle me elmo, holiday barbies, tomagotchi digital pets, power rangers, transformers, g.i. joe...they all had their moment in the sun, come back to suck a few more bucks for nostalgia purposes, and then fade back out. I want to cash out before it cools off too much and every other collector tries to off load their hoard. If I don't do it soon I'll have to wait another 25 years or longer to free up space.

    The only other thing I can offer up is - I hope I'm wrong in my conclusions, but the pattern is already starting to present itself again. So get things while you can, sell while you can turn a few bucks, and just enjoy this ride while its around.

  10. #10

    Antother factor...

    More good points have been brought up in regard to the longevity of the Star Wars line. Especially that of retailer commitment. You may recall that Lott Dodd has been a long time coming. This is partly due to retailer pressure put on Hasbro. Amoung the demands of larger retailers - NO MORE NEMODIANS! In fact, Episode I characters were pretty much banned. And as for the issue of resculpts, there is some logic in resculpts in that it keeps the line alive, as it were. The idea being that in addition to creating more foddor for completists, it gives the opportunity to some collectors to upgrade thier figures (the 300th Boba Fett quickly replaced the POTF2 one in my display) or for late comers to the line to get a core character they may have missed. Unfortunatly Hasbro has been so decidedly hit or miss in this regard that it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of retailers.

    But there is one other factor to consider. One which affects the line more than any other. That is the factor of perception. I am sure we have all noticed how moive based toy lines seem to hit the stores months before the films hit the theatres. This is certainly to help retailers get a jump on that fickle demand, but it most often serves to leave them lacking in product when the movie finally does hit. But in a way, that is how they like it. Far better to have nothing on the shelves when the movie is out and the potential for demand is highest than to have the toys arrived just as the movie is released only to sell most of the stock and have to blow out the rest later. But this produces a perception that there must be a film pending or in release to support a toy line and that after the film is gone, so is the demand.

    Star Wars has always been a facinating creature. In a sense, it was the first sucessful movie license. I am sure there were others before, but none so popular or successful. The result was that every toy company, including Kenner, saw dollar signs when they heard about upcoming films with kid appeal. I could go into the sad litany of toy lines that were poor choices or poor showings for good choices but that is not my purpose here. The fact is that Star Wars has been the single most sustainable license in history. Unfortunatly, it is still viewed too much as a movie-based toy line. Therefore if there is no movie, why bother? Star Wars has managed to transcend its roots and become as sustainable as Barbie, Hot Wheels, or G.I. Joe. But unlike those properties which were toys first and potiential media licenses later (like G.I. Joe), Star Wars is still mired in its status as a license. As a result, it is often difficult to convince retailers that the demand is self-sustaining. So they continue the practice of ordering heavily in movie years and slacking off in the lag years.
    "Does the name "Dingo" mean anything to you?" - Jedi Boulton to DingoDad at the October Dallas ComiCon.


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