After nearly a year without new toys on the shelves, Star Wars collectors are seeing the first waves of new products. However, the introduction of 6-inch figures, a schism in 3.75-inch figure lines and the debut of interactive Angry Birds toys have led to speculation on what the future holds for Star Wars collectors.
We spoke with John a.k.a. EngineerNerd from the Action Figure Blues Podcast about his collecting habits and insights into how Hasbro’s changing approach to Star Wars toy production might affect Star Wars collecting and the industry, itself.
Boba Bounty: How did you got started in collecting Star Wars? If you began with the vintage Kenner figures, what kept you going when the line reemerged in the 90’s?
EngineerNerd: I think I’m in the same boat as a number of older collectors. I was around 6 when the first film came out and it really captured my imagination. My first two figures were the 12-back Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper. Star Wars was “the thing” I was interested in until the dreaded “girl years” so many of us experienced. I didn’t have all the vehicles and playsets, but as a kid, my Darth Vader Collectors case was overflowing with all the figures up to the 2nd wave of Return of the Jedi.
Like most folks who reconnected with toys in the 90’s, I think the POTF2 figures came along at just the right time. Folks were nostalgic for Star Wars and guys like me now had disposable income. At the time they came out, I had been picking up the odd Playmates Star Trek figure here and there, but Star Wars would soon take over collecting for me. I was trying to hunt down every figure for a long time. I’m a loose collector, so I didn’t care about package variants. However, I really wanted to build as much of the Star Wars Universe line as I could.
BB: The AFB podcast provides a platform to discuss upcoming toys. Has this affected the way you look at action figure lines? Do you look at/for different things than before you reviewed them in a podcast?
EN: If anything, I’m more open to other lines than I was before. I’ve always dabbled, but I’ve really gained an appreciation of different things.
We’ve been fortunate to talk to a number of different guests from the toy and statue world. Each of those guests has taught me something new about the industry. I’ve noticed I’m a lot more forgiving than I used to be when I write a review for TVandFilmToys.com now. I think this stems from getting to know that behind each toy on the shelf, there are people who worked hard to bring it to market. It might not be what they intended, have all the features they wanted or paint applications, but they worked hard to make us happy. Each of these people works hard to try and make us happy, and for the most part, their efforts go unrecognized.
I think putting names and face with the folks behind the toys really does humanize the whole process. I know I don’t like it when folks criticize my work when it’s the best I can do with what I’m given to work with. I think all of us need to keep that in mind before we speak ill of an action figure or statue.
BB: Does podcasting on toy collecting results in a greater awareness in trends or patterns in the toy industry? Do action figures seem to be headed in any predictable direction, whether it’s how they’re articulated, sculpted, scaled or inspired from?
EN: The thing I’ve noticed myself getting hooked on is blind boxed/blind bagged mini figures. It’s odd, but when I see the news for a new line of these kind of things, I’m instantly fascinated. I’m not sure if its cuteness or size, but I just dig that stuff.
I think Funko’s Pop Vinyl series has managed to tap into that. They really are looking for niches to fill in that line. Where they may not make every character, their sheer number of licenses means there’s something from them for everyone. I think folks also look at those types of items as acceptable desktop items at work. Keep a Luke on Taun Taun action figure on your desk, and you’re the weird guy in the office. Pop Vinyl of Ghost Rider? Nobody even notices. I really think if Hasbro were doing Muggs now, it would be more successful.
Most people talk about the focus being between kids and collectors, but I think the minifigures and small urban vinyl type items service a third group I’m going to call “casual adult collectors.” This is a group that wants to collect something that isn’t so kid oriented it’s obvious, nor do they want to pay out the nose for a decent representation of their favorite characters. I think this is the group we are going to lose to other interests.
The thing I don’t get is the lowered articulation for “kids” toys. I don’t know if we’ll see it reversed, but if you listen to folks who collected GI Joes as a kid, you’ll hear one thing. They liked them better than Star Wars figures because they moved better. Hasbro can say it’s what kids want, I think we all now it’s a cost thing.
BB: For a while, collector’s didn’t have much new to look forward to in stores. How do you think this affected the hobby? Do you think this drought was felt the same by U.S. collectors versus the International fan base?
EN: Without a doubt it affected U.S. collectors. You never used to hear about folks ordering cases before did you?
I very rarely buy online. I want to go hunt down action figures. It’s just the kind of collector I am.
Unfortunately, this is probably what caused my interest to wane in Star Wars collecting. Some waves you could only buy online or were barely shipped. There were a number of figures I was really interested in that I never saw. The Gamorrean Guard, for example. I would’ve snapped him up in heartbeat. And this isn’t a new problem. The red space suited alien from Episode 1? Why can’t I remember his name? I didn’t see him and don’t have him. Cripsy Anakin? Only saw him once at a comic store and a kid was buying him.
After a while of not finding figures I was interested in and only finding “new” versions of one I already had, it became harder and harder to stay interested in Star Wars collecting.
BB: What are your thoughts on the Black Series? Has your opinion evolved from its first announcement, to now that they’re finding their way to collectors?
EN: LOL, this is a setup right? I was pretty outspoken on the idea I didn’t like the 6-inch series from when it was announced. I said so on the podcast, it was interesting because four of us were on that episode and two liked and two didn’t. On episode 82, Ben and Scott are reviewing the first four figures. I was asking questions; maybe it changed my thoughts about the line, but not my desire to collect it.
I will say they’re good looking figures. I think they are a shade off from being called great. For folks like Ben and Scott, who collect other 6-inch lines, I think it’s great. Folks have wanted this for years, so it’s good to see people getting something they wanted. I would imagine that some lapsed Star Wars collectors were stirred up by it as well.
For me however, I just can’t stray from the smaller universe I’ve been building for 30+ years. With the small army of figures I have, I could put together a display of almost any scene in any of the films. It would take me years to get to that level with the 6-inch line.
Also, they are going to look like oddities in my displays. I don’t generally collect 6-inch figures, so a few are going to stand out as odd balls.
As for the 3.75-inch side of the Black Series, I haven’t seen anything that has just blown me away. It’s just a continuation of what was out there. Sure it’s renamed. But I don’t see anything special making me want to purchase any of them.
BB: Do you think Hasbro is consciously catering to both, adult collectors and casual consumer, by focusing one line on super articulation and the other, according to Hasbro, focusing on sculpts and limiting articulation? Would this be a good move for both Hasbro and collectors?
EN: Personally? I think it’s a mistake. If you look at a number of previous lines that have tried to do this, they never seem to be really successful at doing both. Look at Pirates of the Caribbean, Dark Knight Rises, Green Lantern. It just really divides folks up into what they collect. I fear with this division, the collectors will only scoop up the higher end stuff and leave all the kid stuff.
We’ve heard the margins aren’t as good on the high end figures nor do they sell in line sustaining quantities. The kids are going to look at the lower end stuff and know that it’s “meh” and pass it by. Stores will be stuck with kids’ Star Wars toys clogging shelves and not want to order either.
When I think about all the stories I’ve heard over the years of kids and parents enjoying Star Wars collecting together, it makes me sad to see the split happening this way.
BB: What direction would you predict Star Wars toys going once the sequel trilogy debuts?
EN: Folks aren’t going to like my guess. Fewer of what we term action figures. A few to keep collectors interested, maybe double the Black line numbers for one year. Few if any kids’ figures.
Instead, I think you are going to see lower end non-articulated figures that are interactive in the way the new Angry Birds Telepods are. I’m really guessing they are using that as a test bed for the technology. I’m basing that on the release of the birds, Disney Infinity and the success of Skylanders.
It’s been more than 30 years since Kenner released its first Star Wars figures. There are lots of fans who still hunt down these vintage figures.
There are plenty of challenges that come with being a vintage collector, so for our second part of our “Let’s Talk Toys” series, we spoke with toy collector and YouTube reviewer, Darth Bools.
He discusses what goes into tracking down vintage figures, what’s important to know going in and what he loves about the line.
Boba Bounty: When did you start collecting Star Wars toys? What was the first line you got into?
Darth Bools: I first started collecting Star Wars toys when I was around 4 years old around 1989, after I received all my older brother’s vintage Kenner figures.
BB: How did you get started collecting vintage figures? Do you get a different thrill from scoring from the vintage line than you do modern figures?
DB: I first discovered Star Wars in the late 80’s. At the time vintage stuff was the only line available. My brother gave me all his figures and watched the movies with me. We looked through his old Kenner stuff and I immediately fell in love with the movies and the toys. I definitely get more of a buzz picking up vintage pieces. I love the modern stuff too, but you can’t beat the feel and the buzz of acquiring a vintage piece you’ve wanted for years and finally having it.
BB: What are challenges with finding vintage figures?
DB: The biggest challenges I’d say are the obvious things, such as condition of the pieces, be it loose, carded or sealed. Also, finding them complete with real their original accessories. A big issue these days is the legitimacy of a piece, especially buying online like through eBay. You will often find re-cards or repo weapons sold as the real thing, which is very annoying for vintage collectors. Always know your stuff before buying online.
BB: What is special about vintage figures that still capture the hearts of collector’s today?
DB: There are so many things that make them special! You have the nostalgia factor, wanting to own something you once had as a kid. There is an unexplainable feel and vibe that this stuff has, like the fact its part of the history of the movies and toys. I can’t quite describe it, but looking back now, the whole lack of articulation made them better, they just scream retro and vintage. The vintage Star Wars stuff goes hand-in-hand with the Original Trilogy. It’s essentially an extension of itself. Nothing could beat the feel of the vintage Kenner line; it will always remain a league of its own compared to modern lines.
BB: What’s your favorite vintage figure? Is there a toy in particular that continues to elude you?
DB: Very hard question. I really do adore the whole vintage Kenner run, but if I had to pick a single figure, I’d say the original telescoping Luke Skywalker. It’s such a lovely figure and a great representation of the look and feel of the vintage line. The one piece to elude me till my dying day is the same as nearly every vintage Star Wars collector, the beautiful prototype rocket firing Boba Fett. I would sell a couple of limbs for that piece!
BB: What would you recommend to someone starting a vintage Star Wars collection?
DB: For any first time vintage collector I’d start with loose figures and work up from there. Mainly just get the things that really appeal to you, the pieces you want. Just be mindful, when buying vintage, to do your research on pricing and legitimacy of its authenticity. There are a lot of sellers putting prices too high or repo pieces. A good place to go is BriansToys.com, which offers a lot of vintage stuff and the prices are usually the average of what you would expect to be paying. They are a good pricing source guide.
BB: Where are the best places to find vintage Star Wars toys?
DB: EBay is great for finding a lot of vintage stuff. You can often find things you’re looking for on there, but as I said before, be cautious and do you research beforehand. Conventions are also great for finding deals from reputable dealers, as well as networking with them by chatting and getting their business cards and info for future purchases. If you’re lucky, like me, and have a vintage toy shop close by, they are always killer places to find rare vintage, very cheap.
BB: What’s the biggest difference between vintage and modern Star Wars? Just the articulation or is the difference more about nostalgia?
DB: Obviously there are major differences in molding and the tech used to produce these pieces. As I previously said, it’s mainly the look, feel and spirit of the items and their eras that make them different. They’re all part of the thing we love the most and will collect them as they continue to evolve over our life time.
BB: Anything else you’d like to share?
DB: All I can say is, collect what you love, keep collecting and, “May the force be with you!”
Over the past year, very little new Star Wars toys, in the regular line, have hit the pegs. Just within the past month have we seen fresh items line retail aisles and companies like Hasbro are shaking things up in the world of collecting – launching its 6-inch line, cutting down on articulation in upcoming toy lines, to name a few.
With new movies on the horizon and a new animated series, there’s sure to be new collectors joining our ranks. Also, longtime collectors will have to reevaluate their habits as space will become a premium as surely there’s potential for more Star Wars lines coming out for every film.
I decided to take a look at the current collecting landscape, talking to different types of collectors about their thoughts on what’s in store for Star Wars toys. For the first entry in this series, I spoke with a new collector, Shane Brooks from Ohio, who just began diving into Star Wars action figures this past year.
Boba Bounty: What were your favorite toys to collect as a kid?
Shane Brooks: I’d grab any toy I was interested in at the time, if my parents would buy it. Collecting wasn’t really a focus. However, some of my favorite toys were Mighty Max, Power Ranger figures or battle accessories and Transformers figures. I have collected coins, cards and blade weaponry. Only recently have I picked up action figure collecting.
BB: Did you differentiate buying toys with collecting? When did that divide become clearer?
SB: As a kid I never really differentiated buying toys with collecting items. Only until I started collecting cards and coins did this distinction become clear. By this time, I believe, I was in my early to mid-teens.
BB: When did you start collecting Star Wars toys? Did you buy them as a kid?
SB: Even though I enjoyed the Star Wars genre as a kid, I never collected the figures. I don’t think the figures for Star Wars had the appeal then as they do now. Only within this last year have I been impressed enough by the figures to start collecting.
BB: What got you collecting Star Wars? Notice anything different between older and modern toys?
SB: From talking to a few friends, and a reignited passion for Star Wars, I decided to start collecting again. All in all I have to admit, the quality of toys/figures have improved drastically since my childhood. From the coloring, to the amount of articulation, it all has changed for the better.
BB: Are you a loose or carded collector? Also, do you collect complete lines or are you more targeted?
SB: I would have to say I am not a single type of collector. It definitely depends on the line/type of figure. I have figures that are carded, and yet others that I find better to display loose. I generally decide based on the size or articulation of the figure. The bigger the size, or more articulation, I tend to display loose.
BB: What is your favorite Boba Fett action figure you’ve seen? What makes it so cool to you?
SB: Out of the multiple Boba Fett action figures I’ve seen, I found the Prototype Boba Fett the most interesting. It’s mostly due to the simplicity of the figure in the color (obviously white) and the detail that still shows through. Not to say the artistically rendered Boba Fett figures are not mind blowing, but no one else has done an all white figure.
BB: Why do you think Boba Fett is such a popular toy?
SB: I think the interest/popularity in Boba Fett all starts from the mystery of the character itself. As a child of the original three Star Wars movies, I have always wanted to know the history/development of the character. From this, I think, a lot of people find Boba Fett intriguing, and would want a piece of that mystery in obtaining an action figure. Plus, Boba Fett is the most bad ass bounty hunter in the Star Wars Universe.
BB: How much does articulation matter to you as a collector? Do you think Hasbro should focus different lines on different demographics of consumers?
SB: It is more of a selling point or added bonus, especially in the amount of articulation. With that being said, Hasbro and other companies should focus on different lines to cater different demographics or styles of collecting. Mostly, kids don’t really care about articulation or graphically intricate figures, and thus they could have a different line of figures. This, then, allows the company to still get the “bread and butter” purchases that keep them going, but also allow for collectors to get what they want.
BB: What do you think about the price of action figures in stores? Would you be willing to sacrifice quality of packaging and articulation for lower retail prices?
SB: Honestly, the prices I have seen are fair in their own right. However, I would rather have less quality in packaging for slightly less price, but not articulation and packaging.
BB: What advice would you give to someone just jumping into buying Star Wars toys? What should they know, beware of, etc?
SB: It comes down to whether you can find the items in store, and if not, research your online sources. As with any online purchasing site, always check the reviews, if there are any. I would also recommend trying to find another collector to bounce ideas off of, or get info on where to find the items you’re looking for.
After months of very little collecting news, a tornado of announcements has fallen upon San Diego Comic Con. I was thrilled to see plenty of new Boba Fett merchandise previewed and with companies saving their biggest reveals for Celebration Europe next month – we can only assume even more Boba Fett-oriented collectibles are going to pop up next weekend. Here’s a rundown of what we’ve seen come out of the convention so far.
Hasbro officially announced the line-up for its second wave of Black Series 6-inch action figures. Wave 2 includes four characters, including Boba Fett, Han Solo, Slave Leia and Greedo. Boba Fett is the same figure included in the SDCC/Celebration exclusive box set, but without the Han Solo in Carbonite. These figures are scheduled to hit store shelves this fall.
Take its cue from the Skylanders franchise; Hasbro is introducing Angry Birds Star Wars II Telepods. These figurines are similar to the mystery bags we saw earlier this year, but with new sculpt and they can be digitally entered as playable characters in an Angry Birds Star Wars II online game. They can be purchased in figure packs or through sets – including a Bounty Hunter set, featuring Jango Fett and an Angry Birds version of Slave I in Boba Fett’s colors. The application and Telepods are debuting this September.
Even though Hasbro’s Class II vehicles released a few months ago didn’t fly off the shelves, the toy company plans to release another three vehicles this fall. In addition to Obi Wan and Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter, Hasbro will release Boba Fett’s Slave I. This is just a repaint of Jango Fett’s Slave I, which is currently clearance for $13 at Target.
The Clone Wars toy line was canceled earlier this year, but Hasbro is including characters from the animated series, along with Original Trilogy characters, in its Saga Legends line – waves coming in 2014. Hasbro officials report this line will feature less articulation, but at a lower price. They say the sculpts will remain highly detailed, but after being used to high articulation, the figures appear visibly stiff. Included in early waves will be Boba Fett, designed after his Episode V appearance.
Gentle Giant laid a surprise on fans during preview day at SDCC, when via Instagram, they revealed a new Holiday Special Boba Fett maquette. Fans remember Gentle Giant producing an animated style Boba Fett as a Celebration IV exclusive in 2007, but this statue is vastly different in style and its pose. The officials didn’t give any further details, like release date or price, but the images of the piece are amazing. I for one, I am eager to secure this item on my display shelves.
During the onslaught of information, images and news coming from the convention – The Dented Helmet posted a photo of a Prototype Helmet they helped develop with eFX Collectibles. The cast was designed after the actual hero helmet Boba Fett wore from The Empire Strikes Back.
When Hasbro announced it would be releasing an exclusive Boba Fett 6-inch Black Series figure, accessorized by Han Solo in Carbonite, fans pondered whether that meant they’d see Boba Fett in the regular numbered series. Inside sources said we would.
Yesterday, according to Flyguy.net, this speculation and rumor were confirmed – we will see Boba Fett featured in the next wave of the 6-inch line. It has been reported the next wave will also include Anakin Skywalker, Obi Wan Kenobi, Greedo, Bespin Luke, Slave Leia, Han Solo and a Stormtrooper.
This is exciting news for Boba Fett fans. For those who cannot attend this years’s Comic Con or Celebration Europe II, the secondary market would have been steep – taking into mind the set is costing nearly $50 at Comic Con and Celebration.
Therefore, knowing we can get Boba Fett for the retail price of around $20 is good news. This is assuming retailers order the figures in fair numbers and variety. The bad news is if you want to get your hands on the Han Solo in Carbonite, you’ll still be looking at a pretty penny on eBay or online stores.
Personally, I’m also eager to see the sculpt for Greedo. Most of the comments I’ve read online point to fans cherry picking this line based on their interests, be that Jedi, droids, bounty hunters, etc.
Flyguy.net also reports this may not be a complete list of the next wave of new figures, but more characters may be announced. If you’re targeting bounty hunters then it would be safe to assume the next couple figures in this category will be Dengar, Zuckuss, IG-88, 4-LOM and Bossk (Now that should be a gnarly sculpt.)
These figures will be released throughout the next year.
Could Han Solo and Boba Fett be named couple of the year for 2013?
A few weeks ago rumors flew around the Internet about spin-off films featuring the smuggler and bounty hunter. Then at last week’s New York City Toy Fair, it was announced an exclusive 6-inch Black Series Boba Fett figure, toting Han Solo in Carbonite, would be available at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con.
(It has been confirmed Han Solo in Carbonite would only be available through the comic con, but it is unclear whether Boba Fett’s figure is also a special offer. Since he’s not been named in the first wave of figures in the new series, I’m leaning toward, yes.)
Hasbro also said it would release Boba Fett’s Slave I, with Han Solo in Carbonite, in traditional scale, as an Amazon.com exclusive this spring. The item is part of Hasbro’s Vintage Collection.
Additionally note, Boba Fett made an appearance in Dark Horse’s “Star Wars: In the Shadow of Yavin” #2, which hinted at future altercations between the smuggler and Fett throughout the story arc. Not to get off topic, but I’m still crossing my fingers the subplot will introduce a fresh angle to the two men’s relationship.
While it’s exciting to see new Boba Fett merchandise hit the shelves, I’m growing tired of how Hasbro executes the release of new figures and ships. Its common knowledge that Boba Fett’s was first offered as a mail-away offer through Kenner, and the controversial “missile firing action” tied to the toy.
If you take an inventory of past Boba Fett figures, quite a few have not been included in the base sets, but instead, have been obtained through special offers. Most often you have to purchase five Star Wars action figures and mail their proof-of-purchases.
Even action figures that aren’t mail-away offers are hard to find. Take for example the “Rise of Boba Fett” battle set, which included a young Boba Fett, Slave I in his father’s color scheme and a number of other figures and a star fighter. This set was an exclusive to Toys ‘R Us and not stocked very deep.
The Villain Set featuring Boba Fett, Snaggletooth and a Tusken Raider was a Target exclusive. There’s only a few recent examples of Fett action figures that have been found at multiple retailers and in decent quantities.
Due to the practice of releasing Boba Fett toys as exclusives or special offers, if you’re a targeted collector, like I am, this results in having to end up paying more in the second market. I hope that in future releases; if Hasbro continues to make it more difficult to grab Boba Fett merchandise they will at least execute their figure design in a new way.
Instead of another repaint of past figures, I want to see new accessories and molds. This is one reason I’m excited about the 6-inch Black Series action figure, and hope it will find its way into retail stores, rather than eBay or swap meets.
Hasbro appears to be putting a lot of effort and thought into the accessories in their 6-inch line. I’ve been musing upon what new weapons; items may be included in the Boba Fett figure. What are you hoping might be included with the 6-inch Boba Fett?
My wife got me the LEGO Star Wars Dessert Skiff set for Valentine’s Day. This is an item I’ve had my eye on for a while now, so I was pretty excited to receive it.
LEGO has evolved quite a lot since I was a kid. Its licensed products are definitely the bread and butter that have kept them alive and strong over the years. This LEGO set captures the rescue scene from Return of the Jedi, where Jabba and friends condemn Luke Skywalker to 1,000 years in the belly of the Sarlacc.
The set includes the LEGO figures of Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett and Kithaba. Of course, it also features the Dessert Skiff and Sarlacc Pit. The skiff has some cool functions, including a retractable plank, a firing missile and a weapons locker.
An instruction manual makes it easy to construct the skiff and the Sarlacc Pit. The set also comes with extra pieces, like the Sarlacc teeth, just in case you lose a few items. This is handy, especially if you’re buying this for children who may not be constructing these pieces for display; rather they end up in a toy box.
There’s amazing detail put into the characters and other items. It’s also easy to put together, I constructed my set in under an hour. There’s enough characters included, that the set offers plenty of imaginary scenarios to play with. You can run through a number of alternative outcomes to the scene, whereas anybody could end up in the mouth of the Sarlacc (which can open and close.)
Accessories for the LEGO figures include four blasters, a Lightsaber and axe. The Boba Fett minifigure comes with his jetpack and removable helmet – the case is the same for Lando. These LEGO sets are a ton of fun and easily accompany each other to create larger play sets to recreate scenes from the films or make your own adventures.
I highly recommend this LEGO set for collectors of any age. This is a good item to start with, which can supplement sets like Jabba’s Palace, etc.
The release of The Clone War Collection in 2010 included my favorite of the young Boba Fett action figures. Hasbro outdid themselves with this figure – with 14 points of articulation, removable armor, twin blasters and a jet pack – there are endless variations of poses for Boba Fett.
The figure is beautifully sculpted and the artist did a great job matches the face and clothes to the episodes that inspired them. However, the chest armor and jet pack were never seen in The Clone Wars, but they make a fun addition to this figure.
Boba Fett’s blasters fit well in both hands and in his holsters, and the jet pack is balanced with the figure and plugs nicely into the figure’s back. I also love the paint job and the details in the hands, they appear ever ready quickly draw his blasters.