It feels like The Vintage Collection is getting sucked into The Black Series 3.75″ vacuum. In what we thought would undoubtedly be a triumphant return, The Vintage Collection is plagued by what some might describe as significant problems. (And those problems have few solutions at this point.). Before we itemize all of its problems, it’s important to note that the rebirth of the illustrious The Vintage Collection line is something no collector should take for granted. It was in and of itself a miracle. After Hasbro gave up on the 3.75” super-articulated line and threw it out like a baby in bathwater by giving to Walmart, it felt like some divine intervention was at play that inspired Hasbro to take another chance at this fan-favorite line. (more….)
No other collection focused so heavily on the community of collectors that have kept Hasbro’s line going strong for years. After the Walmart line’s abysmal performance, it felt like collectors and Hasbro reached an impasse. It was as if two parties wanted to join in a relationship and engage in it, but couldn’t. While many collectors patronized the Walmart line, it ended up becoming more of a painful experience than anything else if we’re honest with ourselves. 2005 sculpts of Darth Vader with swivel elbows opened up the line. Then poor choices to repack were also included. (Han Trench Coat anyone?) Then let’s not forget about the new figures and their many deco issues including dot-matrix cheeks for Rey and incomplete visors for the First Order Stormtrooper. And then there was General Leia Organa with Bette Davis eyes and eyebrows.
To make matters worse, collectors in many areas of the country never saw a single wave of figures arrive at their local stores. The problems with the Walmart line went on and on and one. Thank goodness that’s all in the past now. Hopefully, we’ll never have to experience that again Thankfully, Hasbro finally put the line out of its misery, and they announced the return of The Vintage Collection instead. We spent almost a full year enjoying the speculation of what might come and what we could look forward to, but when Hasbro announced the first wave, the wincing and cringing began. And what’s worse, it feels like we’re reliving The Black Series [Phase III] 3.75″ through the guise of The Vintage Collection. But now many of the same things are happening under TVC’s return.
Have we departed far enough away from the approach of the Walmart exclusive The Black Series [Phase III] 3.75″ line? I’m inclined to say we’re not nearly far enough away from it yet. With The Vintage Collection, the deco on the figures continues to disappoint. While I remained positive for wave 1 and wave 2, I refused to believe that quality would suffer. But I can’t deny it now. It DOES feel like we’re getting The Black Series [Phase III] 3.75” quality in upscaled The Vintage Collection packaging. Deco (generally speaking) is getting slighted. But head sculpt deco is especially jarring. Maybe we won’t have to worry about that too much longer. Hasbro is introducing “photorealistic” technology on the 2019 TVC figures and new ones going forward. The good news is that they’ve got the rest of the deco down pat, so maybe updated facial paint operations will resolve the quality of the figure’s likenesses. That Leia Boushh looks promising, but time will tell. Forget about the main line for a moment or two. Where are the Walmart exclusive figures? How did that go south so fast? Is there hope that we’ll ever see the TVC Stormtrooper (Mimban) figure at Walmart, or will another retailer come to its rescue? Why is the first retailer exclusive a disaster?
Something that is souring a portion of collectors is the quality of the packaging. And from this collector’s standpoint, there are still multiple issues surrounding it. Let’s start off with the most obvious. “Bubblegate” is still an issue. It may not be as prevalent as it was in the past, but new The Vintage Collection figures should NOT be falling off of the card backs, especially not for figures that cost $12.99 each. For those that don’t care about packaging, it won’t impact you. You’ll likely never understand why the packaging is just as important. There are also a few aesthetics of The Vintage Collection card design that are problematic. Firstly, the bubble is huge. Hasbro confirmed this is getting fixed. That’s great. But there are still other issues. The “name pill” is not shaped or styled correctly. Go ahead. Compare it to the first run of The Vintage Collection or even the original Kenner figures. What’s the deal with its weird shape? The font used today does not match the style or size of the vintage Kenner font. It looks close, but not wholly accurate. Names aren’t applied to the name pill correctly. Many figures need subtitles to specify their location or source, and the ones that do have a subtitle aren’t added successfully. Subtitles fall below the main name, in parentheses, and in a smaller sized font. Hasbro’s art department needs to address these very specific details.
The last thing we need to address is probably the most disconcerting. Where is the love for the Original Trilogy? In The Black Series [Phase III] 6” line, your Original Trilogy characters outsell the Disney Star Wars stuff by leaps and bounds. Don’t you want the same success for the 3.75” super-articulated format too? We had such a great momentum going with the announcement of Yak Face and Klaatu, and then It completely dropped off, and collectors are still fighting through their emotions while trying not to dread repacks of the likes of Cassian Andor Captain Phasma. Perhaps we’re at a point where the line need to be better planned with frequent all-new sculpts, especially characters from the Original Trilogy. And if you can’t do that, at least get out those “Collect All 92!” repacks because they’re the only ones that make sense for right now. You have to re-engage the audience that walked away. And right now that’s not happening with what’s getting offered to us now.
The Vintage Collection should march to the beat of its own drum. We say this over and over again. But that doesn’t mean that it cannot follow in the digital footsteps of Hasbro’s other lines (like the 6” line). I don’t think many of us would take issue with getting a great range of characters and newness like the 6” line receives. Any Star Wars toy line that provides a fair balance from across the Star Wars universe and has an equal newness to across all scales of their figures, no one would have too much to complain about anymore. I am still irritated about 2007’s TAC Darth Revan chosen as a repack in the line when the popularity of that character warrants an all-new sculpt. That is salt in the wound, Hasbro. And this is just a suggestion, but if Hasbro wants to keep the 3.75″ super-articulated community from freaking out, we’d suggest not saving repacks as convention exclusive reveals, especially when there is a brand new 6” figure revealed at the same time. Life isn’t fair, but that’s a “low blow,” Hasbro. 🙂
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