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Star Wars Collectible News, Photos, and Reviews

Has Our Passion Dwindled Down To Apathy?

Posted by Paul | August 07, 2015 at 10:01 AM ET

If you recall, the biggest announcement by Lucasfilm in years that a new Star Wars was made in the middle of Hurricane Sandy. As one of the many people affected by it (thank goodness I just lost power for about a week and nothing else), I missed all of the social media posts and official online announcements. I only found out about it via texts from friends. Star Wars passion was once again invigorated to new levels with this news and the joy and cheer could be felt across the Star Wars community. Collectors in particular were already beginning to get excited for new Star Wars toys and we thought the new film couldn’t come soon enough. (more....)

Well, here we are. We are less than a month away from Force Friday. I imagine it has arrived much sooner than expected for you as it has for me especially since the first announcement that a new Star Wars film was coming. I know that’s representative of my feelings at least. As a longtime Hasbro supporter, I, like many, have been royally disappointed with so many things with the Hasbro brand as of late. This isn’t a Hasbro bashing editorial because I am thankful for the good they do for us. But I have to be honest about a few things too. To read and even listen to recorded interviews via Q&As with Hasbro, I have to concede that it’s quite frustrating to hear “yes” to something in one interview and then a diametrically opposite “no” answer to a same or similar question in another. I have always been vocal about my support and defense of the 3.75” super-articulated line of action figures. Others have been content with “lower quality” action figures like Saga Legends and Mission Series. Many love to accusing me of unjustly hating these figures, but to them I say please read my reviews. I still think that AT-AT Driver and Snowtrooper are some of the nicest sculpts Hasbro has done to date…. And perhaps they’re the best versions of these characters in 3.75” ever. (I am not including the lacking paint operations, just a sculpt perspective.) But why couldn't these divine sculpts be converted into definitive super-articulated updates instead of being relegated to 5POA? This line should only be an affordable budget alternative designed to complement a large and strong super-articulated 3.75” basic figure line so kids could have something cheap. But it's becoming the standard. And the prices are becoming not too affordable now, are they? So much for that theory. My whole frustration about 5POA is the indignant attitude of those that see this as a viable alternative to 3.75” super-articulated action figures. And MANY of these defenders don't even buy the figures. At least I do. You know who you are. But this editorial is not about bashing 5POA or those that love it either.

Then there is the 6” line. Sigh. It perplexes me how sites that have never reviewed a Star Wars figure to date suddenly get months-early samples before the Star Wars fan sites and praise the heck out of them despite their scale issues and horrid paint operations. Granted, some of them are really, really nice. But this line is more complementary than standard. And it’s unreal to me that this is the way so many new collectors are content with going. If you love this line that’s wonderful. It definitely has some fine moments and charm. But there are major issues with the quality of these figures too that so many people bury their heads in the sands over… and I just can’t be one of those people. Although it’s very difficult to not get into a debate on whether 6” is the new collectors line and how it’s doing better than 3.75” or not, it’s hard for me to even understand how we have even reached this point. To see the 3.75” described in recent Hasbro PRESS RELEASES as the “complementary” line to The Black Series 6” line is as painful as it is deflating to collectors who have been with them since 1978. It’s easy to throw the word “entitlement” around. Perhaps that’s part of it, but if you ask any original Star Wars collector, they’ll tell you that it’s 3.75” or nothing for them. (Even those of us who collect 6” figures see this line as a complement to the 3.75” and not the other way around.) I like to think entitlement isn’t in my blood. Disappointment is the first feeling that comes to mind when Hasbro’s attention is firmly planted everywhere but 3.75” super-articulated action figures.

Sure, toys are trending to larger scale. But this is something I don’t really understand either. After 37 years of Star Wars toys, are people really buying Jakks Pacific 31” figures? Jakks will tell you they’re selling incredibly well. I would even question who has room for 20” Jakks Pacific figures. But between many inferior sculpts, it seems that the public is indeed seeking quantity over quality as collectors sit back and ponder “what the heck?” I know it baffles me. As someone who has 30+ years of Star Wars toys in my attic, Star Wars rooms in my home and in the shed, I don’t know where anyone could put even ONE 30” or 31” figure. Even the shampoo bottles take up too much space. Why does bigger mean better now? The whole point of the 3.75” line was to make vehicles that complement the figures sizeable enough for a kid to handle. Now we’re getting 6” vehicles for an MSRP that borders on being offensive. It make me just want to shake my head. Perhaps all of this extra sensory overload is all part of plan to distract collectors from 3.75” SA figures. After all, you should know what a conspiracy theorist I am.

Putting aside the quality of the paint operations and perhaps a few sculpting issues, wave 7 and wave 8 of The Black Series 3.75” line should have been the most anticipated figures of the entire Hasbro lineup. But between a revised MSRP, lackluster paint operations and some bad tooling choices (Hasbro – how could you sculpt Leia’s thermal detonator to her hand?), collectors became instantly apathetic to two phenomenal waves of figures; two waves of figures that collectors would have been killing for had they been released in The Vintage Collection – quality issues notwithstanding. This isn’t another desperate plea for The Vintage Collection to return because that is my lifelong wish, but if shortcuts are going to be taken with collector grade figures, why not disguise it in guaranteed sell-through packaging? I personally had to go through EIGHT Princess Leia Organa (Boushh) figures and over A DOZEN Han Solo (Carbonite) figures before I found two with just mediocre paint jobs. That’s heartbreaking to me. How can the Rebels figures look so good and then the collector-focused figures look so inferior? I say all this to say that there is plenty of reasons not to support 3.75”, but is this the right move for the health of the line? I don’t think it is.

My point however is that should collectors have probably stepped up to the plate a little bit more and bought all of the figures from the final waves of The Black Series 3.75” line and not waited for clearance. You have to wonder why haven’t these figures sold through instead of going on discount or even clearance on some online shops? In my opinion this only shows Hasbro that there isn’t a market for 3.75” action figures. I am not casting blame, but it’s certainly something to consider. We have always voted with our dollars in the past, and we have to keep doing that in the present (and future) if we want our favorite format to stay. Sometimes we need to buck up a little to make out voice heard. Sadly, it’s with our pocketbooks.

That brings me to another point. Although it seems to be doing well (and hopefully it is), the comments surrounding Jabba’s Rancor Pit have been very disappointing to me. Again, I don’t discount the remarks about some of the paint operations (like Jabba’s pencil mustache) or the lack of originality with getting desperately needed action figures back into the market (and not adding C-3PO who was released singly in the basic figure line at the same time). Those are all fair and well taken arguments. But this set brings us the best 3.75” scaled Jabba to the Star Wars 3.75” line to date. It brings back a repainted Rancor that hasn’t been on the market since 2009. And both blow all other versions away! But the comments state things like “a new Jabba isn’t enough reason for me to plop down $100+ on this”? Why not? In the past it only took a single “different enough to make you mad” action figure to not make us bat an eyelash and repurchase something. Now Hasbro, for the first time in years, includes an all-new figure into an exclusive and we snub our noses at it? Again, this isn’t judgment. It’s just my own wonderment. Why should Hasbro waste their time on the 3.75” line when these are all the comments we make about the products. Quality is one thing. And perhaps they made need some fresh and new ideas for exclusives, but Jabba’s Rancor Pit is gorgeous. It should be an all around hit.

There is no doubt Hasbro needs to refocus their mission in the Star Wars line, but maybe we need to look into the mirror too. That’s all I am suggesting.

So I ask you, have we lost our passion? Is that a big part of our apathy towards collecting 3.75” figures? Surely we can’t be pointing the figure just at Hasbro, can we?


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