Poe’s Point > Anecdotal evidence proves Star Wars Black 6″ is doing great!

greedo2

Phil Reed of Battlegrip has another post about how he’s seeing Leia and Greedo pegwarming – based on store visits – and therefore Hasbro needs to “save this line before the mass retailers grow tired of your peg warmers and ditch the entire line.” This topic has become one of friendly argument between us, so I felt compelled to respond.

First off, allow me to counteract his anecdotal evidence with the lone Greedo I found at a Toys R Us. Clearly this proves the line is doing great!

Look, obviously Leia and Greedo are pegwarming. But I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture. Collectors were worried about Luke and R2D2 pegwarming a few months ago. Then the holidays turned over the entire wave. Is it really that surprising that the less-popular figures from the second wave are pegwarming a month later? The toy-buying binge of the holidays inevitably gives way to a lull – even among adult collectors, who have credit card bills to pay off. That may be why the rumored Hasbro list states that wave three is scheduled for February through May – to let the post-holiday lull settle before (according to the list) we get two waves over two months in June and July. (I suspect the Chinese New Year manufacturing delay is also a big part of the reason for the Feb-May gap as well.)

Of course, I do think both Greedo and Leia could have been improved to make them more appealing; Greedo needed another accessory, while Leia needed better accessories and a better head sculpt and paint work on the face. Hopefully Hasbro will take the right lessons from this.

I also suspect SWB6″, just like Marvel Legends and DCUC before it, will start out with big buys from retailers – with a few initial waves featuring some memorable pegwarmers (Etrigan anyone?) – before the production numbers go down a bit, at which point the figures will sell through better. That’s where Marvel Legends is at now.* But if we get as many unique SWB6″ figures as we did for DCUC and Marvel Legends – and I’m talking only the Hasbro era of Marvel Legends – I’ll be satisfied.

I’m not saying Phil doesn’t have a point regarding Hasbro having changes to make regarding case assortments and so forth. But his concerns that Leia and Greedo will cause retailer abandonment of the line are, I think, premature. There was plenty of doom and gloom predicted for Marvel Legends when 50,000 Constrictors were choking (pun intended) the toy aisles. But evidently retailers didn’t understand the significance, because those Constrictors didn’t discourage Toys R Us or Target from ordering the new Captain America or Amazing Spider-man ML waves.

But those waves are tied to movies, you say? Movies like the one Star Wars is getting next year? Lest we forget, SWB6″ only has to make it through 2014 before it starts getting a lot of extra hype and visibility from the new movie. Based on what we’re seeing in terms of development and marketing for Star Wars Rebels, the new caretakers of the franchise seem to be focusing heavily on the original trilogy, and that can only help SWB6″. And I’m expecting either a cinematic re-release of the original trilogy or perhaps the long-awaited non-Special Edition release on Blu-ray to help build excitement for Episode VII.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone at Hasbro is panicking right now. Maybe Hasbro will pull the plug on SWB6″ as a failed experiment by the end of the year. But I don’t think so. Hasbro has spent a lot of time and money marketing this line already. They made a splash with the SDCC launch, in the press and among collectors. The Boba Fett and Sandtrooper figures are massively popular. Plans are in place for a 6″ Speeder Bike and possibly a Jabba. The Episode VII hype is just beginning.

If anything “worries” me, it’s the new tack of offering four-figure waves but carrying forward one figure per wave. That’s a recipe for pegwarming – except for certain characters. If they’re going to carry forward a figure, why not the army builders? Hell, put a stormtrooper in every damned wave and you’ll sell them all. Carrying forward prequel Kenobi is a particularly baffling decision - but I still don’t think it will spell doom for the line. I suspect prequel Kenobi may prove more popular (especially with children) than collectors realize. And carrying forward Chewbacca is far less troubling – everyone loves Chewbacca, so as long as the figure doesn’t suck, it should be fine.

In the interests of full disclosure, yeah, obviously I’m a total mark for this line. I feel like I have a dog in this fight. It’s the line I’ve wanted for over a decade, and now that it’s here, I want it to succeed – or at least get me all my favorite characters. But I don’t think this post is just an exercise in trying to delude myself into thinking nothing’s wrong. I think the line is in better shape than some pegwarming Greedos and Leias might lead one to believe.

*As for DCUC, I’d argue that line did about as well as it possibly could. They got through all the Super Powers characters (I think? most of them, anyway), plus tons of other obscure characters and costume variations. Diehard collectors of the line can obsess over the omissions, but overall that line did quite well for a modern 6″ toy line. And now DC Collectibles seems to be picking up the slack by offering more articulation, so 6″ realistically-sculpted DC superhero action figures aren’t gone from the market.

Comments now closed (22)

  • Great write-up and I totally agree. The line is just getting started-Hasbro hasnt even brought out the big guns yet. On a somewhat related note,have you gotten a chance to see if those H-Hanger Gundam playsets work for displaying the Star Wars Black figures? ‘Cause If they do I am prepared to lay down some serious $$$$.

  • I don't know if I'd really say they're pegwarming. Toys aren't like movies or video games, there isn't always a mad rush to buy them all at some specified release date. Furthermore, it's pretty much impossible for me to find anything BUT Greedo and Leia (a few Lukes here and there). I saw a few Sandtroopers and R2s when the line first hit stores but both of them have been long gone and I've never seen Han or Fett in an actual store.

    I think the aftermarket prices of Fett and the Sandtrooper alone should be enough to show that there's clearly a lot of demand for this line, at least at the moment. I suspect as long as Hasbro sticks to the mix of A and B listers they've got going on right now the line will be fine for a long time.

    Also, if Fett is any indication, Vader is going to be harder to find than a good Harrison Ford face sculpt.

  • The only one I've really seen pegwarming is Leia. And I blamed it on her awful joints and too-visible articulation.

  • I was at Minicon in Charlotte last weekend and was surprised to find that other than Boba Fett and The Sandtrooper, I could have gotten all of these figures for retail price or maybe even a little cheaper. I'm not sure what that says: when even convention dealers don't mark 3/4 of the figure up at least a dollar, are we in trouble? Who knows? Maybe they're buying in bulk somehow or scored them through Amazon sales?

    The only thing that really worries me is the carry overs and the fact that Wal-Mart doesn't carry these guys. Then again, Wal-Mart doesn't carry much these days except Superman movie stuff, TMNT, and Bakugan.

    • The retail market has kind of splintered though, hasn't it? Target and Walmart get exclusives of various lines and then don't carry other ones. I don't know how much I'd read into that, other than to point out that Walmart has never really tried to cater to adult collectors (and the few times they've tried, they've consistently under-ordered the product – DCUC Wave 5 or 6" Avengers, anyone?).

      Target has done a somewhat better job with collectors.

      I'm not sure how much I'd read into the convention dealers. Amazon had a few really, really cheap sales in December – most of wave 1 was selling for $10 apiece at one point.

      • I do agree with you that pegwarmers so early in the line doesn't spell it's doom (this IS Star Wars after all, and like you mentioned it will at least have legs through 2016) these con prices and amazon discounts do spell, at laest to some degree, trouble. What they betray is a lack of demand.

        Is it catastrophic lack of demand? Probably not, but certainly this isn't the gangbusters/slam dunk many expected it to be. Like you say there are enough nerds to keep the line afloat for the next 2 years until Disney can turn the hype to 11, but Hasbro is got to pick up their game too. Case mixes have ALWAYS been their downfall and I think that's their main risk here – pulling forward "probably" rather than "definitely" selling figures. After all, haven't they been touting this line as entirely collector-driven since day 1?

  • I'd argue more than anything you said about Leia, she needed to be ANH Leia- all the other OT figures except Boba Fett are ANH-era. If any of them were ROTJ, I would have considered her despite my personal distaste for the Slave Leia design and its memetic proliferation.

  • I'm loving this line (finally put together a deal with a swell guy at He-Man.org for a Boba at a more than fair price today!). I am nonplussed about the assortment of characters, though I concur that carry-forwards should stem from army-builders or super-popular characters (Fett, Vader, etc.). I'm eager for lots of things, but I also agree that the focus should be on A and B-Listers. (I'll happily plunk down my cash for a 6" scale Jar Jar Binks, though; I admit that without hesitation!) I do wish the first Leia had been ANH, Endor Battle Poncho, or, my personal favorite: Boushh Disguise.)

  • See, this is how blogging should work. Thanks, Poe!

    In the Austin area, in a single day, I could go out and buy ten Leia and ten Greedo figures. Zero Boba Fetts. Maybe two to three Han Solos.

    I'm in Dallas this morning. If I get time I'll try to stop at a few stores on my drive back to Austin and see what I can find on the various shelves.

  • "Hell, put a stormtrooper in every damned wave and you’ll sell them all."

    YES! And, to make it more fun, pack variant weapons, rank insignia, and even small probe droids, mouse droids, and stuff in as different accessories in each wave.

    I know I'd buy them.

  • I live outside Chicago and at the 10 big retail stores i frequent I have seen 1 R2 figure once back in November. Other than that I have never seen a SWB6" in the wild, had to get my Maul on Amazon.

    I think people confuse that they live in small areas with less collectors as somehow meaning the line isn't doing well everywhere.

    Even the Amazon price slashing is meaningless. Amazon slashed the prices on nearly all their toys right before XMas, because they wanted to get all of them out of their warehouse during the busy toy season, even if that meant selling them for cost. It wasn't just SWB6". The Batman 66 figures were going for what, 4.99?

    • I got a giant $80 Barbie camper for my daughters at $10 shipped off Amazon right before Christmas. I'm pretty sure Barbie isn't in trouble.

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  • Here in Spain, this line is very difficult to find at retail. I've never seen more than three figures in a shop at a time. I've only seen one Han and one Boba, both at a comic shop and around 60 euros a piece (US$80 more or less!) and since Christmas several shops only have Maul, Greedo, and Leia at around 40 euros each (US$54.) In general 6" figures like DCUC or ML are impossible to find at retail and are usually 30 euros or more a piece and are heavily, heavily scalped. NECA stuff like Predator and such are much easier to find (and more in line with their US prices more or less) but SWB is most definitely a luxury buy, and you're screwed if you want to pay Target/TRU prices. It just ain't happening here, big box stores or comic shops only order one case of SWB (if that) and if you miss it, you miss it. The market here is very different; shops just won't order another case if more than 2 figures pegwarm, they just can't afford to keep buying cases if only 80% of the toys in there sell. For example the TRU here has racks of 2008-09 3.75" Star Wars pegwarmers, they never reordered because the ones they had didn't sell. If more than one figure in a case sits for more than two weeks, they don't order more or a Wave 2 or whatever. And the pegwarmers sit for years and years, and years… it's just the way stores operate here. I doubt I'll ever see anything beyond wave 3 or 4 here, if anything- it's popular, but only certain figures, and not enough to warrant the overhead of housing tons of Leias and Greedos.

  • I think you're probably right about SWB6" being safe for a while. That said, I wonder how many cases that store sold through to be left with that lone Greedo. Around here (NYC), the couple outer borough TRUs I check fairly often have slim pickings now, too – but then, they never had many to begin with (only a case or two at a time). The one Target that I know got in multiple cases in is still sitting on a few Hans and many Greedos and Leias. They had been scattered around the action figure aisle until the reset, when they pulled most of them to the stock room and just left two pegs worth in the aisle.

    And then there's the sad case of the Times Square Toys R Us. They had around 250 of them, as of a couple days ago. Probably still do, because it has been like that for weeks. Or maybe months by now. At any rate, it's been a while. I got curious the other night, and did a quick calculation. Well over 200; One Luke, one Han, and the rest were all Leia and Greedo, split about evenly.

  • The Targets and Toys R Us stores I go to have some shelf warmers, but it's a mixed bag. One Target has 10 Greedos and 1 Slave Leia that have been warming for a while. The TRU almost next to it has nothing and is sold out of all SWB6. The other Target has 5 Greedos and 3 Leias. The other TRU has 4 Luke Pilots and 4 R2s that have been warming for a while. All these stores are within a fairly close radius, so it's interesting to see the differences in their SWB6 warmer stock.

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