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Costume Contumely – Toy Fair ’10: The Force Is NOT With Hasbro

Toy Fair LogoFor me, Toy Fair is the second biggest holiday of the year. Right after San Diego Comic Con and just ahead of Black Friday. Christmas runs a distant fourth. This year as I sat at home taking in the onslaught of news and images via twelve browsers, each one displaying a different website (Thank god for President’s Day!), my intention was to write a brief “round-up” for the patrons of the Fwoosh. But with so many disappointments at every turn, it was just too depressing. I mean, what does it say about a Toy Fair when the most promising new products shown are from Shocker Toys? I’m not taking credit for their upcoming Blue Beetle figure, but it does feel like a strange coincidence, coming so soon after my article. I’m told that the figures pictured were only mock-ups, and will use different bodies in production. I shall watch this Blue Beetle’s progress with great interest.

Yes, I know—everyone loves NECA’s Jonah Hex movie toys. They’re still movie toys though. Yes, I know fake “Commie-Bucky” is coming out in TWO different Hasbro scales. Whoop. Di. Doo. Yes, I saw the Galactus that is so ‘fully poseable’ that he can’t even sit. And yes, I know that Seth Green is apparently now an associate brand manager at Mattel. All of these things (and many more) cause me to taste the bile churning from my gut. There is one thing, however, that aggravates my sciatica like nothing else, and that’s what I’d like to focus on today. Let’s talk Star Wars.
Yoda

As I watched the video of Hasbro’s Star Wars presentation on YouTube, I had a growing sense of anticipation. Line manager Darryl Depriest was building to a big announcement. He started talking about a certain “holy grail” figure; one that was always promised and never delivered. I knew exactly where he was going with this. I screamed an excited, “Yesssss!” at my laptop, pumping my fist with gusto. They were finally going set things right. They were finally going to make him. After all these years.

We were finally going to get the moisture farmer from Wuhrer’s cantina.

And then my hopes were crushed. Depriest revealed…mail-away Boba Fett with rocket firing backpack.

My guttural “Nooooo!” was even louder than my previous exclamation, prompting my wife to rush in and ask what had happened. “Oh nothing,” I replied, “other than Hasbro killing the Star Wars line.”

You see I have a Boba Fett action figure already. In fact I have many. Eleven at last count. What I don’t have is this man:

Moisture Farmer

He is a Tatooine moisture farmer, visiting Wuhrer’s Cantina in Mos Eisley.

[Note: He is NOT Ariq Joanson. If I hear some noob call him that one more time, I swear I will spit. Yes, Ariq Joanson is a moisture farmer in the cantina when Luke and Ben come in, but he is a DIFFERENT moisture farmer. In the story “Drawing the Maps of Peace”, Joanson clearly states that he is “in a dark corner” of the cantina and then begins to walk over to Momaw Nadon. THIS farmer, however, is at the bar next to the Tonnika sisters the entire time. But don’t take my word for it; the Lucasfilm Holocron itself confirms that this is not Joanson. So can we PLEASE put this to rest now?]
All of you people whining that you don’t have a Jim Lee version of Jean Grey in Marvel Legends or a DC Direct Mr. Terrific; you don’t even know the meaning of an “incomplete set”. I’ve been trying to complete my cantina display for over 30 years! I have reconciled myself to the fact that I will probably never have figures of the Tonnika sisters, due to issues with likeness rights, but they aren’t quite as important . As space prostitutes, I always thought they were a bit out of place in a PG movie anyway. The moisture farmer, however, is crucial.

The fact that he is clearly visible in the film ought to be enough to put him right at the very top of Hasbro’s ‘to do’ list, but there is much more to recommend him than that. Much more.

When Wuhrer shouts to Luke that the bar doesn’t serve droids, Luke meekly complies and makes the droids wait outside. But what if Luke had protested? What if he had said, “Now listen here—these droids are with me. Why can’t they come in? That’s discrimination!” It wouldn’t have been out of character. Luke is very callow and petulant at this point in his character development. What would have happened then? There would have been a commotion and a confrontation. Ben would have tried to calm things, but with tempers flaring, his Jedi mind tricks probably wouldn’t have worked. Luke and Ben would have been thrown out of the cantina and never met Han Solo. They would probably never have made it to Alderraan in time to be captured by the Death Star. The rebellion never would have received the technical readouts in R2-D2. The Dark Side would have grown even more powerful.

But Luke didn’t protest. Why? Because of the reactions of the patrons. It wasn’t merely the bartender Luke was confronting, it was the solidarity of reproach that he felt from everyone in the bar that caused him to back down and not cause a fuss. And who led that reaction? As you can clearly see, the moisture farmer is the first to react to what’s going on.

leaning in

While some patrons don’t even notice Luke at first, the farmer leans sharply in to see what’s going on. Others quickly follow suit. Then the farmer registers a clear look of incredulity and concern over the situation.

hmph

This too is picked up by the patrons and echoed throughout the cantina. Luke is cowed. The rebellion is saved.

But we’re not getting a figure of the moisture farmer. Nope. My cantina display will remain a veritable pile of trash, for missing this essential element. In classic toy company tradition, Hasbro has passed over a highly fan-demanded character- a character that plays a vital role in the survival of the rebellion and the defeat of the Emperor. They have passed on him in favor of re-hashing a character that everyone already has multiples versions of, out of nothing more than a kitschy play to our nostalgia. As far as I’m concerned, Hasbro can take their rocket firing Boba Fett and choke on it.

Boba Fail

Cliff
(May the Force be with you)

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18 thoughts on “Costume Contumely – Toy Fair ’10: The Force Is NOT With Hasbro

  1. Speaking of fett, anyone checking out the Clone Wars series. I’m not, since its just rehashing what we’ve seen for about 7 years now. Anyways, Fett makes an appearance in this week’s episode in all his Daniel Logan animated child-actor glory, circa 2001 of course.

  2. Yes, truly you have made me seen the error of my ways with your well-thought out arguments and industry knowledge.

    Oh wait, no, all you did was insult me.

    No, I don’t work for Hasbro, but even the most cursory of internet searches can lead you to find financial evidence (in the form of an easy to digest graph) that Hasbro’s profits have been going nowhere but up.

    http://www.google.com/finance?q=hasbro

    Now if you truly believe that this toy company’s decision to make the toys they know will sell and choose not to pander to the smallest and hardest to please of their demographics will somehow lead to their financial ruin, I would recommend you attempt to recall Mattel’s early attempts to do exactly that with Masters of the Universe, which was a financial disaster. Sure, collectors loved them, but they didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. Now why is that?

  3. Should we take your lack of reply and your smug sense of entitlement as an admission that you, in fact, work for Hasbro? Yeah, go fornicate with yourself, “3!”. Marvel Universe figures are garbage. Just like the Hasbro incarnation of Marvel Legends (i.e., Nemesis series Punisher).

  4. Anecdotal evidence means close to nothing in gauging the market for any kind of goods industry. The amount of self-entitlement present in web-based toy collector communities is truly staggering, but the fact remains that your complaints are literally nothing new in the face of the market, and yet, to paraphrase Galileo, “it still moves.”

  5. How would you know who makes up “probably less than 10% of Hasbro’s market share”? Those of us who collect M.L. and D.C.U.C. don’t have children? We don’t buy our kids toys as well as ourselves? My kids don’t care in the least about comics or comic figures. Neither do their friends or thie friends’ siblings. The only people I know who buy anything comic figure related are over the age of 20. And if those of us purchasing Marvel toys make up less than 10% of Hasbro’s market share then maybe they should stop making them and focus on something like Avatar and let someone who actually gives a damn produce Marvel and Star Wars toys. As for how you know “who makes up probably less than 10% of Hasbro’s market share”, please tell me you work for Hasbro so I know, finally, just exactly how Hasbro feels about us so my husband and I can stop buying your products and support companies that aren’t comprised of total a#$holes who are more concerned with the bottom line than listening to their customers.

  6. @Nena
    The “People who enthusiastically hunt down and purchase the products that you company has been producing for the past 3 years” make up probably less than 10% of Hasbro’s market share. You can continue to ignore basic economics for what good it’ll do you, but the fact remains that “making and selling toys for God’s sake” is a profitable business because Hasbro knows their market extremely well: children and their parents.

  7. @3!
    You’re right! People who enthusiastically hunt down and purchase the products that you company has been producing for the past 3 years are certainly not the people you want to appease in any way. That’s just crazy.

    Taking over a line that Toy Biz has been cranking out since 2002 and then quietly killing it is B.S. and it’s going to piss people off. Especially when you replace it with a line of hideously disfigured troll babies with their hands needlessly stuck in permanent “thwip” poses.

    “Target demographic”. Did you really just bust that shite out? We’re talking about making and selling toys for God’s sake. Leave your Wall St. fat-cat speak at the fun house door, Spanky.

  8. Jackson, you’re joking, right? You’re not Hasbro’s target demographic in any way, and they’re laughing all the way to the bank if their last quarter profits are any indication.

  9. Man, screw this booze hound farmer guy.

    Where’s my 4-inch Wilford Brimley figure, Hasbro? He rescued the Ewoks. That makes him the savior of the saviors of the galaxy. And he had a stick. When he wasn’t using it to walk to where he was going to use it to whoop ass he was stirring the hell out of some big pots of oatmeal with that stick.

    Without Wilford Brimley who will beat the diabeetus out of my action figures?

  10. Woah, all the Hasbro hate!

    I have to say I think the Star wars line could do a lot better with what characters they make into toys. I’m not keen on the New Trilogy characters, so I tend not to bother with toys from those lines. I’d like more from the original Trilogy though. But please, not another Boba Fett. I don’t own one but I’ve seen enough versions from like almost every wave that gets released.

    I’ve also heard that different departments within the ‘Bro handle the different brands, so it’s the individual departments that have to start listening. Case in point is GI Joe. They actually lowered the price point on heavily accessorized, well-done figures. Now that’s just way cool. 🙂

  11. Hasbro. Are you even paying attention to your customers? Marvel. Legends. Let’s go! NOBODY wants Marvel Universe figures. Fail. Epic fail. Why is Mattel continuing to produce DC Universe Classics and selling them by the trunk load and you seem to think that nobody wants or is willing to buy Marvel Legends? Are you out of your minds? And enough with the unfair packaging. Buying Maria Hill and Sharon Carter means I now have 2 superfluous Iron Man figures? That’s just wasteful. And you have yet to complete soooo many groups in the Marevl universe in the way of the Marvel Legends line. Super hero action figures experienced a real renaissance during the Jim Lee period and we’re still waiting for the characters that comprised the super groups of the 1990s to be cast in plastic. When are we getting a Jim Lee era Jean Grey? I’ll explain this to you the way I explained it to the woman who answered the ToyBiz consumer line years ago… The Phoenix is NOT Jean Grey! It was a force of the universe posing as Jean Grey. And the movie version (since when does homely Famke Janssen look ANYTHING like Jean Grey?) and The Black Queen do NOT count. Where is 90’s X-Factor? Where is X-Force? Meltdown? Siryn? Polaris? Shatterstar? Dazzler? Strong Guy? Classic Sunfire? Stryfe, for the love of toast! You release Genis-Vell and Sentry but we get no U.S. Agent, Monica Rambeau or Starfox? And I’d rather buy an Aunt May figure than yet another suit of armor that Tony Stark never actually wore. I HOPE you don’t think you’re just “done” with the characters who are considered “legends” in the Marvel universe because you’re a far cry from being anywhere near close. And Lady Bullseye? Really? … Really!?! I’ve been into comics my whole life and I have NO idea who this character is (and if I did I doubt that I would care)! Why does she deserve to be a “Legend” and Wolfsbane does not? Does this make sense to you people? How? You have soooo much left to do with this line and you’re abandoning it to focus on that God-awful Marvel midget line. I have not and will NEVER purchase a single Marvel Universe figure no matter how many characters you release for it and so many others obviously feel the same way. You need to start paying attention to the people who buy your products before more of us just give up on you and start customizing our own action figues and cut you out of the equation completely. Stop acting like idiots!

  12. I can’t disagree more I too am a long time SW fan that doesn’t own a vintage Fett as the one from my childhood didn’t make it out of the Sarlac. I also am really happy with the return to the Vintage Carded line along with the much overdue BM AT-AT. The CW has my 7yr boy pumped for SW with the Mandalorians figures & the new CW speeder & figure packs.

    I understand some fans will be disappointed with this years Hasbro presentation, but I also understand this is a business and it’s impossible to please us all. Personally I never even heard of the Cantina patron that the author of this article is referring to. Nor do I care about not getting a 3 inch figure that looks like Dudley Moore (god rest his soul).

    One thing I do know is SW fans are a fickle bunch that like to complain a lot, which is their right, but not all of us are so negative about a toy line that was introduced from our childhood. I don’t buy everything Hasbro pushes, as some lines are pointless to me (SW Transformers), but I do see the good products Hasbro releases and that’s when the Bro gets my hard earned money…

  13. Why hasbro blows:
    1. I also have several vintage fetts, yawn another one.
    2. The new at-at is a little bigger than the 3 I already have, yawn.
    3. the vintage line re-makes figures I already have (cloud car pilot?) yawn.
    4. I hate small badly painted 8 dollar marvel characters! yawn yawn yawn!
    5. In the Fall of 2010 I will get the Valkrie legends figure I saw on the Internet in the summer of 2008.
    6. Marvel Legends? anyone?
    * The new Gi Joe stuff I actually liked!!!

  14. too funny.
    too true!
    very well written.
    i’m glad i stopped collecting so that i could be spared the same agony!
    good luck……!

  15. Okay, maybe you can explain this to me… How can Shocker produce a Blue Beetle figure? DC owns the character, and DC has a toy deal in place with Mattel. Unless somehow the rights to the Golden Age Blue Beetle somehow aren’t attached to the rest of the DC Universe properties, it doesn’t make sense to me.

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