TheForce.Net's Steve Dunk was able to visit briefly with two members of Hasbro's Star Wars team, Eric Franer, and Steve Gilbert.
Eric Franer Ė "Iíve been working on Star Wars for about four years now, and been working on The Vintage Collection for about a year and a half. Iíve been mainly focusing on the vintage collection. Itís a dream gig for me and difficult to complain."
Steve Gilbert Ė "Iíve been at Hasbro for about four years now, actually starting with pre-school, then switched over to Forces of Destiny when that launched, and dove into Star Wars after that. Iíve been a fan since I was a kid so itís just really cool to work on one of those brands that spans across so many generations, remains relevant and more popular than ever."
Now, on to the questions:
Q: Can you comment on the large amount of Hasbro Star Wars products that have been appearing at closeout/discount stores across the US and UK? Many of these toys were hard to find at regular retail at the time of their initial release. Is this a retail distribution problem, or a matter of more supply than demand?
A: Steve Gilbert Ė Itís not necessarily an issue of supply and demand. We work hand in hand with our retailers and distributors in terms of drafting the most amount of product that we can get out. I think what ends up happening is certain times we ship product and maybe retailers take on too much or we over-ship and sometimes it just doesnít necessarily sell through at the rates we hope. Their space at their distribution centers is important to them so they do what they must do. Itís always an evolving equation especially as new entities and new products come out.
Q: The 3/4" 5POA (points of articulation) assortment has been discontinued. How was this decision reached?
A: Steve Gilbert - We had 3.75Ē 5POA figures and now we are switching over to a 5-inch scale. So, 5-inch scale will exist as a more kid oriented line 6-inch will still be our collector line, and then we still have our vintage and retro collection which is 3.75Ē statements. There are no plans for any new product for the 3.75Ē 5POA assortment.
Q: With the absence of the 5POA assortment, will we begin to see background-character aliens and droids in the Vintage Collection, or will it be reserved for main characters and fan favorites?
A: Eric Franer Ė For the vintage collection, we definitely still want to go explore into those more tertiary characters, thatís something we definitely want to look into. As we start to get into the new entertainment, the focus will definitely be on the main characters, the heavy hitters at first. As we start to get away from the new entertainment, weíll be taking a close look at the more tertiary characters especially as we look into the original 92, thereís still some of those that are missing. Weíre looking at everyone and everything but the main characters from the new material will be the focus.
Q: For the Black Series, will we see more figures with extra shoulder articulation like the Sith Trooper?
A: Eric Franer - In terms of the Black Series articulation, thatís something we definitely want to do with the figures moving forward, especially with the ones where it makes sense. Having that kind of premium and higher quality articulation makes a lot of sense.
Anywhere we can innovate on articulation that results in a better articulating character we are definitely going to do. With the Sith Trooper in particular, that was kind of us testing the waters with it, seeing what works and what doesnít, and how we can apply that in the future.
Q: Will the Retro Collection expand to vehicles?
A: Steve Gilbert Ė In terms of the retro collection, we saw great success in that with the figures we launched and with the inclusion of the game, being able to include the figure in the game. We saw the success of that so weíre looking to build on that in the future, right now there are no plans for vehicles but it would be a great direction to take it, and weíre taking that back to the team.
Q: There are a few prominent members missing from their respective crews in The Black Series: Zeb from Rebels, and Bodhi from Rogue One. Can we expect to see them eventually or are they in limbo?
A: Eric Franer Ė Thatís not something we can really comment on right now, but we know those two characters in particular are requested pretty heavily. Those two are mentioned at every single panel we attend, Zeb in particular, so itís definitely something we are very aware of, the demand for those characters.
As we start to revisit all the other characters down the road, thatís definitely something we are looking at as character selects, but again, canít really comment on it too much at this time.
Q: Would Hasbro consider selling The Black Series accessory packs via HasbroPulse, consisting of alternate heads (or improved photo real heads of old releases), hands, or weapons?
A: Steve Gilbert Ė HasbroPulse is kind of new for everybody in terms how weíve been able to launch Has-Lab and theyíve been doing more initiatives through there.
Weíre kind of working out through right now what the HasbroPulse vision is going forward; obviously we have a vested interest there because itís internal, and we like to be able to do things there that we canít do in traditional retails stores.
There are no direct plans right now for anything along those lines but we are exploring whatís next for us with HasbroPulse.
Q: Will we ever see a sort of dual-purpose Black Series figure, such as an Imperial Disguise Jyn Erso? In addition to doubling as an Imperial Ground Crew army-builder, adding photo real face deco would allow the head to be used to improve existing Jyn figures.
A: Eric Franer Ė We know thereís a lot of love for Rogue One, and we would love to be able to revisit a lot of those characters. We know that a lot of that movie didnít get a whole lot of support when it first came out, especially coming off the success of Episode VII, then being book-ended immediately by Episode VIII.
Itís definitely something weíd like to revisit and look at again, itís a definite possibility. But at the moment we donít have too much going on, but weíre bringing back to the team and suggesting it as a possibility.
We'd like to thank Eric and Steve for taking the time to talk to us.