During SDCC I had the opportunity to have a discussion with Derryl DePriest (DD) and Jeff Labovitz (JL) of Hasbro’s Star Wars team. Enjoy my conversation with them below.
ATB: Let’s start off with the Black series. I have my Boba Fett and he looks great. In a year how many waves are planned? 3-4 waves a year?
DP: Yes, we know fans want to find things periodically through the year, not just in one shot. The idea is, if we do four waves a year, spread out every three months or so..
JL: 3 or 4 figures a wave
DP: Yea, roughly 16 figures a year.
JL: At Celebration, just a week from now, we’ll show the next wave. They just keep coming.
ATB: While this is a bit out of your control, is work being done with retails to prevent wave 1 from stockpiling?
JL: Yea, we’re managing volume very carefully. We think demand will be really high on these and they’ll sell through. We’ll be able to replenish and get newness out there. We’re taking a very careful approach to every character we choose, to make sure they’re going to move and they are in high demand. We’re making sure we’re only picking ones that are core, popular figures that are ripped straight from the movie scenes.
ATB: Any chance for build-a-figure?
DP & JL: Ummm…no.
DP: With Black Series the focus is on the premium figure and we know all of our efforts are going to that. The build-a-figure, while a cool mechanic, we don’t feel that the price point is right and we just want to make them figures themselves the main appeal.
ATB: Mission series. I got a the Vader pack and…I love it. I got it out of the package and it was like I was 8 years ago.
JL: They’re great figures, high quality, just like the figures we grew up with. They’re made to be played with. When you talk to kids, they’re not looking for 12, 14 points of articulation…they want something that’s easy to play with and highly collectible. They want to get them all…
ATB: Given their vintage stylings, any chance of them on vintage cards?
DP: No plans. I think our modern vintage has set a standard for, basically, what the black series stands for. A premium version of the character – that’s what we’ve built it to. We’ve got an agreement with Lucasfilm that vintage will remain on hiatus, except for vehicles, for a lengthy period of time. So there’s no plan to return to vintage, and I don’t think it would be the right move to put those figures on vintage card.
ATB: When I was a kid, 5 points was more than enough for me to have a ton of fun.
DP: You never noticed all the other articulation was missing. They sit in a vehicle, raise their weapons, fight…
JL: …easy to pose out…
DP:…swing across the Death Star chasm, that’s all you need!
JL: We love that we’ve made it collectible again. So kids are going to buy deep and that’s what we want.
ATB: I just redid my display and fell back in love with my figures…and you guys have done some incredible toys over the years…what are some of your favorites?
ATB: I know, it’s like picking a favorite child…
DP: Well, I’m huge fan of 3 3/4 so finally seeing the updated Slave I. Every since we released the first version, we’ve wanted to bring out the Original Trilogy one. So to me, this is fantastic.
JL: I’m a vehicle guy, those are my favorites.
DP: Seeing 6″ in Star Wars for the first time is a thrill too. It’s a whole new era. We did this for all those fans who have said, “There’s 2000 3 3/4″ figures, there’s too much to start. Where do I start?” Starting over with an amazing toy that looks so premium? It’s a great way for fans to re-engage. We know there’s a lot of guys who have said “I’m out. I can’t do it, it’s too expensive.” Here’s a way to start over, and they’re awesome.
ATB: Removeable helmet Vader in the Black series?
JL: Not in the plan yet. You won’t see us repeating alot of characters in the Black Series except when there’s a really meaningful distinction. And a removeable helmet would be a really interesting one.
DP: It would be.
ATB: Thank you for the time!
JL: You’re welcome, it’s been great talking to you.