Jason Ward Talks Star Wars Toys With Hasbro – Exclusive SDCC Interview

As we close out our SDCC coverage, we wanted to make sure to post this fun and informative conversation between Making Star Wars’ editor-in-chief, Jason Ward and the folks from the Star Wars end of Hasbro toys in San Diego.

Enjoy this exclusive interview with Hasbro!

Jason Ward, MakingStarWars.net (JW): We’re here at the Hasbro Booth at San Diego Comic Con with Joe Ninivaggi (JN) and Steve Evans (SE)… So, today, number one, I want to say that looks beautiful–the display that you guys have and what you are putting out. That Maz Kanata–that is rad. I mean, I am a little bit of a jaded old man, some things don’t get me as excited as they used to, but that Maz Kanata, I was like, “I need that.” I am going to get that. But I have a bunch of questions that we put together from the hard cores–the hardcores from the Making Star Wars network. Corey–do you guys know Corey? Up front, he’s like, “Those dioramas are beautiful. He’s all, “When you guys gonna sell me that?”

Joe Ninivaggi, Hasbro: That’s available now for $150,000 [Laughs].

JW: That’s what I told him, “It’s not gonna happen dude. You’re going to have to go to the craft store and start building it yourself.”

JN: We’ve got a ton of feedback since we unveiled this, so we’ve already been starting to talk about diorama-type elements–things like that–that we can sell in the future to help kind of round out the Black Series world. That feedback really helps, and I think you may very well see something soon.

Steve Evans, Hasbro: We see a lot on Instagram of people who make up these dioramas, and do the photography and put it out there. And they’re amazing, and really inspiring to us. So, the idea of at least adding, like, props with figures more, especially in exclusives, we did that with Thrawn–the one at San Diego here. To vignettes, to dioramas, to playsets, it’s about scale and allowing people to build out their world for themselves, whether they are putting it out on a shelf or whether they are playing with it or whether they’re taking amazing photographs and putting them on Instagram. So that’s a really good piece of market research.

JN: Absolutely.

SE: Nearly free.

JN: Nearly.

JW: [Laughing] Okay, they want to know, with the release of Han Solo in May, is there going to be a big presence of Han Solo stuff coming from the film, with it coming so close to The Last Jedi?

JN: You’ll have to wait and see.

JW: I knew that was going to be the answer.

JN: We’ll do toys for the new movie, but ah…

JW: I’m just trying to get that guy on Reddit who’s like, “Why didn’t they ask that?” You know, so I’m just trying to give him his day.

JN: We’re going to have to see. We’re focused on The Last Jedi right now; we’re excited about Force Friday, too. And what comes beyond that, you’ll know soon enough.

SE: We put as much effort into every movie.

JN: For sure.

SE: So, yeah, there’ll be stuff of course.

JW: Now that Rebels is winding down, will we have any more Rebels stuff coming from the final season?

SE: Yes, I think we talked about that earlier. You know, Rebels, nothing ever goes away in Star Wars. Rebels is wrapping up, but we know we still have some characters to do. I’m sure we’ll get around to them. It’s not a question of, “Right, that’s finished don’t want to do anything like that.”

JW: Yeah, that Forces of Destiny doll is beautiful.

SE: What we do, we obviously support the latest entertainment, which we should, but we always pepper in classic and prequels and all that kind of stuff. And Rebels falls within that. So, just because it’s ending on TV, it hasn’t gone away. Actually, it becomes more classic.

Rey

JN: Yeah, I mean we just revealed Captain Rex, and The Clone Wars has been gone for quite some time.

JW: Nice. Okay, everybody wants to know about Rebels Fenn Rau; that’s what we get asked about a lot. Will he be available, potentially?

JN: He did ship, and we did not get sufficient quantity out there. We’re definitely aware of that, we’ve heard that loud and clear. We’re working on the way to get him out again in the near future. It’s probably going to take us some time, but we’re probably going to have to re-pack him because we know that a lot of people want him and haven’t been able to get him.

JW: Right. Will you guys be making waves for the 40th Anniversary, like Greedo and Ponda Baba? Or will those figures primarily be a 2017 kind of gig for the 40th?

SE: So, the 40th anniversary, that 14–the 12 regulars and the two exclusives–that’s kind of it for the 40th anniversary. We’re talking about what else should we do. Should we do it all the time? Should we only do it on anniversaries? Do we do it as a small little collectible line? What I do like is that people have [said], “I’ve got it. I’ve done it. I’ve completed it.” So that’s interesting. I’m not saying we’re going to do them all the time. And I’m also not saying that we’re not ever going to do them. It’s just about finding the right [balance]. You don’t want to oversaturate that, and just trying to keep it special. The response has been fabulous.

JW: Nostalgia, man.

SE: Why would we not find some way of doing it sometime, somewhere.

JW: Can you speak on how many waves we might have on six-inch and 3.25 figures for Force Friday?

JN: For Force Friday specifically?

JW: On Force Friday.

SE: No.

JN: No.

[Laughter]

JW: Okay, fair enough.

JW: The rathtar and Bala Tik look incredible. Are you going to continue with the beast figures in the future?

SE: Oh yes. I love the beasts. I mean, that rathtar–my personal favorite when I was a kid was the split-stomach tauntaun–and so when we saw the rathtar we were developing toys at the same time as the movie, and we were like, “I wonder what that’s going to be like?” And then when we saw it we were like, “Yeah we could do that. We could make it squishy and shove the guy inside.” So, yeah, creatures we love, and we’ve done some research with kids, and they’re loving them too. Even if they don’t know who they are, they understand creatures. They understand chomping and fighting. And arms coming off.

JW: We were all kids, and we remember.

SE: I’m desperately looking to do more creatures.

JW: Nice. Will there be more waves of Forces of Destiny past wave two at this point? Or is it a wait and see situation?

Rathtar

JN: It’ll be wait and see. I mean, we revealed Padme today, it’s going to keep going. It’s ongoing, and we have our launch coming Aug. 1st, and there’ll definitely be more news pretty soon on it. We’re excited about it. It’s got an amazing response so far.

JW: My daughter is almost three, and she’s interested. She watched the YouTube videos. I was like, “Look at these.” She’s like, “Oh yeah, I want Rey.”

JN: I have a six-year-old son who was in Hasbro the other day, and he’s like, “That right there. I’m getting those.” I was like, “Okay.”

JW: Wicket. The flocked Wicket. I’m all about it now.

JN: Ewoks. Big comeback, man.

JW: Will Bodhi and Saw make it into the Black Series six-inch line? Since those are two of the main missing dudes from Rogue One?

JN: It’s interesting. Common conversation. When we’re making product at the same time as the movies–Rogue One is a great example, where there’s a whole raft of characters within a crew, gang and it’s like, “Who’s going to be prominent? Which one should we do? Which one don’t we do? Which one is at the forefront? Who’s in the background?” And we kind of hedge our bets, really. So, Bodhi was kind of an unusual character for us. He kind of stood out, had a couple of really cool moments. There are no plans to do him at the moment; we’re not announcing anything. But again, it never ends, and we can always go back to do him. Saw is more of challenge in terms of the amount of plastic and bulk. And getting him into the standard $19.99 is tricky. But we’re always trying to find new ways of bringing more challenging figures regarding size and bulk–so never say never.

JW: To make it more complicated, can we get him with hair and without?

[Laughter]

SE: That’d be a great exclusive.

JW: Can you tell us a little more about the new facial technology you’re using for the upcoming 2018 figures such as Rey?

40th Anniversary Series

SE: This is one where we hear feedback from fans. They’re like, “Make sure the paint is better and we want better stuff on the face.” And we agree. And we actually stick up in the studio images from customizers. And I go, “We’ve got to get there. How to do we get there without making it more expensive. So, let’s start looking at that.” We eventually worked out a good way of taking high-res images whether it’s Daisy Ridley–and mapping it straight onto the sculpt itself and getting a printing technique. There you go. I’m not going to get too deep on the technology behind it, but I’m really pleased–we’re still developing, we’re still fine tuning but [as of] spring 2018 we’ll start rolling it out, and that will eventually become… our standard for the Black Series.”

JW: It’s a good standard.

JW: Corey’s final question that he wanted me to ask was, “Will you make a Bendu?” But I want to one-up it and say when you make the Snoke, can you make it three porgs stacked up inside of a robe? And then when you open it up it’s just three little porgs? Would you do that for me?

JN: For you, we will. Absolutely. [Laughter] Take that to the bank.

SE: I like creatures but… that’s a big creature!

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