Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 Hasbro Interview

7/16/2016

We were invited to interview Hasbro at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016. We collected questions from you and asked Steve Evans, Hasbro's Star Wars Design Director, to answer them. Thank you to Ryan Beise, co-host of the Galaxy Of Toys Podcast, for representing JediBusiness.com in London and Steve Evans for taking his time yet again to answer our questions.

You can read the transcript of the conversation below, or you can listen to TOY RUN - THE STAR WARS ACTION FIGURE CAST Episode 20 for the full un-cut interview (about an hour into the show).


Ryan Beise: Hello I am Ryan Beise, I am representing JediBusiness.com, I am here with Steve Evans from Hasbro. And Steve what exactly do you do with Hasbro?

Steve Evans: I am the Design Director for all boys toys Star Wars, so action figures, roll play lightsabers, BladeBuilders, collectible die cast.

Ryan Beise: All the fun stuff.

Steve Evans: All the good stuff, yes.

Ryan Beise: Well great thank you for being here and for having us. I have a few questions that were brought about by the Jedi Business readers for you. Will the 3 ¾ inch and 6 inch Han Solo ever be released with corrected gray hair?

Steve Evans: That’s a very good question, there are occasions where we change the paints ops, so that’s a very good question, I can’t answer right now, one of them maybe, I’d have to make a phone call to see whether that’s going to happen, but that was an interesting paint operation that wasn’t correct.

Ryan Beise: Many people wondered why he was with light brown hair, people wondered if you were afraid kids would not buy a figure with gray hair.

Steve Evans: Not, it's not so much about that, a lot of that has to do with dealing with assets and stuff and not knowing quite how he was going to look at a certain point in time, I am going to hold my hands up, it should have been much grayer.

NOTE FROM JEDIBUSINESS.COM - Steve indeed made a phone call, and a few days later at San Diego Comic Con 2016, Han Solo was on display with corrected grey hair. (The Black Series 6-inch Princess Leia was also on display with corrected paint application). Thank you Steve!

Ryan Beise: Ok, that’s good to hear. Will any of the Force Awakens harder to find figures such as like the Unmasked Kylo Ren in the 3 ¾ inch carry forward in the future?

Steve Evans: The black series 3 ¾ ?

Ryan Beise: Just the regular 3 ¾ inch.

Steve Evans: I don’t actually deal with the carry-forwards. When we mix those cases it depends on what’s selling, depends on what’s popular, it depends on what we can manufacture, but in color it is pretty safe to say there will be a Kylo Ren in the line whether it is a new figure or re-waved figure.

Ryan Beise: I have to admit the unmasked one I have not seen until I came here to the UK. The rest of the wave I have never seen in the United States, I saw the Nien Nunb in Canada and the Stormtrooper here in the UK as well. The rest I have not seen in the United States.

Steve Evans: You need to come to my local target, we have it there!

Ryan Beise: Figures yeah. Will we continue to see Rebels figures going forward in the 3 ¾ line?

Steve Evans: We have plans for Rebels figures, yes.

Ryan Beise: Excellent. I have several here Tseebo, Task Master Grint, Loath-cat…

Steve Evans: The Loath-cat? [laughs] Definitely plans for Rebels figures moving forward. Is the Rebels season 3 panel today?

Ryan Beise: There is a panel today. You guys have done a great job with the fans choice on the six inch black series, will we ever get a fans choice on the 3 ¾ inch line?

Steve Evans: That’s an interesting question I have been having discussions about that, it is certainly something that we are considering, I can’t say whether we are going to or not, but I’m hearing people saying hey, what about 3 3/4inch? This is a good idea, so there are certain things we need to work through in regards to that, but yes, I like the idea.

Ryan Beise: And we all remember back like in the early days and for those of us old time collectors, Duros was one of the first fans choice figures.

Steve Evans: It’s kind of an obvious thing that we didn’t do so we are definitely thinking about it.

Ryan Beise: Is there any chance we might see display stands for the 6-inch black series?

Steve Evans: Display stands as in simple just to hold them or more Diorama?

Ryan Beise: Not necessarily like the Diorama-like, Kmart ones, but just a stand, I know some of my Stormtroopers tend to fall over

Steve Evans: We’ve started doing that as you mentioned with the Kmart Kylo and the Rey. Obviously this one, the Unmasked Kylo Ren has a stand and a prop, you see the Obi-Wan Kenobi release that comes with a prop (table). So we are getting into that. We are getting in some areas like, what else do the fans need to build out the environment diorama or the fantasy. Because we know the fans are doing an amazing job, I am on Instagram all the time and I like the photography and setting them up on the shows and things like that. So we got really cool things in the works in terms of displays and things like that, whether that is just a stand I can’t tell you.

Ryan Beise: I know they all have foot pegs there

Steve Evans: I know it's a good idea, but I know there are a lot of people who sell those things.

Ryan Beise: The funny thing for Hasbro is the original GI Joe display stand actually work for them.

Steve Evans: Yes I know what you mean.

Ryan Beise: I know you guys get asked all the time about the Ghost Vehicle in the 3 ¾ line.

Steve Evans: There is nothing to announce on that at this time.

Ryan Beise: I’m going to throw it out there

Steve Evans: That’s alright

Ryan Beise: You guys have talked about 3 ¾ inch Play Sets not being something that is necessarily in the cards at this point. Is there any chance they could be licensed out the way you guys licensed out to Sideshow for 12 inch?

Steve Evans: Interesting, playsets if I can be frank with you, perhaps you want me to be, is something that is very dismal here. I actually look at Star Wars as characters we love, flying ships that we are amazed at, worlds that we never even contemplated before, so in my mind play sets are integral, the play areas are integral and we did the Battle Action Falcon with expanded play set. I am still looking to explore play sets more or environments. Now what does playsets mean here, we can define it as plastic, we can define it as several different things. But in principle I want to do more with play sets.

Ryan Beise: I know as a child in the 1970s / 1980s the Death Star and Ewok Village playsets were always awesome, it’s like oh, let’s get it for the modern stuff.

Steve Evans: But there are no plans to license or sub-license it out like that.

Ryan Beise: Is there any chance in the future we may see vintage collection figures coming back out like the Royal Guard, like the Gamorrean Guard, Ahsoka, some of those last wave figures that were hard to get in the 3 ¾ inch?

Steve Evans: We listen very carefully to people we talk to in the fan community which are the hardest ones to get, which figures came and went, which figures are really really loved, so we pay a lot of attention to that, so I can’t say at the moment because we haven’t released whether we are or we aren’t, but that’s how we filter which ones to choose.

Ryan Beise: It’s kind of crazy right now because a Gamorrean Guard on Ebay goes for more than a vintage Gamorrean Guard on card.

Steve Evans: That’s insane. But I am aware that the Royal Guard and Ashoka came and went.

Ryan Beise: The Walmart 3 ¾ inch black series has been awesome and you mention that there will be a hand full per year. Is there any interest in increasing that at all?

Steve Evans: At the moment I can’t say whether there are going to be any more or any less. It is something that we look at regularly. I know a lot of people want more. I would kind of say I don’t think it is going to increase immensely immediately but we will certainly continue with it. We are very acutely aware of the 3 ¾ inch need from the collector community, we get that. So it's balancing that with the collectors and kids and fans and the whole new family, balancing that all out, but we are not going to get rid of the 3 ¾ inch Black Series.

Ryan Beise: That’s good to hear. Galactic heroes any chances we will see a Lando or Leia in there?

Steve Evans: I don’t actually run the Galactic Heroes, they are cute I love them but I don’t know their launch plans unfortunately sorry.

Ryan Beise: Somebody asked about, and I remember Revenge of the Sith had protective cases for the action figures that you could put the cardbacks in and everything, does Hasbro have opportunities maybe for the black series 6 inch line for protective boxes?

Steve Evans: No plans for that. Interesting. I am not saying we are re-designing the packaging or anything, because there are always rumors going around about when we are going to start the different phase so no news yet on new black series design, but protective stuff, we are always very conscious of like, I don’t like seeing on Instagram when you get a box it is all battered up, so we are thinking about that and how do we help with that.

Ryan Beise: I know you have probably been asked a thousand times Force Awakens Luke and Leia 6 inch and 3 ¾ inch, any timeline?

Steve Evans: So I can tell you something, I am sure you know you have heard me speak before that it takes about 12 to 18 months to make a figure. I can say that the story of episode seven was so brilliantly kind of laid out by Disney and Lucas. It was told through trailers, told through behind the scenes, told through images and stuff like that. And Luke was this enigma, it was like, is he in it? What does Luke look like? He is on none of the posters, none of the trailers all that kind of stuff. I saw Luke the same time that you did. I waited 2 hours and 3 minutes and there he was, so that kind of answers the Luke thing. The Leia yes Leia will be represented.

Ryan Beise: Excellent, very good to hear. Interesting question I haven’t thought of but Jabba's bartender droid, he got that droid-rack any chance of ever seeing him? Parking lot maybe?

Steve Evans: I can’t comment on that, but I know the one you mean

Ryan Beise: Force Awakens figures, are we going to continue to see them in the future as well as Rogue One?

Steve Evans: Yes it is interesting, I talked about this before. We have more interesting things coming out more than we ever had, it like literally hundreds maybe thousands of characters and to deliver all of them to all the fans when they want them, how they want them is like an impossible task. But the way I look at it, we rightly work to promote the latest entertainment like currently with Jyn and Rogue One. I call it peppering. We make sure we pepper in classic original trilogy and prequel trilogy and the new-trilogy so you will continue to see a mix, it’s not like oh The Force Awakens is done [and we move on]. There is a certain methodology in terms of how we select characters depending on what’s coming up, if there are any kind of special occasions or anniversaries or particular things like that where fans will say we want this (where’s Ben, where’s Ben). So we hear things like that and we act wherever we can to deliver those, but it is such a roster of characters.

Ryan Beise: Does that include Clone Wars still continuing?

Steve Evans: Clone Wars is canon so anything that's canon is up for grabs.

Ryan Beise: So along with canon is there any chance we might see the new figures from the new canon? From new books and the new comics?

Steve Evans: Yes, they are all up for grabs as well. As the Galaxy gets bigger it is harder to pick things but there are a lot of cool characters in the comics that we look at and go like, that could be cool. Well then how do we do that, could it be a new figure, could it be a repaint or something like that. We look at everything but then can't deliver 200 Black Series figures a year, so it's tricky but we look at canon, we look at books, comics, video games, clone wars, movies, tv and we try to work out what the best mix is for the consumer, for the fans.

Ryan Beise: And now it seems like Marvel Comic Packs coming back, and we are like, can we get this for Star Wars please

Steve Evans: Interesting yes that’s definitely a thought.

Ryan Beise: Somebody wanted to know if Darth Revan or Darth Malak would ever come back for 3 ¾ inch?

Steve Evans: Nothing to announce on that at the moment but who knows.

Ryan Beise: My final question is on the black series 6 inch when you guys first announced them, three years ago, they were built up as the ultimate figure. For example, Darth Maul came with the two heads and cloak so you don’t have to buy that one figure ever again, and since then we have seen accessories dwindle. The one I look at is the Jedi Luke, you had the cool chest piece but no cloak and no vest, was that a decision as the Black Series became more popular or change in ideas?

Steve Evans: A lot of it has to do with literally cost and materials, how much things cost. Soft goods - not soft goods, that is one of the things we wrestle with because some people love soft goods and some people hate soft goods, we’ll never win whether we include or not. We have to look at the whole mix as well when we bring out a number of figures. We try to get a whole balance and if there are characters who have certain scenes where they don’t have all the accessories we may produce that. So like the Luke battling Vader, Luke does not have his cloak, he had a different type of tunic on. So it is always a challenge, as you say we have to make something that the fans want and something we can make as a manufacturer. I am trying to think of a figure that's out now, like Poe with the extra hands and the helmet, so in terms of accessories. I know we didn’t do the face very well, but the accessories are great. It is a balancing act in terms of giving people what they want, this is why I like exclusive so much where you can do a little bit more and there is not that kind of $19.99 price point that we are working to and we can put some extra stuff in.

Ryan Beise: Any chance we’ll ever see a build-a-figure type thing like with the Marvel line?

Steve Evans: We are always looking at that because it is something we always go to because it is something that is kind of known, we have to just weigh the option in terms of how much we are going to charge and which figures will we do and are there enough big figures to be able to sustain that, things like that… the Gamorrean Guard would be a good example, that would be a great builder because he’s just so big and is like if we do how could we maintain it

Ryan Beise: I know in the Marvel line you have a lot of things you can repaint, you can re-use pieces

Steve Evans: And Star Wars is all very bespoke, individual sculpts, it's a little trickier ...

You can listen to TOY RUN - THE STAR WARS ACTION FIGURE CAST Episode 20 for the full un-cut interview (about an hour into the show).

We will be back for another interview with Hasbro from San Diego Comic Con, so thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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