Jabba’s Sail Barge Coming to the UK and Europe: Dark Side Toys Now Accepting Orders

March 16, 2018 – Dark Side Toys is now accepting orders for Hasbro’s mammoth “Jabba’s Sail Barge” for addresses in the UK and most of Europe.

But hurry: You have until Hasbro’s April 3rd crowdfunding deadline to post your order. Once Hasbro has received 5,000 unit orders, the toy company will begin production of the 4-foot long Sail Barge.

How Dark Side Toys (not to be confused with DorkSideToys.com in the U.S.) was able to pull off this trans-Atlantic feat, what with significant obstacles for shipping costs and customs, remains something of a mystery. Whatever the answer, we are just happy that collectors in the following 29 countries can now obtain The Khetanna. Dark Side Toys is now accepting orders from:

You can read Dark Side Toys’ website for FAQ’s, including payment plans, shipping dates (expect courier delivery around Feb. 2019), and other information.

Now that the UK and most of Europe are eligible, how far will the HasLab needle move toward the 5,000-count goal? No one knows yet, but every bit helps.

The 28 countries of the European Union have a combined population of over 510 million, which exceeds that of the United States (326.7M) and Canada (37M). For purposes of HasLab’s crowdfunding campaign, the larger populations of Germany (82.3 million), France (65.2M), U.K. (65.1M), Spain (46.4M) and others may make all the difference.

The HasLab counter currently shows 2,670 orders as of March 16th, 3:30 PM EST. With 18 days remaining, we will soon know whether the most ardent Star Wars collectors worldwide can launch The Khettana from dream to reality.

HasLab counter: 2,670 orders as of March 16th, 3:30 PM EST

Trivia: Which European countries are not part of the EU?
Answer: Switzerland, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Iceland, Belarus, Russia and Turkey. (The United Kingdom is, for now, still part of the EU pending Brexit negotiations.)


Toys “R” Me: Michael Mercy’s Private 1980’s Toy Collection

March 15, 2018 – YouTuber Michael Mercy may well have one of the most expansive and neatly organized collections devoted to 1980’s toys.

Michael Mercy offers a virtual tour of his private 1980’s toy museum. In the first video (out of seven), he tongue-in-cheek calls his private collection “Toys R Me” [cue 00:04:50].

As a self-admitted Toys “R” Us geek who spent innumerable hours wandering TRU’s aisles in the 1980’s, Michael Mercy has enshrined his youth in his own private collection. While light on vintage Star Wars collecting (he wasn’t that big an early 1980’s Star Wars collector), there is an enormous and draw-dropping array of action figures and vehicles in his collection, mostly from the 1980’s, which he has amassed over the last 35 years.

While most need no introduction (G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, Transformers, Mutant Ninja Teenage Turtles), many others are lesser known toy lines (Kenner’s Centurions, Mattel’s Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, Mattel’s Wheeled Warriors and more).

The seven-part video series includes helpful embedded clips from the various 1980’s animated shows and TV commercials as well as insightful commentary. You can view the first of the seven videos below – and prepare to be amazed:

To view the other six videos in the series, watch them on YouTube. You can also view related content on his Twitter and Facebook sites.

The first of the videos was published in July, 2017, just months before Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy in Sept. 2017. With TRU’s imminent demise in coming weeks, the above videos also serve as a prescient tribute to a great toy retailer from a bygone era.

Toys “R” Us Officially Closing

March 14, 2018 – If you are still holding on to any Toys “R” Us giftcards, you had better hurry to your nearest TRU store. The 70-year-old company today informed its employees in both the U.S. and the U.K. that it would be shuttering nearly all its stores.

Founded in 1948, the New Jersey-based toy retailer hasn’t reported a full-year profit since 2012.

The company’s CEO, David Brandon, advised its employees on March 14th that the parent company would either be closing or attempting to sell nearly all its store locations. No specific timeline was announced for the shutdown. However, TRU is expected to file a liquidation proposal in Bankruptcy Court as soon as this week, subject to the Court’s approval.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in Sept. 2017, disclosing to the Bankruptcy Court over $5 billion US in long-term debt and that the company was spending about $400 million per year just to service the debt.

A hoped-for turnaround during the crucial Christmas/Holiday sales period in Dec. 2017 never materialized as customers stayed away, continuing the growing trend of online shopping (Amazon) or diverting their money to TRU’s competitors, Walmart and Target. In addition, several vendors declined to extend additional credit or full inventory requests to TRU during the busy shopping season.

TRU has failed to pay its vendors in recent days. The company reported a loss of $953 million in the first nine months of 2017. Its last full year of profit was in 2012. Since then, TRU has lost an additional $2.5 billion.

While it would be tempting to blame the likes of Amazon and Walmart for TRU’s decline, the truth is that the giant retailer was a dead man walking for over a decade. It’s No. 1 problem was mounting debt, which prevented badly needed upgrades to its stores and employee retention. As far back as January, 2005 – when Amazon was just a small blip on the Internet radar – TRU’s debt was downgraded to junk bond status.

In March, 2005, TRU sold the company to a group of investors, led by New York-based KKR Group, Boston-based private equity firm Bain Capital, and New York-based Vornado Realty Trust for $6.6 billion. The sale left the once-iconic retailer with $5.3 billion in debt, from which it never recovered.

When it filed for bankruptcy last September, TRU had 1,697 stores worldwide – the most in its 70-year history. The company’s decision to not shut down its weakest performing stores over the last decade points to a sluggish company that was either in denial or that had no clear plan on how to claw its way out of insurmountable debt.

The once-dominant toy retailer, founded in 1948, now has some 1,600 Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores around the world. In the United Kingdom, the company will be closing all 75 remaining stores, affecting roughly 3,000 workers. In the United States, TRU is already in the process of shutting down 180 of its 800 stores nationwide. About 33,000 TRU jobs in the U.S. are at risk.

The retailer is reportedly working on a proposal to keep about 200 stores open in the U.S. even after liquidation. CNBC reports that the plan may include selling the company’s Canadian operations, along with roughly 200 of the company’s most profitable U.S. stores, to an unnamed buyer.

Whatever the final outcome, the Toys “R” Us chain store that generations of kids and consumers have come to love will be a thing of the past. For Star Wars fans, TRU’s Midnight Madness shopping events and its exclusive Star Wars collectible merchandise will become a quaint memory.

“Going, going … gone”: A Toys R Us Midnight Madness promo in 2015.

As for the retailer’s famous TV jingle of the 1980’s (“I’m a Toys R Us kid”), the jaunty lyrics and tune may still echo through your (y)ears.

Reasons Why the Crowdfunding Campaign for Jabba’s Sail Barge Failed

March 10, 2018 – Congratulations, Star Wars fan community! We have now reached the halfway point of Hasbro’s challenge to secure at least 5,000 paid orders for the 4-foot long Jabba’s Sail Barge.

The 2,500th order was placed just before 8:00 PM (EST) on March 10th. But with a scant 24 days left, handwringing amongst collectors is beginning in earnest. There is a palpable sense of early panic that Hasbro’s crowdfunding campaign will fall short of its goal.

To prepare everyone for the reality of inevitable failure, we sent two of our best ace reporters, Dig Allen and Tom Swift, Jr., into the near-future. Messrs. Allen and Swift both tele-transported to Earth, 4 April 2018, the day after Hasbro’s deadline expired. Here is their combined wire report from the future:

>>Earth, 4 April 2018 – Wormhole Communications Report>>

“After hacking into HasLab’s network (the password is “Haslab1234”), reading numerous social media sites’ commentaries, and interviewing some despondent collectors on April 4th, we now understand why Hasbro’s campaign has failed.

1. An Unrealistic Goal of 5,000:
“Hasbro set an arbitrary and unattainable goal of 5,000 paid orders. Hobbled by insufficient research and magical thinking, the Rhode Island-based company failed to come up with the more realistic number of 3,500.

“Back in 2013, a fan-driven ‘Back the Barge’ petition had managed to only garner 3,103 supporters from around the world over many, many months. Signing the petition cost nothing and did not commit its signatories to anything.

In 2012 and 2013, a “Bring on the Barge” fan-driven petition managed to only garner 3,103 signatories. Collector sites, such as JediTempleArchives.com and others, urged their fans to sign on so they could approach Hasbro with evidence of widespread support for a 3.75-inch scaled Jabba’s Sail Barge. (Image Source: JediTempleArchives.com)

“Yet the cost-free petition failed its own goal of obtaining 10,000 signatures. How Hasbro thought it could convince 5,000 paying customers to put their money where their mouths were, confounds us space travelers from the future.

2. Cost Prohibitive
“At a cost of $499.99 USD plus tax, Jabba’s Sail Barge would have been the most expensive 3.75-inch scaled vehicle ever offered by Hasbro. But for many in the 3.75-inch scale collecting community, $500 was just too much. For that amount of money, many vintage collectors said they would prefer instead to buy a vintage Star Wars vehicle or a couple vintage figures, such as the elusive Blue Snaggletooth.

3. No Payment Plan
“Hasbro did not offer the flexibility of a payment plan, say half down now, and the remainder due upon shipping. A quarterly payment plan would have been even better, allowing would-be buyers to justify paying $125 every three months.

“No Kickstarter or other crowdfunding platform has ever offered only one pricing option ($500) and expected its supporters to come up with so much money in so little time (45 days).

4. Poor Rollout Timing
“The campaign was somewhat clumsy and shortsighted in the timing of its rollout. First, Hasbro announced its campaign on February 17th during the New York Toy Fair. While this would appear to be an appropriate venue, more than a few collectors stated that the surprise announcement caught them off guard. Unable to budget enough funds during the 45-day window, they could not commit to a prepaid order. Likewise, for U.S. taxpayers expecting a federal tax refund by the April 15th filing deadline, Hasbro’s cut-off date of April 3rd was a tad early.

“Next, Hasbro committed another rollout misfire when it opened the campaign to Canada-based orders on April 3rd, a Friday. The problem is that Friday (and weekends, in particular) are known as the graveyard of newsreporting cycles. Political operatives know that if you want to bury bad news, release it late on Friday when both the public and reporters are less apt to read and disseminate it.

“Finally, Hasbro compounded its timing errors by belatedly opening its campaign to overseas consumers in the last week. But by then, it was too little, too late.

5. Initially a U.S. Exclusive
“Why Hasbro thought limiting Jabba’s Sail Barge to only U.S.-based consumers was a good idea, baffles us space-time travelers. Denying a large international community the ability to participate only engendered ill will and a missed golden opportunity. It’s as if Hasbro had decided to enter a marathon race with two hands tied behind its back and a crutch permanently affixed to a leg.

6. Too Large
“At four feet long, many would-be buyers feared they would have insufficient space in their living quarters to display or store the mammoth Sail Barge. In addition, many wives and spouses vetoed their significant others’ requests when they found out how large and expensive the Sail Barge would be.

7. 35 Years Too Late
“Could this be Hasbro’s last hurrah? With its Star Wars license about to expire in 2020, Hasbro has belatedly decided to listen more closely to the longtime collecting community. How odd, therefore, to finally decide to release Jabba’s Sail Barge – 35 years after its appearance in Return of the Jedi (1983).

“Vintage-oriented collectors have dwindled in numbers. Some have quit the hobby. Others have died. Still others have simply become much more selective in what they are willing to add to their collection. Add in the fact that today’s children simply do not play with toys and playsets in the numbers and manner that their parents did, and Hasbro now finds it is chasing a consumer demographic that has dramatically changed.

8. A Collecting Community Divided
“A once unified Star Wars collecting community (until the 1990s, at least) now finds itself greatly splintered and divided. Six-inch action figure collectors have pooh-poohed the idea of a 3.75-inch scaled playset. Others have expressed zero interest in any vehicles or playsets. Then there is the Star Wars Lego community, which finds far more value in plunking down $800 for Lego’s 7500-piece Millenium Falcon (if you can find it).

“Hasbro should not be surprised by the failure of its campaign. Since the introduction of its six-inch figures in 2013, Hasbro has promoted and elevated the larger articulated figures while allowing the traditional 3.75-inch line to wither on the vine. Many six-inch figure collectors, therefore, find little or no value in buying a Sail Barge designed for smaller figures. Thus, a collecting community divided.

9. Was It Corporate Greed and Hubris?
“Some critics (previously reported HERE) have called Hasbro’s campaign unethical and a moral lapse. Why would a multi-billion-dollar international toy company attempt to finance its project on the backs of its most loyal fans, who have each supported the company with untold thousands of dollars over the decades? Moreover, if Hasbro had reached its funding goal of $2.5 million USD, it would have pocketed the interest earned on the capital for the next year.

“Some observers believe that Hasbro has preyed upon a sense of desperation and longing within the aging collector community. Denied their iconic Sail Barge for the last 35 years, the thinking goes, the community would somehow find the money and number of supporters to hit Hasbro’s $2.5 million goal. But the campaign has failed, and Hasbro is left with something of a P.R. nightmare.

“To be fair to Hasbro, they should be credited for investing their time, effort and money in developing the Khettana concept and prototype. We believe that Hasbro certainly wanted the crowdfunding campaign to succeed.

A probable Hasbro employee posted this commentary to rebut statements that the Hasbro campaign might just be a P.R. stunt.

“10. Hasbro Failed to Promote Its Own Campaign
“Fans are questioning why Hasbro did not do more to advertise the existence of Jabba’s Sail Barge and did not better promote its Haslab project. Why, for example, was there no hyperlink to the Haslab site from Hasbro’s home page? Did the toy company miss several opportunities to spread the word via social media by engaging a celebrity? Did Hasbro place too much faith in a word-of-mouth campaign by a handful of Star Wars fan sites?

“We may never know as Hasbro has declined comment to our questions.

“In hopes of mollifying those disappointed fans who plunked down their $500 and who had rallied so hard for the Sail Barge, Hasbro has decided it will distribute free ‘Certificates of Participation’ and a yet-to-be-decided trinket to the faithful sometime around Star Wars Day (May the 4th). Rumors that Hasbro might conduct a lottery to give away the unpainted Sail Barge prototype to a subscriber quickly swept the web.

“Fans on YouTube and other sites have posted videos and photos of them burning and shredding the Hasbro Certificates. Others, however, have allowed their disappointment to morph into a money-making attempt by selling their Certificates on Ebay with a starting bid of $1.99.

“Some historians believe this odd bit of Star Wars and Hasbro history will rank right up there with the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.”

>>End of Transmission Report by Dig Allen and Tom Swift, Jr.>>

“Star Wars Rebels” Series Finale Is Tonight

March 5, 2018 – The fourth and final season of Disney’s animated 3D CGI animation series, Star Wars Rebels, concludes tonight. The show launched on Dec. 1st, 2014, on Disney’s XD channel and will conclude its three-part finale on March 5th.

It took some viewers a while to warm up to the series, and hardcore fans of The Clone Wars (six seasons; Oct. 2008-March 2014) will forever debate which of the two series is “better” than the other. But both are canon, and both series explore and contribute in their own ways to the Star Wars universe.

Perhaps the biggest and most controversial contribution of Rebels is Season 4’s revelation of time-travel, an oft-used device in other sci-fi productions, but a novelty to Star Wars.

For an interesting discussion, watch the following video, “How Rebels Just Changed Star Wars Forever”:

As a prequel to Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977), Star Wars Rebels and our band of scrappy fighters (essentially “nobodies” without any claim of royal lineage or connection to the Skywalker family) are designed to disappear.

Kanan Jarrus (born Caleb Dume) has already perished, and viewers are left to say their “Goodbyes” to young Ezra Bridger, former bounty hunter Sabine Wren, pilot Hera Syndulla, and Zeb Orrelios. Whether they survive tonight’s finale, you will have to watch and see.

For all four seasons, they have fought the good fight against insurmountable odds, relying on their various skills, a bit of luck, and on each other. But their destiny is to fail. That is why our everyday Rebels heroes are never heard of again in the Original Trilogy.

Canada Added to List of Eligible Pre-Orders for Jabba’s Sail Barge

March 2, 2018 – “O Canada!” (or “Ô Canada” in French), you now have your wish: Hasbro has added Canada-based consumers to the list of eligible buyers who can pre-order Hasbro’s 4-foot long Jabba’s Sail Barge.

An unpainted prototype of Hasbro’s proposed Jabba’s Sail Barge. (Photo Credit: Hasbro)

Hasbro’s crowdfunding campaign will expire on April 3, 2018, with the goal of securing at least 5,000 pre-paid orders for the mammoth barge.

With a population of just over 36.8 million, Canada’s fan base is expected to push the number of pre-orders up by a couple hundred, some observers say. While not substantial enough to guarantee the milestone of 5,000 orders, every little bit helps in the cumulative.

As of posting time of this article (March 2nd, 9:45 pm EST), HasLab’s counter shows a total of 2,200 orders with 32 days remaining.

With a current shortfall of 2,800 paid orders, fans have 32 days left to place their orders. On average, about 88 orders will have to be placed every day for the next 32 days for the campaign to succeed.

That’s a tall mountain to climb where each order will set back the consumer $500 USD plus tax; there is a limit of five orders per customer; and delivery will not occur until late February, 2019 – about a year from now.

Having reached 44% of the goal (2,200/5,000), more than a few fans and collectors are guardedly optimistic. And they expect a surge of orders to come in during the final week as fence-sitters take the plunge and open their wallets.

But nothing is guaranteed. The next month will fly by, and Hasbro’s first-ever crowdfunding attempt could still fall short of 5,000.

What could really ignite the campaign is if Hasbro were to accept paid orders from the vast overseas collecting communities of the U.K., continental Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Central and South America and the Outer Rim Territories.

Hasbro, we hope you are listening.