June 27, 2017 – Well, that was awfully quick: In what will likely be among the shortest-lived Star Wars merchandise lines ever, The Black Series Six-Inch “Star Wars 40th Anniversary” (TBS6 SW40) line has now come to an abrupt halt.
Multiple sources report this week that Hasbro has decided to stop production of both Waves 1 and 2 of the well-received Black Series SW40 6-inch action figure line. This means, in effect, that the short-lived TBS6 SW40 will have lasted two or three months at most.
The 40th anniversary date of Star Wars: A New Hope was just last month, or May 25, 2017, to be exact. Hardly a month later, Hasbro has thrown in the towel and discontinued the series, despite great collector demand.
Keep in mind that it was just four months ago, or in February, 2017, when Hasbro first announced it was releasing a TBS6 SW40 collection to be available sometime “in the spring.”
On February 22nd, we first posted an article previewing the then-upcoming 6-inch SW40 line of figures. You can glimpse the figures and their classic Kenner-inspired packaging in the video below:
Hasbro has not yet released an official statement on why it has decided to stop production of Waves 1 and 2. But speculation is that company officials have shifted their focus to the next wave of products for release on Force Friday II (Sept. 1, 2017) and in support of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (premiere date: Dec. 15, 2017). And like that old joke about the poor chap who cannot chew gum and walk at the same time, Hasbro just can’t seem to do two things at once either.
What the Cancellation of TBS6 SW40 Means For You, the Collector
1) If you managed to find both Waves 1 and 2 as well as any SW40 store exclusives, then congratulations: You now possess what will likely become one of the rarest, most highly sought after and quite valuable collections in Star Wars history.
Watch prices on Ebay and online retailers begin to soar as fans and collectors attempt to finish their inchoate SW40 collection.
2) If you are one of many collectors who have avoided the Black Series 6-inch line like the plague, then congratulations to you as well. You have just saved yourself the heartache of a dream unfulfilled.
3) If you are still looking for the elusive R2-D2 and Han Solo from Wave 1, then good luck. As both figures were limited to one each per case box assortment at retail, your search has just become that much harder as further production has now stopped.
4) If you pre-ordered a case or assortment and still have not received your items from the online source, the vendor may or may not complete the order. The problem is, once again, Hasbro’s chaotic distribution system. Other than Hasbro, nobody knows how many quantities of the TBS6 SW40 figures have been produced, when final shipments (if any) will be made to retailers, and therefore whether you, the consumer, will receive what you pre-ordered.
To cite just one example: In early May, DorkSideToys had begun accepting pre-orders for Wave 2 of TBS6 SW40. DorkSideToys had announced that shipments would likely occur in June. The website now says to expect a July shipment. Is a cancellation notice the next possibility?
5) Some of the six-inch figures – Tusken Raider, for example – are still readily available for purchase online at reasonable prices. But the packaging won’t include the Kenner-inspired vintage cardback that is SW40. Instead, your figure will arrive in the traditional Black Series box.
What Cancellation of the Line Does NOT Mean
1) The Black Series line, both 3.75-inch and 6-inch figures, still survives for the immediate future. Launched on August 1, 2013, TBS will likely end in 2018, when The Vintage Collection is released. For now, it is only the Star Wars 40th Anniversary TBS6 figures which have come to a screeching halt.
2) The cancellation of one line does not mean sunny skies and clear roads ahead for the next. Hasbro still has not fixed, or even significantly acknowledged, its haphazard distribution problems.
While some might view the quick end of TBS6 SW40 as good news – no risk of unsold, peg-warming figures from the 40th anniversary – the truth is that the SW40 figures hardly had a chance at retail. How often did you see a SW40 figure hanging around, waiting to be purchased? Not often or for long, we would venture.
3) The unexpectedly quick end of the SW40 line does not bode well for future lines. Collectors who are eagerly anticipating the return of The Vintage Collection (TVC) series, now set for 2018, ought to be more than a bit concerned. While TVC is still “a go”, do not expect a flood of variety or sufficient quantities. Hasbro’s poor distribution problems over the last several years ought to serve as fair warning.
In his weekly online column at GalacticHunter.com, Adam Pawlus, a longtime toy industry insider, has given us some food for thought. He wrote in his Q&A column on June 25, 2017:
“(W)e don’t know how long (The Vintage Collection) line will run. I would bet on it being a limited release like in 2004 (12 figures), 2006 (5 figures), and 2007 (6 figures). I would be shocked to see it run for 100 figures without another break, and if Hasbro told any of us that their plans were to run it for more than a year at the outset I’d be suspicious. Things change, so whatever the 2018 plans are I would expect that the 2019 and 2020 plans won’t be known until they get at least some real feedback from retailers – and until we know what the figures are, it’s going to be tough to know.”
And so we will leave the final word to the Chinese – or, at least, an ancient Chinese proverb: “He who hesitates is lost.” Translation: Get ’em while you can.