Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 may have ended a week ago, but we’re still catching up on some of the interviews we conducted at the exciting event in London.
Case in point: I was able to swing by the Hasbro booth over the weekend during Celebration to discuss the big Star Wars and Indiana Jones toy reveals with team members Patrick Schneider and Chris Reiff. In the below interview (which originally appeared in audio form as part of Laughing Place’s Star Wars podcast “Who’s the Bossk?”), we cover upcoming new action figures tied to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, and the highly anticipated film Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
Mike Celestino, Laughing Place: How does Hasbro prepare for an event like this?
Patrick Schneider: A lot. [laughs] We start months… not quite a year, but a long time in advance, and it really is a large team effort. You’re talking with us, we’ve got 10 to 15 people here in the booth working the show, our global events team is leading the charge up front, we’ve got PR, obviously we have an EU team as well, so there are probably 100 people who worked on this in some form or another. And yeah, it’s all inclusive– it’s planning out the booth space, it’s planning out our reveals, Chris and his team take lead on our panel presentation– so it’s kind of just thinking about every aspect, and fortunately again we have great teams in place who have done this a lot and are able to guide us through it.
Chris Reiff: Yeah, and it’s a long process, because we want to do it right, and want to give fans a great place to experience the product. Even after this, we’ll do a post-mortem on this– like, ‘Hey, what was good? What was bad? What can we do better and how can we improve?’ We’ll do that after this, just to be ready to start up the next time we’re starting to plan [an event].
LP: Hasbro had its big panel presentation yesterday, but I want to start by asking about something that wasn’t revealed during the panel: The Black Series Dok-Ondar from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. I’ve been hoping for this figure to come out for years. How long has this been in development?
Schneider: Yeah, we had a lot on our panel. I think we had enough for two panels– a Star Wars panel and an Indy panel, and we crammed it in. So as we were rehearsing the final time, it was running long and we were like, ‘We gotta pull some stuff,’ so that’s why we revealed The Bad Batch set the night before, we revealed Dok-Ondar and [Old Master] Maul last night and we’re gonna talk about them more on the Live Stage. But yeah, we’ve had a great partnership with the Galaxy’s Edge team. I think it was at Celebration 2019 when we revealed our first Galaxy’s Edge sets. We did some more a couple years ago, and this is the latest one. It’s such an iconic alien species, such a central part of Galaxy’s Edge, and we were really excited to partner with that team to bring him to the line.
LP: I’m so excited. Hope we get a Vi Moradi next.
Schneider: We’ve had conversations about her as well.
LP: That’s fantastic to hear. So what, to your estimation, has gotten the biggest response from the stuff that you guys did reveal during the panel?
Reiff: Two things, I would say– the Return of the Jedi [Vintage Collection] four-pack for the [Sail] Barge. That’s big. That answered a lot of fan requests, some petitions, delivering a couple of really key figures, plus some newness for Squid Head [Tessek]. That is one of the big ones, and then the N-1 Starfighter. I think a lot of people have been really anxious [to hear about it]… [there were] rumors running around that that was gonna happen, and we were excited to [reveal it].
Schneider: Well, and we ‘Pipeline’ revealed it.
Reiff: Yeah, but what exactly it was gonna be and how we were gonna do that, [were the questions].
Schneider: I think as well, our tease of our Vintage [Collection] HasLabs. Obviously you can see here in the booth, we have a strong history with Vintage HasLabs. First-ever HasLab with the [Sail] Barge, a record-setting at the time campaign with the Razor Crest, and let the speculation begin. We’re excited to tell more later this year.
LP: Speaking of speculation and HasLab, I don’t want to get too negative, but the last two Star Wars HasLab campaigns– The Black Series Rancor and the Reva Lightsaber– didn’t succeed. What is the re-strategization with that kind of thing?
Schneider: You’re absolutely right. The community spoke; the community did not want those offerings at that price point, the way we delivered them. Like Chris said, we never experience something positive like at Celebration or less positive like those HasLab campaigns [and] just move on to the next thing. We absolutely have meetings and conversations and try to understand [what went right or wrong], because we’re always trying to do the best job we can of understanding what the community wants. We got those wrong, and so we absolutely took those learnings in, brought those into this next Vintage campaign this year, and I think the community will see the results of that debrief and that soul-searching when we reveal it later this year.
LP: Getting into Indiana Jones, what do you think were the most exciting announcements to come out of that portion of your panel?
Reiff: I think probably the first Dial of Destiny figures– revealing those. There are some other favorites of mine, just as an original Raiders fan– the Temple Escape set, with the pedestal and the idol and stuff. That’s a personal favorite of mine, but Dial of Destiny’s the biggest excitement there.
Schneider: Yeah, these are the most accurate new-movie Indy figures we’ve ever had– and certainly in 15 years, but I think that we’ve ever had. So being able to deliver these– these are gonna hit shelves right around movie [release] timing– being able to do that is exciting. Obviously here at Celebration they showed six minutes of [Dial of Destiny]; it looked amazing. I think the movie’s gonna be awesome, and we’re excited to be partnering [with Lucasfilm] and supporting it with the toy line.
LP: I’ve personally already bought a bunch of the Indiana Jones Retro Collection figures. Can you tell me about the process of adding to a collection that stopped at a certain point in the 80s, and expanding upon what could have been for Indy toys?
Reiff: It’s fun. The bottom line [is] there’s nothing about it that’s not fun. And it’s bringing that excitement of those original figures that Kenner did back in the day. We obviously recreated those figures, but wanting to continue that energy and that excitement– ‘What would Kenner have done [with Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade]? [We were] answering that question and working with sculptors that had experience in wax and the materials and the processes of the time, and just bringing all that together in new expressions that answer some of the second-movie and third-movie questions.
LP: Lastly, Hasbro recently revealed that you’re going back to the window boxes on certain products. Can you talk about that choice and what that means for the future of the packaging for the company’s toys?
Schneider: So we announced this earlier this week. We say this a lot, and I know it doesn’t always come across, but we are very committed to understanding what the community wants. We’ve mentioned in other conversations– there was a bracket going on for the Vintage Collection– we pay very close attention to that. We are tuned into the sites, and we heard the response from the community, and we decided to make the return back to the traditional packaging. Now, in that [press] release as well, [we mentioned that] we’re trying to find that balance. We’re committed to reducing the use of virgin plastic, using recyclable or Bio-PET plastic to try to achieve both goals. We remain committed to sustainability, but this is something the community wanted, and so we reacted to that. And we’ll start seeing that roll out late this year, and then certainly throughout 2024.
For additional information on the products announced at Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 and to pre-order many of these toys, be sure to visit the official Hasbro Pulse website.