@Hasbro’s Rogue One – The Death of the #StarWars Cross Sell
September 28, 2016

It’s true what they say, you never know how much you love something until it’s gone.

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Since 1978 Star Wars fans have been able to buy an action figure, flip the card over and see a some, if not all of the other figures available or coming soon.  In the toy industry showing other product on the card back is called the “cross sell” and it’s been around for over 30 years.  In the pre-internet age cross sell was especially helpful as you didn’t know what other figures might be in a wave.  As fans and collectors we used the cross sell card backs as a checklist for what figures we still needed to find and pick up to complete our collections.   For Star Wars collectors there is comfort in the cross sell from the original painting for the original 12…

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…to the color blocks of next iteration of cards…

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… to the overwhelming, jaw-dropping “Collect all 92” image for Power of the Force

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As kids we pored over these cardbacks and studied them like religious tomes.  We relied on them, discussed them, some people even marked on them to show which figures they still needed to pick up.  The cross sell showed us how deep toy makers were willing to go in a property.  Sometimes we even learned of new figures that were coming from the cross sell on the back of the cards.   Can you imagine THAT in this digital age of instant information and leaks?

It has been a LONG time since we have gotten THAT robust of a cross sell as the original Power of the Force cards, but it’s still been a constant for modern Star Wars collectors as well.   When Kenner  relaunched the Star Wars “Power of the Force 2” line in 1995 we got additions like file cards, but we also had the full wave shown on the back of the card:

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Over the next 20+ years we have seen the cards and cardbacks change year after year, but we always (with one brief exception) had some form of cross sell on the backs of the cards, whether it was showing actual action figures or actual character photos, you still got some sense of who else was in the line/wave.

The only real exception was the short lived Star Wars Black cards that were a transition for Hasbro after the 3-D Movie product lines were scuttled and we learned of NEW Star Wars movies were on the way.  These Star Wars Black cards had all the same die-cut front image of a stormtrooper and had just one large washed out image on the back.  This was the hardest time for many Star Wars collectors even WITH the internet to keep track of what figures were in each assortment.  Star Wars Black transition was a “dark” time for Star Wars packaging.

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Last year we got the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens product, and while they didn’t show actual figures on the cardbacks, each card had a great original painting the the character on the card front and we got a thumbnail of the paintings on the cardback for the cross sell.

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Now we come to the new Rogue One figures that will go on sale later this week on September 30th.   And the “modernization” and cost cutting of having multilingual cards, instead of having multiple cards for each region of the world, add to the fact that Hasbro is launching a new “Star Wars Studio FX” app along with the figures and the card back has two TINY sentences of biography at the top of the card… and everything else is just boring text.

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It’s all just legal jargon and plugging the app (which is also explained in a double sided insert inside the bubble) and you have one boring, sad cardback that feels like the end of an era.   I know from friends in the toy industry that including the cross sell images on the back of the cards is still a hotly debated topic for packaging.   I for one will miss it.   It was instantly recognizable to me that it was gone.

Where do you land on this subject?   Will you miss the cross sell on the back of the packages?  Do you use it at all when all when collecting?

Let us know in the comments section.

Good luck to everyone as you head out for your Force Friday/Go Rogue shopping this week.

And May the Force be With You!

Daniel Pickett

Daniel “Julius Marx” Pickett has been around toys his whole life. The first line he ever collected was Mego’s World’s Greatest Super Heroes line back in the 70s. He has been surrounded by collectables ever since.

In 1999 he was confounded by a lack of information and news about some of his favorite toy lines he was collecting. Since he couldn’t find the information he decided to pursue it himself thinking other people might also be interested in the same news. He started writing a weekly column on the toy industry and action figure for a toy news site and in a years time he tripled the sites daily traffic with his updates, reviews and product features.

He built relationships with every major toy manufacturer and many sculptors, painters and mold makers. He grew his hobby into a world wide expertise that the industry has embraced.

In 2004 he teamed up with his toy buddy Jason “ToyOtter” Geyer and they created their own website www.ActionFigureInsider.com.

Daniel has been quoted in both industry and mass media press outlets. Over the years Daniel and AFi have been sought out as experts in the field. Daniel was regularly featured on “Attack of the Show” on the G4 network as the primary contributor to their “Mint On Card” segment, and our front page has been linked to from USA Today’s
“Pop Candy” Blog twice. Daniel’s content has also been featured on MSNBC.com,
Wired.com, Fark.com, Boing-Boing, Gizmodo.com, Ain’t It Cool News, the Official
Star Wars blog, Geekologie, G4, CNet and Toy Fare magazine, among many
others. He has consulted on toy lines, books, documentaries and TV shows.

But all of that really just sounds snooty and “tootin’ his own horn” – the long and short of it is that Daniel loves toys and he LOVES talking about them.

Read other articles by Daniel Pickett.

 

 

 

14 Comments »

  • Ralph F. says:

    I was on the frontline of STAR WARS releases back in 78. I got the early bird kit, sure, but I still very distinctly remember going to the Kmart (maybe it was Barkers…) in Kenner (Louisiana) and seeing the first display with the original dozen. And trying to convince my parents I couldn’t have just one Stormtrooper; it didn’t make sense.

    The packaging, though; you hit the nail on the head. Man. The packaging itself is a work of art — or at least pop culture — and I watched it degrade over the years. I was ecstatic to see the “silver lines” style cardbacks come back for a while (can’t recall when that was) but this new setup; ugh. Made me think of this: https://youtu.be/EUXnJraKM3k

  • Rob says:

    Hasbro has went down hill the last few years. I’m glad they lost the Jurassic line.

  • Scott K. says:

    I miss the Vintage Collection from a few short years ago and the freshness of the Thirtieth Anniversary collection packaging from 2007. I’m hoping the vintage look comes back for the 40th Anniversary in 2017.

  • Erik superfriend says:

    Loved the cross sell / collectors pictoral list on the back of the Super Powers line back in the day as well.

  • biggs33 says:

    Hasbro did away with it in the GI Joe line too, such a shame. Free advertising and encouragement to “collect them all”, I can’t understand why they would drop it.

  • Nitewing73 says:

    That was always part of the fun. I remember crossing figures out when I was a kid. That was the great thing about GIJoe figures too and I would do the same thing crossing out the little thumbnail pic of the Joes.

  • Jabbawonga says:

    Hasbro, you claim to listen to the fans but on this occasion you still haven’t!
    Please bring back the cross sell. The backs from the 70’s way into the 80’s helped so many collectors like myself back in the day.
    I couldn’t tell you how many figures were released for The Force Awakens…..how do we know?
    Kids would love to be able to collect and know what figures they are missing – help us Hasbro…..you’re our only hope

  • GanguStars says:

    Love the cross sells.

    Hasbro is only thinking of profit. I get it to an extent, but that card “art” is horrendous and just sad overall. No effort, just slap on the legal and slide it out the door. Take a look at the gorgeous cross sell designs that Fisher-Price does with Imaginext, even just the normal carded figures. It’s still alive in some toy lines, but Hasbro has decided it’s no longer a path they need to follow.

  • Brainlock says:

    the TFA …BAFs? CnCs? hatever they were called, you had to HUNT over the card to find out the name of the character. That little triptych showing who got which part was the ONLY source of the name for each figure. That is slightly more than RIDICULOUS.

  • Milo says:

    I don’t really collect Star Wars action figures, but the figures I have collected I loved the cross sell images on the back. In fact, even in the internet age, I still relayed more on that then anything else to know what’s out there. I would find it frustrating if a series I was really into pulled this kind of crap and just put legal jargon on the back.

    Honestly though, I just don’t collect very many action figures anymore. I don’t have a lot of money or space and frankly, most of the figures today just don’t look that great. Truly the 2000’s was the height of action figure collecting in my option.

  • Bobby Sharp says:

    As somebody that grew up with the original Star Wars figures, I’ve never been all that impressed with modern packaging. I like the “Vintage Collection” design enough, but it just borrowed from what came before; it was nothing new in terms of design. I understand all the various needs that modern businesses face with regards to costs and why some decisions are made (and unlike many others, I don’t take personal umbrage with this. It’s not personal, business is business), but from a purely aesthetic standpoint, a great deal has been lost. The vintage figure cardbacks were small works of art. A full-color photo dominated the front of the card which was otherwise free of unnecessary clutter. The backs of modern cardbacks are a waste.

  • Draftline says:

    How will kids today lobby their parents for the full set? The backs of the cards are what I used as my selling point in the late 70’s! “Dad, how can I do without Chewie? Look here, he is part of the team!”

  • I don’t NEED to see the rest of the wave on the cardback, but it would be helpful. Y’know, if I wanna buy another one somewhere down the line.
    I don’t always keep up with all the latest info and god help me, I actually turn the card over to see what other figures are available in the wave, or the ones that could or should be on the pegs, but perhaps aren’t.
    I’m sure some pencil-pusher at Hasbro has determined that cross sells do not work and have no relevancy any more. Maybe. But they are still useful and relevant to me.

  • Aron sowerby says:

    I would so prefer the new star wars figures been produced on vintage style cardbacks with a clip or picture of the film on the front displaying the character, the modern packaging doesnt do them any justice and bits of extra pieces that come with them as optional weapons!!! The vintage collection line done in the 2010 onwards was impresive even with the double bubble blister.Bring back vintage old stool cardbacks it’s the future.

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