Hasbro's HasLab Debuts With Jabba’s Barge

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Crowdfunded projects are all the rage these days, and toy giant Hasbro wants to get in on the action. Enter HasLab: a platform for die-hard toy fans that offers exclusives for a limited time only. To kick off HasLab, Hasbro is currently running a campaign raising money for the largest ship ever made by the company, Jabba’s Barge from Return of the Jedi.

Even a major company like Hasbro needs to crowdfund projects, because some projects aren’t exactly the most economically viable. While Hasbro will continue to make hundreds of thousands of popular toys like Luke Skywalker and Spider-Man figures, HasLab will be used for the massive, obscure or less-successful projects. Because each one has been sold before it’s made, HasLab toys won’t become overstock or wasted inventory.

“It’s like a pre-order,” Steve Evans, the design director for Star Wars at Hasbro, told Player.One. “If 5,000 people order it by the cut-off date, we’ll make 5,000. If 200,000 people order, we’ll make 200,000. There’s never a risk of running out, but as soon as we reach that date, it stops.”

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The massive Jabba's Barge toy, with panels removed to see the interior Photo: Player.One/Bob Fekete

Hasbro was at the New York Toy Fair showcasing Jabba’s Barge as part of their 2018 lineup. Evans explained that it was a good toy to start crowdfunding with because of its longstanding popular demand.

“Fans have been asking for this toy specifically for the past 35 years,” Evans said at this year’s New York Toy Fair. “We knew it was a big, expensive thing, and there are issues of getting it out there with retail channels and things like that. With the trend with crowdfunding, we asked ‘how do we do one?’”

Hasbro determined that 5,000 orders for the Jabba’s Barge toy (at $500 a pop) would be needed to break a profit. “Once we hit that 5,000, we’re good to go. We’ll box it up and ship it directly to you,” said Evans. “Everyone is doing crowdfunding, so we thought we’d get into it too.”

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The kitchen area shows how much detail is going into the Jabba's Barge toy Photo: Player.One/Bob Fekete

Measuring four feet in length, Jabba’s Barge will be the longest Star Wars toy Hasbro or Kenner has ever made. It’s obvious the barge was designed by Star Wars fans, because the level of detail even in the prototype seen at Toy Fair was astounding. However, due to the limited views of the barge we get in Return of the Jedi, Hasbro had to work with LucasFilm to create new areas to fill out the ship.

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The cockpit area was never seen in the Star Wars movies, so Hasbro had to figure out what it looks like Photo: Player.One/Bob Fekete

“There are lots of areas we’re familiar with like the barge and deck area and maybe the lounge, but we had to invent areas like the cockpit,” Evans explained. “How does it drive? There’s a galley, there’s a prison cell, there’s an armory area, all things we had to come up with.”

It makes sense that Hasbro doesn’t want to make a million barges, only for a small number of them to actually sell. However, Evans says HasLab won’t only be used for massive projects like this one. “Future projects aren’t all going to be $500, four foot long things. They might be an obscure character or something like that,” he said. “Then we’ll spread that out to Marvel or Disney Princess or wherever.”

Those that do back the project will also get additional rewards along with the barge, including behind-the-scenes looks at how the toy was created. “Once it’s backed, we’re giving away a 64-page booklet that details designs and sketches,” said Evans. “As we move through the design process, we’ll send out content directly to backers showing how we’re doing it.”

Evans says there aren’t any future projects planned for HasLab as of right now, because Hasbro is waiting to see how this first one pans out. “There’s always going to be something to sell through this channel, whether it be a character or a set of characters or another big ship, we really are going day by day,” he said. “I think anything is possible, but there’s no specific plan until we see how this one does.”

Although it seems like Hasbro is betting the success of HasLab on this one project, Evans feels confident the company chose the right toy to debut with. “We knew this was the project to test with when we were talking about HasLab,” he said. “We know that people love it and want it, and here’s the chance.”

The Jabba’s Barge HasLab campaign is live now, and runs until April 3. If at least 5,000 people have pre-ordered the toy, production will begin in full. You can follow along with the project, or secure a barge for yourself, at the official HasLab website.

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