Q&A: Clone Wars, Planet Packaging, Mini Vintage, and Lightning Bonus Round

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 14, 2011

Are "repackaged" figures literally repackaged? How many more "mini" vintage figures can we expect? And you can't tell if a figure is new-- really? You can't? Sometimes the answers are easy, and sometimes they're just snotty. We have some of each in this week's Q&A, plus impressions on the newest Clone Wars figures like Seripas!

1. so the miniature carded Salacious Crumb and the Mouse Droid, in spite of being straight repacks of oldish and positively ancient molds, respectively, seem to have excited many collectors. For some, they're cited as the reason to go after the SDCC Revenge sets, no doubt helped along by Hasbro's fiendishly clever decision to number them as part of the Vintage line (you crazy carded collectors). So do you think the concept has legs beyond this one time stunt? Could an occasional, perhaps retailer or convention exclusive mini carded figure be something that Hasbro could do again, but this time on their own rather than as cool little incentives to add value to a larger item? I'd love to see them release newly tooled up miniature creatures, droids or characters this way, and articulation is something that could be sacrificed at this size to help keep costs down. Imagine being able to go buy min-carded woklings, scurriers, Dagobah and Naboo swamp critters, the worrt from outside Jabba's palace, or his rude sentry droid, the Sandtrooper patrol droid from ANH special ed., or any of the other small droids dotted throughout the movies. Am I dreaming? There's obvious collector appeal so the notion of exclusives comes to mind, but would kids go for this too, or parents, if it was a wide release perhaps and in a less-than-regular-figure price range perhaps? What do you reckon?

Generally speaking if Hasbro has an idea that works, they'll do it again-- and this set sold incredibly well. Recycling old product and bundling it with carded figure variants that are coming out in the Fall anyway was a stroke of genius on their part (especially since it worked), but I don't necessarily forsee a "mini vintage accessory" line down the pike. But we got a Death Star full of figures this year... maybe next year will be Tatooine, Alderaan, or Naboo.

This was a fascinating experiment-- and it worked! I sincerely doubt we'll see new tooling in a set like this-- personally, I'd be pretty upset if Hasbro put out a Worrt and I had to spend $130 to get it-- but it wouldn't stun me to see another, similar set in a year. Collectors love vintage cardbacks... and next year, maybe, Hasbro can make a design that's more suited to transporting home.


2. re-use/re-packing of old figures, but with the new product hitting the shelves in my area, it has made me think of the subject.

Did they produce THAT many of the 'key' figures back in 2008 and 2009 that the must release them with other characters to reduce their stock? Or can they actually be producing more of these older figures?

I'm referring to, but not limited to, the following:

Republic Scout Fighter with '08 Obi-Wan
Legacy of Terror DVD set with '08 Obi-Wan
Brain Invaders with '08 Ahsoka
Assault on Geonosis with '08 Obi-Wan (with new "dirt" applied)
Cad Bane's Escape with '09 Anakin and '09 Ahsoka

It makes business sense to add new characters or DVDs, etc to these to have folks pick them up, but you think they would flood pegs with clones and droids for army building, too.

I believe you are suffering from some confusion. Hasbro does not literally "repackage" old figures, the cost of labor to open the figures, or to ship unsold product back to Hasbro, is equal to or greater than the cost of making an entirely new figure. (Freight ain't free, nor shipping cartons.)

The recurring old figures at retail are part of a sound business strategy: Hasbro has a percentage of its line which it can sell year after year, granting them a great return on their development investment. Kids like those main characters-- obviously, we're not re-buying them-- so they keep pumping them out as long as the market can take it. (And based on what's backing up at retail... maybe beyond.)

I do have at least one little correction for you-- the new "Republic Scout Fighter" mini-rig you cite actually comes with a figure with a newly-tooled head featuring a headset, so it's not even more of the same, it's different. Added dirt deco is a new production too, I know nobody believes me but as I am actually in the business trust me when I say that it is an incredible waste of time and resources to take a toy, open it, and put it in a new package, or to have stock of it sitting for three years to put in a new box later. This sort of thing doesn't happen, but! There have been stories of toy companies making toys and not having sufficient packaging on-hand to ship the items, which happened at the tail-end of the original Galoob Action Fleet line of original trilogy-inspired vehicles in the late 1990s.


3. Right before Comic Con we saw press images of a packaged battlepack called the Search for Luke Skywalker or something similar, containing the awesome new Tauntaun, a slightly retooled Han in his Hoth outfit and an Echo Base Trooper. Surprisingly (to me) there was no mention at all of this set in the Comic Con presentation or Hasbro's booth, but there was another Tauntaun that is coming by itself in a Vintage inspired box, Luke's apparently. So, are we getting both, which would be all kinds of awesome, or has the Vintage boxed release replaced the battlepack? Are you in the know?

This item was not shown (nor discussed) in san Diego as far as I could tell. The Battle Pack with Han and the Tauntaun were officially sent to fan sites by Hasbro's PR company, and they were marked Target exclusive. So what happened? Well, either Hasbro forgot to bring it (likely) or this is a "secret" item like Target used to get where Hasbro pretends it doesn't exist and a very large number of you pretend to believe them. Very annoying. So barring some earth-shattering weirdness, you'll have this set in your hands in either October or November... unless Hasbro delayed it and THAT was the reason it was not shown in San Diego. (My guess? It's being held back for New York Comic Con. And I'm almost willing to bet it will be on-shelf as they announce it.)


4. In your recent 2009 fans choice analysis, you mentioned, "In the case of Cane Adiss ... Hasbro has been mildly hostile ... due to it not having a body designed"

Why would this matter to Hasbro? They have made figures out of lots of characters who they had to design bodies or costumes! Lots of the original cantina aliens were just heads!


I don't know. Why did one guy at Hasbro hate the Cloud Car so much that it didn't see release until 2010? If you've ever held a job at a toy company, you know there's a lot of... engaging discussion about what will or won't happen. They're going to do what they want.

Hasbro HAS designed figure bodies but they're generally humanoid. There's no indication that Cane Adiss is a biped... or a dinosaur... or whatever it is. I know art exists but Hasbro doesn't always follow it and neither does Lucas-- Hem Dazon has had a few bodies, due to his being a head on a stick.

A recurring theme in toy collecting is that fans want anything you tell them they can't have. There's even a fine comic about it. Seeing how many great designs we HAVE seen in their entirety, I find it consistently baffling that people will take what's in the mystery box over any of a number of quality designs which they have actually seen.

This may be a disconnect between how I think (correctly) and how others who disagree with me think (by definition, incorrectly) but we as a group have a knee-jerk reaction to being shown nearly any design-- including and especially unfinished designs-- that we can't have. From deleted scenes in movies to the unreleased waves of action figures to pretty much any aborted concept, "...but I want that!" is the first thing people on the internet seem to shout. Can't see the Biggs scenes? A travesty! Vlix never saw release in the USA? A crime against man! The Power Spark AT-ST toys never saw release? Well, some things we just didn't care about.

It's possible Hasbro some day will do it-- particularly if I keep making fun of it, that seems to be how they work-- but a giraffe martian on a stick is kind of shruggable. Maybe as an accessory to another toy, but if anything the fact that we're even having this (admittedly one-sided) discussion proves that Hasbro already did most of the really good ideas from the original trilogy by now.


5. Since sometime late last year, I can't seem to keep up with the definitive list of Deluxe Vehicle (Mini) w/Figure and Battlepack lines. Even the Hasbro presentations at this year's Toy Fair and SDCC don't seem to be quite complete. Is there a resource you can point me to?

That's why "Figure of the Day" exists. Anybody dumb enough to put out a "definitive list" is going to get into fights with people, and FOTD is such a mess nobody questions it, plus you're basically asking me if you have these figures or not and dang if I know what you bought. I assume everything.

If the Mini-Rigs vehicle is new, generally speaking, so is the figure. So Castas, the new Scout Speeder ARF Trooper, the Y-Wing Scout Pilot, the Droid Speeder Droid, and even Grievous from the Attack Cycle are new. No questions. (If you're really in need of proof, you can sneak a figure into the store and compare. That's what I did with the 2-pack IG-86 last year. As long as I don't open the merchandise and keep my clothes on at all times, I don't think the bulk of stores care if I do this.)

The Battle Packs... well, you decide. Does it look new? It's new. At the risk of doubling down on snide, if you can't tell if it's new I suggest that you not buy it. We are approaching our second full thousand of Star Wars figures... we could all stand to skip a few, even though we won't. One tough character is the "Hunt for Grievous" Rex-- he IS different, even though he doesn't look it. He has a blaster wound to the chest, hidden by his pauldron... but the Grievous and the Clone Kix in the set should have made you buy it by now anyway. The problem here comes in that even though I see it as unique, you may not care in the slightest because you have dirty Rex, clean Rex, Rex with eel blood, Rex with a new rifle, Rex with a jetpack, and several other variations on the same character by now. How the toy appeals to you (or doesn't) is the most important thing... unless you're a boxed collector, in which case it's pretty easy to spot what's new.



So I got a few new batches of Clone Wars figures in the past week. Largely good stuff, the new package template really does a good job highlighting the accessories while more or less eliminating the battle game. (Does anyone out there have kids who enjoy it? I'm curious. My guess is nobody cares, you don't buy action figures for game components except maybe Gormiti.)

The two new Savage Opress figures share a lot of parts and are generally great. The new Captain Rex has a big backpack with a smaller, removable jetpack plugged into it. It's amazing. Saesee Tiin is a perfect figure with a wonderful helmet and a jetpack that more or less falls apart if you play with it. Weak. The new Chewbacca is good but he can't sit and the face deco leaves something to be desired, but the sculpt is quite good and the fact they gave him three weapons is wonderful. Kit Fisto in snow gear comes from the comics (I think the first figure in the line cribbed directly from the comics) and has removable goggles and snow shoes. It's a good sculpt.

R7-D4 has a completely new body sculpt with removable limbs-- it's worth noting that the parts are not perfectly swappable with the 2008 and 2009 droids. It's still a good figure unto itself with pop-out arms and a removable, rotating third leg.

I haven't opened everybody as of the time I wrote this, but Seripas is the batch's shining gem. While not perfect, you won't care, because it's so good. The head opens up and the pilot is removable-- the figure inside is painted but it not as detailed as the show model. (It's a toy, so I wouldn't expect it to be exact.) He has nearly super-articulated features on the robot suit, with no head joint (of course) and no ankle joints. The big hands are cool and each wrist has pop-out weapons, including a little buzzsaw. The saw doesn't spin very well and pops off if you aren't careful, so this is another fine example of an A+ collector figure that would be a C- kid's toy. I wonder when Hasbro is going to drop the pretense that the bulk of the new characters are actually really collector figures? I guess their shipping in usually only one wave more or less confirmed it. He also includes what appears to be Rumi Paramita's rifle, which I think may be Hasbro's way of saying "Well, at least we gave you her gun."

...did I mention how much I like the new Jedi Force Landspeeder? Pull-back motor, kids. This is a real toy. Go get one for yourself, the cute checkout girl with the orange hair and the piercings will just assume you're buying it for a kid and are not tragically lame. At least this is what I'm telling myself. But hey, pull-back Landspeeder! That stays off aging for six months I think.

In unrelated news, this past week I've spent a lot of time messing around with my Xevoz (a Hasbro line from about 8 years ago) and Glyos (a mail-order toy line made by a small company out of the northeastern United States.) Like with Clone Wars, I really appreciate the stylized designs, and the fact that they're original is really exciting. Even though some of them are very old, it's not like I can buy any other action figure line and get a mummy, put some Chuck Taylors on his feet, and hand him a guitar while listening to "I'm Gonna Kill My Baby Tonight" or "Stronger than Dirt." I'm pretty sure that's why these were designed this way, so I can make "budget rock" toys.

...on a depressing note one of my Quick Slinger's knee pads seems to be missing. I am depressed. I'm going to go cry as my parts completionism is going to eat me alive this week.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with Q&A in the subject line.

Idividual Clone Wars C-3PO Figure

Hey, Adam, I'm new here, and I was wondering, since Hasbro's FINALLY reissuing a Clone Wars C-3PO figure in a battlepack, why can't they issue him individually with added accessories? I've sadly missed out on the 2008 Legacy release, and it would be nice if Hasbro would issue more Protocal Droids as well! -Corbin