Q&A: Comic-Con Is Over, Long Live More Star Wars!

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, July 12, 2015

This week in Q&A: Let's talk Comic-Con and the reveals of sorts. Also new movie ennui and the odd secrecy of al of that. We also look at what may be a bogus question, but hey, why not explain the better Darth Vader figures just in case? We can do that. And we will.


So send in your questions for next week. Read on!

1. Hopefully, by the time this is appears within your column, we'll know whether Disney/Lucasfilm is going to remain oddly (and uselessly) secretive about the TFA toys, but I will say that I no longer care. Here's why: when the movie finally premiers, I don't want to see a two-hour toy commercial; I want to see a good story. I don't want to see a ship and think "I don't have that yet"; I want to be thrilled by what it does onscreen. I don't want to see a character and realize that the figure I bought based on that character, well before I ever actually knew who the hell the character really is, isn't quite scree-accurate because of reasons; I want to see a character that I end up either rooting for or loving to hate.

If I had my way, the toys wouldn't hit until January. As it is, I'm pretty sure there won't be anything of interest for me from the new movie anyway, but that's good - I'll be able to judge this movie on its actual merits as opposed to how many toys it makes me want to buy. I wish this was case for everyone our age, but c'est la guerre.

I wrote the postscript for this week before answering the questions - it sort of ties in to this.

I really admire your perspective, I don't think I can share it. Since seeing The Phantom Menace it's hard to watch most big franchise movies without seeing the lines of code behind the characters. Rebels features Ezra Bridger's lightsaber in a way that has another character speak his jealousy over a gimmick in the toy. Iron Man had some Barrel of Monkeys placement in there. Toymakers frequently collaborate with movie studios, but movie studios sometimes say no - Jon Favreau fought against Iron Man getting a special car because, I believe the quote was, "Iron Man is the car." We've since seen directors peeled off of franchises for not playing ball faster than you can say "As Seen In The Movie!" and when looking at the photos of what's coming for the new Star Wars flick, it's hard to not see what's coming and why.

Things are going to come at you at a pace so fast that it will, in many respects, be like the 1980s all over again. Hasbro maybe done - finished! - with The Force Awakens. I don't mean for 2014, I mean period - Rogue One toys are due on-shelf in 14 months. The medium is the message, and the message is "buy toys." The movie franchise is valuable, but that's not where the money is. A good movie is necessary to make more movies and more toys, sure - but we're going to see things mutate. I'm not saying I want a two-hour toy commercial, but I don't think I can fool myself into saying that we're seeing anything else. It might be a very good toy commercial, but that purpose - to get you to spend more money on this franchise, be it plastic or otherwise - is one of the reasons Disney got in to the male action franchise business.



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2. Hasbro's Comic Con "reveals" - what a joke! Why did they show almost nothing new? With the supposed release date of "The Force Awakens" product less than two months away, why in the world would they not show us anything from those lines, other than a ridiculously huge TIE Fighter that is too expensive, and really, too big for anyone to do anything with? Seems like an epic fail on Hasbro's part, and they've been doing that a lot lately.

Is this basically the death knell for 3 3/4" figures? I sure hope not, but "I have a bad feeling about this."

Titanium - it's really back??? It's clear those are the same molds as the previous ones, but with different bases (I like the previous bases much better). I was under the assumption that Mattel now had the diecast license, which is why we're seeing all this Hot Wheels Star Wars product, most of it crap. I loved the Titanium series, and would love more vehicles in that style, with that attention to detail and moving parts. They are so much better than the Hot Wheels scale. So how can both companies put out almost identical products at the same time? Will there be new Titanium ships, or just re-issues? I need to know if I should return the few Hot Wheels ships I bought, in hopes of more-detailed Titanium goodness to come?

Good news, Chicken Little - the sky is not necessarily falling. More accurately, you have to consider what Hasbro showed you. Or didn't show you. You saw exactly one new item from the new movie that you hadn't seen earlier - because, I guess, Hasbro is just insane. I hope they're planning a high-profile series of reveals because even as a hardcore fan of toy collecting, if you think I'm going to go out at midnight and wait at line just to see - let alone buy - the new movie toys, you're just plain not right there. I am not in a position to comment about which scales will or won't happen, but I can say that Hasbro's line is far more vast than what you saw. Which is nothing.

I am unfortunately unable to help you on some of the fishing expedition questions - what you saw is what you saw, what you didn't see is something that obviously can't be discussed. Hasbro did indeed show off molds from the 1990s with new display stands and in some cases, slightly different deco - why? I don't know. Considering these were the same toys we got for the last new movie, I suppose you can either look at it as a clever tease of the new line without showing off new movie against the licensor's wishes, or sort of a cruel kick in the coinpurse for those who made the trip to see the new stuff in person. I find the panels as of late less of a momentous event and more of something where I don't believe heckling would necessarily be impolite.

In the issue of "slicensing," yes, Hasbro and Mattel are fundamentally making the exact same scale of vehicles. At the same time. We're seeing variations of this happening in other lines - Batman in particular is spread across Mattel, DC Collectibles, NECA, Figures Toy Company, Mezco, and many others - plus people are using creative loopholes to determine what does (or doesn't) count as kosher for their contracts. See also: statues sold as "paperweights."




3. Hi! I know you run a Star Wars figure site, and I just wanted your opinion on something.

I'm looking to get a Darth Vader figure, problem is I'm not sure which one. My choices are:

-30th anniversary with coin album
-30th anniversary ultimate galactic hunt
-ROTS Target exclusive Lava Reflection (armoured)
-Black Series ESB Vader

Which would you recommend and why?

You didn't say what you were looking for in a figure, and as such they're all very good for different reasons. The Coin Album figure is the 2005 Revenge of the Sith figure, but with a coin - it has a fun squeeze-leg attack feature plus can fit in vehicles easily. The 30th Anniversary (Ultimate Galactic Hunt or otherwise) is arguably the best Vader overall, with great accessories, exceptional hands and hips as fitting in vehicles go, and of course another coin. I'd get that one first, but the gold coin or silver coin, whatever. Get whatever you want. Lava Reflection Darth Vader, only get it cheap - it's a 1997 mold with iffy paint. I see them in record stores for about ten bucks. The Black Series Darth Vader with the blast bolt hand is also quite nice if you're displaying him - he's not very good for vehicles thanks to his hip articulation.

So I guess get that 30th Anniversary Darth Vader with the Obi-Wan Robes first - everything else is relatively nice for different reasons, just do your research before paying. Many figures from 2006 and earlier have dropped in price, so be informed about what things actually cost, and don't pay what the prices were when you may have last checked.

Given the nature of Darth Vader as a character - assuming the premise of your question is legit (I don't buy anyone reading this column doesn't already have one or several Darth Vader action figures) you can also just sit tight and see what comes out over the next 2 years too. If you can get something cheap, do it - but if you can't, remember that Hasbro is probably not going to let a new Star Wars line launch without a Vader nearby. They did for Episode I and that was the last time - we got new ones around the subsequent prequels, and in circulation for The Clone Wars' launch, and the Vintage line relaunch, and The Black Series.




This last week is something of a milestone. At least it was for me - the day before I left for Comic-Con I got to experience something apathy toward the announcement of a new Star Wars movie. I knew it was coming, and it had nothing to do with the directors (love The Last Man on Earth) or the writers, but there's definitely a level of hype that is difficult to truly get behind. I had a similar discussion about a vast level of pre-interest with people in and around the indie toy field. With Kickstarter and other limited-run toys, plus a number of new video games, we're asked to give them our full love and support months if not years prior to our involvement with them. If I want a Raven action figure, I was asked to pay for it in full nearly two years prior to delivery. I think that works best in small doses, and while deferred gratification is a part of becoming an adult it seems counterintuitive with (let's face it) properties for kids. To an adult, three or four years can be a long wait. To a student-age human, it's an eternity. You may as well say it's 100 years off.

As of this week, I could tell you the premise for four upcoming Star Wars movies. That's a lot. Marvel has more, but that's a whole different series of complaints. With Star Wars we've been riding the hype train for years - I remember when I heard that Episode VII was going to happen, I was eating lunch with Mike Sullenger from this site at the mall. We heard Disney bought Lucasfilm and it was nothing if not a shocking moment - after all, Lucas was in the process of putting the movie series to bed and letting it roll out self-parody on television. This didn't happen, thankfully, but we also missed out on more The Clone Wars and whatever live action TV show could have come to pass. You can't really mourn a thing you never had, or I suppose you can but you're a weirdo.

Now we're being asked at fairly rapid intervals to get ready and indeed excited about an entire franchise without the direction of its creator. Some of you are happy about this, but it's a little bizarre to think about Star Wars without the guiding hand of the guy who made it. It's even more bizarre to, as a fan, be asked to take interest in four movies. Four plates are spinning off in the distance under the gaze of multiple directors, unlike the previous trilogies which tended to be more one-at-a-time affairs where there there was time to wallow in the space between and think about what you just saw. That's gone now - in 17 months we'll have seen two new movies. In 22 months, we'll have seen three. There are British television series which put out new episodes at roughly the same clip as Star Wars does movies now.

I think this may come back to the whole "old nerd" versus "new nerd" struggle, because I'm feeling more and more like a weird relic of the old generation than the unwelcome young person who came on board the fandom too late the first time 'round. I'm where I am today because of what I love, not what I hope I will love. From where I sat, the franchise was largely defined by a celebration of something old. Things look forward with an eye so far down the horizon that the very notion of being able to take in a new movie on its own merits is laughable. You're probably going to see a Rogue One teaser or footage around the same time as the new movie, because using a franchise film to market the next one has been an increasingly popular gimmick. (See also: Back to the Future Part II, The Matrix Reloaded, and almost every Marvel movie since and arguably including Iron Man.) The movie you pay to see only has to be adequate - you're going to be shown a commercial for the next one before the theater lights come on and the dude in the vest starts to yell at you regarding there being nothing after the credits.

The announcement of Episode VII and the inevitability of VIII and IX resulted in immediate glee. The Anthology movies, as news trickled out, seems to be missing that same level of heat for some reason. "Yeah, we're giving you a bunch more of these things." It's like when they screw up your order at Pizza Hut and sometimes give you a second pizza that you didn't order - the wrong one - at no cost. Normally free pizza would be a cause for much celebration, but you paid for one, and now you've just got more food than you need. Don't take this as a lack of interest in the movie - far from it. It's just striking for me that, as of last Tuesday, the quantity of new stories has eclipsed my ability to have that level of excitement. I loved 1990s Star Trek too, but when you hit that third weekly series it does take a little bit of the shine off. "Yup, OK, that should be neat" doesn't feel like the right reaction for two talented funny people taking over a popular character of my favorite movie series, but here we are again.

PS - as a glass-half-full collector I want to add, now that I write this part after the show, that the Hasbro panel was indeed disappointing. I expected them to show off any toys based on revealed items by now - if it's in a trailer, let's talk about it. If not, OK, fine, wait it out if you must. But at this point, if there's an Old Man Han Solo figure this year, showing that sort of thing would get my ass off the couch at Midnight on September 4. I don't blame Hasbro, I'm guessing Disney/Lucasfilm/Abrams probably pulled some strings here to make the week just to avoid stealing more hype from the movie's various staged reveals.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.



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