So, what's next for the Disney Droid Factory? Want to see some pieces that haven't been released yet? (Would you believe that you already have seen them?) What's going on with kids vs. collectors this week... do we still matter? All this and much more, including some ramblings about our new GHVT column, await you today!
1. Is the battle damaged R2-D2 that appears in the Toys R Us exclusive Death Star Trench Run set different than the battle damaged R2-D2 that appeared in the 2008 Droid Factory Wal-Mart exclusive two packs?
As far as I can tell holding them up, not really. There are minor deco differences with the smudging and batch changes, but I figure if you've got one, they're fundamentally the same.
2. With the current Star Wars merchandise line being geared towards collectors and kids, how big of an impact do you think adult collectors as a whole have on the line? I know some items are made pretty much only for collectors, and others only for kids. Some other toys lines are made almost exclusively for adult collectors, while others are definitely made with kinds in mind. If collectors were to all of a sudden lose interest, would the line suffer all that much? I know this starts to get into a discussion about marketing strategy and the line direction and such, but sometimes I think we, as mostly adult collectors, forget that kids (well, parents) buy toys too, and just because an aspect of the line doesn't appeal to us doesn't mean it won't sell. I just wasn't sure of your thoughts on how big of an impact we really have. Thanks!
The sheer size of this line is massive. Star Wars is still a big deal in the world of action figures, as lots of units are selling and changing hands even though that may not be obvious at the toy store(s) you frequent. From what I hear it's a very big deal, and if that's the case then it's really hard to tell just what Hasbro's doing. Because we all know "new" figures have been in largely short supply since February or March, but from what I'm seeing stuff is moving. To who? No idea.
Right now, you can buy 3 different sizes of Star Wars Transformers, a mini 3 3/4-inch vehicle assortment, a medium one, the large MTT, a mask assortment, an electronic mask assortment, blind-bagged Fighter Pods, 4-packs, 12-packs, deluxe gift sets, Vintage figures, Movie Heroes figures, Clone Wars figures, Playskool figures, Playskool mini vehicles, Playskool "starfighter" vehicles, non-electronic lightsabers, traditional electronic lightsabers, Ultimate FX Lightsabers, Force FX Lightsabers, mini roleplay blasters, normal roleplay blasters, Battle Packs, and some other crap I'm forgetting. That's just assortments, and that's non-exclusive stuff. That's a lot of stuff and I guarantee you it isn't all selling to adult fans.
If Collectors are buying based on the opinions you people send me, that means none of you have any "Movie Heroes" and few of you are buying or are remotely interested in "Clone Wars." (True?)
From where I sit I see little to no marketing of Star Wars stuff outside our bubble-- which is to say, other fan sites like this one, the marketing stuff I send out at my day job at Entertainment Earth (catalogs, etc.), and very rarely any form of actual ad from Hasbro. I assume they're doing some marketing somewhere, I don't see it. As such, it's possible Hasbro ran the numbers and said "OK, we really don't need to do much other than keep selling it because most of it is working just fine."
Obviously with this many assortments, not everything can last. While Hasbro and Target and other stores do have a great system set up to define three different 3 3/4-inch action figure assortments, there's a weak link in stockers that just don't get that they're separate things despite the fact that the pegs are empty for weeks if not months at a time. Still, other stuff you don't care about is selling, so like you say we as a demographic may not be too important to the overall health of the line.
I personally feel the line today isn't very kid-friendly. There aren't many "allowance" price points, the bulk of the goods are $10 and up. Engaging kids in a big way would probably mean more product and more variety, and hopefully we'll see a big push toward more newness in next year's line.
3. The second wave of Disney droid factory astromechs is out featuring 9 new droid domes (3 R6, 3 R8 & 3 R9). This completes the early rumor list containing 25 domes, 13 trunks, 10 right and left legs, 5 middle legs and an assortment of hats, that appeared in the weeks preceding the first wave.
Still early promo photos like the one shown below have other parts (for example, the red R7 dome in the center of the promo or the light blue trunk and legs to the right). What do you think? Does the promo shot contain a mockup including pieces and shades not released? Do you think we are due for another wave? It seems the promotion was very successful.
The early promotional photography for Hasbro's Star Tours droids does indeed show parts we don't have yet, as you pointed out. This, of course, makes sense as the Celebration VI "Star Tours Merchandise Panel" had talk of upcoming figure parts, although what those parts are were not disclosed.
Based on the photo we've all seen before, here are some of the parts we can probably expect.
1. Red R7 Dome
2. Baby Blue Astromech Body
3. Baby Blue Astromech Right Leg
4. Baby Blue Astromech Left Leg
5. Baby Blue Astromech Middle Leg
6. Baby Blue Astromech R2-Series Dome
6. Light Blue Mickey Mouse Ears with Black Jedi Logo
7. White R5-Series Dome with Green Stripes, Black Neck Marks, and Orange Top Panels
So... that's a start. More gotta be coming.
4. With the very limited release of the final vintage wave being online only, what are the chances of the figures being rereleased in other formats in the near future? I've got most of the OT characters pre-ordered but I still can't find a royal guard at a reasonable price and he does look pretty awesome.
Basically, we're always at the whims of Hasbro and its partners. Given their love of bringing back their best tooling from time to time, I would say it's a safe bet that this figure could resurface in time for Return of the Jedi 3-D if not for late next year for the final prequel sequels. It's going to depend on things like who needs an exclusive, most likely, or if Hasbro decides they need some filler in the build-a-droid waves. I wouldn't hold your breath, but I would say it is possible.
...just don't expect it to be on the same packaging, do expect it to have changes, and don't be mad if it doesn't happen. Also, remember that costs are going up and probably will keep going up, so today's $10-$13 figure could well be 2017's $15-$17 figure. If the price is right, bite the bullet.
5. What are the chances of Hasbro producing a "making of" video? A concept to production if you will, following 1 figure from design, sculpting, molding, etc to hitting shelves. Does one already exist? And if so can you please point me in the direction. I'd love to see such a thing.
You know, I'd love to know this myself but I have to assume it's pretty unlikely due to things like trade secrets and how America likes its manufacturing like its food-- done where we can't see it. We have seen little things here and there, back in 2000 Hasbro had a really cool series of panels at a touring booth showing figures like Dejarik Champion Chewbacca from start to finish, but it was pretty simplistic.
Since these things take resources, resources take money, and Hasbro takes pretty much everything they do as confidential, I would not expect them to do it but I really would love to see that on a DVD some day. We had some "progress reports" on a few figures over the years, but that was basically a sculpt here and a sketch there, nothing too in-depth or fancy. (Although if Hasbro wants it done on the cheap, I'd GLADLY conduct some interviews and shoot some footage for freesies. I got a crappy HD camera and iMovie, and very little common sense.)
I started writing a tirade on The Clone Wars and instead posted it to Galactic Hunter Video Theater because why not? Pageviews, amirite? This is a new-ish feature where I find crap on YouTube and put some paragraphs around it. So far it's doing pretty well as far as readership and effort, especially relative to this column and FOTD. I could squeeze out GHVTs all day long. Not like FOTD, which requires data and research, or this, which requires questions. Don't worry, I figure I'll be doing Q&A until the restraining order kicks in, but I do think it's fun and important to check out other audiovisual components of Star Wars beyond the films.
I'd also like to point out, I absolutely will take requests. It'll probably continue to be a weekly Saturday night thing, unless there's a new The Clone Wars episode to watch and I'll give you guys a few days to watch that before posting my stuff in case of spoilers. Right now I'm planning on making those a Tuesday posting.
For those who care, the numbers on GHVT are about a third as big as Q&A, but are about as good as an average (but not great) Figure of the Day post. The problem with GHVT is that unlike Q&A or FOTD, it's a lot more finite. Especially if this stuff gets pulled from YouTube. I don't know how long this column will last, but for the time being I've got it covered through October.
Hangin' with Mr. Looper was good!
Oh, I picked up the Kmart Ewok Scouts and AT-ST Drivers this weekend, having seen them on shelf for the first time. As most stores sat on these and still haven't put them out yet, don't panic. If you'd like to panic and overpay someone, please let me know as I would be happy to separate you from your money as this column is not a paying gig.
I also pulled my records (as in vinyl records) out of storage as, in the last month, I picked up a new-ish vinyl-only release from Neil Hamburger and another from Man or Astro-Man? that basically just came out. (Or I just found out about, either way.) A friend of mine decided he didn't want to store records about a year ago, so I'm getting through the collection he dumped on me, which is a fun and bewildering experience because you get to learn a lot from going through somebody's stuff. There's some awesome stuff (more Man or Astro-Man, Public Image Limited, and Causey Way), some classic stuff (Crosby, Stills, & Nash and Talking Heads), and some stuff I don't know what to make of yet.
Anyway, it's a really fun experience because I'm holed up in an office all day and the act of getting off my sorry butt and flipping over a record every 15-25 minutes makes it feel like I'm actually doing something, moreso than thumbing through the iPod. Unfortunately my favorite place to buy old vinyl closed down about two years ago, which is a shame because I could stand to add to my Talking Heads discography.
...I also need to find a way to steal my dad's The Stooges eponymous LP. Because Iggy! If I get Fun House I can complete the trilogy as Raw Power is right here.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.