Let's talk Star Wars Angry Birds! It doesn't bother me, but it apparently bugs the daylights out of you! Should you hold your breath for a Z-95 Headhunter in the near future? I wouldn't. And heck, why not talk Star Trek because we've got room. All this and more await you in Q&A! Send in your questions for next week's column, too!
1. The new Nightsister action figure in the Target exclusive Battle Pack is very cool. But from what I can see, it looks more like a 'realistic' Nightsister as opposed to a Clone Wars cartoony likeness. Was this deliberate on Hasbro's part do you think? Or am I just not seeing the resemblance to her small screen counterpart? Thanks!
The short answer is you're right on the money. Hasbro hasn't explicitly stated in writing that this is an Expanded Universe Vintage/Legacy figure that got thrown into Clone Wars packaging... but it certainly looks like it is. It isn't Mother Talzin and the aesthetics (and articulation) doesn't mesh with the current state of The Clone Wars, or even the look from when Savage figures first came out. So on my shelf, she's a concept figure. But, obviously, you can put her whereever you want.
For more on the Nightsister, please read this rambly Figure of the Day entry I wrote.
2. Star Wars Angry Birds? Is there no end to the Star Wars mash ups that Lucas will approve? How rich can he get? I am surprised he hasn't combined the two best selling toys lines in the world: Star Wars toys and sex toys. George could have his own Jabba the butt plug.
There are already C-3PO themed condoms, but those are unlicensed and not sold in the USA.
I look at Star Wars Angry Birds as a thing that's being done as a game with a merchandising tie-in aimed at short people. Kids. I'm not the target market here, and much like Star Wars: Detours I'm aware that this is a thing I don't have to care about. (Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy the work of Seths Green and MacFarlane... I just don't really have any more room in my TV diet for sanctioned satire.)
The integration of Star Wars in another video game isn't exactly new, we saw Yoda, Starkiller, and Darth Vader in Soulcalibur IV and a wholly-owned Kart Racing game in the form of Star Wars: Super Bombad Racing, plus a rip-off of the destruction/Twisted Metal genre with Star Wars: Demolition and a dubious take on the fighting format with Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. In terms of what "Star Wars" is as a video game property, it has always been malleable to the point where, frankly, anything goes.
...except 2D shooters, I'm still upset there's no Star Wars game which rips off R-Type or Gradius or especially Salamander.
As to the toys, if you take a half-step back you might notice that Hasbro really is scrambling to go after kids right now. The 2012 Toy Fair Debut Star Wars Amp'd is, clearly, not going to make it out this year. The Clone Wars failed to ignite with kids, I blame case ratios but whatever - it didn't click. The important thing to remember is that, ultimately, Star Wars is a kid's property. Some of those kids grew up, and now there's a whole genre of super-boring can't-play-with-it $60-$900 statues which kids can't afford and do not care about. On the other side of the coin, there's a large number of kids (and kids are really where toy money is made, if the line succeeds, being a collector-only brand isn't exactly the sweetest of the sweet spots) and this might, maybe, be the thing for them.
Star Wars Transformers ran from 2006 to 2012 with minimal collector involvement. It had few new products and sold consistently. Let's do what we do best, and that's vote with our wallets. Star Wars Angry Birds isn't for me, but it might be for kids and I must admit (as someone without a cell phone) the idea of little Star Wars toys I could launch at a larger toy and knock it down is exactly the kind of thing I tried to make out of LEGO sets and Dixie cups as a kid. The play pattern is sound, even if it's not something I personally may want to collect.
3. The 3.3/4" action figure scale seems to be more popular today than it ever has been before! Thor, Batman, Star Wars, Gi Joe, Halo, and the list goes on. Movie driven or not, the 3.3/4" scale seems to be here to stay. My question to you is: When the new Star Trek movie comes out, do you think a good company such as Hasbro, can make a quality 3.3/4" line since Playmates attempts have failed time and time again (I don't blame this on the Trek Brand, I blame this on a less than desirable quality product per many forums). I recall reading the Q&A on the Art Asylum website and on a regular basis, people where asking for a 3.3/4" Trek line. Your thoughts?
I have numbers for you.
Diamond Select Toys makes great stuff, but their action figure lines for Star Trek haven't done well as we diverged into obscure characters, and "obscure" is seemingly now industry slang for "not Kirk or Spock." Many of the figures made since 2006 were 3,000 or fewer pieces, not counting the movie stuff, because, well, nobody's saying that was a hit. There were runs of 1,701 figures which struggled to sell. 1,701. That's for a non-exclusive item, too. I love Diamond, and I have to assume they took a bath on putting out such a miniscule run, solely for hardcore fans of one of the big three great sci-fi toy franchises.
Without kids, Hasbro is unlikely to embrace it. They're doing Star Trek Kre-o, which I have no doubt is done as a "let's get dad to buy this for his kid" thing, and I would assume more is on deck. (Well... you know the drill, people.) The Playmates line for the last movie was poorly designed, poorly executed, and abandoned early. If Kre-o works, maybe that will generate demand for real action figures... although at this point I'd be more inclined to seeing something like the modern-era G.I. Joes or even Marvel Legends in terms of parts reuse and size. (I could go either way.)
It's great that fans ask for things, but in this particular era of the internet it means a whole lot less. It used to be common wisdom if you got a couple of letters from your customers (pre-internet) that meant something like 10,000 people were thinking the same way, because, generally speaking, not many people would take the time to write the letter and send it in. Today, any idiot can write anyone for any reason. (Look at me, I've got a Q&A column without a publisher or a newspaper or anything!) While I am not at liberty to divulge specifics for various reasons, I can probably cite a dozen or more items since 2008 which came into being due to positive forum interest (or had the interest after they debuted) and bombed. Hasbro is pretty conservative on new licenses, and I reallllllllly doubt they would attempt to replicate a collector-focused 3 3/4-inch Trek line for next year unless they found an interesting (read: cheap) new direction for development.
4. I noticed that the X-Wing fighter that came in the "Trench Run" Battlepack has a removable nose section just forward the canopy. Could this have been done deliberately to add more play value with a possible toy from the deluxe figure & vehicle line to be released in the future? Also in the last season of the Clone Wars we saw a Z-95 Headhunter which has been a popular EU vehicle for a long time, would Hasbro be interested in making this considering the series will be ending this season?
I'm beginning to think it would be funny to start saying Hasbro confirmed things in the column just to see if I can disappoint people. Ohhhh I can't. I just can't. I'm sorry Mr. Arthur, there are no plans for a Z-95 Headhunter and it seems there aren't even any real plans to do any more Clone Wars vehicles of any kind beyond the mini-vehicles.
The "Deluxe" figure and vehicle assortment is teeny-tiny. It's going to be one "mini-rig" with 2 figures, so the packaging footprint is really too small for a decent vehicle. Your best hope is that they crammed it into the new smaller "medium-sized" $20 assortment. This is not where you'll find an X-Wing. Big vehicles are not where Hasbro is going next year, unless we've got some exclusive (or other) surprises at Toy Fair 2013.
The WEG-era vehicles, that is, the Expanded Universe vehicles popularized by West End Games' RPG, are pretty much forgotten. Galoob made a few in the 1990s, many of which were de facto "did you call their 1-800 number?" exclusives. When you get right down to it, it's just a lesser X-wing, and as a toy that ain't cool. I have to disagree with you that it's popular, as it seems this vehicle only comes up when fans are kicking around vehicles which haven't been made yet. While you guys do bring it up here on occasion, remember that next year's vehicles are being downsized and I don't think any Big Box buyer would take this as an exclusive unless they were planning on tanking the store.
Large vehicles (and for the sake of our discussion, "large" is bigger than 7-8-inches) may well be a Lost Cause for 2013. Next year the vehicular focus seems to be giving us a little Clone Wars "Hasbro Universe" stuff plus prequels so far, it's possible Hasbro is holding back but we already know they're planning a Vintage X-Wing and beyond that, well, it's not like they announced anything. If you really want a Z-95 Headhunter, I suggest you (the plural you, that which means "not me") kick off a campaign for it online and hope you get 10,000 or more supporters. You won't, but hey, spite is a powerful motivator.
5. Thanks for the tip on the Target Exclusive Darth Maul [Fighter Pods] tin. Aside from Ziro the Hutt, I also had 6 repainted clones that do not appear on any checklist (Series 1, 2, or 3).
Are you aware of these? What's the story behind them? Are there other figures available that are not accounted for on a checklist?
Right now the clones don't have official designations, so I guess there's really no "story" yet. I'm not sure if they're meant to be part of a specific series or what, and it seems there's no paperwork or interior graphics indicating any numbering system.
The only figures I know of not on any checklists so far are variants, and the only one I spotted (or paid attention to) were Silver Gun vs. Black Gun Cad Bane. And these guys.
So yeah, for those keeping track: The Target Fighter Pods Tin has exclusive (or debut, as we haven't seen the next few series yet) Ziro the Hutt, metallic Darth Maul, and (by my count) eight unique-to-this-set Clone Troopers. Unless Hasbro makes a list, I guess we're going to have to make up our own designations for these guys. Might I suggest T-1, T-2, etc.?
I don't have a heck of a lot to add to Star Wars as, well, Angry Birds. You may not know this but I get a real kick out of it when Hasbro has a market segment that I don't care for, and it makes large groups of fans on forums/social media foam at the mouth with rage. My initial reaction to the line was "Oh neat, something for the grade schoolers, I don't need to chase this line down." There will be other, better things on which to blow your money. At this point I approach the hobby with the mentality that the only person left who might be buying everything - and to be honest, I do not know if he is - might be Steve Sansweet. Now if they were doing Star Wars Gradius or Star Wars R-Type, I'd be interested, but this is so out of my field of expertise that I can't say I want to clear a spot for it. I don't have anything against it existing - I really hope it works, to be honest with you, as I like the "build-and-destroy" aspect of it - but I'm already pretty happy with Fighter Pods. (Also, I found the Target-exclusive Metallic Maul and Ziro tin late last week on the shelf. $25. Ehhhh. Bought it anyway.)
As a collector it's pretty easy for me to find reasons to write off entire, large segments of this hobby. Angry Birds? Don't feel an obligation to buy it, remember Star Wars also had Hasbro-made M&Ms figures and Transformers toys. There's a whole lot of things you probably don't collect, and it wouldn't kill anyone to add one more to the list. Personally I'd rather spend that money on tracking down those Walmart-exclusive Avengers Marvel Legends guys... you know, if they were available for more than 1 hour at a time. Which also serves as a stern reminder, if you think things are tough to find in our line, we're not alone: there are lots of pain-in-the-neck items in other lines, and Marvel, unlike Star Wars, seems to have retained the sense of "exclusives are hard to get" which we've more or less expunged in the last 4 or 5 years. (Well, in the USA anyway, things of an exclusive nature have been largely [but not always] easier to find than mainline product as of late.)
Of course, for a lot of us, this may not mean much because collecting any currently-running line can only break your heart. I don't think there's any line which hasn't gone through the usual Honeymoon Phase, followed by a decent run, a rut or glut, followed by a prolonged period of unease and/or scorn via price increases or horrible distribution, real or imagined. One of my other favorite figure lines had a $15 increase from its SDCC series to its NYCC series for reasons I can't quite fathom. Yeah, I'm pretty cranky tonight.