Q&A: Home Video, Pod Racers, Toy Licensing, and RZA's Iron Fists

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 11, 2012

So let's talk classic cuts of the original trilogy in this week's Q&A, because, why not? Are we going to see drastic changes to licensing? And what kind of pod racer figures do you need to supply a kid with all the important stuff? All this, Iron Fists, and more in this week's exciting-ish column!


1. Do you think, now that George Lucas is no longer in charge at Lucas Film, that we might possibly see a release of the original cuts of the Original Triology on DVD/Blue-Ray? As far as I have been able to glean from the web, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but he was the major/only hold out for releasing the original versions.

"No longer in charge" doesn't necessarily mean "doesn't have any pull." It's quite possible any of a number of things could happen, and we don't know if the new boss was handed a mandate of the movies not appearing in the "original" form, or a form which is close to the "original" form (hey, those FX smudges and boxes suck), or what. For all we know Lucas has a provision that lets him re-cut the movies every time the home video release is prepared for a new format.

I'd personally love to see some sort of a mix, incorporating the cleaned-up prints but, if possible, the original edits. I find it very distracting when a song changes, so Lapti Nek going from Jedi Rocks seems weird to me. (It might not seem so to younger viewers.) Odds are we won't know for sure for a while, and my guess is that might not be until the 3D-a-palooza is over in, I'm revising my estimate now, 2014.


2. My question is: what do you think ramifications of the Disney buyout of Lucasfilm will be for toy licensing going forward? It seems like Disney has pretty close ties with Mattel, although I they seem to make deals with a wide range of manufacturers, and obviously have a relationship with Hasbro already for some of their Star Wars merchandise. Still, it will be interesting to see what happens when Hasbro's license expires.

Licenses change all the time, Star Wars has been under the "same" management for an unusually large time but we've seen the pie get divided up and dished out all sorts of different ways. The way licensed toys work, anything could happen. Hasbro had Disney before Mattel, and Sesame Street was at Mattel until a couple of years back, now it's at Hasbro. Batman was at Mego, Kenner, Toy Biz, Kenner again (and Hasbro), and then Mattel over the course of about 20 years.

Since Hasbro is doing great with Marvel, it's just as likely Disney might say "let's give all this business to Hasbro" or, potentially, say "we need to do our own toy manufacturing wing beyond theme parks and cut out the middle man." That, I don't like. I'd rather it stay at Hasbro than go to Mattel, Disney, or another toy company. Either way, you got until 2020 until anything could possibly change and I'm sure Hasbro will make it a point to extend it before the new movie starts.



3. Not a toy question this time, but a question for you about where you'd like to see Episodes 7-9 go. What time period do you want to see them cover? If it's within 20 years or so of ROTJ, they'd obviously have to re-cast the characters with age-appropriate talent. If they choose to do the movies further past ROTJ (30 years and up), they could bring back Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, etc. to reprise their roles. Personally, I'd rather see the period of The Thrawn Trilogy on the big screen, which would mean re-casting the characters. I know they've said they won't be adapting the books or comics (darn it!), but that doesn't mean they couldn't use some of those characters and situations (Thrawn, MARA JADE, C'baoth, Yuuzhan Vong, etc.) in the new movies. As long as Mara Jade is included, and done right, I'll be pretty happy! :)

I think the numerous fans that seem to be asking this question shows that it is going to be very difficult to come up with a good story. I wouldn't discount incorporating some aspects of the existing EU, but I wouldn't cry if they wiped the slate clean after Return of the Jedi and ignored Thrawn, Mara, the Vong, and all that baggage. There's no reason to adapt the books, it's not like the bulk of them are exactly widely praised stories with few exceptions, and even then, ehhhhh. New please.

Based purely on the films, the only thread I think might be fun to pick up on is a sort of a revenge plot from Jabba's organized crime syndicate, but even that wouldn't be interesting enough for three movies. The leftover Empire is kind of a dud and has been played out, I don't care how much someone has the hots for Daala, I don't want to see that happen either. I don't want to see a revived Boba Fett. I don't know if Ahsoka dies but I don't want to see her running around on the big screen really. I don't want to see the Emperor's Clones, and as far as Thrawn goes, I've got resolution there. I fully admit this may be due to me being an increasingly Grumpy Old Guy, I can't see these movies with the eyes I saw them with when I was a kid and neither can anyone else. Which is probably why it's bad for me to say what they should do, they need to sell tickets and toys and they probably have 50 guys going bonkers to get their stories told.

Were it up to me I'd say I hope they do a tangent to the "saga" as it stands now, the movie series doesn't need a de facto "Episode VII." They could just as easily do a spin-off (during, before, or after the current films, I'm not picky) as I'd much rather see Darth Vader running around doing something and not being dead that has little or nothing to do with what we've already seen, and no Rebellion. Darth Vader made the movies better because as a villain, he wasn't necessarily defeated. There was a lucky shot from Han in Star Wars. In Empire, he won. And in Jedi, he won, too, but not exactly in the way his character revealed. With the prequels, we got some awesome villains who were quickly dispatched and I found that to be quite disappointing.

I realize this is odd to some of you, but I was pretty happy with Star Wars in its current film form with television being the future of the franchise. So with a movie, well, I'm open to whatever they got. Let's see it. I'm sure the entire media landscape will spend the next ten years telling me I'm wrong if I say I either like it or hate it anyway until whatever is bad about it is beaten into the ground with Robot Chicken Episode VII.


4. If I have already gotten (off ebay or in stores) my nephew --> E1 Anakin's podracer, Sebulba's E1 podracer, the two "new" racer releases from TVC, the latest TRU pack of racers with flags, and the Wal-Mart Mos Espa exclusive battle pack, does he have ALL of the available Boonta Eve participants? Or am I missing something?
--Mr. Arthur

As long as you're OK with missing a few nifty accessories or Pit Droids, you're pretty close. Ody Mandrell came out in 1999, and as far as I know has not yet been reissued. There's also Mawhonic, available at a Walmart near you (maybe) and in the newest wave of Vintage Star Wars figures which is basically a dotcom exclusive.

The new 2012 packaged Pod Racer vehicles kinda suck. If you have the 1999 red boxed ones (with the pilots) he'll be better off... they include pilot figures which actually fit well in the cockpits.


5. What does this new status [of Disney as the steward of Star Wars] mean for Dave Filoni's incredible "The Clone Wars" series?

It's difficult to tell, because media outlets are publishing things without quotes or citations. There's a fair amount of buzz surrounding a possibility the show will end/be rebooted after this season and/or move to DisneyXD, but (and I missed the panel, it took place during the feast of maximum occupancy) I was told that they had a sixth season planned at Celebration VI.

I assume it's got some juice still and if there are more episodes "done" or in the works, there's possibly a home for them on the direct-to-video market Disney loves so much or they'll finish off the current deal and finish up the show. From the beginning we were told The Clone Wars had enough stories for at least 100 episodes, and we're passing that mark in a month or so. That and the ratings have steadily declined since the first year, Hasbro is suffocating the line, and while it might have legs it doesn't really feel like they're strong ones.

A fresh start would be good to see. A writer has been confirmed for the seventh film, so letting Star Wars exist in a world where we're not treated to new stories weekly might not be a terrible way to once again drive hype to insane levels. Maybe it was just because I was young at the time, but that first Phantom Menace trailer in late 1998 was a big, big deal. I can't say that I'm at all starved for newness right now, and the fun-size doses of Jedi action on TV has certainly been good enough for the last few years.



I could write something about the election, but at this point, eh. Instead, go see The Man with the Iron Fists, a delightful pastiche of kung fu cinema starring Bobby Digital, Lucy Liu, Russel Crowe, and tons of other awesome people you may not know by name but might eventually. It's one of those movies on the "this is way better than it should be" list, including other personal favorites like Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Machete, and of course Predators. If two or more of those appeal to you, and you don't mind vaguely comical gore, go see The Man with the Iron Fists. This is basically a public service announcement, I was dragged out of bed on Saturday morning to see it and let me tell you, it was worth it.

Today is the cutoff for Masters of the Universe Classics Castle Grayskull, sort of. Matty Collector put it up for preorder and if it meets the minimum number of orders by today, they'll make it. It looks like it's making it. It's a big big playset and priced accordingly, and a pretty ballsy move if you don't mind my saying. (If it failed, it'd be depressing for the piece and for the line as a whole.) I'm expecting Hasbro will give us a Death Star between now and 2015, although I could be wrong. Hopefully the Grayskull Experiment will show that there is adequate room for a big, lower-run playset sold to old farts like us.

I really don't have much I can share regarding other stuff just yet. I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of question marks in the coming months, but these things have an odd way of resolving themselves. (See: Mandalorian Transport.) I kinda hope we see Star Wars get a rest, as in, a year without Star Wars (but not as merchandise, hah, let's not be silly here) just so the public can get excited about it because for the most of us, it never ever left. Certainly not since 2008.

Vague rumblings come in asking "has everything we're going to see for 2012 been released?" and all I can say is "I'm not entirely sure myself" right now. Some things are shipping but not showing up (Fighter Pods Series 3 4-packs, for example) and it's not unprecedented to see surprise exclusives this time of year. I don't think there's any sort of untapped market for surprise exclusives right now, but hey, Hasbro did a bunch of them for Marvel and I'd have said the same thing there. Keep your eyes open over the next few weeks, and if you see anything be sure to let us know. Or if you hate our guts, go tell another site so the rest of the class can read about it there.

--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.