Q&A: Labor Day Edition wth Vehicles and So Much More

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 4, 2011

Where's the best place for old Kenner commercials? The answer won't surprise you! Did you miss out on the 2010 Snowspeeder vehicle and are wondering what hope you might have? Well... uh, we also look at a bunch of other craziness at retail and new larger versions of classic and Episode I vehicles. Prepare yourself for some disappointment in this special Labor Day edition!

1. II was wondering if you know of any commercials produced for Star Wars Hasbro product since 1995? I have seen a few for Power of the Force and one on the AT-TE for the Clone wars. Where is the best resource for a listing of Star Wars Hasbro commercials and for that matter older Kenner Commercials from 1978 to 1985? It seems as though there was a commercial for almost every product then, why are they so few and far between now?

As far as I know there's no central database for Hasbro's TV marketing spots for Star Wars short of the modern stuff-- Hasbro does keep a number of spots active on its own site, but the rest are more or less stuck on YouTube-- and you can find a lot of 'em there.

Hasbro still does a lot of TV spots across its brands, but it's the kid-driven stuff. Vintage won't benefit from kid-targeted marketing on Cartoon Network like a lightsaber or a high-end vehicle. Given the nature of assorted items, they do a pretty good job over the years hitting most of the major assortments, but they don't do stuff for every specific item. Even if you look back to the 1990s, you'd usually see one spot covering 6-10 items at once-- ALIENS being a fine example. 30 seconds, a bunch of toys, a logo, and that's that. Generally ads are less to promote a specific product than they are to drill the brand into your head, obviously in this day of dozens of figures in circulation all at once it doesn't make sense to put out a spot showing each and every figure, or even a series showing everything.

...hence, lightsaber ads.


2. Do you think hasbro might finally get into playsets with their new imaginext scaled line? Those imaginext playsets, especially the Batcave are great toys and have entertained my boys for over a year now.

I've been doing a lot of research into Imaginext lately and it's basically a 1980s toyline. It's remarkable-- aircraft carriers, Dino-Riders-alikes, and now one but two different Batcave playsets are all on shelf. And there's only (as far as I can tell) one female figure in the past near-decade of releases, but an insane amount of good vehicles, accessories, and yes, even a few playsets. (The earliest items are basically like Playmobil meets LEGO, with castle-based construction sets.)

If you look at the line, it's still pretty minimal as playsets go-- there was a space planet (which was repainted for Green Lantern), a couple of Batcaves, and a large aircraft carrier. Also, the figures evolved from uniquely sculpted figures to basically one sculpt repainted a hundred different ways, with a few exceptions (see: DC Super Friends.) Fisher-Price saves a ton of money by recycling their figure molds a thousand times over, while Hasbro's Playskool Jedi Force figures are all-new tooling. As of now, they don't have an easy way to subsidize new and large tooling, and while the line does have a good vehicle focus, it's important to remember that the brand does have playsets-- three of them-- in the form of Transformers-themed garages and a Spider-Man playset. That's actually a pretty healthy start.

With that in mind I'm not sure if their plans require more playsets right now, or what they would be for Star Wars. I'd love to see a Batcave-sized Death Star, but I don't think it's realistic or likely. I'd like to see if a villain hideout could work at that size or price point, but I guess we'll see at Toy Fair. (I'm not banking on it.)


3. I am surprised that I've not seen more of a drum beaten for the continued distribution of the 2010 Snowspeeder. I never once saw it at retail, it was gone from online distributors before Christmas and it continues to fetch ridiculous prices in the secondary market (Yes, I think $45 for a starfighter assortment ship is ridiculous). I expected with all of the complaining Hasbro does about the cost of expensive tooling that they would be rolling this thing into stores in relentless waves, but no, its almost all Jedi Starfighters. Is it that it's an Original Trilogy vehicle or is there really that much interest in Plo Koon's ride? Or more likely, is it that they seem to have trouble delivering anything to retail?

Are you kidding me? I have to assume you don't live near a Target-- they had the same ship (in a new box) as an exclusive for months, in addition to the blue-boxed version which was sold for months last year. I know we had it online for a while, and yeah, they "retired" it for now. Generally the school of thought is that Clone Wars vehicles do better, and while I don't have the intel to confirm or deny this, it seems to be working for them. The chances were there, and I agree with you on the pricing. But the things hit last June and stuck around through at least December, depending on where you live (and where you shop) you may be able to luck into one still.

Hasbro will undoubtedly bring it back, either as a reissue or a repaint, but we don't know when (or how) yet. As to where the movie-based vehicles are, I have no idea-- it's been slow on the vehicle front this year, which I'm guessing is going to change with the Phantom Menace-themed stuff next year. And we can probably all guess where we think that's gonna go.

As a rule, historically, vehicles tend to climb a lot faster than most figures on the secondary market. Collectors rarely stock up on them to resell later, where a figure is cheaper, smaller, and easier to store. But (and you can yell at me if you want) you had plenty of shots at this item in 2010.


4. Star Wars Shop.com closed rather suddenly. Do you know why? The timing (during Comic-Con) was rather odd. Also I seem to recall "back in the day" SWS having a warehouse sale where the locals were given access to incredible deals like $1 figures and $10 AT-ATs. Do you remember this as well or is my mind playing tricks on me? I was wondering if they would do something similar to get rid of unsold stock.

--Darth Gamboa

When a store closes, sometimes it's sudden-- immediate, even. Given the lack of new exclusive products and the increasingly ubiquitous nature of Star Wars products (remember, just 16 years ago, the notion of action figures was a real surprise) probably didn't help. There are more Star Wars items in the marketplace now than there probably were during most of the original trilogy's run, so a store focusing solely on them may experience some growing pains. This is just a guess, I don't know.

When Marie Callender's shut down, stories were that people were asked to leave, mid-meal. The Arizona-based chain Atomic Comics pretty much just up and closed, and a number of eateries around town have closed their doors without so much as a "goodbye" press release and a final week, last-chance-to-enjoy-it victory (OK, fail) lap. The StarWarsShop.com site did announce it was the last chance to order, but they didn't slash prices-- and while I can speculate on a number of reasons why this was (accounting/write-offs and what have you) it's consistent with many businesses closing up shop these days.

For all I know the brass said "OK, looks like we're not meeting our sales goals, shut down next week and we'll go from there." The shop itself has had a few owners over the years, at one point Wizards of the Coast pretty much ran it (and dumped the stock in their brick and mortar stores, hah, remember those?) in like... 2003? I think it was 2003. (I found Ki-Adi-Mundi 12-inch figures for five bucks and some other nifty things.) Those inventory items are bound to turn up somewhere-- but until they show up, all I can do is speculate, because to do more than that would be bad.


5. After all these re-releases of the AAT (Armored Assault Tank - or GAP) since 1999 until today (I count at least 5 different paints and releases), is there a chance to see a new version of this cool vehicle? The mold itself is a very nice and detailed one, but the whole vehicle is not quite movie accurate regarding its size.

If and when the mold finally breaks down, it's possible but unlikely. The "Starfighter" vehicle assortment is sort of a magic price point and there are distribution advantages to keeping everything in a similarly sized box. If we do get one, next year would make sense, but I don't foresee a huge glut of brand-new Phantom Menace tooling for vehicles in 2011. A new Naboo Starfighter, sure, that makes sense-- but the tank (I've always felt) was one of their great toys in terms of getting a design down to a manageable, cheap, and overall fun level. I wish they kept the ejector seat from the first release, but you can't win 'em all.

To date I've got at least 6 different tanks-- Episode I, Clone Wars (2003), 30th Anniversary Collection, Clone Wars (Blue and Grey, 2008), Clone Wars (Blue and Grey but different, Target, 2008) and the Clone Wars (Dark Blue Box, 2010) versions just off the top of my head. I might be forgetting one or two.


6. Are you ever going to come to Germany and visit JediCon? Or is the fan audience too small around here? I think the fans would be more than pleased to welcome you here!

Doubtful. I'm sure it's a fine show, but for me, I have to find a good reason to leave the house. ("Good reasons" include going out for burgers, tracking down toy robots, and fighting with people over what their ads say and what an item actually scans at during checkout.)

...that and I don't exactly add much to the convention experience.   Unless there's competitive complaining, I'm good at that.



Soooo... how 'bout them Blu-Ray tweaks? More on that next week.  Fair warning, I don't consider changes made to a move that's over 5 years old a spoiler.

I've been doing some housekeeping-- and by that, I mean taking things off shelves and generally reorganizing-- and it's a pretty amazing selection of goodies in the past year. As a few of this week's questions show, we're getting more good stuff than we can easily absorb, which is a real mixed blessing. In the past 365 days alone we've been given a new giant Slave I, Camie & Fixer, Seripas, Savage Opress (twice), a huge AT-AT, a less huge AT-AT, a revised version of Delta Squad, Season 3 Fordo, and so much other stuff that I can't help but wonder if we've gotten all there is to get for 2011, minus the upcoming exclusives and a few odd figures here and there.

We've already been told to lower our expectations for Vintage, and after the three-wave drop on The Clone Wars in the past month I'm starting to feel we've reached our quota for the year on those guys too. (Hopefully we'll see some reissues and remixed cases.) I may also be one of very few fans not upset about this in the slightest-- if every exclusive we saw at Comic-Con still hits in 2011, we're still looking at a few hundred bucks in releases, plus the figures come out so quickly that the next wave often hits before the previous one has had a chance to saturate the market.

It's a strange position to be in, in the next few months we're going to see more vehicle repaints, Clone packs, Tauntauns, and so on than ever before but due to the lighter nature of basic figure distribution at retail, it's probably going to feel like a dry spell. I'm curious when (or if) this is going to change, primarily in The Clone Wars where it seems the likes of Embo are just now starting to hang around, nearly a year later. If anything this is good for Hasbro's bottom line, but it's a little strange to think that the company could probably just coast a year on rereleasing existing hard-to-find items and a lot of fans-- obviously, not readers of columns like this one-- would be pretty jazzed at a second shot at some of these guys. I mean, The Clone Wars in particular feels a little slow going, but there are far, far too many figures above the $20 mark on the secondary market to ignore-- those should be a little easier to track down.

--Adam Pawlus

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