Q&A: Ships, Anniversaries, Columns, and Petitions

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 21, 2013

Q&A time, kids! So how about fan petitions to Hasbro - have they worked? What about Return of the Jedi's 30th Anniversary - what's going on there? And what about that Naboo Fighter - let's tackle that one again. More Q&A fun awaits when you read on!


1. Do you know if Hasbro still plans to re-release some of the hard-to-find Vintage figures from the past year?

I sincerely doubt it. The supposed best-of waves haven't been solicited online and have not shipped to stores. The new 2012 stock you're seeing comes from the waves that shipped last year, and have the date stamps to back it up. As far as I can tell, no new production of existing Vintage has surfaced but there's still plenty of last year's supply to go around to stores... for now. Keep looking, a proper rerelease isn't necessary since they're still working out the kinks from the original release. I'm just now seeing Imperial Navy Commando figures hanging out at Walmart for the first time.


2. Is there a realistic probability that EE or any on-line retailer will be receiving more of the 2012 Naboo Starfighter and Green Tank any time in the next 6 months?

Online, unlikely.

Online stores generally leave up items for order as long as those items are available from a manufacturer. Now that it showed up at Gordmans (which I've never heard of before this weekend) it's a safe bet Hasbro is now dumping this assortment which means you'll need to keep your eyes peeled at non-traditional toy stores to find these, and the added bonus is that they might be cheaper than the $25-$30 they were going for new last year... if you could find them, that is. Keep an eye on eBay, this should mean prices will go down a bit. (It looks like it was orbiting $60, which is a smidgen more than double SRP for a 2012 vehicle of this size, which, honestly, ain't terrible.)



3. Is there any precedent that shows the success or lack there of for petitions to Hasbro for figure X to be made or improved?

Not many, and not always directly, but yes. Yakface.com had some of the first successful campaigns for Wuher, the Shuttle, and the Skiff back in the 1990s. The Fan's Choice poll runners-up tended to get produced, with the last couple of rounds giving us nearly two dozen rejects which Hasbro quickly learned were desired by fans, and to what extent. Our perpetual dissatisfaction with Darth Maul and Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker figures comes through here.

There hasn't been a direct petition lately that could take a lot of credit for one specific figure - as far as I can tell Willrow Hood did a lot to raise awareness and lobby Hasbro, but I don't think there was a situation here where Hasbro set a goal and fans reached it. If memory serves, back in the 1990s a Kenner employee told us "you'd have to get at least 10,000 signatures for us to take notice" and that's exactly what Yakface.com did. Of course, back then there were more people with a lot more free time and space than we all have today, plus it was easier to get people behind a single idea. Today if a fan makes a suggestion for a figure, other fans will say "No, we want this other one instead." After a few thousand toys, it's really tough to get people to agree on anything while back in 1996, people could agree that Tarkin or Slave Leia would be really exciting to have as toys since they had never been done before. I mean, just catalogging each and every Star Wars toy from the last 10 years is enough to make someone's head explode, so the marketplace may not actually need too much new stuff and it certainly can't agree on what to produce.

The last major effort was a Sail Barge petition which shook out at about 2,800. While there will always be pockets of fans wanting an item made or remade, it seems the fandom on the whole is somewhat satiated - there's no one thing we can all agree to get behind anymore, plus, well, the number of collectors has gone down a bit. Getting 10,000 collectors to show up for anything is probably impossible (prove me wrong). There are very few things I would consider making a push to happen these days, and those which I would lobby for would probably never hit 2,800 signatures. (Vlix, Bo-Katan, D-Squad, Jaxxon.)


4. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi. Where is the love? For the 30th of New Hope and Empire we got all kinds of special products, but where is it for Jedi? Aside from the TRU AT-AT and K-Mart Ewok Catapult (yet to be seen), there seems to be little else. I am thankful for Disney's Star Wars weekends! At least I'll be able to order a few items online/ebay, but attending, from MN, not happening. Have you heard anything that will make me feel less like my favorite Star Wars movie and favorite aliens (Ewoks!) are being neglected?

The 2010 line had a few tributes to The Empire Strikes Back, but there was another key difference: 2010 didn't have fans feeling like they just sat through the apocalypse. Fans of The Empire Strikes Back were treated to a few vehicles (Cloud Car, Tauntaun, Snowspeeder, AT-AT), a wave of new vintage-carded figures, and not a whole heck of a lot else. Truth be told, the original Star Wars didn't get all that much more love for its 30th anniversary - the line focused on the entire series, with only one wave of figures dedicated to the original film. Hasbro hasn't placed a lot of significance in anniversaries, generally giving us a few token figures from each movie almost every year. The marketplace of 2010 being so different from today makes it difficult for me to say the line is doing anything but basically being on par with how Hasbro treats its lines during a non-push year when it has many many other things to push (Avengers cartoon, Iron Man and G.I. Joe and Wolverine movies, etc.)

The 20th Anniversary line was basically the Special Editions back in 1997 - so it was just business as usual. In 2002, for the 25th Anniversary, we got a new movie line plus three pretty iffy two-packs based on the original film.

As to Ewoks? You got 8 in 2012, which I think is a world-record for Ewok releases in a single year. I'll always take more Ewoks but Hasbro gave us a fairly meaty year in 2012, rubbing the faces of Cantina fans in it. And Jabba's Palace fans, too. Do you know how many new, non-rereleased Cantina aliens came out last year? One. Do you know how many new Jabba's Palace aliens we got last year? Three. Granted, Astromech droids had it better than everyone with something like 30 or so new releases, depending on how you count them. But Ewoks, I think, had a great 2012 and I think it would be a miracle to ever see that many in a single year again.


5a. I enjoyed your figure if the day column, and I was wondering why you stopped? Did you run out of figures( there is only so many figures for you to write about!), Want more time with your significant others (understandable)? Or were you just bored and need a hiatus (also understandable)?

I have been collecting for about 2 years and I feel I have caught up with 90% of what I need (I am the type of collector who sees no need to have a saga02 figure if I have the TVC version)

5b. Hey Adam, just wanted to ask the reason why you decided to halt the SW Figure of the Day. I had many years of reading enjoyment and am sorry to see it go. Was it a lack of interest or time? A dearth of new figures to review (do you know how many were left unreviewed at this point?) or a dread of never being able to catch up even iwth the dearth of new product?

Figure of the Day started in 2006 as a temporary (key word: temporary) measure to act as site filler while other members of Galactic Hunter were off doing real life - this was my idea of how to keep their seats warm until they came back. Well... uh... yeah. We have a smaller staff today. FOTD ended up going one year, and then two, and ultimately about seven. One of the reasons it kept going was because I heard people make a big stink about Newt Gingrich writing a bunch of Amazon reviews, and I said "I can write more than that bloated gasbag." Another reason was (and I'm serious here) I was hoping it would turn into some sort of a deal to do page-a-day calendars or a book of some sort. None of this happened. People keep writing in saying "You should write a book!" and I don't know if you know this, but there's really nobody knocking down my door to do any paid gigs lately.

By and large it felt people were amused that the column existed but generally didn't read it. "I can't believe you're still doing this!" rather than "I like what you're doing!" was what I would hear at conventions and press events. It sort of takes its toll when you ask someone "Oh, do you read it regularly?" and they say "Oh no, I just saw you were still doing it. That's hilarious! How much longer can you think you can keep doing it?" It's not exactly positive feedback, and I can guarantee you they money it brought in was pretty abysmal (i.e., cents per week since adding ads last year, literally nothing for the first several years.)  Because, you know, people have to click the ads for you to get paid most of the time.

If you need more musings about whatever, I write stuff in the middle of the night and sometimes it gets posted to Tumblr. The "Toy Stories" tag has a lot of stories of toy hunting, industry stuff, collecting on a budget of jack squat, and bicycle toy runs which you might enjoy. These might get adapted to a future Galactic Hunter column but to be honest I'd love to turn all of this kind of stuff into a book or some other sort of a thing some day. Preferably not a b-plot on a future season of a "nerd" sitcom, though. (Eh, unless maybe Parks & Rec.)

Oh, and another thing - and this is also depressing - you may note FOTD ran pretty much 5 days a week for its entire run, and 7 days a week during the first couple of years, and other than a few late-night internet outages I don't think I missed a deadline. I moved three times during this period, went on dozens of business trips, and still haven't been able to find the time to unpack my collection and set up shop in my new home - but I did deliver the column, which makes me feel good that I could pull it off somehow. I'm really hoping to get more of that done this year, and I've actually been making progress since the column stopped, if you can believe it. So hopefully by this time next year I'll finally be fairly all-set-up.



One thing I'm increasingly interested in is independent toymaking. It's really happening. I don't mean urban vinyl (i.e., things that are not playthings), or custom figures, or things in runs of like 5-10. I appreciate those, but that's more along the lines of arts and crafts, things that are astonishingly outside my skillset and on the border of my interests because as cool as one-of-a-kind things are, well, it's not something you can really write about. You can appreciate it, and that's cool, but I've always been a big fan of toy lines where there's stuff to read about and, most important of all, it's not so fragile you can't play with it.

I've written here about October Toys' O.M.F.G. line a few times, and these are 2-inch figures similar to MUSCLE men and Monster in my Pocket. OMFG Series 3 just squeaked by on Kickstarter and has some of the strongest designs yet, and I'm proud to say one of the concepts came from a reader of this very column. I can't say why I should be proud of this, but it makes me feel good to see it. A new series of Onell Design Glyos figures went up over the weekend, and those are a bunch of fun. The site Toyfinity.com one-upped them and, as a fan, put together a program where he got the licenses for some 1980s toy lines including Robo-Force and Rocks & Bugs & Things. Also, Zoloworld made their own Masters of the Universe-esque action figure line. If you remember the old Remco figures in this style, you might dig this.

A few years ago I mentioned in this very column that these sorts of things were worth noting, because we as a group can make toys now. Remember that Darth Vader Funeral Pyre? Fans could make one. There's nothing stopping us from making a 3 3/4-inch scale plastic pile of "burning" sticks. While we can't make a branded "Death Star" playset, I bet you could find a way to crank out a 3 3/4-inch space station environment that could look pretty darned close.

While there are some things that would be, honestly, just impossible to make there are quite a few things that aren't necessarily requiring of a license. Marauder Gun-Runners has numerous swell accessories for this scale of action figure, so there's probably some real opportunity in this space still for Star Wars fans. Or you know, something else entirely. Frankly I'm pretty happy to be seeing other items worth getting excited about, but I can't say I'll be super-depressed if a few of 'em start ending. I'm guessing Outer Space Men has one or two years left in it, and I'm really not sure what all is happening with Beast Saga with so few new announcements lately.

But anyway, in slow times like this remember that while you can't make officially licensed 3 3/4-inch Star Wars toys yourself, there are no laws against making stuff compatible with this line as long as it doesn't infringe on trademarks. The Transformers people do it. The Joe people do it. How come we're not doing it more?

(PS - I'm still looking for Movie Heroes 22 Battle Droid from 2012 as well as the Boba Fett. Help? Yeah, I'll probably keep asking until I find one.)

--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.