Q&A: Star Wars Giant Vehicles, Super Articulation, and Lacking Creatures

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 27, 2016

1. So the AT-ACT is inbound shortly, but there has been a lot of grumbling about the largest price tag in Star Wars toy history. Are you planning on adding it to your collection?

And knowing you collect outside the Star Wars line as well, what's the most you have ever spent (MSRP, not secondary market) for a toy? Did it cause buyer's remorse later?

(As for me, I am skipping this one, but I bought the BMF back in '08 at first sight and have never regretted it.)

I basically semi-regret any purchase over $45. Once I buy a toy or collectible, it's fun for pretty much the same period of time regardless of what it is. I'm trying to remember anything non-secondary market I've paid over $200 to get, and I'm not coming up with anything.

I'm planning on getting the AT-ACT because I'm willing to bet this is the top of the price mountain. (There may have been another, higher top of the mountain... but that's not for me to discuss.) Last year's giant TIE Fighter showed that people weren't willing to throw down for a piece of furniture. I figure the AT-ACT has new figures and a new gimmick - sure I have to borrow someone's phone to try it - but I'll give it a shot. Due to how I collect (i.e., all 3 3/4-inch Star Wars) I wouldn't regret dropping close to $300 on this any more than I regretted spending thousands of dollars on this crap for over 21 years. Which is to say, mild regrets.



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2. If you could come up with a legitimate reason, why are there no creatures in the star wars line at the moment? Whether they be repacks from the first six films or new from tfa or rebels, it seems odd that they are completely absent considering how interesting they look and have always been part of the line.

I am very fond of 3.75 star wars figures and it is a great shame what has become of it. While it would be ideal to see the hey days of legacy or vintage series, I would settle on a compromise and see the current 5poa with slightly more articulation (removable hats/ helmets) and less crappy pack in's. So how do I communicate this to the right people at Hasbro? Sure, chances are it will go unheard but there must be more than me that wants to see a return to quality, articulation and greater number of figures produced..?

I saw a picture from Rogue One that looked suspiciously like Biggs Darklighter and it got me thinking, why aren't Hasbro utilising previous figures (stormtroopers, rebel soldiers/ guards, death star gunner/ guard, Tie/ XWing pilots, droids) primarily from a New Hope that can or will cross over into Rogue One. Seems obvious with very little effort...

The only reason I can come up with might be a lack of communication from Disney - The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and Rebels assets are doled out by Disney at their pleasure. Hasbro needs about 18 months to come up with a product once they see it, so if they wanted to do anything they saw in the new movie last year, they probably couldn't do it before May unless it was a practical, on-set effect they saw somewhere. I think it's just neglect. Rebels as a whole is missing a lot of great possibilities like Hondo, Lando, the Ghost, and so on. Not only did we not get beasts, but we haven't seen much in the way of original trilogy stuff, or Ewoks, or Prequel characters, or vehicles from the pre-Disney era, and so on and so forth. There's a ton of stuff they just didn't bother to make. Beasts are just one category.

One of the reasons Hasbro gave me a few years ago for redesigning figures is cost - just cranking out the same super-articulated Stormtrooper figure costs more than tooling up a new one, which we're not seeing at this time. We saw this happen with Jedi Starfighters a few years ago - most decisions that seem curious are a result of the balance sheet.

There's really no place for compromise here - Hasbro makes what Hasbro makes, and fans aren't loud enough about how much they don't like it. It's also selling pretty well still. Hasbro has no real visibility to fan distaste short of a few old guys on forums and the occasional person writing in to complain to a column like this one, and what needs to happen is fans approaching Hasbro at conventions (or writing actual letters, not easily auto-replied emails) to get the point across. If you can't make contact by writing those notes or saying hello, we're going to get a lot more of the same because the one thing Hasbro understands is success. The Force Awakens line was largely considered to be a success. Why change things without a good reason? So get on that.




3. II feel lucky to have found the Rogue One Black Series Jon Erso and Deathtrooper. The figures are great. Then I realized how bad the VOTC and Black Series Stormtroopers are and how great the the Rogue One Stormtroopers is, despite the 5 points of articulation. So, can you make a new Black Series Stormtrooper happen with your day job? A 3.75 multipack of Stormtroopers would be cool. It should not have a removable helmet.

As I do not work for Hasbro I can't make them do anything. If this is a thing people want, they're going to need to tell Hasbro, to contact them and see them at conventions and to write letters. Get it in the front page of fan sites, make it a big issue. If I had the opportunity to make a new figure mold from 100% new parts, I would not revisit something that exists in multiple flavors already - sure, they can do better, but I'd rather have a 1983 Sy Snootles, Sim Aloo, Vlix, Geezum, or something that doesn't exist in the 1995-present modern line in any form first.

I know it's not popular to say, but I'd really hate to waste Hasbro's resources on doing yet another new Stormtrooper when you could give us another Cantina alien, or a Jabba's Palace creature, or maybe literally anything from Maz Kanata's castle. I'll take a robot, I'll take a creature, I'd even very happily pick up a Judah Friedlander figure. At this point in my collecting career, I've seen so many Stormtroopers come and go as "the best" that I don't care to ever see another new one unless/until we see a really big Star Destroyer or Death Star playset. As a community, we simply have no reason for an incremental upgrade. It would take roughly the same resources to make a new super articulated Stormtrooper as it would to deliver an old man Luke Skywalker, or any of a number of things you don't own and can't buy on Amazon or eBay right now.




So this was an interesting week. The surprise debut of the 12-inch Speeder Bike as a Walmart Black Friday item was fun to see after being told it wasn't going to see production, but I also found a $25 copy of Twilight Princess HD for Wii U so that ain't bad. Which reminded me I never did pick up Skyward Sword. (Got a dusty copy? Let's talk.) Figures seem to be circulating and of course new waves are going up for pre-order, but the thing I hate about Star Wars being a Christmas movie now means kids can't see it early enough to know what they would love to get for Christmas. There's a built-in market for Star Wars that prevents abject failure, but when I first saw Avatar stuff early I had a similar concern - what kid is going to know that they want this during the release window? No kid.

So far it looks like stuff is doing well minus the seemingly ongoing parade of additional, new The Force Awakens production in new packaging. This is a terrible, terrible idea because it doesn't look new to anybody - especially if the old stuff is still around. So good hunting there, people. I'm still out hunting for Walgreens C-3PO and Walmart's Scarif Stormtrooper (both sizes) in addition to the 3 3/4-inch Cassian Andor, which I assume I'm going to see en masse 6-7 days after it hits. Such is the way of things, until people discover if they actually care enough about him or not. One of the narratives I keep seeing in the press is how "no Rey toys existed" last year and, well, they were. Just not after you saw the movie, because everybody bought 'em all. That's always the big turning point.

We're under three weeks away from Rogue One - tickets go on sale this week, and we're told to not expect an opening crawl. I hope it's good. I could use some good news... also a few more hours in my day to actually see if I can finish Twilight Princess this time around. The weeks go by slowly but boy howdy, the last couple of decades, man...

--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.