So you want a Vintage Wampa. Do you just want everything reissued in a Vintage box at this point? How come reduced articulation didn't bring reduced prices in some SKUs? Well, tough to say. All this and vehicles await you in a regular installment of Q&A!
1. I managed to find Cmdr Wolffe and the new Rex in a store and was surprised to find the limited articulation (yes, I know you said that was coming, and I'm behind the curve as it's nothing new). I don't favor that, though it doesn't bother me. My question is, Is the limited articulation an effort to keep the toys within an acceptable manufacturing cost range to fit the price point at the store, or is Hasbro trying to wring extra profit out of an old line (I would prefer to say "fading", but that may just be my experience)? I could swallow 6-7 point articulation if the argument is, "We're trying to keep it at $10 retail or below, and fewer pieces = cheaper." I know the recent Joes came out (at Target, anyway) at $10.99 -- they had greater articulation, but seeing them at that price, I simply balked and said no way. I'm willing to settle for less articulation if it keeps the price point where it is (which is still too high, but that's another discussion), but is that what's really going on here?
There are many reasons why pricing is how it is, much of which can be blamed at the rise of China's wages for its employees, which is a hard thing to begrudge. Hasbro also charged a heck of a lot more for Vintage figures in 2004, 2006, and 2007 because they could-- you'd pay it with a smile, and they did it again in 2010, and other than figures you already own, you still do it. There are across-the-board price increases as well, but it's hard not to raise an eyebrow when Hasbro has the same Qui-Gon figure in multiple configurations The most expensive one has the fewest accessories and the least amount of packaging. It's very complicated, Maude. Lots of ins, lots of outs.
As far as I know Hasbro has made zero comment on the articulation issue. The 2012 Commander Cody has some of the best articulation on any animated figure, so I really don't know why they didn't just reuse it for the other figures other than to reduce costs. Rex 2012 and Wolffe 2012 have some pretty decent deco plus firing accessories, so I'd speculate cost issues but sometimes it's hard to say if they just figured that they made better toys due to how figures stand or other things, like articulated wrists begetting lost hands. (Before you scoff, I've been to lots of thrift stores and I've been to a lot of houses when I was looking for a new place to live, and I was stunned how many figures lacked hands-- all of which had wrist articulation.)
I had a brief chat with Hasbro at CVI-- I'm a time vampire, they're very generous-- and they explained that in some items, like the new small vehicles, are actually cheaper to tool up new rather than recycle existing molds in the current climate. A smaller, cheaper product created from the ground up can be cheaper than recycling an existing mold. It sounds preposterous, I know, but then I looked into some old data and found out that the 2002 Jango Fett's Slave I was actually pretty expensive, close to $35-$40 retail, while the 2013 model is an entirely new mold targeting $20ish. Also keep in mind that in 2002, figures had action features and were a mere $5, and stuff was dirt-friggin'-cheap relative to today. It's not a stretch to see figures in the same trajectory, with Cody 2012 as a fluke as a result of unused but otherwise available tooling.
2. Do you see a reworked wampa in vintage packaging being made for the ESB 3D release?
It's possible, but what you're asking is the prognostic equivalent of throwing a dart across a football field. The Empire Strikes Back 3D probably won't be out until 2014 at the earliest, but most likely will be 2015 to best exploit each individual Trilogy film unless someone decides to go back-to-back-to-back.
Short answer: maybe?
What you want to happen is a big gap, maybe not a year, but close. If for some reason Lucasfilm decides to do all 3 movies in 3D over a 3-month period, that means the merchandise will be accelerated and fewer figures can be released during that window.
In a scenario where Hasbro has to merchandise the original trilogy in a single year, it's going to depend on the health of the line and its retail partners. Vintage box packaging is not enough to sell an item, but it helps. If Target still wants this kind of thing in 201X, sure, why not? I'd put my money on a repackaged Wampa first, but it's going to depend on Hasbro's tooling budgets and who's in charge. We're getting some fine Speeder Bikes and Tauntauns over the last year or so because someone at Hasbro cared enough to push for it, and if you want an all-new Wampa over the next 3 years, I guess now is as good of a time as any to ask for one.
3. Adam, regarding Clone Wars Seasons 5& 6--- regardless of rumors and what the Hasbro team thinks, according to Dave Filoni and his team, voice work and animation has already been worked on for Season 6 of Clone Wars, and George Lucas told Filoni at C6 he wants him to keep making them until he said stop. So, I don't think the doom and gloom rumors (especially of Season 5 being the last season) should have much faith put in them. Clone Wars Season 6 is definitely happening, and future seasons seem to be on George's radar, even if it means shopping for a new network. This may not be a bad idea anyway, as Cartoon Network handles their properties poorly on a routine basis. Toy companies do indeed have an inside look at the entertainment industry, but they aren't necessarily the "be all end all" sources for entertainment news, and any rumors of CW Season 5 being the final season are absurdly inaccurate.
And there you are! We really don't know what Hasbro thinks of the show as a whole-- we just know the toy line is smaller-- but it's good to hear it's going to keep going, however it's going to keep going.
4. Was there any talk about [Hasbro's Star Wars Amp'd constructable vehicles and mini-figures] at Celebration?
This line has been quietly swept under the rug, be it for retooling or oblivion. They were pretty far along, but there are bunches of things that get really close to production that you guys never get to hear about-- for the time being, I wouldn't expect to see it. (Although I wouldn't mind seeing these features integrated into the 3 3/4-inch line somehow. I've got plenty of ATTs, I wouldn't mind seeing one I could juice up with more guns.)
5. Can the new vintage / lost line Emperor's Wrath Vader swap parts with a previous unmasked Vader? It doesn't make sense that he has his full hand back in an unmasking diorama. Can the wired stump be put on another Vader or can the bald head be put on the new wrath version?
You can boil-and-pop parts if you'd like, but these figures aren't made with part-swapping in mind. (You need to get into Minimates, Glyos, Masters of the Universe Classics, or Xevoz for that.) Given the previous ones with the removable helmets are arguably Empire Strikes Back releases, it kinda makes sense, I think. There's still a lot of room left for Hasbro to do some sort of "ultimate" Darth Vader with things like, oh I don't know, a lightsaber that can attach to his belt, swappable hands, a wired cape, swappable heads, amd so forth.
Heck, let's stake this a step farther: I predict Hasbro will make a premium line of figures at some point in the next eight years with tons of accessories and high price points. There. The good news is nobody will remember if I'm wrong and I can say "toldja!" if I'm right. Oh, I do love writing for you guys.
I've been writing this column in some form or another, on web sites, since 1999. I don't know how many thousands of your questions I've answered, but I gotta say thanks for sending them! For some reason this column is consistently one of the most (if not the most) popular thing on whatever site I've been lucky enough to write for, and it wouldn't be if you a) didn't read it and b) didn't ask questions. So give yourselves a round of applause! The column's almost as old as I was when I started writing about toys online for you guys.
Just a little canned thing since you guys generally know the drill, but this column's frequency is basically entirely in your hands. I've got a decent backlog of questions, but sometimes it gets indecent-- and that's when we post longer columns, or two entries in a week. You're the driving force of the column, and also its street team. If you dig it, tell a friend. If you hate it, tell someone you don't much care for how much you'll think they might enjoy it. They'll get the hint and stop tagging along with you at lunch. (See? I can help you somehow even if you hate the column.)
Over the years, you and I have been able to accomplish a lot. You guys helped me get a voice big enough to get some great jobs, which in turn resulted in some pretty good toys, and while there haven't been many of those lately (minus the new Gentle Giant Scout Trooper-- eh? Eh?) one thing to remember is that you as a community can still get a lot done. Some things, like a giant $200 Sail Barge, aren't very likely. But if you want a specific 3 3/4-inch figure, that's something we as a group can probably make happen, if you all can get behind something. Not a week goes by where someone doesn't ask for a figure, and I know some of you have been asking for the same guy for years. A couple of guys write in every few months asking about Cane Adiss which is probably one of the most-requested figures I personally feel will never happen without community assistance.
There are lots of forums out there and Hasbro is giving fans plenty of opportunities to communicate with them. As much as I would personally love to organize a "Make Vlix" campaign that has thousands of you guys sending Hasbro a package with a Twix candy bar in there and saying "Close enough, now make Vlix!" I know my schedule won't permit that unless I stop writing for you. Also, it'd be pretty self-serving. However, if any of you guys want to spearhead a fan campaign to get a figure, or a bust, or whatever made, get the ball rolling and if you have significant traction, let me know. Fan sites haven't done a lot to actually do what we're here to do-- to get the stuff we want-- lately, but now's as good of a time as any. The continued success of the line doesn't make me think its days are numbered, but the slots for new figures are far and few between, and sometimes we can affect change just by talking a lot. Heck, I even did it by accident once about 10 years ago.
So, what do you kids want? Leave comments. Network. Let's do something interesting in the down season because it looks like it might be slow for a few months!
Anyway, thanks everybody for reading and supporting the site. We really appreciate it. It doesn't really make us money so much as it does cost us money most of the time, but nobody said we were smart.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.