Season finale! Are we going to get toys from the Carnage of Krell just yet? Disappointed by Darth Maul's 2012 toy lineup? And what's going on with vintage in 2012-- will there be an assortment split? All this and more await you after the jump! Also, send in your questions for 2012... or don't!
1. With [Jedi Master Pong] Krell and Umbarans in four episodes [of The Clone Wars, do] you think that's enough to warrant figures and vehicles? It kinda sucks that the show is picking up momentum and has some really cool stuff, and TPM crap is the focus of next year so the resources have gone there.
Figures yes, vehicles probably not. Considering most clones from this episode are repaints (and the new helmet and body are coming), it makes sense that Hasbro might want to pursue a new Jedi with a batch of repaints-- but it might be as an exclusive, or a gift set... or in 2013. It depends on how many new items they want to make, really.
As far as vehicles, no, not really. If you look at Hasbro's track record, we've seen very few new Clone Wars vehicles for the bad guys-- the Mandalorian Transport is debatable given that it's used by more than just the Death Watch, and the bulk of other vehicles for the Separatists started life in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, or Revenge of the Sith. Hasbro has given very little love to the original creations of the 2008 TV show in terms of villainous vehicles-- we've had a few like the Super Vulture Droid, the Hyena Bomber, the Magnaguard Starfighter/Xanadu Blood, but those seem to exist to go with existing figures. We've seen virtually no non-robot soldiers of the Separatists as toys (or on the TV show really), so if I were to guess just based on what Hasbro has done so far? I expect no Umbaran vehicles.
2. You think Hasbro will bring back the Build-A-Fig[ure droid part swap] for Celebration? I still have some mixed parts. This was so awesome and a great way to interact with the crew there. I know it's been a long time since that assortment was out and maybe parts have dwindled. I think, with the five other people who have extra parts still, it would be a huge hit!
Based on what I heard on the show floor, I sincerely doubt it. It sounds like not many people used it and it was a drain on the booth staff, plus it'll be a few years out then-- at this point I'd suggest trying to set up a forum to swap parts because I don't know if they're going to take figure parts from 2008 and 2009 to a show in 2012-- they're usually more about looking forward to the next thing. So when they do build-a-figure again some day... maybe then?
3. Was hoping and praying with TPM and Darth Maul coming back, we might actually see a bigger Sith Infiltrator but are getting the dinky one instead. I mean, if it isn't going to happen next year it isn't going to happen huh? I wonder whatever happend to the Twilight ship, anyway? Wonder if we will ever get an explanation of it's fate on the series?
Despite being one of the best-selling figures, Darth Maul isn't known for his vehicles. While a larger one would be cool, sometimes it takes years to get to it-- the revised versions of the Millennium Falcon and AT-AT each took 30 years after their original releases, and to date (as far as my notes tell me) the only Phantom Menace (or indeed, prequel) vehicle to get a complete overhaul will be next year's Naboo Fighter-- everything else is a minor retool or redeco.
Since Hasbro has technically only shipped the original Sith Infiltrator for a short time I do not expect them to throw out the mold just yet-- and since the original one IS making a comeback next year, it doesn't make sense for Hasbro to have two competing versions of the same toy. (Although it wouldn't stun me if they decided to do one for Jedi Force.)
As to the other ships? Well, I guess all we can do is cross our fingers. But I'm definitely at a phase in my collecting career where I'd prefer something new to a remake or a retool, despite what my dozens of Jedi Starfighters may say about me.
4. I want to hear your take on the best figure of 2011. Which one is it?
Ponda Baba with all the accessories and flipper options? ARC Trooper on an EU Vintage (an oxymoron) card? Or someone from the animated line? Seripas, maybe, because—get this—they put the little dude from the morgue scene in “Men in Black” inside a suit of armor and turned him into a bounty hunter capable of conveying erstwhile messages about what it takes to be tough! You gotta love that. Which one? I’m sure you will surprise us with your choice.
I'm actually stlll undecided, as this year was mostly by-the-book. I like Seripas, but he's limited in what he can do and the buzzsaw accessory knocks it down a grade. I would say that right now I'm leaning toward Ponda Baba and the ARC Trooper Commander, the former because of how much stuff it can do, and the latter because that's a costume I've been wanting for a while now. While I really do love The Clone Wars line, I'm actually having a tough time singling out one figure from 2011 as superior. I like the collection, but few individual figures stand above the rest-- they're all good, but none seem to be great. The vehicles did stand out this year, though, particularly the Y-Wing Scout and Republic Cannon.
5. I noticed in looking at the pictures of the figures from the New York Comic Con that The Vintage Collection assortment number will change from the current 97568 to 37499 starting with the first wave of 2012, The Phatom Menace Wave. Do you think that Target stores will clearance out all of the current The Vintage Collection figures before the 2012 re-launch of The Vintage Collection line(which is supposed to occur on the hard release date of January 30, 2012) or do you think that they will just combine both assortment numbers under the same DPCI number and as a result, not put any of The Vintage Collection on clearance?
Hard to tell-- not enough data yet. If Hasbro is holding true to their comments that the Wedge and Gamorrean reissues will be on unchanged cardbacks, it's a very safe bet that these-- and the delayed 2011 figures-- could be on 97586 cardbacks still. It's also possible Hasbro assumes we don't know how assortments work and the numbers will change.
It could be like back in the 1990s when we had multiple "collections" shipping at the same time for a while, or (and this is more likely) the "old" figures are in shorter supply while the "new" 37499 figures get more love. (Or the exact opposite.) This is all speculation-- as Hasbro hasn't solicited new assortments, we don't know yet. Since Hasbro has made a big stink about SKU count to us, I would have to assume they will be in the old assortment number will continue for paperwork (and actual work) reasons.
...until carded samples surface of some of these guys, we won't know for sure. If Kithaba comes on a 97568, we're going to see two assortments of Vintage side-by-side and that might mean there could be some distribution weirdness-- I've got a lot of guesses as to what that mean but I don't want to pre-emptively disappoint anyone if I'm wrong. This isn't a case of my sitting on data and not telling you-- I really don't have this information right now.
For everyone's sake, we should hope they move everyone into the new assortment SKU but I have a feeling this will not happen. Divisions in the line are sometimes good (i.e., it gets more product out-- look at Transformers) and sometimes bad (i.e., one SKU is favored over another-- look at Transformers). Based on some of the retail buzz for 2012, it sounds like it'll be feast, not famine, but if one of the big boys gets burned on product it's entirely possible we could have another problem finding figures on our hands come March.
And I'm off until January 2, 2012! Send in your questions, I need a brief break to catch up on FOTD and I'll see you in 2012!
A lot of you guys did a 180 on The Clone Wars this year. As a whole the readers of this column were quite quiet about the line other than a few times when new figures proved difficult (OK, impossible) to find at retail. Faced with a potentially smaller line next year, I've actually started getting complaints-- I'm not sure why as I can't do anything about it-- but it's nice to see I'm not the only one who looks forward to new figures in this style and I really hope Hasbro didn't really drop the ball for 2012. After all, rereleases alone could drive the line for a while, plus we haven't even seen the female Mandalorian or a Captain Ackbar or Darth Maul or Pong Krell or a variety of other fun new characters as toys yet.
Lucasfilm has, seemingly, abandoned the format of the early episodes with lots of one-off episodes and two-parters in favor of, to use a comic term, basically "writing for the collection." Nearly every episode this year has been a multi-parter, which means we get fewer stories and (particularly in the Krell episodes) a lot more redundant plot points. Everybody loves character development but it's very rare that we need three or even four episodes to say what can be done in two. On the other hand, these multi-story arcs may be good for figures-- Pong Krell isn't just a one- or two-episode guest star anymore. The dude got four episodes with about two episodes worth of actual story. If nothing else, we're learning just how much story can be told in those opening "newsreels" and that it's entirely possible that George Lucas was entirely correct in originally believing that 60 seconds may have been sufficient for the original vision of Clone Wars animation roughly 10 years ago.
Anyway, I'm putting together some other stuff for articles for the rest of the year-- some come back next Monday for more, it just won't be Q&A-- but it will help to show how you can fix some of your figure woes. That's back in a few weeks.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your question in January.