Q&A: Battles, Bombers, Variants, and Dual Injection Molding ROCKS

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome to 2012! Let's look at Revenge of the Jedi carded figures. And let's also look at Clone Wars some more. Everybody loves dual injection molded toys. Are Y-Wing Scout Bombers still shipping? Also, Adam wants more small toys. (Fire, Wood, Water.) Read on!

1. What's the percentage of "Revenge" carded Vintage-style chase figures out there? I recently picked up a Revenge Fett and was wondering. Is there 1 "Revenge" figure per case, or what?

I can't say I entirely understand your question. But let me take a whack at what I think you're asking.

Last Fall, Hasbro released three different assortments with Revenge of the Jedi variant cardbacks. "Revenge" figures were packed 1 per case, with 4 "Revenge" figures per case, and some (but not all) came on "Return" or other cardbacks in the other cases. So some figures are just as common on "Revenge" as "Return," and some others, well, not. Also, we don't know for sure if each case was made in equal numbers to the rest-- for example, what my employer calls waves 8, 8 Revision 1, and 9 may be made in different quantities, thus making some figures much more common than others. We just don't know until the line ends and it all shakes out on eBay, really, because Hasbro doesn't divulge numbers manufactured to any of its customers. (The big exception being exclusives-- sometimes you can tell by the carton markings.)

The issue with variant cardbacks-- I hesitate to call them "chase" because they're in EVERY case and not like every third or fourth case, like a chase trading card would be in every few packs-- is that the quantities produced are immaterial if nobody cares. Some of the Ultimate Galactic Hunt foil variants from years past are just as common (if not moreso) than their non-foil counterparts due to how distribution worked out, so... well, it's hard to say if it will ultimately be harder to find the variants or not. As a collector I might either want only "Revenge" cardbacks, or I might only want 1 with the rest being proper movie titles. Or I might not care one bit, which is a bit closer to the truth.


2. I was pondering the small number of Clone Wars single-carded figures for 2012 (19, I think?) and wondering: with new characters undoubtedly coming up as this season winds down and the new season winds up, do you think Hasbro's being coy and actually has two-packs and Battle Packs aplenty on tap (featuring new figures), and the single-carded figure number is only a ruse?

For those not following this thread, Hasbro alluded to only making 19 The Clone Wars basic carded figures in its 2012 line. When pressed, they confirmed this was 19 total, and not 19 new ones. It's possible that they are in error or misunderstood the question (they flat out don't read the whole question sometimes or misinterpret what we're getting at, and with only 19 figures I think it's entirely possible they misunderstood.) After all, Hasbro has already revealed 14 of the figures, 6 of which seem to be previously unreleased with the remaining 8 being repackaged figures. Perhaps there will be another SKU assortment of Clone Wars that isn't counted? Could this be some goofy technicality?

There will indeed be more multipacks and vehicles, however Hasbro abandoned its animated-themed mini-vehicles line almost immediately after launch so I don't expect more cartoon figures in that avenue. There may be some exclusives-- 2-packs for Wal-Mart or other retailers-- so that could be where our new figures are going to go... but it's tough to tell. It's also possible Hasbro realized if it makes 40 figures or if it makes 14 figures, the sales are ultimately not that much different if the kids are the driving force of the line. I don't have access to their data, but that last one is what caused Nintendo to reduce its software output during and after the Nintendo64 era. Why release 20 games per year when 6 can generate the same revenue?

I would be somewhat surprised to see Hasbro abandon the line completely. I find it almost unthinkable that we'll get 14 figures by April, and then for the rest of the year, only 5 more-- and surely one of those will be a repackaged figure, if not more. Given the size of the line and the quantity of excellent (but scarce) releases, they could and should pad the line with additional repackaged product. As a fan, I can handle a year with only a dozen new figures, but I flat-out don't understand why you'd stop selling repackaged product if the market is there. (Although from the show's declining ratings, maybe it's not there.)


3. Regarding the POTJ Darth Vader emperor’s wrath: any insight on how they did his helmet for this figure? I mean, is that an actual molded skull inside the helmet that’s a separate piece? I’m trying to figure out if this figure is actually different mold-wise from the other versions it spawned (imperial forces multipack, hoth one, 2nd emperors wrath from saga2, holographic 30ac vader, etc). Any insight would be appreciated.

The helmet on the Emperor's Wrath Darth Vader figures (there was one in 2000 and another in 2006) are basically dual-injected figures-- there's a skull molded inside the helmet, but the helmet is not removable. At least, not easily removable-- it's basically a clear-ish helmet surrounding a glow-in-the-dark plastic skull. (Maybe you can carve it off?) Some of its descendants use the same helmet, but because they're done up in opaque plastic I can't tell if there's a skull in there or not, or if it even matters if it's all the same color (black). As to the holographic one, there's no clear evidence that there is or was a skull in there so there may have been tooling changes.

I would liken the design to what Playmobil has done a lot of-- numerous toys, including the figures, aren't actually painted. The figure faces are brown plastic, set in a fleshy colored head. Vader is somewhat similar, and a Spider-Man roleplay mask last year was as well as he was molded in red plastic, with added black plastic webbing rather than painting it. The technique has been around for decades but Hasbro rarely uses it.


4. Sorry if I already asked this but my memory is fading. SDCC 2011 had, in the Gentle Giant display, a bust of Yoda wearing 3D glasses and eating popcorn. I have searched and searched for word on when this will be released but have found nothing. Any help? If the piece winds up being one of their Premium Guild limited release thingies, do you happen to know how that works? I don't want to be a Guild member - I just want the bust.

I was told that this was going to be a Premiere Guild item. Last year, they made a membership drive push (and bust announcements) around April, so I'd expect them around April of 2012. That is, assuming it's going to be the "freebie" bust-- for all I know it will wind up as a club exclusive. How that usually works is this: as soon as they announce it, you sign up, and you get it with your membership. For all I know, it could be an add-on item, which means you'll need to buy another bust with membership just to get permission to buy this one. Since they didn't confirm, it remains to be seen.

The only other information I have is this Q&A from Gentle Giant (search on the word "Yoda" on the page) which basically says that it's coming in 2012. Fat lot of good that does us, I know, but right now all data is under wraps.


5. I never spotted the Clone Wars Class 1 Fleet vehicles in my area, do you know if they will continue to ship?

The Y-Wing Scout is already selling for twice it's price at [some online toy stores].

As of early December, the item was still available to order, but most stores seem to have abandoned the line after Hasbro launched it in the summer-- which was also the last time any new products were made, so one hand washes-- or ignores-- the other. Did store stop ordering because Hasbro had nothing new on deck, or was there nothing new on deck because stores didn't order? (I can say that at least in my case, it's the former.) I'd also like to point out that I saw the Scout Bomber twice in December.

So in theory, there are still Y-Wing Scout Bombers in the system waiting to find their way to store shelves. These may be closeout store shelves in 2012 or 2013, and it might even show up in some exclusive Battle Pack at a store some day. Hasbro tends to reuse its vehicle molds, particularly the good ones, so I would be quite surprised to never see it again.

If you can't find it and don't want to risk waiting (history says with vehicles, risk can be costly) you can get it on eBay for $25ish. Considering "retail" is now $17-$19, I wouldn't poo-poo paying it if you factor in what gas and tax might be in your area. (I generally give "rare toys" leeway of about 10% +/- $3-- basically, what might Kohl's charge.) In this case, I personally would not be opposed to paying as much as $24 if I really wanted one-- just because I like it.

As I am old enough to have paid premium prices for some hard-to-find vehicles in the early 1990s (helloooo ATL Interceptor!) I generally don't feel awful about it if the vehicle is really good. I like this one enough to say that if I was that kid again and I was asked to pay $30... I'd do it. I wouldn't say the same about the bikes, but the Y-Wing Scout Bomber is cool enough to warrant it if need be. (Now, understand, I don't *want* to pay premium pricing on anything, but if I did... I could get behind it for this one.)



Over the break a reader wrote in clarifying a question he asked earlier, specifically if I had a personal Top 10 "I wish I had these in my collection" figure list. Not counting prototypes and test shots, to my knowledge, I'm only after 3 and I don't have those due to a screw-up in a deal from 2005 and I have yet to go after them. If you're nosey, they're the animated-style Clone Wars figures from the first Cartoon Network series, from the "Season III" assortment. Specifically, General Grievous, Anakin Skywalker (Battle Damage), and the ARC Trooper (aka Fordo). So thanks to this kind soul for bringing it up, I checked eBay and got the lot of them dirt cheap. That's right-- I actually followed my own advice. I am pleased. As I'm fond of pointing out, most old figures get much cheaper over time so if you missed out on something, you can usually get a deal. Especially if you buy a collection or lot of products.

...speaking of old figures, any of you cats got any unwanted Monster in my Pocket or stuff to dump? I never got these as a kid and I'm just now reading up on them-- and there was a new painted series in Europe and Australia too, in 2006! I totally missed out. (I did get a few DINO Mites and MUSCLE dudes back in the 1980s though.) The whole tiny unpainted collector figure market is pretty fascinating stuff-- it's also pretty sobering to see that you can have a complete collection of 200 figures in the amount of space it takes to put some of my Jedi Starfighters.

I also pulled out my old Battle Beasts and realized about 3 of them were missing weapons. (Which, for a line that I got in 1987, I think is pretty good. For the record, Sledgehammer Elephant, Deer Stalker, and Humungous Hippo are presently unarmed and upset.)] It's a new year, it's time to use my column for networking and getting toys. Baby needs a new pair of shoes, and a Cutthroat Cuttlefish. Fun little toys, these.

Minifigures are really fascinating to me, particularly in light of realizing how much space Hasbro action figures ultimately will take up. Even Galactic Heroes (which are about the same size as old minifigures) get to be pretty ridiculous if you collected them all, and I did. Still, you can probably fit an entire collection into a tiny footprint, whereas action figures would need an entire wall or an entire wing at a museum. A couple of companies are doing some interesting things with minifigures next year. Jakks Pacific is doing S.L.U.G. Zombies, unpainted green undead "scary little ugly guys." Hasbro of course has the new Squinkies-esque line launching around January, and the October Toys Outlandish Mini-Figure Guys (OMFG) project is an incredibly fascinating tale of fans, getting together, scraping together a few bucks... and making their own damn mass-produced toys in China. This is the future, right here-- watch these guys, I think 2012 is going to be a big year for small toys, particularly since increased costs for labor and materials result in new generations of smaller toys. (See: Micro toys, Mini-Rigs, Playmobil.)

The 1980s were a fascinating time as 3 3/4-inch figures were largely too big by the end of the decade, many of the new lines being introduced featured 2-inch or smaller figures and a strong emphasis on quality vehicles, creatures, or just being tiny. (Dino-Riders, MASK, Bone Age, MicroMachines, Air Raiders, StarCom, and Legions of Power all come to mind.) Looking at the current toy market, this feels like the direction in which we should be going-- and to some extent, with Imaginext and the new Hasbro Adventure Heroes toys, we kind of are. Except it's all "cute," and there are so few unique sculpts to be had in the Imaginext range of figures. (Hasbro, on the other hand, is doing a bang-up job here. We just need more.) It's my sincere hope we see more small toys at Toy Fair this year, and with the newly-announced SLUG Zombies I'd say we're off to a good start.

--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.