Q&A: Big Ships, New Figures, TV Shows, and Repacks

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 30, 2011

We look at Hasbro's best big vehicles, the length of The Clone Wars on TV and in the aisle, and of course, more astromech droids. All this and some notes on the new Attack of the Clones Vintage wave can be yours in this week's Q&A!

1. you could own only one of the large vehicles, would you choose the turbo tank or the AT-TE and why?

Turbo Tank, no question.

As a toy, the Turbo Tank has one thing you rarely see on a Star Wars vehicle-- wheels. Sure, Hasbro or Kenner may have added some to toys of vehicles, but in the movies very, very few vehicles actually sport wheels. This makes it a more distinctive craft, plus it's loaded with toy features and was designed to fit figures that can't sit down in the cockpit. That's a big deal to me, if you can make Captain Rex stand around so he can bark orders at some poor grunt, that's fantastic.

The AT-TE is a more sensible vehicle designed with displaying in mind, but the Turbo Tank? That baby is a nice toy. It also stores more easily. Get that one.

2. Why is there such a glut of figures when they re-set the line? Do production numbers change drastically? I.e. there are still TONS of Empire Strikes Back vintage figures around, but I virtually NEVER see the Return of the Jedi Figures. While there are some Sith figures hanging around, there are still far more Empire guys. This seems to happen every time there is a re-set.

This doesn't always happen, but since Wave 1 figures often continue to ship in Wave 2 cases it looks this way. Case in point: Vintage. Wave 1 was all Wave 1. Wave 2 shipped with several remixed cases ("revisions") but few of them had any of the wave 2 guys at any more than 1 per box. This happens in a lot of lines, and it often gives the illusion that your new figures never showed up. The truth is, they have, and you probably missed them. If a case has an entire new wave with EVERY new figure at one per case, unless you go to stores nearly every day, you're very likely to be beaten to the punch by another collector who will also buy the entire wave at once. (If you want to see what ratios figures ship in, you can go to Entertainment Earth and just look at all the remixes. I work there, and as such I can tell you that these are factory-packed cases-- this is what Hasbro sends to stores. You'll note a huge abundance of ESB characters in Waves 1-2.)

Seeing leftover figures like Wooof or Anakin with the Darth Vader nameplate are often the only evidence that Wave 3 hit stores. I know you probably don't believe me, but unless you're bribing people or checking the same store's shelves daily, you gotta trust me: these things ARE shipping, you're just missing them. I do hit stores frequently-- and yes, sometimes the same one 3-4 times in a week once in a blue moon-- and I can assure you that stuff can arrive and be picked over inside 18 hours. There's a reason I have Perceptor, Wreck-Gar, Kup, and Scourge on my desk right now.

In this case, the sheer abundance of Empire Strikes Back product is thanks largely to ratios which didn't necessarily benefit newer waves plus some figures didn't do crazy business. The popular ESB figures were clearly Darth Vader and Boba Fett, which shipped in far greater numbers than the figures that tend to hang like the Cloud Car Pilot. I know this is counter intuitive to collectors, but look at it this way: let's say you aren't a hardcore collector. You don't own hundreds of figures, and you are going to buy maybe five figures a year. What are you going to get? The new General Grievous on a vintage card, Han Solo in some jacket you don't recognize, or Boba Fett?

The Return of the Jedi wave proved exceedingly popular, plus it had the unfortunate luck to be released during the November-December Shopping Orgy. ANY figures released during this time tend to be harder to get because not just collectors, but anyone who knows a kid may be competing with you for toys-- and unlike you, they aren't as picky about what they're after. If they see some weird furry guy and a green skin alien, they'll buy it just because they might think their nephew DOESN'T have that one. Had this wave shipped in January, odds are you'd be sick of seeing it by now. Christmas: the great retail doomsday.

3. Do you know anything about the longevity of the Clone Wars show (and line)?? There seems to be a finite amount of story that can be crammed into a three year story...even with lame-ass school cafeteria episodes like we've seen this season.

It seems weird to keep it going...kids can only get so attached to Asoka before they kill her off (obviously she's not mentioned in Ep. III).

As a TV show, I initially thought The Clone Wars would last about 4 seasons and that'd be it. We now know it's going to go at least 5, and it seems like continuity of the Clone Wars-era Expanded Universe from 2002-2008 is likely to be slowly aborted in the process. Specifically, that first great animated series-- according to the commentary track, you see the start of the night where Padme gets pregnant, and that means that the gap between the initial story (short haired Anakin) and the story right before the Revenge of the Sith crawl (long haired Anakin) can't be much more than about 9 months. (That's where the CG series has been placed.) It might even be shorter than that-- Padme doesn't even tell Anakin she's preggers until ROTS, so unless that film takes place over several months (and it might) that means that The Clone Wars TV series should span about 8-9 months. That, or you can ignore any and all continuity outside the movies.

With that in mind, the show could probably last quite a while. In season 3 we saw a lot of episodes expanding on previously aired installments-- so if they wanted to do that, they could probably flesh out every episode to 3, 4, or 5 parts if they really wanted to. I think it's lazy, personally, and confusing from the perspective of a narrative for kids. But let's face it... this show isn't for kids, it's clearly a show for Star Wars fans in general. It's far too weird and youngster-unfriendly to really fit the bill of something you'd ask a child to watch, so yeah, this crazy thing can go on as long as we're all willing to accept the flexible nature of time and non-linear storytelling.

And the toys? The toys will last as long as Hasbro can make money off them. A great example of how you can stretch a sub-line on forever is Batman: The Animated Series. The TV show and Kenner toy line started around 1992, and even though the license transferred to Mattel in the early 2000s, they continue to make a few figures based on this style to this very day! They're just sold at alternative channels. With that in mind, Hasbro can continue to make a killing off lightsabers, Galactic Heroes, and basic figures for as long as they feel they can continue turning a profit. There is no reason to expect it to end any time soon unless sales dry up, and even when Hasbro says "sales aren't as good as they used to be," I'm sure most toy companies would kill to have a fraction of their customers.

As to the fate of Ahsoka? We don't know she's going to die. She want's mentioned in Revenge of the Sith because the character didn't exist yet. (Again, a problem with non-linear storytelling.) For all we know she was on some far-off world, frozen in Carbonite, killed during the animated series' run which continued without her, and so on. We really don't know what the plan for the character is-- for all I know they'll kill her off this season and we'll start to see Anakin getting even more moody and violent. This is one of those thing we're just going to have to really look at once the show ends... at some point after May 2013.

4. Is there any chance of a Royal Starship R5-A7 being made using the new Geonosis R2-D2 body? The opening panels on the sculpt are very well done and discreet and the tool arm is the same as the one R5-A7 uses to repair the ship before its destroyed. With most R5 figures featuring the VOTC glued in panel, why not have one that's functional.


There's always a chance-- for all I know Hasbro is reading this very column as they prepare for a trip to New York and are considering new figures for the 2012 and 2013 lines. I think it's far more likely you won't see an R5-A7 (aka G8-R3) in any form, but that's just because it's been over 10 years and we ain't seen squat.

5. I just saw a photo of Vintage Wave 5 over at rebelscum. It could be the angle, but Luke looked like he had the same little bird legs he had in the resurgance of the Jedi pack. Confirmation?

I was told that Hasbro used the 2004 Vintage Luke Skywalker legs for this one. Those were, of course, reused for the Battle Pack Luke a couple of years back. While not explicitly stated as such by Hasbro, Wave 5 is very similar to the repaint/repack waves of old, which we were told they weren't doing anymore, but well, it makes good sense for business.


I've got about 2 questions unanswered in my mailbag. Oh, and I got Clone Captain Lock and Vintage Wave 4 over the weekend.

Wave 4 is interesting because while it does have 100% new figure molds like Anakin Skywalker and Padme from Attack of the Clones, they make a lot of use of old tooling. The Super Battle Droid is just the 2008 Saga Legends mold with new coloring and a tiny handheld pistol... it doesn't even have the added ankle articulation of the 2010 Geonosis Arena version. The Senate Guard has new arms and a new head (plus new gear), but is basically the 2005 body. Mace Windu is just a tweaked version of the 2008 release with a new head and a retooled lower part of his robes, but I'd say all the figures are pretty good. The big surprise to me was Kit Fisto-- despite not having the smiley head promised by Hasbro for a while now, the articulation is extraordinary and the feel of the figure and how it moves is pretty amazing. If you open your figures, Vintage Kit Fisto should absolutely be on your short list-- even if you already have 5 different Kit Fisto toys.

It's a good wave but not a wowie-zowie one like Return of the Jedi was, but I think that's more me than the figures themselves. The recycled parts and my general lack of enthusiasm for the second prequel as a toy movie don't make me happy about getting a third Zam Wesell, and the retooled Jango Fett-- while nice-- is still just another version of a figure I've been sold multiple times in other packages with slightly different forearms. I wouldn't suggest skipping the wave, but when you get right down to it Padme is the only figure that you don't have in some form or another yet, and several of the figures do rely on existing (and good) tooling. I'd rather have a straight repack than a half-new figure, but that's me-- I would prefer seeing tooling resources go into creating something 100% new, I can't imagine that Mace Windu will sell more units on a vintage card because of a new head. My armchair quarterback position tells me it'd do just fine because of demand for the character in general and the fancy packaging.

At this point the stuff that gets me the most existed are new Clone Wars waves and Return of the Jedi stuff. As a movie, ROTJ is just so jam-packed with pilots and aliens and ewoks that even after 27 years I'm still pretty excited at new waves and exclusives. The Clone Wars, by virtue of introducing new characters, gets to keep things interesting just by putting out stuff I haven't seen before. When it comes to Attack of the Clones, The Emprie Strikes Back, the original Star Wars, and largely Revenge of the Sith, it doesn't usually feel like we missed a lot of toys-- Hasbro covered those bases nicely. But The Phantom Menace? After 10 years I think it's safe for me to say this in public: it's time for a super-articulated Jar Jar Binks.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with Q&A in the subject line.

Hasbro has been hitting

Hasbro has been hitting aliens out of the park lately. An SA Jar Jar would be perfect for the Vintage line.

And who wants to join me in getting behind an Episode I Senate E.T.?

Vintage Needs

would love to see an all new updated SA Jar Jar on a Vintage Card. include the pit droid and perhaps an alternate head with different facial expression.

need an all new SA Slave Annie as well. should include his backpack, pod racing helmet, naboo helmet and maybe some sort of tool. since he's small perhaps include an all new droid or ship in a 2-pack with perhaps an all new SA Watto

Padme Naberie - since we only have 1 version of her from 1999 it's time for an update. doesn't have to be SA but need decent articulation. include the podracing screen and maybe even a blaster of some kind (needs something to sell her to the kids)

Captain Panaka - again needs an SA update and include a naboo blaster, battle droid blaster and his ascension gun as well. - make him similiar to the BAD Captain Typho - removable headgear, and comlink.

Queen Amidala - this is a character that needs some loving - we need Amidala to be in flowing SOFT GOOD robes / dresses (something along the lines of the POTF Princess Leia Collection). make all of her outfits.

Topeka - I totally would love to see a EP1 ET Senator action figure, that would be awesome. perhaps as a battlepack with the Senate Pod and maybe another Senator or even a Queen Amidala.

Darth Maul - Hologram - the Walmart version looked great but suffered from no articulation, and the Saga version was meh. use the SA Evolutions body and include a cloak(cloak should be along the lines of the TAC Spirit Anakin).

plus I want the cancelled versions of Nute Gunray and Rune Haarko as Holograms - would love to see these guys and as a boot, re-release 00M-9 and include his binoculars as well as a mini holo display of the Neimodians.


I feel differently about AOTC just because most of the original figures were so bad, that I'm happy to get versions without awkward poses, magnets, and poorly implemented action features. I mean, most of the Phantom Menace figures were really good for their time, and a lot of them still stand up pretty well today. Most of the figures from the AOTC line, on the other hand, were bad from day one. Compare 1999 Jar-Jar or Mace to the 2002 versions, or Adi Gallia to Barriss Offee, and so on.

I'm *less* inclined toward

I'm *less* inclined toward wanting more remakes. At this point that's what bores me-- sure, they're nice at times, but I'd rather see more new characters that haven't seen plastic before.