Q&A: Big Vehicles, Big Figures, and Big Bigness, XXL Edition

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let's talk big vehicles because you ain't gettin' any more next year. How are we feeling Episodes II and III 3D in about 365 days? Not bad! Gotta look forward to something. And how about some classic Kenner/Hasbro-style 12-inch action figures. We're going to get new ones, right? (No.) Read on!


1. I am interested in your thoughts for the next big vehicle. You say the Sail Barge is unlikely. The sandcrawler to scale would be a hit. The vintage sandcrawler is extremely popular on the secondary market, and they could add great playability with the build a droid concept. They could even work in the sandcrawler in to a couple cartoon episodes to further generate interest. The MTT will be a huge failure and Hasbro needs to know that it is not the scale or even the pricepoint that failed, but it was the choice of vehicle. I also would like to see a retooled imperial shuttle after seeing the republic attack shuttle.

It might be a while before we get a "next big vehicle" as Hasbro indicated there weren't plans for one in 2013. (Unless this was smoke, which it could be, but it didn't seem like it.) The vintage toys and secondary market are, by and large, not going to make Hasbro money as a few collectors can dictate pricing and fake popularity. If and when we get another big vehicle, the Sandcrawler seems unlikely unless Hasbro figures out how to do it cheaply or the line as a whole turns around.

If you look at the direction of the line as of Celebration VI, you'll see more small, cheap items. Simple items. Love them or hate them, it's obvious the pinch of resources and labor costs has got to Hasbro and they're rethinking how they make and sell toys. It's not just the MTT, which I would argue is too new to definitively dub a success or failure just yet, but there's a pretty good selection of AT-ATs and Republic Attack Shuttles in circulation at full-price at Toys R Us around town still. I realize Phoenix may be a fluke, but hey, I can't deny that I see dozens of these things and it's not like there's a large demand for them from people right now.

Hasbro knows what it needs to know when it comes to vehicles. With action figures, we can say "Hey, wave 1 sat and waves 2-7 never got out, so it's hard to determine success or failure." They may disagree, they have in the past. In this situation, there is some room for interpretation.

When it comes to non-assorted large vehicles, there's no room for spin. Hasbro doesn't "need to know it is not the scale", they've got access to numbers, sell-through data, and lots of things that you and I don't have a clue about. They've done roughly 6 very large vehicles since 2008, and at this point they can probably do well to cut back a bit. Heck, even reissues make a lot of sense as the AT-TE has been out of circulation for roughly 3 years now. I think it's great that you can armchair quarterback vehicles, but as someone who does a lot of this... uh... no. Sorry. Your argument is flawed. If an item is widely available in non-assorted SKU, if it fails, it's a failure, and we've still got a few months to see if Hasbro's production run for the MTT is indeed what the market wanted or not.


2. Hi Adam, just curious as to your opinions on Lucasfilm releasing Eps II & III back to back [in 2013]. Do you think they caught Hasbro by surprise? Think that'll piss the big H off? Throw figure releases way out of skew with the supposed film re-release schedule?

One of my peeps tells me the reason was to get to the Original Trilogy a little faster, which to me implies a 2014 release date for Star Wars even though one has not been confirmed yet. (True? We'll see!) I don't think Hasbro was caught by surprise nor were they pissed off, because in 2004 we saw them generate the Original Trilogy Collection after telling us that the DVD announcement did catch them by surprise. They did a really bang-up job, too, so a little panic never hurt nobody.

Given the breadth of this year's line and heavy Phantom Menace influence, plus a bevy of 1999 molds, I don't think it would be remotely surprising to see a bunch of 2002 and 2005 figure molds trotted out next year. They're probably still good and Hasbro has a strong need of exploiting their current investments to a new audience. (Of course, I think the toys for these movies are a little played out, but I'm not a mainstream non-collector buyer ages 4-11. I just buy toys for a toy company for a living... and have the tastes of the buyer ages 4-11.)

Hasbro knew full well that Lucasfilm was intending to do all 6 movies, in 3D, in order. Moving them around a little bit probably mucked things up slightly, but in the grand scheme of things it probably isn't bad. Don't forget G.I. Joe is still expected in March (which means toys in January or February) plus we've got other superhero flicks throughout the year like The Wolverine and Thor 2. September and October is pretty dead as toy movies go, and if they have a three-pronged approach with the final two prequels and another season of The Clone Wars this could be a really smart move for all parties involved.


3. I am a big fan of the original "12 Dolls and collected the Action Collection for the first several years of its run. Sideshow has been making premium "12 figures for the past few years but I was wondering if a Hasbro made "12 line could ever see a resurgence. Due to rising production costs, could it even be feasible? Some of the original A.C. figures were great, but some not so much (i'm looking at you Stormtrooper). I could see Hasbro doing a deluxe line in the $25 to $40 range having 10 or so figures per year. I would eat this up. Do you think there is a snowballs chance of this ever happening?

Hasbro is planning on doing some limited-articulation 12-inch figures next year, all plastic, with like 5 joints each. The classic format of 12-inch action figures with cloth outfits is actually sort of passe, which is one of the reasons Hasbro not only sub-licensed Star Wars to Sideshow, but also G.I. Joe. That audience is much older and expects higher-quality things now, plus young boys just plain don't want dolls. (Or so they tell me.)

Having lived through Kenner's 12-inch Collector Series and Action Collection, I can tell you that the bulk of the feedback I got from people were variations on "Tell Kenner that this is the thing they're doing wrong and need to fix it." It's a lot like how most of you people speak to me today when you meet me in person. (I really don't like that.) The line is expensive and tough to do well, even Sideshow's collectors seem to have a lot to gripe about whenever a new figure is released. With increased manufacturing costs and a big, heavy move at Hasbro toward smaller stuff I think the day of big 12-inch doll-like action figures from Hasbro is on hold since the decline of Indiana Jones and the tiny sputtering of G.I. Joe every couple of years. If the format had any real legs, I'm sure we'd be seeing Marvel and other items from Hasbro in this scale now, and when Hasbro didn't finish its 12-inch Indiana Jones line I don't recall hearing many or really any complaints..


4. Just noticed on my new Imperial Navy Commander, that he has a cog symbol on his left arm. Being with the 501st, I did not think that was part of the costume. Plus its a Republic cog and not the Empire one. So when does this figure fit into the time line? Is he a Republic figure or Empire?

It is what it is - a toy, and the logos have been iffy on a few of them. What you decide it needs to be or on which shelf it needs to go is up to you. Authenticity in this line is sort of imperfect, my guess is this is you trying to tee me up for a tirade and frankly, at this point? I don't care. I want this figure in gray like 1978. The way I display these figures, I don't much see the logo so it's no skin off my nose other than proof that someone in Lucasfilm's licensing and approvals division was probably asleep at the wheel, and it's not like they're gonna fire me over this mistake. So, #5!


5. What happened to the second SW Imperial Scanning Crew Member with the cool blue equipment box? We’ve been waiting since 2009!

Oddly, those 2009/2010 running change variants not only fell off the radar but off fan interest as well. Most items when "canceled" either quietly go away or are never, ever shut up about. On the whole, they just kind of go away so there's no Clone Wars Boba Fett Bike or Clone Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi Mini Attack Fighter or Darth Vader Funeral Pyre or what have you. In addition to the crew member, the other Utai never made it out either.

Given the current direction of the line it seems unlikely to show up unless it ends up in some exclusive gift set, unless you guys all start making a ton of fuss. Hopefully by bringing it up today, fans and/or Hasbro will be reminded that this is a thing worth pursuing. And if not... well, there's one more thing we don't have, like Amp'd and the Skeeto and the Power of the Jedi CD-ROM Darth Vader and Bespin Luke. On the whole we don't have much of an attention span for things these days, especially with Hasbro announcing some things a year or more in advance. After a while, the community seems to just lose interest or forget.



Set aside some serious cash for 2013. Trust me. (No I can't tell you why, just do it.)

We're gonna do a second late-night column here at Galactic Hunter based on the exploits of YouTube and see how you all dig that. Countless books on tape, read-alongs, TV shows, and other oddities are out there and frankly it can get pretty boring clicking around in the middle of the night seeking out some form of entertainment. To give my life (and maybe yours) a little more structure, I'm going to see if anyone cares that I post some of the fun ones I find in the middle of the night. Let's find out. If it's obvious you don't care, it'll probably go away by the end of the year. Your suggestions are welcome, and if they're good please give me the name you want used as credit for the suggestions.

One of the things I'm always looking at is what else might be interesting for you guys. I really love that we managed to carve out this column as a weekly ritual for me to write and for you to read, but I can't help but wonder if there's something else we're missing. If you've got any burning issues you want explored, don't hesitate to send us an email. If it works, hey, we love to help.

Also fun: Figure of the Day fans take note, the most-read figure of the year so far is Boba Fett from the Battle Packs that you people claim to hate. I like it, it's a nice figure. #2 is Jek Porkins, #3 is Vintage Star Wars Darth Vader 2012.

And confidential to me: I need to design some sort of logo for the top of the column one of these days.

--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.


As much as I'd love a huge

As much as I'd love a huge Sandcrawler, I don't think it would be a hit necessarily. Children aren't the ones paying for those vintage sandcrawlers and there's been a reissue of that mold so the adults paying large amounts for the vintage toy are specifically interested in owning the vintage toy itself.

Looking at the Sandcrawler objectively, that thing is even more boring than the MTT. Here's why!

MTT: Big brown box that contains an ARMY. Droids for fighting!

Sandcrawler: Big brown box that contains a YARD SALE. Droids for farming!

Now, working in the Build-a-Droid concept? There might just be something there. I personally feel as though the Sandcrawler would work best as a vehicle that opened up, Micro Machines style into a playset that may not be specifically Sandcrawler related. A Droid factory might work, but even something crazy like a Cantina or Jabba's Palace could make it interesting as well for a giant "2-in-1" feature that seems to add value the the average consumer.

Maybe not, I don't know. I do feel the BMF and AT-AT work really well since they're huge vehicles that also have playset-like tendencies. A Sandcrawler needs some action somehow, hopefully in a way that doesn't involve tons of flip out cannons.

Oh yeah, and non-objectively I personally don't find the MTT very exciting. It's cool that it exists, but I feel like it needs something extra. The additional vehicle looks like it adds some excitement, so its a shame that had to be sold separately. Stuff like that may go a long way in convincing kids and parents that they're buying an "ULTIMATE TOY OF AWESOME"