Q&A: Black Series, Lost Episodes, Robots, and More Fun

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 25, 2013

It's time to choke down some Q&A with me - because you want to put off work, or don't want to go to bed yet! It's 40% Black Series by volume. Let's talk about that new Slave I and its various toy incarnations some more because why the heck not. Are we starting the pool for 6-inch Cantina Aliens? Oh yes we are. And are we going to examine the best C-3PO action figures? Of course I am. You can too, if you read on! (Also: please read on.)


1. I'm on the fence about purchasing the new Slave I from Amazon.

I have the previous Slave I, and it still looks good on the shelf.

I know the new ship is all-new — what enhancements make it superior to the old?

It's not so much about the money (which is still a factor) — it's about adding another big piece of possibly redundant plastic to the collection.

There will always be a danger in collecting to get the "best" version of something, unless it's from a dead license. Nobody has to worry about collecting the best version of Mordok the Benzite right now, but when it comes to Star Wars there's always a strong chance what you have today will be inferior tomorrow. After all, Hasbro announced another Slave I for Boba Fett to be due later this year. It wouldn't stun me if we saw another take on the ship between now and when Hasbro says "screw it, let Mattel have the license already" in 10 or 15 years.

Each version has unique features to make it cool.

1996/1997: Shadows of the Empire and Power of the Force releases, both based on the 1980s 14-inch original original. It's fun - there's a removable panel, a carbonite block, a rotating chair, and a nice little cargo/seating area with plenty of room. It's a wonderful, if dated, design that shows the designers really thought out about how kids and the figure should interact with the toy. A ramp extends and forms a "trunk" for storing Han Solo. Kenner did a great job here.

2004: The 2004 Target Exclusive Original Trilogy Collection release is a resculpted 2002 Jango Fett's Slave I (itself a 100% new mold). It's about 14-inches long, with virtually the same dimensions as the Kenner 1981/1996/1997 release - but it has some added weapons not on any other Hasbro version of the vehicle. Hasbro included the first-ever toy concealed proton torpedo launchers (on the, um, dong) as well as concealed concussion launcher higher up on the, erm. dong. The toy also has firing rockets, a handle, and a generally decent looking sculpt. The 2004 release has no carbonite storage, which is a pretty big knock against it. There's also no ramp, and that's kind of important.

2013 #1: Amazon's exclusive The Vintage Collection vehicle is a redecorated 2010 "Rise of Boba Fett" Slave I. It's got almost everything, and it's big at 20-inches long. The seating area holds 3 figures. There are dropping bombs and firing rockets. There's a storage slot for Boba Fett's rocket pack, which I've been dying for since the mid-1990s. (Seriously, I wanted a T-hook for it in the SOTE version.) The carbonite may be stored under the cockpit or elsewhere, plus there's a removable prison cell accessory. The only knock against it is a factory flaw - a spring controlling the rotating seating area and the wings is too strong, preventing the wings from going horizontal in "flight" mode. This can be fixed - you can pop it open and replace the spring from a clicky ball-point pen - but it's the only one of these that's effectively in need of repair before you play with it.

2013 #2: Redeco of the 2013 "Class II" mini Slave I for Jango. Should be about $20. I'm not expecting any surprise retooled features here but I would say that it's telling that Hasbro is juicing Boba Fett to put some collector 3 3/4-inch interest in the line during a year that's without question the least interesting for collectors since 1994. (Last year may have been unpleasant, but it was certainly a net gain.)

The current Amazon version is probably the one most collectors will say is best. It has more features and is generally designed for collectors, with no "handles" or "fun things" to "play" with. I exaggerate slightly, but it's basically an adult's interpretation of the vehicle - for most of you guys, this is what you probably will want. It's not perfect - applying the labels, oof - but you won't find one that's larger or has more features.



2. Which Cantina fig do you see up next in the 6inch Black Series? Who would you want if you got to pick?

Were it up to me, it would be a blue Snaggletooth, just to get the buzz/hate mail for anyone not alive for the Kenner line. The parts could be used for a red version later, and frankly, I have a stronger attachment to the 1970s Kenner designs than I do to the "accurate" or "authentic" movie versions, anyway. Gentle Giant's blue Snag statue is a perfect template. (Man I wish I had one of those.)

In reality I suspect Cantina figures will be released at a slow trickle, one per year tops. If the 1990s were any indication I would wager Garindan or Momaw Nadon would be next. But me, I want Kenner-ized versions. I don't need Ponda Baba, but I'd slap an old woman with a sack of oranges if it meant getting a bona fide "Walrus Man" in this scale. (Especially if the woman owns the cat that won't stop pooping in my yard.)


3. Any word on beasts or vehicles in the rumor mill for the 6inch Black Series (assuming it does take off)? A Dewback and Tuauntaun are essential I think right?

The Speeder Bike with Scout Trooper was confirmed, and a report I read somewhere (and can't remember the report source or who confirmed it) said he over heard Hasbro people, possibly Derryl DePriest, saying that one of a list of guys (Dewback, Tauntaun, maybe the Wampa?) were on deck for this scale in the future. As long as they keep the release at a nice steady even pace, I'm for it. No reason to overwhelm people just after they get back, here's hoping it stays at a dozen figures and maybe 3-4 exclusives/creatures per year for a bit.



4. I thought season 5 of the Clone Wars was supposed to have a couple of not shown on TV story arcs. I don't see anything about them on the press release. Can you clear up the situation or are you as lost as I am?

I believe the exact quote was that the unaired episodes would be released as "bonus content" but what that meant was never explicitly stated - is it a web exclusive a convention showing, or what? I assumed DVD/Blu-Ray, and I'm very skittish it could still be a bonus feature that just hasn't been announced yet - so I'm not pre-ordering season 5 or the big box set until I see scans of the back of the box and/or reviews confirming which one has what.

Right now, there is no official word on how or when those unaired episodes will be released. Sit tight, and cross your fingers that Lucasfilm gives them to Hasbro as pack-in discs with upcoming figures because that would be as awesome as this EP of Shigeo Naka Plays Paul Mauriat, which let me tell you, is pretty damned awesome.


5. Hey, just wondering what you think is the best Threepio, aside from TVC VC06? Looking to flesh out dioramas and displays. Screen accuracy isn't important. Actually your best 2 or 3 would be helpful :)

Whatever you can get cheap - depending on your needs, each serves a useful purpose. I'm partial to the 2004 OTC Vintage figure, which was repackaged in numerous sets and looks pretty iffy from the front, but the profile is perfect for a Jundland Wastes diorama.

Another winner is the oft-repacked 2006 The Saga Collection Endor Throne release. This has been reboxed for Saga Legends, Star Tours, and I've got a ton of 'em. Some have silver legs, some don't. It's shiny and cool, with 8 joints (including knees) making it your perfect Endor figure. Or a perfect candidate for the Millennium Falcon's crew area. Really, it's good, and I'm sure Hasbro will someday do better. But for now, this one managed to accomplish quite a bit, plus it has the added benefit of being close to worthless. Heck, I probably have an extra two or three. If you're ever in Phoenix, buy me lunch, and I'll get you a C-3PO.

I don't much care for flat gold C-3POs. I like shiny vac-metal. With R2-D2, it's the opposite - I don't like the chrome but I dig the silver. Much of C-3PO's persona comes from being a distorted mirror of the world around him, as he's unable to see things as they are most of the time and this color is pretty much the most important thing about him visually. So get a shiny one, without the shine he's, well, if you'll forgive the pun he's quite dull.



I've gotten a lot more positive feedback from you guys lately. Thank you! Memo to those asking what they can do to help: if you like this column, tell your friends! More eyeballs are really all I have to keep this going. More people see the site, we can get more advertisers and better Google search results and I can make an excuse to carve out more time to do stuff for you. So, thank you!

One question people asked is what I thought of the recent Ravens Kickstarter by the Four Horsemen. I did throw in a couple of Benjamins, because obviously I am bad with money, and I took this whole gallery in New York earlier this year because dang, they look awesome in person. The level of transparency is really what's interesting here, as we saw a small run of action figures funded by 1,500 people. While we don't have access to things like "So how much of that is profit? How much of that was done pro bono?" I guess we do know that a skilled group of people can put out some pretty interesting stuff for $65,000 or $300,000, depending on how you want to look at the situation.

I love this whole Kickstarter thing (OMFG, SUCKLE, and now these) because good ideas don't have to be left to collect dust in a drawer - any idiot can say "I'm a genius - make another Boba Fett figure. I don't have the license." but for someone to create something relatively new and not requiring an expensive license is where our taste in toys could be going, simply because production costs have made it difficult to keep things cheap and toys - like music - seem to be splintering off into nearly infinite rabbit holes. There's no more monoculture - TMNT and Imaginext and LEGO do really well, but the 1990s venn diagram of boys and men both chasing down Star Trek, X-Men, Star Wars, and dang near everything else is almost gone.

So on one hand, it's great to see the Four Horsemen make what they want to make, with fans funding what they want to buy, directly voting with their dollars and the 7% cut or whatever Amazon takes out of it. On the other hand, it means these won't be in toy stores, and the lines will be increasingly self-selecting. How many of you started collecting Star Wars with a first purchase that was online? Probably not many. It's possible it was a gift, but it's more likely you were at a store, saw a figure, and bought it. This may have inspired you to buy more online or in stores, but you still had to see one in front of you before shelling out the money - and that's seemingly going away here. Do you trust the person selling it enough? Since I've met a lot of the people who do these things on Kickstarter, I can say sure, they seem like solid folks who will deliver the goods - but what about the next guy? I don't know.

It also makes The Black Series 6-inch figures look a lot better - the larger production numbers from Hasbro lets them sell $15 Marvel Legends and $20 Star Wars figures, even with higher licensor fees and no doubt as strict or stricter safety regulations to contend with from selling to kids. (Unlike Mattel and the Four Horsemen's "Adult Collector" products, Hasbro's figures are still marked as ages 4 and up.) Kickstarter does give any creative person a lot of hope - talent can be rewarded with this system. You don't have to convince a lot of people to love your idea - just a few - and you can make it happen. The downside, of course, is that all of this will be a low-run thing as nostalgia and future licensing pretty much demand a larger fanbase, which Ravens, mathematically speaking, will probably never get. It's like being a Shellac fan - it proves you've got good taste, but nobody else will know what the Hell you're talking about.

--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.