Q&A: Black Series, Old Video Game Figures, Star Wars Droid Displays, and Oysters

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, January 19, 2014


1. I suppose Hasbro puts (a lot) effort into new molds and sculpts also for EU characters. There are so many awesome characters such as Darth Revan, Darth Malak, Bastila Shan, Pre-Cyborg Grievous or all the great characters from the great comic packs e.g. Ulic Qel-Droma, Exar Kun and Darth Krayt. Despite the fact that these are great sculpts, all of them have only been released ONCE, yet. Why does Hasbro not re-release them in the basic line or in multipacks? We all know that the prices for these characters have become ridiculous on the secondary market...

Pre-Cyborg Grievous has indeed received a rerelease around 2010, if memory serves, in a 2-pack with a movie Grievous. As to the others, I'm not sure - it could be a lack of confidence in these characters, although it could also just be a simple matter of resources or internal conflict. It's very unlikely that the games have the kind of support any movie or even TV character has, because once you have to explain who someone is or why they're cool you've basically lost the argument of why they're important.

Hasbro has mentioned some of their products are now rather expensive to re-release courtesy of rising costs in China, it's possible they may have no real good reason to put these guys out again. But to put things in perspective, I would argue - especially with inflation - that they are not necessarily too expensive. (Hear me out.) By 1991, the rarer figures of 1985 were already pretty expensive - Han in Carbonite and Luke in Stormtrooper Disguise were frequently $35 or higher carded. A loose Yak Face, if you could find one, was $60. That's six years after the release of figures which were pretty rare, in a marketplace with no real competition with new Star Wars product. Darth Revan and Darth Malak were released in 2007 - technically 7 years ago - and go for about $35-$70 carded depending on the whims of the market. Bastila Shan is also up there, and given her age I will agree without argument that this is both disturbing and presents a real missed opportunity.

Running the figures again costs money, and presents a risk to Hasbro - if they don't believe (for whatever reason) that the figures will sell through their runs, that means they not only get stuck with product but also kill the secondary market. Hasbro makes no money from the secondary market directly, but some collectors do collect specifically to make money on the rare stuff. Alienating them could prove costly over the long haul, as we've seen over the years with people getting burned on their "investments."

I'm from the perspective that Hasbro should put the KOTOR guys out again, preferably as a low-run, one-shot, and likely exclusive package. However if that happens, complaints will start up immediately as fans say "I got Revan but I don't want to rebuy him to get Malak and Bastila!" or variations on that. Single carded figures would annoy collectors who buy cases, or stores that don't want them if they aren't trafficked by the right kind of collector. It's not a scenario where any rerelease guarantees a win for Hasbro and for collectors, but at the risk of sounding like a snot I think we can all agree that any of these characters would have been more welcome as a reissue than Ceremonial Luke or another Biggs.




2. I am working on a hangar diorama of the CIS right now to display Vulture Droids and Tri Droids. The only detail that is still missing are Pilot and Security droids as seen in Episode III. (I know the Vulture and Tri Droids don't need pilots.) But how are the chances to see these two B1 versions in the future? We have this awesome mold of the TPM Vintage Battle Droid now and seeing further repaints as 2-Packs would be a dream! Thanks.

Speaking of CIS, I just recently found out that the term "cisgender" exists to describe individuals born in a properly aligned gender/body identity. I had no idea. That's going to get confusing, I still assume some people see MIB and say "Men In Black or Mint In Box?"

Were this 2012 I'd say "pretty good!" Hasbro used to love getting out that kind of thing. Right now I'd say "don't get your hopes up." The last year of products has shown us an aversion to the kind of figures we see as easy money - we've seen few Clone repaints, few reissues of rare figures, and in the USA, literally no new Battle Droids in 2013. (Well, beyond in the mini-vehicles as a pack-in, and I'd argue it's good enough for the pilot needs.)

Since Hasbro has red and blue-tinted droids in the marketplace, even if they're not exactly what you want, I don't think you're going to see anything better any time soon. My hunch - and this may prove wrong - is that we're probably going to see fans of the prequels pining for any unproduced characters in the same way I keep begging someone to make a not-just-prototype Vlix. Prepare to share in my perpetual disappointment as the sequel trilogy attempts to shove 1984-2013 under the rug!


3. SW collector figure sites (including galactichunter.com) recently revealed a Sith Inquistor. Is this wave 1 of a new Rebels line? What's the street date? Is galactichunter.com going to post links to amazon.com the day they appear? That's helpful as I check daily.

As of right now all we know is that this figure is coming - which wave, which date, where it will be sold, and in what assortment are all unknown. I'm not being coy, either, I saw it for the very first time when everybody else did. It could be a basic figure that will be out in August or so, or it could be a retailer exclusive - Hasbro hasn't given us those details yet. We'll post links when we see them go on sale, unless they show up en masse at big box stores first. (In which case we'll tell you which ones.)


4. I don't have cable. I ordered Season 5 of animated Clone Wars in November on DVD when it came out, as I have each of the previous four seasons. But, crap I just don't care anymore. I watched the four-episode droids arc (that you recommended) with my kids and they enjoyed it but forgot it immediately afterward. I can't find the motivation to watch the rest of it. I suppose I'm glad the show has ended. Maybe I am just too damn old and Hasbro and its craptacular distribution has broken me on all things Star Wars. Returning to the point, is there a good episode in season 5 to get me re-engaged in this last season?

Well, you were bored by my favorite arc of the series, so I don't know what to tell you. Those four droid episodes were some of my favorite Star Wars stories, and I actually wrote reviews of the whole season as it aired. Odds are we'll do this for the new show, too.

In your shoes I'd suggest watching the DVDs you paid for - you paid for them, after all - because if nothing else, aren't you curious? I don't know if this was a layup for an easy Q&A answer or not, but if you don't care to watch it I guess you've just freed up something like 7 or 8 hours that you can spend doing something else in your life, so enjoy trimming those hedges or cleaning out the garage instead.

Finally: don't have cable? They stream these things on StarWars.com like a week after they air on TV. To me that says there's either some regional lockout (that I don't know about) or you're lazy. And regardless of the sanctity of the product, some kind soul almost always uploads the new episodes to YouTube eventually. You gotta want it, man, it's all up there to see when it airs.


5. With the new black series 6" out it made me think of what Art Asylum did with Star Trek. Since you're in the biz, I had to ask. Do you know what ever happened with that line/wave of Trek figures that were cancelled. I saw it in EE's archive. They had 5 figures, one of them Nurse Chapel, then another woman wearing red [Yeoman Janice Rand - AP]. The McCoy one had something on his arms. Those figures overall, do they even make them anymore?

The large vehicles for Star Wars, the Falcon, Clone Turbo Tank and anything for a Sandcrawler. Would those be returning at some point.

Star Trek is a popular license, but not as popular as Star Wars and the figures are less popular than the ships and gadgets. You may recall assortments of figures in the 1990s being sold with 1701 chase figures - that is, only 1701 were made. In the 2000s, Diamond Select Toys struggled to sell figures with runs of only 1701 figures.

The one thing you can count on in this hobby is (short of head-up-rear-end decisions in assortments) the toy industry will always make something if they can make money on it. If stores were ready to shell out for these figures, they would be made - but Diamond's customer base is Toys R Us, online shops (Entertainment Earth, Brian's Toys, etc.) and mom & pop comic shops. That's pretty much it. While the bulk of that could be gobbled up by online and TRU, I don't know what the minimum runs are at their factory today and if that's worth their while to continue. Also don't forget Diamond can be slow - items can get delayed for a few years and magically show up again, so while I wouldn't give up hope do keep in mind that these were announced around 2009, and it's 2014 now.

Diamond has a new line of Star Trek figures, but so far has only released Kirk, Spock, and Picard in this format. They have great display bases and swappable parts, and are sold at the venues I mentioned above. I think they're nice, but they may not be the characters you desire.

As to the big vehicles, don't count on a rerelease. The big Millennium Falcon already had two reissues, and if you snoozed you lose. The AT-TE was rumored to be making a comeback and I don't know if it did - I certainly didn't see new stock in stores. The Clone Turbo Tank is unlikely to come back for any reason, but a Sandcrawler - while unlikely - could happen if Hasbro's team decided that it is time. It could be a mostly hollow thing with shelves inside to store your collection - and if it was, I'd buy several - but as of right now I know of absolutely zero plans to make any 3 3/4-inch scaled vehicles bigger than your average Starfighter. We've been surprised before, and we have heard a lot of rumors and speculation, but I wouldn't get your hopes up. I'd suggest that you start saving your money and wait out eBay for a price that works for you... but don't pull that trigger until after Toy Fair in February, just in case Hasbro has some newness to lay down on you.




In the last week I finally saw some new Mission Series and Saga Legends - no Stormtroopers or Boba Fetts, but the rest of them. The Black Series still seems to be in short supply around me here in the desert, but this is true for most Hasbro lines - stuff is getting clearanced out and/or reset, so I hope new stuff makes the rounds soon.

New items are showing up if you're a Marvel fan - Captain America and The Amazing Spider-Man sequel toys are showing up, and man, those 6-inch figures look great. I was lucky enough to find a few of the Iron Man 3 guys on clearance, and these look way, way better. (I missed Rhodey at Ross! Oh no!) The size and style of figure is great, and I'm hoping Hasbro considers build-a-figure elements for Star Wars - even/especially if it's an Astromech droid. Or a Wampa, spread over a few waves. Or C-3PO. Anything's good.

Things are slow, so take advantage of the season by picking up those green-carded foreign figures you missed - a few of them are getting a smidgen cheaper on Amazon, so be patient and keep your eyes peeled. Also, you missed a Onell Design Glyos drop last night with a really cool recolor of the Armorvor in quasi-Blue Harvest blue, if that means anything to you.

...still looking for a Konami Life Force arcade cabinet. Got one? Know where I can see one? People can be bribed! Let me know, or send me a question or something.

--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.