Q&A: Bonus Column! Let's Clear The Mailbag

By Adam Pawlus — Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bonus column! You guys asked so many questions about Toy Fair, my mailbag is overflowing-- so read some more, ask some more questions, and enjoy this special installment of Galactic Hunter's Q&A!

1. I think that Episode I has made a modest profit (maybe). I read some months back that it cost Lucas somewhere in the area of $15 million to covert the film. I don't know what its marketing costs are / were for the 2/10 release.

With The Phantom Menace 3-D's box office plummeting this week (and not likely to cross $50 million US?), are the other 5 movies in jeopardy of not happening? Box Office Mojo has it at $36,023,000 (estimated) as of today (2/20).

Episode II is nearly as reviled as Episode I is in some circles (and AOTC = the worse performer of the PT at the box office) , so I'm wondering if Lucas will press on with a re-release of all 6 films, no matter what happens with II and III?

Could this all implode the franchise, so to speak, as a steady cash cow? Or am I wrong to consider Episode I a sub-par (even disappointing) re-release financially . . . compared to The Lion King 3-D and the Special Editions from 1997?

Words like "success" and references to the health of the franchise are, unfortunately, not things we mere mortals can measure. I don't know the master plan inside Lucasfilm. Do they see the 3D movie as an advertisement for the various licensed products, where the real money is made? If so, then it doesn't matter how poorly the movies do as long as Hasbro, Comic Images, Gentle Giant, Dark Horse, Sideshow, and their ilk do their thing.

Right now I'm assuming this will be seen as a success if the film does at least $50 million, which means it's not too far off some of the Disney movies. 1997's Special Editions promised big things-- this was the first wide rerelease in years, and the fans going to the movies never saw the movies in widescreen, let alone on a big screen. We were promised new characters, new scenes, and new thrills-- the 3D reissue has not made such boasts and having not seen them, what I hear seems to be that all we're getting are, basically, the DVD cut plus or minus a deleted scene. I'm a hardcore Star Wars fan, and I spend a lot of money on this crap. But I have no reason to go see this movie after just having bought it in September on Blu-Ray.

Producer Rick McCallum has already referenced a possibility of not releasing the other movies if the first one was a turkey, but he didn't define what a turkey was. Since we're already seeing packaging mock-ups for next year, I'd be quite surprised if they abandoned the plan at this point because it's a low-csot multimedia marketing campaign in the way that The Clone Wars and its declining ratings seems to be failing to do, despite the show getting more interesting in recent arcs. I'm sure the take was seen as a bit of a disappointment, but in 1997 we didn't all own the movies on DVD or Blu-Ray, or in widescreen, or on 2-3 formats. You can only get so much blood from this stone.


2. Does Hasbro actually make the Disney Star Tours figures like mickey dressed as Luke? I know they made the Star Tours droid figures, but do they actually make the ones that are characters dressed up as Star Wars characters? I’m not sure if I want to include them in my collection as I only consider Hasbro toys the actual ‘Figures’.

As Luke? No, but the Mickey Jedi figures released so far all have a Hasbro logo on the box. I may have mentioned this a few times before, but some people I've spoken with inside Hasbro have claimed they didn't work on those-- so I don't know if there's confusion, or they're disowning Jedi Mickey specifically, but there's some confusion here at least as Hasbro may be concerned. (If it says "Hasbro" on the box, I classify it as Hasbro.) Since the Muppets and Disney figures don't sport a Hasbro logo, they're not proper Hasbro releases... but does it matter? I consider the recently released figure-scaled Starspeeder 1000 an important part of my Hasbro collection.


3. Even over here I still follow Galactichunter and your stuff, and I am curious from your last Q&A; Are you not liking the MTT? Just wanted to know your impressions. Personally, I didn't think a lot of people were clamoring for it, but it goes with the whole Episode I theme I must admit. I prefer Clone figures, vehicles and ect myself, but I guess the baddies need their equipment too.

While I am down on the MTT, I'm not down on it from a fan perspective. As a toy seller? This thing is a big brown... uh... you know where I'm going with this. Unless Hasbro deliberately limits the production, this is going to be a dud. It's not an important vehicle, it's going to be very expensive, no key characters interact with it on the big screen, and even Hasbro said it was too obscure to make as recently as 3 years ago. As a fan, I like all new vehicles. As a guy who has been watching the toy business for the better part of two decades, I've got a bad feeling about this.

If Hasbro released this thing right now-- to coincide with the movie-- I'd change my tune. But everything I see makes me think this won't bow before June or August, and kid attention spans will be on something other than a reissue of a 1999 movie by then. I rarely say "wait for clearance," but... well, the writing's on the wall. I'm actually half-curious if this item will be yanked before production. It's neat-- it has a cool mechanism-- I wish I had it in 1999-- but I can't wrap my head around this as a 2012 release. I know some will say "Well, they sold AT-ATs and Falcons!" but the difference there is that those were cultural touchstones. I defy you to find any child who grew up adjacent to the movies in the 1980s USA who doesn't know what those are, while I'm willing to bet a lot of collectors might not know the MTT by name.

As a rule, bad guy vehicles are a tough sell-- and so are expensive vehicles. If this succeeds, that means Hasbro has zero excuse to not give us a Star Destroyer in 2015. If it fails... well... I don't have high hopes for new big vehicles. But reruns? I'd bet on seeing more Turbo Tanks and AT-TEs.


4. Do you know if there are any plans to re-release CW44 Ahsoka Tano? That figure is the only one I never saw here and the eBay prices for her are ridiculous ($35+).

Hasbro announced no such plans, and has not made any amendments to the "you're only getting 19 figures next year" statement of last October. I expect a reissue eventually, but the realistic Ahsoka may actually mean Hasbro is not in a rush to get to it.


5. The latest waves of G.I. Joe have been a mix of animated and realistic figures together under the same SKU. Given how few releases are planned for Clone Wars, the similarity in packaging to Movie Heroes, and how most stores can't seem to differentiate anyway when they put things out on the pegs, why do you suppose they don't do the same thing with Star Wars rather than running two concurrent lines (with the Vintage line on top of that too)? Granted, there seems to be a little less differentiation in sculpting styles in the G.I. Joe figures than between Stars' animated and realistic characters, but still, what's the benefit of multiple SKU's?

The benefit of multiple SKUs is purely business-- and business is war. To claim more territory, Hasbro can make additional, nearly identical SKUs to stake out more peg space. It's hard to convince Target to give you 20 pegs for basic figures if it's just one assortment. But if it's three assortments? Well, each one is going to need at least 4-8 pegs, and that allows them to claim more shelf space. Star Wars is a big brand, and there's no way Target would short-change it. By offering several assortments they really can lay claim to a larger chunk of the toy aisle, and we've seen them do this with lots of other toy lines. Sure, Hasbro could sell just plain Monopoly and Scrabble, but do you see all the shelf space they get on the game aisle with all the variants? The competition in the world of board games is squeezed out of the store.

So yes, to people like you and me there may be some benefit into mixing them all in one big assortment. But stores want smaller assortments, and rapid turnover-- the multi-SKU assortment system allows Hasbro to do this much more efficiently. (Some of you may disagree, but do you really want 48-piece cases? Trust me, you don't.)



Bonus! I hope you like it. We shouldn't be doing too many of these, but there were enough extra questions where it seemed like a good idea. Come back Monday for more Q&A, and keep sending in more questions and I'll keep answering them as quickly as possible.

--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.


Ahhh, Hasbro. Think I agree with you on the MTT but hope you're just wrong enough so that Boba's uber Slave I repaint comes out first... And no, dont say, wait for 3D Empire ...hmm...

3D Phantom

I went and saw episode 1 with my 7 year old granddaughter. She loved it. I enjoyed seeing it again on the big screen. I hope it does well. Seeing all of them on the big screen would be great. There is nothing like seeing it in a GOOD movie house - it beats the home anytime. I am tempted to see it again before it leaves for good. All of you should buy one less figure and go support the movie that will keep the other movies coming and have all the companies continue making the toys we have all come to know and love.