Q&A: Comic Packs, Toy Fair, and Other Stuff

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, February 13, 2011

We've got more vintage packaging variants, some nice variants you'll never see, and, of course, some Toy Fair tirades at teh end in this week's Q&A! Read on, write in, and may the Force be with you!

1. Quick question are there (2) versions of the Vintage Collection Luke Skywalker Jedi I see one on ebay called Endor Capture, then the other one of Jabba's photo.

There are indeed two different packaged versions of that Jedi Luke Skywalker figure, plus there are some belt/lightsaber variations thrown in for good measure. The newest release does indeed have a new photo on the front of the card and started showing up around the end of January 2011.

2. With Hasbro seemingly in no hurry to release the alternative head version of the 2009 Legacy SA Scanning Crew Member, along with the other of the Scanning equipment, does the original scanning box, released with both the POTF2 and OTC Scanning Crew Trooper, fit on top of the trolley that came with the 2009 Legacy Scanning Crew Trooper that did see release?

While I haven't yet put the POTF2/OTC Scanning gear on top of the 2009 version, I can safely say that the 1998/2004 release is a whole bunch smaller and (as this is what deadlines make us do) I have to assume it wouldn't fit. It was pretty small by 1998 standards.

3. I've noticed that a lot of the newer figures have serial numbers stamped on the upper legs. And they aren't very well hidden, either (on figures like Peasant Anakin and the new Yoda.) What is up with this?

Some form of this has been happening to Kenner and Hasbro products for years, but generally not in a way that resulted in visible damage to the product. In 2010 we saw a lot more of this on Marvel, Transformers, and Star Wars, and these are (I'm told) date stamps to better identify when the figure was manufactured. (There have been date stamps on the cardbacks for years.)

From the rumblings out of Hasbro it sounds like they intended for the markings to be there but it sounds like the factory wasn't good at putting them in places we would be likely to miss them. A good (bad) example of this was in the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends 3-pack, where Spidey basically has big white numbers on the front of his leg. The idea was that these would be subtle but, well, they weren't. My guess-- because this is a thing that I assume Hasbro couldn't actually say in public, so take this with a huge grain of speculation salt-- is that this may be a result of ongoing communication errors with the factory. Working overseas can be difficult due to the language barriers and certain expressions that don't quite have adequate translations, one of the ones I remember was from McFarlane Toys explaining that "off white" wasn't a thing they could translate so they just had a bright white mask on a figure and told the factory to "dirty it up." The result? A muddy white mask.

Again, this is just crazy speculation on my part, for all I know Hasbro really intended to mar the look of your high-dollar collectible action figures. (Doesn't sound likely when you put it that way, does it?)

4. Do you think we will see any episode one figures this year? I'm loving all the nostalgia the vintage cards are bringing but the collection as a whole is not complete without all the movies style's packaged. Are they just holding it for the 3d push next year?

And which figures do you think we will get first? Many are in great need of an upgrade especially Jar Jar, I'm a fan and I agree with you, I think the most mobile characters need a far amount of articulation. pull out the crystal ball and give us a prediction...


It's my guess that we will, to do a full "vintage" line like this which will include Expanded Universe and may even include realistic versions of The Clone Wars (for the record, this was written before I went to New York for Toy Fair).

I would have to assume Darth Maul would be the first figure, if not one of the first figures. While most figures getting redone as super-articulated (14 points) or better, it's worth noting that the last all-new movie Darth Maul was vaguely super-articulated with extremely stiff robes and swivel elbow joints. Given that Darth Maul is easily the best-known, most-loved, and best-selling Episode I-specific character I would have to assume he will be showing up in the next year unless, as you say, Hasbro goes out of their way to hold back everything for the 3D rerelease of Episode I that will most likely not result in most of us going to see it. (Just a hunch, given the Blu-Ray we're buying in about six months.)

After Maul, I'd go down the list of major characters to repack, and would assume that could mean Qui-Gon Jinn getting retooled with new hips, or a rerelease of Obi-Wan Kenobi from 2009. Next up I would probably guess another new version of Padme, perhaps repainted Battle Droids, and a Pod Race alien could be on deck-- but in all seriousness, I wouldn't be stunned if all we got were Maul and a Jedi or two. The Phantom Menace seems to be Hasbro's least favorite movie to revisit since 2000, if memory serves we've only gotten a few waves and a couple of random figures. There was a Saga Collection wave in 2006, and then a Legacy Collection wave in 2009, and to find another wave of mostly Phantom Menace figures you have to go back to Power of the Jedi way back in 2001. Just because you're celebrating a milestone in the line doesn't mean you have to include all the movies, unfortunately, as we received no all-new figures with coins for the 30th Anniversary Collection.

5. Regarding the last wave of retail Star Wars Comic Packs(the Exar Kun/Ulic Qel-Droma and Master Tholme wave)...In your expert opinion, do you believe that this particular case assortment shipped in the same amounts to brick and mortar retailers as previous assortments? (I don't believe that it did) Do you think that it was underproduced? (I believe that it was) Basically, what are the chances that there is a decent amount of this wave sitting in a warehouse somewhere, ready to be sent to closeout stores? (I sure hope so)

From where I sit, it seems like Hasbro sold out of these unless they were specifically holding them back for a future closeout opportunity for someone. (Which, for the record, they usually don't do.) I saw these quite a few times and brick-and-mortar-- more times than the wave proceeding it, at least-- so underproduced or not, I think it's a pretty safe bet that we've seen most of the units Hasbro made. There might be some in a warehouse somewhere, but if there are I would wager it would be the blue carded stuff.

It seemed like there was so much of the stuff sitting around at retail that it would be reasonable to expect some units left behind, but based on what I saw pass through various retail outlets I can't imagine there's too much of that final wave left out there. Given the secondary market prices of the sets, I'd wager we're just seeing supply and demand taking hold-- some Expanded Universe fans really shell out for their favorite figures, and it seems the Exar Kun/Ulic Qel-Droma set is considerably more expensive than his wave mates. Most of the other sets from this wave go for about $15-$30, depending on the direction of the wind, which is pretty reasonable given they were $15 at Target when I saw them there.

The Tales of the Jedi series is one of the oldest post-Marvel Expanded Universe tales and it spanned several years, so from where I sit it's pretty reasonable that people would pay a lot for Ulic. Given Exar Kun is also really popular from his novel appearances, it's no wonder that hardcore fans would be willing to pay up to get them, particularly since there aren't a lot of collectibles based on the characters.


So yes, Toy Fair. I'm going to write up some other stuff as time permits, as some of you may or may not know I helped Bif Bang Pow! set up their booth, and I also get to meet with tons of vendors as part of my day job. I'm also taking pictures of all sorts of junk. As Star Wars goes I would put the report card basically like this:

The Clone Wars: Everything basically leaked, no real figure surprises. The Mini-Rig assortment looks great, with new figures and awesome small vehicles which are enclosed and not just "some new bike." I appreciate this. B.

The Vintage Collection: So many names got out over the past year that it wasn't too surprising, but most of the "new" characters are Expanded Universe. Accessories and features are what will make the line great, and little things like the Ponda Baba hand accessories-- he'll have finger hands AND flipper hands-- show an attention to detail and and aspiration to make you get your money's worth rarely seen. With figures like a new Fordo-- with Phase I and Phase II helmes-- it's clear Hasbro is going out of their way to a) make you happy and b) overcompensate for any possible perceived shortcomings on 2010. A.

Exclusives: Light. Star Tours will get two very compelling boxed sets, and an upcoming Vintage mail-in focuses on the original white Boba Fett costume (not concept art) which was cobbled together from graflex tubes and beach towels. No new Battle Packs to speak of, and pretty much everything else already leaked. It's very manageable, A. Galactic Heroes: axed. It gets an "F" as in "WTF." I was under the impression the line was doing fairly well, but they're transitioning away to similarly sized "Adventure Heroes" which will span Marvel and Transformers as well. I give the new line an A for concept and initial product depth. SAD BUT TRUE! There are more classic vehicles in this new line than we saw in the movie-based lines.

Star Wars Transformers: Eh. I love Transformers, I love Star Wars, and this line isn't a lot of fun-- but they're expanding into a new "mini" segment set to be about $10 per figure.

Revenge of the Jedi: 12 figures will be rereleased with "Revenge" logos as insert figures, and Hasbro said these wouldn't be hard to find. They're also releasing a boxed set in the awkward, hard-to-transport Death Star format of the 12, plus 2 bonus smaller carded figures, in a SDCC exclusive-- Salacious Crumb and a Mouse Droid are the minis. These are reissues of existing figures, same deco, no new tooling. The 12 individually carded figures will be sold at retail. Another A+ idea, clever without being annoying (or necessary for loose collectors to jump on.)

I think G.I. Joe really stole the show with a dozen new figures and four new vehicles on display, plus news of a Starscream-deco Skystriker for Comic-Con which was easily the best thing Hasbro showed us. The best valentine to fans was confirmation that the final wave of Indiana Jones will be sold at Comic-Con as a boxed set. 5 figures, plus a new Indiana Jones cobbled together from existing tooling and, we're told, the best Harrison Ford head sculpt ever. Given the quality of the Indy toys, that may not be a tall order, but Satipo may be enough to warrant your throwing down.

Overall, I think it boils down to this: Hasbro may be producing too much (or rather, things that are too large) for Comic-Con. Giant items are cute, but most of us travel to San Diego and our cars or checked bags can only handle so much big stuff without tacking on even more expenses. I appreciate the whimsy, but think about the poor fan who has to fit ONE giant boxed item in their suitcase-- and then remember these fans buy extras. I know its blasphemy but I'd really rather Hasbro just do mail order and let me send it directly home, because geez, what a hassle (and a pleasant, wonderful hassle) this is turning out to be. I love the stuff but I have been passing on exclusives due to travel space, I pack light and sometimes it's just too dang tight.

--Adam Pawlus

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