Q&A: Exclusives, Vehicles, Droid Problems, and Disney Droid Problems Some More

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 24, 2012

Let's talk Naboo Fighters and Vintage. Is it time to worry? And how about those Droid Factory figures. Have you written a letter to Disney yet? And what about the new Toys R Us exclusives, are those any good to talk about? I think so. Read on, and ask your questions for next week's column!

1. What ever happened to the new Naboo Fighter? Was is cancelled? Did I miss it?

As the video earlier in the week showed, it did indeed get made but distribution may be... standard Hasbro fare. Numerous Walmart stores phased out this size of vehicle, and a lot of shops are backed up with wave 1 still. (According to the date stamps, waves 1 and 2 were both produced late last year and it seems Hasbro may have sat on them.)

Did you miss it? Possibly. I know of 0 US-based big-box store reports, so right now your options are to go online and buy, or wait. It's possible Canada will get a bunch, or they'll get dumped at TJ Maxx or the closeout store of your choosing, but we won't know until the dumping begins. Based on the many wonderful Hasbro products I've seen at these stores, I'd suggest this course of action: if you can get it for under $40* delivered (or if you want the case at a fair price) go for it. It also wouldn't stun me if Hasbro brought it back out again, but then again, it does stun me that they kicked off the Vintage Vehicles with 3 old molds and one of them wasn't the highly sought-after Mandalorian Transport. Also:


* - Why $40? $25ish vehicle (let's be fair), about $2.50 sales tax, and $9ish shipping. And if it's on eBay, eBay/Paypal fees. Less is, of course, preferred.


2. I have been filling out my 2012 Vintage ranks on the likes of EBay because I haven't seen anything at retail that wasn't from the Episode 1 wave. Am I a crappy hunter, is my area especially dry, or is this being seen everywhere? I keep hearing of releases in May...June...and coming in July, but if my stores are already this far behind, should I lose hope in seeing them make release? Should I just buy cases from EE (paid for by EE :)) and eat the cost of the extra figures?

Luck and persistence is everything-- if you go out and hunt once a week, you will never find anything and should give up now. If you live in a town with fewer than 2 of each major toy retailer, lower your expectations and realize that 1 case per store means 1 collector will be able to buy everything new and you'll never realize you missed it. I have seen some of waves 4 and 3, but none of 5 yet so I know figures are still shipping. I hunt a lot mostly just so I can report back to you guys and say "Nope, I found 'em!" but I won't lie to you when I say I've not seen a few of the newer guys yet and I've seen none of wave 5 yet.

Depending on your gas (and other habits) ordering online could be worth it. As I work at EE-- full disclosure-- I don't want to steer you in the direction of the company that pays my bills so I can afford to write this column for you. (Cough, cough.)

eBay prices are all over the place so I'd suggest doing the math and seeing what works best for you. If it's $10ish per figure in a case and you only want 5 figures, and a lot on eBay is $75... well, that's up to you. What kind of stock is Target being given? I don't know. I also don't know which revisions, if any, we can expect later or why Hasbro didn't adopt Mattel's DC Universe Classics-style waves which are MOSTLY new figures by volume.

I don't want to steer you in the wrong direction, but well, you've got options. Your area might suck, but it might also be full of people who are better at this than you are, which (for much of my life) was often the case for me. Granted, when I went from "I can go to 2 Targets in a really good week!" to "I can go where I want when I want," things got better.


3.Don’t know if you have been watching the Disney droid factory auctions on Ebay, but here is a highlight. One purple R3 droid - $142.51 + $5.95 shipping. In your previous column, you said $60 per droid was obscene. So what’s ~$150 per droid?

All we can do is wait, and write letters to Disney. Seriously. They already told us more are coming-- the entire line hasn't been released yet-- so we don't know what the future holds. Not every figure is that expensive, but well, I'm still waiting. I won't do $150. $20 is about my cap right now.


4. Recent announcements of TRU exclusives are starting to cite production numbers, but the numbers don't appear out of line for the items. Is this simply because the information comes from TRU, rather than Hasbro, and do you feel it will drum up sales (ie, the item is only x number of units, will collectors be more proactive in buying them)?

Some reports make it out that aren't necessarily official. They may contain real data from real presentations about real products, but they may be things we aren't meant to know. With few exceptions, Hasbro's production numbers are closely guarded secrets. Even when I know the edition size of something, I can't always say what it is. Hasbro considers this confidential information, so it wouldn't stun me if the knowledge of possible (but certainly very likely) edition sizes could be more upsetting to Hasbro than the products themselves.

So, is 30,000 pieces a lot? Sort of. Back in the 1990s, it was said that (but never confirmed that) some of the basic POTF2-era figures were made in 200,000+ units, as was the infamous Classic 4-Pack of remade Kenner figures. However, going by the production numbers listed on the side of recent Target exclusive shipping cartons, 30,000-34,000 seems to be the new normal. While fans believe this is a high number, look at how low some of the Sideshow and Gentle Giant runs are-- they're a fraction of that. 30,000 may still be more than sufficient for the current collector's market, so your fellow collector is probably not your concern.

But other adult buyers are.

If these hit in Q3 or Q4, the toy buyers change from spoiled kids, birthdays, and people like us to (for all intents and purposes) our greatest natural predator: the holiday gift-giver. These people aren't buying things because they like it, they'll buy anything because they think (and don't know) what the kids they're shopping for want. A lot of the adult shoppers just go "I want a Star Wars toy and I need to spend $25 for this kid. What do you have?" This is the danger-- swarms of uninformed shoppers who buy what we left behind. As such, I might suggest the usual "don't wait for clearance" strategy unless you're OK missing out on stuff. With the large amount of popular Original Trilogy stuff hitting, it'll probably sell through reasonably well, although I don't necessarily think you should be scared. I mean, only we're going to buy Ewoks. But the Speederbike? Well, that could probably disappear before 2013 if the run is low enough, but I suspect it will come back again later. Hasbro loves to reuse tooling too much.


5. Is the pink scar Dr. Evazan screen accurate? I am having a difficult time telling if it is screen accurate or not. I watched both the original version of star wars and special edition of those scenes on dvd and I still cannot tell for sure. I would like your opinion.

It's all subjective. With so many figures, things must be enhanced to translate to toy form. If a Lando figure's skin were as dark as Billy Dee Williams, it would have the illusion of being much darker because it was scaled down and the detail in a smaller size is tough to see unless the item is a little bit lighter and/or brighter. With something like Dr. Evazan, he's basically in the shadows anyway.

There are a few photos out there and sometimes the only known photography may be preliminary, or worse, of a slowly-rotting prop. In the Star Wars Chronicles book, all we have are shadowy stills from the set which are for all intents and purposes, pretty worthless. In short: I can't tell, and obviously, neither can most people.

Is it important for Hasbro to emphasize or exaggerate this aspect of the character in order to draw attention to it? Does it just fade into the background without it? Personally, I would say that less is more and the unpainted one is the way to go. You lose detail as you shrink something down, so it shouldn't be overly emphasized unless you feel it's an essential part of his face (like the eyes). These are action figures, so I always give Hasbro some benefit of the doubt when it comes to what's 100% perfect and what's close enough. (If you miss a paint op or two, it's OK. If you put boots on a web-footed character, you screwed up.)



So what's new. Exclusives! I'm stoked at the new Ewoks and Yavin Pilots. Specifically, the Ewoks. I think Kneesaa is a reworked Wicket from 2010, Teebo seems to be Logray, and the rest appear to be based from the other existing molds from 2007-on. The pilots... I'm over pilots now I think. I'll pick 'em up, of course, but if Hasbro came back and said "we're done with pilots" I don't think I'd be too upset. They keep reusing the Luke body anyway and I don't want more figures with lightsaber plugs who don't need lightsabers.

What has me the most excited is this shows Hasbro won't completely ignore the oft-ignored 1980s Expanded Universe, which doesn't have a heck of a lot of toys, and with good reason. Ewoks and Droids cartoons are still quite obscure and several episodes aren't on DVD in any format, particularly with the original edits and music. Marvel got a few figures, as did Star Tours, but not too much else. I'm still a little surprised we never got Splinter of the Mind's Eye Luke and Leia.

But what matters to me is we got cartoon Wicket and Kneesaa, plus Boba Fett and BL-17. I really hope Hasbro keeps doing what they're doing, giving us one or two figures a year. I know I'll probably never get my Vlix (or the Fromm gangsters, or Tig or Sise) but it's such a treat to see these being made. Plus unlike the basic figures, the exclusives tend to be much easier to find nowadays, aren't they?


The video thing seems to be going OK. Views are about a smidgen lower than I was hoping so far, but not awful. Your feedback is welcome, and what you've sent so far has been quite good at letting me know some of you adore it and some of you despise it. So... well, I dunno. Next time I get new stuff in the mail, I guess I'll decide what to do next, if any. I know some of you aren't remotely interested in watching video, but let me put it this way: I've done something like 2,300+ written action figure reviews since 2006 and answered somewhere north of 10,000 questions since 1999. I gotta try some new stuff, man.

--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.

lack of product in stores

Adam, I've been reading your columns for some time now and I notice that there is a lot of disatifaction with Hasbro and other toy manufactures companies for the lack of product on the shelf or the older product clogging the shelves.

I want to advise that this is not Hasbro's fault. I had a long conversation with Hasbro's phone reps regarding the Naboo Starfighter a few days ago and also regard the lack of new product on store shelves. I was informed that the assortment that includes the naboo fighter was shipped to the retailers "TRU , Target , Walmart, etc" however once it get to the distobution center it anyone gues as to when it will be recieved in the stores. Becuase the item share the sames SKU as the older product it may take some item for the it to see the light of day due to the 14 pods racers or 27 bumblebee transformers to clear out to make rom for new stuff.

I brought to the reps attention of the Hasbro toy reps thatgo from company to company checking stock and duplication and asked when the older items where not pulled from the shelves to make way. The short answer is that the rep can suggest a return but it the company that make the final choice weither to clear the shelf and reset or to sell through.

In reality Hasbro like many companies are powerless to say when the product will reach the shelf. If you want to compain yell at walmart , TRU Target, or any of the other large chains. My suggestion for your readers is that if they are looking for an item to order online (entertainment earth, or whatever retailer you wish). The cost may be higher. but you will save gas so it will work out in the long run.