Q&A: The Future of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Vintage Reissues, Matters of Size

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 23, 2014


1. You recently said on your Q&A column that "other than the Imperial Dignitary or maybe some ethnic variants for the Bespin Security Guard, I don't have a heck of a lot that I'd demand out of Hasbro at this point." If you were in charge at Hasbro, or at least partially in charge, what would be your top 10 list of figures to be made or re-made in the 3 3/4 inch line? Maybe I'm just pessimistic about the future of the line based on the current state of 3 3/4 figures. It seems like all I can think about lately is what figures I "need" to have for my collection to feel complete. Just curious how others feel. Maybe if enough other people jump in I will start a petition.

At this point, with over 2,000 figures, hopefully nobody needs anything - from where I sit, the only things I'd want Hasbro to do is to update old school Kenner stuff... so Ewoks cartoon, Droids cartoon, the Dignitary, Power Droid, Bespin Security Guard, and maybe a couple of updates on existing guys. (Death Squad Commander, for example.) Now I'm just referring to 3 3/4-inch "Black Series/Vintage Series"-style figures here. Hasbro can go bonkers with Saga Legends or Mission Series and I'd be much more interested in that kind of output, mostly because there's zero charm to squeeze out of the super-articulated style. It's a very paint-by-numbers thing - we know the basic armature, figures like Ree-Yees were basically already pretty good, so it's just sort of a drag to have to sit through wave after wave of the same kind of super-poseable figure that have problems standing and/or setting.

The last year or so has made me appreciate my old Kenner collection even more, warts and all. That's the kind of thing that makes me feel better about myself as a collector, mostly because they're toys and not in any way attempting to be improvements over a previous release. But you want 10, so let's do 10, in no particular order, where I'd be happy ending the line after these.

1. Imperial Dignitary (Sim Aloo)
POTF 1980s update - hasn't been done in the last 19 years, so he's due for an update.

2. Power Droid (Kenner colors)
Arguably no modern Power Droid properly captures this old figure, so I'd say this would be a worthwhile update.

3. Bespin Security Guard (Ron Swanson disguise)
Another token vintage update - no real reason to do him otherwise.

4. Han Solo (Carbonite Chamber)
This one hasn't had a proper "frozen" update since 1996 and there hasn't been a really solid pre-freeze Han with the block just yet. I'd go for this one.

5. Sy Snootles (1983)
Because of course I do.

6. Vlix (Droids)
I don't care about the vintage collectors that have this one - it's a holy grail figure and those of us who've been chasing one since 1989 could stand to have a new one. Heck, make a new sculpt. I'll be happy.

7. Logray (Ewoks)
Wicket got his Season 2 cartoon hood - how about Logray's unique outfit?

8. Jaxxon (Marvel)
Eh, why not? I don't have one, I could use something genuinely new here.

9. Meebur Gascon with M5-BZ Astromech Droid (Clone Wars)
I totally dug this guy. You didn't? Too bad. A droid with a sidekick seems like a solid figure to me... I'd want all of D-Squad, but this seems like it'd fit well.

10. Brea or Senni Tonnika (Star Wars)
Possible legal reasons aside, Galoob did one of the girls in the 1990s - and that's really why I'm asking for it here. My Cantina diorama is more than satisfactory, but because they were prominent in trading cards, short stories, and Action Fleet, the girls' lack of action figure is something I still find disturbing.

Why not more Cantina aliens or Jabba goons? Mostly because I didn't necessarily ask for them by name as of the 1990s - I never really thought I'd see Cane Adiss or Loje Nella, and I don't think my life will be any worse off without them. These action figures rarely have any actual personality - things like the light-up eye ports, spring-loaded rocket in R5-D4, or even the magnetic "Force" powers in 2002's Anakin Skywalker were wonderful things that Hasbro has completely abandoned. Super-articulation makes collectors happy, but is incredibly boring. If Hasbro decided to put some toy action back in these figures, I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about the future.

I personally don't find much of the post-1990s era to be terribly interesting, which is why I don't care about more prequel guys. Truth be told, Hasbro gave me most of what I could want long ago. I've got a post-ROTJ Marvel Comics Luke... and Lumiya! I've got two Dark Empire Lukes, a squad of Jawas, Max Rebo, and generally speaking the concept of finishing the line seems both good and bad. One one hand, it's bad for business and toy collecting to end it... but on the other hand, after 19 years, Hasbro has yet to update the original 92/96/whatever - and I doubt they're in a rush to finish the job.




2. Two questions for you.

First, I've heard that Disney is going to be dumping the majority of the Expanded Universe into the pit. Does this mean I can now forever give up hope that there will be a Jaxxon figure? I thought for sure that since Marvel Comics, Star Wars, and Marvel Comics' Star Wars was now under one umbrella that this character would finally come to life in plastic. Jaxxon seems to always be way up there whenever a poll is taken for ideas for a new figure. Frankly, I've wanted a Jaxxon ever since I picked up that issue as a kid.

The other question I have is about that life-sized Darth Maul giveaway from a few years back. I never heard a thing about anyone actually winning this thing. I checked Google (yeah, I wasn't about to ask you to just look it up for me), but found nothing. Know anything about this, Adam?

#1 - what I heard is that they were going to mix it up a bit. Some things will be elevated, and some will be thrown out - no doubt depending on what contradicts the prequels. I've viewed the Expanded Universe as being split for quite some time, as some stories simply do not mesh with the rest of the books/comics/games or in Marvel's case, the movies themselves. I really would prefer that Disney and Lucas ignore all of the EU, even though I like it, because I'd rather have the best possible movie produced. I don't expect that we'll get one, though. While I wouldn't say I ever went through life expecting to really get a Jaxxon, I'd sure like to have one. I think the time to do it was 5-10 years ago, though, and just because a figure isn't part of the continuity doesn't mean Hasbro won't make it - see the Infinities Comic Pack from a few years ago.

#2 - I have not personally met a contest winner. If any out there have a story to share, I'd love to post it - there's a lot of hogwash in these contests where winners are chosen through less than savory means. If anyone just lucked out, do share!


3. Are we ever going to see the re-release of the 2010 Vintage Collection Gamorrean guard that we were promised? I was darned lucky to buy the only two I ever saw, and one is staying carded. Jabba's throne room diaorama clamors for more!

Here's a crappy answer for you - you may have already seen it, depending on when we asked Hasbro this question.

The Gamorrean Guard originally showed up late in 2010, in one of nearly a dozen different mixes of Vintage Wave 3. All of these hit around the same time, and would be the first release.

A much later release - relatively speaking - hit online stores around April 2012 (and I think retail stores in June or July) with a different SKU as part of Wave 4 of the new 2012 SKU Vintage Collection with rereleases like Darth Maul, Logray, Bespin Han, and a Rebel Fleet Trooper. With that in mind, most people were clamoring for more Gamorreans late in 2010 so a 2012 release most likely would be the resulting satisfactory rerelease, meaning we got it and there's a different SKU on the package - and date stamp - to confirm this.




The big news this week is that Zica Toys - who made 1970s-style Six Million Dollar Man 3 3/4-inch figures - just got Captain Action. That's a 1960s toy line, but they're doing it like 1980s G.I. Joe - an interesting and oddly totally appropriate choice. No pictures at press time, but it's worth noting for you aging toy fans out there. I'm curious how it'll do, mostly because it seems like an eerily accurate fit while also potentially being too young and too old for the potential customers. I can't wait to see 'em.

Star Wars' big announcement: Episode VII begins shooting next month, meaning they're doing a pretty good job of either a) not casting or b) keeping it quiet. Either way, fascinating! One thing I miss about this movie, though, is that as far as I know no movie ever had the build-up of Episode I. I first heard about that it was a thing that would be happening in the late 1980s, but my historical research (of reading old "Bloom County" strips) once showed me that George Lucas originally told people it would be out in 1998... in 1983. It was one of the few times where I heard nerds say that they were waiting their whole life for something, and it could actually, mathematically, be true.

This trilogy - or indeed this prefab franchise - won't enjoy the insane level of anticipation because we probably won't see many leaks. J.J. Abrams runs a tight set, after all. The timing will, at the least, give us about a year of real rampant speculation and rumormongering before stuff starts leaking out because of the merchandising and what I assume will be one of the bigger marketing campaigns of 2015 (or indeed 2016, after all, it is a J.J. Abrams movie.) Part of the exquisite, agonizing lead-in to The Phantom Menace was that we had precious few nuggets dropped from the original trilogy and its novelizations as to what to expect - a young Obi-Wan. Molten pits. Wookiees. A Senate. An Old Republic. Clone Wars. Jedi Knights. Armed with that, any kid could come up with an entire mythology in their head while hoping that what would be on the screen could be even cooler. This time around, we've got so many comics, books, and novelizations that Disney had to come out and tell us they were going to start surgically removing parts of the Expanded Universe from the canon - which many of us have, but hey, whatever - it'll be an interesting trip. We just don't really have as much of a map this time, especially since the only real quote I can remember from George Lucas on the sequel trilogy was from an issue of Bantha Tracks I still have to this day, and I quote: "It deals with the character that survives Star Wars III and his adventures." (This was a long long time ago so for all I know he means Return of the Jedi and not Revenge of the Sith.)

The thing is, most of the really cool stuff from the saga has been dealt with. Most of the cool villains? Dead. Jabba's whole syndicate? Blowed up real good. Sebulba? Who cares? The only obvious source of antagonism for our heroes right now seems to be an ideology - like the Empire, or the temptations of the Sith. They did such a bang-up job tying up most of the relevant loose threads (and threats) that even in the best comics and novels, some of the better villains are people that came back from the dead like Boba Fett or the Emperor.

I could see it being fun to see our heroes on the run - the Old Republic became the Empire and the Confederacy, in some respects, mutated into parts of the Rebellion and the Empire - so it would be neat to see the Jedi run out of Dodge with torches and pitchforks again. Of course, I'd just be delighted to see R2-D2 and C-3PO mucking about the galaxy, doing whatever, taking odd jobs, and generally wasting everyone's time. There's really nothing more I want to see with Yoda or Boba Fett, but those two? Sign me up!

Still looking for a Life Force arcade cabinet... or conversion kit. Got one? Let me give you money.

--Adam Pawlus

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