It's Q&A time! Want to send Hasbro a letter? We have the address! Feel like dumping on the new Gunship? Well, sure. At least the price, anyway. And Stormtrooper changes are worth noting! Also, let's go off-topic because filler and I found a couple of figures that are so screamingly McQuarrie-esque I just had to tell you about them. All this and more when you read on - and be sure to send in your questions for next week!
1. This new Vintage Collection Gunship is $120 and it looks fantastic. How is it different other than the accessories from the 2002 gunship. It comes with two clones and a Yoda. Which two clones and yoda does it come with?
For the record: due to the high price point (and the fact I just blew my wad of store credit the day before it got sighted) I'll be holding off for a sale on this one. Previous releases were as low as $30 and generally capped out at $60 - I can't justify $120 for this. $100, maybe. $90, sure. But $120? Not for me - even thought the price is good compared to boxed or complete/mint Gunships on eBay.
The ship itself seems to have parts from multiple releases - most photos show that the places for the fold-down doors are present. The deco is, if you ask me, sufficiently different enough with unique markings that aren't on other releases.
As to the figures: I've seen multiple inconsistent photos between Comic-Con and Hasbro's own photography. What you get are figures that, in 2003, would be quaint. You get a 2003 Super-Articulated plain white Clone Wars Clone Trooper. You get a 2002 Clone Pilot from Attack of the Clones with significantly altered deco - yes, this is your token "Just Different Enough to Make You Mad" figure. The Republic insignias are red, and not black. The chest buttons are different colors. The 2013 release has no black battle damage. You also get a 2002 Yoda from Attack of the Clones sans the gear that made him interesting.
Initially, mock-ups appeared to have the Saga Legends bodies for the Clone Trooper (which is available) and Pilot (which is not). Official Hasbro photos showed Yoda with mismatched dark brown arms - an error, sure, but it would have made for an interesting footnote for variant hounds. Instead, what you get is a trio of figures that add nothing to the toy (other than the pilot) for the long-term collector and are probably
2. Do you know which version of the Stormtrooper is coming in the 3 3/4" Black Series Wave 2? Is it all-new/mostly new? Has it been released before? Is it identical to the upcoming one in the Kmart-exclusive Imperial Scanning Crew sets? Speaking of which, any idea when those might show up?
It's - all together now - just different enough to make you mad! I don't have the Kmart one in-hand yet, but I do know that Hasbro told me the Black Series 3 3/4-inch figure should have a non-removable helmet and from the photos, it has the "Vintage" body with ball-jointed hips. So if you want one of every Stormtrooper configuration, this one appears to be new. The Black Series one has a folding stock too from the look of things. (Note: my Black Series Stormtrooper has not arrived in the mail, and I was told this a couple of months back, so this could be wrong.)
From the photos, it appears the Kmart figure is just a typical Vintage Stormtrooper - no ball-jointed hips with a 2004-style blaster.
3. I've been a collector for a long time (I still have some of my original vintage figs), and have purchased much of the modern line since 1995. That being said, I think that my collecting has changed more in the last 1-2 years than at any time before. The "break" from new merchandise, along with listening to podcasts about collecting, etc., has led me to really look at my collecting in a new light. I've purchased almost none of the 3 3/4 inch figures over the past 1-2 years, none of the six-inchers (even though they're attractive, I don't want to start over again), and have dabbled some in Sideshow's 12-inch line. My focus has become much more on presentation and enjoyment instead of the completionist mentality. I'm very seriously considering not collecting any of the Episode 7 and beyond figures, merchandise, etc., in part because I won't have enough room to display it and also don't want to keep doing this forever (in this way, "Star Wars is Forever" sounds like a threat!).
I've gotten the sense from reading forums, etc., that other collectors are doing this as well. What are you noticing from older collectors who have been involved with Star Wars for years?
Inconsistent releases yield inconsistent collectors. Before Hasbro would put out new stuff every 1-2 months. Now it's quarterly, at best. Hasbro has failed to engage fans with new product, let alone interesting product, so people are shrugging and going about their lives in other toy lines or (gasp) non-toy activities. Oddly, Q&A readership has remained consistent but people who write in frequently comment on how much less they're buying - just due to what's being released, I don't think anybody is buying as much as they did last year. It's not mathematically possible - people want to spend money on new stuff, but Hasbro instead is doing what you see here.
Given many fans are put off by seemingly not new product and months between new releases, I can't imagine anyone but a newbie is really engaged right now. Nothing is scarce, because nothing is worth making a fuss over other than the San Diego Boba Fett. A new Gunship came out, and it's so expensive that even those of us like me who were interested in buying it immediately may be reconsidering that purchase. Of course, if there are new movies with new toys, I'd be a lot more excited than continuing to run on the hamster wheel (minus a few fun exceptions) that is most of the 2013 line-up. I like Saga Legends/Mission series, and 6-inch Black Series, and any vehicles compatible with those. Anything else is a drag.
Hey readers - feel free to sound off in the comments and forums on how your collecting habits are treating you.
4. I am still in favor of the 3 3/4 inch line. Your statement " and - I hope - a realistic" 3 3/4-inch $6 line based on Star Wars Rebels" will make my kids happy. What makes them happy will always bring a smile to my face. I do not understand Hasbro’s environment but they should listen to fans and children of the fans. What will be the best way to let Hasbro know about what we are looking for in the 3 3/4 inch line? Letter or e-mail?
The thing to remember is this: Star Wars Rebels should premiere in about a year. Hasbro has known about it for at least six months, possibly much longer. This line is in development - I haven't seen it, and I don't know what it will entail, but the decisions about things like what price points and what kinds of figures may be all firmed up by now. The toys are due out in about a year, so they would have to be (unless they just repackage existing product in new packaging, and to be honest I wouldn't be stunned by this.)
In short, when you heard about the line, it was probably already too late.
If you watch Hasbro's various statements to the press - and I do - there's a bit of an inconsistency there. They often talk about things they test with kids and did so at length about Transformers recently, which was funny because if you collect them you know that they have become increasingly frustrating and fragile since the 1990s. Parts fall off, pieces snap, and so on - it's not like the line was ever perfect, but while some of the toys are clearly tested for the target audience, a lot aren't. And if they aren't listening to the kid fans, there's probably a fair amount of ignoring the collector in there too.
However, it's always a good time to send a real, paper letter to Hasbro. (Let me be clear: Hasbro US. Don't message Hasbro Germany. You're wasting your time. The lines are developed in the USA.) If everybody that reads this column did this, it would affect real change - maybe - depending on how contradictory the letters are. (Some of you love 3 3/4-inch Black Series. You are wrong.) Anyway, your options are:
1027 Newport Avenue
Pawtucket, RI 02862
Hasbro Consumer Affairs
P.O. Box 200
Pawtucket, RI, 02862-0200
5. I was wondering about the Venture Brothers 3 3/4 action figures. I'm a huge fan of the show & have bought multiples of all the figures that've been released already. I can't wait for the Monarch to start shipping, but who will be next after him? I remember a list coming out a few years ago listing entire waves of figures. Are these same figures still set for release one by one or will they fizzle away to an early end? Who will be next? I think it would be great if the releases kept this current long interval, they should at least come out in two-packs. 21 & 24, White & Billy, Shoreleave & Gathers, HELPr & Dermott, Orpheus & Tirana, Twightlight & Al. I know that probably won't happen, but it just takes so long between figures. Anyway, thanks for pushing this line. I really love it!
There are indeed discussions for The Venture Bros. but as to what form they will ultimately take is, sadly, not for me to announce - you'll have to keep an eye on Bif Bang Pow!'s and/or official Venture Bros. feeds for that. As of now, the announcement for the next phase has not been made - whatever form that will (or won't) take, all that can be discussed is what you already know.
Future figures will as always depend entirely upon the sales of the current batch - collecting them all is, of course, a great way to grease the wheels for future releases, and telling your friends to buy the current one(s) you don't have will certainly make it more enticing for this or any toy company to crank out increasingly obscure characters in the future.
So over the weekend I got me some Power Lords, the new ones from the Four Horsemen made with Glyos parts. These are a customizer's dream line, with 2008ish Star Wars-level articulation and nifty simple paint jobs that are sure to please.
The cost was a mere $10, which isn't bad for a low-run, direct-market figure from a license that frankly nobody but toy die-hards care about. These two were Power-Con exclusives (which I ordered online later), and a second run has been announced of which the pre-orders have sadly closed. You may see a glut of them on eBay when that run ships and if you do, I suggest you buy the white one. If you hand him a blue lightsaber, it feels like a lost McQuarrie trooper concept - between the triangle, the piping, and the odd placemat around the neck, it really does feel like a design that cribs a little from the best of McQuarrie's early sketches.
And of course, if you collect The Outer Space Men or Onell Design figures, you'll want these. I'm doing a full review of the black Power Soldier at 16bit.com this week, and you can click here for a look at the Glyos compatibility. Really, they're the best non-Star Wars figures I've bought in a while and the pass the Landspeeder Test. (The Landspeeder Test: my requirement for a good 3 3/4-inch figure. Can it fit in one of the Kenner Landspeeders? Then it has good articulation.)
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.