Good Q&A Morning! Sort of. My air conditioner died! But this is not the issue of the day - lists of upcoming figures is where we kick off, followed by the return of 12-inch figures in various forms and new versions of old vehicles. All this and more await you in the delightful, splendiferous weekly Q&A! As always, feel free to send in your questions for next time.
1. Has Hasbro ever given a rough list of figures in the parking lot? Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm might make Hasbro focus on throwing off revenue for its new licensor. So if the big H declines to produce obscure, possibly money-losing figures, I can hardly hold it against them, given their new partner. But I am curious if a few characters from my personal wish list were ever close to being immortalized in plastic. Torynn Farr, Tikkes, Ann & Tann Gella, Clieg Lars, . . . . The first three have always struck me as easy builds using pieces from old figures, but thus far . . . .
Hasbro has referenced numerous figures in the Parking Lot (what Hasbro calls its queue of figures yet-to-be-made) but has never and probably will never make the list public. Torynn Farr and the sisters Gella have been referenced before, with the latter two even being Fan's Choice entries during one of the earlier rounds of polling something like 12 years ago. Some things take a very long time. Possibly even longer now, but who knows?
I'm unsure if Disney will change up how Hasbro does business, this year always looked a little funky and it seems that funkiness just happened to coincide with Disney buying the brand. Don't forget, 2012 was a bad year for Star Wars distribution and newness in general, so the writing was on the wall that 2013 would have needed an abrupt change or were it a lesser license, a good swift kick out the door.
2. I have given up collecting the modern 3 3/4 inch Hasbro line, and have gone back to collecting the vintage merchandise of the 1970s and 1980s. While doing this, I developed a love for the 12 inch line from 1978-1980. From that, I began buying a variety of 12 inch figures produced after that including Hasbro ( 90s) , Sideshow, and Gentle Giant in an effort to simply build a unique and fun 12 inch collection. ( For example, I have one Luke Skywalker - the original from the 70s, and don't buy each brands Luke Skywalker 12 inch). Even though Hasbro gave us those awful 12 inch soap bottles disguised as action figures this year, do you think there's any hope they might tackle a 12 inch line again with limited articulation, but real clothing in the name of fun at a decent price tag? I also like to take mine out of the packaging and enjoy them as toys, as opposed to staring at them like a store shelf.
Hasbro will probably never go back to doing 1:6 scale, cloth-outfitted figures until Sideshow decides they are no longer interested in it, and even then, probably won't go back to it. 12-inch G.I. Joe figures have few to no cloth parts, and this kind of figure is something of a dinosaur now. Kids don't buy these, and the production numbers tend to be pretty low - it's possible that the "doll" stigma has kept it lower, combined with the higher prices of an item of this nature. In a toy store's blue aisles, there are very few products like this left and most of those that remain are aimed at an adult audience.
I generally like Hasbro's new 12-inch figure initiative, but the thing is Anakin Skywalker (while really well-designed) has a pretty awful head. The figure stands well, sits well, and generally moves just fine, and I'm considering snagging Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Iron Patriot.
It remains to be seen just how successful Hasbro's current 12-inch offerings are, but the main reason they're doing them isn't to provide customers with a high-quality 12-inch action figure - it's to provide them with a very cheap big toy that is cheap. $10 for a 12-inch action figure when 3 3/4-inch carded figures are $9.99 is what this product is about, so you'll probably have to stick with high-price, high-end collector's brands for your cloth outfit needs. Or do some customization, if you can sew, and I can't.
I should also say I'm a little biased - 1:6 scale action figures as toys were pretty much out of vogue for most of my lifetime, as Kenner started phasing them out pretty early during the run of The Empire Strikes Back. Other than a few aborted attempts to bring Max Steel, G.I. Joe, and Action Man at this scale, kids generally didn't get a lot of this kind of figure over the last 30 years and the Kenner/Hasbro offerings were usually targeted at the adult collector rather than a kid who would play with it. (There are, of course, some non-branded 1:6 military toys out there but I don't much count those.)
3. I seem to remember that back when Hasbro was still doing their Q&A's, they said that a new skiff was planned for the line. I'd love to see a new one in a vintage ROTJ box, but nothing's been announced. Do you think there's a chance for a new skiff?
In Hasbro's own Q&As, they mentioned a few items that they were going to do that never came out (like, if memory serves, Pong Krell in the 2012 line) and a few items they'd like to do that had no real confirmed plans (like the Skiff). Based on what was shown at Toy Fair and beyond so far, I would assume they wiped the slate clean and guess that we are in uncharted waters and most if not all planning from that era has likely been deep-sixed. Stuff as recently as last August (and probably more recently) have been tossed out, so if you're still pinning your hopes on something Hasbro said in one of their columns a few years ago, stop. You'll just be sad.
4. Do you know of an approximate date we can find the Black Series figures on the pegs? And what possible format can we hope to acquire the new Build A Droid figures that were originally scheduled to be released with them?
Hasbro has mentioned they want to get those unmade build-a-droids out in some sort of set but we have yet to see visual confirmation of that item. Given we've seen very few opportunities for multi-packs (outside the 2-packs) this year, I would assume this means it's either an exclusive or a thing that they won't actually do. I would make sure you've got a few hundred dollars ready to spend by the end of June.
No official date has been given for the relaunch of the brand for 2013, but I can tell you this: since 2010, it has been in June, July, or August. My guess is that it will be in July or August, with some products starting to leak out on retailer shelves around late June, probably at Toys R Us first since they usually seem to be the least interested in set dates, having consistently broken them since about 2010.
5. In the 2013 Toy Fair they showed a 13 inch anakin to vader action figure, priced at $24.99 and stated it would be released in the fall. Any release date yet?
This item will also be out in the next reset, but the $24.99 price tag I find unlikely. I do not have a specific "street date" and seeing that few are actually kept these days, I don't know what to say. Without the movie marketing drop date, I assume Hasbro is ignoring it as they did for the Yoda packaged stuff (what little there was) in the USA. They stuck to the Wolverine date though - that was supposed to be June 1 and I didn't see any stuff on shelf until May 31.
Do people really want this item? I'm curious. Please let me know. This strikes me as a kid-driven item being released in a year where kids are unlikely to be on board with Star Wars in a scale which hasn't proven popular for Star Wars in big numbers for quite some time.
Semi-unprofessional: I live in Arizona and my air conditioner broke over the weekend. It's very very expensive to replace. (Like, VERY four digits upper expensive.) As you know, Galactic Hunter is not a gig that pays as we're a small fan site where the money goes to servers and convention coverage. So! If you're planning on shopping online at Entertainment Earth or Amazon, kindly go to 16bit.com and click on one of those banners before making a purchase, please and thank you for your continued support. Back to the not-begging part of the column.
I get great kicks out of trying to read up on other toy collector hobbies, mostly to see the similarities and differences between us and, well, everybody else. With some lines you see the community sport a massive inferiority complex, lashing out at other larger brands when their line starts to slow down a bit. In others you'll see what a difference certain careers can make in terms of how money changes things in how new (and old) releases are viewed. In many others, they have no idea there are lines outside their own it seems - these are the healthy ones. I still haven't quite figured out Hot Wheels yet, and I've been trying to read up on them a bunch over the last week. It seems their official news outlet is actually quite good, but there aren't many go-to sites for unofficial news, rumors, reviews, and that sort of thing that pop up. Granted, there really isn't for Star Wars right now as all of us have the same official stories mixed with a slurry of various Star Wars-themed fillers.
As I'm not a "car guy" I didn't do much with die-cast cars as a kid - I had about a dozen cars I got when I was 3 or 4, and that was pretty much the extent of it. No tracks, no playsets, just some cars... one of which I still have in my collection and on my desk as I type this. So the whole experience of reading up on it and driving around specifically to look for cars is a new one, although I have dabbled in them here and there over the last decade, probably buying a grand total of 10 cars at the rate of one or two every year or so.
It's tremendously draining, yet oddly satisfying. If you want a specific car, the good news is if you find it you're only going to spend about a dollar. The bad news is that it takes effort not unlike (or worse than) what action figure collectors have to do. While Star Wars figures have, at best, about 70-100 action figures on each style of cardback, Hot Wheels have 250 per year and the packaging looks quite similar. If you go to Walmart, you'll see dozens of cars spanning the last 2-3 years and possibly as far back as 5-6 years at other retail channels. Some grocery stores have giant dumps of several hundred cars to sift through, reaching back three or four years. It's a real toss-up.
Over the last couple of weeks I found out about the Fig Rig, a LEGO-compatible truck, which I ran out and got on literally the first stop. (If you buy Fighter Pods or LEGO figures, and/or have a kid, you must buy one.) Finding the 2013 U.S.S. Enterprise took a few stops over two days, which I considered a lucky fluke. I've been hunting on and off for the A-Team Van, Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine, and Flintstones Flintmobile for what feels like more than a year and haven't seen 'em in the wild just yet... and a new 1989 Batmobile is due shortly/now. And the amazing thing is that this is just one little slice of the hobby, and not even the most popular/profitable one.
As a toy line I've largely ignored (and many figure collectors have maligned), it's kinda neat. Not "let's all go collect this" neat, but certainly "let's start paying more attention to this and kick in a buck here and there" neat. If Mattel can make more cars that are compatible with LEGO blocks or other science fiction space vessels all at a $1 price point, I gotta say I'm interested in a few of those. As a multi-license toy line with years of ongoing compatibility, a healthy (if seemingly frustrated) collector base, and an amazing kid following, I can't wait to see what else comes up. It was a nice distraction and the ones that can actually have some purpose - like one is also a money clip - seem like a nice addition to any toy collector's desk. If you people want to know what to get me for my birthday, just send a random car. That seems fair.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.