Q&A: Melting Paint, Playsets (Again), Sticker Stickiness, and More Fun

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 19, 2011

Let's talk about Jocasta Nu some more. Because why not? And playsets too, this is stll a fresh topic. Aw heck, let's do it twice. And how do you deal with no-longer-sticky stickers? I actually have a solution for you that works and is cheap. I've also found a figure where the paint literally melted off-- good job, Hasbro! Find out which one was the culprit. So read on, because it's more fun than working!

1. Why do you think Hasbro is so intent on NOT doing Jocasta Nu? We've been screaming for a long time for a figure of her but each time they say no. Why?

There's one important thing to remember: Hasbro will do what they want. For years, they said the Cloud Car was a bad idea and wouldn't sell. I'm sure they tried to get it off the ground a few times before 2010, and guess what? When it came out, it sold fine. Heck, the market might even need more of them. It did better than the pilot figures, and according to Hasbro team members the vehicle was held up because one person-- no longer on the team-- simply didn't want to do it. One guy.

I would probably place Jocasta under this category, that or Hasbro assumes this is another "joke figure" like Willrow Hood or BoShek. (And maybe it is. I've got no sense of humor, I'd buy it.) Odds are that Hasbro could put out any figure at the right production size and it would be a hit, but they seem very difficult to figure out in terms of what they will or won't do. Personally, I'd love to have a Clone Wars Jocasta as she actually got to do some stuff on the show.

Also remember that Hasbro's "no" really means "not now." We were told we wouldn't get all sorts of things over the years, and I've got a ridiculous collection of toys, each more obscure and weird than the next, that says Hasbro could very well get to this character when they run out of other more marketable ideas. There's absolutely no reason to not put her in a gift set as an exclusive some day, assuming that's what Hasbro would want to do. Market conditions often dictate product, but sometimes it's just the preferences of the people working on the brand that year.

2. Given Hasbro's dislike for all things playset and it's forcing a kid into a particular play pattern, what do you think of 'Enviroment Packs', which would could be broken down into Rebel, Imperial and Republic themes? The Rebel pack could contain a couple of the consoles that came with the ultra General Rieekan a few years ago, a holo table, like in the 'Return Of The Jedi' briefing scene and if we're really getting into it some ladders for x-wings, y-wings et al. The boxes could then have a diorama background which would be a rebel base backdrop, OR (and here's my main selling point here) Kids could build their own bases and do with 'em what they like! No fixed playing pattern, and they could mix and match to create their own enviroments! I know as a kid I wished something like this would have been out there and I'm sure diorama builders would welcome them, I know I'd buy a bunch of em! Good idea?

See above for the mini-rant, which I think applies here. Hasbro has given us some environmental pieces with some sets, like Wedge's X-Wing ladders, various Hoth weapon pieces, and the infamous Endor Logs of 2007. When the tooling budget permits, and Hasbro feels so inclined, they'll throw in some nifty bits in there.

Hasbro did try to do accessory packs several times, specifically 1999 and 2002. Each time a second wave of accessory sets with environmental pieces (and a figure) were proposed, but ultimately received little (or no) distribution to the point where most collectors likely had no idea that the second batch of Episode I packs were even produced.

What you're describing is, essentially, a new form of deluxe figure. We've seen a special holographic strategy table packaged with Admiral Yularen in the Clone Wars line in 2009, and he tanked. Like, he was the one figure from that line that flopped. (Obviously, this had nothing to do with the table.) Diorama backgrounds are easy (and have been attempted to varying degrees since 1998's FX figure line and still exist with the vehicles) but things like consoles may be a tough sell outside a much larger set. For example, Target's Ultimate Battle Packs were a great place for a console or a gun, because the higher price usually has to warrant something new in there to make them appealing to fans, which we saw in 2007 and 2010.

We're getting our diorama backgrounds with vehicles for now-- I expect they won't be here forever-- and I would expect environmental pieces only to be made as Hasbro tries to add value to an otherwise lacking product. (Like if Hasbro put out a Landspeeder in the Starfighter assortment... it'd need something else to beef it up.) I wouldn't expect to see this kind of thing unless it was a value-add, like we saw in 2007. Since we're now engaged in Vintage, Hasbro won't muck up the packaging with big accessories like tables or moisture vaporators, and ladders are a great add-on to a vehicle but not so much to a figure.

3. Do you think that one of the reasons Hasbro doesn't want to do anymore Star Wars playsets is because of the poor reception of the "Disturbance at the Lars homestead" set?

That counts as a playset? For what it was, what it cost, and the quality of the display base, I sincerely doubt anyone at Hasbro views that as a feeler for what constitutes a successful (or unsuccessful) playset item. It's a gift set, a spin on the Ultimate Battle Pack, and even if you ignore the sales figures it was just a poor, poor collection of parts. (Minus the new Womp Rat, that was pretty cool.)

Look at the action figure aisle next time you're out, and tell me how many playsets you see these days. It's not because a Hoth base 10 years ago tanked, but this kind of product is so out of vogue it's not funny. Few toy lines can support vehicles, let alone playsets, and playsets now seem to be only sold in the preschool segments and LEGO. (See: Superhero Squad, LEGO Star Wars, Playmobil, DC Imaginext figures.) DC Universe is a successful collector figure line, but there's no Batcave or Hall of Justice for it. This is just something companies, at this point in time, do not want to do.

Now I'd argue that a fine alternative would be to bring back the pop-up dioramas, cheap paperboard environments like we saw in the late 1990s. I've actually brought this up often, but Hasbro doesn't seem to want to do it. (I can't figure out why not-- those things fold flat, and you could slide one in the same packaging footprint as the now-deceased Comic Packs. And it'd cost about the same, I'd wager, while providing a more enticing additional extra to collectors. I mean, c'mon, wouldn't you pay $15 for a pop-up Echo Base with a Hoth Rebel Trooper and a Snowtrooper, even if you already owned those figures? Go ahead and post your answer below, I wanna read it.)

4. I just opened my Big Millenium Falcon. Only problem is the stickers won't stick at all, not to the ship or anything else. Have you heard of this problem with the BMF or other Star Wars vehicles? Also, What can I do about it?


Sorry to hear that, Dennis! Some label sheets age poorly, with the adhesive drying up due to environmental or other issues. (The item may have been stored improperly prior to your buying it.) But that's more or less irrelevant, because you need stickers. So what can you do? I offer you two options.

Option #1: Go to Hasbro.com and fill out the forms for missing/replacement parts. My luck here has been bad-- sometimes I get the part, sometimes they ask me to send back the whole toy and send me some other unrelated item I didn't want as a substitute. I suggest you go this route first and see what they say, hopefully they can just send you the sheet and you can be on your merry way.

Option #2: Elmer's Glue Sticks. Seriously. I bought a lot of Vintage vehicles MIB or MISB in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and while nearly all of the stickers were still good I did get one vehicle-- the CAP-2 Mini-Rig-- that did not have good, sticky stickers. What to do? I tried double-sided tape, and wasn't satisfied with the results. Eventually I tried a regular off-the-shelf glue stick, and it worked fine. So fine, it's still sticking today and I think I glued it down back around 1990 or 1991. So I give glue sticks my highest possible blessing, in my new job as the Toy Pope.

5. I'm a jedi fan and really enjoy the various characters that are released, what do you think Hasbro look at for the makings of a good figure? (character, appearances, action, re-release opportunities?) The reason I ask is I would love to see some releases of Adi Gallia, in either the regular line, Clone Wars or LEGO. Am I the only fan?

Every character has his or her fans, and the problem you're going to run into with Adi Gallia is that Hasbro already made a couple of figures of that character and fan demand has been low. Generally speaking, it seems a lot of figures that Hasbro has already made are unlikely to be brought back without sufficient demand (or TV time). A new hit TV series demands you make more Anakins and Obi-Wans. An endless barrage of requests from collectors and a really cool appearance on TV demands Hasbro make new Barriss Offee toys. Adi Gallia is currently not a highly demanded character, so the market demands you-- yes, you Greig-- get started on some sort of campaign.

Name-drop her in forums, or in columns like this one. When you go to conventions, ask Hasbro when we might see a new version of her-- or if they can put a new head on Stass Allie or something. At the Clone Wars panels, ask if she'll be on the show again. Ask Dark Horse to put her in more comics. As a fan you can probably help a character gain fame, but you might need to put in some work at this point because I'm pretty sure Hasbro looks at the character and says "Our work here is done." (I'd personally rather not see more remakes in the line if I can help it, but hey, if the fans want it and will buy them? Bring 'em on.)

Ultimately Hasbro will make what they want-- fans on the team have favorites, and you need a certain minor character quota in each wave to keep collectors happy. So right now, it's all up to fans... to make sure Hasbro hears what you want. Make some noise! (Just not here too much, I don't include these kinds of questions all the time.)


So! You know how I sometimes say that there's really no way you can keep everything perfect due to aging? I found another example. The Power of the Jedi-era C-3PO Palm Talker shipped in a "gold" and a "greenish gold" color in the USA. If you got a greenish/darker gold one, go check it-- I'll wait. (Are you back? Good.) Basically the paint did something I've never seen before-- it liquified, so there are little green blobs of paint balling up on packaged samples of that figure now. I'm curious to see if they're all that way or not, but my sample-- which has been stored in its box after trying him out, in a dark box in an air conditioned residence-- certainly molted.

As far as I can tell, the 2005 Kmart reissue does not have this problem, and not the entire run of POTJ ones will have this problem. But it seems this gold paint is bad, so I'm now a little worried to see what other toys I haven't looked at in the past year or two may look like thanks to Hasbro using some substandard materials in 2000-2003. I think this is the first time I've actually seen paint just melt right off, you can wipe it off with a paper towel. It's gross. Bad, Hasbro, bad.

What else am I doing... just beat Portal 2 this week and am working on a heavily-revised 2011 edition of Fan's Choice Metrics which will likely be up in August, just after the next batch of Comic-Con announcements. I've also found out that more of my Twitter followers are there for my ramblings on Transformers over Star Wars coverage, which just seems wrong somehow. That or it shows the Star Wars breed who reads this column is an older, not-Twitter-using crowd.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with Q&A in the subject line.