Q&A: Mini-Rigs, Slave Leia, Tank Gunners, More Pre-Comic-Con Fun

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, July 17, 2011

This week's topics: Missing Mini-Rigs now that other, unannounced items are showing up. Will we get a new Turbo Tank Gunner for the movie line? It'd be nice, wouldn't it? And will the Revenge of the Jedi Slave Leia have one set of legs or two? The answers may depress you-- but hey, that's why we're here right? Read on!

1. I don't really collect the animation styled figures for display, but I love Clone War vehicles like the AT-TE and Turbo Tank. I would love for Hasbro to make a proper AT-TE driver/gunner to replace the oddly articulated 2005 ROTS version. In general I would love to see a "realistic" styled gunner/driver/pilot clone for those us with Republic Fighter Tanks, Turbo Tanks and so forth. Does Hasbro have any plans for such figures?

Not yet, it seems. Hasbro is slowly updating its Clone library so I'd say any movie-themed Clone would probably see a new version in the next 5 years, particularly if we keep asking about it.


2. You mentioned the new saga legends figures, just wondering which molds were used for the Stormtrooper and the Boba Fett?

Boba Fett is based on The Saga Collection release from 2006, which sported the upper-body of a 2003 Fett and the lower-body of the 2004 Vintage release. This time around, though, they left out the "flame" stand accessory.

Meanwhile, the Stormtrooper is a repack (presumably, I haven't yet opened mine to examine the face) of the 2007 30th Anniversary Collection release.


3. How accurate are the "dates" in the press photos at things like Toy Fair, Comic Con etc.? I ask because they said the new mini rigs such as some of the Clone Wars vehicles and the Rebel Ground Crew would be out in March/Spring. And uh...its July, so where are they?

Not very-- usually they're rough estimates based on the best-case scenario, assuming China doesn't delay production, that the retail partners take shipment, and so on and so forth. If the date is specific (say, March 23) and it's not a movie launch, you can bet you won't be able to walk into the store on that date and find the item in question. If it's a little more vague, sometimes you can rely on it-- but weird stuff happens. The Kohls Galactic Heroes AT-ST was due out last September, and ended up hitting US shelves at Toys R Us stores in 2011, if memory serves, before Hasbro confirmed the move. We've seen it happen, unfortunately, but it does happen.

The Mini-Rigs situation is pretty much unknown right now. The items outlined as "Wave 1" and "Wave 2" in the presentation did not come out in March as expected, and two of the items haven't been solicited for pre-order yet. Were they delayed? Canceled? Given to someone as an exclusive? We have no idea yet-- Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi are heavy hitters so their absence is more than a little confusing. The Toys R Us exclusive sets are also missing, but if history is any indication they're just delayed. With Galactic Heroes scene packs in particular, it's not unprecedented that they're delayed weeks, or even months with the subsequent item(s) occasionally shipping first.

My guess is we'll see the Toys R Us exclusive Rebel Ground Crew and Geonosian Bike before August ends... and if we don't, 2012 or later. Their release overseas seems to indicate we might see them soon, but generally speaking Hasbro's dates are either pretty close to the mark or quickly corrected. In this case, obviously, they're neither.


4. I'm loving the new Vintage Collection figures and cards and have decided to start collecting carded versions as well as loose. I'd like to keep them in clear, protective cases; what are your suggestions?


I would actually consider steering you away from clamshells or hard cases-- consider doing what we did in the early 1990s: acid-free comic book bags. These are stored in long comic book storage boxes, and generally take up significantly less room and are also significantly cheaper than the plastic or acrylic alternatives. Money doesn't grow on trees, and plastic can be expensive-- is it worth paying $1-$2 per figure to keep it nice? Maybe. But a comic box is pretty dang sturdy and comic bags help keep them clean, with a reduced impact on the space they take up in your house. Remember, most plastic Star Cases were designed to fit most figures, which means fat figures. You'll be taking up a lot of extra room.

If you insist on having some sort of plastic shell for your figures, remember that the size of cardbacks has changed over the years. The Star Wars single figure cardback measured about 6x9-inches from 1978-2009, and the 2009-present Clone Wars and Saga Legends use a smaller cardback, as does the later black striped redesign of The Legacy Collection. The 2010-2011 Vintage figures went back to the 6x9-inch size. Most manufacturers stick to 6x9 as it tends to fit the most figures.


I use a small number of them-- I think all of mine are from ProTech Products-- for autographed figures and some special edition figures which need the added support. The prices have gone up a bit, so do consider your options. Is it worth paying $300 to house your collection when $35 can do the trick? I'd rather spend that money trying to re-buy the Starcom toys I sold in junior high while trying to raise money for Star Wars stuff. (Speaking of, who all is selling Starcom? Show of hands?)


5. Any word on whether the "Revenge" carded Leia Slave (VC64?) will be the Legacy version, with the extra legs? Just wondering before I plunk down too much for the TLC version on eBay...

Even though this item should be available for sale next week-- unless Hasbro changed their mind and didn't bother to tell us-- we still haven't seen a packaged sample leak out of this one, or a press photo, or anything. It's unusual. By this time last year I think the press had in-hand samples of some of this stuff.

Hasbro could make the alternate legs fit in the bubble if they wanted to, but that's the real question: do they want to? Also, a Vintage cardback may make the Legacy version worth less, satisfying demand with a superior (to carded collectors) product, taking the burden off the 2009 release and lowering the price in the process. I'd say no matter what ends up happening, sit tight-- I bet you can get one for less if you wait a few weeks or a few months.



In a bit of a surpirse, StarWarsShop.com shuts down today. I didn't see this coming, certainly not now, as Star Wars is seemingly (as merchandising goes) about as big as one could ever hope for. The store offered some great items from all over the world, with exclusives, unique imports, and of course great Hasbro figures ranging from the super-cool like the still-in-stock Concept General Grievous to the bizarre boxed set based on George Lucas' family in Revenge of the Sith. We should be so lucky to get some of this stuff, and the shop's clout with licensees helped to grease the wheels over the years from its evolution as the "Jawa Trader" to Paizo's online store to its current incarnation.

It's hard to imagine, but in 1994 Star Wars products were still something of a novelty. Kenner hadn't yet brought back action figures, Dark Horse had but a few titles, and birthday supplies and beach towels were completely out of the question. Maybe you'd find a video game or a book here and there, but it's entirely possible the store was the victim of Star Wars' own success. I remember mail-ordering all sorts of stuff in the 1990s back when your options were pretty much limited to whatever stuff they carried at your local comic shop or the Suncoast Motion Picture Co. at the mall. And if you didn't want trading cards, comic books, or unarticulated vinyl figures? Well, it's time to order through the Fan Club or the LucasArts software catalog which, briefly, sold some pretty amazing stuff.

So here we are, at the end of yet another era. In the past few years we lost ToyCo and Kay-Bee Toy Stores in the malls of the USA, Kmart isn't quite the power player in toys it once was, and Wal-Mart is slowly shrinking down its toy presence in stores. Local comic shops are harder to find, Suncoast and its related companies are evaporating in many towns, and there are so few places specializing in Star Wars where if you want something special, it might be tough to track down. Sure, you can get some items anywhere, but if you want a Death Star Cookie Jar or a Han Carbonite Bath Towel, well, who else would offer that? Who else would bring over Japanese stuff by cutting through any licensing red tape? And by now, it's entirely possible they're gone. We'll miss you guys.

Next week (and the following week) we're breaking format with updated versions of the Fan's Choice Metrics from a few years ago. You might find it interesting... you might not. But you can send in your questions for the next regular Q&A coming in August.

--Adam Pawlus

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