Q&A: More, More, More, Medics, Lukes, Vintage

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 28, 2011

Has there ever been a Clone Medic? Yes! Find out who. More Vintage distribution complaints? I guess it wouldn't be a column without them. And which Luke should you track down if we're talking about the original film? All this and more complaints, in this week's Q&A!

1. I remember Hasbro announcing that the Vintage figure line would be a two year run. Since it seems like we're in the second year, have you heard or do you think it could extend longer? There are so many more figures that could be done that haven't made it yet.

I don't recall Hasbro ever confirming the line had a specific end date-- they may have said something like they had at least two years of it planned, and according to the data I've collected it seems very unlikely that it would stop before the end of 2012. (Given the first product hit June 2010, that would put it at about 2 1/2 years, assuming it continues.) So yeah, I expect Vintage to last a while-- the packaging is much cheaper (and greener) than its kid-friendly cousins in Saga Legends and The Clone Wars given there is slightly less overall material in making it. (Although I would be quite happy to see J-hooks return on the packaging.)


2. I know this is probably a ridiculous question to ask but can you please tell me where we are in the distribution of the Vintage Collection? Here in New England I cannot find a store that has anything past Wave 3!

I asked Steve if he could share how often he hunted. This was his response.

I would say, over the course of a typical week, I go to two Walmarts, two Targets and a Toys R Us.

What prompted my question is I am seeing tons of Clone Wars stuff...but very little Vintage stuff and no figures past Wave 3. You would figure that even if I am missing the waves, I would still see the pegwarmers from other waves...but nothing past Wave 3. What am I missing?

I think some readers can guess what I'm going to say, but it's this: you will never, ever succeed if that is your typical week. Statistically, you are screwed. You will not find your figures.

With distribution in some lines being a little slower, with casepacks containing only one of each new figure, you aren't going to find new stuff. It is just not going to happen. I hit up (either different stores or the same store multiple times) around 3 Toys R Us stores on a slow week, at least 4 Targets, 5 or so Wal-Marts, the odd Kmart or two, and elsewhere in a given week and I actually build where I go to lunch around toy runs most of the time. You might say "That's ridiculous, I'm never going to to that." Well, I've seen all vintage up to and including Wave 7, excepting Wedge Antilles, at retail stores.

If you can't pound the pavement-- or you lack the stores to frequent or the resources to get there-- it's not a matter of you "missing something" as it's much more likely your store has received the goods and sold them. People still make back-door deals with some stock people, and seeing as how most cases of Vintage are about half new product and half old product, it's very likely that you will never realize if a store had a new figure unless someone let you know they beat you to it. (I speak from experience-- I've beaten people to the punch and have been beaten to the punch.)

The best example of how crazy this can get is what happened to me with the Power of the Jedi wave with Aurra Sing in... I think it was either really late 2000 or early 2001. I was in town from college, and fate caused me to go to the same Wal-Mart three days in a row. On the first day, there was nothing-- a couple of older figures, but nothing of interest. On day #2, there were at least two cases worth of product on the shelf, with a mix of each of the new characters from that wave. On the third day, it was all gone. There were more than five of some of the figures, but in under 24 hours they all sold through. That's how retail can work-- especially when there are many collectors and few toys to buy. I assume you live in an area where you aren't alone (even if you think you are as a collector) and while the distribution is bad, Hasbro has to make so many of these figures that it's financially extremely unlikely that these have never shipped to your neck of the woods.

It's possible you are just extremely unlucky, but history and experience would lead me to believe that's improbable. I might suggest you read up on date stamps-- you may be able to determine, from the unsold product which remains, roughly what you're missing. (Granted, this is a lot of research and were I in your situation I probably wouldn't do it either.)

One last thing-- are you seeing new stuff from The Clone Wars or just "lots of it?" I hear a lot of collectors complain "I collect X but all I see is stuff from Y!" which often translates to "I look at line X regularly but basically ignore line Y and it seems they have lots of things I don't want" more often than not-- if this is not you, no offense, but new figure distribution for The Clone Wars is about on par with Vintage. At press time, I'd say it's a little bit bumpier-- this will change, but I haven't seen any of the guys from the three waves with Savage Opress in stores just yet, and yet they're all here in my office.


3. I remember you said there was a way to get the green tint off the white plastic of the stormtrooper/clone trooper helmets. I have a loose clone wars Commander Wolffe with this problem, just remind me how to remedy this? Keep up the great work!!!

I've heard various remedies, and have tried a few, but it seems to vary depending on who you may ask. Some insist boiling water alone is enough, if you dip it, it becomes clean. I have not found this to be the case. What I have found is if you wipe down the figure vigorously with a damp cloth or paper towel (or sock, or underpants, or shirt) you can rub off some of the yellowish-green oil on the plastic. It may "grow back" with time, and is fairly common on white figures from 2002-2003 and select white figures from early 2010 to the present.

The boiling water doesn't necessarily hurt, but it didn't usually improve my results. So I'd suggest pick a small section of a figure's helmet and rub the heck out of it-- see if you notice a difference. If so, keep it up!

Oddly-- and I do mean oddly-- I checked my Entertainment Earth clones from 2005, which have been stored in tackle boxes, and I'm greeted with a bunch of yellow torsos. What the hell, man? I keep you in the dark. I keep you with the AC man. Why you gotta make me hurt you?


4. In your opinion, what’s the best version of ANH Luke in his good old white and tans that Hasbro has provided us, and what gives it the edge?


For my needs, the best one was the 1995 figure-- because it could sit, stand, and hold his gear with no problem. I'd like to see that style of movement applied to a current figure, but that ain't gonna happen.

Right now the best one that meets the needs of most collectors is arguably the Commemorative Collection Episode IV Action Figure set (with the poster in the back), which is fundamentally the same as the Resurgence of the Jedi Battle Pack Luke. It's super-articulated and has a good head sculpt. (You can argue about the paint all you want, but that's the best face sculpt so far.) Its only weak points? His whites could stand to be whiter, and the leg movement (with lateral hip articulation!) is hindered slightly by the lower part of his tunic. It's not a good toy, but for the "I like to pose my figure on a shelf" crowd, it's good. Again, except the coloring, which I don't get why it isn't whiter. The best figure as far as the white tunic goes is the 2007 30th Anniversary Luke, which has a friggin' Moisture Vaporator with it. (That's MY personal favorite release.)

A runner-up might be the 2011 Vintage Death Star Escape Luke Skywalker, but the plastic used for his head rubs me the wrong way. The outfit coloring is perfect, though, and he has great gear, cloth for his lower tunic, and superior packaging. Heck, now that I think of it, they're both good for different reasons-- but the Stormtrooper belt on this Luke may not be what you wanted. As a toy, this Luke works quite well.

Similar in appearance (but more fun) is the Early Bird Kit Luke Skywalker from 2005. The 4-pack of figures is now worthless on eBay, but the Luke is really neat in that it has a 1970s-style sliding lightsaber in his arm. He can't sit well, and the tunic color is a little off, but of all the Lukes to have to fidget with on your desk? This would be my pick. (And his left arm is sculpted in a pose which is arguably extremely funny.)


5. Given the various looks of the clones in Episodes II and III is there ever a clone trooper medic shown on screen? If so, what did he look like, what scene was he in, and has a figure been done?

One has been done, but it just came out and you may not have noticed yet. While not from the movies, the Clone Wars Clone Trooper Kix (in the new Hunt for Grievous Battle Pack) has been identified as a medic via various sources, as he tends to Rex after he's shot through the heart, and you're to blame, you give love a bad name.

The figure doesn't look like a medic-- lots of blue, lots of markings-- but the resources I find on line put him in that role, and he did help out Rex in "The Deserter" during season two.



Most of the Star Wars news has been in the form of Blu-Ray stuff, which I'm quite excited about. (If you're still on DVD and you love movies, assuming you have an HDTV it's a fun little box to play around with between the Clone Wars stuff and the awesome ALIEN sets.) The most interesting note I've read so far was a sort of a knowing nod that there might be something related to the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special on the set, which I would have assumed to have been less likely than HD remasters of the original Original Trilogy. I've heard speculation on things from a few random segments appearing to just the animated Boba Fett cartoon... but hey, anything is a good start, and really, the cartoon is about as much as I'd really want to sit through again.

In toyland things are slow. At work, we're having a clearance sale, and in my own travels I've been studying Gormiti, Glyos, and Imaginext. Gormiti is a more-or-less dead line in the USA, with stragglers at Toys R Us at big discounts. They're little creatures, like a low-rent Battle Beasts or really pimped out MUSCLE men with a card game and some amusing designs. I don't have many, and I've been averaging them at a buck per figure (or less) in the recent hunts. I'd say it's a good item to scare up at the TRU if you need something small for your desk-- they're neat, not mind-blowing, but fans of 1980s toys may get a kick out of them. I think they may still be sold in Europe but you guys might know better than me as I'm currently holed up in the desert.

Also interesting in the realm of M.U.S.C.L.E. is something new called OMFG, or Outlandish Mini Figure Guys. The idea is basically a toy forum got together, voted on designs and sculpts, and raised enough money to produce their own figures. Just 5 figures, at a cost of about $11,000, which is really interesting because the people who pledged money for this line will be getting sets of figures and (I assume) this is the first time toy fans have actually gone to other fans to make their own toys. It's a fascinating business model, if it works out well, and I pledged ten bucks (as I am a cheapskate) to get a set of the figures.

Glyos are also an interesting item for retro toy fans, in that this guy in New England basically has assembled a line that's very much toy-like as an online exclusive cult series. The guy even has comics and 8-bit-style video games online as marketing. The stuff sells out quickly, is low-run, and is in places a little complicated for me to understand. (I assume much in the same way Bionicle was for parents in the early 2000s.) I've played around with a good number of them and I like them-- you can swap parts like Xevoz or Stikfas, but the construction is very 1980s with swivel joints and the like. You won't find them in stores, but it's worth looking up to see that an enterprising person can make his or her own toy line into a successful small business without Hasbro or Mattel or even the big toy retailers. To some extent, this could be the model for collectible toys going forward as it seems to borrow a little from nearly every school of thought in order to make something wholly unique. I've had a few of them on my desk for the past few weeks.

Finally, Imaginext is shaping up to be really cool this year-- I've followed it on and off since the debut "Trial Pack" of castle parts, but now there's an interesting sub-line of Dinosaurs that's closer to Dino-Riders toys than anything in the past couple of decades. Unfortunately the figures are still the same buck and the dinosaurs are (forgive me for using the word) "kiddie" cute designs, but the spirit is intact and the price points are pretty low. The Batman stuff is particularly nifty and it seems collectors are starting to latch on to the brand more and more now that more "Super Friends" toys are out there. There's also only one female figure in the entire Imaginext brand right now, Catwoman, or so it seems from what I'm seeing. Also interesting about Imaginext: older stuff seems to be getting expensive (this is why kids are important to toy collecting), and if you missed it, the older Dinosaurs toys had action features! Wait, that's not exciting. What's exciting is that the designers overlooked a small detail-- the action features were activated by a rod-shaped lever between their back legs. Oops! If nothing else, they're going to make for a great conversation piece.

--Adam Pawlus

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