It's Monday, so let's keep Q&A a-goin'! Let's talk Yoda line look because I love to be depressed. And why not talk about Ahsoka since the last season of The Clone Wars wrapped up and spoilers are now merely facts? And what of that AT-AT from Endor? Well... it's another annoyance, really. We have a lot of those this week. Read on!
1. Thanks for answering my question regarding the Yoda Line look in the U.S. Although, I thought for sure I had read that they were going to be re-releasing at least one wave of "Movie Heroes" (repacked) figures in that packaging in the U.S. Was I dreaming, or did Hasbro's plans changed regarding that? If those aren't being released in the U.S., does that mean all we will have on the shelves until the fall are the Maul-packaged Clone Wars and Movie Heroes figures that have been clogging the pegs since January 2012? Ugh, if so. That's all we have around here, and it's all we've had since January 2012.
While Hasbro did show us new Movie Heroes and Clone Wars in Orlando last year, plans changed. The packaged samples which showed up on various web sites have all been in non-US packaging (how you can tell: multiple languages on the face) which was the first sign to me that a US release probably wasn't in the cards.
We might have a bit of a gap, because while it's fun to be hyperbolic and say "nothing showed up since January" there have been new Fighter Pods, Jedi Force, a few (very few) exclusives, and the recently released green line look 12-inch figures and 7 new-enough-to-be-interesting vehicles... so I give credit to Hasbro for sneezing out one last small batch for a bit. But after this? Yeah, it could be June, July, or even August until we see too much more... later if we have any residual incorrect and increasingly absurd street dates (tangent: the entire conceit here was that the studio asked for them usually, lately Hasbro just seems to be doing them all willy-nilly). But I digress. Yeah, you're not going to spend too much money over the next 6 months other than maybe Star Tours' multipacks.
As to other figures, Hasbro's case packs in 2012 makes it seem like all your stores ever got were wave 1. Since wave 2 was more than 50% wave 1 repacks plus new guys at one per box which sold out instantly, well, yeah. They were probably there for an hour and then sold before you saw them, and there's still plenty of unsold product kicking around at Hasbro to sell off because of a variety of factors like the iffy casepacks and whoever coordinates their big box accounts didn't do a bang-up job last year between getting new product to replace old product (which has been an increasing problem since 2010) and letting the stores know hey, maybe it's time to discontinue that 2010 Vintage Collector assortment SKU rather than have them rot another six months.
2. Not a toy question, but...Is this the last season of Clone Wars? Any chance of an episode, or special featue focusing on the goods we've patiently awaited since the painful theatre introduction of 'Snips the junior jedi'? When and how are we to be served the death of Ashoka Tano?
It's not entirely certain what's going on with the show. It's not on Cartoon Network's Fall slate, and I have yet to hear confirmation of it airing on Disney XD. Supposedly at least 3 or 4 completed episodes from this season haven't aired, and as we've since seen (I sat on this question until people had time to catch the finale) Ahsoka is very much not dead. But that of course does beg the question, now what? Will she be spun off into her own series, or appear in one of the new movies? Is she destined to be the subject of comics, or novels, or worse - fan fiction - until the end of time as she left on a very open note?
While people working on the show have said the sixth season is in the works, I do not know if what they mean is "we have another 20 episodes ready to go" or "we have like six finished episodes and a bunch of scripts we're working on." My own sources indicated the show as we know it would not continue without drastic change, if at all, as it was unknown at the time I spoke last. Since we're hearing nothing definitive, I would wager that means there's either a) an announcement waiting to be made, or b) they don't know for sure either. It's possible the final episodes of the show would be burned off direct-to-DVD, or put into the vaults next to the Holiday Special.
3. Where the @!*@&# are the TRU TVC ROTJ Endor AT-ATs??? whoa...acronym overload. Seriously, weren't they supposed to come out in October of last year? I know they showed up in Canada already. My guess is that TRU was astonished that their TVC repack of the Falcon wasn't flying off the shelves at $249.99 a pop and pushed back the release. At my TRU, they have one whole aisle dedicated just to the Falcon and MTT boxes.
As I was unable to attend Toy Fair I have to pass the buck to the readers in the comments - did this ever get mentioned in the presentations last month? I didn't see it mentioned in the coverage. At this point I am getting the feeling that this will quietly be the first item that starts the ever-widening "gap" in my 3 3/4-inch collection which will drive me out of the line.
(If anyone out there can get me a deal on one, do let me know. To be honest I'd love to just get the black-gloved driver. I guess I'll probably just wait it out and pray that the new trend of every "hard to find" item being several hundred dollars stops and/or these get dumped at Ross later this year.)
4. What are the chances (be brutally honest) of the "Original 21" all coming out in the Black 6-inch series? For that matter, what about the "First 32" (1978-1980)? Those were my favorite years (I do love Jedi, but you get the point) to collect SW figures. JEDI and POWER OF THE FORCE suffered because I became enamored with GI JOE. Should I even dare to dream that all of the figures 1978-1985 will see release in this line via this format?
In "Kenner Style," I would say zero. In "movie style" I would say it's very low, mostly because at a rate of 3 Original Trilogy figures per wave, with 2 waves this year (and let's say 4-6 in subsequent years) it's unlikely that they will be in a hurry to get to Farmboy Luke, Plain White Leia, the Jawa, or a Death Squad Commander. And that's not even getting into Hammerhead, Snaggletooth, or the Gonk Droid. Heck, it's a miracle we're getting R2-D2 this year, and we're paying for this miracle.
For the 32-back, figures like Lando, FX-7, Bespin Leia, and a Bespin Guard (which, with the mustache, we haven't seen in 3 3/4-inch yet) seems pretty low. Lando is usually a dud, so unless Hasbro decides to hold these back as low-run exclusives I would be astonished that they would get to them at all, and certainly not before the new movies hit unless they kill 3 3/4-inch completely to focus on the 6-inch line. And to be honest, I wouldn't necessarily write that possibility off just yet.
5. I am one of the few who isn't distraught by the new SAGA LEGENDS line for 2013. My question is, if Hasbro wanted them to "feel like Kenner figures" why did they only pick characters from the Prequel Trilogy as well as figures (EIII Shock Trooper, for example) that were / are available from last year's debacle(s)? You know what would really feel "like Kenner?" OT figures in this 5 POA model.
Changing direction in a line is expensive, particularly if you were working ahead of the game from the playbook, and someone changed the game being played. Long-time collectors may recall that in 2000, Hasbro had a directive from its management to get the line to at least 50% original trilogy in a hurry and that resulted in cobbled-together "new" figures like General Leia, the Mon Calamari Officer, and K-3PO (a then-unusual repaint) being released amongst the Episode I and POTF2 CommTech 2.0 refugees. That's sort of where we are now, the line needs a serious overhaul and Hasbro seems less interested in making that happen when they can just axe a bunch of cool unannounced stuff and push out more prequel stuff instead. After all, the investment was made, the development was done. The key difference is back then, they grabbed the steering wheel and said "Hey you, don't kill the golden goose, and change direction NOW" (or so I've been told) and today we still have this line, rather than having it implode.
While there's a continued stereotype of old fans only liking original trilogy stuff, that's not exactly fair. Star Wars Angry Birds and LEGO Star Wars products (especially apparel and licensed gear) focus extensively on original trilogy situations and characters, too, and it seems that over the past decade (in non-movie years) it's the OT stuff that sells and the Poggle the Lessers and Naboo Troopers that hang around (with, of course, a few exceptions.)
At this point another year with no original trilogy focus in the kid line seems like a big, huge mistake. The 4 Black Series characters we've seen so far seem more appealing to a mass audience than anything in any of the many 3 3/4-inch lines, which could mean even kids might migrate to the new scale with the higher price. (Hey, I've seen kids buy Marvel Legends, it could happen.)
Going back to the original question, I think 5-jointed figures based on the original trilogy would be great, but looking at the Q4 line-up for this style it's obvious Hasbro is seeing the new Saga Legends much as it saw the old Saga Legends, which is an opportunity to make mass-appeal, recognizable characters for whatever the big tie-in is (was) at the time. Luke, Leia, and Han haven't found much love in Saga Legends assortments, but Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, and a few others have been in regular rotation for this sub-line - so if we make it through 2014, if they don't show up earlier, that's what I'm expecting. Actually I'm sort of expecting the Toy Fair line to get retooled before it comes out, but we'll have to wait and see.
The Fall 2013 line-up, as we've seen it, begs the question "Just who is this for?" and I'm curious to see if we'll see some big changed between now and Comic-Con. It was for an audience for a movie that isn't going to happen, so kids likely won't buy into it because they aren't being marketed to with AOTC and ROTS, and collectors won't buy it because it's mostly stuff they already have in some form. (It happened in 2012.) Right now it seems Hasbro's only receptive market is the easily-milked sucker fanboy demographic who buys everything, plus kids who are new and interested to this, and there aren't really all that many of those left. And as a group, this audience isn't really into prequel stuff but I do hear lots of vocal complaints about the guy from the TV show not being around by kids.
Unless there's a big surprise to market the stuff to kids, which I doubt, people will probably just assume what they're seeing are reissues from 2005 due to the similar packaging and characters, while Angry Birds introduces kids to Old Ben Kenobi, Luke, Han, Leia, and others which have no movie toy equivalent on the shelf to buy. Even the syndicated Clone Wars show, arguably a TV commercial unto itself, is promoting nothing as few toys are in circulation for this brand and these characters. The one thing the line needs now more than anything is a clean slate, a fresh start which will hopefully come in 2015 (or since J.J. Abrams is involved, probably 2017) with the new movie. I just hope Disney, Hasbro, and Lucasfilm have a way to fill the gap between now and then because I just don't write this column for kicks, I also work for a company that sells Hasbro Star Wars (and other fine licensed collectible stuff) for a living and I need to eat. Although I guess back in 1999 or so, I did start this column more or less for kicks, so who the heck knows.
...And I say this as someone who's actually very much interested in those new 5-jointed figures and new smaller Jedi Starfighter. A Mace Windu with leg joints that allow him to sit in a vehicle? Yes please! Another Shock Trooper? Ehhh OK. But he better sit well.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.