Q&A: New Classic, Star Wars Disney Droids, and Cleaning Up Oily Plastic

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, November 22, 2015

1. Hasbro had a certain marketing strategy that generally speaking supplied us with a good selection of figures and vehicles. I am referring to 1995-2012 or so. We had some movies, and their strategy was sufficient to make most people happy. Now, with multiple movies coming and the window in between movies being much shorter, do you think Hasbro is aware and smart enough, or even cares enough; to change their marketing strategy to reallocate more resources to SW produced merchandise to supply at least near the percentages of toys as before? To clarify, they had time to revisit old unproduced characters and toys and they produced them in the window in between films which was generally 3 years. Now, with a movie virtually every year, it seems they either have to gear it up and take it up a notch, or not have the opportunity to keep up with all of the new characters and vehicles being introduced much less go back and visit old characters for possible production. Is there a way to bring this to their attention other than single people writing them? You know as well as I do, the opportunity to make money off of all of the new characters and vehicles is there and that there will be a market for it. They are going to miss out. Your thoughts?

While you listen to me ramble, let me ask you this - which figures did you want?

If you look at the toy industry as a whole, you might be compelled to ask "Well, what is Star Wars?" It oscillated between being a legacy franchise - that is, focused on its history - with brief spurts of newness thanks to the Special Editions, prequels, TV, and a couple of Expanded Universe pushes (Shadows of the Empire, The Force Unleashed).

In the old days, Kenner made a franchise that mostly looked forward. Once The Empire Strikes Back came out, we were mostly done with Star Wars. Return of the Jedi mostly put the other movies to rest, save for a couple of The Power of the Force exceptions. That's how most properties work - once you have something new that's popular, the old stuff goes to sleep while you use momentum from the newest movie (or TV show).

If you turn your gaze back to the 1990s, we saw the same thing with Star Trek. Playmates kept it in the present for most of its run, focusing on the newest movie or the current TV show until the line started to struggle - and around that time they shifted the focus to the entire history of the franchise. Classic Trek didn't appear in the first year, and a few major TV players never got toys. Playmates was more interested in Voyager than in doing a complete set of the The Wrath of Khan uniformed crew. We got Khan himself as they filled in the gaps later, but you really have to ask what makes the most sense for the biggest audience.

I assume you have a specific wish - but I don't know who it is. If you want to make it happen, make it your life's work... or at least a hobby. Start petitions, write letters, try to see how many other people agree with you. (I still want Vlix.) I personally believe we are beyond the 1990s phase of being able to rally a group of like-minded fans toward a single goal - we all have our own pursuits and will not necessarily support someone's desire unless it's our desire, too. You're not going to get support for Cane Adiss, but there might be enough old guys left to get Sim Aloo, Kenner Power Droid, and the Mustache Bespin Security Guard made. Eventually. I'm certain Hasbro will return to "classic" waters if and when Disney stops the factory of new fiction, but that may take quite some time.


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2. Hi Adam, my girlfriend and I are going to Disney World in late January. I haven't been since 2002 (I still remember snagging the original set of Star Tours figures at Once Upon a Toy fresh off the rack). I have two questions for you. First, are the Droid Factory pieces limited editions every year? I.e., will I be able to find pieces from previous years or just the 2015/2016 batch?

And second, do you know the quality of the Build Your Own Lightsabers? It looks like they're not too different from the sabers at retail stores, at least in terms of plastic.

I think your bets for the bins are good, but the packaged Astromech droids seem to be selling if the reports people send me are accurate. Many of those were specific to an event or a single park (R2-D60 for Disneyland's 60th, R4-D23 for D23, Holographic R2-D2 for Disney Weekends) so I wouldn't get your hopes up too high. If there's something you want and the eBay price is close to cost plus tax plus shipping, I'd say cave in and buy it now. The new holiday droid is, well, new - I don't know if R2-H15 will be spirited away with the other unsold holiday merchandise or if it will be allowed to collect dust until March. In your position I'd err on any older or holiday item being gone, but the 4-pack of droids I would bank on remaining. But you can order that online for $30 right now, so why wait?

The lightsabers are basically the same quality as Hasbro's. They do, however, run out of parts (or did when I was there last). So it's cool, but there's no guarantee that you'll be able to build a good one.




3. A while back, I bought the Army of the Republic (The Clone Wars SotDS 2011) battle pack from a seller on eBay, and I noticed that one of the plain white clone troopers had some yellowing...below the belt. I'd heard of a few tricks for fixing yellowed Clone Trooper helmets from The Vintage Collection (presumably softer plastic), so I was wondering if you knew of a solution for something like this?

Depending on what kind of yellowing. Some of the figures from this era (roughly 2009-present) have a yellowy film which can be wiped off with a damp cloth, water, and/or a mild detergent. Some are yellowed to the core, which basically means any chemical fix you do is temporary. I would suggest washing it off and seeing what happens, but those softer plastic parts (helmets, usually) were basically just an oily film - the other kind of yellowing is, more or less, impossible to permanently fix.

A yellow film also grew on some white figures from 2002 and 2003 - but some are "yellowed" while others are oily. You'll want to see what you can wipe off before freaking out.




We're about one month away from the new movie! It's amazing how much we know, and how much we don't at this point. Back in 1999, May 3 was the date for pretty much everything - a book, the toys, the soundtrack, and enough to really spell out the movie for you. The movie would be released a mere two weeks later, giving us all a brief window to avoid spoilers or wildly speculate as to how important some characters were... including but not limited to the general foolishness that Darth Sidious and Senator Palpatine weren't the same dude. And the weird commercial where a Pizza Hut delivery girl, the Taco Bell Chihuahua, and Colonel Sanders teamed up to fight a tank for some reason.

We're probably not going to see any of that sort of thing this time - they extended the prelude with numerous books and novels that will likely explain little of value from the movie, aside from maybe a backstory of an alien who otherwise would be inconsequential. (We had some of this in 1999, too.) We may have some more new toys - aside from exclusives, it's been pretty thin since September as Wave 2 stuff started showing up the week of September 4. One thing we do have once again is a huge mountain of hype, but without any potential leaks to freak us out. You may or may not remember that in 1999, some of Jar Jar Binks' dialogue from the bongo sequence found its way to the web and this started to color the flavor of the backlash that would soon follow. We got some more backlash with Attack of the Clones and what felt like indifference for Revenge of the Sith, mostly because the latter did a fine job shutting the book on the previous couple of decades of our imagination. There was new Aurra Sing to get excited about (who was ultimately pretty inconsequential). There was no lingering question as to how the Clone Army would evolve into Stormtroopers. We saw Luke and Leia get dumped where we would meet them again later, and that was that.

Now I'm sitting here sort of preemptively recoiling. Good or bad, I know people are going to tell me I'm an idiot if I like this movie. This is one of the unfortunate truths of writing about anything on the Internet. This time around the licensees are asking us for more money than ever with a massive amount of tie-in fiction pre-release and a very healthy toy line. As with the question this week, it remains to be seen if they'll be all-in for the new movie come next year. After all, the backlash to the first prequel resulted in a hard stop (and Hasbro executive mandate) shifting the line to 50% "classic" in the year 2000... which worked out pretty well for all of us, wouldn't you say? Perhaps Rogue One might put out some more classic stuff in there, but right now I'm not that hopeful.

--Adam Pawlus

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