Q&A: New World, New Questions, New Mouse Droids?

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sure, there's world-changing news going on, but I've got a mailbag to get through. What do we have this week? There's The Death Star Revenge of the Sith Figure Pack (which does not include an actual toy Death Star), we talk about actual new Vintage figures styled after the 1980s, and we even explore just how valuable an online poll can be. (Just because you want it doesn't mean you can have it.) Read on, and fire away with your questions for next time!

1. Just wondering about the mini figure, mouse droid that is going to be in the comic con death star pack Do you know if it's going to be that same plastic one that came with the death star droid in 98 and if it might have rolling wheels this time around? I also wanted to know if it's scale is correct? to me it looks like it should be way smaller but i could be wrong.

Lucky for you, I asked Hasbro at Toy Fair.

Jason (of the Star Wars team) told me that the item would be identical to previously released Mouse Droids, and the previous incarnation was basically the same thing twice over in 1998 and again in 2001. Salacious Crumb should be fundamentally identical to his previous release, but which one I am not entirely sure. (There are significant deco changes between them, the mouth is the spot to compare usually.) So this won't be a new piece-- just exclusive packaging, which is the kind of thing I want to hear so I can skip it. (I love the idea, it's just not conducive to carrying home a box of this nature. And by loving the idea, I mean for other people to buy it. Repacks aren't worth waiting in line to get, if you ask me.)

2. Why do you suppose the Commander Gree helmet has not been utilized for all the clones or least the one's that are in the revenge of the sith collection of figures? This helmet is a much better sculpt then the squishy kind that came the with regular clone and I bet Gree's helmet painted or molded for that matter in white would not discolor as easy. does it cost more to make a helmet out of harder plastic opposed to this softer kind???

Things like this can generally be attributed to the luck of the factory draw-- the Revenge of the Sith clone helmet is, for all intents and purposes, a 2005 sculpt that's still in circulation while Gree's is a 2008 mold. In three years, Hasbro learned a lot about how to make a removable helmet even better, but since the helmet mold seems to be tied to the figure mold, it's unlikely that we're going to see a new, improved one until the mold wears out. Given the level of articulation, it's probably going to be "good enough" for another 3 or more years. After seeing the all-new AOTC Clone Trooper, though, it's obvious that we've come a long way in a few years and Hasbro's next all-new attempt at the ROTS Clone will be amazing. Whenever that is.

3. Something tells me that the vintage-style rocket fett mailaway plus the love for vintage sculpts that gentle giant is displaying with their line of meaty jumbos are indicative of what I think will be hasbro's "final finale" when it comes to the star wars line. Friday, a poll was posted on a competing site regarding vintage-style molds being used for figures from all 6 films. Now, those of us who have followed this site's "probe droid" poll know that whoever runs it (I suspect DePriest, himself) is dropping hints about what the future may hold. If you read back through the old polls, you can see this is the case much of the time, though not 100%. I, for one (and I may be the only one), love the idea. My question is: since a return to vintage style molding (in some capacity) is inevitable, do you think these will be a short-run "chase figures" in the regular mainline, a full line unto itself, or some sort of exclusive set? My gut tells me it will be held for if/when the realistic line seems to be dying off for good and this will be hasbro's "last stab" and raking in nostalgic megabucks before drawing the curtain on the whole line. I think this is their "ace in the hole", if you will.

Now before you say you don't see it happening, it IS happening-- Rocket Fett is an all-new vintage style mold, and I think it's sort of a "dry run" for what is to come. Now before you say that Rocket-Fett was a "one-off deal", remember they said the same thing about Kul Teska. Thoughts?

How was Kul Teska not a one-off? I don't remember any other Republic Heroes toys, nor do I remember any other individually-packaged oversized The Clone Wars figures standing around 6-inches tall.

Generally speaking it's tough to say when Hasbro says an item is a one-time thing and means it, because the line doesn't end. Back in 1995, we got a Classic Four Pack with remakes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader based on the original Kenner figures-- and we were told that was going to be it, and in 2010 we got Boba Fett. Basically, anything more than 2-3 years in the future is a toss-up-- Hasbro doesn't necessarily know what they're going to be doing in five years, and it wouldn't stun me if we saw 1-2 more "Vintage" 1970-style figures before the line ends.

When it comes to fan polls, Rebelscum asks lots of questions. They're able to do this as a fan site, and Hasbro can use the data if they so choose. Keep in mind that Rebelscum's polling sample is probably some of the best-informed, most-likely-to-buy-something group. So if THIS audience only has 40%, the collecting populace at large-- the casual buyer, the kids, the people who will never read a column like this one-- should be much smaller, so your appeal here is going to be pretty limited.

On the whole Hasbro is not a company that looks back for vintage sculpting all that much unless a straight reissue of an old toy is sensible from an economic sense, as we see with vehicles in Star Wars and G.I. Joe on a semi-regular basis.

I won't say that Hasbro will never do another 1970s-style Vintage figure, but I will say that I really do believe them when they say they don't think they're going to do it. "Chase figures" aren't good for Hasbro when it requires new molds to be made, and that sort of thing would only appeal to collectors. If you see how Hasbro runs its case ratios with Star Wars (and I do) a "chase figure" or a "shortpacked figure" can, at times, backfire and just plain stop selling. If Hasbro decided to do a low-run exclusive or some other special figure (say a 1984-inspired Darth Maul) I think that might be fun, but I really don't like the idea of them going back and making more "old" figures. Gentle Giant has the jumbo 12-inch Kenner upsized figures, you can send away for Boba Fett... there's really no good reason to do old-looking toys unless Hasbro has decided they've ran out of figures to do as super-awesome amazingly articulated wonders.

...and if they ever DID do them, don't expect them to be any cheaper.

4. a new figure (lets say an ewok) came out right now and has a removable brown hood. You are a loose collector and decide to buy it.

2 years later, the exact same figure comes out. He is the same character and he is totally the same in paint colors and everything. However, this time his removable brown hood is red.

Even though the whole base figure itself is the exact same, he has an accessory that is a repaint, but this accessory is part of his outfit, unlike a blaster or other weapon.

Is this considered a repaint or a repack?


Neither. Go with "variation" since two years later, you've got new packaging and a potential deco change here. You can quibble over the details all you want but "repack" is generally a completely unchanged figure and "repaint" means some significant changes were made-- not just a tint of one part of a figure. A "repaint" or "redeco" usually means some significant difference, generally (but not always) more than a running change-- and in Hasbro's terminology, most likely, what you describe may be a "running change" in their lexicon. Given the timeframe, it might just be a simple matter of "red is the new brown."

5. As a longtime Star Wars collector, I completely understand and agree that the grand majority of non-vintage figures and vehicles (mid-90's onward) are poor investments and will not appreciate in value and frequently end up depreciating over time. However, I was looking at the variety of Republic Gunships on Ebay the other day and noticed that even ones that are being sold loose but in good condition are going for at least their original price and the MISB ones (AOTC, ROTS, CW, etc.) can go for upwards of $100 or in some cases even $150.

My question is, why do some Star Wars vehicles that are by no means "rare" or hard to find that have been made in a plethora of varieties over the years now command higher prices than what they sold for in retail and can actually prove to be a good investment for people who buy Star Wars toys for an investment?

Simply put, vehicles are not figures. Totally different beast. A lot of collectors only buy carded figures, and due to the high price point few collectors invest in or buy extra vehicles for later. Parents also don't buy their kids more expensive toys, so there's a lot of potential on "high dollar" items like vehicles. After all, how many collectors bought each of all six Republic Gunships? I did, but did you guys? My guess is probably not. Due to space and prices, we don't think about buying an entire fleet of Jedi Starfighters all that much.

If all vehicles were bought by kids, opened, played with, and destroyed and not gobbled up by collectors then this makes perfect sense. How many collectors did I know who bought 5-10 of each figure to preserve as an investment? Lots. How many people do I know who even bought 1 of each vehicle for their own collection? Not too many. The same can be said on a lot of toy lines, the more expensive stuff tended to be the first items that shot up in value. Taking Star Wars as an example, the 12-inch figures and vehicles from the 1970s rocketed up in the late 1980s, while most of the carded figures prices took a while to climb, generally at or after 1990.


Aaand I got nothing. Starting this week is my busy season, as the toy business starts kicking up all sorts of new stuff from the summer blockbuster toy season to industry announcements to announcements you'll all be hearing around July. New Clone Wars figures are supposedly hitting around now, but that's about it. Is anyone finding anything else lately?

I figure things are going to start ramping up, as Target seems to be doing a light reset of its aisles, dumping some older SKUs. Sadly this means some Transformers may never show up in their aisles, but it seems nobody was getting any of them anyway. Dagnabbit.

Got questions? My mailbag's pretty much empty.

--Adam Pawlus

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


Hey Adam, I also have every incarnation of the republic gunship, including 4 of the TRU hunt for grievous sharkmouth style from 2006, 2 of the most recent TRU exclusive with the closed doors, 1 walmart exclusive flaming wampa from 2008, 1 ROTS from 2005, 1 AoTC saga from 2002, and the awesome 2003 clone wars version. Which I believe gives me a total of 10 gunships in my fleet. I love them, my favorite ship in the Star Wars saga of all time. It makes me very happy that the prices of these have skyrocketed on the secondary market!

I think you may be counting

I think you may be counting an ARC Fighter-- the Flaming Wampa was, if memory serves, a TRU exclusive ARC 170 fighter. But I'd like to see the fire-breathing Wampa on a gunship, definitely.


2008 walmart exclusive. couldve swore it had a wampa on the nose. i'm gonna have to start diggin to check this one out!........ OK just started to dig (very large collection in a very limited space!)and I came across the ARC with the wampa, then found my gunship with the Twi'Lek hottie in the clone armor! How could I forget that, my bad, this is why you are a master and i'm just a padawan!