Q&A: No Joe, Starkiller's Duds, Blown Troopers, And 2 Questions For You, The Readers!

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 27, 2012

Are we getting enough of Starkiller lately? Let's go to the scoreboard! Want to prove your droid naming expertise? Then I need your help! And let's talk Clone Troopers because there are so many flavors. And are we as a toy community still as gullible as we were in 1995? I think the answer may be "yes" but maybe I'm the fool! Oh, and my mailbag is empty, so send in your newest questions whenever you feel like!

1. Do u think hasbro will ever release more tfu and tfu2 figures of starkiller in alternative costumes?

Probably. If you follow the line thus far, we get a new one every year or two. We got three in 2008, another pair in 2010, and another one just last year. Yet another one is coming in the Vintage cases later this year, so at this rate, yes, you can probably expect a new one every 1-2 years at a minimum.


2. Hey Adam got the 501st clone trooper today and like many people was disappointed with the helmet size but what really bothered me was the guns that were included. When we got the episode 2 trooper it came with all new weapons but now we get this version and they( hasbro ),give us old guns. What gives?

First, I'm sure many might say you should be happy you found one: there are far fewer of the 501st trooper on a vintage cardback than pretty much anybody else, including Wedge Antilles and Darth Malgus.

Don't like a figure? Wait a year or two. Hasbro will redo it.

The reason it is like it is? Well, it's a little painful, and a little obvious: cost cutting. Hasbro has a perfectly good clone mold and was already selling it with a slightly oversized helmet with the BARC Speeder. They just repainted it, and presto: easy new figure. Hasbro frequently reuses guns and tooling to help keep costs down, although I'd say they're failing at keeping them down as of late. It's likely Hasbro will go back and try again in a few years, which is basically how it has been going for this line since 1995.


3. In the past, I have always used ebay to collect things I missed on the shelves. This has always been hit or miss. Recently I noticed ebay not having what I was looking for but more sellers on Amazon. I like ebay because most sellers post a picture, even though the picture later tends out to be deceptively blurry or cleverly disguising the rip on the top of the card. Plus amazon prices were always very high byut they seem more reasonable now, especially for harder to find items. I tried one of the amazon sellers and was very happy about the result. The seller mentioned that Amazon takes quality control seriously. Any comment on the quality of Amazon vs ebay? Also, yes I do use ee and brian's although ee usually sells by the case and brian charges a prmium. Like I mentioned, I am MOC collector so I can be a little picky. thanks.

Amazon, as a rule, has sellers which overcharge absurd amounts. (I don't mean Amazon's own stock, but sometimes the "collectible" stock from other sellers can get pretty high up there.)  On Amazon you may not necessarily be getting a representation of the item you're buying, just a stock image. It's the luck of the draw. I'm rarely disappointed on eBay and often the prices on Amazon make me puke-- $30 for $6 Hulk figures, $80 for CDs which are worth, at best, $7, it's just insane. Amazon sucks, plus they suck the life out of the sellers by trying to force them to race to the bottom when there's any competition on a single item. Amazon sucks. (And you're asking about how your tiny sampling in the millions of transactions on one service are related to another? It's practically random!) Moving on.


4. I am in the process of updating my Astrodroids list and I would like to know: What is Corran Horn's Whistler actual alpha-numerical designation

Ya got me. Does anyone know? If Wookieepedia doesn't have it, usually I assume it isn't out there. (Of course, they've had errors in the past and are sometimes slow to fix them. For years they had an article on the "Spotted Jugaloo." It's Jugadoo dammit.)


5. Lego? I avoided those things, until the advent calender last year, and now me and my god-daughter are putting together a set every weekend. Can you settle a little debate: was it the Star Wars license or the NBA license that got Lego to use more realistic skin colors?

Was the debate with your goddaughter? If so, I need to look into having kids.

I'm trying to remember if LEGO said anything officially, I found this interview with a quote and for some reason I want to say it was the NBA that I saw first, with Lando in Star Wars later. Fans are seeking other ethnicities as well which I've always felt is both neat and in some cases weird. Playmobil, for example, as a few different skin tones which it looks like vary per market-- a darker skinned figure might be Greek in Europe, but Hispanic here. With LEGO that was the genius of yellow figures, they were whatever the heck you wanted them to be.

So yeah, dunno. LEGO's statement basically is "we had a lot of licenses so it made sense" and I, being naive and unable to corner them, have to believe them. It certainly makes sense given how long they put off doing a Lando figure (which I always put at one of the top 12 must-do classic characters), I'd almost assume it had to be the NBA which really drove it home due to the larger variety of people warranting the change, but that's just a barely educated hunch with some fuzzy memory on top.



So, no matter how much we complain, at least we can say they never bumped our movie back a year after telling us it would be out in a month. G.I. Joe Retaliation was slated for the end of June, but now got pushed back to March 2013 due to wanting to add 3D for the movie to improve its international box office take. The toys are still coming-- they started showing up in April at shops which ignored the street date-- but I don't know if the move will gum things up for future waves (like after wave 2 or 3), or if Hasbro will hold some back for the movie next year.

The whole "Hasbro is asking to send it back thing" is, possibly, not entirely true. Given that it's a holiday weekend and the timing of the article, it wouldn't stun me if Variety's reporter asked a big box (or large toy store) employee or manager, and they are a few steps removed from the buyers and merchandisers but if you've spoken to as many of them as I have, you know they aren't in a position to see the big picture all the time. (In short, they don't necessarily know and wouldn't know unless a chainwide memo was released and, quite often, those things get camera phoned and passed along.  You as an Internet person have access to more information sometimes.) I mean, I write this column, I get to feel 10% more important than I'm not. From where I sit (and some of you know where I sit, and some of you don't care) nobody has made any indication that someone in Rhode Island wants this stuff back. Recalls are very expensive and even when trademark disputes are in order, things don't always get sent back to the manufacturer or destroyed, sometimes they just sit and rot. If there's toxic paint or harmful issues with exploding batteries, that is when you get a recall. I smell a fake hype machine, not necessarily malicious but sometimes toy store employees, intentionally or otherwise, cook up some juicy stories and we've all met at least one or two collectors who have fallen for them, or even were the collector who fell for it. (Hey, it happens to the best of us!)

I went on a massive toy run on Sunday and most stores either had stuff out or were, shockingly, dutifully holding out for the street date for it, and/or Amazing Spider-Man and/or Dark Knight Rises. I'll be curious to see how it shakes out in the next 72 hours, because to me this whole Joe Retaliation thing reeks of the nonsense fans made up in 1995. Do you remember how dumb we were as a community in 1995? Lead paint? Carrie Fisher recalls? One per dozens or hundreds of cases? The 12-inch Chewbacca figure and 3 3/4-inch removable Darth Vader being available one or two years prior to their release, respectively?

People made stuff up and were supremely gullible, and on the whole that hasn't changed much. Just two years ago I had a Toys R Us employee insisting to me that a War For Cybertron Optimus Prime was coming in the Supreme class, which is odd because a) I didn't ask, b) I didn't engage him in conversation, and c) there were no "Generations" toys in Supreme class other than, technically, a Unicron reissue. And because I have deep-rooted social problems, I went on to tell him he was full of crap and he should stop spreading rumors that are just going to disappoint the fans who don't know any better. Seriously, I can't shut up, why do you think I keep writing all the dang time? Verbal diarrhea.

I've personally seen every basic carded Joe Retaliation figure on the pegs at least once, except Cobra Commander (the one I want, of course.) I don't want to necessarily say Variety has their heads up their butts... but I think it's far less likely that Hasbro would actually, at their own expense, take back brand-new perfectly good fan-desired product when there's clearly a market for it and I doubt the stores are necessarily demanding a refund. If it sells, why on Earth would any toy store want to give up that inventory?

Of the many stores I hit this weekend, one TRU had zero figures but plenty of vehicles and roleplay and multipacks. The aisles weren't super-organized and the person who asked if I needed any help said "Oh, the CS desk should be able to special order any figures for you." So I'm banking there's really no recall, until you can confirm it. Did you see the recall notice? The world wants to hear from you if you did. Because if some dude at Dollar General is sick at getting calls from collectors all of a sudden, I fully expect them to make up a story to get you to leave him alone. It's happened to me a lot in the 1990s.

Hasbro even made a statement confirming availability of some product so yeah, I think we're probably looking at the uninformed being quoted to the generally ignorant. Of course, I'll be first to say I'm wrong when we see the memo or confirmation of Hasbro actually asking for the goods back, which I'm sure someone can provide an actual printed letter or email or something confirming at some point. I'm waiting.

There are going to be a bunch of new items to talk about soon, I'm sure. (Stay tuned. Real soon.)

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.

GI Joe

Saw the whole line-up at Target tonight. Well, except for BLUE Cobra Commander. They had 2x Black. Love the zip lines. Will you be reviewing any at 16bit?

I'd like to see all the Retaliation Snake Eyes next to each other to help my buying decision: carded, Ninja Showdown, Alpha bike, and 4x4 versions.

Whistler's Name

According to the Dramatis Personae that Mike Stackpole (the creator of Whistler) includes in his novels, Whistler is also an R2-D2 model. How totally original, right?