Q&A: Old Figures, New Figures, and Phantom Menace Turns 15

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 25, 2014


1. I asked you once about the best C-3PO, now I want you to help me fill a couple gaps in my displays: what do you think are the best ROTJ Emperor and ANH Leia? From my research I don't think there's anything that meets my pretty high standards (I'm a picky collector); what do you think the odds are of new (and hopefully definitive) versions of these characters being released?

I personally don't think we've gotten to a point where there is a final edition of either of those characters just yet, but the real problem comes up in what you want in a figure. The 1997 Power of the Force Emperor is effectively a chess piece with moving arms, but for many displays he's quite good and won't fall over. Many Emperor figures borrow from prequel Darth Sidious sculpts, and those may or may not do it for you - I personally am getting sick of cloth robes that make it tough to see the arms and figures that can't stand on their own, so I would hope we see another version in the future still. It'll probably be 6-inches tall, but such is life. If I were you, and I were picky, and I've waited this long? I'd say keep waiting, I assume the best sculpt you'll ever see will probably blindside you in a Mission Series 2-pack in the next 3 years.

The original Princess Leia is in the same boat, more or less. The last version of hair buns Leia that could actually sit was the 2004 Vintage version, but she lacked elbows which may prove problematic for some of you. Each figure has its pros and cons, but we have yet to achieve perfection without swapping heads and hoods and arms on either of these characters just yet. Again, I figure some new version will show up in the reduced articulation line that'll knock your socks off while making you angry.

When might we see them again with new and improved versions? Don't get your hopes up. We received 19 3 3/4-inch The Black Series figures in about 18 months - at this rate, I wouldn't feel placing bets on anything. Hopefully these characters will tie in to the marketing for new movies or TV shows, because otherwise it could be a while. The last new single-carded white Leia was 10 years ago and we haven't got a new Return of the Jedi Emperor mold since 2004 and 2005. As much as I would love to say "we must be about due!" the reality seems to be increasingly unlikely.




2. Are you aware of any resources for GI JOE that compare to some of the incredibly comprehensive Star Wars review sites? I collect modern JOE and I'm incredibly nitpicky about what I'll buy, but want to expand my collection, and I have yet to find a resource that compares to something like your FOTDs or JTA's RDRs (joeaday.com is my favourite so far). Some of the modern JOE lines are fantastic, but seemingly mixed with a lot of junk
--Purple Tentacle

I've read a bunch of site for Joe reviews, and I realize I'll catch some flack for this, but most Joe figures since 2007 are basically the same build. Some have slightly better ankles or wrists, but generally speaking they're quite similar in that they're all pretty great. A few earlier guys had restricted hip joints, and some have iffy paint, but they're all on the happy side of good. With Joe I would just ask this: do you like what you see? If so, buy it. I used to use YoJoe.com as a resource on the older figures, and they're quite good on many of the newer ones too. I'm also fond of The Terror Drome and Joe Battle Lines.

The single most impressive Joe site I've ever seen is 3DJoes.com but it only focuses on the 1980s so far. But seriously... check it out. They don't come much better.


3. Do you know when the next wave of 2014 Saga Legends figures will be released,particularly the Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight one?

Right now it looks like there is no targeted US release date for these yet - you'll notice certain online retailers which I may or may not work for at my day job do not have them listed, nobody has them in American packaging on eBay, and there's a bit of a glut of the Revenge of the Sith guys out there.

I wouldn't panic yet, but well, you saw my column last week - I asked around to see if I could get them from a Canadian fan. After the Yoda Waves of 2013 and the later Maul waves, I've got zero reason to wait around for them to get expensive on eBay if I can swing $10-$15 now. We were told Saga Legends will continue for quite some time, and we've seen evidence of the Star Wars: Rebels figures shipping in that assortment. This could change, but I'd bank on them shipping alongside movie guys - but who? That I don't know. It's possible these guys will show up soon, or later, or much later in the white and orange packaging. All I can say is I don't see any preorders online at the places that usually sell this kind of stuff, Hasbro didn't talk up these figures at Toy Fair this year, and I've seen this happen before. Draw your own conclusions.




Another Star Wars movie director was announced last week, which is good timing because it's the 15th anniversary of The Phantom Menace. Poo-poo it if you must, but the years leading up to that movie were fantastic - things didn't start to go south until that original Star Wars Celebration in May of 1999. We were given so many behind-the-scenes looks of crowd aliens, background vehicles and so forth that we probably got one of the best behind-the-scenes looks at a movie ever. Much like 1996's merchandising campaign Shadows of the Empire, it was quite the entertainment experience - the movie itself was almost inconsequential. It was about documentaries, books, and getting you to buy toys for a movie that it turned out you didn't even like. Well, some of you. I basically liked it but it definitely made me wonder when all the fans of the franchise were in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it was not popular to be up-front and open about your fandom of Star Wars or seemingly damn near anything.

Love it or hate it, it worked - it kicked off more movies, more comics, more games, and more toys. The business of Star Wars owes a lot to that film, in all its successes and failures, thanks largely to the fact that it brought in lapsed fanboys and fangirls while helping to burn the "collectible" business model that hurt comics and trading cards to the ground for toys. Anyone who bought a cart filled with toys at midnight in May of 1999 learned a valuable lesson - nobody wants the new stuff and never, ever overorder on wave one of anything.

Heck, if the prequels weren't the hit that they were, we wouldn't be sitting here thinking that Disney is going to ram six new movies and a TV series down our throats in the next few years. I bet there will be more TV shows too - look at Marvel's many animated and live-action properties just a few years after Disney took over. It changes the landscape of fandom a lot - when I was growing up, I lived in a world with 2 TV shows, 2 Ewok movies, and three theatrical pictures plus a smattering of comics and novels - and that was pretty much it. The entire franchise's fiction could fit in a small box, or a couple of boxes if you including the role-playing games and technical journals.

Now we're entering a world where the jaded fan can run wild, where the discussion of newness and creativity ebbs away as a franchise is either milked for whatever life it has left or enters a phase where fans may be inspired to pay Disney to kill it rather than tarnish the legacy. We now live in a world where the goodwill generated from our extensive fandom during the dark times will be monetized and whatever spare change we have left can be exchanged for magazines or cards or toys. It's possible that the notion of our collections ever being finished is the most ridiculous thing ever - toy lines of any real clout don't die, they just get rebooted and come back. There's a slow stream of Star Trek each year. Some dude brought back the Mordles, and did a fine job. I actually knew what it was like to live in a world where you could go a few years between Batman toys, now that seems unthinkable - and Star Wars is in the same boat. I hope you like it going on forever, because that's where we're at now. Rethink your completism and reconsider the value of paying for a second or third storage space for all of this stuff now, because the fleeting pleasures of a new purchase are going to add up between now and the time you can no longer take yourself to the bathroom.

I rarely get more hate mail than when I tell people to buy what they like and skip stuff - but seriously, unless you're in the business, I can't imagine where you're going to store all of these things. I'm guesstimating 50 figures per year from here on out as a minimum, and with multiple movies, classic, and TV shows, that's probably a low guess. And if you're in to statues, busts, 1:6 scale figures, or prop replicas, take advantage of this lull we're in to clean house and relieve yourself of the stuff you'll never look at again. Our best days are likely still ahead of us, so get ready - we're not even at the halfway point yet.

Having said that, I'm still in.

--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.