Q&A: Q&A, Guns, Star Wars Figures, and Exclusive Stuffs

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, June 1, 2014

It's time for Q&A! After a couple of thousand figures, whose gun is that? And what about Hasbro's Q&A - hey man, I've been doing this since 1999, what am I - chopped liver? Also rambling about the 4 Canadian Saga Legends and let's complain about upcoming expensive exclusives - because I love you all! Also, be sure to take a minute to get in your questions for next week.


1. It was disappointing when Hasbro stopped doing the monthly Q&A with the various SW collector sites though many of the answers toward the end were obviously written by PR folks and not people who understood the questions asked. But at SDCC and Toyfair, collector site correspondents have been able to corner members of the SW team and get questions answered then. There have always been complaints about Hasbro's decision-making, case assortment and quality but the Q&A appeared to give fans a way to give Hasbro more immediate feedback. Do you think the monthly Q&A with Hasbro helped or hurt their relationship with collectors and did the cancellation of the Q&A change that for the worse?

People poo-pooed their Q&A while it was going, and people liked it too. How good it was basically was entirely on your shoulders - did they address the question asked? (Sometimes yes, sometimes no.) Did they give a good cop-out answer or a bad one? (We have nothing to share/no plans at this time = fine, no answer = angry fan.) I've been running a variation on this column since 1999, after I ripped it off from the video game site Next-Gen (I LOVED their Q&A column) and I have to say I am not sure it was just the PR guys at the end. When you have 20 sites asking 5 questions each, that's a massive workload.

As far as the complaints, well, it's nothing Hasbro hadn't heard. I've been following collector discussion groups online since the line started in 1995, and people couldn't wait to start complaining. The first mixes didn't have Leia or C-3PO, and when they finally showed up at 2 per box it wasn't fast enough for some collectors to feel demand was met - and this sort of thing keeps happening to this very day, for one reason or another. No matter what you do as Hasbro, it's never good enough - and in some cases, you really can't fault them. The Q&A column was often written after hours, so it's sort of like the same way I treat this column - you do it when you should be sleeping.

With things like case assortments, it may not matter - due to the lead time from China, a toy manufactured in early March probably won't make it to stores until roughly late May - so assume it will take 90 days, give or take, from the time a toy is born until it shows up to toy store shelves. Now they have to decide case assortments a few months - if not more - before that. So if we complain about a mix now, it'll be quite a while - this is one way The Black Series 6-inch has been interesting to watch because one assortment does inded seem to have changed based on fan input, and that's one of the reasons Obi-Wan Kenobi is not in wave 4 and we are seeing the return of Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper instead. This is the way things should be going, and Hasbro does still monitor boards (and hear complaints from people in person who have the opportunity to share them) all the time. Keep posting - they will see it.

I think their doing the column helped, but people didn't seem to notice when it stopped at first - let's face it, the column was never meant to be a way of distributing new information so much as it was clarifying confusion and getting a ton of free PR with fan sites. In today's market we see precious few new releases so there's really no benefit to someone at Hasbro answering questions unless it's something like "So this figure that showed up in Canada, is it coming here or not?" or "This leaked photo of one of the six or seven products as of yet unannounced for the year, when is it coming out?" We're at a stage right now where I think it really is in their best interests to not do this sort of thing, but in their shoes? I'd say pick it up again after the next big reveal. The new Rebels toys will likely be shown in abundance at San Diego Comic-Con, and opening the gates for one more round of questions about those could be beneficial.

From where I sit, the questions they will get will probably look like this: "Why don't you make more Black Series 6-inch figures?" "Why do you waste plastic on black series 6-inch figures and not 3 3/4-inch figures?" "Star Wars Command - Really?" "When will you make Black Series vehicles?" "Why are you wasting plastic on those stupid kiddie masks and 31-inch X-Wing toy that nobody wants?" (Not necessarily my opinions, those are the things people write in to me seemingly confused in thinking that I am in fact a Hasbro spokesperson when I am not.)




2. Do you have any recollection of whether anybody but IG-88 had that worn-deco Stormtrooper blaster? Because I was putting away old figures and found a stray one in the bottom of the bag, and IG-88's ziplock was torn open, but still appeared to have his gun in there and NOW I DON'T KNOW OR REMEMBER WHOSE IT IS and aaaargh
--Anonymous Coward

It could be a few of them - off the top of my head I would wager the early 2009 Stormtrooper Han Solo or Luke Skywalker figures, each of which had a similar gun in The Legacy Collection. There are undoubtedly more but off the top of my head, those were the first two to come to mind. The 2007 Comic Packs Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper) with R2-D2 had this as well. If you could give me more info or a possible year range, that'd help - but I'm assuming you've collected them all, so that could be dang near anything.


3. Adam, with the "news" being reported on various sites, of these multipacks/battlepacks coming to toys r us in the UK and presumably here in the U.S. what's your reaction to these massive sets? Obviously not many pics have been revealed but those price points!!! $455 is a lot of money. Your take?

A few years ago - I want to say 2007 - I wrote up a thing warning people that the October, November, and December take of all the big stores would have over a dozen exclusives setting us all back something like $400 - but that included some nice ships, some huge gift sets, a lot of figure sets, and maybe even a regular wave or two. For a pure dollar amount - assuming those UK Pound prices are equal to US Dollar prices (I would say that this is a safe assumption that it's $99 + $39 + $129 here in the states) - it's really going to depend on what the final product looks like. $380 is a lot of money, too... and I don't believe for one minute that we're going to see a $220 exclusive set of rereleases in 2014. The UK tends to pay more for their figures, so it's got to be less than that.

As a collector that opens things, the Endor set makes me pretty happy - I haven't scrutinized them under a magnifying glass yet but it looks like a set I can easily skip. At $100, Battle on Endor has 2 figures from the Shield Generator Assault Battle Pack (Legacy 2008, $20) 2006 Vintage Battle Poncho Leia ($10), a Black Series Stormtrooper ($10), an Imperial Officer (Kmart Scanning Tech 2-pack, $16), a Vintage-based Chewbacca ($10 max), an AT-ST Driver ($16 if you bought the 2-pack), and 2 Ewoks ($40 if you bought the 5-pack). All this plus Kmart's AT-ST ($35) and you can buy all of these items right now for roughly $152 - but you would walk away with 16 figures instead of 8. It's not a bargain, but depending on how sharp your shopping skill is, this may be acceptable. A $35 vehicle plus 8 figures in today's marketplace can probably be valued at $115, but there are missing accessories here and (at a cursory glance) nothing new for the long-term collector. So I'm happy - until someone points out otherwise, I am able to skip this and still have a complete loose collection.

As to the others... it will be something I watch with great interest. At press time I haven't seen the Jabba set or the Cantina set, but part of me is wincing because I'd say the things I'm the most excited about in the original trilogy are creatures from Jabba's palace, Ewoks from Endor, and the Cantina. And here we are, with three sets, and no potentially new characters - maybe no new figures - and possibly no new pieces of any kind. I will skip exclusives if it doesn't have something new - I don't own the Revenge of the Jedi Death Star box, the 2013 Target Birth of Darth Vader gift set, or Kmart's Legacy tin or the Clone Wars figure tin, either. I can't justify it with my collecting habits - were I a boxed fan, I could - but I'm not, so I can't.

Seeing as these are collector-level figures in what appear to be casual fan/kid-targeted sets at collector-level prices, well, uh, I'd say the success will be inversely proportional to the run size. If Hasbro makes it hard to get, these will be a smash hit - fans seem to use spite as a motivating factor when making a purchase. "I don't want it." "OK, you can't have it." "...but I want it!" I've seen it many times and yes, I've even bought a toy because it was scarce here and there. It's not a good habit.

I hope the net sets are either slam-dunks of new figures, include hard-to-find and desirable figures for those that missed them (2011 Ponda Baba, for example), or are 100% straight-up repackages. Because if it has something new, I'll bite. If it has something old, I know it will make some of you guys happy, depending on the contents. And if it's a straight-up reissue, I can save some money. I had massive house plumbing bills in the last week that cost more than I make in a couple of months, so because I do most of this stuff for free I'm not really in a position to want to spend $500 on things I already own (and don't appreciate enough) as it is. (Oh crap I need money.)




Reader Daniel was kind enough to sell me the 4 new Hasbro Star Wars Saga Legends action figures from Canada, so you'll be reading about those here very soon. In short: they're all new molds, so of course I am going to encourage you to buy them. A little variety makes any series more exciting, and I don't think anyone was particularly jazzed to see the first two waves only have 2 Original Trilogy figures out of 12 releases. Now we're up to 4 out of 16, which is still pretty iffy unless you also factor in the rather remarkable ratio of 2 Expanded Universe figures mixed in - that's just plain miraculous. Darth Maul has good head paint and can sit in the Sith Infiltrator, so he's a big winner. If you can get a set, do it. Don't think about it. Well all you've got to do is, do it. Well don't talk about it. All you do is do it, do it! (Apologies to Rollins and/or The Pink Fairies.)

I personally love the Mission Series 2-packs, mostly because it seems to solve some problems. Buying someone one figure seems like a waste - get two! They're cheap. Heck, it's $2 cheaper to get a 2-pack than a single Saga Legends figure. The best possible product for this line, if you ask me, is a Stormtrooper 2-Pack. The angels would sing, trumpets would play, and I'm sure Iggy Pop would show up and so something cool. That's how worthwhile it would be. The future seems relatively sharp for this format, but right now it seems to be a real head-scratcher as to the fate of lava-carded Snowtrooper, Darth Maul, Luke Jedi Knight, and Clone Wars Obi-Wan Kenobi. After the Yoda Card Incident of 2013, I take no more chances. That may mean skipping a few meals, but well, we all have our addictions don't we? (This is what happens when you aren't a drinker. You gotta get your highs somewhere.)

So what's next? We have another 3 3/4-inch wave due soon, a 6-inch wave due soon, and I think we're about due for at least one more batch of Mission Series that's about half repacks. Can't win 'em all. The important thing to remember is this: vote with your dollars, write a lot of forum posts and editorials if you are unhappy, and don't complain at me because people sometimes roll their eyes when I relay certain concerns. Lots of us need to speak in order to be heard. Me, I'm generally happy with what we're getting but I'd love to see a 5-year moratorium on Revenge of the Sith in 3 3/4-inch scale. We got a break from The Phantom Menace from late 2002-2006, so I don't think it's too much to ask.

Oh, and if you're a member of the Power Lords Fan Club, you should check your email. The first Fan Club newsletter went out and you may note that the author aped the format of a mildly popular 1990s Star Wars email newsletter. (If you're in to such things.)

--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.