It's Monday, so it's time to look at your questions for Q&A! So how about Bo-Katan - is she off the table? Should we start designing our own Captain Rex figure now? And... more on 2013 because zzzzz. All this and more, read on and send in your questions for next time! (Or I get a break!)
1. With the nature of the Star Wars license, is it possible we might ever see the release of a basic figure collection more in line with Mattel's Power Attack Batman, Hasbro's various wacky Spiderman lines, or the old JP Chaos Effect? I'm thinking glow in the dark Vader's, ninja battle yodas, disco fever Landos, neon pink stormtroopers, and a Pimp Daddy Chewbacca. At this point, with all new character selection being as limited as it is, why not go balls out crazy and put out the weirdest, pop art, plaything friendly line imaginable?
Barring this gaudy neon fever dream of a toy line, I'd be willing to settle for a tiny plastic 3 3/4 Bo-Katan, either animated or realistic is fine. Is there a decent chance of either happening?
Also, as a long time reader/enjoyer of your QA, I can't help but notice certain, how shall I say, "redundancies" in the questions people slip in the ol' mailbag. (Where are these figures I can't find? Why does Hasbro hate me? Am I in an abusive relationship with a toy company? Will figure X ever get made? Hasbro is the worst but I've decided to direct my anger at a toy reviewer, ect.) Do all QA columns deal with this same issue, or is Star Wars as a property just particularly rusty, leaving you alone cursed to walk the earth answering the same queries about unlikely to ever be made figures and M.I.A Naboo Starfighters?
Also, am I hypocrite for asking one of those very questions earlier in this very long letter? Yes. Yes I am.
I vaguely remember writing that I think this column may have outlived its usefulness a few years ago. I don't know that I'm wrong some weeks. If I have to make up questions I'd rather stop doing the column, I always get hate mail for saying this but I don't get paid to do this and I certainly wouldn't say no to the free time not writing it brings.
Your question basically boils down to "Does Hasbro want to make a Bo-Katan?" and the answer is "I don't know." Hasbro eventually gave us a really slick realistic quasi-Fordo, but it took about eight years. Hasbro does have a female Mandalorian body which it could modify and release as Bo-Katan, but do they want to? At this point we're at a stage where we've seen so many changes (and poor decisions on the part of retailers and Lucasfilm proper, plus kids and fans not shelling out) that I'd say it's just as likely that the line could abandon collectors or go on hiatus as it would be that you get Bo-Katan. If she makes it out this year, it'd be as an exclusive, but I'd say it's just as likely you won't see her for a few years. If ever.
You can dress up your plastic men in all the 1980s packaging you want, with all the non-working hip articulation you want, but they're still small cheap disposable goods many of which will be destroyed by children. Hasbro can only achieve so much authenticity in a 3 3/4-inch figure, which is why things like the Marvel-themed Comic Packs figures in 2007, 2008, and 2009 were so interesting. I realize not all of you have 40-60 different Darth Vader figures and are not bored with the idea of adding another one to your collection, and bully for you. At this point seeing the line done as straight-up toys rather than trying to pretend it's something for collectors and kids - which hasn't always worked out too well - would at least be interesting to see, if not successful. I don't know about you but I'm tired of figures that I buy, open, review, and put on my shelf. I want something that'll sit around on my desk and do something interesting. (And the Sucklord has all the pink stormtroopers you could want.)
2. I'd like your take on my design...say I doubt Hasbro's 'realistic' take on Captain Rex is going to see the light of day...would I not be able to kit bash an Uber-Rex by taking a comic pack Alpha, vintage collection Fordo soft-goods kama and blasters, and a clone wars Rex helmet...and mix it together. Can you think of a better mix of ingredients?
What, no picture?
I'd suggest just not doing it unless you can paint it or dye it - the Vintage Collection ARC Trooper Captain (Fordo) has painted red stripes on his kama, making it a poor choice for Rex. If you cut your own cloth and sewed something together, what you propose basically works but if you're going to use an animated Clone helmet, what's stopping you from repainting Fordo's helmet or just tweaking the existing Alpha one?
When it comes to customizing, I generally shy away from suggesting too many people do it. Not because they don't have the skills, but because Hasbro will probably just make whatever it is you destroyed three or four figures to assemble anyway. I'd hold off on it for now if I were you, or just use the comic pack Alpha figure for the time being as a "good enough" replacement as I expect the real deal will come eventually, somehow. Hasbro hasn't announced its SDCC exclusive set yet and it wouldn't stun me if they showed up in there, be it this year or next.
3. I have enjoyed collecting the SW Vintage line since around 2008, and I hope Hasbro keeps Vintage collectors in mind up to 2015, when I assume we will have plenty of Episode VII figures. Why the sudden dearth? 2012 was a complete and utter disaster....I bought the TPM line within one week, then watched it hold shelves hostage all year long. Yet I still awaited new items...but now it is boring old figures we have seen before. What's going on?
For reasons not written in stone, Hasbro produced numerous Vintage figure waves last year but did not ship them to big box stores in what any collector would call sufficient quantities. (Many of them did make it out, they just sold quickly and the mix with 50%+ Wave 1 figures resulted in more unsold product.) Smaller accounts and online stores had them throughout the year, and these same mixes are just coming to stores now. (You can see on the date stamps of the carded figures that these were produced early in 2012.) It's not unusual for new figures to sell, but generally there was a pattern where Wave 6 may have had Wave 5 figures as carry-forwards, and in 2012 Hasbro decided most of the carry-forwards would be from wave 1, and nobody wanted that in the first place.
But why? Only Hasbro knows. This sort of thing has been happening with Transformers, Iron Man, and G.I. Joe since 2010. There are figures that were available on some online accounts, while others became de facto Ross or TJ Maxx exclusives... even ones with Target exclusive stickers on them. Buzz on the street has it that a few stores basically told Hasbro they didn't want the product as it was in 2012, and maybe they changed their mind, or got a better deal, or Hasbro just neglected to send them the right, new figures. We do not have this information at this time and my guess is we won't hear it until someone writes an update of a book like Toy Wars with a theme of the homogenized toy industry being watered down to a couple of major players and little innovation, but nobody is handing out those kinds of contracts that I know of. (If you are writing this book, please tell me so I may read it.)
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: from where I sit, Hasbro has reinvented itself as an "entertainment company" and is now seemingly reconsidering this... and to what extent this will change our hobby, I have no idea.
The mailbag is empty - what else do you have? For the curious, reads have been steady for years but question influx has been going down, no doubt because not much new is happening. It's really kind of fascinating to watch how this affects me and us as a community, as I'm going on fewer toy runs in the sense that when I'm out, I don't have any reason to drop in most stores lately. There are not many new Transformers to gawk at or buy, G.I. Joe isn't really that active, and very little "new" is out. Most new Hasbro series of toys had a new wave in January or February, and so far that's been it (Iron Man 3, Spider-Man for example) so I have little reason to even go out just to look at stuff. Since at least 2002 I was on a pretty steady, consistent streak of going out looking for (or at least looking at) new stuff, from Transformers Armada to Masters of the Universe to Spy Troops to Xevoz to Revenge of the Sith and beyond. There were always new things popping up along the way, like Palisades' Micronauts revival, whatever it was Playmobil was doing, and it was generally fun to see what was new and exciting in action toys.
There's very little new and exciting in action toys aimed at boys ages 4-11.
The most exciting Star Wars news since Toy Fair 2013 is Yakface.com's report of the Vintage Collection AT-AT coming to the USA around June. Which is good in the sense I didn't overpay for it from Canada, but the reason I didn't overpay for it from Canada was that I wasn't too keen on it in the first place - I don't have the same raging er... interest for Vintage packaging as many fans so for me, it's a muddy AT-AT with a nifty AT-AT Driver with black gloves, which would ordinarily be interesting mostly as a new entry in a column I do not presently write anymore. Another new under-the-radar announcement was Hasbro confirmed Jedi Force Mace Windu, Jango Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Kit Fisto are still coming and are coming in the near future.
I am still buying new toys online, so I'm not exactly dying here. I have great Fang Man and Mechawhales figures on my desk right now, and I ordered Chell from Portal which Mrs. Q&A has annexed and taken to work. I've picked up a few new Hasbro non-Star Wars items, plus a couple of "Yoda" cases overseas, which just arrived and are a little lacking. Part of the problem with collecting is I'm not so much pleased that I have the new Rex and Red Battle Droid, it's that I'm agitated that I don't have a lead on the 2012 Movie Heroes Boba Fett and MH22 Battle Droid. At least Hasbro's clear blue Spider-Man was pretty awesome.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.