Q&A: Star Wars Droids, Surplus, and more Droids

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 7, 2017

1. With the new Disney Theme park Protocol Droids being added to their Droid Factor program, do we have a list of which "movie accurate" droids can be made? (above and beyond the thousands of creation concept droids etc...).

I don't have mine here yet, but the answer seems to be "not many" based on the current parts. Things are very close, but not necessarily as accurate as what Hasbro has previously given us.

You can build droids that look very similar to 4-LOM, C-3PO, R-3PO, CZ-3, R-3PO, 5D6-RA-7, MB-RA-7 and even K-3PO. But they're not quite exact, and some make concessions to keep the concept working. A blue Death Star Droid/5D6-RA-7 looks vaguely like a comic book version, and a silver one that looks kind of like E-3PO, but it's a stretch.

Now, Wookieepedia as a reference for protocol droids basically sucked - a lot of movie droids weren't on their tagged lists, so I'm working mostly from the toys trying to remember what I've seen in the movies. A more complete/exhaustive list is hopefully still to come, but in some of the above I'd say we're reaching. The Disney CZ-3 has a black-dirty shoulder that clearly is meant to mimic the droid from the original Star Wars, but that dirty deco is just so... uh... it ain't accurate. Similarly, there's a dirty take on the Hoth droid K-3PO, but it looks like it has bad desert camo on it. Is it good enough? Will there be a variant? I have no idea.



Ad: Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy at Entertainment Earth!
Star Wars Black Series 40th Anniv. 6-Inch Figures Wave 2 GOTG Vol. 2 Marvel Legends Star-Lord and Ego Action Figures Star Wars 40th Anniversary Die-Cast Metal Figures Wave 1 Star Wars Rogue One Galen Erso Action Figure Star Wars Rogue One Admiral Raddus Action Figure Star Wars Rogue One Lieutenant Sefla Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Chirrut Imwe 6-Inch Action Figure Star Wars Black Series Baze Malbus 6-Inch Action Figure


2. When I see [eBay seller] Tunghori selling such large volume of tvc product that has been off the market, I wonder how he gets restocked. Does Hasbro have factory rooms with drawers and drawers of loose figures that for whatever reason didn't get packaged and sent to market?

I can tell you right now I don't have a good answer, but there has been a lot of theories floating around. One of these is that some are "Lunchtime Specials" - figures that are run on a lunch break or after hours, done by the factory for unapproved uses. For example, Hasbro puts in an order for 30,000 figures, and the factory says "Hey, let's run some later and sell them ourselves." They're made from official paints, factories, and tooling, but are unauthorized releases. At this time I don't know if what you're seeing is a new run, or old leftover stuff from somebody's storage space. I assume Tunghori and his ilk have a pretty good feel for the market.

Another has to do with minimum runs. Some factories require an order to be of a certain size for them to run any units at all - if you want 3,000 units for a convention and the factory minimum is 5,000, it's possible they're going to run those extra 2,000 possibly with a "destroy these" order. And sometimes those make it out to market, or are sold in other markets that are unlikely to be seen by the customer.

Yet another is that these are "seconds," or "rejects." If a product doesn't meet the standards of the vendor, they are discarded - but they may appear perfectly fine to the naked eye.

This is a somewhat mysterious sector (at least to me), and sometimes you even see "unreleased" product show up in these auctions. I've got a "Jurassic Joe" figure that was never officially announced or sold in stores, but was part of a line that seems to exist only as factory/eBay/other samples. A few of the molds eventually made it to Toys R Us as part of a filler line for Jurassic Park. I have no real way of confirming if these were meant for mass production, or if the factory got orders that were far enough along where they said "we're not going to destroy these, you people owe us money, we'll sell some."

If anyone has any in-depth information in this field, we're dying to know - we hear whispers and we see interesting evidence, but the true ins and outs of these guys is unknown to us. I recall being told the Transformers/GI Joe club said that these should be considered stolen and any sample you see on eBay comes out of their order, but I don't know if we've ever heard that they were actually shorted any units in an official sense. I assume there would be a lot of upset people if the clubs/conventions weren't supplied sufficient product and we'd hear more about it, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if the factory produced its own "minimum run" if a client decided it only wanted a smaller run, and charged the client for the full run, and then kept/sold the other products itself. But, again, I ain't got no facts here.




3347 3. Those new Disney Parks Droid Factory Protocol Droids -

Any parts / complete droids new to plastic? Specifically, droids that have had screen time.

This guy/gal (photo from a Yakface.com) looks familiar - was he/she in the Jawa Sandcrawler or Jabba's Palace?

And was this droid ever released by Hasbro?

For the question about new to plastic, "it depends." If color counts, yes - but otherwise, everything you see here is similar to existing droids.

The gold droid is a redeco of CZ-4 (Return of the Jedi), which itself was a tweak and a reuse of CZ-3 from Star Wars - which makes a decent debut here. Other "from the movie" droids are listed above. You can find this kind of droid in the Sandcrawler (CZ-1), in Mos Eisley, and in Jabba's Palace... just not in gold.

The Clone Wars "Vendor Droid" or "Shop Droid" - the one with the big light thing on the head - is totally new, we've never had one of these before. The others are "Death Star Droid" heads, "C-3PO" heads, "4-LOM" heads, and the aforementioned "CZ" heads. The build functionality is new, but it's not a wholly new character.

If anyone is going to Disney - a friend of mine helped me out with a set of droids. (That's good!) But about half of the droids have incorrect arms, like two lefts or two rights. (That's bad.) If anyone feels like doing some light droid muling - about six figures' worth of parts, mostly for the arms - do please let me know. We'll start doing what we can to show these all to you in Figure of the Day very soon, probably taking up as much of June as we can.




Become a Patron!

Special thanks to our generous Patreon patrons, especially: JT, Christopher, Robert, Jayson, Marco, Shawn, Stephen, and Matthew. Thanks for helping us keep the servers on!



The mailbag is empty super empty! We normally post next week's edition on Patreon early, but I'm not exaggerating when I say there are no questions right now.

So... what else is new? Star Wars has a slow trickle now, with a few Rogue One figures shipping online - I'm in the market for a Fenn Rau if anyone has one to sell! Raddus, Sefla, and Galen Erso are out and about online, and for the time being I would not anticipate their distribution in big box stores. This may change. I don't know what's going on with Fenn Rau. (This is why I want to buy one.)

We've got a couple of waves of The Black Series that should hit between movie launches, but there's nothing on deck (that I know of) for the 3 3/4-inch line at this point. Yes, I know they showed us things at Toy Fair, but as of right now I haven't seen dates or details on anything, and it's May. Speaking of May, maybe it was because I was away from the office on business but I feel like this whole "May the Fourth" thing may be winding down. I hate that pun.

--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.