Let's talk Star Wars Exclusives in Q&A this week! Do you need to buy those new sets at Target? How about Skiff Guards - will Hasbro ever make them all? Why aren't we seeing more Expanded Universe figures - and why are we seeing any when Hasbro says they're off the table? All this and more!
Also Black Series Wave 5 is shipping - want to know the short version on who's good? I've got 'em, so I'll tell you here - be back for more in Figure of the Day later on Monday!
Feel free to send in your questions for next time. Read on!
1. The photos from the Hasbro slideshow included 3 Target Rebels exclusives – the Phantom Shuttle w/ Kanaan Figure; TIE Advanced Prototype w/ Inquisitor and AT-DP w/ Pilot. The figures in those slides appeared to be the same images as for the individually carded figures – is this exclusive simply a bundle of otherwise separately available toys?
A Rebels TIE Pilot has been announced. Do you smell a small-wing TIE re-issue, or a new mold, or nothing?
Rebels kick-off - I count 9 individual figures (5 of which are imperials), 6 2-packs and 4 vehicles – this seems pretty aggressive to me, but I am in, if for no other reason than that the design and colors of these figs really seem like Droids Series 3. Hope the show is good and the line expands at least another few waves! And adds mini-rigs to the lineup!
Question the first - exclusive vehicles! I do not anticipate variations. However, Hasbro did this in 2008 with The Clone Wars Hailfire Droid and V-Wing Fighter, each of which had slightly different deco. So with that in mind, I will be paying close attention to Target's exclusive Rebels bonus packs in case there is a change.
Question #2 - I assume a TIE Fighter vehicle is inevitable, or perhaps the pilot was also meant to serve double-duty. It's possible these guys will also drive the Imperial Troop Transport. A new TIE Fighter seems inevitable due to price increases, it seems unlikely that Hasbro would continue to use the same mold when they could make a lighter item out of less plastic. A pity, as the old Kenner proportions are actually very much "correct" now. I wouldn't be surprised to see one return as an exclusive, but I would probably bank on a new mold for either Rebels or the new movie, assuming such a thing makes an appearance.
#3 - I would not anticipate every Rebels item you have seen appearing at "launch." Staggered announcements usually mean staggered releases, so bet on the stuff you saw debut at Comic-Con being later. Later could be November, or even after Christmas. Similarly, I also expect the figures will just show up with no proper on-shelf date being adhered to by anyone, as it looks like the figures will go in to existing assortment SKUs.
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2. I am obsessed with skiffguards! In your opinion, what are the odds of Hasbro eventually releasing a full set of [skiff] guards? I think it's a reasonable enough goal as there's only a dozen left and Hasbro are making them… if somewhat... slowly.
In their favour, they all wear individual combat ready outfits and each had one on one time with Luke.
Granted there are a couple of unremarkable humans but their saving grace is that they all wear some sort of jumpsuit and can be retooled from existing figures.
I've been with the line since the start but I still haven't got my number 1 wish list figure who is Taym Dren Garen. I was obsessed with this guy with his distinctive ‘antler' helmet and created my own custom version of this character when I was a kid. He is also the only character in the whole trilogy to score a hit on Luke. It gives me hope that characters like Doallyn Skiffguard have made plastic form and he has been mentioned in several polls and rumours but I'll be sorely disappointed if he never materialises in plastic form which sadly may be reality.
Do you have a wish list of figures from a favourite scene that have yet to see plastic form or would you be at peace if the line ended today?
Part of the danger of this line going on so long is that a "full set" changes. We asked for Sgt. Doallyn for years and now we got him - but at the last minute Hasbro changed him to Jabba's Skiff Guard. For all I know that's Brock Starsher who nobody knew of by name until very recently. This sort of thing has been happening for years, back in the late 1990s we were given Pote Snitkin which I knew only as a behind-the-scenes photo/concept back then as he was difficult to spot in the movie. Our definition of "full set" changes, and then Hasbro and Lucasfilm find new variations on characters we never asked for and give them to us, leaving the original request unmet. This isn't meant as a complaint - it's just that there's no firm finish line for this or any subset right now. After 37 long years you would think we would have every Cantina alien... but we don't. And we still have zero Dejarik monsters as "real" figures.
With this in mind I have to assume Hasbro will not give us more than 1 "Jabba Goon" or "Cantina alien" per year - so a full set will take longer than most of us are going to be willing to wait. I suggest recalibrating your expectations and simply enjoy the ride, as things will likely never get done. At this rate I expect Hasbro to throw away Star Wars before completing the 3 3/4-inch line, simply because it has been so long and we still haven't been given the full update of 1978-1985.
Taym Dren Garen has been referenced as being on Hasbro's to-do list, but we keep asking for more things and Hasbro often gives many of them to us. Their bandwidth lately has been pretty problematic - since Vintage ended in 2012, we have seen only 5 waves and 31 figures in 3 3/4-inch The Black Series. So (depending on how you count) in 12-20 months, we've had only 4 100% new characters in this line. Four. Since your focus is on all-new unmade characters, you really need to look at the big picture and cross your fingers and pray that Jabba's goons show up in new TV shows, cartoons, or movies because that's the only thing that's going to get them out any faster.
Now, keep in mind this isn't just this aspect of the line - it's the whole thing. Now Hasbro is also doing 6-inch figures and nothing is remotely close to being "complete" there, we're only 4 waves in after a year and no movie has more than 6 figures for it. There are many subsets in 3 3/4-inch which grow tantalizingly close to completeness, but we've only got a few Pod Racers to go, and some Ewoks, and some Cantina patrons, and Imperials, and Rebel Pilots, and Astromech Droids, and... let's just say at the current rate, Hasbro can probably milk this until we're dead and we won't have complete sets.
What do I want? All the characters produced (and considered) by Kenner by 1985 - this includes, of course, Vlix, Sise Fromm, Tig Fromm, Duloks, "cartoon" versions of the various Ewoks and Morag, and if Hasbro has the guts off-model aliens like the blue jerkin Hammerhead or swim fin Walrus Man. They gave us Lumiya, Dark Empire Luke, and so many others that I would not otherwise feel wanting - all I really feel like I need to see is every vintage figure updated. After that? If it ends, it ends. After 3,000 figures I don't think anyone who's been all-in since the beginning probably has a very big wish list beyond that.
3. I'm curious: are the alien, rocketeer, firefly retro, Kenner style toys selling well, and do you ever wonder why they didn't make some of these exact figs back when their respective films came out? Please, how about a show of hands from kids of the 80s who wouldn't have played with figures of Dutch, the Predator, Hicks and Reece, Jack Burton (They are doing Big Trouble In Little China, right?)
Funko confirmed many new licenses at a San Diego fan event including The Fifth Element, but I cannot remember if Big Trouble was or wasn't on the list. Star Trek was.
It's my understanding that they're doing rather well - the line-up is continuing and it's my hope that quality control improves. Some are really great, like the Alien, the blood-splatter Predator, and Jack Skellington. Some have minor problems - stuck joints, oddly painted eyes, and so forth - but it seems they're mostly at comic shops, Barnes & Noble, and of course online. (I also had one with severe problems and I'm not sure if it's systemic or just my luck so far.) I don't know what Funko needs for "critical mass" on ReAction, but Pop! Vinyl Figures are doing very well and I assume these have a long way to go - but people do seem to enjoy them.
4. LEGO included an exclusive Darth Revan figure with orders over $75 in their online shop a few weeks ago. Do you know why they decided to release Darth Revan of all characters? This surprised me especially because Disney considered EU not canon anymore...would Hasbro be allowed to re-release Revan and are we going to see more characters of Knights of the Old Republic from LEGO like Darth Malak or Bastila Shan?
I miss the Comic Packs. Prices for the characters from these awesome sets have become extremely high on the secondary market as you probably know. What about Ulic-Qel Droma & Exar Kun, Darth Nihl & Deliah Blue, Jaster Mereel & Montross and so many more...why would Hasbro invest in all new sculpts & molds without re-releasing these characters? What about the people who missed these sets? And how does Disney affect the chances to see these EU characters again?
Hasbro does what Hasbro wants to do. (LEGO too.) They say "no Clone Wars" and we get Clone Wars - so I don't know why they are or aren't doing these things. Commander Gree, Rex, and the Jedi Temple Guard are clearly of a previous era too. Bastila Shan has indeed been rereleased as part of wave 4 of The Black Series so really it's a matter of being a fly buzzing around Hasbro's head until they cave in. They can do just about anything, they just need to be convinced. Hasbro has set up any number of edicts - possibly internal, possibly at the behest of the licensor - but things change seemingly randomly and at times we are outright lied to in order to throw us off the scent. That or - and this is entirely possible - they didn't know something was happening. Remember, just because any group of designers says "we're all fans," that doesn't mean they're all fanatics. We are a rare breed who takes this a lot more seriously than others. This isn't to say they don't take pride in their work and do their best - but you could be a dude working at Hasbro on Littlest Pet Shop... you might not be as likely to get all your facts straight as you might with a license or a brand more suited to your personal interests.
As to your second question, it wasn't their intent to do low run duds - they want to see everything ship far and wide, and those figures were indeed available online and I saw some of them at brick and mortar for quite some time. The now legendary distribution problems were an issue if you weren't on top of your game, or ordering online. Now Darth Nihil, Deliah Blue, Jaster Mereel, and Montross were Entertainment Earth exclusives and were in stock for years - your not buying them is squarely on you for being uninterested or unwilling to order them online. You had plenty of opportunities as they wound up all over the world, in some cases, on markdown. This sort of thing happens with some Expanded Universe exclusives a few years after release. Sure, Exar Kun and Ulic were more than a little tough to find at first but it took a while for them to hit the triple-digit mark. You cannot wait around for a toy to show up in your back yard for cheap - sometimes you have to buy a case, or shop on eBay, or make a trade with someone on a forum before the prices skyrocket. Life isn't perfect, and there's a reason the phrase "if you snooze, you lose" remains popular.
Figure of the Day returns this week! The latest wave, #5, is in stock at Entertainment Earth as I write this and contains 4 new-to-you figures: Ree-Yees, Hoth Wedge Antilles, Jabba's Skiff Guard (aka Doallyn or Brock Starsher), and Episode III Darth Vader. In short: Darth Vader is a new sculpt with the absolute #1 worst head joint in the 36-year history of the line... but is otherwise pretty good. Ree-Yees has a smallish head, but mostly wonderful articulation assuming you don't want him to sit - find out why on Thursday. Jabba's Skiff Guard has a generic name, but is that rare all-new original trilogy figure you crave and deserve. Hoth Wedge Antilles has a nice head sculpt and is otherwise a paint-by-numbers mishmash of existing parts, but one you'll enjoy and Hasbro did quite well.
Star Wars Command! It's good. Click here to see some reviews I posted this week. I'll be doing more in the future as things trickle in to my review cavern. Based on how you guys tend to write me - angrily - I assume most of you won't give these a single chance. The $5 sets are totally worth your time and effort. If you just want cheap toys for your desk at work, buy a set. They're perfect, small, cheap things you won't cry if they get stolen. Mostly because the sets have duplicates. If you had Marx Toys figures as a kid - or if you aren't a retiree and your parents had some - you might get a kick out of the format. At some point I'll put together a grid to see who all comes in what so you know if you can skip some sets.
It's one of those lines that feels like it was a wild experiment and probably was on borrowed time before it came out. This one actually making it out is pretty significant, and the figures are significantly higher quality than the classic cheaper and unlicensed green men. The scale is also a little wonky when you get them all out, the TIE Fighter Pilots are bigger than Darth Vader for some reason. Still, they're kinda neat. I have one of each sitting on top of my monitors now. They're kinda perfect for that. I hope to see customizers and, I hope, gaming miniature collectors buy and paint them. Companies like Reaper Bones (thanks Seth) are starting to move from pewter, lead, or metal in general to plastic in some cases - so it's possible Hasbro has made the right item, but for the wrong audience. These may be better as gaming miniatures, for all I know.
I've got a challenge to those of you with sculpting ability and access to 3-D printers - who feels up to making members of the Fromm Gang, specifically Vlix, in this "Command" scale and style? (Follow-up: same challenge, Jaxxon.) It's my assumption this line won't last - with the repetition already on-shelf kids might realize that the higher dollar purchases are not necessarily ideal ways to spend their allowance - but it could be the start of something great. I really liked the Wizards of the Coast minis, for example, but collecting them proved to be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult. If Hasbro could make these $5 sets for years to come - in hopefully more varieties - I'd be all set. They're like the board game pieces every kid wishes came with the board rather than the crappy cardboard rectangles on plastic display stands that you usually get.
Bonus challenge: if you don't like Vlix, how about the TV version of Marvin the Paranoid Android?
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.