Q&A: Star Wars Sequel Prequel, Classic Accessories, Instruction Sheet Needed, and Expanded Universe 2015

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, August 30, 2015

1. Now for something both important and impossible. I don't know if you are reading the new Marvel Star wars comics but this question is about them. The comics are funnish. I find it hard to believe but I actually felt compelled to purchase nine of the 60+ cover variants of Star Wars issue one!

Did you know they may remake the entire vintage action figure line in cover variants. Insanely addictive and only $3.99 per.

But the highlight of the new comics is the Vader series. He meets a sassy hacker with two awesome droids that are the antithesis of c-3po and r2-d2. The protocol droid 0-0-0 is sadistic in much the same way that c-3po is fussy and the astromech BT-1 is a bundle of destruction. They are going to meet c-3po and r2 in a crossover event in November. What can be done to see these droids in plastic because they need to be plasticized especially because the new force awakened figures (at least wave one) contains not a single droid? What do they think this is Star Trek?

From what I've seen, I enjoy those droids - but so far Hasbro has given the new publishing continuity little attention so far, and it's worth noting that the comic is selling about 100,000 copies each month. Having said that, other than the media-ties-in like Shadows of the Empire, The Force Unleashed, TV Clone Wars, and other things created with toys in mind it can take Hasbro a long time to make things happen. Thrawn and Dark Empire Luke Skywalker each took about seven years. Darth Revan took four years - and when Hasbro said they'd release more of the figure, it never happened. Kir Kanos? Nine years. Jaina and Jacen took close to 19 years since their publishing debut. BL-17 took 29 years. I could go on - things don't always happen quickly. Hasbro has to have a program to fill, or enough of a fan demand to make a thing happen.

So! You want more droids. Me too. I'd suggest you go to forums and drum up support - see if you're alone. Spread the word, and make sure you take opportunities to bug Hasbro about it at any possible trade shows. You can also write Marvel and encourage them to nag Hasbro for figures, too - I don't think it would be a bad idea to bring back "comic packs" because the format does work well and continues to work well with Transformers, which have had full-size comic reprints since about 2013. Remember, the fan pool isn't as deep as it used to be - 100,000 copies of a comic don't mean that they all went to action figure collectors, and a toy collection is decreasingly a standard characteristic of a Star Wars fan like it seemed to be in the 1990s.

I wouldn't expect them to get Marvel-based figures for another few years, but if Hasbro gets excited about the idea maybe you'll see it. We saw a string of special vehicles and droids for Darth Vader and Mace Windu in 2006 and 2007, so giving Vader more friends isn't a terrible idea. Of course, Hasbro has its hands filled with the new movies, so prepare yourself to play the waiting game.



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2. Christmas 1980 I was so happy when my mom surprised me with a copy of the Electronic Battle Command game. Looks like a computer console, has 4x4 LED grid, and worked like Battleship. Loved that game. Sadly it burned up with my parents' house in 1989. I have seen boxed copies for years for $150+ and never could afford to pay that much.

But back to happiness, I finally snagged a working game unit from ebay for an entire $12.50. It's in nice shape, hasn't even yellowed much and the seller even included batteries. Thing works like a charm. Uhm, but I have no idea how it works. I can remember lots of things, but how a complicated LED title from 35 years ago worked? Fraid not. Any ideas on where to get a copy of the instructions?

I've found incomplete scans but nothing that appears to be complete - so I ask you, the fans, got a complete scan of this to help Rick out? Leave a comment, or email me and I'll pass it along (and update this answer).




3. Back in '78 when the first ever Luke Skywalker figure was released, he came with a yellow Lightsaber (which personally I love). Did Kenner realise it would be blue at any point before production, and if so why was it left as yellow? You'd think they could have just swapped it out with Ben Kenobi's Lightsaber. Which raises an interesting point., why did they stick with yellow for (I believe) the Luke in Bespin fatigues Empire Strikes Back figure and was this later changed to blue?

Of course, that brings me to Luke Skywalker - Jedi Knight from Return of the Jedi. He came with a blue Lightsaber originally, fair enough I guess as he has a blue one on the poster and in early trailers. When do you think Kenner found out about the change? Was it a case of 'well, we've made them now so in the packages they go'? Also, why was this particular figure the only one (AFAIK) whose head popped on to the body, rather than having an enclosed join?

Short answer: not entirely sure.

When it comes to the original Luke and Bespin Luke's yellow lightsaber, I never heard a good story. I've got a guess - but someone out there might have an actual answer. My assumption is that the original 1978 Lightsaber effects fall into the same category of bad special effects and poor reference that gave us the weird off-model Snaggletooth, Hammerhead, Greedo, and Walrus Man. In some shots, Luke's saber is kind of white. In some, there's a hint of blue. In others, green. Subsequent "fixes" changed the color, but that original 1977 cut wasn't exactly a solid blue. Pile on to that Lucasfilm did have merchandising approval, and well, there you go. It is what it is. Most likely they weren't entirely sure about what color it really was, or would be, in the future - and when The Empire Strikes Back came around perhaps someone just said "same color as the original" and there you go. That's just a hunch, as significant toy variations for improved accuracy were unusual in those days.

For The Return of the Jedi stories are coming out about how it's possible, in some cases, the toys were done early. I heard a story that General Madine's figure was in the works before his scenes were shot, so Dermot Crowley had to wear a beard. Since the blue lightsaber is in short supply and all, I have to assume it's pretty early on - perhaps even before the movie was done being photographed - otherwise we'd probably see more of them. I'm really curious to know more about this, because with the prequels (and possibly with the new movies) we may see more toys that don't quite match the movie in that first year. As heads go, I never dismembered the original Kenner dudes to compare which ones have pegs going into the neck and which ones don't, so I'll have to pass here.




Almost here!

One of the drums I've been beating is the conflict I have between being a fan and collector of this stuff since I was a little kid - and the fact that as a fan, we're going to be exploited mightily this week. I mean, we are the fools with money who will soon be parted because we love action figures and movies and action figures from Star Wars movies. As you no doubt know, I don't like the whole waiting-in-line thing - that means I'm a human billboard for their marketing department*. "What's that guy doing there?" "He's waiting in line for a movie / a toy / whatever." What really got me last week, though, is that Disney parks are asking you for $50 for the ability to wait in line at their store on Force Friday. I guess this isn't so new - I used to wind up at toy shows and antique markets which charged $3 or $4 to get in - but $50? For access to new mass-produced stuff at a store that would be there anyway and didn't have to sublet the space from the State Fairgrounds or a church basement? OK, I get it. It seems weird to pay for access to a billion dollar (read: premium-priced) gift shop when you can just roll into any given big box (read: discount) store for free.

Now as a business, you do what you gotta do. I get that. But charging people to get in to the store? If any of you are going I'd be curious to know what special they did for you to earn your $50, because $50 can probably cover a good chunk of the new big TIE Fighter. The whole 18-hour unboxing thing, though, serves as a reminder to me at just how big a divide there really is in the generations. I make reference to it from time to time, and some of it is a little less visible - if you were born for the original Star Wars, you probably don't have much love for the Ewoks or their TV movies or cartoons. If you were a kid during The Phantom Menace, it's entirely possible you're not digging Rebels. And if you're an original trilogy kid, it's a pretty safe bet the entire concept of unboxing videos is, as a great man once said, against the natural order of things. Similarly, I assume if you were around for Lynx text viewers you probably don't have much patience for unboxing videos. I've dabbled in video myself, and I can't really understand how come people take 10 or 20 minutes to say "it's perfect" for a $5 toy. Toy commercials could do it in 30 seconds - how come it has to take so long? Why can't people make more generous use of their free video editing software? This is where I feel I'm old. And creaky.

To steal from the great Brian Regan, this is the year's epitome of hyperbole. There's also a very unlikely possibility - this whole launch may implode. What if nobody cares? This was a variable scarcely contemplated for The Phantom Menace, although there were some nits to pick there were some neat aspects as well. As far as toy creatures go, we got a bunch - and I still hold out unreasonable hope of a large Colo Claw Fish or Sando Aqua Monster toy. For the new movie we're getting a few glimpses of new animals, although so far there are no rumors of sizable creature toys. If the movie stinks, all we'll have is the toys - the prequels were sort of a mixed bag as far as that goes. Once you remove the movie and franchise, Episode I had a cool Naboo Starfighter and the awesome ATT in year 2, but on the whole the stuff wasn't that fun, groundbreaking, or particularly memorable. Sure, you got a Royal Starship with Throne - but 16 years later and not a single Queen Amidala figure from that movie can sit in it. Attack of the Clones had some really neat vehicles, but launching with only 5 was a little light. The focus seemed to move away from that movie fast, while Revenge of the Sith was still getting themed waves and all-new sculpt remakes as of 2013. I hesitate to say any one prequel had a toy vehicle that really stood out as having a cool toy feature for the ages, although perhaps the various Gunships were close. Little else seemed to be generation-defining, or perhaps it's just impossible to get out from under that long shadow cast by the original trilogy.

As time marches on we remember parts of our collective toy past and forget others - things we loved as kids seem to be, as far as the community goes, less and less important. Blast-off TIE Fighter wings, spring-powered Landspeeder suspension, button-activated X-Wing s-foils, and lever-activated A-Wing cockpits and Y- (and A-) Wing landing gear aren't things we saw brought in for new vehicles. The Power of the Jedi TIE Bomber is cool, but like the action figures it was more concerned with pleasing collectors - and also the bomb chute, I suppose, but that's not exactly new. The Jedi Starfighters broke the trend with awesome blast-off panels and hidden wings, plus the spring-loaded pop-out wings of the original Revenge of the Sith Jedi Starfighters were really slick. I'm not saying there were no awesome features, but the big Millennium Falcon's most signature feature is its size. The new revised Speeder Bike doesn't even explode - it has a very boring opening engine so you can pretend to "fix" it. It's good, sure - but you're not really being rewarded to play with it. As someone who even likes the new redesigned encheapened vehicles, there's not a lot of new action here either but the firing rockets are appreciated. I don't yet know what the new vehicles actually do, but if the last year is any indication I assume I don't need to worry much about batteries for most of them. And I don't expect kids will be playing with them very much, either.

--Adam Pawlus

* - yes I have a lot of band t-shirts shut up someone has to tell you about Guitar Wolf

Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.


PSA: Do you need empty 2015 Droid Factory figure packaging clamshells from Disneyland/Disneyworld? I've got about 20-25 to dump. I'm going to throw them out soon if nobody wants them. You pay shipping and/or you pick up if you live near Phoenix. You know where to reach me.