Q&A: Star Wars Vehicle Perfections, International Distribution, and TV Showdown

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, March 15, 2015

1. What do you make of the reports that TBS 6" won't be making an appearance in Canada until the fall? Presumably when the movie product lines start shipping. I am surprised that a Star Wars line is on hiatus without the support of a new movie. Is there an issue with TBS 6"? Is the Canadian market too small to warrant the 6" line? Granted there were a decent share of Greedo shelf warmers but I didn't think this was a Canadian thing. I would have thought the main characters were selling. This turn of events makes it hard to keep up with the line especially since ordering from the USA is much more expensive due to the change in the Canadian dollar value.

As I am not particularly invested in the Canadian toy market - 10% of the population means 10% of the customers - it's not unthinkable that the estimated size of the line has dwindled to the point of "not worth making special packaging." I have no facts on this yet - but it's possible, and is one of the unfortunate things that may happen when collecting a line. There were a few waves since late 2012 that were de facto Canada/Europe/Asia exclusives, so I know I had to send overseas to get some stuff. I'd say it's a good time to get used to the idea if you weren't already, because no matter what toy line may be your poison it's rare that any line makes a full splash in its native market anymore. Transformers and even Zoids had toys exclusive to other markets. Since The Phantom Menace there were a few figures (and variants) that were never brought to the US or North American markets, so my not helpful answer to you is "this is normal now, sucks don't it?"

Depending on where you shop (and when) most of the shelf warmers seem to be slowly evaporating here in the USA, but weird stuff shows up and I've seen old stock disappear and reappear at many stores in my area. It's also worth noting that just because one or even two chains don't bring a line in, or don't have it on the planogram, it's not unthinkable that it may show up as a retailer exclusive or, as you point out, grey market imports somehow. I realize this may not be comforting, but my feeling has always been sort of like this: if I have to send away to get some toys because they're not available in my market, and everyone writing in to my column has difficulty finding 100% of their figures at retail, I'm just going to say "this is normal" and go back to not paying to much attention to international distribution because I can't influence it.



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2. Do you think that Star Wars Clone Wars had more popularity with the fans as oppose to Star Wars Rebels. It seems that Hasbro is not releasing as many figures for this brand ,and collectors have been unable to find the figures do to the poor distribution. Do you think there is an interest in the fan base and Disney to have this show go on for another four to five years?

Right now we don't know how long Rebels will last, but we can look at its ratings and take into account the respective networks' market penetration. Since Cartoon Network is in a ton of homes and DisneyXD is a deep cable channel, Rebels isn't really getting seen all that much. Disney has also kept most of the Marvel cartoons pretty short, so I wouldn't expect it to last forever. If you ask me - because of course you did - Disney is making a mistake by not announcing plans to put Rebels on a major network several months after a cable debut. They're spending a lot of time and money marketing for a franchise that is just plain not getting seen.

As toys go, well, we're still getting The Clone Wars toys. I just got a Jedi Temple Guard, Plo Koon, and Commander Gree! Maybe more are coming - I hope so, because these are a lot of fun. Rebels toys could outlast a TV show, and the distribution woes are many. They came out late. There was a huge bottleneck at the ports. Stores aren't getting full cases in some instances. For whatever reason it seems the market as a whole has lost a lot of faith in Star Wars which is a shame because these are some fantastic figures. I have no idea if Hasbro will continue to re-ship old figures in new waves, but we do know Kanan, Ezra, the Stormtrooper, and the Inquisitor are all getting more than one turn at bat. Chopper and Kallus remain to be seen, which is a shame as both are fine figures. (Or you can pay a slight premium and find them at a Disney Store near you, maybe.)

I personally cannot believe Disney will keep Rebels on the air for six straight years - nothing they do shows that kind of attention span as of late. They bounce around, and I wouldn't doubt that we see the characters in other stories down the road but this particular branded experience probably won't more than 2-3 years. As far as toys go, they're doing a pretty good job getting many of the characters made in plastic. With another few waves, we'll probably get better than average toy coverage.




3. I'm interested in upgrading my Darth Vader Advanced TIE as I still have only my vintage from childhood. Are there any discernible differences between the modern, more screen accurate versions? Are they all the same mold with different paint jobs? Surprisingly I'm having a difficult time finding comparison shots online and which version is touted to be 'the best' (so far).

I've got them all so far, on a shelf, and I can tell you they're all the same mold with different paint jobs. The main differences are deco, and your definition of "screen accurate" may mean that you should "keep waiting." They're all more or less a dark blue color and not a grey or white, so if that's a deal breaker for you none of them are ideal candidates.

The POTF2 version came with either green-tipped or all blue rockets, but with a blue chassis. The OTC one was all blue, and was considered by many to be the best as it had no weathering and some extra paint on top. The Legacy individually boxed version in the red and white box is pretty much the same as the Toys R Us Death Star Trench Run gift set version, as both are heavily weathered with an underweathered hatch lid - giving it a somewhat odd appearance. The Toys R Us version in the Death Star Trench Run set is slightly darker, with the painted lights and damage appearing slightly brighter. Since the set also had a heavily retooled X-Wing in the box, I'd suggest that one as your best "money is no object" purchase. It was originally $100 and now it's $150, and I should note that The Legacy Collection release of Vader's TIE is very very similar - you probably won't notice a difference unless you had the two side-by-side. And that one is closer to $10-$20, which is to say almost free.

If you really want screen accurate, just keep waiting. These are all based off the 1997 mold and while they're nice big fun toys, there's always room to be more authentic and rumors have gone around for nearly ten years that Hasbro has at least one or two better (read: electronic) versions in the works. Granted, I don't believe they're going to make it out, but I'm just putting that out there for you should they ever make an appearance on TV or in the new movies - it's not impossible.




I got a couple more "Hey! You should write a book!" emails this week, and rather than include them as part of the question column part I'll just say "Hey! A publisher should offer me an advance!" down here. As much as I'd love to do a specialized book on a topic in our fine hobby, I am lazy and hate risk. If you do like specialized books, Phil Reed of Battlegrip.com does some great work and he has one coming on the Expanded Universe line of 1998, one of my favorite subjects. I've read some of his other work, and his web site, so I'd suggest checking that one out.

I'm seeing a lot of toys making landfall lately, from online shops to brick and mortar all suddenly getting tons of new Hasbro stuff. This is the time to go hunting for Sabine Wren, Jedi Temple Guards, Huffer, Blackjack, Megatron, and many others. If you aren't currently hunting for stuff, see to it that you either order online or go out during lunch this week.

In case you don't go to the front page, Figure of the Day is back this week and next week - that might be it, though. There's only so much newness to go around, but the sudden plop of 15 new figures is certainly a welcome one, especially given how so many of them aren't figures we already have.

--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.



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