Q&A: Sticky Star Wars Cardbacks and The Unkindest Cuts

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 2, 2023

1. With the news this week the LEGO Temple of Doom set is already axed, Super7 ReAction Willow General Ballentine canceled after preorder, and your consistent mention of Star Wars AMP'd, I was wondering if you'd share your favorite Star Wars/Indiana Jones/whatever IP toys that never were and what happened. Announced, leaked, rumored...

I always look forward to reading your column Monday mornings to get my week started on a positive note.

Thanks for the kind words! Also: I mean... do you have to ask?

The stuff that really got my goat as a child were (sing along if you know the words) Kenner's Vlix, and the other unproduced Ewoks and Droids figures. I was surprised to find out that Latara, Teebo, and Kneesaa were also sculpted but not made - particularly since they were the stars of the cartoon.

Also from that era, the Micro Collection unproduced sets broke my heart a bit - I'd love to have had a tiny Dagobah or Jabba's Boiler Room to play with back then. Galoob made some great sets in the 1990s, but they weren't designed to be collected and connected together and I still feel that was a marvelous opportunity that a lot of companies keep skipping. Even LEGO doesn't tend to make that many Star Wars sets as connectible, expandable things.

The funny thing about the LEGO Temple of Doom is when I saw it from the 200X go-round my reaction was "Cool, that's going to be worth a fortune in five years and it'll be on clearance by Christmas." I was close - it went on clearance after Christmas. General Ballentine needed to get the axe because he wasn't super important on the Willow show, and I would really have liked to see a Boorman or some of the other main characters get a figure first. (Boorman was rad.)

There are some incredibly cool Star Wars things that never got off the ground, some are mind-blowing, some you'd understand why they never made it to market, and some are things that have been discussed in this very space. I've got mountains of exclusive proposals that never got made. But, at least for now, none of these are things that can be discussed. But if Hasbro ever axed any new retro Star Wars Kenner-style figures, those would probably be the next White Whale.

There are lots of cool things I can name I wish I had - the Warriors of the Forgotten Sewer Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comes to mind, as does the Skeleton Warriors Bone Dragon. Kenner's Jurassic Park: The Lost World: Chaos Effect Ultimasaurus never got made, but a customizer is doing a fan run of it this year. We also had some items that never saw release about which I feel no particular loss - HasLab's Rancor Monster from The Black Series doesn't feel like it's an absence as much as Jabba's Sail Barge could have been had it not been made, and a lot of things that got the axe find a way out later. Hasbro has a suite of Transformers: Generation 2 repaints coming to Walmart this year based on abandoned concepts from the 1990s. Palisades' Labyrinth Jareth figure never got out but McFarlane, NECA, and Plastic Meatball would go on to make some decades later.

I should also note, there were (and still are) some of Mel Birnkrant's The Outer Space Men characters that never got made. Back in the 1960s there was a second series of figure concepts that never got made until 2010-2013, and when I was able to visit Mr. Birnkrant a few years ago he told me of a whole new wave of character concepts they were hoping to do but never got off the ground. (There are other planets and celestial bodies from which men can come from, theoretically.) I'd love to see him put out a sketchbook of that stuff. I'd say "if he's reading," but he's not. There were also several awesome unreleased action figures from Takara-Tomy's Beast Saga line, which was the 21st century successor to Battle Beasts.

Toys that get announced, but don't get made, always make me kind of sad. With LEGO I'm surprised given how much of the sets are existing parts, and it's not like there's as big of a manufacturing investment as opposed to an all-new action figure. But, sometimes these things spur on creativity and the imagination. If Star Wars wasn't killed when I was really young, I probably wouldn't be writing about it today - it'd be like The Simpsons or new Final Fantasy games which went on forever and I eventually just somehow veered off course. Things that last forever aren't special anymore, and some things may just not be as popular as fans and marketers believe. (I think Indiana Jones is going to experience a Coyote-hitting-a-cave-drawn-on-the-side-of-a-mountain moment unless everybody cuts their runs back. And then it'll be wildly in-demand. There's no winning here - it's all for adults and they're most likely the exact same adults who were here last time.)

Stuff like this can be a real mixed bag. If it weren't for the endless love for Star Wars from the original generation, and chatter about the unreleased toys and unmet demand for those kinds of things, we'd probably be living in a very different world where I'd still be writing a column like this but there might only be five or ten readers. Maybe that wouldn't be so bad.



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2. I just received my Retro ROTJ figures from EE (2 of each because I have a problem) and I noticed that the front of the cards feel tacky, yet the back of the cards are fine. Is Hasbro using a different printing process or did I just get a Bad Batch (pun intended)? Did anyone else experience this issue?

While your mileage may vary, I did indeed notice that the fronts are the absolute tiniest bit sticky a couple of figures, while the backs seem smooth. They're also quite thin compared to Vintage figures and Hasbro's retro Marvel offerings. I assume it may have something to do with the ink used, but I am sorry to hay I don't have any insights here.





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I'm out of questions! Please send some in if you have any.

The line marches on to varying levels of success. I'm delighted that we're getting a The Book of Boba Fett Tusken Raider Clan pack for The Vintage Collection, even if the price per figure isn't very good and that it's a little late. I know it's popular to hate the show, but when I rewatched it last year I liked it a lot. It's not perfect, given the pretty cruddy Max Rebo puppet and the repetitive flashbacks, but it's loaded with fun character actors and probably has more fun creatures in it than the bulk of Disney's entire live-action Star Wars output thus far. I hope they keep going with it and give us more, but I'll take what I can get. Something is better than nothing, particularly given how many Tuskens were on the show. I admit I am not as excited about the Pyke figure, especially at 6-inches, but again - it's nice to have a new alien figure and I'd much rather have that than another clone or Stormtrooper repaint.

There are all sorts of fun tidbits going around about rumored guest stars on The Mandalorian coming up, as well as some pretty out-there theories on Skeleton Crew, the new show we'll probably get later this year. I haven't heard much about Ahsoka beyond several casting announcements, and it sounds like a pretty good Rebels reunion in the making. I'm hesitant to get excited about anything, but I have to say that I appreciate they're actually telling us some names and we're getting more out of it than silence to be followed by us expected to bark like seals when something new comes out. I genuinely want to love and be excited by this stuff, and there's usually a lot to like and look at.

I assume you're all still watching The Mandalorian, which had a pretty spectacular episode after a lot of table setting. 5 down, 3 to go. Also The Bad Batch aired two episodes last week to finish off the season. I'm under the impression we'll get at least one more. At least it's been entertaining, as long as the small screen gives us stuff that's better than the average comic book I'm a happy camper.

I'm also plodding through Red Dwarf again - which I hadn't seen much in the last 23 years - and catching up with the "final" series before starting the revival episodes. It's really amazing to see some of the tonal shift with the gift of hindsight, but also it's another fine example of how you can make a space show on the cheap with tens of dollars in your budget with new stories every week. I've also been finally checking out some old Doctor Who episodes, which is more of the "we're going to stretch these budgets over 4-6 weeks" kind of show.

After writing about this stuff for so long, it never stops to amaze me that I am once again living in an era where there are two new Star Wars TV shows on demand every week. Or that there are so many stories, they don't even bother to make toys for much of it. Will we ever get a Cid figure? I doubt it! But I also would have bet money nobody would have ever made Armus from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I look down at my desk and there he sits. Some things may take 30 or more years to come to fruition, and I may not be around long enough to be here for some of them, but kudos to you youngsters who may still be interested in this stuff, should it last that long. To be perfectly frank I assumed this entire business would've died again three or four years after Revenge of the Sith and every few weeks, it amazes me that I've been writing for an audience of fans of this stuff for 28 years come August.

--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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