Q&A: TIE Bombers, AT-STs, Comics, and Little Green Men

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 19, 2010

Did you miss out on the new TIE Bomber yet? Possibly! Did the Galactic Heroes AT-ST make it to Kohl's? You got an iPad, so what comics should you download? All this and ramblings on the new Outer Space Men action figure line, after the jump!

1. I am just wondering if I missed out on the Walmart exclusive Tie Bomber. I see it on ebay, but haven’t seen much on the various fan sites. Some here and there, but it’s been awhile. I have yet to see it at my local Walmart and my “scouts” in a few other towns and cities have nothing to report as well. This is the part where hunting is fun, but gets expensive.

Wal-Mart's exclusives since 2009 seem to have a new pattern-- and I'm speculating in part based on the evidence at hand. Generally an item shows up in short supply, and often dries up quickly. There are still thousands of units waiting to be shipped to Wal-Mart, although not all stores get them at the same time and some stores don't get subsequent (or first) shipments at all, leaving the product to end up at Ross, Toys "R" Us, TJ Maxx, or Marshall's later at times.

Jabba the Hutt is a decent example-- I found mine in August 2010, but a lot of fans haven't seen him at all yet, and I've noticed some Wal-Mart stores getting heavier stock of him in/around November while seemingly previously not having it around much. The short answer is really just "keep checking", as Wal-Mart's exclusive distribution has gotten significantly wonkier over the years. It's less and less likely that you missed it, as long as you keep checking more than 2 or 3 Wal-Marts on a semi-regular basis odds are you'll find it eventually since the gaps between shipments are so huge now.

2. I buy Galactic Heroes stuff for my children, did the AT-ST Kohls exclusive ever get released and if not is there any news on it?

As far as I can tell, it HAS been produced but it has only shown up in the UK-- on eBay, some people are selling them for about $100 a pop from England. Not a single US sighting has been reported yet, and while I have no official information I believe it's possible the item wasn't so much canceled as it may have been rendered homeless-- I'll be asking Hasbro next chance I get because I think it's the only MIA item of the year. But those last two Galactic Heroes TRU exclusives took-- what?-- like two years to get out? Ugh.

3. I recently discovered comics on my iPod Touch. And noticed that they have the following available: Star Wars:Resurrection, Empire Betrayal, Legacy, KOTOR and Clone Wars Animated Shipyards of Doom. I seem to remember that you have an interest in the comics. Any recommendations here?

Also, do you have an opinion on Star Wars Knight Errant? I've heard some good talk about it, but not sure the period (KOTOR era?) is interesting.

I'm old-fashioned, I still prefer comics on paper-- depending on how much the digital downloads cost, it may even still be cheaper to buy a lot of the used books on eBay. But I digress.

Modern Star Wars comics increasingly have nothing to do with Star Wars as you know it-- many of the books being published today have little if nothing to do with the movies beyond a planet name, the Jedi order, and maybe a Sith or two with few exceptions. This is one of the reasons I hated Knight Errant, I found the first issue so off-putting I didn't buy #2 and I'm not really at all curious to see how it turns out-- and it's going to be a series of novels, apparently, so my who-gives-a-crap button is getting jammed on by this series repeatedly.

Resurrection is a story in Star Wars: Tales, and the anthology series Tales is one of my two all-time favorite series. This story in particular has Maul fighting Vader-- it's goofy fan fun, but it's still neat and probably paints Vader as more of the emo Anakin than some sort of badassssss cyborg. I'd suggest picking up the complete run as Tales is effectively the buffet of Star Wars comics, touching on numerous eras, styles, characters, while rarely (but sometimes) not being fun.

Legacy was a fun series, sort of a Star Trek: The Next Generation to the original trilogy. You get to meet Luke's great-great-whatever grandson, and he's a cross between a bounty hunter, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, and, to some extent, a little John Connor. The story remains unresolved despite ending, and an epilogue in the form of a miniseries is going to be published soon-- so there's no closure yet. I would only suggest picking this one up after you've read a lot of the other stuff, it's a wonderful series but it's so packed with references and in-jokes that you're going to miss out on a lot of the gags if you aren't somewhat well-versed in the pre-2006 Expanded Universe. Still, you could probably pick it up and dig it a lot.

Knights of the Old Republic, I found to be entertaining. It reads sort of like a light video game RPG script, has just enough Star Wars in it to be fun and different, and having not played the game series I had no problem following along. It's enjoyable, the first arc is essentially The Fugitive and then it moves on to a variety of other stories. It's not bad.

Emprie is largely good-- Betrayal was born from a good idea, specifically why is the government being controlled by two members of a very selective cult? This one makes Star Wars politics fun, because rather than debate you get assassination attempts and murders. I've heard from a few non-Star Wars fans who have read and enjoyed this one too, it's a great entry-level series because really, all you need to know are the movies to like it.

I would suggest passing on the animated Clone Wars comics unless you're really hungry for more after reading other stuff-- generally it's fun and breezy, but there are a lot of one-offs and most of the stories seemed to rub fans the wrong way. I like most of it, but on the message boards it seems there's a large amount of dislike for these ones.

Part of the problem with Star Wars fiction is that there's now too much of it. Dark Horse has been publishing nearly every month for 20 years (that first year was more like every other month), but yeesh, that's a lot of comics-- we're definitely in the high hundreds of issues by now. If you can deal with spoilers, I'd suggest reading summaries on Wookieepedia or other sites to get an idea if the gist of the story appeals to you. There's very little that I would consider essential, but personally I'd push any fan who will listen toward the Marvel comics run (1977-1987) or Star Wars: Tales just because if you like these, you can pretty much deal with any inconsistencies or weirdness to follow.

4. What's you expectation for available product next year? I worked in retail for thirteen years and totaly understand the build up for late in the year. Early on is usually left overs from the holiday and you can catch up on older stuff with clearance which is cool. You start to see some limited stuff in the spring but in recent years it seems the stretch post Xmas to getting significant stuff is way longer than it used to be. Then there's the stinking economy of course. I hunt regularly, and finding stuff isn't a problem when it's out there. Only problem is when it's just not shipping. Do you anticipate another really long drought next year up to the holiday? I just think people go crazy writing in and complaining they can't find anything new in February or March. There is a cycle to collecting and it is a business for toy companies, but it never seems anyone pays attention to this. In an ideal world we would have new waves all the time. Unfortuanely that's just not how it goes. Your thoughts?


My real concern is if the "drought" is now a normal thing. In 2007, we got 3 waves in the first 8 months, and 5 in the last 4 months. In 2008, we got 2 waves in the first 6 months and (if you count Clone Wars) 7 waves in the last 6 months. In 2009, we got a really back-heavy year with 5 movie waves between August and November. I think you need to stop seeing this as an oddity and embrace the notion of most of the year being light on product except for exclusives.

2010 has been particularly awful in terms of this, with very little new hitting before August. Since 2011 will-- I believe-- be keeping the same SKU for Vintage, there won't be a reboot in August and hopefully we won't see Hasbro holding back waves for the big August reset. (Sometimes-- 2010 in particular-- Hasbro held back all its new GI Joe, Transformers, and Star Wars for the big August reset, as Target and Wal-Mart reset their toy aisles in this month. Toys "R" Us decided to say screw it and sold early anyway.)

I'll be curious to see how 2011 will be-- Hasbro has three big movies on deck with its new Transformers sequel, the soon-to-bomb Thor, and the probably adequate Captain America toy lines needing a lot of attention and shelf space-- so early in the year might be weak again because Hasbro (and Target and Wal-Mart and...) want to give more attention to the new, big properties. Transformers will undoubtedly do killer business, I've got lower expectations for these two Marvel films, and then we'll probably see Hasbro go back to basics with decent Star Wars product selection in the Fall for the holidays. Unless this year turns out poorly, in which case, it'll be harder to predict.

5. I unfortunately missed out on last year's big vehicle, the Clone Wars Turbo Tank which has basically doubled in price on the secondary market. Do you know if Hasbro has plans on ever bringing this bad boy back? Even as a on online exclusive similar to the Big Millenium Falcon? Thanks.

The rumblings from inside Hasbro that leak out seem to make it sound like there will probably not be a Turbo Tank reissue any time soon-- you might want to keep an eye open. Some stores blew it out, and while it didn't seem to get as cheap as the AT-TE did, odds are it might be a few years before Hasbro feels the need to give it another lease on shelf life.

This time of year certain kid-friendly older toys do shoot up on eBay because of the holidays-- you might want to keep watching the secondary market prices on this item, or check Craigslist or similar sites. There are deals to be had out there if you're willing to do a little legwork, digitally or otherwise.


New releases are far and few between. So what am I going to do to fill space? That's right-- talk about something else that's related.

If you like the parts-swapping of the build-a-droid figures, let me turn you on to a discovery I made over the weekend. I bought a set of the Four Horsemen's Outer Space Men toys and found out that the limbs-- built off the Onell Design Glyos system-- are actually compatible with build-a-droid. The arm is a little loose in the socket, but it fits well otherwise-- take a look. Odds are this means nothing to most of you, but figure customizers might want to look these and other Onell Designs figures up for bits and pieces to flesh out whatever it is you might be working on at the moment.

Personally, I'm just crazy about the line because as any toy dork who read Tomart's Action Figure Digest in the 1990s, they're a neat piece of toy history, modernized, and made less sucky by being made as action figures and not bendable figures. It's a wonderful little line, and the Onell Design Glyos System toys are a lot of fun if you enjoy mixing-and-matching your toy parts. It's something different, but pretty good. I wrote a little more about Inferno here, if you're curious.

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with Q&A in the subject line.

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Tie Bomber

I've seen these at every single Walmart in Northeastern New Jersey over the last month. The only problem is that they jacked up the price since the last issue at Target 3 years ago, but this time there is NO pilot included. You get the refurbished cockpit, but I can't justify buying it for that price. Maybe if they hit clearance I would consider it.

TIE Bomber

I'm in Central Jersey and I have seen a grand total of 2 in out 6 stores. Once in Woodbridge on Black Friday where the box was so mangled it sounded like someone replaced the Bomber with assorted Lego's and then the other day in Old Bridge where I was tempted to get it but wasn't ready to pull the trigger on it.

I have the original version when it first came out and that one is awesome...not sure if I want to get a second and drop the coin on a ship that only has a new cockpit and another launching missile.