Q&A: Toy vs. Not, Wedge Reissue, Shortpacked Figures, Vintage Fun, and More

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, April 15, 2012

We can talk about more big vehicles because that always makes us happy. And why is Hasbro packing hot figures at one per box? Because they also pack not-hot ones at one per box. Let's talk about a new 6-inch line some more. Because apparently, we all love to do that. All this and really short reviews of the latest Vintage and Clone Wars figures, in this week's Q&A!

1. In response to your idea about Hasbro going to 6" figures [last week] - I'm against it. I have devoted so much time and space to the 3 3/4" scale figures (and vehicles and creatures and such), that I just can't comprehend collecting another line. I loved the Unleashed statues from a few years ago, but was actually relieved when they cancelled that line, since they took up so much space, and were a bit expensive. If they would cancel the 3 3/4" scale line, I'd rather they just not make any more figures. I love those more than anything, and I do buy the occasional mini bust and LEGO figures, but I really just want to concentrate on the small action figures, and not be tempted to buy another line.

I love 3 3/4-inch too, and I assume it would continue-- after all, Hasbro kept doing Marvel Universe and Marvel Legends, with the smaller scale getting the edge. I'm not saying that, if Hasbro did a 6-7-inch line, everybody would make the transition as I know I don't buy every last scale of figures, either. (I've got no need to do so.) My main beef would be if Hasbro ever did a 6-7-inch line, if it had characters not in 3 3/4-inch. That would make me mad. But since they seem Hell-bent on selling Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Jango Fett, Clone Troopers, and their ilk until the end of time? I'm ready for a new scale. Much like how I don't expect Galactic Heroes fans to go to Jedi Force, this hypothetical larger line isn't going to be for all the existing collectors. A lot of us are looking for an excuse to quit and I get emails every week about how people are leaving... and are still buying, usually.

But yeah, don't be tempted. Not buying a new line is pretty easy-- for example, I really like Marvel Legends and simply couldn't afford it when it started. I really wish I could have that line, but geez, things add up. Much like how I don't buy Sideshow or the Japanese 12-inch imports, you could skip on another scale, and frankly, you should skip it. As a jumping-on point for new (or lapse) fans, or for those seeking something new and different I would find it exciting. This year alone Hasbro has no fewer than 3 lines of Star Wars figures at 2-inches or shorter, so maybe it would be nice to see something in the other direction. Think of it this way: it's just one more line you're not going to buy, along with all the others.


2. Just a quick question, what happened to the Wedge figure re-issue? Is this still happening or is Hasbro over this?

He is indeed coming and I just got mine on Saturday-- the top of the cardback and a few other things were changed slightly, to reflect his new SKU and the fine print. Most people won't notice much of a difference. He'll be shipping along with the new 501st Clone Trooper, and others, and as of right this second I am not aware of any retail sightings.


3. I know a lot of people loved the new 2010 "BMF" AT-AT. I was very disappointed. The oversized head made the proportions all wrong. I had no problem with the price. I bought it with excitement, but quickly returned it with no regret. I don't buy the "It's a toy" or "added play value" excuses. I felt the same way about the 1983 version when I was a kid. I have issues with the "BMF" Falcon too, but I know that isn't going to be fixed. As we have seen many molds get upgrades, is there any chance we might see a new smaller head version of the new AT-AT? You reading Hasbro?

And this is why my hair is turning gray.


4. Ahsoka Tano Clone Wars #44. How can I get this figure for less than $50 on eBay? Such an important character, such a well made toy, seemed like a sure thing for wide release over a long period of time. Wrong! Adam would you please tell hasbro, Matt wants to see this one re-release?

If what you're asking is "Hasbro confirmed the return of the Season 3 Ahsoka animated figure?" then the answer is a firm no-- no such plans have been announced yet, and Hasbro is now seeing what happens in a kid line when you don't service your core market (kids) regarding the secondary market. This also happened in 2007 with the first Transformers movie and (if you can believe it) Bumblebee shortages.

If what you're asking is "is there still a chance for her this year?" I'm saying probably not. There are (depending on if Hasbro holds to it) 2 basic figure slots left for animated this year, plus whatever unannounced Battle Packs (assumption: none) or exclusives (few) remain. We know Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us are probably going to get some form of figure 2-4-packs if history is any indicator, but we flat-out don't know who or what yet, or when.

So what can you do? Here's an old chestnut from the 1990s: don't feed the scalpers. I know you're being mildly facetious in your question, but yeah, Hasbro made a big mistake here. It's a bad idea to leave money on the table and Hasbro certainly did it several times in this line, particularly as (if memory serves) the company has frequently cited Ahsoka figures as their best-selling female character in years.


5. Is it pure insanity that Hasbro has single-packed Darth Malgus one per case? Or am I just over-inflating how starved for new characters the collector community is when this case hits the shelves? (Malgus is the only fig remotely interesting to me in that case.)

Each and every Vintage figure since wave 4 has been packed at 1 per case. Wave 3 had most figures at 1 per case and in each of the MANY revisions, one new figure was packed at 2 per case. Most of the figures in this line debut at 1 or 2 per box, and since 2011, it's been 1. So is it insanity? No, it's consistency. It's no crazier than not packing any of the other several dozen figures at one per case, or stopping shipping Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Bespin Luke, Grievous, and others when it appeared they were still selling, or making Wedge the hardest figure to find in ages. One per box is the new normal, two is the aberration.



The responses to the 6-7-inch figure line comments have been quite enlightening! It's really interesting to see the diverse reactions, although I'm kind of surprised by the "I don't want them to make any, and I wouldn't buy any if they did." When I achieve "do not care" status, as far as I'm concerned, you can make whatever you want. I'm not buying $400 Sideshow pieces but I don't begrudge them for doing so, rather putting the resources into, oh I don't know, something I might, in a million years, purchase. I'm working on a feature on this topic and will have something to post for you soonish. As a category I think it has potential. I mean, it's not going to be for everyone, but neither is 3 3/4-inch... but I will say, the new ones have been pretty great.

Let me give you a quick rundown of what came in the mail-- I think you'll be interested. The Clone Wars waves 2 and 3 have shown a significant drop in articulation, with knee and ankle joints going away on most figures and wrists on others. Captain Rex now has about 8 joints, which, uh, not exactly what I was hoping for. The same is true with the new Wolffe, and the really gorgeously sculpted SCUBA Ahsoka is similarly stiff. She also has some of the best paint on any figure I've seen, but also new, tinier foot holes for her swim fins. Be sure to get her, she's impressive. Republic Commando Boss looks amazing, but has limited leg articulation. He makes up for it with an awesome backpack that opens up to store his blasters and a grappling hook, it's a really fun accessory and makes this figure feel more like a toy than many previous releases. A new Obi-Wan Kenobi is also quite good, but it's not immediately obvious he's new. The sculpt is more detailed and truer to the animation model, but again, the articulation is more limited and the price increase doesn't make this feel like a better assortment. Rounding out the "new" figures is a training Super Battle Droid which is a clever reuse of the 2008 mold, at a higher price with fewer arm cannons. There's also a reissue of Aayla Secura.

Over in Vintage, the selection is pretty amazing. I personally feel Hasbro's claim that they're trying to make perfect figures is just going to set everybody up for disappointment, because after three decades they've proven there's always room for growth. Darth Vader is an improvement over the 2006 tin/2007 carded release, with a fantastic sculpt and excellent deco-- but the wrists only swivel, the head also only swivels, and there's no lightsaber to plug into the belt, or wire cape. It's still awesome, but there are quite a few new things Hasbro could incorporate. The Imperial Navy Trooper is good-- good sculpt, good articulation, good range of movement. No surprises, it's just good. Hoth Luke is pretty great so far, I haven't tried him on the Tauntaun yet but the range of movement is exceptional and the head sculpt is wonderful. The goggles/scarf, I think, are going to annoy some people. Darth Malgus is quite impressive, although the design seems like it should be from the saga's future rather than its past. Hasbro included wire in the secondary cape (wow!) and two lightsabers, one lit and one not. You can see a lot of detail in the paint, with glossy bits, flat bits, silver bits, and so on. This is one of a few figures that really shows Hasbro is trying to earn your $10 per figure. Clone Wars Anakin Skywalker has exceptional movement and a decent sculpt, but the head is just not up to par. The bend-and-swivel wrists, though, are really nice to have.

Rounding out the 2011 delayed leftovers: Dr. Evazan is amazing, and I posted some preview pics to the Twitter feed over the weekend. You're going to like him, he's Figure of the Day later on Monday. Aayla Secura is amazing, with wonderful hip movement and a gorgeous paint job which looks better than what I remember seeing in New York last year. Kithaba was my most-desired figure from the wave, and I'm not quite sure they got him "right." He definitely doesn't match the old Kenner figure, but he is pretty cool. Nom Anor is well-exectuted, but since I'm not a fan of the Vong I can't say I'm crazy about him just yet. Give me some time to collect my thoughts here. There were also a number of reissues, including a return of Wedge Antilles in a similar-but-different-if-you-check-the-fine-print cardback, plus a new 501st Legion Clone Trooper which is an upgrade, but I think the indifference toward upgraded Clone Troopers is hard to get by now. Not only are they expensive, but they're difficult to find, so it's hard to get excited about the Nth repaint of the same mold, even if it is based on the cool 2011 Vintage Clone mold.

For fans of Battle Beasts-- both of you-- last week was damned exciting. If you were under 10 in 1987, you might remember the Hasbro originals in the USA, as they were pretty great. In the last week, not one but at least two new lines inspired by the classic toys have come to be known, and I threw a lot of that news here so I don't have to bore you with it in this column. This stuff probably will interest like 0.05% of you. Also, it's Draego-Man day!

--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.

Figure Shortages

I can sympathize with the guy from question 4 as well. I normally don't buy Clone Wars figures, but it seems like whenever there's a figure that's just soooo cool that it doesn't matter that it's in the Clone Wars style and I still want to get it, it's hard to come by.

I do a lot of my shopping online and usually buy cases from Entertainment Earth (and always remember to click from FotD, natch) but I won't buy a whole case for a single figure, so these rare gems I try to hunt down. I had a hard time finding Hondo Ohnaka and only got him recently after they rereleased him. Seripas is also a really awesome figure, but I never found him and probably never will. I don't feed scalpers, and it seems like I missed my opportunity.

I know the line was supposed to be kid-centric, but it seems to me like certain popular characters like Ahsoka and those cool bounty hunters from the show should get a little more love in distribution.

Battle Beasts

Thanks for the BB update! I'm actually in Chicago now, but missed C2E2. The all gray BB looks cool. Can't wait to see these in stores, but don't know if I'll get them; I may just track down old ones. Is $10 (with weapon) a good price for regular releases?

If you're buying 1 at a time,

If you're buying 1 at a time, $10 or so isn't terrible-- buy you can get screamingly good deals on a lot/collection on eBay. One of the ones I got to finish up my set averaged about $3 per figure, with weapons and all save for like three had rubsigns. Series 1 guys are usually a little less than $10, series 3 guys are usually a little more than $10... and any laser beast you can get for $10 means somebody made a mistake. I'm assuming prices are going to go up now that there's a revival.

The 4th Question

Reading this weeks Q&A I gotta say my heart goes out to the guy who asked question #4 about CW Ahsoka #44. It sure would be nice if one of the fine, generous, intelligent reads of this weekly question and answer column helped out that guy. He's probable not asking for a free figure, just a fair price or trade. Yeah, i know, how'd you even find the guy to help him? Wish I could, but those CW 44's don't grow on shelves you know.