Q&A: TV, Clone Wars, Multiple Purchases, and Other Stuff

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 6, 2012

It's time for Q&A! Let's talk TV - is it possible something is too "adult" for toys? Is it time to stop buying three of each action figure? Yes. And And let's talk realistic Clone Wars figures too, just because. Read on for more exciting fun in this week's Q&A!

1. News on the on-again-off-again live action TV series picked up a little last year and has died down once again. If it ever makes it to series one would think there would be a merchandise line to support it. Is this something you think fans would embrace? Being prime time, rumored to not have Jedi, and not a cartoon I don't know how much appeal it would have for kids to support so it seems it would fall on the collector or the kid who grew up on Clone Wars to carry.

The decline of The Clone Wars can probably be attributed to a severe ratings decline, which can be attributed to a variable quality of the show's production and/or Cartoon Network's scheduling, or whatever else you want to pick. All that matters right now is Hasbro has re-embraced "classic" for the time being, which makes some fans happy and others... not.

A new TV show as a toy property will probably succeed or fail based on where and how it's distributed. If it's on pay cable (HBO) or deep cable (the Hub), I wouldn't anticipate a massive toy relaunch after the first year. Hasbro would probably be best served sticking in a few in the normal waves.

Of course, having said all this, look at LEGO. Kids love those sets, the Clone Wars ones continue to sell, and there are some pretty ballsy choices of vehicles and figures in those sets. While I personally think Hasbro's mercurial nature going with the latest big media blockbuster might have a little something to do with the success (and sweep-under-the-ruggening) of their lines, it's also possible we could be entering the post-action figure age, and just don't realize it yet. It's entirely possible that action figures were a trend item with a long tail, and as toy makers engineer out action features and kid-friendly low price points, much like trading cards and comic books, they might morph into a more specialized product line. And if the new TV show is marketed to adults anyway, well, I couldn't think of a better tie-in than action figures.


2. Since the modern line began I have tended to collect three of most figures and then two as they became more expensive. I have hundreds in boxes and they seen to be re-releasing many of the figures - and vehicles - I already have at higher price points - to you think it is worth holding onto these old figures as an investment or should I look to sell? Additionally, do you think that prices will ever go down to more reasonable levels, especially for the very new stuff -£10 per figure is a considered purchase now and gone are the days of buying more than one! The joke is that I would probably spend more over all if they lowered their price points.

Much of the original Kenner line's value came from nostalgia and good ol' fashioned supply and demand. That, and you can never have another original.

The modern line seems to be exponentially approaching "perfection," with increasingly improved and more realistic figures every year. Because of that, the vast majority of the line is "old" rather than "classic," and if a figure doesn't get some sort of heat on the secondary market inside five years, it might never.

Were I in your shoes, I'd suggest looking on eBay and dumping anything that's worth your while to sell. (From where I sit, I'd rather not go through the hassle of selling online for anything under $20, which is why I also have a lot of crap to get rid of.) I'm assuming the current crop of figures-- particularly vintage-- might get expensive in the next few years, as most collectors think as you do. It's quite often the stuff nobody bought that climbs in price, and even I stopped buying extra figures. I barely even track down all the variants these days!

I sincerely doubt prices will go down significantly without a significant change-up in Hasbro's upper management. Unless someone decides that $10 is too expensive for an impulse buy, expensive figures are here to stay.


3. I have two questions to ask you. It seems that the Darth Malgus wave has only been available so far through the online retail stores like Entertainment Earth and Brian's Toys. Do you think that this wave will be difficult to find since the Dr. Evazan wave is already starting to hit? I read on JediTempleArchives website that this wave is being produced in limited volume. Why is Hasbro scaling back on the articulation for the Clone Wars figures. These figures are the same price as the vintage.

How's the non-answer again: "I don't know."

If retail stores behave as usual, they get automatically replenished with new product as the old stuff sells down. Oddly, we're not seeing a lot of that yet, but waves 3 and 4 are actually relatively new. Sometimes it can take a month (or four) for an item to reach critical mass where fans go from desiring it to loathing it. After all, familiarity breeds contempt. The infrastructure is set up for new stuff, but if the old stuff is still in the back room, they won't be getting more new stuff.

It's my guess you'll see it later, but with 2011 we saw waves 7 and beyond being spotty if you weren't hunting actively. We don't know volumes-- it's possible someone has a guy who knows a guy, but Hasbro usually doesn't say "oh yeah, we're cutting runs on these." This is stuff they really don't want customers knowing.

As to Clone Wars, I would love to know this too. For those of you not in the know, the bulk of new 2012 figures have only 8 points of articulation, which is a surprising step backwards. Figures like 2012 Rex are particularly odd, as the 2012 Cody body was new and super-articulated, and the reason for Hasbro to make two new clone body molds is a little confusing to me. There's probably some production reason which is beyond my comprehension, but I do know this: I expect 2012 to be the year Clone Wars fans complain about the most when the line is completely dead in, oh, let's say twenty months.


4. Speaking of which, what do you make of the realistic styled CW figs in the vintage line? I love that they are doing this, but I really hope it continues, because in my opinion it doesn't start getting interesting until we get past the Anakins, Obi-Wans and inevitable clone repaints. Ahsoka is cool, and I look forward to bane, who is sure to be on the way, but I am positively salivating at the thought of who else they could bring to plastic in realistic form in the years to come, assuming this little sub-line has legs. Bring on a realistic Pong Krell, Savage Oppres, Mother Talzin, Pre Viszla, Ventress or some of the more unique battle droid and clone trooper variations. And of course, though I dare not get my hopes up for him, Ziro.

If Hasbro used this as a way to shift the TV characters from animated to realistic style completely, I'd be all set. Don't get me wrong, I love my cartoony figures, but wouldn't it be nice to have them all in a consistent style?

My guess is Hasbro will say something about how Anakin/Obi-Wan/Ahsoka didn't sell well enough to warrant more, when our data will show they're just as scarce as any other new figure this year, and it'll probably stop at 3 or 4 figures. Like you, I don't care how we get Mother Talzin, I just want to get one. (I think Ziro might be best animated, though.)

I'd be all for it, if it continued. I mean, a new Asajj Ventress would probably do well, and I could be wrong here but I think Hasbro has basically proven just about any previously unreleased character will sell on a vintage cardback. If it's new-- new new-- it'll probably sell. I'd love to see them test this theory, but the only "new" figure which has done anything remotely close to hanging is probably Wooof. So how about it, Hasbro? Try it out! I'd love to see if Pong Krell becomes some insane hot seller in realistic style. (Or animated, as I am not picky. I also believe Hasbro confirmed they're doing him in their Q&As a while ago.)


5. Do you think this is the last year for the Clone Wars [TV] series? If so do you think they will announce it to the world at C6? Also if you had any insight (which i think you do), what 2 [new action figures to round out this years plans to do 19 releases] will we see??

As of Celebration V, Dave Filoni announced he was just told-- as of August 2010-- that George Lucas planned to do a fifth season (which starts airing in/around September 2012.) So if a sixth year is coming without a significant gap, it's hopefully in production and made. I have heard zero rumblings about year 6 and the ratings are consistently down, so I would suggest any of you in the business of interviewing voice actors start asking the various voices if they recorded anything for a sixth year.

I think doing too many stories between the second and third movies kind of stretches the credibility of how long it is between films, but that's me. Five years should be sufficient, I wouldn't mind seeing a sixth as long as it manages to bring something new or different to the table. Zombie witches, Hutts, and weird separatist villains? Cool! Bringing back Darth Maul, focusing on Mandalore's school lunch program, or anything involving bank regulations? Just kill the damn show. Please. It doesn't matter what I think of the show, but when history writes its "Which was cooler, Star Wars or Star Trek?" there have been a few things that really knock Star Wars down a few pegs. Of course, there's something like 34 hours of The Clone Wars against 13 or 14 hours of the movies... so... yeah. It's my hope and sincere expectation the decision has been made by now, but I haven't been able to find anything confirming the show beyond this season.

I have no insight on the remaining 2 figures, although I'm wondering if the 19 was a mistake and we'll really only get 17. I'd be delighted to see another wave with 2 new guys (hopefully at 2 per box) plus whatever reissues they like, but my guess is, at this rate, it'll probably be a 501st Phase 2 Clone Trooper and if it isn't Pong Krell, I'd bank on a repackaged-no-changes figure like Asajj Ventress or even the 2010 Ahsoka. Eh, who am I kidding, they'll probably ignore her because of the SCUBA one.

One remaining bit of hope, we were told that this line would only have 19 figures (including repacks) but they never elaborated on when the next line would start, so with any luck the "2013" line might start as early as the big reset in August. Over the last few years, we've seen the line rebooted, almost always, in August (or as early as June when the stores broke street dates.) If The Clone Wars has any legs for 2013, I would assume it would have to get started before the holiday shopping season reset commences.

...what I would like to see is The Clone Wars become a sub-line, much like the McQuarrie Concept line was a sub-line in 2007. The cool thing about that-- and I absolutely loved this-- was that Hasbro made the "special" sub-line figures blue, distinguishing them from the mostly red-tinted regular figures. Hasbro did this again this year with Transformers Bot Shots, adding an extra tab and a little blue on the special "chase" figures. Why not roll in animated into Vintage/Droid Factory 2013/whatever's next? Just toss in a figure or two per wave. Before you vintage/movie purists complain, don't worry, you can skip those figures. It's OK. Nobody has to know, and it's better than phasing out the line completely.



Fair warning: there may be meetups at the conventions this summer if I can make 'em fit. (San Diego, in particular.) I'm bad around large groups of people, so this should be fun for you to see if I melt down.

It's looking like it's going to be a pretty bare summer for Hasbro launches, what with the new Transformers Generations line being put off until June and, seemingly, Avengers product is thin. Not just because it's popular, but at least around me, a few stores seem to have little real estate devoted to it. It's weird... I'm trying to figure out if Hasbro's woes have more to do with stores not ordering product, or Hasbro not delivering it, or some unholy mix. (Obviously, it's hard to be impartial when I get emails from about 100 of my brothers and sisters letting me know they want to buy stuff but can't find it each week.)

With no exclusives on the immediate horizon, and some items showing up sporadically or not-yet-at-all, it's definitely a strange time to follow this line. It's also weird to think that Beast Saga, a line made for Japanese kids, could well end up being easier to collect in terms of calories burned than Star Wars. With the leaked Ewok and Rebel Pilot figure sets supposedly still on the way, I would suggest keeping your head up high and remember that even if the year is thinner, or the line is in decline, that means you probably get to spend a little less money this year. Given the vehicle distribution since mid-2011, I can't say I'm particularly optimistic in that department (honestly, who launches "vintage vehicles" with 3 repacks?) but I'm sure we've got a few good years of figures left to go.

Whipping out my handy dandy abacus, we've had a pretty good year for figures so far. Depending on which figures you do (or don't) count we've got somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 or so figures which meet some vague qualification of "new," as in, new accessories, all-new sculpts, or so on. Love them or hate them, we've had a solid 25 figures in Vintage alone which are unquestionably new this year, and about 10 Clone Wars releases. (Can't win 'em all.) Factor in exclusives, Battle Packs, and vehicle pack-ins and we've had a pretty great year so far. On paper, I mean. If you can find the stuff.

--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.