Oh, to get a Mother Talzin. Is it likely? I don't know about that. Know a good Battle Game Card resource? What's the deal with R2-A6 vs. R2-N3? Also, the mailbag is empty so fire off any new questions you got!
1. If one more figure from Clone Wars Season Three was made, it should obviously be Mother Talzin? Right? Hands down. She was wickedly awesome in both visual design and in character behavior. With 19 animated figures for 2012, chances look bad, but if one new character sees plastic, it should reasonably be Mother Talzin. Or am I just having a dream, like those other fans that would write in to the Hasbro Q&A and say, when are you going to make (insert list of ten characters, none of whom I recognize by name) because they are so darn important?
If I were Hasbro I'd make Mother Talzin as a part of a convention-exclusive gift set with Pong Krell. That would make everybody happy, or as happy as fans can get. She had a decent role in season 4 with Asajj Ventress and other Nightsisters, but Hasbro will not take a chance on female characters. It's just not going to happen with these particular witches, but hopefully some day they'll give up the license and give someone else a shot, or just find a way to reduce the minimums for the factory to make them in a profitable way.
What I expect from Hasbro is more Clone Troopers. The 2012 line has 19 total figures, we're told, and as of my writing this all but 2 have been announced and only 9 are new sculpts or new paint jobs. And of those 9, the only new character is Boss, who had 2 figures already. So yeah, odds are it's going to be another Clone.
Personally, I'd be happy with anything that's not a clone or an existing Jedi figure. Ziro the Hutt? Awesome. Sy Snootles? Yes please. New Armor Boba Fett, animated Dengar, a new outfit for Asajj Ventress? Any of these would make me very happy. The line has become incredibly dull because Hasbro decided that these are the characters they prefer, and maybe sales are suffering because the TV show is less popular, and maybe it's because the figures are hard to find and rarely "different." I don't know. All I know is that the entire situation surrounding the Clone Wars property and which toys are selected makes it seem that both Hasbro and Lucasfilm will probably not be surprised if it comes to a screeching halt before 2013.
2. I've been a trading card collector for 30 years, so I'm always interested when figures include cards. Do you know of a site that lists all of the Galactic Battle cards?
I have not seen a site devoted to these yet, have you guys? I'd be happy to contribute to it-- or better yet, I'd be happy to have you help us build one at Galactic Hunter-- just let me know!
3. What's the best Darth Vader figure with a plastic cape? My son wants one so he can play with Vader in the bath.
Hunh. "Your son." Suuuuure. Well, you asked, so...
Darth Vader figures have very rarely had plastic capes since about 2005. Since you specifically cited the tub, I'm going to guess you want a figure lacking in small parts, and probably one where the hands don't easily pop off. With that in mind, I would suggest going back to 1995 and looking at the original modern Power of the Force Darth Vader. It's bulky, but with 6 points of articulation and a plastic cape, it's probably the best fit for your needs... plus it's super-cheap and you probably won't care if it gets gunky from soap or whatever.
There were other figures since then, but with articulated (and therefore removable) wrists I would suggest staying away from those, if the drain (or choking) could be an issue.
Also, the Galactic Heroes figures are quite good and are pretty solid.
4. I found the Wal-Mart exclusive "Royal Starship Droids" battle pack [a few months ago as Adam lost this question in his mailbag] (at 24.99 ouch!). Anyway, I had naively assumed that we would get R2-D2, R2-B1, R2-R9 and R2-A6. However, the green and white droid is identified as R2-N3. There is no wookieepedia entry (as of the time of this writing [but there is now]) for R2-N3. The wookieepedia entry for the old green and white droid seen as an action figure, R2-A6, says that this droid was on Ric Olie's Naboo Starfighter and not on Queen Amidala's Royal Starship. Have I gotten my facts confused or did someone switch identities while I wasn't looking?
Fun fact about Star Wars: a lot of it is being made up as needed, so a lot of characters (astromech droids in particular) don't have official names from Lucasfilm until absolutely necessary, which sometimes means a toy release. That, and I don't think people really give it as much thought as we do. A few droids get names from trading cards or captions in books, but we've seen Lucasfilm and Hasbro assign new designations when it comes time to make a toy.
So was R2-A6 renamed, or are he and R2-N3 different droids? From watching the movie, I don't believe it is possible to tell.
In this sequence (chapter 12 of the DVD), about five droids can be seen in the bay with Jar Jar Binks: R2-R9 (red body), R2-D2, R2-B1 (blue body), G8-R3, and the green astromech. The green one may be seen when Jar Jar says "Hello, boyos," and R2-R9 is blasted into space as soon as R2-D2 pops out on the ship's exterior. The green droid (R2-N3, I guess) goes out just before R2-D2 and is not seen when we cut back to the exterior of the ship-- so was he blasted into space immediately after hopping out of the droid elevator, or did he go to fix something else somewhere else on the ship? Supposedly R2-M3 and R2-C4 were also fixing things, but they can't be seen during this sequence. Did he run off to help them? I have no idea.
My assumption is that Lucasfilm decided that Ric Olie's droid R2-A6 is different from the royal starship droid now known as R2-N3. We didn't see him out on the exterior of the ship, so it's safe to assume he got blasted. It's also possible Hasbro and Lucasfilm screwed up, but it looks like that as of right now, the official story is that these are two different droids. As far as I knew, R2-A6 was always Ric Olie's droid, but you guys can let me know if I missed some fine print somewhere. As far as I know, nobody really gave the idea of there being two green astromechs much thought until just recently and I always assumed R2-A6 was the green droid, and I don't remember seeing him die, therefore there's no reason they couldn't be the same robot.
It's sort of like R2-Q2. You can see him on the Tantive IV on the original Star Wars, and again in Biggs Darklighter's X-Wing later in the film. (Heck, I made an ad campaign jokingly referring to him as a "double agent" when we did the exclusive figures at Entertainment Earth.) Props get reused, and I think this is an example of everybody trying to maximize toy sales while assigning and re-assigning names.
5. I have watched Clone Wars Seasons 1 through 3 only when they came out on DVD. Season 4 will be the same. I watched season 3 with some dread owing to the terrible reviews you and others were giving them as they aired on Cartoon Network, which turned out to be unfortunately completely accurate. I thought disc 3 with the three-episode arc of the Nightsisters and the 3 episode arc of the Altar of Mortis with the unmistakably Pokemon Black and White Dragons (Zekrom and Reshiram FYI) were best. Discs 1 and 2 were terrible. Disc 4 was partially salvaged by appearance of Tarkin and Chewbacca. My six-year-old son started watching disc one with me and he was so bored he refused to watch anymore of the season with me. (And you wonder why the ratings went down. Presumably, young boys are still the target audience...) What about Season 4? As a whole, can we expect better than season 3? I don't care about spoilers.
No spoilers here, as really, there's nothing to spoil at this point. Here's my quick rundown on it, which I felt was more coherent than previous seasons but also managed to take on some of the more unpleasant trappings of modern serialized television. It's much better than season 3 overall in the sense that there's nothing particularly polarizing. I loved the Ziro episodes, but thought the one about the school lunches was the finest example of the series needing to end early.
ANNOYING: 1-2 parters are pretty much over and done with. Stories that could be told in 2 (or 3) episodes are stretched out to 4, with a lot of unnecessary repetition most likely for the sake of reusing character models and cutting costs. The Pong Krell episodes were spread over 4 episodes, when this wasn't really a tale requiring a feature-length performance. As much as I love SCUBA stuff and undersea adventure, the 3-parter seemed a bit long to me.
FAN FUN: You see Dengar, and he sounds like Simon Pegg. Asajj Ventress turns into a real fleshed-out character and is now so awesome you will be mad you can't buy a toy of her and that Hasbro probably won't make more. Young Admiral Ackbar makes an appearance as a Captain.
There were precious few Senate episodes and more surprising, those were actually good. The return of Pre Vizsla's crew and their updated uniforms should make you furious Hasbro is abandoning the series as toys go. I guess my main complaint is there were too few stories, I don't understand why they're repeating the problem that makes comic books boring-- six issues to tell a story that probably needs, at best, 30-60 pages. These are fun stories with great character designs, but I don't need to spend a month waiting for a 4-parter to end. I want a new story every week, like, you know, Twilight Zone or Star Trek or Batman: The Animated Series.
If you like Star Wars there's enough in this season to make you happy. You might not like seeing Boba Fett in a completely different suit of armor, but I did, and I liked this season so much that I think this could be what starts up another Star Wars toy revival in 10-15 years, when today's kids want toys of these cool designs as adult collectors. If Hasbro would expand beyond Jedi and Clones, this would have been the best season ever from which to make toys. Except Ziro wasn't in it, so you'd have to go back to do him.
I had a good weekend! Draego-Man showed up (new He-Man figure, it's amazing, more next week) and I got to see Guitar Wolf play at what was most likely the douchiest venue name I've ever heard of, "Martini Ranch." Now I'm not cool-- all of you who read this column are well aware of this fact-- but man, Scottsdale. Walking around there is like this terrible window into an alternate future where I at some point stopped collecting toys and tried to impress strangers in loud rooms with high ceilings in my 50s, after hair plugs (or in the case of the ladies, implants). What I'm saying is be happy you're you. You're probably pretty great. Well, some of you aren't. (You know who you are.)
I'm gonna complain about Record Store Day today. It's a good idea, but actually sort of self-defeating. This year I found out that there's going to be a Devo LP and a Stooges LP, and guess what? All my record stores were out before 11 AM. Now, the entire point of this Record Store Day program-- I thought-- was to create buzz around local record stores, bringing in people with events and reminding them why the local record store is so important.
Instead, it did a really bang-up job of reminding me that downloads and eBay are a heck of a lot better. I mean, what kind of record store customer is awake before 11 AM on a Saturday? There's something hilariously great about a store running a promotion to remind you of how great it is to come into their store, only to have it immediately backfire and the would-be customer's only options are to a) get it on eBay or b) pirate it. Nicely done, music physical media industry, this is why you probably won't be here in 5 years.
...to bring it back to toys, this is also why I hate exclusives which are available at as specific time at a specific store. I hate camping out. The randomness of pounding the pavement seems to pay off significantly better, and well, as you can see, distribution of collectible wares in music sucks about as hard as it does in toys. Limited editions are great and all, but sometimes all you do is miss out on a potential sale. Like Draego-Man, the figure went on sale on Monday, I got mine Saturday, and by today-- the first chance I've had to talk to you since it went up for sale-- you already can't by one from Mattel. And you want to. Trust me, you want to.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.