So when is Hasbro going to give us that Vintage Yak Face we all so obviously need? And should we keep pre-mourning vehicles? Sure, why not. And why is Yoda's lightsaber painted all funky these days? All this and more await you in this week's Q&A, send in questions as we're reaching the end of the mailbag!
1. Any chance we will be getting an updated version [of Yak Face on a vintage card, which I neglected to put in the question because I forgot that people reading this column can't read subject lines]?
I'd really love to know what kind of answer is expected for the "are we going to get an update of this" questions. Maybe. Nothing's been announced. That's pretty much the answer to all these questions.
So far Hasbro has proven that if they were to do one-- and I think they should-- it will be (most likely) on a Return of the Jedi cardback instead of the coin-carded Power of the Force style. I'm not too fond of this, because if we're really being picky here, it should be on the Power of the Force (or tri-logo) cardback. The Lando Calrissian figure from the Rebel Briefing will be put on the ROTJ cardback, so there's a precedent and unfortunately, it looks like Hasbro will be ignoring this popular collectible segment.
2. Adam are you at all concerned that none of these were shown in the slideshow at ToyFair? Are the vehicles doomed?
And What did "Something Big is Coming" refer to? The Attack Shuttle?
And What did "Something Big is Coming" refer to? The Attack Shuttle?
No and yes. Just because we didn't see anything doesn't mean that nothing is coming-- unless Hasbro says otherwise. With any luck we'll see something, but I'm sitting here (after being asked this question a few times) wondering just what it is that would make sense to add to the assortment. The Landspeeder is too small, the Speederbike is too small, and other than the Twilight (the Spice Freighter) or maybe the Separatist Shuttle which are probably too big for the assortment, I can't think of many vehicles in this scale that I'd want to see. Hasbro's done a great job picking out vehicles and updating old ones, and I don't think there's anything I'd really like in this size just today. It wouldn't stun me to see new stuff for The Phantom Menace next year, though.
But yeah, the "big ship" for the year is the Attack Shuttle.
3. Do toy companies actually like it when a figure, vehicle or set is incredibly scarce and goes for a mint on eBay, even if it ticks off people who never see it at retail? I'm not talking about intentionally rare variants, but just regular hard-to-find items like Darth Revan, Scramble on Yavin, Clone Wars Aayla Secura, etc. I know companies usually say it isn't intentional, or that fan demand is hard to predict (or whatever). But I'd bet that at least occasionally, they welcome the cachet of extreme scarcity and sky-high secondary-market prices.
Depends on who you ask and the company. If a company makes a rare variant, and it doesn't command a premium price, that means the item failed. In the 1990s, Playmates did some Star Trek figures limited to only 1,701 pieces, and those went crazy. Meanwhile, Galoob made a line of figures called Ultraforce that was packed with limited package and deco variants, and nobody cared. Limited edition figures are generally meant to start a fire in the fields of fan interest, so if Hasbro were to do a chase piece, the idea is generally that it should be a little more popular and possibly a little more valuable.
Figures like Darth Revan were actually made in pretty decent numbers, effectively the same as his wave mates. I also saw numerous Scramble on Yavin sets in my hunts, well into 2010, but I shop at a larger variety of stores than most people. So depending on who you asked at Hasbro, it's possible that the items would just be seen as merely successful-- they made some things to appeal to the adult collector, in numbers that didn't cause any real pegwarming (although I did see Scrambles sit in some stores), and I firmly believe that if Hasbro upped the run on Scramble on Yavin it'd have crossed over to pegwarmer status. It's really tough to predict exactly what collectors will buy, especially when a segment of the hobby will suddenly decide that it's worth paying extra for something. It doesn't happen as often as it used to, but Hasbro really can't predict that a normal figure will suddenly shoot up.
In the case of The Clone Wars, I don't believe it's all collectors. There actually is a kid's collectors market, but they usually deal in stuff we ignore. (See: Beanie Babies, wrestling toys in the 1990s, also Transformers movie toys in 2007. Bumblebee commanded high prices, and it wasn't because of adults.) So with figures like Aayla, we've got the added competition from a younger audience wanting these guys too. They don't have deep pocketbooks, but heavy kid interest will drive prices up just as high (or higher) than heavy collector interest.
What's the solution? Hasbro reissuing stuff. I don't think the Scramble pack will be helped by a partial reissue, as the pilot and droid were arguably the selling points of the set. Aayla could stand to see a reissue, and I'm actually quite surprised Darth Revan and Darth Malak haven't come out again in some capacity. (Can't GameStop support exclusive repacks?) With video game figures and kid-focused stuff, it might be a very long time before the fan interest and prices drop. Video gamer collectors tend to pay high prices on the rare stuff, generally because there isn't very much of it in the marketplace.
4. I just got my hands on the new VC20 Yoda. My little green friend is Awwwwesome!! (Date stamp aside, of course) However I was reminded of a problem that has plagued Yoda since canon handed him a lightsaber. The half-circle piece at the emiter is not painted. I can't recall this part of Yoda's lightsaber ever being painted dispited actually being sculpted. Will Hasbro ever correct this? Are they even aware, or do I have to keep my silver Sharpie handie?
I believe there was a paint variant on the 2003 "Bandit" Clone Wars Yoda with his hovering attack pedestal with the added silver paint on later releases, but I'm not able to do the digging to confirm this in my own stash right now. (I've got a lot of toys to go through.) Generally speaking, Hasbro neglects to paint this element, although it's frequently sculpted as you pointed out-- so keep that Sharpie ready to go, you're going to need it.
5. When Hasbro released Jango Fett's Clone Wars Slave-1 last year as part of a Toys R Us Ultimate Battle Pack, most of us assumed a Vintage Boba version was imminent. However, TRU has had a few discounts on the Battle Pack since then, and a Boba Slave-1 was not shown at Toy Fair or mentioned in the slide show. Does this indicate that the Jango Slave-1 did not sell well enough to warrant a Boba-fied re-release? Or might Hasbro simply be waiting until the Boba Pack is off the shelves?
From where I stand, it seems that the Rise of Boba Fett Ultimate Battle Pack did just fine-- I see it a lot less lately, with some new stock only just having shown up in the past few weeks. Having said that...
Hasbro never said anything specific about when we see an Original Trilogy version of this vehicle, just that it was designed with such a redeco in mind from the future. (The fact that it has a Carbonite slot, for example.) From my prodding at Celebration V last year, it seemed that they would not likely be bringing it out in 2011, unless they're very good about keeping a straight face on this sort of thing.
It's my assumption (and this is an educated guess and may be way, way off-base) that Toys "R" Us intentionally priced the set high so that they could mark it down on "sales." They employed this strategy on a number of items this past year, raising the price a few bucks the week before marking them down as an advertised special. (Specifically, on a number of Hasbro's action figure brands. A number of collector sites picked up on this behavior.) As such, I can't necessarily say that the "markdowns" were in any way a sign of an item tanking, I think that the discounts were built in to their pricing strategy. (Again, this is my hunch based on watching how they did things in 2010.)
At this time, there are no known plans for the ESB deco version because Hasbro is likely hanging on to this one for a future Toys "R" Us (or other retailer) exclusive. (It's too big for the main line, although I guess it could go to Target at some point. That's not too unusual.) I'm not holding my breath, of course, and there's always a chance that the ESB deco could show up on The Clone Wars before it ends-- sometimes Hasbro holds things back for a reason, and sometimes the reason is marketing and others, it's synergy. On this one, we're going to have to wait and see what they're going to do.
So it looks like The Clone Wars is winding down for the season-- only two new episodes are left, and it seems to be the Chewbacca-themed two-part season finale in April. Much like last season's "Rise of the Bounty Hunters" being a theme that only stuck to a few episodes, this year's "Secrets Revealed" seem to be largely holding on to the Mortis 3-parter in which Anakin gets a glimpse into the future and then the magical reset button gets hit. I was also surprised to see The Clone Wars rip itself off recently, swiping a great plot gimmick from the comics in which characters get carbon frozen to get past a Droid security checkpoint. Clever!
It's amazing to see such range in the show between quality episodes and the utterly preposterously dull. "Hunt for Ziro" and "Clone Cadets" were highly entertaining pieces of television, while I basically feel I'm owed an apology for "Sphere of Influence," "Corruption," and "The Academy." I can live with the concept of Mandalore being altered heavily from previous stories, but what kind of evil monster makes an action show on a kid's cable channel about things like banking deregulation and poisoned tea in school cafeterias? It'd be hysterical if it was in another franchise. I mean seriously, if they did an episode of a Batman cartoon with something like this, I'd be sitting here laughing. Heck, I basically was during The Clone Wars because there's bad TV and then there's this, which arguably is worse than bad TV because they took something people love and went out of their way to make it supremely lame. I know not every episode can be guns and lightsabers, but yeesh.
One thing I found particularly exciting were all the glimpses into the Hutts' organization, and I'm hoping we see more of that somewhere in the future. I wonder what Season 4 will have in store, particularly if the whole Darth Maul reference was just a one-time gag or setting up something else in the future. After all, Peter Serafinowicz may be in need of some voiceover work.
Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with Q&A in the subject line.