Q&A: Vehicles, Monsters, New Figures You Won't See, and More Stuff

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, May 12, 2013

Let's talk Vehicles in Q&A! That's a great start. And how about a reissue of the Rancor, should you hold your breath? I wouldn't. But you can if you'd like. What does the future hold for realistic figures of Clone Wars cartoon characters? Not much probably. All this and more as we wait for actual new product announcements in this week's Q&A - feel free to send in your questions for next time!


1. If Hasbro let you pick the next big vehicle, which one would you pick? What are your thoughts on price, packaging, exclusives, collector/kid appeal, pack-ins?

For pure selfishness, I'd want Anakin Skywalker's Twilight from The Clone Wars since it has a cool design and a decent carrying capacity for a lot of characters.

For the movies, I don't really want another big ship that isn't a Star Destroyer or Blockade Runner, neither of which I assume to be likely. I'd prefer no electronics (because honestly, after the first week, who cares?) and minimal pack-ins. Maybe just Stormtroopers either way to keep costs down.

At this point I'd be more curious to see stuff in the realm of this year's $20ish "Starfighter" Class II vehicle assortment - what would a brand-new 100% new-tooling 3 3/4-inch TIE Fighter look like? We've been basically trapped in a loop of 1978's vehicle stylings for a while. How about an all-new X-Wing with a stiffer plastic and non-sagging wings?


2. What do you think the chances of a re-issue of the most recent Legacy Collection Rancor Monster are? Here in Canada we never had any Target stores in the country back then...and on the secondary market they seem pretty scarce and really expensive. Were they easy to find in the USA when they first came out? A re-issue with Jedi Luke and maybe even a Gamorrean Guard, charge 75 bucks or so... seems like easy money for Hasbro to me.

An unchanged reissue? Slim to none. I think it's likely you'll see a new Rancor of some sort between now and when the line dies, but it's unlikely in the near term. This thing was a huge flop in the USA and sat around for (stop me if I'm wrong) what seems like at least a year. Some items are expensive on eBay because, at the time, nobody gave a crap and the Rancor was one of these items. I remember seeing these sit for what seemed like a very long time, and they may have been one of the last blue Legacy packaged items other than like Gargan to finally move in most stores.

I see unboxed samples on eBay as low as $35-$45, which isn't too bad. A brand-new $75 Rancor feels like quite the gamble given this item was a $39.99 flop, unless Hasbro makes a brand-new and cheaper design. The last one was a pretty weak toy, and was one of many items clearly meant for people who care more about points of articulation than toy functionality. I'd love to see Hasbro make an all-new one that can eat figures because the 1998 and 2008 releases were just kind of boring figures that had moving arms and legs.



3. I was looking through Rebelscum's photo archive of the ill-fated (to the U.S.) 2013 clone wars line and saw this: "For all future Clone Wars figures, collectors will be looking for realistic looking figures in the other action figure assortments." I know that Hasbro is killing the animated look, but have they given any suggestions that they would consider making Clone Wars characters in a realistic style (like their most recent Ahsoka)? I would love a Pong Krell for my clones to execute, or Osi Sobek, Admiral Trench, etc. It seems like there are still lots of very high-profile characters from CW that might be interesting across a lot of age ranges. What do you think?

Lower those expectations unless you want to be disappointed.

So far Hasbro has only given fairly major characters the chance to make the jump to "realistic" and we haven't seen confirmation of what wave 2 of "The Black Series" for 3 3/4-inch will bring. We assume it's the leftover Droid Factory guys... and that's a safe assumption... but right now I don't want to assume anything with Hasbro's 3 3/4-inch future beyond what we've seen, and so far we've seen clones and Jedi being given the "realistic" treatment. I'd expect Asajj Ventress twice over before Sobek or even some of the cooler and more popular (read: known and recognizable) figures like Cad Bane. I'd love to see him in his season 4 post-jailbreak costume.

If you ask me, Hasbro missed the boat with kids in 2012. The line was a strange mix of things only collectors would buy and a few mainstream figures that were done to the point of overkill where anyone who actually frequents a toy aisle would largely say "Isn't this the same guy we got last year?" Rather than say "oops" Hasbro seems to have taken this as a mandate to overhaul the line, when (as an armchair quarterback, anyway) I think pretty much any collector can point to a lot of what turned kids off, and some of that can be backed up with quotes from Hasbro from the first Phantom Menace line nearly 14 years ago. In short: you need to stay away from this movie, which Hasbro largely did for the better part of 2000 to 2011.

Hasbro has at least a year or two to fill before the "Sneak Preview" new movie figures can start, and it's totally unknown how they're going to want to fill it. Is it time to appeal to original trilogy guys? Is it time to squeeze out every last possible obscure guy before the movies start so there's a handy excuse to squeeze out collector favorites as a "last wave" that cleans up after itself? Is it time to shut the whole thing down to "starve" the market into a 1999-style frenzy, as Hasbro and Disney hope people forget that new-era figures are worthless because of the insane glut of cheap and otherwise worthless toys being hoarded in their original packaging?

I should also point out that there may (which is like saying there will, unless it changes) be a few animated figures popping up in the "Saga Legends" line, if what Hasbro showed in New York was correct. A few of those figures like Rex and R2-D2 in animated style may ship in 2-packs. We'll have to wait and see the line plan. Which should be any day now.


4. As Mattel did with [Masters of the Universe Classics], do you think Hasbro would ever consider taking an online/collector-driven approach with Star Wars? I wouldn't mind paying the extra dinero for exclusive/obscure/definitive/EU characters that may or may not sell at box store levels, as long as they kept the line alive, and maybe the runs at lower production levels. Then you might see Bo-Katan, an indirect and inaccurate version of the Tonnika Sisters (just to get a filler or something for the cantina), Star-Hoppers of Aduba-3, Valance, realistic versions of the Droids/Ewoks cartoon characters, the cancelled post-RotJ line (including an APEX-1 spacecraft), Ackmena and Krelman, Mone and Kiro, Harlech and Danu, Sanda and Drebble, Rik Duel, Den Siva, and the myriad alternative outfits for Luke, Han, Leia, Lando and Admiral Ackbar from the Marvel Series (See SW #59 for Lando and SW #92 for Luke). Obviously, the list is endless. I feel that collectors would eat it up. Your thoughts?

Unlikely. Hasbro in its current form wants to sell LOTS of fewer items and this would get away from that. Online-only collector lines tend to get smaller over time and Hasbro has routinely expressed disinterest for this and, which you may have noticed, moved away from online-shop exclusives of obscure Expanded Universe figures from comics and video games. I love Marvel 1980s stories - ask anyone who's been reading my stuff - but this is an area so rarely touched that (especially in this market) it's ridiculously unrealistic to expect them to go back here, especially since the bulk of the line-up is largely main characters or part of the latest marketing push.

"Box store levels" is what makes the line work - you could ship every big store 1-2 of some questionable characters and they'd likely sell through. The problem is Hasbro wants to sell a lot more than that, which is why you're seeing more stuff get dumped at Ross or Tuesday Morning. We've seen the line grow from a modest company with Kenner to a gargantuan conglomerate with an eye on breaking through to a movie studio or major television powerhouse, and in many respects the kind of line you want can only come out of a smaller company like Diamond of Bif Bang Pow! or Playmates.

The market can support lower production numbers - online stores and comic shops could take (for example) 3,000-5,000-piece runs like Diamond and Bif Bang Pow! might do, but most evidence shows Hasbro rarely/never goes that small. It has nothing to do with the big boxes - Hasbro just doesn't want to go Mattel's direct-to-consumer route. (And I don't know if you follow it, but Mattel customers for those lines are all over the map in terms of satisfaction. I like most of the product, but fulfillment and subscriptions can make things disagreeable and odds are the collector base in 2013 cannot justify that kind of line. For He-Man, you have one choice - subscribe or no line. For Star Wars, you've got a lot of options and there's no starving customer base either.) It's a lot cheaper to make a product and make someone else do all the intensive work of stocking and selling and shipping it.


5. Do you think that this Star Wars Hiatus is really that bad for collectors? I have been collecting since 1996 and have taken a personal hiatus several times because I grow tired of the excessive amount of product that I don't want. Like many other collectors, the vintage line is the only thing that excited me. I hear that Kenner planned one more star wars line after the Power of the Force. Is that true? Could Hasbro Continue that line exactly as if it were Kenner? I am excited about cheaper figures, less articulation, with a classic look. What are your thoughts?

While Kenner did have plans for Star Wars in 1986 and beyond, a lot of those exist as bashed-together one-offs and drawings, and there are dozens of this kind of concept from that era. Hasbro could produce them, if they wanted to, but they've routinely shown that they don't want to. The closest we ever got from the 1986-era was the 1998 Imperial Sentinel figure, a comic book-based figure which, as luck would have it, was incredibly similar to the "Atha Prime" concept Kenner pitched for the Master of the Clone Warriors. Oh - and that 1986 line? It's pretty much all not-canon by virtue of the new films.

The only other item that seems similar to these concepts was the Titanium Series T-47 Sand Speeder, a brownish desert redeco of the Snowspeeder and I love it to pieces.

You bring up a valid point, and that's that Star Wars is now so big there are chunks of it you won't want. Back when it was mostly about 3 movies, everybody was on board with a fairly narrow view of what they want: something from the movies. When we branch out to comics, video games, cartoons, prequels, and other sources you split the base considerably and while I was talking to a co-worker about the very exciting new Saga Legends which are like "modern" 1980s figures, he said "I'll buy some when they're based on the original trilogy." And that's part of the problem - us old farts don't tend to be as enthusiastic about the prequels, and Hasbro is very interested in ramming it down our throats or mixing it in with prequels much like you would wrap a pill in a slice of ham for your dog. (Are kids buying super-articulated Naboo Troopers? I sincerely doubt it.)

I'd go bananas if Hasbro decided to redo the original 92+ figures in its new, modern, $6 "Saga Legends" style and I bet it would be a pretty safe character mix, with 7 Lukes from which to choose plus over 30 years of fairly strong brand awareness to exploit. (And more than a few turkeys. 8D8? Even Hasbro wouldn't rerelease that Kenner-era double dud.) Instead, we're going to get prequel figures which, while neat, were designed as part of a media and marketing plan which was pulled out from under the toys, pretty much guaranteeing a line which will perform below expectations and there's probably nothing Hasbro can do about it at this point. It's probably going to be an ugly season for us as a whole, but one with some decent new stuff to make the tail end of 2013, at the very least, memorable.



A bunch of new items went up for pre-order at Entertainment Earth this week, which means new stuff is coming sooner than later - it looks like June/July, but before you get your hopes up the assortments for the Black Series or Saga Legends weren't yet included. But hey, at least the Yoda line is probably fast on its way out.

For me, the big question mark is the future of Fighter Pods. Are there more coming? We know more were sculpted or designed, but did they make the cut? I hope so, sort of. Each series has had all sorts of awesome new additions with a healthy mix of duds. Like this last one had Greedo, which was great. While I understand the need to reuse the molds, seeing Stormtrooper Luke and Han brought back with sorta kinda muddy feet is weak. I'd rather have more holographic figures and I don't necessarily like those either. Hasbro alluded to the possibility of Jaxxon in this format, so I very would much like to see it continue. You know, if something new is the name of the game, as while I do love the droid and clone repaints I'm less enamored with having what must be 10 Yodas by now. Still, that new Asajj Ventress in the new series is pretty cool, as is not-Fordo. Were this line released back when people actually gave a crap about Star Wars this line would be mega-expensive in a few years, so I'll just happily have my set for the bragging rights as I assume in the grand scheme of things nobody will ever want to spend an average of $2-$5 per figure to get these. (It is oddly satisfying, though.)

It'd be neat to see Fighter Pods expand to be a multi-brand thing, with different lines mixing it up in each pack. Like Star Wars vs. Transformers or Spider-Man vs. Star Trek. The whole line is quite nice.

We still haven't heard the full slate of Comic-Con exclusives, so I'm sure there will be more potentially stressful news there of something awesome which will be difficult to get. Ah, the circle of life.

--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.