Q&A: Vintage Variants, Sequel Films, Luke Gripes, 3D, and Complaints

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, December 5, 2010

Is that Anakin Skywalker package variant out already? What's the deal with all the problematic Jedi Luke figures? And what does 3D mean for you? All this and more awaits you in this week's Q&A!

1. I recently saw pics of the Vintage carded Anakin Skywalker, only with a running change of the card now saying Darth Vader. Is this confirmed or just a rare error? Thanks.
--Mazter Jedi

This is indeed a running change-- plenty of "Darth Vader" Anakin figures have showed up in November so odds are you'll keep tripping over them if you keep looking. I've got one, so it's totally confirmed.


2. Since you had some role in the explosion of the astromech line, you can likely appreciate this milestone. Any thoughts on the future of this sub-line? Will the line last long enough to hit 200 astromechs? Are there more astromech 5-packs in EE's future? Are there enough Clone Wars animated astromechs with cameo appearances that could warrant a 5-pack in that line?

Due to how the market has changed, (and repeat after me) there will be no more new Entertainment Earth exclusive Hasbro action figure packs. Some of this is due to how things at Hasbro are different, some of this is how fans react to certain kinds of toys, and the rest is just business. In 2005, my first big thing at my fancy-pants new toy industry job was to try to get a box of droids made-- and I did it-- and there's a good reason you haven't seen more. Back in 2005, there were a tiny handful of astromech droids-- R2-D2, R5-D4, R2-Q5, R3-D3, R3-T7, R2-B1, R2-R9, R4-M9, R4-I9 (in black and in green), and, well, I'm probably neglecting one or two. The EE packs basically doubled the size of the collection, and now (as you pointed out in part of your email I cut for space) there's a ton of the little buggers. Therefore, the Astromech Droid as a collectible is no longer special, it's just more.

Like any sub-category, part of the appeal of multi-packs is that they fill a need. Before 2008, Rebel Pilots were a big deal. Before 2005, Clone Troopers were a highly desired flavor of figure. Demand has been satisfied and then thrown up on a few times, ditto Astromech Droids. There's still demand, but it's nowhere near what it once was-- now we're having to squint and freeze frame to find new droids to ask for.

While I personally would love to see more droids for the animated line, particularly enough to outfit every last vehicle (and R2-KT to boot), I'm not optimistic we'll see more-- and if there were a betting pool on cartoon droid multi-packs, I'd bet against it. Despite the obvious fact that Hasbro has engineered its Clone Wars line to be incredibly collector-friendly, they're not going to make anything like this in the cartoon line. The golden age of weird gift sets is over.


3. What's up with all the Jedi Luke figures that Hasbro has come out with, like the recent Vintage Collection one, without the dark gray Jedi cloak? If I'm right, the last time Jedi Luke came with a cloak was the Saga collection? And the only other one that I can think of is the hard plastic cape on the POTF2 figure; is that right? With all of the Jedi Luke figures that have come out (I have no idea how many there are) wouldn't it make more sense if more of them had cloaks? The most recent Anakin (Darth Vader figure) came with a cloak that I was able to put on him and have the hood hang perfectly, just like he is storming the Jedi Temple. How cool would Jedi Luke look with the same hood/cloak treatment? I thought one focus of the new Vintage line was to re-release updated OT figures? The old Vintage Jedi Luke came with a cloak? Don't you think the new one should have the same? Sure, he only wears the cloak for a short time in the ROTJ, but we got a Jedi Luke figure with desert goggles, didn't we? Maybe Hasbro could release a Jedi Luke from the recently released footage of him building his lightsaber at Obi-Wan's old pad? I think he had his cloak on then. . . I know that for every whiner like me who complains about not having a cloak, there are another two whiners who would complain that the Jedi Luke would have a cloak AND a black glove; and that just isn't right! I guess I'm just curious to see if anyone else out there is wishing for an updated cloak like me.

What you're seeing is a sort of a backlash. For years, Hasbro (and Kenner) have been making an (essentially) Jabba's Palace version of Jedi Luke to varying degrees of accuracy-- and these typically come with a cloak. (1996 and 2004 editions come to mind.) There's also a Death Star II version of Jedi Luke who does not wear a cloak, and who has received a lot of attention from fans because the figures of this outfit are generally less than stellar. (2003 Jedi Luke comes readily to mind.) Hasbro tried to make up for it in 2009 and the proportions were less than satisfying, which is why the company tried yet again in 2010-- and nailed it.

So yeah, we're now about due for a new Jabba's Palace version as the last good version was in 2004. (The 2007 release was extremely sub-par.) Hasbro does have another cloak-ful Jedi Luke on deck, but the exact timing is unknown-- your prayers will be answered, though.

The question is just which cloaked Luke do we get? Do we get one that's based on the scenes from the movie-- deleted or otherwise-- or an update of the 1983 action figure? Time will tell!


4. I am totally not the guy to get into this sort of thing, but a thought occurred to me today. I was standing on the edge of my toilet hanging a clock, the porcelain was wet, I slipped, hit my head on the sink, and when I came to I had a revelation! With the recent official announcement that the entire Star Wars saga is being released theatrically in 3-D, we also heard a quick rumor of a new trilogy. Granted, we have heard rumors of additional Star Wars films off and on since the first sequel. Still, the timing bears out pretty well. We got the Special Editions in 1997 and the prequels followed on the wave of that hype. Yes, the 3-D conversion could simply be another cash grab (although, if it plays out remotely like the theatrical release of The Clone Wars, maybe not so much). But it could also be priming the pump. It's a long shot, I know. I'm just wondering if the time line parallels between the Special Editions/Prequel Trilogy and the 3-D Editions/Sequel Trilogy works.

Again, I'm not waiting for this with baited breath. It was literally just a thought I wanted to share with someone who might have an opinion on it.

I would love nothing more than to interview every fan I could get 5 minutes with and ask them if they really want a new trilogy. The nerd curse (paraphrased from something Patton Oswalt said) is that we hope that everything's great, and then reality tends to come crushing down-- with our opinion following in short order. I also blame the fact that we can't watch a new Star Wars project with the same eyes we saw the older films with, just being older will suck some of the fun out of a hypothetical new movie and then I get to endure another two or three years of complaints from people. So yeah, I hope there are no new movies.

The 3D conversions are probably less a cash grab than they are a grab for mindshare. A lot of parents love these movies and will gladly take their kids to the theaters to see them on the big screen, as (the marketing tells us) they were meant to be seen. They weren't meant to be seen in 3D, so yeah... that's another gripe.

It's possible that Lucas is using this conversion to fuel another project, but for all we know it's Indiana Jones V in which we'll see another horrible dull ending with a wedding or worse. I don't really doubt Lucas when he said he was done telling stories about Luke and friends. I'd love to see what happens, but all these people are getting pretty old and no genre star or character is allowed to retire with any dignity. So far Luke's been trotted back in a lot of novels which, ultimately, will be forgotten by popular culture while the movies will likely march on. And it's OK with me if we stop here.


5. So here goes the new cards designed for both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith thus far have the actual logo plate similar to the empire card with star on the top and wars along the bottom of the new title. I wanted to know if Phantom Menace would look like that as well or even better if it would have a similar look to the return of the Jedi logo where it has both Star and Wars at the top of the box and then the title of the movie inside the frame? For that matter, why cant we get A New Hope card some day? Any chances of that happening just for some continuity?

So far no images have surfaced of Phantom Menace card art, so it's hard to say what they were going to do. For all we know they'll be all cute and just call it "Episode I" like the cards said in 1999, because the packaging was finalized before the film had a title. I expect it to be in like with AOTC and ROTS, but hey, who knows? Buzz has it that Hasbro was trying to work with existing logos as much as possible, which may mean it'll be all Return of the Jedi style. At this point I just want them to repack (or better still, make a new) Darth Maul so we can see what's in store. Literally.

There will never be A New Hope-logo cards because it totally disrupts the spirit of the line. The movie is called Star Wars and there were never vintage-era "A New Hope" logos to splut down on the box. The graphic design department for this particular line definitely defers to what Kenner did over something different, assuming there's an available template.



Thing #1: So yeah, vintage 9-pack at Target.I know some people are claiming this is a must-buy variant but if you're a loose fan I think you'd be hard-pressed to see this as a $50 purchase. Packaged? Oh sure, absolutely, but I'm a loose collector and the fact that there's an FX-7 batch variation in his arm color isn't really enough for me to shell out, nor is the fact that the Saga Legends Hoth Han Solo (which is effectively the same as a previous hood-up release with a slightly different fur deco pattern) doesn't do it for me either. But that's me-- it's clearly a value-priced item and a good gift set for the kiddies, but what a space hog. So much air in this thing. Hopefully the future Vintage 3-packs will be individually packaged, or at least less excessive with the amount of air they ship over from China. It's not just weight, it's volume!

Thing #2: I've also been asked about the new TIE Bomber now hitting Wal-Mart. It is indeed a heavy retool, and while it looks almost identical to the previous releases in 2002 and beyond, a lot of work has been done on the inside. The bomb chute now holds additional charges, has a closeable hatch, and is activated by a rotating piece on the back of the ship. The switch that used to drop the bombs now firest a spring-loaded rocket out of the second section of the ship. The cockpit has the new ejector seat interior but, sadly, there is no pilot included and the price has been significantly increased over previous releases. The coloring is also slightly different, so for those who collect vehicles this is a very different ship, although it may not look like it from the outside.

Also unfortunate? The only TIE Fighter Pilot on the market right now is in the aforementioned vintage 9-pack, so if you want to get yourself a new pilot figure, too damn bad.

Hasbro, we know you love repacks-- how about a Vintage TIE Fighter Pilot in 2011? Bonus points if you make up a new cardback design themed after the original Star Wars instead of Empire Strikes Back.

Thing #3: This week's The Clone Wars was another Senate episode, and a prequel to an episode we saw in a previous season. I'm now officially convinced that Lucasfilm isn't making this show for kids, because really, what kind of cruel monster makes a Star Wars show for kids all about Clone Troopers and fighting and gives several consecutive episodes about the female lead arguing for bank regulation and reduced military spending? I like bounty hunters and a good bike chase, don't get me wrong, but are there people in Marin County really sitting there thinking "you know what little boys and girls really want in their science fiction? Monologues, big hair hats, and fancy dresses." And don't get me wrong, I enjoy the show a great deal, it's just bizarre to see episodes like this one in the same series (or genre) as "Hunt for Ziro" or "Rookies."

--Adam Pawlus

Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with Q&A in the subject line.

No new trilogy.

Why does everyone keep imagining that somebody at Lucasfilm said there would be a new trilogy? As far as I know, Mr. Lucas' position has been pretty clear and firm for a long time. There has been no mention of episodes 7 thru 9 since the mid 80's and even then, that was mostly media speculation because George said he originally envisioned a 9 part saga. That was before he changed his orginal treatment prior to making A NEW HOPE however. He has said for well over a decade now that the movies are about the rise, fall and redemption of Darth Vader and he is content with the way the novels and comics have extended his stories. Besides, new films would just anger half the fan base again anyway. I'm not a prequel hater but even I don't see any real point in going back to the well again for it's own sake. The 3D thing however, well, George has wanted to do that since before episode I so it's not really the blatant cash grab that it appears to be. Besides a whole generation hasn't seen these films on the big screen again so it's kind of time and better this than another release of that overblown Avatar crap.

Trust No One

The reason that the speculation won't end is that there's an obvious demand for such films, and people in the entertainment (and toy) business lie. The sad truth is that if someone was really making a new Star Wars film, you can pretty much guarantee they would deny it for a while prior to the announcement. As I've trotted out more than once, in the Fall of 1998 during a conversation with Hasbro (then largely known as Kenner to the fans) I was told in no uncertain terms there would be no such character with the name of Darth Maul. I can't fault anyone for speculating-- we've had our expectations defied so much in the past 15 years that the ability to second-guess the creators out there is quite the skill.

All this stuff

I've had the same thoughts as Dan (sans falling off toilet.... where're those Flux Capacitor plans anyway?) wondering if we were seeing the same setup now that we saw in the 90's. My guess is that Lucas really isn't interested in making more Star Wars movies at this point, and I think it's most definitely for the best. The only way I could see it playing out would be Lucas handing the reins to someone else. Part of me is curious to see that (I once would've said, "Give it to Filoni!" but not after THIS season I tell ya!) but I think it's better if it doesn't happen.

I think the REAL motivation, in addition to the initial cash grab, is that this is just another in a long line of Lucas-related tech tests. Riding the 3D popularity wave, this may just be the (unfortunate) future of film, and Lucas likely wants a piece of it without having to actually make more of his own movies. So much like ILM and Skywalker Sound did for Special FX and movie sound (and plenty of other Lucas born tech), these 3D releases are the testing ground/demo for Lucas' 3D conversion to become the new industry standard.

And Clone Wars season 3 sucks. Like SO much. I should really stop watching, but I just sit in slack jawed amazement every week about how strange and boring and un-kid friendly it can get. It's a train wreck I can't take my eyes off of. I just feel bad for the people holding out hope for Savage Oppress. I've lost all hope and fully expect him to be as lame as the rest of the season (with the exception of Hunt for Ziro, and maybe one other ep).

new trilogy?


to be honest i kinda agree with you. a new trilogy would ultimately be a disappointment, as lucas would end up ballsing it up somehow- but i could go for an animated update of, say, the thrawn books- with corrections for prequels etc

that could rock

new trilogy

I'll say this.... while GL claims states that the story was about the rise, fall and redemption of Skywalker/Vader I think the concept of extending the story to episodes 7-9 would be a neat idea but not 100% needed.

fans have the pleasure now to delve into the world of Star Wars thru the various Expanded Universe novels, comics, video games etc, how would George make 7-9 without changing some of the EU of today.

I personally would love to see Lucas tackle perhaps a live TV special featuring Starkiller and The Force Unleashed.. I think that would be awesome... would also love to see GL perhaps make the PT and OT in the current animated style of the Clone Wars Cartoon.

I will say that as far as rumors goes.... i think the concept of a new trilogy is always going to be circling around and I woouldn't put it past GL and Lucasfilm to decide 5, 10 years from now to give us 7-9. anything is possible.