It's time to open wide and let in a stream of Q&A! This week: Kmart exclusives! Yes, there are three of them and they're still coming. How about astromech cardbacks like we're seeing on Amazon - should we expect more? (Spoiler: no.) Also let's get off-topic and talk about some other things which may interest you - because filler!
1. I really like the R2-D2 cardback that is used with the amazon.com droid factory wave. It's my favorite cardback based on a single character yet (compared to vader, maul, yoda).
I really don't like paying $60 for six figures plus a build a droid when only the two droids look interesting to me.
I would like to get one, just for display, but won't since they are sold as a six-pack.
Do you know if the second cancelled droid factory wave (with the two unreleased astromech build-a-droids R8-B7 & R5-X2) are going to come out in this format? What they really need is an astromech to be featured on this cardback.
Given Hasbro's lack of interest in bringing more variety of the line, the featured Astromech as the cardback is unlikely - every figure would look different in every wave, which is resource-intensive and probably wouldn't do much to boost sales. (Back in 2008-2010, the Droid parts varied wildly from case to case - there was a pattern, but some came with any of a dozen parts.)
Most of the figures from the abandoned Droid Factory waves are coming to The Black Series - it's a shame the least interesting were made as the Amazon exclusives, but what are you going to do? Sit tight and let's see what happens - I assume they're going to make it out somehow.
Now the unreleased Astromech droids, OK, those I'm concerned may not make the cut. I really do hope Hasbro squeezes them into an exclusive somewhere - Vintage vehicle pack-in? Toys R Us 2-pack? I'd be in.
2. Since you asked us to comment...
I've pretty much stopped collecting SW after doing so my entire life. I had every vintage SW figure and while I didn't have a complete line of 1995-and-newer, I had everyone I wanted. When Hasbro changed whatever they changed that made it impossible for me to go to the store and get what I wanted (with the occasional exception here or there), I changed from "here's what I want, let's go find it," to "I'm going to the store as part of my weekly routine and if they have anything, I'll pick it up." It took Hasbro less than two years to nudge me out of collecting after almost two decades of loyalty; one of your columns actually helped me decide. You talked about how those of us who made one weekly trip to a big box retailer weren't going to be able to compete in a market where stores were getting in one case at a time. You described your rigorous habit of hitting multiple stores multiple times a week, and I thought, "Wow, he's on to something, he's right." But I reflected that if that was what it took, then it wasn't a hobby, it was work (for me, anyway), and if I wasn't going to enjoy this, I'd better stop doing it. I buy a few here and there; I got a Black Series 6" Darth Maul, but that's about the only SW figure I've bought since maybe early 2011. They're too hard to find, and while I've seen some new product on the shelves, even the Black Series feels like "I already have this." As I have no interest either in the Abrams movie or what toys come out of them (and with Disney, there will be assloads), this seems like a smart time to get out and pick up only the occasional one or two here and there.
And there we are! I don't have to write an answer. Next.
3. Love the Power Lords figures and went to pre-order one; while $10 is fine for a figure, the $12 shipping put me off and I didn't order. I get they're a small company but come on, $12? Agree that they look great.
They increased their shipping costs and as (right now) they only ship FedEx, it's not necessarily a situation of you getting what you pay for - but the tape, boxes, and packing materials (and time) aren't free. It's a small operation that doesn't have a shipping department, and there have been a few discussion threads indicating they may be reviewing their shipping options. (Me, I just don't like FedEx.) Really what it boils down to is "Are these two figures worth $32?" and if the answer to you is "no," throw in some Outer Space Men with them.
4. It seems that Hasbro stopped shipping bases recently with the newer Joes. I have a bunch of extra SW bases that will make do, but can you suggest a source for modern Joe bases/base substitutes? I've looked on eBay but most bases there seem made for vintage, which I'm betting won't fit the modern ones.
You can use any of a number of stands, but if what you want are the exact same thing you aren't going to get it. The Hasbro Star Wars stand (I'm pretty sure this is no longer available) is quite close, and other manufacturers (including Entertainment Earth's own stands) work as well. (I beta tested those stands so I can vouch for them working with most figures - and they were designed specifically with modern Star Wars in mind.)
5. Now that we know the exclusive Geonosis packs are coming soon to a TRU near us, any idea on the K-Mart exclusives?
Yes and no - "soon" is what I've got for you. The figures just got posted on Kmart.com, which is good because it enables a store locator function (spoiler: not there yet) as well as, in theory, allows you to place an order online. In 2010 and 2011, numerous new/interesting/rare G.I. Joe and Transformers toys went up on Kmart.com, including some which were not released in this country at that time, so people tended to get random toys plucked from store shelves, often covered in dust, rather than what they ordered. I have not heard any recent developments of people ordering from Kmart.com so things might be clear and functioning now, but all I can speak of are the many reports from a few years ago and the fact that any time I tried ordering a DVD from them, that order was canceled.
This means it's still coming - but sadly, we generally won't know when until they start showing up. If you want my prediction, I'd say between October 15 and November 15. This is just a hunch. I'm hoping they don't close too many more Kmarts between now and then, as the closest one near me just went under recently.
I've got two Q&A questions in the can for next time, which may or may not make the cut given similarities to questions answered in the last month. I used to have a tradition of putting Q&A to bed around Thanksgiving until the New Year, and this might be a good year for that due to the relative inactivity in the hobby. It's a stretch to find something of real interest to share on the front page most days!
While Star Wars remains dead in the water, despite a grand showing in The Clone Wars earlier in the year, genre fandom has never been given more to chew on. We're now at a point where a major network as a weekly Marvel TV series, and it's, I would say, adequate. I am neither a superfan of Joss Whedon (but I do live with one) nor Marvel (but I do enjoy the movies, toys, and some of the comics and cartoons) but I would say that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a nifty curiosity. I'm told it cribs liberally from Whedon's canon, and definitely leans on the whole too-attractive dork type. I love the idea of the show, but it sort of reminds me of early Star Trek: The Next Generation or the early 1970s Star Wars Expanded Universe (like 20 years before they called it that) in that it seems to be needing to grow its vocabulary. And speaking of vocabulary - there's a lot of technobabble here. I don't understand why. Has anyone seen that SNL sketch "Nick Burns: Your Company Computer Guy"? All computer arguments should be ended by an annoyed sigh, followed by "MOVE!" There, I've just solved every computer-related technobabble exposition problem in every TV show from now on.
Caught the pilot for Sleepy Hollow, a new procedural that takes the classic Washington Irving story, packs it with sci-fi and genre actors (Clancy Brown! John Cho! Orlando Jones!), and then decides to cram it full of apocalyptic stuff and upgrades the uppity schoolteacher to some sort of chosen one warrior with some hot witch wife lady. Which, well, insert Being John Malkovich reference to "Hot Lesbian Witches" here. (Thank you, Charlie Sheen.) Maybe the series gets better, but at this point I'm far more interested in re-reading Washington Irving's short story. The Kurtzman/Orci machine cranked out this one, and they also were responsible for the Transformers movies, the Prime cartoon, the Star Trek reboots, and a lot else. Their work ethic and output is, if not perfect, certainly respectable and undoubtedly worthy of significant critical review down the line.
My favorite new-season TV show so far is Fox' comedy Brooklyn Nine Nine, because I can't get enough of Andy Samberg. Or Chelsea Peretti. Or Jo Loe Truglio. Or Terry Crews. And it's written/created by Michael Shur, of Parks & Recreation. I've seen two of the three so far, and I'm definitely interested in seeing more. (I also loved the movie Hot Rod and the Blu-Ray is a favorite, so yeah, take that as you will.)
I also saw Gravity this weekend and based on what the response on Twitter was, I think you're going to disagree with me when I say it's a gorgeous picture with some amazingly great effects work that is a little heavy-handed on the symbolism and is fishing for Oscar. It's worth seeing - movies in space with limited to no real "sci-fi" element are quite rare - but it's littered with "I see what you did there" moments and numerous developments seem really, really obvious from the get-go. On the other hand, it's the prettiest look at space you're ever going to see in movies for years, I just figure that by this time next year you'll never think about it again. Which is also how I feel about Avatar - you're obligated to see it, but the cultural impact beyond the shared cultural experience is minimal. Sure, it looked cool, but is anyone going to quote it? Parody it? Watch it again in a year and a half?
Gravity wears a bunch of influences on its sleeve, but I'll be curious to see how it reverberates with everybody else as time goes on. It's tougher and tougher for any piece of culture to make a significant impact these days - again, even Avatar's top-grossing success pales in comparison to the quotability of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises or the king-of-the-worldliness of one young Leonardo DiCaprio - but with Gravity, it feels like a gorgeous effects piece starring a couple of very pretty people. The same story could've been told in a submarine or some other harsh environment, but this one looks way cooler and seeing a jetpack flying around with George Clooney inside of it is, admittedly, a lot of fun. You owe it to yourself to check it out, enjoy, and promptly forget about until the Oscars.
Next week: Machete Kills! I'm looking forward to it, and the reviews are all over the place so far. Doug Benson liked it, which is good enough for me. I loved the first one because of its low-budget, yes-nonsense, mostly-fun splendor. And it didn't hurt that it was something more or less new - and I say this as someone with a near undying love of franchise sci-fi properties. Here's hoping this one is better than Rotten Tomatoes is telling me so far.
Got questions? Email me with Q&A in the subject line now! I'll answer your questions as soon as time (or facts) permit.