Q&A: Yellowing, Sith Lords, Get a Head and Be Wealthy

By Adam Pawlus — Sunday, September 26, 2010
Why are some action figure bubbles yellowing while others stay pristine? Is it witches? Did Vintage Darth Sidious turn out as well as people were hoping? And is Hasbro reusing Clone heads on inappropriate figures? No, but I can see why you might get confused. Read on!

1. I recently dug out some POTF2 figures only to find some of the bubbles (and figures?) yellowing? This seemed most noticeable on Stormtrooper figures. However it seemed really random. For example, I've got about a dozen carded POTF2 CommTech chip Stormtroopers. Most have yellowed bubbles (can't tell if the figures are yellowed or not), but some are still completely clear. Not all of these figures are in the same cardboard box, but they've all been kept withing 15 feet of each other for the ten years I've owned them after purchasing at TRU. My question - are there known variables that promote/prevent yellowing? I know some of these figures have been stored in closer proximity to toys that contain batteries, but all are in unsealed cardboard boxes. Or is this just a matter of some of the plastic for the bubbles (and/or figures) having different impurities in them that yellow differently?

Depending on who you ask about yellowing, you’ll get different answers.

With Star Wars I frequently find that some batches are more prone to yellowing than others. With vintage (real vintage) stuff, I’ve seen very few 1978-1979 figures with yellow bubbles, but I’ve seen plenty of Power of the Foce and Return of the Jedi items that way. I’ve also seen the exact thing you describe with the POTF2 CommTech Stormtrooper figures, in that a lot of bubbles—when properly cared for—seem to yellow.

While things like sunlight will accelerate the process, it seems some batches of plastic are just more prone to discoloration than others. So what can you, the consumer do? Not much. Some things are destined to fall apart because the batch is funky—if you have some good ones, keep them out of the light and do whatever you can to make sure they stay in a cool, dry place.

It’s probably not a specific reaction to another chemical, but unfortunately toy scientists have yet to give us the real answer on this sort of thing. When in doubt, buy a Star Case.

Also, kudos for being one of maybe three people who wrote into the column since 2005 who actually still care about figures from the 1990s. Most people seem fine throwing them out at this point.

2. Gentle Giant's Jumbo 12-inch scale Boba Fett on the "Empire Strikes Back" blister card was billed as a Celebration V exclusive. My question is, do you think we will see this released again, just not with the "Empire Strikes Back" blister card? In other words, was the "Empire" package what made it an exclusive? It's hard to believe Gentle Giant is launching this new line, and they wouldn't make Boba available again somehow?

I asked this very question and got something to the effect of “that’s interesting” at both SDCC and CV. My guess is that means “that’s not interesting” and they won’t do it. The ESB packaging was specific to the 30th anniversary of the film and going forward, we’ll see the original logo, but this was special for the show. And there were no plans at the time to reissue them on other cardbacks.

3. Now that the Celebration 5 buzz has worn off for me, its back to basic collecting, and I have noticed something odd on all the SOTDS Clone Wars and Saga Legends figures, or more specifically, the cards. I have found quite a few figures where it seems the bubble and printing are on the card backwards, ie the edges of the card are rolled forward instead of backward. It makes it kind of tough to find a minty one for collecting, usually you can find a fig with a nice front and an ok back, but some are the other way around. Any idea whats going on here?
--Mazter Jedi


4. Vintage Darth Sidious: Did they finally get him to look like he does in the movie? (I can't quite tell from pictures, so I'm asking what he looks like in person.)

Justin asked this question a while ago but I couldn’t tell the answer from the convention lighting. Now that I have one, I’d say it’s close but not perfect. The hood and the face work well together, and overall the sculpting is quite good. The figure starts to fall apart with the cloth garment that looks like a ladies’ jacket. I like to give Hasbro the benefit of the doubt, and it looks like it’s all pretty close to Revenge of the Sith. Especially from the back, it seems that the texture is actually on the mark. The “jacket” part doesn’t hang quite perfectly, but it does seem to be very close. There’s also a split down the center of the front of the garment (I know nothing about fashion other than I dress like an idiot) which the figure lacks. It’s hard to make out under the dark image Hasbro photoshopped for the card, but it’s there.

The head is also very much in line with the publicity stills, just keep the hood on and low. Once you take it off, it looks pretty goofy. Other than that, I’d say this is a pretty good figure even if it isn’t perfect. I’ve gotten him to stand in some pretty crazy poses so I’m more of the “go buy it and enjoy” camp.

5. I've just realized that the new vintage collection AT-AT driver has the same head as the human Bespin Guard who clearly had 1970s British white guy hair and features. I was perplexed when I got the guard and the only info I found was a Hasbro Q & A where they deny any issues with it. Rebelscum's photo archive has the AT-AT head listed as all new, so I wonder if I'm the only one anal enough to notice(not likely in this hobby) or if they missed it and it's common knowledge now.

While there are similarities, it’s not the same head. The head on the TLC AT-AT Driver—as we haven’t seen a vintage one announced yet—has a different hairstyle and a lot of other features are a little different. If painted the same, I think the differences would be more apparent. I can see why you might think they’re the same, but they aren’t. A side-by-side comparison makes it pretty obvious there were changes.


This past week, most Toys "R" Us stores had a big reset with a large Clone Wars section up front. On the whole, it seems there are very few actual new toys there. However, new toys are shipping.

New Battle Packs that you might actually want are hitting stores now. The ARC Troopers and Mandalorian Warriors sets are actually quite nice. The new version of Rex seemingly has a new head to go with his new helmet, and the deco is, as always, pretty good. "Fordo" is great, as are the two new Phase II ARC Troopers-- neither of which seem to match anything we've seen on the show exactly yet, although one comes close. The Mandalorians all use the same tooling as Pre Vizsla and the Speeder Bike Mandalorian, but are newly colored and have some unique accessories. (Some of which make more sense than others.)

If you don't collect the animated line, I'd still suggest picking up these two sets. They're just really cool, and they would look good on your desk. I'm a big fan of the animated line and I think this is a great highlight from its two-years-and-counting run... even if it's more of the same, technically. I mean, Fake Fordo! How can you go wrong? Hey Hasbro, if you're reading, about about some new Phase 1 plain blue ARC Troopers to pal around with Fordo? I'd buy a bunch. (Heck, I'd even buy some more plain white clones if they have the 2009-style helmet and maybe some special gear.)

Well done, Hasbro! 2010 continues to be, it seems, one of the best year to collect their various toy lines, although leaks for 2011 make it look even more promising.

One thing I could stand to see more of are nifty basic clones. Hasbro has done a good job introducing various commanders and ARC Troopers, but it seems that we're just not getting enough new colorful basic troop repaints. Well, maybe next year? I do like the ARCs a bunch, though, it just seems we should be having a lot more like this.

--Adam Pawlus

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