Q&A For October 6, 2003


1. Hey Adam, here's the question everybody's been dying to ask: Okay. So the auctions have started. Leaving aside the yobs who are tossing in crazy numbers just to mess with Hasbro, how many points should a collector legitimately have been able to accumulate? I've bought every figure and about half the vehicles since the points were introduced, and I've only pulled together around 2000 points! Which, at the "prices" the current batch of toys are selling at, is basically worthless. Are people forming point alliances? Have folks out there bought their entire collections twice just to have more points? Your thoughts?

Depends on how one collects, any number of points could be had by this point. Jedi Master Points have been on all Hasbro Star Wars products since the Flashback Photo wave of POTF2 that came out at the very end of 1998, it's hard to say. Just looking at basic figures, there were 11 Flashback POTF2 figures, 11 CommTech figures, about 49 Episode I figures, about 46 in POTJ, and probably, let's say, 90 from Saga.

Right there, you're looking at about 2070, and that's before Vehicles, Playsets, Cinema Scene type things, deluxe figures, 12", Action Fleet, lightsabers, and so on.

As such, well, considering there's army builders, customizers, people who had friends who bought figures and took their Jedi Master Points (I must've gotten 150 or so from friends) and so on, it's pretty easy to get into the hundreds or thousands. I mean, Battle Droids, CommTech Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers, and many other toys were released with JMPs, and as such, there's no number that's too high to assume somebody has out there.

2. I just noticed Hasbro is running a daily contest between now and December 15th claiming 5 winners a day with each prize package around $100. I know one of the reasons cited for not having a mail-in offer for Jedi Points was it would be too expensive. This giveaway costs them almost $40,000 in merchandise to be given to anyone who enters regardless of how much they've spent on Hasbro products. And this isn't the first time they've done one of these. Where's the logic? Would it really be more expensive for them to offer a mail-in? At least then they can determine how much money you have to spend on their products to be rewarded. I for one think something like mail-in troop builders for a couple thousand points would be better than what they're doing now. Thoughts?

Well, the Prize Package thing is a much bigger promotion than the JMP auctions could ever be, because that reaches all Hasbro's products and doesn't limit its focus to collectors of one specific brand that, in all honesty, are the hardest of the hardcore.

There's a lot to factor in, like cost of advertising, development, and so on. I recall Hasbro saying they're paying eBay to power their auctions, which, obviously, costs them money. I assume that the Price Packages use software they already have, and as an added bonus, I'm willing to bet the prizes are things they have around the office-- VIP samples, extras for photography purposes, and so on. There's a lot of toys that end up being produced for no reason other than for promotional purposes, so they're already paid for, and in this case it brings Hasbro a lot of publicity, good or bad.

What's a $100 price package really worth? That's the question that should be asked here. The easiest way to start is to ask what's a Star Wars figure worth? Obviously, your knee-jerk reaction will be $4.99. Which, as we like to say, is true from a certain point of view. For Wal-Mart to sell a figure for $4.99, Hasbro has to sell it to them, most likely at around $3.99. Of course, MSRP for a figure is $5.99 or $6.99 these days, and odds are for Hasbro to sell it for $3.99 or so, it only costs them a couple of bucks to make.

Vehicles and larger toys are another beast entirely. The 12" Dewback from a few years ago, a Toys "R" Us Exclusive, was sold for about $80 if I recall, and I was told that Toys "R" Us paid about $42 a unit. If this number was accurate, this would mean Hasbro was selling it to them for less than that, probably somewhere between $20-$30.

The real question here is why did Hasbro bother do ANY offer for Jedi Master Points when a big online giveaway would gain them so much more attention? Of course, we'd hear about the JMPs, but Zoids people, Joe people, Transfans, and countless others will probably find out about a big giveaway. And with a big giveaway, they don't have to deal with our impossible-to-meet expectations.

I would estimate that the bulk of the items used in Hasbro's giveaway are things around the offices, extra items that need to go somewhere. As such, the cost is very low, and the actual cost of materials is also very low. Sending out existing, open-stock, and possibly overstock toys for free to people is a fairly low-cost promotion while developing, designing, manufacturing, advertising, and shipping a new exclusive item costs a heck of a lot, definitely higher than $40,000. Just to sculpt and tool an action figure is significantly more than that, and that's before the first figure comes out of the mold.

What Hasbro should have done with the Jedi Master Points? Absolutely nothing. No matter what they did we'd be angry. Even if it was a super-articulated Clone Trooper or Storm Trooper with no limit per household, someone would complain at the $2 handling fee. As such, Hasbro found something that costs us nothing and them very little, and while it certainly does suck that probably 99% of us can't benefit from it, at least we have our points for whatever promotion happens in the future... and I can't imagine them never doing anything with them again.

3. Since the bases of the two jedi council saga scenes can be attached to each other, has it been tested if 4 of them will make a circle when attached to each other?

I haven't tested it myself, but if anyone out there has, please send us a picture!

4. 4 items the first week of Jedi Points auctions. 13 weeks of auctions, a total of 52 auctions if they follow a pattern. I know they didn't have to do anything at all, but this seems like a bum deal. Only the collectors who've racked up 10,000 points plus are going to be able to get anything worthwhile. What about the other 99.9% of collectors? What are the odds of us being able to ever use our points? And what are the odds of the second wave of cantina sets being released elsewhere? What are your thoughts on the auctions so far?

I'd say that you're right, it is unfortunate that less than 1% of collectors can get something out of this promotion, but at least someone's getting something. Future promotions are hard to judge, but the way Hasbro was talking, I'd be very surprised if something didn't come out of it in the future.

5. Will there be any more Clone Wars Animated style figures besides the run of Anakin, Mace, Obi-Wan & Asajj at Target stores? Or does that depend on how they sell? I'd really like to see animated versions of R2-D2 & C-3PO. What do you think?

Right now, this is all we know about, but I would be very surprised if a second wave didn't materialize-- after all, where's Yoda? Where's Durge? A run of about 8 or 9 figures would make sense, and seeing the first-ever version of newly sculpted animated style Droids action figures rather than repaints would be a treat the likes of which we have never seen.

6. Oscar´s cases can help with the acrylic cases for 12" visit : http://www.kennertoys.com/cases/cases.htm">[this page]

While I ordinarily don't go for plugs in the column, this was asked about, and I wasn't able to find an answer. If you're in the market for 12" clear acrylic cases, this seems to be a great place to start! The price is $18 plus shipping.

7. My friends and I love paying Star Wars: Epic Duels. We are just wondering if Hasbro is planning to release "booster packs" for the game? You know with new characters, boards and/or new cards the characters that are already in the game?

I don't believe I've heard of any real new Hasbro-produced board games, expansions or otherwise, for a while. Well, except the chess set. As such, I think fans that want a bigger, better Epic Duels set are going to have to get together and pull together a project to make it happen.

8. Hi....I am a longtime collector and have finally gotten the room (and motivation) to start making dioramas. I was wondering where I could find a floor plan for Jabba's Palace so I can make mine as accurate as possible. I have lots of ideas for scenes, and my loving wife has let me dedicate a full room in our house to Star Wars, so I want to do it right. Any help?

While many have produced Jabba's Palace playsets over the years, and some laud them as being fantastic, I have yet to see someone post a recipie for the world's greatest and most accurate playset. There was a Star Wars Tatooine Technical Journal that's been published by Starlog and reprinted a few times (and I must confess, is not in my collection) that I've heard might have such schematics within. Obviously, they won't translate to a toy perfectly, but it's a good place to start. I'd advise you hit your local bookstore to make sure it has what you need first, and for more information on it, click here to see the collected Star Wars Technical Journal.

9. Does Hasbro understand what collectors mean when they ask for more articulation? It's obvious they've been trying different things, but with some of the recent attempts, you almost have to wonderŠ The new Snowtrooper looks fantastic, but has an 'action' stance and right ankle articulation, put more than two together and you've re-created the famous ESB Hoth line-dancing scene? I appreciate them putting one more point of articulation compared to the previous versions, but have to think a joint at the knee, elbow, or wrist would have added more to the figure.

Hasbro's goal, usually, is to make a figure's articulation specific to whatever sequence the figure is meant to appear in. Hence, Bespin Luke has lots of joints, and BoShek does not.

In the case of the Snowtrooper, I don't seem to have the same problems that some of you have. The ankle allows a little more stability but obviously it isn't a super-posable figure like many of us would request if given the opportunity. Still, it's pretty good.

With the upcoming super-posable Clone Trooper and the rumored companion Stormtrooper, I think Hasbro has given up on trying to give us something that's close to what we want, and is instead planning to offer up exactly what we want. Lt. Faytonni, for example, has more articulation than he has any business having with a whopping 14 points. The recent deluxe Durge from the deluxe assortment of Clone Wars is similarly loaded with joints. At the moment, it seems Hasbro is really trying to bring articulation up to the levels we got spoiled with during the early days of Episode I but it's happening on a figure-by-figure basis. When it comes to generic, army-building characters, though, I agree-- load it up with joints, because we're gonna buy lots of 'em.

10. OK, target said the a-qing and speederbike with leia were online exclusives ONLY and now you're saying their in stores? what gives??

When it comes to exclusives, it's always really tough for us to pick who we should believe. The best example is the Imperial Shuttle. FAO told us early on that it'd be coming about a year from the point they announced it, that there would be 5,000 units, and so on and so forth. Despite that Hasbro denied the vehicle was happening, it obviously did-- but the 5,000 number was the quantity FAO ordered, and, again, wasn't entirely a good example of the entire run. As such, both sources gave us bad information on different levels and, I might be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure Hasbro never posted any official information on this toy on their news site.

Fast forward to today, Target posts those two exclusives in mid-Summer, and they sell out. Next time they're in stock, they're labeled as online exclusives. And now, we're getting a report here and there of them showing up in stores. Of course, we don't know if this means all Targets or just some (there are three different class sizes and each get different product). It's possible only the larger two classes (of which there seem to be three in my neck of the woods) are the only ones getting them, and as of yet, I know I can't say I'm certain.

So were they online exclusives? Well, for a couple of months, yes. Will all Targets in all states get them? We don't know, but it's possible. We post the best information we have and try to get it out to you, and apparently these toys did well enough online for Target to drop some into the stores, and even though some of us did get duped into ordering online and paying an extra few bucks for shipping, at least we had the chance to a) get them early and B) get them, period.


It was a slow week for questions, but hey, there's always next week.

My side project 16bit.com is marching right along, a little more plodding than expected, but that's how these things go sometimes. If you haven't yet done so, and you're interested in plastic things aside from Star Wars, please do take a look and let me know what you do, or don't, think of it.

Anyway, get those questions in for next week. Just email me with your inquiry, and we'll see what we can do.

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