Q&A For January 5, 2004


1. Just saw your article on the Hoth Han in Blue Coat on the new card and I'm willing to bet that the blue card is WAY more prevelant than anyone realizes. I ordered two cases of that wave from Entertainment Earth with the expectations of giving away alot of those figures to kids for the holidays. My only intention was to keep two of the Hans for myself - hoping that between the two cases there would be two brown-coat Hans.

Anyway, all four of the newly re-carded Hoth Hans I received were of the Navy Blue coat variety. At first, I thought my office was just poorly lit and I wasn't seeing things right, so I ran downstairs turned on all the lights in my kitchen and asked my wife to verify and sure enough, all four were of the Blue Coat variety.

So from my experience, I think the brown coat version may end up being rarest of all...

This variation is going to be a big pain in the neck because the blue coat Han isn't very blue. The vintage figure, now that was blue. No mistaking that for anything BUT blue. But the new one is very dark, that even side-by-side it seems like it could almost be another color.

A common misconception is that Hasbro changes the packaging along with the figure... this is usually not the case, as old stock of either packaging or toys needs to be used up before moving on to the new version. Also, Hasbro said that the brown card would be 50% of the run. While I find this a little hard to swallow, unless this Han will be in the upcoming best-of assortments, this figure might be a little harder to get. But will anyone care?

Recent research via eBay on most variations shows that, over time, people stop caring. As such, the good news and bad news, depending on your point of view, is that this may remain a $5-$7 figure for a while.

2. The Han Solo in the AT-ST driver uniform has been relvealed. I honestly could have lived my entire life without this figure, but I always get one of everything. It seems to be a really absurd choice for a figure, but I am sure many people will disagree. Does it really cost so much less to produce a figure that is really simply a Frankenstin of other figures? How many molds do they make for a single figure when it is produced? Or does that depend on how many figs they intend to produce? Wouldn't you think it would be a little more profitable to forget producing two variant figs and make one fig everyone wants? Save the plastic.

This is a figure that, I agree, is one of the least essential ever especially as many fans didn't realize Han Solo was ever in an AT-ST driver uniform. Figures like this are often very cheap to produce, and the end result is more figures in a given year and more money for new figures to be developed, or for more expensive figures in the case. For instance, a significantly larger figure like Ephant Mon or a two-pack might cost a little more, and figures like this help to balance the average cost-per-figure in a case.

As far as molds produced, this is information Hasbro either doesn't want us to have or doesn't have. Typically, figures of a repainted or head-swapped nature have lower runs than new ones because sales are sometimes a little lower. In this case, this seems like an ill-timed figure that really should have been part of Power of the Jedi when the AT-ST was made available with no AT-ST driver. I'm not exactly sad to see this figure, as it's very close the the Imperial Forces gift set AT-ST driver and this is a much cheaper way to get multiples for custom fodder. Odds are this will be an easy figure to make your own head-swaps with as the helmet seems to be removable, and who doesn't want to make a few Imperial Scanning Technicians? As such, I'm cool with this one coming out just because it can serve a purpose for me. But if it doesn't serve a purpose for you, well, that's unfortunate.

Frankly, I'd rather have a new generic head on the AT-ST driver and also a brand-new Han Solo, as the last new Han Solo on a regular card (aside from Hoth Han) was... uh... Endor Han from 2002. You know, the one that couldn't do anything useful. So a new Han would be nice to see, especially if nicely posable.

3. I just got the Padme Secret Ceremony for Christmas and by looking at her base it should connect with a similar base. Do you expect to have another figure released with a base that will connect with this one?

Since Secret Ceremony Anakin didn't include a base, I can safely say no, I do not expect to ever see a companion base.

Other bases may be able to connect to it but, of course, it won't exactly match. With this Padme on clearance, you may want to buy a duplicate just for the base and spare flowers (which can be held by her or plugged into the base, if you didn't know.)

4. I found an R-3PO and love it as well. But did you notice he's a little shorter than K-3PO? It's in the legs. and have you seen the nre Echo Base trooper. He's tiny next to his POTF counterpart. Is Hasbro moving towards shorter figs?

Figures seem to be a little shorter in 2004 than they were in 2000, when K-3PO was originally released as TC-14. The R-3PO is based on the mold for the AOTC Deluxe C-3PO, which was a wee bit shorter. So yeah, if they're standing side-by-side, you'll notice a slight difference. Is this a trend? That I don't know. What I want to know is if this is more or less correct... when Hasbro released the Han, Chewie, and Leia in POTJ of greatly varying heights, we assumed it was a good thing but since scale hasn't been a top priority, it's really hard to know if we're moving in the right or the wrong direction right now.

5. I know a few months back Swami couldn't see a Rebel Transport or an Ewok Village being released in the future, but, maybe he can now?
--Criz Bee

The Swami only knows what the Swami can see, and as you may have guessed, the Swami isn't me.

Hasbro has told us, point blank, the only large toys we see will probably come with the new movie. What are the chances of either of those being in the film being slim, I'd say don't hold your breath. Hasbro has had a very weak treatment of Ewoks compared to the vintage line and compared to other alien groups in the new line, so such a playset seems like a bad idea right now given the only Ewoks rumored for 2004 are to be included as part of the Ultra assortment. The vintage one is a pretty nice toy, and with a little work can be adapted to fit the new figures... plus it ain't all that expensive via eBay.

The Transport? Just get a vintage one. At the time I write this, there's a few up with no bids in very nice condition. A few closed auctions for loose ones are $20 or less in some cases. While it isn't a brand new toy, I can tell you that the chances of Hasbro ever producing a completely new sculpt for the Rebel Transport are about as good as them rereleasing a complete set of the Trade Federation aliens. Also keep in mind this is a large toy, probably coming in at a minimum of $40-$60 if Hasbro were to make one.

6. I know its been asked before many times, but, any news yet on Ephant Mon being re-released again?

At Comic-Con International in San Diego, Hasbro said he probably wouldn't be reissued because the bubble for the toy was so huge and all the figures had the same size bubble except for him, so they would have to change the case size and such. Fast forward to now, and Hasbro is once again making multiple sizes of bubbles, with the likes of R-3PO having a much shallower package. As such, who knows? I think we'll see Ephant Mon in an exclusive multi-pack before we see him on a card again, though.

7. What's the rumor on the Millenium Falcon in vintage style packaging for next year? I heard it's going to be different from what has been produced so far, but, any idea? bigger? thinner? or simply a new paint job?

A number of Millennium Falcon toys have been said to be in varying stages of development, from the vintage/POTF2 one being remade with a new interior to a larger all-new vehicle. None of these are said to be on tap for 2004. I haven't heard anything about any vehicles in vintage style packaging, so right now, don't expect to see anything until Hasbro announces it or, more likely, someone decides to sell it on eBay.

8. Just curious if the figures that pop up up in Asia before we get them in the US are shipped by the same case assortment numbers and packing? Is a short packed fig here the same as over there?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For example, McFarlane often offers cases of just one figure to stores in Asia, especially Japan. For Metal Gear Solid, you could order a case of Vulcan Raven if you wanted. In the USA, the big stores often ask for assortments, so that's what they get. (Obviously, a small Target wouldn't want a case of 12 Janus Greejatus figures, another of 12 Achk Med-Beq, and so forth.)

Usually, Asian markets get a mix of US-bound toys and toys made for their market. For example, in Hong Kong I'm told you can find both Hasbro's 20th Anniversary TransFormers figure, Masterpiece Optimus Prime alongside Takara's Masterpiece Convoy. So it really depends on the market that week. Some items ship to Japan that we never saw, too, like the Eopie from Episode I.

9. Is there anything you believe truely warrants higher prices on the secondary market? Really, only the Unleashed figs, a few Commtech figs, convention figs, and the TC-14 wave call for higher prices.

I believe the market knows all. If people wish to pay $50 for a figure, the market will allow for that. I also believe there are items that are worth more than they sell for, like the Galoob Special Edition giveaway three-pack of the Slave I, Death Star, and Millennium Falcon. But ultimately, fans will decide the value of items as they will or won't pay for something. A prototype figure could sell for as little as $10 or as much as... well, more than I'm willing to pay.

Also, keep in mind we all have different experiences with what we see. You say the TC-14 wave calls for higher prices, but I saw that wave for up to a year after it first shipped. On the other hand, the only Holographic Darth Sidious figures I have ever seen came from fans who were kind enough to trade with me or a fluke sighting in a used book store in 2002. I've also see all of the Unleashed guys in stores often, save for Leia and Vader redux. (The Luke wave and the Yoda wave are both shipping now to Toys "R" Us, at least in my neck of the woods.)

So what's worth it? Well, I factor in my ability to get something and my deisre to pay what they want for it. For example, I still don't have five of the six Bonus Pit Droids figures from Episode I because I forget to look and because the buy-it-now prices are usually too high. But I did plunk down $35 after tax and shipping for the Darth Maul Tiger Electronic Game with figure because FAO totally screwed me on tax and shipping. When it comes time to decide what a piece is worth paying for, follow your heart, and the screams from your wallet. Ultimately, this is why I like eBay... toys with little to no collector interest are often priced accordingly, while in-demand items shoot up. Fans are also smart enough to say "no" if the price is unrealistic.

10. I hate to repeat myself in a question, but based on the GLOWING review of the Lars Homestead Padme, I have to ask:
Would you prefer ALL figures created that way. Standing, up and down. If possible a joint in the elbow and knees, but otherwise, pretty stationary?
It's as closest to vontage as they come and a welcome change for me.

I have her standing on my desk and, as a collector, she's one of my favorites. But it wasn't her pose that made her a favorite, it was her face, which is far and away one of the best likenesses of Natalie Portman they've done so far. As to the pose, that's how she usually stood in the movie. Ultimately, I want my toys to look like they did on-screen, so if a figure is sitting and in the movie, he was sitting, that's good. And this is why I don't like Geonosian Rescue Mace Windu-- I didn't see him hacking away with his eyes shut and mouth open.

If it suits the figure, than this vintage-esque pose is most welcome. For figures that don't see much action, like Mon Mothma or most outfits for Padme, it's the only way to go. But I don't think I'd want my Luke figures to be like this.


Did you have a happy holiday season full of The Force, Energon, and more? Here's hoping you did.

We're back for the new year, and we're looking for more questions. A lot has happened in the past month, and as long as you don't want to know the fate of 12" Plo Koon again, we're here for you. (Even in jest. No Plo questions, please.) With new figures coming out and being immediately cleared out, obviously this is a weird time for the hobby but we've gone through worse. All in all, I'm just happy that 2004 looks to be a year like we haven't seen since Power of the Jedi. Good times, people. Good times.

And in today's total tangent, new episodes of the fantastic Curb Your Enthusiasm are airing, and the former host of E!'s Talk Soup, John Henson, has a new show on Spike TV starting next week entitled The John Henson Project. There was nothing interesting introduced in the Fall, but this January seems to be full of these and other interesting televised nuggets of fun.

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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