Q&A For March 22, 2004
1. With Hasbro re-releasing figures more frequently all of the sudden, What figures would you like to see re-released?
Good question! I think we all have our own personal "Hall of Fame" that we'd like to see reissued... here are my ten picks-- not necessarily my top ten-- and why.
Mara Jade. Last issued in 1998, for about five minutes, this character still seems to be fairly popular with fans and new packaging would be really nice to see. This is only if Hasbro decides to never revisit the character with a new figure, of course. Seeing as she goes for $10-$20, and most POTF2-era figures go for about $2, I think there's still some interest here.
Wedge Antilles. Of all the characters in the Star Wars mythos, I assumed that, after nearly nine years, Kenner or Hasbro would have released a brand new sculpt of Wedge on a regular package. With all the Rebel Pilots on cards these days, seeing the Wedge from the Cinema Scene on OTC packaging would be a real treat, because a lot of fans, I think, would buy one. Wouldn't you? Fun note: the other two pilots from that three-pack came out again... Ten Nunb was revised and packaged with the POTJ B-Wing Fighter and Arvel was painted green and thrown in with the 2003 Saga A-Wing. So I ask you, where's Wedge?
Ephant Mon. This figure holds the distinction of being one of two basic Star Wars action figure that I have never, ever, not once seen in a store. While I got one, the prices on eBay would indicate I'm in the minority. The basic assortment might be wrong for this guy, but surely another pack of Palace Denizens or some sort of Screen Scene would be ideal for this big lug.
Bonus Pit Droids. This is a selfish choice, as I only own one of the six foreign exclusive Pit Droids that were offered in Episode I. I'd like to see three two-packs of them, or one big Ultra pack of all six. Mainly because I don't want to pay a lot for the set, and frankly, the second set of three is a pain in the neck to find at a price that doesn't make me want to wretch.
Clone Trooper. The most requested figure in recent memory was the Clone Wars Clone Trooper. People loved it. This is the other figure I've never seen in stores. Due to it being an army builder, easily repainted, highly desired by fans, and really, really cool.... how can Hasbro not repackage it?
Red R2 Unit. Since that appears to be Hasbro's name for the droid included with the Royal Starship, I'd like one of those. It was an exclusive with a large, out-of-price-range playset for most kids, and as such, it makes sense to card it. Everybody loves droids, and this was one of Hasbro's finest.
Leia (Boushh). Hasbro hasn't put a Leia out on Saga packaging other than 1998's Freeze Frame edition, and of course the upcoming 2004 Bespin edition. As such, any Leia would be nice, but this was an early and nifty figure that, if a resculpt doesn't happen, should be sold in stores one last time.
TC-14. Looking at eBay, a lot of people want to see her again, and who can blame them? She's a great looking figure and didn't stick around long in 2000 when she hit stores very briefly. While she was repainted into K-3PO and resculpted into R-3PO, the original TC-14 remains elusive for many fans and she looks like she could be placed in an original Trilogy diorama and fit right in. As such, she needs to come back.
R2-B1. While not exactly a great figure, this little astro droid is hard to get and expensive. It might be better for Hasbro to just repaint another mold into R2-B1 instead of reissuing the 2000 edition, but this is obviously a figure that people are willing to pay a premium for, so let's bring him back too.
Red ARC Trooper. It just needs to happen, is all I'm saying.
2. How does the new target exclusive star wars cups compare in quality with the original burger king line of cups? I never had the original cups, but I assumed they were made of glass. Is my assumption correct? Also, are these cups the same height and width as the original cups?
These are indeed plastic, while the originals were made of glass. I don't know if they were the same dimensions or not as I don't collect glassware, but as they are different designs, it's a safe bet they're meant to be their own thing and not a continuation of the original sets.
3. Will all figures in the foreseeable future be packaged on the new black OTC-style cards or will Hasbro eventually revert to the blue Saga cards before some new design for Episode III?
Hasbro typically comes up with a brand new design for each new film, and as such we expect a brand new cardback in 2005. Frankly, I think the black ones we're getting this year are the best yet and if it were up to me, they'd just stick with those... but it is important to make your line look fresh in a movie year so we will probably see the black card phased out about a year from now.
4. Now that I finally have a real Y-Wing pilot for my Y-Wing (Jon "Dutch"
Vander), can you help me as to what astromech droid he had? What type (R2
or R5?) and what colors? And do you know it's designation. I'd like to
make a realistic scene after waiting with my Y-Wing for 20 years!
Well, this was harder to answer than I thought. Although it was surprisingly easy to find out BoShek actually has a companion R4 droid, this was tricky... and unfortunately, inconclusive. I found numerous resource pages on the character, who played him, and so forth, nobody seemed to have information on his co-pilot. I vaguely remember seeing a custom figure page a few years ago that may have had a droid next to a custom Dutch, but as things stand now, I can't find it. So if any of you guys out there know, please write in and we'll post it in next week's column.
5. I recently bought the 2004 repack of the figure mentioned above. When I
picked it up, I noticed that Obi-Wan's lightsaber is barely blue. It has almost
no color to it at all, and you can see through it easily. It has just the
faintest tinge of blue, and it's barely noticeable. It's basically colorless.
How rare is this? Have you seen it happen before in a figure?
This is just a flaw common to this figure-- for whatever reason, the 2003 and 2004 releases both have fairly pale blue lightsabers. As such, you didn't get anything special, it's just how the figure's weapon turned out... poorly.
6. I have a few of the lightsabers from Master Replicas and on the signature series, in particular, I am having issues with the nameplates getting very tarnished and cruddy looking. When I first got them I noticed there were already fingerprints on them (I guess from handling during packing). I would like to try and clean them but I don't want to take off the signature or any of the lettering. I've tried contacting MR about the issue but can't get a reply. Would you have any ideas on how to get these clean without removing the signature?
Er... very carefully? Odds are it would be safer to just let the smudges stay unless you're very, very careful about cleaning it because, well, the signature is the important thing here, and signed items usually have to be handled a little, right? I wouldn't expect Master Replicas to reply because, well, fingerprints happen-- you touch something, it smudges. If you do decide to clean your weapons, though, just be extra careful because I've often found that doing this sort of thing usually leads to problems.
7. I was avoiding working on something I have to be ready for by tomorrow by daydreaming about the new starwarsshop.com and the types of exclusive items it may one day carry. It dawned on me that a low cost but potentially high demand item that would be perfect for such a seller would be officially licensed custom packaging. For instance, the shop could create an archive of pictures for every character. A customer could buy a certain set number of backing cards, and could select any of the characters - because the packages would not be printed until the shop had already been paid for the order. It would take a simple drag-and-drop program to insert the specific character pictures ordered into a vintage-style backing card template (or perhaps there could be a couple of different template designs to choose from). The customer could also then order a packet of re-usable coffin blisters or clamshell blisters, or whatever, to attach to the backing cards and put their figures into this re-openable packing. (My original thought was that Hasbro could sell a CD-ROM with the photos and templates on it and then just sell the blisters, but there would probably be too much piracy). Anyway, one would think that Hasbro would love to break into the market of customization, and this would seem to be a very low cost way to do it. I think a broader market of fans would be interested in customized packaging if it was officially licensed.
Packaging, if you can believe it, is usually the most expensive element in some toy lines. Rumor had it that back in the day, a GI Joe figure cost mere change to produce but the cardback itself was a little more expensive.
The time and effort that it takes to package and send out a finished item unharmed is difficult, and as such, I think that trying to get them to customize something would be significantly more difficult. It takes a lot of work to produce a packaged finished figure, and as such, this is probably something we won't be seeing anytime soon.
8. I just saw the pictures of the carded General Jan Dodanna and I noticed
that the figure differs significantly from the photo. Most notably, the
coat seems to be missing the shoulder pads and rank insignia. Is Hasbro
reusing an older coat sculpt (possibly from Han Endor or elsewhere), or did
they just get lazy with their sculpting? Also, what is with that huge gun?
He and Momaw Nadon could have quite a fight. I realize that they probably
just threw it in to make the figure more appealing to kids, but it's still
a bit silly, don't you think?
No sillier than the assumption that a kid is going to buy that figure, I'd say.
I have serious doubts that Hasbro has gotten over the "is it for kids or adults?" hurdle from a few years back, and as you know you can't make a figure appeal to everybody easily. I'd rather have Hasbro give me too many extra weapons than not enough, because I can always give them to other figures or put them away for later use. Just be glad they didn't give him a lightsaber.
9. How long are they going to stay with the new larger bubble that started with the Saga wave? When it started out, we were told they were going to a larger bubble because we were going to get all of these great accessories that wouldn't fit in the smaller size bubble. Well, if you look at most of the figures lately, all we're getting are generic stands. Stands that could easily fit in the smaller bubble. Basically, from a storage standpoint, I liked the smaller bubbles a lot more, and now that we're not really getting anything for the extra space, what gives? Has Hasbro run out of ideas for extra accessories?
At this stage in the game, it seems the "standard" Saga bubble used from April 2002 through the now-ish is on the way to being phased out, which makes sense-- the figures like the Imperial Officer didn't need that much air around it. I don't think Hasbro ran out of ideas for accessories, but their market is different and as such, costs are different. The more you sell of a figure, the lower the price is to make it. If Hasbro's selling to kids, which in 2002, they were, you can load it up with goodies. In 2004, it's basically just us (for now) and they don't need to do anything to entice us to make a purchase other than to make it available. (Which it seems is a bit of an issue again.) I fully expect more extras in 2005, but for now, it seems we'll be getting a more normal range of weapons and gimmicks with our toys.
10. With the Hall of Fame figs why didn't Hasbro include some of the harder to find figs like Ephant Mon and the tail end Episode 1 stuff? I think those are in demand just as much as core characters.
In theory, you can sell anybody Han, Leia, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, or the bulk of the dozen figures released as part of the Hall of Fame assortment. I mean, a kid or an adult without those characters might walk into the store, see it, and make an impulse purchase. Ephant Mon is a guaranteed seller to collectors, but not the general public. While I think they could still sell a lot of them, Hasbro's been wishy washy about reissuing this figure because of the large bubble size and, frankly, I think they're trying to make the Fan's Choice figures a little more limited after the first two went on clearance and in many markets, still are available in stores three years later.
But hey, if we want Ephant Mon, we need to let Hasbro know. When you (and this is a general "you") go to a convention, be sure to let them know what a great job they did on the figure and how much you'd like to buy one. And don't hand them a list of 50 other figures you want made-- it's just bad form.
OK, rumor control time.
Last week, a few items at Amazon were "cancelled." This happens often. Amazon frequently sends out emails for products that may have gotten a new SKU or are temporarily unavailable through their Web site that say the item has been discontinued. Obviously, take what you hear with a grain of salt from any store, online or in person, because these employees aren't the guys responsible for handling the accounts with Hasbro.
Also, the DVD packaging-- the real DVD packaging-- has been revealed. While I'm not a Hyperspace member, I have been given the chance to see it and it reminds me a lot of the 1997 VHS Special Edition packaging, which was, to say the least, nice. It features the ever-popular collage from the SW:SE Ingot, a nice piece of Darth Vader artwork, and the Death Star. As always, they're playing up the ANH angle and leaving out ESB and ROJ on the packaging, but hey, I can't complain. I just want to see the movies again.
That's all for this week. So get those questions in for next week. Just email me with your inquiry, and we'll see what we can do.