Q&A For June 7, 2004


1. I enjoy reading your articles on GalacticHunter, and viewing upcoming Star Wars figures eBay auctions via your site. I was wondering what exactly makes a carded figure a "Hasbro Sample?" I have seen this term used in several eBay auctions for unreleased Star Wars figures (seller is usually from Asia).
--aa aa

Depending on who you ask, a sample could be anything. The carded vintage Droids and Ewoks figures from the unreleased second vintage series are billed as salesman's samples, as are advanced loose, bagged, or mispackaged advance figures. More often than not, the figure is identical to the toy's final release, it just came through unorthodox channels, sometimes legal, sometimes not.

It's possible that carded figures could be Hasbro samples, but those usually have some markings to indicate them as such-- or at least they did in the old days. Now, it's just a fancy way for saying "first off the assembly line" and that's what you're paying for. If a figure is packed in the final cardback and it's coming from Asia, though, more than likely you're just getting it a month or so early-- in other words, when Asia would ordinarily get these.

2. Do you know if the Diamond Comics Exclusive Sandcrawler vehicle will only be available through online retailers? And do you expect this item to be found anywhere for less than $60?

Items sold through Diamond have shown up all over, including Suncoast, Tower Records, and tons of online shops. Diamond sells to-- quite literally-- every comic shop on the USA if they order new wares. As such, your local comic shop should be able to order you one, and if you're really buddy-buddy with the owner you might get one at cost. Beyond that, online is your best bet. Since StarWars.com's own shop is asking $60, I think anything less than that would be considered a bargain.

3. I have a question on the Unleashed Clonetrooperıs gun. I have mine on display because I think it is a great piece, except his gun is starting to show signs of bending downward. Just after his left hand where he holds the gun I can notice that it has started to bend. My questions: does anyone else have the same problem, and how can I fix/minimize this?

I've seen this problem as well, and sometimes it can be solved easily, just by repositioning how the toy holds its accessory. Other times, just leaving the accessory on the shelf next to the figure for a week will correct the problem. When all else fails, you can try reshaping it through the use of hot water at your own risk, and you can read about that sort of thing elsewhere on the Web as we do not consider ourselves experts there.

4. Concerning question #10 from David on the last Q&A (don't you think an episode 1 (naboo royal starship) based pack with r2b1, the red r2, potj r2d2 and a new painted one (there are plenty of colors to chose from) would be a great idea?) What was the white and green r2 unit Š something like r2a6 maybe? I think they made a 12" (okay really 6") version of him, but I never saw a 4" one. Did they every make one that I missed?

While a multipack of R2 units would be great, I have serious doubts that it'd be a big seller. While I'd gobble up a multipack of R2 units painted various colors (it'd make a great white boxed four pack), I doubt stores would be too eager to sell a big box of repaints. Although when it comes to Droids, I'd love to see it.

As of now, R2-A6 (basically R2-D2 with green markings) only exists in the 12" scale, and that would give it the distinction of being the only Star Wars figure to exist in the large scale and not in the small one. Well, sort of-- there's another if you count the movie-accurate R5-D4, which has existed in the 12" size since, I believe, 1998.

5. I would like to know why there has never been a figure of a bothan, we hear about them and many apparently died to bring the death star plans to the rebels, I know they probably wont make Borsk Fey'lya but i am sure a bothan figure would sell. also why do we keep getting wicket, logray,and teebo, what about other ewoks? such as lumat, chief chirpa,Romba,or PAPLOO?

Bothans never appeard in any of the Star Wars films, and as such, Hasbro hasn't been in a rush to give us one. The camel-like aliens appeared in comics and elsewhere, but since the Expanded Universe isn't exactly Hasbro's top toy influence, there's really little to no chance of us seeing one in the next couple of years.

As far as Ewoks go, they've been getting better. So far, we've had two generic Ewoks (Complete Galaxy and with the Saga Glider) in addition to Teebo, Wicket, Logray, and yes, Paploo as part of Power of the Jedi as an exclusive pack-in. So at present tally, Hasbro cranked out half the vintage Ewoks in the new line and gave us two new ones, even though there was some flagrant mold reuse there. The myth-- or fact, whichever-- is that collectors hate Ewoks. While this may hold a nugget of truth, fans also hate rehashes, repaints, and repackaged figures. Which, while true, also is not true since tweaking some existing molds has lead to some great figures, repainted droids are a thing of beauty now that we have some decent molds, and is there a single collector who doesn't like the OTC packaging?

Anyway, thing is, it used to be a no-Ewoks-is-good-Ewoks mantra, and now it doesn't seem that way. I have a feeling Hasbro will try and get most of the Kenner figures into the modern line before it goes away if they can help it, especially if they can revisit the OTC after the final movie and maybe make a little ad campaign around it, much like the "Never made as a figure before" sticker on Grand Moff Tarkin in 1997.

6. Since Hasbro is "going vintage" with the VOTC figures, wouldn't it be cool if they did the Luke ANH with both blonde and brown hair variations?

And in keeping with the vintage, isn't it about time they do a mail-in figure? Even if it were just a simple repaint of Boba Fett in ESB or ROTJ colors?

I think Hasbro looks at mail-in figures as both a novelty and a means to clear out store shelves. While I have heard rumors-- a lot of chatter, mind you-- on a possible food tie-in later this year, there's nothing to make me believe it'll happen... although they'd be fools to not do something with the DVDs and all. Since we're getting our Episode III previews in stores, I doubt a mail-in is going to happen in 2004, at least not from Hasbro.

As far as variants? The fewer the better.

7. alright, i'm getting a little frustrated with this. every time i see i new R2D2 announcement, i get my hopes up that they will make a clean, improved version. you know, pretty accurate head, articulated feet, and retractable third leg. this mold has been used on all the other astromech repaints, why can't they use it on the original? both the OTC and the DVD figure set show an R2 on the packaging that i don't think has been released in that particular form before (correct me if i'm wrong). yet when packaged photos come through, it's not what's on the cardback picture. i mean, come on, rereleasing the original 1995 version? talking about taking a step back.

although most sites seem to count the R2 with holo leia as the best version, there's something not right about his head. which do you think is the definitive version so far?

Michael, I couldn't agree with you more on reissuing the 1995 figure-- it sticks out like a sore thumb compared to those other sculpts, and other better molds are being used today anyway. Is it bad? Not really. But it does have an eye that lights up that shouldn't, has no red lights, limited articulation, and well, it didn't age well. So yeah, here's another reason to keep the special DVD Edition Box Sets in the box.

There are actually three different Astromech molds that have fully posable legs and the retractable third. The Royal Starship droid is one mold, CommTech R2-D2 is another, and the last one was originally used on R2-Q5 and reused ever since. The recently released Sail Barge R2-D2 reused the R2-Q5 body and modified the dome, but as of today, this is the best overall in-scale posable R2-D2 because the CommTech release is actually a bit smaller.

The upcoming Vintage one is supposed to be great, but as word on the street has it that it sports a metalized dome (how tacky) and a sensorscope, it may not be your top choice. As such, I'd say snag a Sail Barge one for articulation, and the OTC ANH one for looks.

A quick PS-- the Holo Leia R2-D2 has the best retractable third leg, as it goes all the way up. He also has a light-up holograph projector, and is the only R2-D2 so far to have one. So every figure has pros and cons, but lately, I'm a sucker for the OTC ANH version.

8. As an avid and prolific Star Wars customizer, I felt compelled to respond to "Jason" who wrote in about the Star Wars "customizing community". I do not think it is appropriate for anyone to claim they know what is going on in the "customizing community". It may be true that an individual may know what some customizers do and how they feel. For example, many customizers "meet" in various forums to discuss their work. In this case, as a member of such a "community" it may be fair to suggest that one has some accurate knowledge on the thoughts and feelings of that specific group.
The Star Wars "customizing community" in a sense does not exist. There is no complete network of all customizing individuals and I think it is important to note that. As such, any commentary made on the nature of such a "community" is purely speculatory.
I bring this up not because I feel that Jason does not make some valid points. I just want to make sure that it is clear that when he says "we" in reference to Star Wars customizers, that he does not necessarily mean all customizers. If this is obvious, then I am sorry for being so long-winded.
For the record, as a customizer, I view my customizing work as art and I treat it as such. I have never sold any customs, but if I did, I would sell them as works of art. Of course, this enters into a very vague area of how much art is worth. The simple answer to this is that art has value to the artist and also to the buyer. If both the buyer and artist feel that something is vauled at, say, $100, then it is; at least for those two people.
Bottom line, if a customizer wants to sell his or her customs for a ton of money, fine. I don't approve or disapprove as it is not my place to do so. If there's someone out there who's willing to pay, then everybody wins. Except possibly LFL, but that's a whole other ball of wax. :)

You make a good counterargument, Christopher, and I'm glad we could present the other side of this apparently heated topic for you guys.

9. Can you tell if in fact the Bespin and Dagobah waves are the only new releases for the OTC basic figure collection due out soon? If so, then there are only 7 never before released figures, and 12 vintage style figures, for a total of 19 remaining for this year.

Dagobah is due very shortly with Bespin due to follow quickly thereafter. These seven basic figures should not be the only seven left, we expect a few more prequel figures and maybe even more Trilogy before 2005.

10. I don't recall if this question has been asked previously or not. I was wondering what the pricing will be on the OTC figures? I don't mean the vintage updates, but the others like the new Yoda Dagobah. I see pre-orders online for around $12- $13, and I wondered if they are expected to be a lot more expensive at retail than the current Saga figures which go for around $5-6 on average. The pre-order prices seemed a bit steep.

Prices vary, especially online. Hasbro's suggested price for a figure is about five or six dollars, but Kay-Bee charges $6.99 for their new figures, some online stores only sell by the case, and others cherry pick new figures and sell those at a higher price. It's business, and as such, you won't see the same price at all stores.

I took a barcode from my early OTC Yoda from store to store to scan it and see what was being asked, and believe it or not, everywhere I went recognized the barcode. Target, Toys "R" Us, and Wal-Mart will all be charging pennies (or a penny) under $5, while K-Mart asks $5.49. Why? No idea.


Good questions, folks! Keep 'em coming!

This week, we've got more OTC reviews and next week, we've still got more! Aren't you excited?

Since I have a soapbox, I'm going to use it this week to quickly complain about silver figures. Namely, I've had enough of them. It was a neat novelty for a while, but now I've got quite enough, thanks. I appreciate that they make for a good low-cost exclusive, but thing is, Hasbro has something even better they can do. Namely, continuing the OTC repackaged figures as con exclusives. Sure, some of you are saying "No, that's stupid." But think about it-- wouldn't it be neat to repackage Ephant Mon or R2-D2 with Holo Leia on that great new packaging? Eh? I think it would... and as an OTC junkie, well, I would. Plus for non-con-goers, it's just one more packaging variation, but in my case, it's one I'd want. But it's late and I'm rambling.

That's all for this week. So get those questions in for next week, and if you could put "Q&A" in the subject line, that would greatly help my email filters find your message. Just email me with your inquiry, and we'll see what we can do.

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