Q&A For June 28, 2004

 

1. I was thinking about buying one of those Master Replicas FX Sabers but every image I've seen (including reviews and Master Replica's site) only shows the bottom half with only a small part lit up. So, are the blades full size, can you point me to any full-size pictures, and what do you think of these?
--Roswellsunband

The blades are full size and the item's blade looks completely lit when switched on. The weapon has a white inner core that is surrounded by clear plastic, and it's the white part that lights up. That white core can't physically extend all the way to the tip, but when it's lit the light travels in such a way where you don't notice any flaws. Or I didn't, anyway. If you can swing it, snag one, it's a nifty piece.

2. There have been quite a few loose pics recently of the new VOTC Luke. But, have you seen any pics of the figure with his shirt OFF? I'm just curious what body they used (as in, did they reuse the Bacta Tank torso or create an all new topless Luke body). That and apparently I'm a pervert...
--Dan

So far, Vintage OTC figures have been totally new sculpts with the only reused parts being some weapons. As such, we expect this to be a new sculpt, but as of today nobody has posted the figure sans shirt. I fully expect to see it within a week, though.

3. hi adam, do you think we could be seeing any Yuuzhan Vong/NJO figures in the future? a lot of people have mentioned KOTOR figures, but do you think the NJO stands a chance for being developed?
--dave

While Hasbro has said they haven't been supporting the Expanded Universe, as stated previously, they have released quite a few non-film figures As Hasbro hasn't made book-specific figures since 1998, I don't expect NJO as I still believe the greater fandom isn't familiar with the likes of the new villains. It, like KOTOR, would be an interesting new direction to take for figures here and there, but frankly, as a fan, I see the EU as more of a curse than a blessing. I've got a lot of movie figures I still want and I'd hate to see a whole assortment devoted to something else unless it was something that'd sell like hotcakes... and frankly, the only things I think might are new versions of Luke, a Rogue Squadron-packaged Wedge, and maybe-- maybe-- Mara Jade.

Since the NJO is supposedly over as is my understanding, I wouldn't hold my breath for toys just now. I think Hasbro missed the boat with this and KOTOR if that's a direction they wanted to go in, but it might be neat to see them pepper the post-Episode III line with characters from beyond the films here and there.

4. Hi, I just saw the trailer for the otc dvds.Looks pretty cool but after hearing so many rumours and spoilers I am totally confused.(damn internet.)You are a reliable source that I might remember,Will the new DVDs be the special editions from 97 or are they the finished product promised by George in 2005?
--ABarra9721

Right now, the short answer is "we don't know." A quote from Sansweet said something along the lines of these would be the films as George sees them today. That begs the question, how does George see them today? It also brings up the point that we've heard newspaper articles from Canada and all sorts of rumblings since 1997 saying that work on the Special Editions never stopped, plus a couple of images leaked to the Web make it look like they're prepping some pretty significant changes.

Are they legit? Are these for some later release? Are these all a hoax? We don't know. The Star Wars Spectacular show at Comic-Con in San Diego should tell us what we want to know and will probably reveal some new footage if there is any to be seen. Right now, I'm expecting to see slightly modified versions of the 1997 Trilogy. Some things I see I have a hard time believing, such as the revised Spirit Anakin photo, and the sad truth is I don't know how far people will go for a hoax. I ask myself "would I do something like this just to annoy people?" and the answer I come up with is "probably." So right now, we just have to wait.

5. I recently saw a report from a "secret shopper" that was at the LFL merchandising meeting (I believe I saw it on Yakface) that said there would be a live action TV show. No other sites have mentioned it. I would think this would be big news (for good or ill). Is/was this true (there will be a TV show) or was it just a hoax?
--DamonJW

While the oft-reported Fox Kids Jar-Jar Racers show was pretty much definitely a hoax, talk of a TV show based on the Jedi has been going around for years. As such, it's hard to tell truth from rumor, as as of today the only confirmed TV project is another series of Clone Wars episodes early next year. After these five 12-minute offerings, it's Episode III, and then... oblivion?

With Star Trek ailing as a franchise, it isn't unthinkable that Star Wars might go gently into that good night during the next 10 years, temporarily or otherwise. Rumors all over the Web are talking about more animated and live action stories from the galaxy far, far away and all they are now, are rumors. The two live-action rumors I've heard said the show will follow either Darth Vader or Boba Fett in the time between Episodes III and IV, which does sound like it could be fun if handled properly. Assuming, of course, the hire the right writers and realize that these characters are interesting because less is more, they don't talk a lot and when they act, you notice. To draw a more modern example, look at Silent Bob. If all he did was talk, not only would the name be pointless, but he'd just be another character... there's something to be said for the strong silent type.

I fully believe there are at least two TV shows in development from what I'm hearing, but keep in mind there are thousands of TV and film projects in development all the time that don't go anywhere. Despite what you have read, there are no definite plans for a specific series at this time that are known-- they're still developing stuff. They might have an idea of where they're going but I really doubt they've got a TV show ready to go for 2006 right now.

6. Reagrding EU aliens and popularity [in a previous column], you neglected BOTH versions (animated and as if live action) of Durge and Asajj Ventress from Clone Wars. I read awile back on the Drak Horse site that the editor (randy stradley?) is a big fan of alien jedi like Anx, Tsu Choi and K'kruhk (!) and would also love to see them as figures. Now that is an endorsement now backed up by tragic Clone Wars animated appearance.
--Schaad

You say potato, I say potato. I left Clone Wars out for the same reason I didn't count Shadows of the Empire... these were marketing tie-ins for a new property, while the rest of the EU more or less just happened because Hasbro/Kenner decided they'd make good figures.

While I am a little bored to tears of Jedi as characters and as toys, I'd run out and by K'kruk with open arms. I love the toothfaced alien design and would run out and buy more if any of his species were easier to get... even another J'Quille. I hope George stuck a few of these alien Jedi in the final prequel so our chances of getting toys increases, in some cases anyway. I just don't need another Nikto Jedi or anything.

7. Yeah I am wondering if they have confirmed any preview figs. for Episode 3 yet? Also are the any more plans for sets similar to the Geonosis Arena/Jedi Council set? That is aside from the four planned already for this year from TRU.
--Dan

The only official word is what you hear from Hasbro. While you might see items in the official site's cargo bay, or on eBay auctions, a lot of advance samples leak out that never see release. As such, no, there are no official anythings for Episode III. Oh, if you consider names of rumored characters spoilers, stop using the Internet and crawl into a hole and stop reading my column at this point.

Rumor has it that Tion Medon, General Grievious, a Wookiee Warrior, and a new R2 unit are the preview quartet that could show up before the holidays according to some sources... but I don't know if that's believable. The Episode I STAP infection started in November 1998, but the AOTC preview assortment was what, February or March 2002?

Like with Episode II, if this mix is the real deal, I'm quite happy with it. As I'm not a Hyperspace member I haven't seen Tion Medon yet, and the rest of the figures all sound excellent.

There are no plans for any more Jedi sets that I know of.

8. Was it because Hasbro doesn't approve of smoking that they removed the "Pipe" from the Dexter Jettser figure? Or was it some other reason? If it was because they didn't wan't to promote smoking, then why release figures that are toting guns? For instance, the Galactic Heroes?
--Rich

There's no conspiracy here-- the pipe was removed from the toy because the pipe was removed from the movie. Early mockups of Dexter Jettster had him with a pipe in his mouth, and it was removed. Frankly, I think it was because it was hard to animate a CG character with a pipe in his mouth while he talks.

Does Hasbro not want to promote smoking? Excellent question. I don't think any toy company marketing toys at boys aged 4-11 want to include real-world tobacco products these days due to obvious cultural issues, but at the same time, I don't think any toys save for maybe G.I. Joes and a cigar-chomping Wolverine or Hellboy would really need such a thing.

Of course... this also means we'd be ignoring that Hasbro has released an action figure that smokes in 2004, with Jabba the Hutt, the Ultra-sized Star Wars figure. So obviously, smoking is acceptable given the right context. (For example, Jabba in a non-movie year is not really aimed at the kids, and at the same time you could say that a hookah is, for whatever reasons, more culturally acceptable in a toy.)

Political grandstanding aside, smoking is bad for toys-- in case you weren't aware, I've seen white NRFB toys from smokers completely yellow when I peeked in the box due to the tape having become brittle and therefore worthless. If you've never seen a mint condition vintage X-wing that has completely yellowed due to second-hand smoke, you're missing out. (I'm not saying to smoke or to not smoke, I'm just saying don't smoke around your white or clear plastic toys.)

As far as violence? Our culture loves it. Guns are also appropriate to capturing the world of Star Wars in plastic... I mean, if Hasbro opted not to include weapons with the toys, that'd be a pretty big deal and, in our culture, apples and oranges. Besides, what good is Star Wars without the Wars?

9. Recently I was sorting out some stuff and I found my Episode 1 deluxe Obi-Wan figure. On closer inspection I realised that it's got a lot in common with the Saga figures who have action features. Given that this was about a ten buck toy, the fact that arguably better figures were released for substantially less three years later makes me wonder...
Do you think there will be a time when all Star Wars figures are made to the standard of the upcoming Vintage OTC ones? I mean not necessarily the Episode III ones for next year, but in about 2006 or 2007, maybe.
Also, I was thinking recently, wouldn't it have been cool if Hasbro had brought back minirigs for the Clone Wars line. I know that making vehicles is expensive, but what fan could resist a little Clone Fighter, or a mini walker, surely it needn't have cost all that much?
--Nick

Figure articulation is an ever-changing thing. Back when Episode I launched, the first wave had three figures with 10 points of articulation each... this didn't last long, though. Also, I'd say that the Jedi Duel figures had more articulation than the Deluxe ones, but you're quite right that these are a lot like many of the Saga figures.

I doubt we will ever see Star Wars as a toy line all on the same level of articulation as the finest VOTC or Saga or whatever has to offer. It doesn't make sense to give Wat Tambor too many more joints because he doesn't really need to do much action, he has no accessories, and well, it'd make the costum look iffy.

With Hasbro most likely wanting to trim costs down the road, I'd say it isn't likely that all figures will be super-posable and wonderful down the road, but look at POTJ and look again at today. A figure like the once-fantastic 300th Boba Fett is now no different than your average Saga figure, so it's entirely possible things will get better as wel go.

Clone Wars Mini-rigs? You're a genius. I'd go crazy for a little Clone Fighter for ten or fifteen bucks. Here's hoping Hasbro can squeeze one out for the final foray of Clone Wars items, if there are any, next year.

10. Unarguably, the most important quality in figures is their likeness. If it doesn't look like the real character from the movie, then what good is it? I don't know what Hasbro is doing with the 12" figures as of late, but it seems as if they are trying to get away from figures that actually look like the real article. When the Collector Series came out back in the mid-nineties, fans the world over were happy to see such dead-on likenesses of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and all our other favorite stars of the OT. Check them out. Those were GREAT figures. How could Han Solo have gotten any better than that? Now, fast-forward to the more recent Luke and Han figures. What do you get? Figures that look so bad that they wouldn't be recognizable if they weren't labeled as Star Wars items. I don't get it. Figures (especially 12") should get better and better over time. The 12" line seems to be getting worse and worse. The recent Saga Padme's can also be listed as victims to this trend. And who can forget that Leia from last year that was smiling in the middle of a speeder bike chase?
--George

This is why I've supported axing the line since 1998. The line jumps around in terms of quality, with some good figures and some giant steps backward. With Sideshow breaking new ground with their 12" figures, and other companies like Toy Biz making actor-friendly rotocast figures look better than the best Hasbro has to offer regularly, it seems like the media Hasbro uses and the paint jobs aren't really up to snuff. A few customizers have proven that Hasbro's sculpts aren't bad, but that you can make them really good with a little extra paint.

Right now, what I believe Hasbro's 12" line needs is just that-- a little extra paint and a little extra love from the people who decide what to budget the line at. Given the amount of recycled parts, these have got to be mostly pure profit in many cases, and even if Hasbro wanted to raise the price by a couple of dollars to give us better heads, I think we'd like it.

When you make a 4" action figure head, you're more forgiving-- you can only get so much detail into the size. With 12", you need to up the ante with more paint and Hasbro has so far given more detail to the smaller size, and where Hasbro really needs help is in the larger size. You can't forgive a bad looking head on a large figure, but you sometimes can on a smaller one.

FIN

Scores of new old cases are getting out all of a sudden, I'm up to my neck in Tanus Spijek in some stores and am now not seeing any J'Quilles. I think I saw every 2004 Saga figure in stores this week save for the final three from the Endor wave and the aforementioned J'Quille. Meaning Hasbro's distribution, at least around Phoenix, is getting better.

Looks like the OTC Millennium Falcon is shipping. Someone who saw it in person with all the bells and whistles assures me it's the greatest thing this year. As such, I can't wait to see it.

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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