Q&A For January 3, 2005

 

1. Do you have any ideas what is driving the crazy price increase on basic Star Wars figures? Is it Hasbro, the retailers, or both? Is somebody gouging us or are costs really going up that much? I find it hard to believe that costs are really going up that much.
--Dave

The prices of Star Wars toys can be set by a variety of factors, but usually it has to do with things like cost of materials, licensing costs, and a store's desire to move product. In the recent case of price hikes, part of it is the stores. For example, Toys "R" Us marked down a lot of toys in the weeks before Christmas, but at the same time, jacked up basic OTC figures to a whopping $6.99 in many stores-- and that wasn't enough, they marked up some TransFormers too! Stores often set their own prices, like during POTJ-- the 2000-2002 line was designed to allow stores to charge less than the high $6.99 of Episode I, but few (if any) stores dropped their prices. You might say "why?" Well, my guess is that POTJ did something good-- it re-introduced Trilogy figures, and fact is those are an easy sell even at a higher price.

Now, you might be left wondering why we're going to be faced with (what appears to be) a line-wide price increase for basic figures for our 2005+ line which will henceforth be referred to as ROTS. My guess is after two years of $4.99 figures-- which were the cheapest individually packaged action figures on the market today-- Hasbro realized they can make a few extra bucks during the new movie season, and after NOT charging more during the off-year that was 2004 (which they totally could have), they realized it might be good to do. I have no problem with bumping up the price slightly during the movie season, but the fact that it's starting now is a little disturbing. The 2004/2005 line is going to need help moving once it starts to saturate, after all, Cantina aliens and Prequel obscurities aren't exactly going to fly the same way a repackaged Han will to the masses.

2. I don't know how you feel, but I'm a little upset at the newest "post-OTC" waves of figures. It started out great with the new and never released figures which Hasbro has been so good about lately. Now, no more than a few months later, we're getting rehashes/re-rehashes/re-re-hashes of figures such as the Stormtrooper, Scout Trooper, Han Solo, Chewbacca, & Yoda. I bought all the OTC line because I thought those 38 figures were special, even if they did have several that were simply repaints. Putting these in post-OTC waves is a travesty. I'm not buying the "keeping the line fresh" on this one, either. One thing I liked about the POTJ line was that many of those were new or newly apparelled figures, and therefore was a good line for just that reason. That's why I bought all that line, too. I guess I'll just have to treat this "post-OTC" line like I did the Saga figures, and just buy the ones I like and/or don't have from other lines. Just another fan's humble opinion.....thanks for letting me vent.
--Gary

When it comes to those who are collecting carded figures and all variations, well, I'm not going to lie to you-- I could care less. Hasbro slapping an old figure on a new or revised cardback DOES keep the line fresh in the eyes of store buyers, which are in many cases more important than the likes of us, the customers. You have to convince the Wal-Martians that these are new and exciting, and slapping a "05" on figures does that. Sad? Yes. But it works-- and frankly, are you actually complaining that Hasbro is releasing more Scout Troopers and Stormtroopers? Dude. Madness. Those are figures that collectors want more of, and as far as I can tell Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Yoda are all easy sales. (Yodas don't last long here in Phoenix and I haven't seen many Han or Chewie figures except on new shipments of old Saga cardbacks during December.)

I understand that many fans don't like seeing old stock in new cases-- unfortunately, it's a necessary thing to do in today's marketplace. There's a need for Han Solo, Darth Vader, and Yoda at retail-- I remember during the vintage days, I couldn't find the regular Luke, Leia, or Han figures during ESB/ROTJ and that wasn't a good thing. Kids should be able to get the core characters, as should new collectors, and frankly I'd rather they ship the same old ones than make new ones. (For loose collectors, who out there wants a new sculpt of Han Solo to look at and then decide if it's worth buying or not? Just crank out the good one again and let those of us who have it ignore it.)

On the whole, buying what you like is the way to go. Otherwise, you'll have upwards of 30 different Luke Skywalker figures. And do you have a need for more Yodas? Prolly not. But alongside those repackaged rehashes are figures like Myo, Dannik Jerriko, and Feltipern Trevagg. Three figures that were released with universal knee joints and scores of paint ops. So, I agree with you--skip all ya want, Hasbro has plenty of awesome figures for you, the collector. Leave the rest for packaging completists and newbies. (Oh-- and kids. Star Wars needs fresh blood.)

3. I know it's waaaay to early for this, but don't the images of the episode 3 Vader figure seem a bit bobbleheadesque?
--Ben

I didn't feel like that initially, but upon seeing this question I decided to go look at our image bank for a second look.

I don't get that impression, really-- for all I know it has a ball joint or something. As it is, he looks pretty good-- and if there's a problem, keep in mind all figures you see were way ahead of the game and it isn't unprecedented for Hasbro to have a packaged sample leak and then change a head. (Examples: Ceremonial POTF2 Luke Skywalker, and the 12" Slave Leia from the FAO exclusive R2-D2 set.)

4. I remember hearing about and seeing listings for Imperial Dignitary 3 & 4. Are these figures still in the pipeline or what? It seems with EP. 3 coming out soon that there would be no time left to release these figures.
--Chris

Numerous figures, like a third Imperial Dignitary, have been in the rumor mill for quite some time and I have absolutely no doubt that these are/were in development and if so, are on hold for later. Now's not the greatest time to release old men in purple, what with the new movie on the way and all. I'd stay tuned, these will probably be coming along real soon-- Hasbro knows we have money and they would very much like some more of it.

5. I was wondering what Chewbacca figure will fit into the OTC Millennium Falcon? I already have the Han Solo with bendable knees, but I am unable to find a Chewy. Also When Do you think we'll see the EP3 sneek preview figs on the pegs?
--Shawn

Well, my findings show that pretty much every Chewie that can sit down can fit OK. The bendable knees don't make a difference, as the seating area was designed for them to sit with their legs fully extended.

My sources tell me to expect Preview Figures at the top of February. With the regular figures expected to hit in March-- either widely, or another massive leak like in 2002-- any later than that would seem like a bad move.

6. Is the Jedi Force X-Wing limited to only 5000 pieces total, or only 5000 pieces with a bright blue stripe on eBay?
--Dan

The eBay X-wing from Jedi Force package is a 5000 unit limited run, meaning that the special package with the blue and orange stripes and bonus figures will be limited to only 5000 pieces. Unless they make fewer than that due to poor sales, and as of December it looked like the sales weren't so hot.

The box for this item is the same as the normal toy, except for an added sticker letting you know this is an eBay exclusive with bonus figures. Nowhere on the actual box does it mention the fact it's a repainted X-wing.

7. Can [ROTS] Chewbacca's arms be straightened like on the VOTC version? Can any of the figures with leg pressing action feature activating mechanism sit down in a vehicle?
--ABarra9721

Revenge of the Sith Chewbacca appears to have ball-joints that are slightly restricted by hanging fur, so you may be able to get him into a position like that with some futzing and/or shaving. As far as figures activated by their legs, it depends on the figure-- some will be able to sit, some won't. It depends on the pose and if the legs are restricted by clothing.

8. I read somewhere that Walmart will not be getting anymore Star Wars figures until Episode 3.I haven't seen the 3 new Cantina aliens.Can you clear this up?
--chad

One of the most commonly asked questions I get are "I haven't seen the new figures, is it true a store will stop carrying them?" The answer is no-- no store will stop carrying Star Wars this year because of a) OTC's runaway sales and b) the fact a new movie is coming up in five months. I've just seen the three new Cantina guys in a store last week for the very first time and they only had one of each. As such, you have nothing to worry about-- just some work to do to get your figures.

The question you should be asking is "will there be any new non-Episode 3 figures before Episode 3," and right now I'm not so sure there are.

9. In your opinion, do you think Hasbro will release additional figures in the "OTC Transitional" line? It looks like we're up to 15 or 16 for 2005 and Vader and Luke (2005 #9 and #10)haven't been re-released yet. Will brand new figures appear in future assortments with Vader and Luke? Also, OTC really seemed to be a refurbished version of the Hall Of Fame line. Do you anticipate that we will see a heavy schedule of previously released figures in the future to continue this "greatest hits" line so to speak?
--Paul

If history is any indicator, I think that this post-OTC line we're in for 2005 will indeed be a greatest hits line with few new figures. Before Attack of the Clones, the only Power of the Jedi figures released were BoShek, R4-M9, and Teebo-- everybody else hit the year before, and before Christmas to boot. (Not everywhere, though.) For Episode I, there were 11 "Flashback" POTF2 figures, all but three were put out in late 1998. As such, I think it's entirely possible that the "2005 POTC" line (trying on abbreviations here) will be pretty small and still bank on the DVDs with older figures if anything. (Not that this is a bad thing, I'm perfectly happy for Hasbro to crank out more of obscure characters alongside repackaged army builders so I don't have to spend anything for a few months.)

10. Can you find out what kind of production run the OTC Slave one has? It took until 2 weeks ago before the Target here got in any at all. At the time I saw them there were 1 on the shelf, and 5 on the top shelf. I went back a couple days later to get one, and they were all gone. Just wondering if I have any chance in finding another batch come in or if I will have to resort to paying nearly double for it online.
--Richard

While Hasbro rarely (OK, never) reveals actual production numbers on a piece, word on the street that a lot of items in the Original Trilogy Collection was lower than normal. Most Target stores received them late, meaning they didn't last long in the Christmas frenzy (where people will buy anything to simply get someone a gift) and the clearances that followed. Your best bet now are to get into a car (yours, someone else's, whatever) and pick up the phone book and drive to every Target you can reach on a tank of gas-- it'll be 30% off if/when you find it. I've seen a lot of stores sold out, a lot of stores that moved it to the toy clearance section (where available), and a lot of stores that still had it in the regular figure aisle. Given the current nature of the secondary market of Star Wars, I wouldn't worry about paying double unless that was due to shipping.

FIN

Hello and welcome back. Thanks for reading the first update of what will very likely be the final movie year of Star Wars, meaning unless Hasbro tests the water of making new and exciting trilogy toys a big push and succeeding (kinda like the repackaged OTC), this could well be the end of the road for a lot of you. But we hope not.

Did anyone make any good New Year's Resolutions? I like to make unrealistic ones-- last year I wanted to get some stuff published, and it worked. So this year I'm aiming for a job in the toy biz full-time. (That or I can see of Xzibit can Pimp My Job. Surely MTV will tire of car upgrades in 2005.)

I gotta get back to trying to reorganize my junk, so I must leave you for the week-- but I'll be back next week if you send in some more of those questions. Just email me with your question and I'll put it in queue. (If you do not put "Q&A" in the subject line I cannot guarantee it will get through due to the high volume of spam these accounts get.)









 
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