Q&A For April 4, 2005


1. I'm an opener and fully believe these things are meant to be opened and enjoyed, not socked away in a dark basement to supposedly rise in value 20 years from now. However, I do tend to keep a few pieces, usually the limited exclusives, packed away, just in case. I currently have a dilemma regarding the Wal-Mart Early Bird set. I greatly desire to break into it (So I can get the figures and use the Hyperspace pass and assemble the display) - but part of my brain is saying No, don't!" Would it be a smart move to keep it sealed and not mail off for the figures? I know there's no way to predict the future, just wanted to hear your take on it. I'm not going to go dish out another $30 for one to keep sealed. Any advice would be appreciated!

I originally planned on buying two-- one to keep sealed, as the item basically is just packaging-- and then changed my mind. I would probably advise most fans to get one to crack open and use, but to keep sealed? Not sure. The item inside the plastic is the same as the item with no plastic to me, so unless I have some reason to get extras of the figures, one is plenty-- the plastic could get crunched over time and I don't want to fret over the condition of a clear plastic case. So for me, I'd save my money and just keep the evelope of the one I open in good shape.

It's possible that this will become "worthless" come the end of the year-- fans who can't send off for the figures might decide it isn't worth much and save their money. Or not-- who knows?

So if I were you, I'd break one open, and keep the envelope in good shape-- the glue is so weak you can bust it open without ripping it or hurting it in anyway. So if the plastic clamshell is important, then buy two, because that sucker gets ruined when you open it. You never know if the certificate will be worth more than the figures, because fans are weird-- who knows how many of these will be redeemed? Or if Hasbro is counting on only 1/3 of the people sending off for it? There might be tons of production that has to be dumped somewhere, so it's possible (although not terribly likely) that you might be able to get the figures without having to bust one of these open.

2. I recently bought the Wal-mart exclusive Early Bird Kit offline from the Wal-mart website and I was wondering what I should use for the receipt. Do I use the invoice that comes in the shipping box? I didn't print the online order confirmation but I did receive a confirmation e-mail. What would be accepted?

Fun fact: Hasbro's redemption department doesn't read much. When asked for receipts in the past I've used receipts that were out of date, things that were obviously just adding machine paper, and even receipts from dinner from a Japanese restaurant that were clearly marked as such. As such, I'm sure whatever invoice you get will be accepted, so don't worry-- if you have a sheet of paper from Wal-Mart that also has the Early Bird kid listed on it, you'll be fine.

3. Alright, here is an important question that I'm sure everyone wants to get an answer too: Will the four "updated figures" that we will be getting via the early bird send-away deal be the the same vintage trilogy figures from last year or new figures (in some fashion or another). Get the Swamii on this one because if Hasbro intends to send me VOTC Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 exactly the same, but in little baggies then all just keep my early bird set complete as is. However, if the figures are different, or the same but also shipped back in some neat four pack packaging then that would be worth it, thanks!

Fun Fact II: we don't know. The Early Bird kit wasn't even known to most fans until just last week (it certainly surprised me!) and as such, nobody's had the time to catch up with Hasbro and ask what "updated" means. After the Classic Four-Pack from 1995, Kenner/Hasbro said that was it-- no more classic reissues.

But they've changed their minds before. Hopefully someone in the know is reading, but right now the rumor mill says the following are likely:
- 1978 figures with 2005 copyrights and peg holes
- 1978 figures with slight retooling and/or deco changes
- 2006 style figures, whatever that means

I bought one because even if it's a straight reissue, well, what the hell. $30 is a lot more than I should be spending on something that's similar to what I have, but it's a gamble I'm willing to take just because I don't have a vintage Early Bird stand in my collection and I've wanted one for years-- and a $30 repro is OK by me. The thing that bothers me here is that if these are sneak previews for 2006, that means Revenge of the Sith might be hitting the backburner fairly quickly and that ain't cool. Well, from the script I just read, it might be OK, it doesn't seem like there's a lot of new characters left to do... but obviously, I haven't seen the movie so who knows.

(Oh yeah-- a tangent-- it also makes liberal mention of Anakin's green starfighter in the script.)

4. Just read your Sasse Tinn review (I haven't got him yet, but I have 4 of the other ROTS jedi) and I was wondering:

How do you fit the bases together? I could not find an obvious way to do it, that didn't involve it looking stupid.

Any help would be fantastic.

The bases for Revenge of the Sith are quite interesting-- so far I've seen five different styles repainted in several decos (building interior, Kashyyyk, Mustafar + R2-D2's base and Kicking Obi-Wan's base.) and they fit together, sort of.

Like the Dagobah bases, they don't line up well in any orderly fashion and sort of form a nebulous, mazelike land mass. You just snap 'em together and you end up with a straight (or crooked) line of swamp, or forest, or whatever. It looks a little funky and like the rectangular bases, it proves Hasbro doesn't want these to fit together easily for whatever reason. I'm not sure what the deal is, it's pretty easy to make a "Tab A" and a "Slot B" that fit together. No matter what, you're going to have to massage it a bit to work.

If you didn't already do so, go run out and get Padme and C-3PO-- their two Mustafar bases connect at a little "metal" point and look AWESOME.

5. Whatever happened to the Gentle Giant Stormtrooper bust? did I blink and miss it? I seem to remember reading that this was supposed to be released late last year. It still hasn't shown up at my local comic store which is usually pretty good about getting these things.

Start hunting. I've seen a few of these, so it's a pretty safe bet they came out-- comic stores have their orders allocated or reduced all the time, so it's possible you missed out.

6. I need for you to "hold my hand" a little on this one. I am starting to collect a lot of the Star Was food products (Cheez Its, Cereals, M&Ms, etc) What is safe to leave in the box and what should be removed? Answer this question based on the items being stored at room temperature. I know the chocolate could melt in hot weather but Im interested in leaking, grease, bugs, smell....
--Sebulba Johnny

Depends on who you ask. Steve Sansweet once said he removed most of his food items as what you were collecting was the packaging, not the food. Coke has been known to eat its way through cans and I know I've seen sealed boxes of ceral get buggy before. I know there are die-hard candy collectors that store stuff in cold rooms for very long periods of time because they're collecting the candy just as much as the wrapper, buuut it all depends on what you want to do. Me, I'd open the bag carefully and clean it out-- don't risk bug problems or potentially damaging some packaging when air pressure changes. That, and if your kids ever find really old chips... you better hope they aren't hungry.

7. At celebration 3, both Hasbro and Christine Hewitt (aka Tonnika Sister Right) will be there...am I the only one thinking like a peanut butter cup and putting these two together? Maybe we'll get a figure or maybe we'll get a true hollywood story out of it. Maybe after celebration 3 we'll know really why there hasn't been a figure of one sister to buy two of?!?

There was a rumor going around in mid- late-2004 that one of the twins were on tap for 2005. So far it doesn't seem too likely, but as the current batch of Sith figures (50+) only gets us through the early Fall, it could still be possible.

I plan to bug Hasbro yet again since the guard has changed (yet again) and now that one of the actresses is going to a fan event, well, who knows if things changed.

8. I'm a huge Action-Fleet fan and I'm just DYING to know if you knew of any plans to revive the line for ROTS. I'd still love to see an AOTC Jedi Starfighter among other things too. Would it be within the realm of possibility for Galactichunter to do an Action-Fleet poll so's to help send Hasbro the message loud and clear?

I hope so-- frankly I think these vehicles are as good as or better than Hasbro's full-size editions and they're the only versions of some vehicles we may ever get. We'll pass the word along, but it really boils down to what Hasbro feels like trying-- Micro & die-cast failed once, but here it is again, so anything could happen.

9. Although Padme is a Senator, there was no Padme figure wearing a senatorial robe. Well, do you know if we can expect a new Senator Amidala figure for ROTS, who's wearing a senatorial robe?

Right now there are no known plans-- but it's probably just a matter of time.

10. So is it me, or does it seem like every week there's another question about the possibility of Expanded Universe figures? Here's MY problem regarding the EU: Hasbro feels that doing non-movie characters in the Star Wars line will only appeal to a section (not the whole) of the collector's market. This implies that their main audience (i.e. kids) won't buy stuff they didn't see in the movie, correct? Then explain to me WHY there are dozens upon dozens of Batmans with the most ridiculous colors, concepts, and names (and more importantly, were never on the show/in the movie)! And they sell too!

Ok, I realize it isn't hard to come up with an answer to this: The difference is that these crazy Batmen still say they're BATMAN on the package. I'm sure kids just want a Batman toy, like the gadgets, or maybe they think its from an episode they missed (guess that one doesn't apply to the movies though).

Now this leads me to two conclusions: 1) With this logic, those concept art Obi-Wans and Qui-Gons from POTJ would have done well with kids, along with core character Clone Wars figures. I don't know if this is true, nor do I know if Hasbro keeps track of demographic information on individual figures like this. 2) Is it possible then that Hasbro could "sneak in" some EU stuff and call it something more recognizable? I'm hard-pressed to come up with some good examples, but perhaps something like "Count Dooku's Aide" Quinlan Vos or something. I mean is there a kid ANYWHERE that could point out where Amanaman or Dannl Faytonni appear in the movies if the packaging didn't tell them?

Expanded Universe fans and Star Wars collectors are two distinct breeds with some crossover. There's an entire fanbase out there buying up tons of merchandise based on these movies, but it isn't toys-- it's the games, books, and comics, and they want toys based on those. To draw an unfair connection, it's like any sci-fi book fan or comic fan wanting stuff from their characters-- understandable, but really, who wants Dune?

The main audience is kids and collectors, or collectors and kids, depending on the current marketing push. With a need for new versions of a certain character (through Corporate mandates or the current marketing), we got things like Clone Wars figures, concept art figures, and so on. So that makes sense.

Why does Batman sell? Well, funny you should ask. Back in 1990 Kenner went to DC/Warner and said "we need to do this," and when they were asked why they frankly needed a way to sell more than one Batman. The premise was that Batman's thing was his "toys," as the Joker put it in the 1989 movie. As such, you could easily take this concept of Batman having a bat-anything and selling it. It worked. It worked for Ninja Turtles and for other licenses as well. It's also the nature of the line-- something for kids, kids that want action features, and it isn't a line that kids are expected to buy dozens of. Star Wars is sold heavily as a collector thing and even kids get the idea that you don't buy one or two, you buy twelve.

Star Wars is different. Lucas and his people usually give a thumbs-down to original concepts but this changes from time to time, a lot of the toy industry is what the licensors dictate and a lot more of it is what the toy company feels like, or what Wal-Mart asks for. Look at G.I. Joe-- it isn't doing poorly but now they're going to kill the 4" and 12" sizes for a while to try something different. Every now and again Hasbro tries something new to see how it works, and when I asked about EU, I was told it didn't perform well-- which is a load of crap, those 1998 figures were in stores for all of 20 minutes.

A "Master Vos" on Boz Pity is referenced in a script of a movie that's coming out. Not to get your hopes up. And as far as Amanaman? Fan's Choice. Kids don't care about them and the sales of the figure proved it.

It's easy for Hasbro to make a case for new Lukes, Leias, Anakins, and the like because core characters tend to sell. Even if it's different, kids get what they are. They could probably do this with clones, too. But new Jedi? Doubtful. Kenner, Hasbro, and Mattel can sell countless Batmans, but not Alfreds, Batgirls, or Clayfaces. The "new version" thing works well for some characters but original characters are a tough-- but not impossible-- sale. Also, a lot of kids are interested in "cool alien" over "another guy with a lightsaber in robes." Variety is important, but there's a lot of variety off-screen too.

What it all boils down to now is this: Hasbro has a LOT of material to mine from the movies still. The line is mostly about the movies. Frankly, it's all about the movies with maybe an exceptions list of about 5%. People keep writing in with what Hasbro could do to make these characters more attractive, but they seem to miss a key point-- and that is, right now, Hasbro wants to do movie toys and most collectors want to buy movie toys. This may change, but fact is I've never read a New Jedi Order book, I don't plan to start reading them soon, and I could personally care less if they ever do them. (Now if they did Clone Commando figures, I'd buy some.) Hasbro is not currently hurting for material, folks, but if you want figures based on comics, novels, and games, ask them at Celebration III. They actually are curious what we want, so be sure to take a moment and tell them-- briefly, of course.


So how did the Sith launch treat you? I drove around all sorts of places to see how people were acting and being treated, and it was an eye-opening experience. In North Scottsdale here in AZ, clerks were making cracks about their customers behind and in front of their backs-- one suggested that I camp out in front of their little tent to get an Early Bird Kit when I was there for the midnight thing. (I bought nothing there and moved on.) Target was more or less orderly with their limits on Lava Vaders and I had no problem getting two between two stores and probably could've easily snagged more were it something I felt was worth having another of. Toys "R" Us has an interesting selection devoid of my quarry-- Royal Guards of red and of blue. On the whole, I had no problems getting the stuff I felt I HAD to have as well as a few things I wanted extras of-- I mean, I've got a Clone Commander with four troopers. It isn't a big squad but frankly, it's enough for me for now.

The line itself is shaping up to be great, as is what little I've heard of the film. With 56 figures I expect some repetition, but was surprised that one of those figures, the aforementioned Royal Guard, is in fact two figures. (Or at least, it is by my accounting system.) Hasbro recycled a couple of molds I'd just as soon not see again (the deluxe Super Battle Droid, the AOTC basic Battle Droid) but wisely decked the line out with several troop builders. When collectors that open their toys get punchy, it's not unlikely that we will say "I could go for another Battle Droid," or in my case, "I would like more Clones and Guards." The action features more or less work-- my Vader is a little problematic, and one of my Clones seems to work better than it should (his arm stays up) but I'm more or less pleased with how the gadget aspect of ROTS turned out. Although as it's my understanding Darth Vader doesn't do much with his lightsaber after he dons the armor in this picture, it seems that its inclusion and his pose are a little out-of-whack and that probably means we'll get another one. But as far as I'm concerned, Hasbro can revisit him, Anakin, or Obi-Wan if they make them as posable as the Collection 2 Jedi and toss in a base.

The bases are marvelous-- I like the generic, connectable concept even though it can be tricky getting them to stick together. The figures have been very compatible with stands save for one-- Mon Mothma. Her holes are in her high heeled feet at the high point of the shoe, so the peg never makes contact with the hole. Cue the Sarcastic Clapping Family of South Hampton. I'm hoping Hasbro decides to make packs of bases available online or elsewhere so I can make a nifty display set-up, and at that time I'd also like to see a special Clone Trooper base as the Clones I have all have foot holes too shallow to make use of any stands I had handy.

Despite having to jump through hoops involving 8 AM lineups for tickets and hokey outdoor tent sales on a Saturday morning, I think they more or less did a good job of getting the stuff out and while reports are still just filing in, I'm not sure if anyone that was there when a store opened missed out on the exclusives they wanted-- although it seems some did miss out on some basic figures, especially those numbered 25 and up. If Episode I's launch would be a retroactive C+ (due to a product glut and incorrect figures like Boss Nass & lightsaber color issues), and Saga would therefore be considered roughly a B+ or A- due to the wide selection of characters and the inclusion of good Trilogy product, the launch of Revenge of the Sith looks to me like a solid A-. Why? 1-- jumping through hoops, bad information floating around. 2-- dozens of must-have figures and exclusives-- legit, exciting exclusives. 3-- it was an actual event, not just a "go buy toys, nerds" type deal-- they tried to make it something special. In some cases they did, and in others, not. But overall, those looking to be entertained while they shopped had a lot to like, and with the case packouts favoring collectors over kids with one-per box for the whole line, it's hard to find too many faults in the attempt. This grade, of course, is up for review depending on how many Darth Vaders I do (or don't) see come Summer and after we all see if Mon Mothma becomes another Ric Olie.

And now, some stuff.

First: apparently Gary Oldman dropped out of ROTS when he learned it was a non-union shop. Thanks for the bazillion corrections, as I had no idea.

Second: got me a new job. In the toy biz. More as it's relevant. (Yes, I'll still be here with you guys until you get sick of me, then I can ask myself questions.)

Third: Lava Vader review this week. Have you been watching the hype suck away from this piece? On Saturday morning on eBay, the list of auctions went from 301 to 321 in a few minutes. By the end of the day there were more than 1,300. If you're willing to wait, it looks like you'll easily be able to get one of these for just a few dollars above cost. 50,000 is a lot of figures, and as a friend of mine said, "if the person you are planning on reselling that figure to is currently standing next to you in line, maybe you should rethink your plan."

Fourth: Until the movie comes out, you best be wary of things that could constitute spoilers. For example, the "Master Vos" comment and the Green Jedi Starfighter things. I think this is valid, worthwhile content-- if you consider such things spoilers, please return to Q&A (and the Internet) in May. I'd rather not ruin the movie for you.

For next week, 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.) A Thursday update is very likely this week. Because I love you all.

Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!

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