Q&A For June 13, 2005

 

1. Is there any chance that the properly scaled TIE mentioned by Ōda Shwam will be GREY? IÕm SICK of blue TIEs. I *REALLY* want an ANH properly scaled GREY TIE. Any hope? (Pun not intended.)

On another note: why doesnÕt someone coordinate some internet poll to track how popular certain EU chars are? That way when Hasbro takes the plunge on EU again, they will know where to start. IÕm still pining for a Leia from Splinter of the MindÕs Eye.
--Tenchi

The facts surrounding the rumored TIE Fighter are all up in the air. I agree, I'd like to see it in grey, that's how I remember it looking in ANH and that's what I want it to look like in plastic. Galoob got it right with their MicroMachines version the first time, so it's not like this is some grand challenge. All I can say is be vocal, and make sure Hasbro hears what you want-- just not here, it gets old fast when I keep posting wish lists.

As far as Expanded Universe goes, this is going back and forth between being something I support and my new whipping boy. EU isn't as popular as the movies, and most people would rather have a figure that appeared on screen for ten seconds and had no dialogue before ANY comic, novel, or game figure. On the other hand, there are legions of fans that don't own a single Hasbro toy that adore the comics, novels, and whatnot and would love to buy them in plastic. A poll is pointless unless Hasbro plans on doing it now-- a year is a long time when it comes to these characters. If Quin Lon Vos is really dead, then odds are fan interest in him will start to dry up as well-- a little. A lot of fans would still run out and get him. It's a hard thing to measure because you never know what characters will be active in fiction and as such, it's probably an issue of diminishing returns-- but a Fan's Choice EU figure? Now that's a great idea.

2. Do you have any information regarding the new M&Ms Chocolate Mpire Collection figures and plush coming out this year? I heard that these will be released by Hasbro. Does that mean Hasbro is releasing everything collectible concerning the M&Ms items, (small 16 figure assortment, 16 plush toys, and the 3 plush exclusives through Giant) or are other companies involved?

Also, do you know when we can expect the M&Ms Chocolate Mpire collectables to come out, what stores will carry them, and how much they may sell for? And where do you think these items will be found, (the Toy isles, where the Candy is sold, or up at the registers), if they were to be sold at major retailers like Wal-Mart or Target?
--Jeffrey

Hasbro is indeed making these items, which was a big surprise for me. As far as I know, at this time, they're only doing Star Wars M&Ms items, and other items based on the candy brand are being made by other companies-- but I don't follow M&Ms collectibles all that closely. These items can be ordered by pretty much anyone with a Hasbro account, so you'll have to watch store reports, news sites like this one, and elsewhere to see what's what and where. Various online stores (like the one I work for) are preselling these goods, so that might not be a bad way to go either if you want to be first on your block for some of these things.

3. Imagine, mix and match packs with a clone body and 2 or 3 different heads (Cdr's Cody, Neyo, etc) and other accessories. Either that or release figures of those guys. HasbroShop or EE exclusives? A "Clone Commanders 3-Pack?" Whaddya think? Hasbro listening?
--Tony

Hasbro is fully aware of our interest in all things Clone Trooper, but for some reason, really doesn't seem to keen on making them. After seeing the movie, there were easily a dozen or more opportunities to do new versions of these guys and as of yet, they're dragging their feet. Why? I don't know. I think that any new Clone set would make an excellent exclusive, or an open-stock item, or whatever Hasbro sees fit-- as long as it's released. I mean, honestly, does anyone here not want a Commander Gree in all his amazing camo glory?

4. Well since you now work at EE is there away that you can work out a great deal with Hasbro and do new four packs of clone troopers from EIII. what would be he chances???
--Jamie

One of the unfortunate things about this column is that there will be some things going forward I can't comment on because it means I get into trouble. But this isn't one of those times.

This is something I would love to see. If you do too, make a big stink about it. Hasbro's very big on hearing what fans want to see happen, and I have no doubt that this is something very high on many of your want lists-- so I'll be sure to ask Hasbro about it if you all promise to do it too. Fair?

5. so about the Evolutions 3 packs, i loved the paint jobs i saw on them at C3 but can you tell me if those were just prototype paints or the real deal? i loved the matte finish on them. the detail looks so good they almost look custom.
--Joseph

Those were a first-hand experience of one of the toy industry's dirty little secrets-- and that's the wonderfulness of the hand-painted prototype. Those are made out of very different materials and, on the whole, they don't usually look better than final production when it comes to Hasbro products, but it appears there's an exception this time. These look marvelous but it's very unlikely that this is how the final product will look when you see it in stores. (If you need further evidence of this prototype oddity, take a look at pretty much any preproduction images of Toy Biz images from about 1993 until 1998. Especially those animated style X-Men and Spider-Man toys.)

6. I just have a couple of questions. Firstly (and foremost) is Obi-Wan's blue Jedi Starfighter...are we going to see it any time soon or should I just go ahead and buy his old one and repaint it?

Secondly, is there a release date on those Evolutions or is it just "Summer 2005"?
--Bryan

The repaints of the Sith Jedi Starfighter are one of the few repainted vehicles I was elated to see, and depressed to see a lack of announcements regarding future releases. Right now, the only three confirmed vehicles are the three that are out. (I'll do you one better than that-- none of my super powers say anything about more at press time.) So you can get Anakin's in Green or Yellow, or Obi-Wan's in Red. Future releases will most likely be dictated by fan demand, and this is something that if it gets spaced out, I'd love to see more.

In addition to Obi-Wan Kenobi's blue Starfighter, how about the Mace Windu version from the cartoons? It's a nice purple. I'd also like to see one done up in orange-- who it belongs to, doesn't matter to me. I just like orange.

Evolutions are on tap for Summer, with current estimates leaning toward these starting to show up-- at the very earliest-- near the end of June. It's more likely the first sets will begin to arrive at some point during July. Final packaged product has yet to be sighted in the usual places, so I wouldn't expect them too soon. But hey, Hasbro's supply channels are getting better all the time, so it's possible they'll just surprise us within the next two months.

7. A. We never had a nice Blue rank battledroid. Don't you think now is the time for one with articulation [not like the ep-1] version? Same for the Red Droid security [repack of the POJ]

B. With Tion Madon I think his name was were tall red robed aliens. Are they guards and woudn't they make a cool figure. Any word?

C. When Ki adi gets sent to the other side of the force... There was a red snowtrooper looking clone. Who and can we tell Hasbro to pleeeeeeeeeeeeeez make this figure [and correctly]?

D. What do you think Hasbro has up it's sleeves for Comic con?
--Sam

For starters, the Battle Droids (and almost all Phantom Menace characters) have received less than stellar treatment over the years. The original releases were great, made of a nice quality material with good articulation-- and after Power of the Jedi, the joints got weaker, the plastic got rubbery, and the variety went the way of the dodo. The one blue Pilot droid from at little AAT is it so far, and for the time being, most likely all we're going to see until 2006 or later unless there's some surprise planned for later this year. If the Battle Droid had the same huge appeal as the Clone Trooper, it'd make a nice troop set, but for whatever reason, not this year. Hopefully soon, I'd love to see some nice, quality Battle Droids hit the market once again in a variety of ranks.

Tion Medon's species is seeing one more figure this year and the future of the Utapau races are wide open-- so while there are no known plans this week, that's this week.

Clone Troopers, on the whole, are getting the shaft once again. While Hasbro promised we'd be swimming in Clones, we're swimming in generic white clones which may as well have not appeared on film-- this one, and others like him, are not known to be planned for 2005. Do we want him? Yes. A thousand times yes. So here's hoping Hasbro's reading.

And for the last one, well, I'll get fired if I tell you. But I can tell you that last I heard, Hasbro planned on debuting the post-ROTS line there. So expect to see, at the very least, the tail end of the 2005 product line.

8. Do you know whether a new version of Bib Fortuna is ever going to come out? I have always thought it was a great figure, but the mold, detail, etc. could be vastly improved in a new version, and make it a better figure. What do u think?
--Paul

A year or so ago, a list got out of a number of figures that Hasbro supposedly had in development-- now, this was before Original Trilogy Collection came out. On that list were figures that were released, like Lando Skiff Guard, and several that weren't, like a new sculpt Gamorrean Guard and Bib Fortuna. While no images have surfaced of this guy yet, or many of the others, a lot of these funky rumor lists end up being true lately-- after all, Bib made the cut on The Swami's crystal ball. But when, if, and how all remain to be seen.

The original version of the figure leaves something to be desired, so there's a good reason to redo him based on that alone-- a 1997 sculpt doesn't cut it with today's collector. On the other hand, we still haven't seen an accurate Phantom Menace sculpt of Bib, either-- so how about him? There's a lot of Bib Fortuna to go around!

So, can I say if a new Bib Fortuna is something Hasbro is likely considering? Sure. Hasbro's got a lot of items in queue for resculpts and pretty much every idea we come up with, they're considering-- they just need to know that we want it enough to push it out the door. (The Sandcrawler's a fine example.) Now, can I say when? Or what it'll look like? Or which movie it'll be from? Not yet. Could be held back for the 25th of Return of the Jedi, could be out in six months. Always in motion is the future. They held Yarua to 2005, after all...

9. I saw that you posted the new Q&A [previously], and included my question (# 5) about figure swapping. There's been some happenings since I sent in the question, and I figured I'd give you an update.

The day after I e-mailed you, I stopped back in to my local Target. I found FOUR new swaps.... 2 x Commanders (replaced with AOTC Clones) and 2 x Pilots (replaced with POTF Stormtroopers).

I was less than overjoyed at my discovery, so I picked them all up and walked to the service desk. I told one of the girls there that I wanted to speak to the store manager. Initially, she said he wasn't available, and asked why...so I told her someone was stealing from them. She called him right over.

I talked to him for a while....explained the situation....showed him how this a-hole does it.....and told him we'd found at least a dozen over the last week. The manager obviously isn't a collector, but he was following what I was saying. He said he'd notify the other managers, and the service desk people to keep a look out.

I was okay with that....but it got better....the other girl behind the desk speaks up and says "I remember the guy who brought these back, it was this morning....and it was these four figures."

Jackpot!

The manager told me that if the guy had a receipt, they wouldn't have his address on file. But, they do have him on video! He was on his way up to check the video when I left, and he told me that once they had this guy's face, they'd take care of it. (My fiancˇe's brother used to be a regional head of security for Target (in a different area), and I guess they take this stuff pretty seriously).

I haven't seen one swap since that day. I can't say 100% that they caught the guy, but it did seem to solve our problem. So the advice you ended up giving me was right, and if anyone else happens to ask you....tell them to talk to the store manager....and tell them that it does work.
--Rinn

Good show, Rinn! It's very hit and miss-- the problem with stores is that like many of us, they have jobs that suck, or they aren't fans-- I mean, if I worked at Wal-Mart and someone swapped out My Little Pony toys I probably wouldn't know or care. Great story, and while we do not hope that anyone gets arrested or in serious trouble, we're all for educating the populace that this is happening and that it's pretty pathetic that people need to go through elaborate, time consuming schemes to get a $5 figure for free if you're old enough to drive.

So, true believers, I guess keep contacting your local managers. If they care, and some do, it's going to make toy stores a better place. It's either this or everyone switches over to McFarlane/Palisades style plastic clamshell packaging, and that means the days of you being able to tear open a carded figure are long over unless you're first name is The Incredible and your last name is Hulk.

10. I find the Lego Mini Ships very Good. And Nice. Most of them. Are there Plans to continue these Series ? I read when you order a ARC Fighter on Lego-Shop you get a Mini ARC for free. Are they later coming regularly in Stores or are they just Bonus Exclusives ?
--Steve

A large number of these small scale sets have been used as promotional items lately, and many were in more than one location. Polybagged sets offered recently include the TIE Interceptor, Jedi Starfighter, ARC-170... and that's just the USA. Overseas, Kabaya and LEGO teamed up to annoy fans by offering Japanese customers by offering Original Trilogy mini sets of the TIE Interceptor, Slave I, and X-wing Fighter. So, you've got some possibly hunting to do, and for the time being, these special items are actually going to be exclusives. Toy companies can (and do) change their minds all the time so you may not have necessarily missed out, but it's to your advantage to start looking around just in case.

FIN

I wrote this about a week ago because I spent the weekend in Tucson, AZ for the Budinger/Poirer wedding. Good times. I tried getting drunk but didn't get totally smashed. (I'm not a big drinker so this was something new.) Anyway, I got stuff to do, so later.

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.)

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