Q&A For August 1, 2005
1. I'd just want to know if the wedge shown at
Entertainment Earth is the same as the one at
SWshop.com? Because I was about to preorder the wedge
from SWshop but the one at EE is a lot better.
The image posted at Entertainment Earth is an official image from Hasbro and, as I was told, the final product. The one at ShopStarWars.com (which has since been corrected) was most likely just an issue of "we need an image up and we needed it up five minutes ago." BigBadToyStore.com has also added this item to their product line, as has ToyWiz.com. It's also possible (and very likely) that other online merchants will stock this item as well, and it'll all be the same item. It's a shared exclusive-- we don't see many of those these days, but that means it'll be available pretty much exclusively online, in reasonably short supplies, and if you don't get your order in early, don't blame me for not having warned you.
2. Why is Hasbro so afraid of having clone troopers become peg warmers?
Hasbro says a lot of different things regarding why they can't make more of a specific figure. Sometimes they say tooling, sometimes they say peg warming, and frankly, I don't know if they know which is true. If fans all of a sudden soured on Clones, there could be a problem-- but a case with 6 clones? Not a problem. Aside from a slight back-up on pegs in 1998, when everything was selling poorly, armored troop builders have always done very well. (OK, maybe the AOTC Guards were a little slow-- but that's it.) Clone Troopers have been speedy sellers since their introduction in 2002, consistently performing very well and being some of the fastest sellers in every assortment in which they appear.
While I think it's a huge mistake to sell a case of nothing but Clones-- kids want other figures, too-- I think making sure every case had 25% clones/stormtroopers/etc. from here on out would be a very smart move. The post-OTC Sandtrooper was a slam-dunk, as were the OTC and post-OTC Stormtroopers. The Hall of Fame Stormtroopers did very well, as did each and every Clone Trooper, exclusive or otherwise, with the Clone on Bike rarely sitting for a day or two.
I'm not one to tell Hasbro how to do their jobs, but with collectors as they are, and online stores selling by the case, and the fact that there's a lot of unsatisfied army builders more than happy to buy each and every Clone that comes down the pike-- they're foolish for passing on the opportunity again and again. It's nice to see them coming as exclusives, but that won't be enough-- Hasbro is starving the market on these, and unless there's some grand reason, like their involvement in the hypothetical TV show or some other future subset, there's going to be a lot of whining about Clones for years to come. It isn't just a vocal minority like some groups (*cough* EXPANDED UNIVERSE*), these are really big items that really sell well.
Of course, some Clones aren't huge sellers, but there's a precedent. The one Imperial figure that did tend to sit was the Imperial TIE Fighter Pilot in 1996, making it super-easy to troop build him because he was one of the few Imperials you might actually find. Likewise, white Clone Pilots from Sith stacked up, and often continue to do so but he seems to have been replaced by thousands of unwanted Neimoidian Guards, a fantastic figure that will, sadly, be receiving a repaint this holiday season. Now that is a figure Hasbro should be worried about.
(*- I still stand by the notion that with no more than a couple of exceptions, EU is a bad idea. After 10 years, there haven't been any big petitions and there's no groundswell of support-- sure, I think the market could easily absorb Quinlan Vos, a new Mara Jade and Thrawn, and whatever wacky Trooper concept Hasbro deems release-worthy, but beyond that? Probably not.)
3. Question about the evolution sets. Which figures are repaints or kit bashed (and what sculpt) and what are all new figures?
I am especially interested in the SandTrooper. Is this based on the VOTC Stormtrooper?
Also, how many variations are coming with the troopers? What are the differences (especially the Sandtrooper).
The Evolutions sets are entirely new sculpts-- it's possible some textures were reused, but if you get a look at them up close you can see that we're dealing with new parts here. "Kit bashed" is more or less an inappropriate term for these as I was always under the impression it implied the use of kits to make them, such as model kits... but hey, what do I know? "Head swaps" are good terms, as are "remolds" or "redecoes." We at the Q&A prefer to save "kit bash" for either prototypes or custom figures.
The Clone Trooper evolutions set is currently set to have one variation. The Sandtrooper will be dirtier and have a different rank, the Clone Commander will have grey markings, and the Clone Trooper/Pilot will be changed to white-- I'm not sure how this changes the included pilot helmet.
4. It's fantastic and somewhat unbelievable that Sideshow is actually
doing the 12 inch line! Really looking forward to that. I'm trying to
imagine what the line might end up looking like. Should I be thinking
Marmit as far as accuracy and price?
I see that the troopers that accompanied Anakin/Vader on his Jedi
Temple excursion are being called the 501st brigade or something like
that. Awesome that a fan group got official recognition! But do you
know where this was actually stated? I don't recall it in the movie.
Was it in the script? Novelization? Comics?
Sideshow's 12-inch line, according to Sideshow, will sell for about $50/per. I was told to expect borderline insane levels of detail with the pouches, belts, and every little piece being represented because it seems Lucasfilm saw Sideshow's other toys and said "oh, you can do this well or better with Star Wars, so go and make these the best you possibly can." Seeing as how a lot of collectors were used to paying $20-$30 per figure under Hasbro's reign, you might say "why bother?" Well, good for you if you do-- these are going to be limited items (numbers TBD) and there's going to be a big enough collector base to absorb them, it seems. You get what you pay for, after all, and seeing how 12-inch figures are a collector's only circle these days, they may as well make it right the first time.
The 501st name for the Special Ops troopers is an off-screen but official designation. Behind the scenes and in some other resources, they are named as such. They are not defined as such on screen. The official name is usually "special ops" but when the toys come out, this may change depending on the name Hasbro finally goes with.
5. I recently purchased the exclusive green Anakin starfighter and noticed that it came with the stickers pre-applied. I remember that the TRU exclusive X-wing (Red Leader) also came with the stickers already applied. Why is it that while most vehicles come with with label sheets, others come with the stickers already applied? Wouldn't it make more sense from a time/cost perspective to simply make the buyer apply all the stickers and be consistent?
There is method to the madness. If there's a window box, most (if not all) labels will be pre-applied. When there's a closed box, Hasbro is less concerned about presenting the toy and more concerned about the illustration on the front of the box. So in short, they want to tart up the toy if you're going to see it, but if you aren't going to see it, they're OK with you doing the work once you get it home. I have no real preference, other than what will get me my toys cheaper.
6. After seeing the pics on Galactichunter of the repainted clones two thoughts came to mind; first thought was great this will make it easier and quicker for Hasbro to get clones out to everyone, second thought (as someone who collects figures packaged and loose) was that some of the clone commanders w/ individual names will be put on a basically generic card. For my money the only two commanders that will get their own release (besides Bacara) will be Cody and Gree, due to the fact that they have such unique outfits as compared with the others. I guess that I can not blame Hasbro for this strategy, but I definitely want Cody and Gree on thier own indiviually released cards! Do you see things developing the same way? Also, although I must say that I'm strictly a 3.75 figure collector with respect to the toys, I was really looking forward to possible future releases of the Unleashed line. I really wanted a Boba Fett from ESB w/ maybe a Han Carbon block or how about a Plo Koon! Oh well!
The repainted clones are a matter of much controversy, mainly because there's a lot of fear that they may end up being hard to find. From the look of the upcoming case assortments, this doesn't seem to be how things will turn out-- there are cases with 1, 2, or even 3 of some of these figures, and I have a hard time believing that if those Clone Pilots (Black) show up at 3 per box, they'll be tough to get for too long.
Regarding Clone Commanders, well, it's all up to Hasbro. As of today, the only Commander with a name to see plastic is Commander Bacara. Commanders Bly and Gree are due before Revenge of the Sith sunsets, as are more name-free repaints of other Commanders. Hasbro confirmed Cody as being in development for 2006, but there are other unique ones (Neyo, anyone) that have yet to be announced but should eventually see production.
Unleashed is on hiatus-- which is a good word, because it sounds like "hate us," which a lot of fans are saying is an accurate representation of Hasbro's feelings toward fans of the line. On the whole fans have been very unreceptive to the new scale, but a lot of people really like them. It sounds to me they're trying to do something fans have been asking for, but not giving us what we want-- the line is supposed to be primarily army builders. While I think we all want Hasbro to make more Army Builders, we're no longer interested in yet another scale. In 2005 alone, Hasbro is selling 12-inch, 3 3/4-inch, 7-inch Unleashed, Attacktix, Micro, Titanium, Large Titanium, Force Battlers, Jedi Force, Galactic Heroes, Buddies, and more-- and frankly, it's getting insane. Unleashed performed well enough to keep going since 2002, I have serious doubts that any of these other lines, save maybe for Attacktix and Galactic Heroes, will enjoy similar runs.
Earlier in the year, Hasbro mentioned that Unleashed took over for 12-inch, and now they're more or less destroying Unleashed. (If you think I'm being overly dramatic, saying that your 12-inch customers transitioned to 7-inch and will happily move to 2-inch is downright unlikely.) Personally, I have serious doubts that this is a permanent thing-- Hasbro could easily make it a direct-only line, or an exclusive line in more limited distribution. Here's hoping they do so, as the market demand is most definitely there!
7. I was happy to see Hasbro is giving us a ROTS shocktrooper, any idea why they chose to repaint the inferior #6 mold to the #41 SA clone? Think it's a cost issue?
Hasbro's new Clones are basically being made quickly-- it's less an issue of cost and more an issue of "OK, we need to crank out all these Clone exclusives and variants, which molds do we have available?" Also, it seems these Shock Troopers and Commander Thire do not have the radio pack on their backs, and do have the longer Clone rifle-- as such, the "inferior" mold is more appropriate. Other than the missing waist joint, I frankly have no preference.
8. As ROTS may not be in theaters (1st run) much longer, are there any
major differences between film and digital prints of the movie? Any
differences at all? I don't remember seeing anything listed about the
differences in the prints. The closest digital theater is over 75
miles away so I'm reluctant to waste gas for what I'll probably get in
November. Secondly, any news on an 'Ultimate' style soundtrack for
AOTS or ROTS? The war drums after the opening crawl are reason enough
for an ROTS release!
While there were rumors galore about lost scenes involving Yoda and the senators on the digital prints, these were not meant to be. I have heard absolutely zero reports indicating additional scenes and footage in the digital print, which is what I happened to see. Regarding the soundtracks, nope, nada. It seems they like to double-dip with them-- release an inferior one, then put out a good one later-- so be patient, odds are it'll come out eventually. (Hey, it works for the DVD market.)
9. With figures already done such as the Duro and Ketwol, it would be a shame for Hasbro not to just "tweak" here and there and not give us the second Duro from the Cantina or the other Cantina alien similar to Ketwol (head turned with a hat). This could also be done with the Cantina band shown in Episode I. Also with the eventual Tonnika Sisters. Think this will ever happen?
If Hasbro decides to, anything is possible-- I'm a little surprised we haven't seen more of these, but when it comes to your examples, these may not be the best figures for Hasbro to do-- in some stores, Ketwol and Duro figures are still available, especially in Phoenix, AZ. Seeing as these two were pegwarmers more deadly than the likes of the infamous Dagobah Luke and Han Hoth debacle of 1996, I wouldn't hold my breath that you see these molds again in any capacity outside an exclusive mutlipack-- which would be something I'd welcome if it had one or two new figures. As far as the Tonnika sisters go, it appears that their heights may be different in some shots so using the same body might not be ideal, but it's something Hasbro did before. The Jedi padawan figures, Imperial Dignitaries, and AOTC Cameo Duo of Anthony Daniels and Ahmed Best all shared some pieces here and there.
10. If [the Droid] 5-packs are successful (and I'd be surprised if they're not -
I'll take two of each) I would love to see more of these in the future. Do you
think there is a chance that the gray R1 unit in the background of Mos Eisley
[see attached] might get included in one of these hypothetical future sets?
What droids might you pick for additional sets? How much say are you likely to
have in determining exactly which droids Hasbro ultimately produces for
If and when Droids are revisited as an exclusive, it's hard to say-- it might be a while, and it will all depend on what comes out between now and then. For all I know Toys "R" Us will insist on a pack for themselves and then make them all within the next year... thus solving the droid demand. It would be neat to see someone repaint the R1 mold and use it for an exclusive, but I gotta say, given the chance to pick for myself, it'd be at the bottom of the list. I'd like to go with something with more color or screen time first.
Still, that isn't to say there isn't room for a good Tatooine pack. If Hasbro or retailers are reading, I'd love to see a box with the white/grey R1 droid, R2-A5, some random Mos Eisley citizen, a Cantina alien (or Duro repaint), aaaand maybe something else for good measure like a Sandtrooper repaint. I'd buy one, or two.
This week, we've got an electronic R2-D2 review coming up and maybe a bonus Thursday Q&A, depending on the question influx. It's been a good busy question season, and we've got some great ones. We also have some less than great ones. But that's how it works, because as of now I can't afford to pay you guys for questions just yet. But hey, if you send your best ones in for free, it helps!
The new case assortments for the "final 12" Revenge figures should be making the rounds soon, or so the voices in my desk seem to indicate. Stay tuned. Here's hoping the Special Ops get packed to the insane extent we would all like to see!
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.)
Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!