Q&A For August 8, 2005


1. I was wondering about the new saga collection. I heard that the cards will feature the name of the movie represented on the front of the card. Is this in the style of the old vintage cards, for example will the new Han Carbonite have the Return of the Jedi logo on the card? Or will they all just have the star wars logo like the sandtrooper prototype?

The name of the toy line is, for here on out, Star Wars-- the chances of seeing movie-specific logos at the top of the card instead of a big giant "Star Wars" is pretty unlikely, although it would do wonders for making the packaging seem fresher and more dynamic.

2. Please forgive me if this question has come up already. What's the story with The Commander Cody figure? Is he going to be made or are we going to have to create our own version of this great character?

Commander Cody was talked up as a 2006 figure by Hasbro at San Diego, but these things are always subject to change. One of the reasons Hasbro doesn't let us in on their plans this far out is because they might change, and odds are with the insane fan demand for this guy, it won't change. I mean, I know I'd be frustrated if I don't see Cody in 2006 at this point, and then I'd probably complain about it here, which would lead to some of you complaining, which would lead to Hasbro wishing they never said anything in the first place.

If you can't wait, though, feel free to make your own-- it's something to do while waiting for new figures to show up.

3. I'm not too sure about the new 2" Unleashed Line. I never got into buying the 7" version, but I did think it looked great - which most likely makes me the target consumer... But the 2" line is just too close to the 3 3/4" line in size surely. I love to display my figures, but two such similar sized lines is just too much. If I'm going to get into collecting other SW items, surely it has to be something different which will make me go wow. Alternatively, why not a 3 3/4" Unleashed line, so that it would fit in with our existing collections - I know many people moan about preposed figures, but if done right they love them. Are retailers keen on this line or do they tend to approach new things such as this with a 'wait and see' attitude?

The target audience for the new Unleashed line seems to be army builders-- Hasbro decided to use an old brand name (Unleashed) and a different product concept (Armies of Middle-Earth) to appeal to a specific subset of the 3 3/4-inch collector market (army builders). Problem is, army builders don't just have some urge to build armies-- they want the normal sized figures as armies.

The other issue was that Hasbro says that Unleashed didn't make them much money-- this may well be true because Hasbro consistently missed the boat on shipping popular characters in quantities that would make for better sales. A lot of fans never saw a single Unleashed Darth Vader on the pegs... or Han Solo, Yoda, Boba Fett, and so on. The full-size line has a lot of steam left in it, even as just remixed assortments. With so much of the line selling on the secondary market for the kind of prices that would make speculators drool, it seems like there was a lot of missed opportunity in the 7-inch scale before you even get into the area of making another new mold.

But all this said, it's entirely possible fans will adore the new line and buy them up like crazy. What I think is more likely, though, is when fans start seeing figures in Unleashed 2-inch that aren't in the basic figure line, there will be a LOT of complaining. Especially as the line is said to be 75% army builders... fans may be able to soak up multiple scales this year, but in 2006, when the movie is gone and retail support starts to dry up, I don't think fans alone can support Attacktix, Basic figures, Titanium, Unleashed, Micro, Galactic Heroes, Force Battlers, Battle Buddies, Jedi Force, etc. etc. etc. Retailer reaction is currently unknown, but seeing how (despite what Hasbro says) most of the top 5 stores seem to be fairly consistently sold out of these guys, I can't imagine them being soured on the concept of extreme preposed figures that sell out all the time if all that's changing is the size.

4. Back in May I ordered the SA Clone from Hasbroshop and have yet to see them. An email from Hasbro let me know that they were on backorder. What are the odds that they might be repaints? Also, what is the release date for the Evolution Clones? I oredered this pack from Amazon around the same time and have seen their release date changed nearly every week. The latest date is Aug 15th. What gives?

The longer it goes, the better your chances are that if a repaint is coming, that you might get one. Problem is, a super-articulated clone trooper repaint has yet to be confirmed on an individual card-- the Shock Trooper repaint is based on the Quick Draw Clone Trooper. If Hasbro decided to repaint the SA Clone, you might see a repaint, but as things stand now, don't hold your breath.

5. I read on the forums somewhere that Hasbro was shipping entire cases of clones. I think they were a mixture of #6's and #41's. Is this true or just a rumor? I haven't seen a clone in months.

This is just a rumor. While some stores are suddenly seeing brief smatterings of either of those Clones, I have seen no evidence that these are from solid cases or cases containing a mix of both in bigger numbers just yet. It might happen, but as I just saw tons of them the other week, it seems something's going down that's resulting in a heck of a lot more Clone Troopers.

6. What is up with the ROTS Gunship? I saw a few around on April 2nd and 3rd and passed them up, assuming (since the mold had already been released twice before) it would be an easy item to pick-up later. Well we all know what happens when one assumes, and I havenŐt seen one for months now. I can live without another Gunship since I have the previous incarnations but the completist in me still keeps an eye out for one but at this time am I wasting my time?

This vehicle, and the ARC Fighter, are apparently on the way out. Some stores will still be getting these, but they're disappearing from many in-store plan-o-grams and Hasbro doesn't tend to keep big ships around for long periods of time. If you're on a budget, you should skip it and be happy with the one or two you've got... but if you want this ship, start hunting now and buy it when you see it. It most likely will not be around for the entire holiday shopping season.

7. Hey, i've just seen the new pics of the upcoming repaints of Shu Mai (cat miin) and Passel Argente and i was wondering if its a possibility that hard to find separatist Wat Tambor will be rereleased as well? im still waiting to add this guy to my collection

Also, i know there were two weequay jedi in the Geonosis arena, Sora Bulq and Que-Mars Redath-Gon. Im sorta guessing well be seeing a weequay jedi figure in the future and i was wondering if there was a way we can alert Hasbro that there are two of em so they dont make any naming errors. Id actually like to see both of em made, and Tarados Gon too. (the Klaatooinian)

And last, Whatever happened to Adi Gallia? Is she dead? why isnt she, or Eeth Koth for that matter mentioned since episode 1? i like those characters (and their names) much better than their current 'replacements'. --Rory

Don't expect it this year, but next year, anything is possible. The word on the street is that a Geonosis wave is coming in 2006, and a repackaged or repainted version of this figure could be on the way.

But a better answer is to suck it up and buy one off of eBay. Before shipping, the prices are as low as $2 and rarely go above $5-- what are you waiting for? Just bid and buy.

As far as other Jedi, well, keep asking Hasbro when you have the chance to bring it up. Write them letters and be sure to ask nicely, because I could care less and won't be asking for them myself. (I want Jedi, but I could go for less of them for a little while.)

Adi Gallia, and a lot of other Jedi, were given the green light to be killed off in the Expanded Universe. I'm not well versed on who's dead and where, and thanks for not writing in to tell me because I care not to know at this point, but assume everybody is either dead or going to be killed in upcoming novels.

8. Assuming the rumors are true about Hasbro focusing on the collector in 2006 and beyond, will they start using good plastic now? I'm tired of my figures bending and sagging on their own. Especially the weapons. The lightsabers from the ROTS Battle Arena's look more like colored whips than they do lightsabers. If the figures will be more collector friendly, why not up the playing age from 4+ to say something like 7+ or higher. I think it's safe to say that not many 4 year olds know much about many different Star Wars characters.

Also... Since Star Wars is to soon be more "collector" friendly, how's about an internet poll every month during 2006 to see what figure we as collectors would want to see? ENOUGH RE-PACKS! BAH!

Re-packs are very important for the life of this line. In the Vintage days, Kenner shipped the same figures year after year because kids and fans wanted to buy Vader and Chewbacca. It made more sense to ship an existing figure than to tool up yet another version, and I think we're at a point where Hasbro is best off rereleasing a Vader or Han instead of making a new one. Repackaged figures are cheap to make and bring the overall cost to Hasbro down-- if Hasbro needs to reuse so many molds a year, I'd rather have a repack than a repaint, especially when a new character is being created by a repaint. (Exceptions, of course, being made for troopers and droids and to some extent, Ewoks.)

Going forward, I'd prefer to see Hasbro just take an old figure and slap it on a new card unless that older figure sucked. Some figures, like R5-D4, Stormtrooper Han and Luke, Ceremonial Luke, and the Imperial Scanning Trooper could benefit from a decent resculpt, although I am not optimistic in all of these cases. When it comes to some figures, like the basic ANH Han Solo, Hasbro did about as good as they can do between the 1999 CommTech and 2004 Vintage versions, so those may as well be recarded until the end of time. They were good enough, that's for sure. Likewise, Hasbro should just repaint the living daylights out of the R4-G9 mold, the R-3PO mold, the (arguably superior) Episode I Battle Droid mold, and so on. And all the Clones, of course. But if Hasbro ever revisits the ARC Trooper, the red version of which sorely needs to see another (short) production run, I want to see some new sculpting action going on. Star Wars has finally made it far enough along in the past 10 years where we have molds that we can deem "good enough" which Hasbro can just keep producing as far as I'm concerned, so rehashes are a good thing if you're like me and don't do package variants outside OTC.

The bending of figures is both aimed at kids and collectors. My ROTS Aayla Secura and numerous super-posable Jedi figures sag and fall over because Hasbro listened to us before and made them all well articulated. So as you can see, when it comes to articulation, there's no pleasing anybody-- too much, and the figures may fall over due to weight. Too little, and we complain that they can't do anything. I haven't had a single problem with "colored whips" yet, but when it comes to the Battle Arenas, those aren't made for collectors anyway.

Four year olds do buy these. I see kids in stores buying them and I can assure you I started picking up weird aliens at that age, too-- while kids don't care as much about articulation at that age, they do care. Obviously, they want to play with these things and as such, they should be made with that in mind. Hasbro's story seems to shift on just who the toys are designed for, but they did finally retool the 1995 Falcon to hold modern figures-- which, for those of us who have been here for the past decade, is something that needed to be done up front.

I do agree that Hasbro should ask fans about some of what we want to see, but only to a certain point. Most KOTOR fans insist that figures based on Knights of the Old Republic would be the biggest thing ever and all collectors would be them. I strongly disagree--- if Hasbro made ANY character in whatever their minimum run is, it might do well, but not insanely well. If a well-made figure that got screen time and is a troop builder to boot doesn't sell, like the Clone Pilots in some markets and the Neimoidian Warriors in most markets, you never know what fans will really want to buy. I think making sure there are more Fan's Choice figures, like 2 or 3 a year, would be a good thing though as it would get fans excited and give us insight on which figures may be coming better than what they're doing now. As it stands, we rarely know what's going on in six months, and it used to be a heck of a lot better than that. (...but yeah, Kir Kanos? That'd be hot.)

9. Since you got to make requests for the exclusive R2 units, were you able to recommend the best mold to use for the sets? (and I personally thank you for getting the ball rolling on those). I noticed you edited and added to the original article - will the R4 units have feet with wires attached, since those molds are slightly less detailed than the R4-G9 molds, or will Hasbro just stick a conical head on the R4-G9 mold? (why did Lucas have to mess up the naming conventions and make it so confusing for us?)

I did indeed get to request the molds being used. R4-G9's mold will be used for all traditional R2 units, which is to say, all the droids without clear or cone domes. The cone headed droids will use the R4-M9 mold, and the clear domed droids will use the R3-T7 molds. If the original molds have wires, so will the new ones, if they didn't, then they won't. (And what I've seen thus far is very awesome, if you like droids, and boy oh boy do I.)

10. I am baffled by the fact no one got an update or asked about the future of the Clone War toy line.. There were rumors of figures in new waves but nothing announced... Rumors of Amidala, C-3po, R2 & Obi wan in clone armor, clone pilot etc.

Also, army builders, why not have Hasbro build a Jawa 5 pack with some of the taller Jawas, even some of the ones with the light tan cloth robes? Great idea yah?

Finally as a special figure, why not make an exclsuive of a figure called "JEDI SACRIFICE" and have Ben Kenobi posed the way he stood for Vader to take his life and have the Saber protruding the upper part of the package like the Toy Fare vader? Make it articulated with great detail, cloth robe etc. I bet Hasbro would love this idea.

Figures are the bread and butter of Hasbro, what they are good at and what make collectors and Hasbro all happy. Especially the single carded ones.

For whatever reason, Hasbro doesn't like to talk about upcoming products, which I find increasingly odd given that there's nothing they need to keep secret any more. There are no known plans for future Clone Wars movie style figures outside the multipacks you already know about, but at C3 there was talk about retooling some existing figures to make new animated editions. These are still in the works, or so I hear, and there's no word on the what, the when, or the how much. So for all I know they got axed.

Jawa troop builders? I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. Although if Hasbro puts out new Jawa/Droid two-packs as part of The Saga Collection, I'll be first in line to get them. It's just that there were many opportunities to get all the older Jawas, even on clearance, so these are molds that I hope Hasbro never again taps for exclusives. They're not bad, but if you want them, I'd say it's high time for fans to demand them. The prices on eBay and elsewhere are too cheap to justify releasing them again en masse, it would seem, unless Hasbro had a yen to do it.

While basic carded figures are the heart and soul of Star Wars collections worldwide, they don't make for great exclusives-- me, I'd rather see more multi-packs of figures if most (or all) of the figures are new enough to be cool. In recent history, individually carded exclusive figures were priced at levels that, frankly, I don't care for-- $10 at Toys "R" Us for a holographic figure, or free with purchase? $12-$16 for Wedge? $13 or so for Holographic Leia or Holographic Emperor? Color me cynical, but I don't much like those prices. If you can get the price down to $8 or less each in a multipack, it's a little more acceptable, if all the figures in the pack are OK. (And by "OK" I mean "ones I wouldn't mind having extras of, so they better be new or army builders.") If Hasbro's going to make a new mold for a figure, I'd rather it not be an exclusive-- sell those suckers everywhere! Obi-Wan Kenobi in that pose would look quite cool, but Hasbro doesn't seem to be too big on making more ANH Kenobi figures just yet. How else can you explain them NOT making a new "living" version of the awesome OTC Spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi mold?


Lots of tidbits today.

Two anniversaries totally slipped my mind this past week. Both are pretty much the same thing from where I stand, but to you, one will matter and one won't. It was the 10th Anniversary of my writing about Star Wars online (ASWN, HoloCroN, Rebelscum, Fandom Menace, Yakface.com, Galactic Hunter), which is also the 10th Anniversary of what was the first modern era Star Wars Action Figure. That's right, POTF2 launched in August (or possibly July, it's tough to tell) 1995. (I found my first Kenner item on 8/1/95, and that was the Froot Loops Han Stormtrooper mail-in offer. And I was going nuts over the Galoob stuff at the time, as I was a tremendous fan of their MicroMachines line with its figures, vehicles, and playsets. Not so much a fan of the modern Hasbro micro lines. But I digress.)

Happy 10th Birthday, Hasbro/Kenner Star Wars Action Figures! I'd say "may you live for 10 more," but we just saw a figure released commemorating 500 action figures since the beginning, which doesn't include all the multipacks and everything else. Complain as we often will (and are about to do again,) there has never been a finer movie-based action figure line and I'm willing to bet there never will be.

Without a doubt, the most common question I've been asked this past week is "So, where is R5-D4?" Sometimes, people asked politely. Others offered advice on what they would do to get it made. Others still decided that I simply must be mentally challenged for not seeing to it personally that this droid saw production. As such, allow me to make a couple of things known regarding the upcoming droid exclusive, as many of you seem to think that this item should have been included in this set. First, it's no secret that this, like the Clone Trooper set, is essentially a big box of repaints. It is possible Hasbro might make some modifications to the molds, but these sets came into being based on the limitation that they were repaints, which means, no mold changes.

Also, the Star Tours R5-D2 is not "close enough" to modify it to being a great R5-D4, and of course, the only other known mold for R5-D4 is the highly questionable (but nifty as an EU figure) 1996 version. The dome could not be modified, nor could the dome be swapped onto another body-- if you recall, the mold for R5-D2 is unique in several ways, not the least of which was a significant gash sculpted right into the torso. It's a heck of an awesome figure and arguably the best ever Astromech droid in terms of deco, but because of these unique features, it would not be possible to turn R5-D2 into R5-D4 or any other droid-- just painting it over would look bad.

Hasbro, if you're reading, I hope you're considering (or reconsidering) R5-D4 for 2006 or 2007. I have never seen this kind of flood of email demanding a figure see production from the original trilogy short of maybe Tarkin, Wedge, and Slave Leia back in 1996. The fans want R5-D4, they want him as a new figure (or the R4-G9 body with a new lampshade dome), and after you do that, they also wanted me to let you know they would be very happy if you would repaint it in the various very striking color schemes used throughout the Saga. (Maybe one every several assortments. Astro repaints are cheap and fans love them.)

Since Hasbro loves to do repaints, there's plenty of opportunity to remake new, modern versions of those older popular droids and to repaint the likes of R5-D4 in numerous fan-pleasing deco jobs. While not all fans approve of repaints, pretty much all fans approve of droid repaints. Especially if it means that those repaints can subsidize the cost of an R5-D4 that features at least some new tooling.

So for fans of R5-D4-- I know there's a lot of you because you're all now constantly emailing me-- I ask you to let the world know you care. I'd skip the petition in favor of just making it known on forums, emailing toy magazines, emailing Hasbro, or even asking them when you see them to make either a new R5-D4 or an R5-D4 using the existing (and good) body of either the Vintage OTC R2-D2 or ROTS R4-G9. I'll do my part as an annoying, constant source of dubious answers about all things Star Wars if you do your part as a fan and frequent poster to alt.nerd.obsessive.

What matters here is that if we, the fans, really want R5-D4 that we ask for it, repeatedly. It's been on the to-do list for years and I say now is as good of a time as any to ask for it. Let's put up or shut up, true believers! (And if Hasbro already has one in the works for 2006-- which I can honestly say I don't know-- here's hoping they let us know. And by us, I mean me, which in turn means you.)

... as one final note on the subject of R5-D4 for this week, did you know a band wrote a song about him, called "Red Robot Refund: The Ballad of R5-D4"? It's true. The band is Servotron, which contained a few members of other awesome bands Supernova and Man or Astro-man. A long while ago (in 2004) I posted a review of one of the few albums this song appears on, so in case you care, go nuts. See Hasbro? Servotron loves R5-D4, too.

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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