Q&A For September 8, 2005
1. Loved your column [the other] week, and I really agree with you about the micro stuff -- esp. the old 1982 sets. I'd kill to see some of those return.
Anyhoo, here's why I'm writing -- you mentioned the new SW minis game. I've been a big fan of it, and I even got some old Micro Collection Hoth sets off eBay because they work perfectly together and give my minis some turrets and trenches to play in (and a generator to blow up) Here are a few points you might want to bring up in addition for consideration:
1. The latest set features very large (officially called "huge") minis that are near-perfect AF scale. They did ten of them: an AT-ST, a bantha, a rancor, a Flash speeder, a Hailfire droid, an acklay, a reek, a boga, a clone on BARC speeder, and an EU thing called a Viper droid. Each $20 box ALWAYS has one huge fig -- though things like the Rancor and Boga are rare, the Hailfire droid (never done in Action Fleet!) and bantha (very nicely done) are pretty common. So for that, even if you just drop $20 on a set, you WILL get a nice huge fig. And....
2. For people with no inclination to "gamble" -- the singles of these typically sell for $15-20 anyway, you just don't get the extra minis. The Rancor goes for more, as does the boga -- but you can usually find an AT-ST or bantha or Flash speeder, or the acklay or reek, for $15-20. Again, for Action Fleet fans, it's a shame to pass these up.
3. Finally -- don't forget those people filling in an AF collection on ebay -- $35 for one of these isn't much different than what some people are paying for ACtion Fleet nowadays -- it's something to consider. No moving parts, but much more detailed and better painted. The AT-ST, rancor and bantha, IMHO, blow AWAY their old AF counterparts. The only shame is the AT-ST doesn't open up for a figure (and, of course, the rancor can't eat anyone....)
Just a small coda to your note about the minis -- any Action Fleet fan pining for an AF Hailfire droid owes it to him/herself to check this out. It's absolutely worth it. (Btw, it's also worth being a completist with these minis -- no more pricey than being a completist with the regular figs, given some of the insanity that takes place there - these are NICE minis, and converting them to fill in holes or come up with new poses is REALLY easy)
Thanks for the info, Lawrence! These seem to be-- if you'll forgive my choice of words-- the next big thing. If only Wizards of the Coast markets the miniatures in a way a little friendlier to collectors, it could be really big!
Other readers have written in as well, saying how much they're looking forward to the new Unleashed because, as it's own thing, it's another great new micro line. The smaller side of Star Wars has a lot of potential, much of which is only just now being tapped-- here's hoping the various licensees take appropriate advantage of this while they can!
2. Now that Hasbro has re-issued the Tie fighter with more accurately scaled wings, it got me to thinking about Vader's Tie Advanced fighter. How accurately are the wings on it's newest version scaled? Since it doesn't require a total re-sculpt (Isn't that a Schwartzenegger movie?) just new wings, any rumblings about re-issuing it with wings in scale to the "new" Tie?
While the original TIE Fighter is often remembered as one of the most out-of-whack vehicles in terms of proportion, well, there's a reason-- most of the vintage Kenner ships were like that. The original TIE Fighter, Millennium Falcon, X-Wing, and numerous other craft were made with giant cockpits to better fit figures at a smaller price. Although it went both ways-- perceptive fans may note the Snowspeeder is actually too large.
The Darth Vader's TIE Fighter seems to be a bit more on the ball. Regardless, I dug up some stills from the flick and my own POTF2 Darth Vader's TIE Fighter as, well, we all know the original Kenner one was a fine example of getting the most out of an existing mold (fun fact if you didn't know: it's just a regular TIE in a different color with new wings.) And here's what I found.
It appears if you really want to get into it, that the TIE Advanced that Darth Vader pilots is actually more or less correct when compared to the 1997 toy. The toy had a few new toy features added, and in the process, the struts or pylons or whatever they're called between the pod in the middle and the wings seem to have been slightly extended. The wings on Vader's TIE should indeed be somewhat smaller, although the ship as a whole could stand to be a little more compacted. So as it stands, it's pretty much OK as is. Although if you wanted to, you could make an argument to either augment the wings a bit, or reduce everything BUT the wings. Since it's not obvious like the standard TIE, though, I wouldn't count on anything like that happening.
Most vehicles are going to be deformed slightly in the toy creation process, and the designers of the now defunct Kenner managed to do a fantastic job updating this ship in 1997. As it stands now, I actually cannot see a legit reason for retooling any part of this vehicle unless it was to either integrate the hatch a little bit better or tweak an action feature. (Or add real movie sounds and lights. There was a kid, probably no more than 8, at San Diego Comic Con that kept going on about how lights and sounds make toys cooler, and damned if I don't think he's right in cases like this.)
Some of you (including Anthony) have also suggested that Hasbro release the TIE Fighters of all flavors in the "right" color. While I personally am still unsure of what color a TIE Should be, I'm fairly sure they're more grey than blue based on the few props and prop replicas I've been fortunate enough to see over the years. Not that I want to encourage more reissues of the same vehicle, but Hasbro, if you want to get a few more sales out of the new big wing TIE, drop the price by $10, cut the figure, and sell it in grey. I'd take a couple.
For further fun trivia, as it seems a lot of you haven't been here for the past decade, you might be interested in knowing that virtually every modern era vehicle from the Trilogy (the films, not Expanded Universe) comes from a modified mold from 1978-1985. The A-Wing, Y-Wing, B-Wing, and so on are all pretty much modified vintage vehicles, some to the point where it's actually somewhat difficult to tell that the reissue was any different. Many were outfitted with new electronics, firing weapons, and so forth, but very few were given new mold lovin'. The T-16 Skyhopper appeared briefly in ANH and was made as an all-new toy in 1997, but it was made a little cheaply-- when you pose the wings, you actually chew up the plastic. In 2002, there was a brand new mold for the Landspeeder, which numerous fans didn't like, although it did get the proportions of the prop correct at the expense of the awesome pop-up hood. Finally, the X-wing has received a couple of makeovers. In 1998, they made the PowerFX version which was an all-new mold with lights, sounds, and two "dedicated" figures, which means "stuck inside." The vehicle was spot-on to the original prop (or as close as $50 can get you), and it was later remade sans figures and electronics for two different Toys "R" Us exclusives.
While some fans want to see other vehicles redone, like the Millennium Falcon or, my personal #1 choice, the Tatooine Skiff, it's not looking good for the future of all-new molds of old mold vehicles. Thankfully, there's not much reason
3. I just bought a house, something I never expected to be able to do in
the part of the country I live in, and I'll be paring down my toy
collection so it takes up less space. The secondary market seems more
trouble than it's worth unless I auction things off in large lots. I
worry that if I donate to a charity thrift store it'll get looted by
scalpers (in my early days of trying to rebuild my vintage collection I
made friends with sorters at several charity thrift stores who called me
whenever something I might want showed up). I'm an opener and want to
get my toys directly into the hands of kids who are short on toys. Toys
for tots type programs won't accept unpackaged toys. Any ideas?
A wise man once told me to never buy anything unless I plan on being buried with it-- I've taken that to heart to a point, but as it stands, I can't afford a grave of that size.
When it comes time to unload, I'd advise you look on eBay and see what's going for decent money-- and then sell it off. But if your primary goal is to get rid of it, try a few things like garage sales and yes, thrift stores-- it's not your concern what is done with it, but that it goes away. You can (and should) also write up a list of what you have and post it to forums and maybe take it into collectible shops and see if there's any takers. Scalpers aren't your concern when it's time to unload your collection-- if you just want to unload it, ask fellow collectors and see who can help you give it a good home. (And if you have any Episode I Galoob product, do let me know. Cough. Cough.)
4. I'm the first to agree we've come a long long way since 1995. All those early problems have long been corrected, all but one. The Darth Vader figures height! As someone who has met Dave Prowse in the flesh I can confirm he is 6'7"! But more than that, he's not only tall he's completely in proportion. Hence why Hayden Christianson could easily play him in EIII, and there was very little in the few scenes he had to compare his height to. Surely it's obvious that when Anakins remains are taken away and he's turned into the cyborg Darth Vader, he's rebuilt to his towering 6'7"+ height. The new EIII Darth Vader figures (the Evolution one in particular) are frustrating because they are PERFECT (and I do not say that lightly) in every way except height! Maybe I'm missing something, but am I the only one who thinks this?
Height is the big problem that a lot of fans have with the Hasbro figures. Even in the vintage line, there were some issues-- Leia's too tall, Chewie is too short, and things are barely improving as we go. This is an issue Hasbro is slowly working with as the line moves on, but when Vader barely seems taller than a Clone Trooper, obviously, there's still some room for improvement.
5. What are the chances that a General Grievous starship (the one the Obi Won took) will ever be made as a vehicle?
While I personally think (and see sales showing me that) smaller $20-or-so vehicles are VERY nice sellers, Hasbro doesn't make product that backs this up. Jedi Starfighters, even repaints, are enormous sellers even though most of them all look alike. I haven't seen a heck of a lot of Grievous Wheelbikes sit, nor X-wings, TIE fighters, etc. These things are popular and I think as long as there's some "combat" or "action" aspect to it, all vehicles should be considered for release as long as they're cool and can house at least one figure inside. (This is why I LOVE the Trade Federation Tank and don't much care about the Hailfire Droid.)
That said, don't hold your breath-- preliminary word about 2006 does not have me feeling happy about more vehicles, and I have to say, 2005 has spoiled me rotten! I love the current offerings, even the repaints, and am ridiculously happy to see new offerings in the stores every few weeks. So far this year, we've had four unique Jedi Starfighters with a fifth coming, the Gunship, ARC fighter, Grievous' wheelbike, Wookiee Helipcopter, Boga, Barc speeder with Barc trooper, Barc speeder with Stass Allie, the Vulture Droid, reissues of the Falcon and TIE Fighter... it's been a pretty good year.
Granted, 2004 was pretty slick too-- TIE, X-wing, Falcon, Sandcrawler, Darth's TIE, Y-Wing, Slave I, all of these make for a pretty great mix, and a smart selection of vehicles to cycle in and out as the line continues in the future. I do hope that like with Clone Wars, Hasbro uses its future lines to shoehorn in some great designs left unused from previous movies.
6. I've heard rumors that Burger King is doing a tie-in promotion with the DVD release. Supposedly this is why all of the inflatable Vaders from their rooftops are being removed from auction on you-know-where. Have you heard anything about this?
That's the rumor, but it's a little early to announce such things. And for those curious, the previous BK promotion is beyond dead-- prices for a set on eBay are as low as $30 shipped! Not a bad deal!
7. Do you know when we will probably see a figure list for the Saga
Collection in 2006? I just started collecting so I don't know when a
figure list (and pictures) were revealed for, say, the Revenge of the
Sith collection prior to the actual release of the figures.
Well, let me put it this way: Hasbro released an exclusive TIE Fighter without ever having confirmed it, with no announcements. News out of Rhode Island has been slow at best, and I wouldn't be too optimistic for a "here's everything to expect!" list any time soon.
8. A few months back I remember seeing some pics
of a Millenium Falcon/Death Star Hanger cut-away display piece from (maybe?)
Sideshow or Master Repilcas or somebody like that which was AMAZING. Do you
know the status of this piece.... the SIZE (3 3/4 or smaller?)... the
cost... and when it is coming out? In a recent interview with Steve
Sansweet on one of the on-line sites (cant remeber which one--maybe Yakface)
he seemed to vaguely refer to this piece and I was curious to get more
specifics. If youve seen the photos Im referring to, they sort of represent
what Im talking about regarding Hasbro sublicensing the vehicle and playset
sales to someone else.
A few months ago I mentioned this item, and it's the Attakus Millennium Falcon diorama. Last I heard, it'd be available in two pieces (the Death Star being the other) and it'd be expensive. Previously, I said to expect prices far above $500-- naturally, I got a lot of nasty emails indicating that obviously, I know nothing of how much things of this nature sell for. To you, I'd like to say you were right-- because the price is, according to at least one source, over four thousand dollars.
So, for those of you thinking this would be a good piece to get to augment your figure collection, well, forget about it. I know maybe two or three of you reading this can afford that, but as I am not one of these people, well, maybe it isn't good for Hasbro to sublicense such an item. There simply aren't enough collectors around to support items of that price range, which is why this particular one will be limited in the hundreds.
9. Could you follow up on whatever happened to the Original Trilogy DVDs that
Rick McCallum spoke of during C2?
Basically, he stated that there would be something like 3 versions of the
movie on the disc:
-original theatrical version
I, and I'm sure others, would love to know whatever became of these
I figure that they'll be releasing a box set of all six movies sometime
soon...maybe with these "new" versions included.
(hopefully like the MATRIX box only with the normal clamshell packages!)
God, wouldn't THAT be great!
If only the price would be right!
As far as I know, that isn't what McCallum said-- I remember seeing an interview indicating multiple cuts of the movie, but those had more to do with being able to switch around between animatics, the bluescreen cuts (as in, not finished) and various final or more-final editions on the fly. So don't hold your breath here-- even if you can find a quote from George himself saying that he'd release the original cuts, he's since changed his tune. He might change it again but I wouldn't be optimistic.
10. Is there any chance at all of the Unleashed line coming back in its original size? I am not crazy about the new 2" battle packs and it seems I am not alone. The introductory waves are not that exciting at all. Some time back rebelscum.com did a poll and thousands voted no interest in the new line; isn't Hasbro concerned about this? Will that be encouragement to return to the original size. It seemed there was still alot of life left in the Unleased line. I think one problem may have been the packaging; perhaps if Hasbro had packaged them all assembled and in a window box display, they would have stood out more. There are alot of characters that would have made great additions to the line like Lando, Older Obi-Wan, R2 & C-3PO, the Royal Guard, and even Tarkin could have had potential!
Well, collectors are a fun bunch. In 2002, Hasbro told us they were going to do another size of action figure that was basically a statue and "extreme" and 7 inches tall. Everybody complained and the first series of these figures, working name "Generation Y", were not big sellers. This was, of course, the first wave of Unleashed, and the Jango Fett and Darth Maul figures are now fairly expensive collectibles.
Like you, my interest in a new smaller scale of Unleashed isn't currently very high. Especially if I don't get me that last series. I'd rather they just kill Unleashed and call the new line something else-- when it comes to transferring goodwill from one brand to another, keeping the same name isn't always going to make people happy. (I don't want Oreo brand vitamins.) The chances for more 7-inch unleashed seem to be shrinking by the minute. Hasbro, Wal-Mart, and the others have decided there's more money elsewhere and they seem to be shooting the line in the foot by releasing some characters that seem intended to bring the line down-- I mean, if I'm wrong, I'm sorry, but Asajj Ventress and a new Chewbacca aren't going to make this line sell any better in its final days.
I have a question for you today. If you bought and opened a Jedi vs. Sith Battlepack, that is.
Reader Ryan wrote in and said his Anakin Skywalker from that set had his right leg-- the one that activates the feature-- snap off when he tried to turn it. Sure enough, I tried to have mine move so he could sit, and it was stiff-- it budged a little, but it feels if I keep pushing it, it will surely break. Has anyone got their Anakin to sit successfully? Has anyone else ended up breaking his leg off before Obi-Wan had the chance to do it himself? Please let us know!
I'd also like to put a quickie review of the Jedi vs. Separatists Battlepack out there: It's cheap. There are some nifty and notable changes you should know about, though, as odds are a full review ain't gonna happen.
Jango Fett and Darth Maul are pretty much identical to their releases on Saga cardbacks in 2002 and 2003, and this is the same Darth Maul that was in the POTJ two-pack with Darth Vader. Jango is missing one of his two guns in this set, though, so the basic carded figure is the superior one.
Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker, and Obi-Wan all have "new" heads. Mace Windu has a Deluxe Mace Windu head, Anakin has the Tatooine Attack head, and Obi-Wan has, I think, the nightclub head. Also very notable are Anakin's lightsabers-- unlike the others, his have the colors swapped. In the deluxe figure's release, the blue bladed saber was actually the green saber and vice-versa. Neat! But not neat enough to justify spending a lot for this set unless you don't have any of these guys.
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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