Q&A For September 12, 2005

 

1. I was lucky enough to pick up an Imperial Throne Room Battle Pack at K-Mart last weekend. The Imperial Dignitary packed in it is Janus Greejatus, but the back of the box shows Kren Blista Vinee. The plastic tray is fitted for Janus Greejatus; are two versions of the Battle Pack available or is the box picture incorrect?
--Gabriel

The boxes are wrong-- believe it or not, it isn't the first time. Hasbro has produced numerous Transformers repaints with the wrong image (and box art) on the package in the past, and with the Battle Packs, as mentioned previously, they even accidentally used the vintage AT-AT Commander for the box photo instead of its modern counterpart. With hundreds of figures released annually, and the Battle Packs rumored to be developed by the lowest bidders, these things are bound to happen-- and it could even be a last-minute change. I have no doubt that these were made with whatever molds were handy, so it's possible it got changed in the later stages of production because the mold they found was Janus and frankly, for an item of this nature, does it really matter which Dignitary it comes with? Either way, collectors have it and probably are just buying it for the box, and for kids, it's just another crusty old guy... so, it was probably a convenience issue.

2. Is there any chance that Hasbro would offer the new large sized tie fighter wings for sale seperately? I'd gladly mail away for these; heck, I'd love to use my thousands of points for something (those auctions a while back were lame), why not a combination of points + $ ? Much as I love the idea of the larger wings, it's like a triple whammy - 1: I already own multiples of 1/2 of this toy (old ties), 2: Trying to hunt down another store exclusive (you know how bad gas $ is now!), 3: What about vader's tie, bomber, interceptor... will these be redone and should we have to buy them all over again?!
--Lance

If the market for vehicles is fairly small, I can guarantee you the market for vehicle upgrades is even smaller. When you look at the volume of the box you'd need to make this, shipping charges, and so forth, it makes little to no sense to offer a TIE Upgrade kit at this time. (Although it does inspire great ideas like an "Ultimate TIE" with interchangeable wings from TIE Fighter to Interceptor, etc.)

When it comes to revised vehicles, these can be looked at in a variety of ways, not the least of which is that as an exclusive, pretty much 15,000-50,000 units of an item in the right distribution channel should sell fairly well. So don't think of this as Hasbro going for the collector market so much as it is their attempt at selling a core trilogy vehicle for the Fall. The Millenniun Falcon just came out in a new box for $5 more, and unlike the TIE Fighter, here in LA, you can still find OTC boxed Falcons at certain stores. Releasing the same core vehicle as a higher priced exclusive has worked in the past, as long as a few changes were made, so unless these sit don't expect changes to happen next time.

Although what I am hoping for is, like the Kay-Bee TIE, this means the big wing TIE is rolled up into the regular line in the next year or two, sans pilot. That'd make me happy.

"Upgrades" are a common thing now-- some items fans buy in abundance for armies, displays, etc. If Hasbro makes a better one later, you get to suck it up and learn from your mistakes or be happy with what you have. I mean, how many of us bought tons of POTF2 Stormtroopers, TIE Fighter Pilots, Gamorrean Guards, Royal Guards, or Snowtroopers only to see all of them improved in some way? These things happen.

For better or worse, I've found the TIE Fighter to be a good item. I've only seen one in stores thus far and bought it, and I do think it's good enough to buy extras. But, like you, I'm not too sure that it's worth $40 and the hassle, so I'll be happy with my one extra large wing TIE unless I see them again down the road in some other format... or unless Target has a ton of them, in which case yeah, I'll buy another.

Can you expect upgrades of the other TIEs? It's possible. There have been three "different" Darth Vader TIEs (POTF2 unpainted rockets, POTF2 painted rockets, OTC), two TIE Bombers (battle damaged & regular), and one Interceptor with the old "battery compartment" back-- and fans started asking for a reissue of that with the new sculpted "pod" section as soon as the 2003 TIE Fighter hit Kay-Bee toys! So, while it may not be the most pleasant thing in the world for some of you, yes, there will be upgrades and if you can believe it, some fans are happy to see them. This may shock you, but there are collectors with no TIE Fighters and this new version is going to be their first-- so, as always, keep buying what you like.

3. Hi, I was wondering when Hasbro is going to realise that they haven't yet done a modern version of Chief Chirpa - our ewoks need some leadership here, come on hasbro! Is there the remotest sniff of him appearing any time in the near (or even distant) future?
--Zuck

While Hasbro understands that the complete and utter hatred of all Ewoks was replaced with a similar hatred toward all things Episode I that aren't droids, non-Gungan aliens, or Darth Maul, they're still not jumping at more of them. The reason for this isn't entirely known, as the Teebo figure did great business and the OTC Ewok items did well, too. (Granted, rumor has it the entire OTC line was a fairly low-run thing, all things considered.) But these things aside, there hasn't been a brand new Ewok mold since 2002 and there hasn't been a new Ewok since 2004, and that Ewok from the glider was a modified POTF2 Wicket.

Like R5-D4, Lumat, Klaatu, and a small handful of figures as of yet unproduced in the modern era, you can probably expect to see this one eventually. I mean, they made General Madine! There's room at the table for Ewoks, but as Hasbro often says, they have the license for almost 15 more years and damned if it doesn't look like they're going to make us wait for those last few characters from the classic line.

4. i would like to know why star wars lego vehicles are so expensive ?

I was searching through amazon.com and i was looking at the star wars lego vehicles and i don`t know why this is so expensive. For instanse the Lego Stories and Action Star Wars Episode III Imperial Inspection Shuttle sells for 50 dollars !, get this millenium falcon 100 bucks, episode 3 turbo tank 90 dollars, so i would like to know why this vehicles that are for little kids i mean no harm for this quote not that they are not for us but you get the point my friend . But why cus i think that like for instanse a Naboo royal cruiser is more of a toy that anything you could buy from lego, i mean an almost 3 foot long ship ,Exclusive Red R2 Unit Droid Fighter infrared gun to explode panels Removable Escape Vessel Damaged Hyperdrive Unit, Droid Harness 15 movie sounds, what more could you ask for in a playset. And that was 100 dollars back then in 1999 but man this thing is a huge playset.

Please my friend tell me something that i dont know cus you are the guy .
--Christian

LEGO toys on the whole are pretty expensive-- the going rate for most sets, until recently, are usually about US$0.10/piece. So a 700 piece set should be about US$70.00. This has changed in recent years, actually right after LEGO started Star Wars. You could buy a big blue bucket of 400 generic bricks for $6 until about 2000, and since then, prices have climbed for even the most elementary configuration of LEGO parts. Rising plastic prices, a perceived higher value of their product, or perhaps long-term underpricing coupled with the declining sales of the brand forced them to take drastic measures-- which no doubt include charging more for less. Star Wars sells well for them, so that's going to see some higher prices.

There have always, always been prices on LEGO that are just nuts. When I was a kid, I wanted the LEGO Space Monorail set. Never got one. Why? Price was $100+. The set had electronic parts, tons of pieces, many figures, and seemed totally worth it-- but, as you say, it was out of the price range for a lot of people.

Comparing Hasbro to LEGO is a little like comparing apples to oranges. The Hasbro Falcon is about $50, yet it's based on a mold that's old enough to be the father of most of its target audience. Meanwhile, the LEGO Falcon is $100, but includes tons of parts and figures plus has the added bonus of being hundreds of small grey bricks you can rebuild into another toy when you're bored with it. LEGO products. as toys, can sell for more because they can do more. While the Naboo Royal Starship from Hasbro is nice and big, it's always going to be a big silver ship with a throne that will never, ever see a Queen Amidala figure made that can sit in it.

LEGO stuff costs more to make, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily better-- some fans like spending an afternoon with a thousand tiny bricks. Others want to crack open a box and see an AT-AT ready-to-go. Different products for different people, and unlike Hasbro, LEGO is actually willing to take risks with giant $300 LEGO Star Destroyers, $200 Blockade Runners, and $250ish Death Stars.

5. I had heard(though I can't remember where) that there was going to be a lava reflection Anakin and Obiwan figure and they were going to be limited to 50,000 just like the lava vader. I heard a release around October and price around $11.99. Any truth to this? If so will they be at Target again? Also I heard about a stealth clone trooper that is super articulated and black and gray. Any word on a release on this and will they be limited runs also?
--Brad

Well, you heard some parts right-- there will indeed be Lava Reflection Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader), Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other premium figures this Fall. Prices are probably going to be closer to $12.99 and the production runs are unknown, but will probably be close to 50,000... which is a lot. I mean, that's probably going to be higher than the entire run of all four flavors of the Entertainment Earth Clone Trooper sets, or the Target TIE Fighter, or any of several other items. A stealth Clone Trooper (the "Zebra Trooper") will be a similar item, also priced the same way.

With the first two Target figures being pretty much instant sell-throughs, it would seem likely that Hasbro, Target, and people who don't like collectors very much will keep things going the same way. I mean, Target managed to get fans to pay what most consider scalper prices on the primary market for what are essentially third rate repaints. (Well, except for the Clones. Those are pretty cool, prices aside.) Who would have guessed?

6. I've moved to an area(Austin,Tx)that apparently doesn't have any Kmarts. Will there be any other outlet for the Jedi Temple Attack Battle Pack? I'm looking for alternate methods without having to pay through the nose.
Also is the Star Wars Shop exclusive Clone Trooper the same as the one that was said to be a Target exclusive without the fancy packaging or are they two different clones?
--Robert

The Kmart exclusive set, according to most sources, seems to be shipping to Sears Essentials stores as well. By extension, Sears may carry it as well-- there's been some crossbreeding between Sears and its retail partner, Kay-Bee, over the years when it comes to exclusives. This could result in something similar, but as of now, nobody is certain. Also, last year's Cantina packs for Kmart kept shipping until the market was more or less satisfied-- so if people are doing their homework at Hasbro and Kmart HQ, it's possible there will be several more shipments and more than enough Clones for all. Otherwise, you might need to wait until the heat wears off on this one.

The Target Trooper and Fan Club Troopers are totally different figures. Target's has "zebra" stripes, and the Fan Club has some sort of vac metal pattern. Although if fans can't tell the difference, odds are it'll be interesting to see how they do at retail...

7. I recently read that the Toys "R" US Clone Troopers 3 packs have been cancelled. Is this true? If it is, is there any chance we'll get the orange Utapau clone trooper as a repaint, varaition, or whatever? I've been looking forward to this trooper since the movie and I know there are a few collectors out there who want it too.
--Martin

According to one source inside Hasbro, they were never even considered, or at least never made it far enough along to have been offered to TRU. You may have noticed that like many items, Hasbro never once confirmed it at a convention, on their web site, or elsewhere. It seems unlikely that three-pack repaints as exclusives were never considered-- but for the time being, it's all moot, as it ain't happening. I mean, it makes sense-- surely an item of this nature exists in a mockup form on someone's desk?

Hasbro frequently says more Clones are coming in 2006, and I will be nothing short of flabbergasted if Utapau clones aren't on the menu in the next year.

8. Back in 1999 I saw the electronic Star Destroyer and Tantive IV at TRU. I regret that I only picked up the Tantive IV and let the real cool Star Destroyer disappeared in front of my nose. Now 6 years have passed, do you think Hasbro will reproduce the even cooler Star Destroyer in 2006 ? I have seen some of different ships being reproduced but how come Hasbro doesn't want to reproduce this particular battle ship ? Another thing, I'm not sure if Hasbro has ever produced any rebels medical ship from ESB - the Nebulon Frigite (not sure if I spell it correctly) in the market. I think it's a real cool ship especially when the Mil. Falcon is attached to it. Do you think Hasbro will make this one ?
--Chris

You'll probably see vehicle upgrade packs before you see a return of the long dead Collector Fleet line. For the uninitiated, Hasbro produced three electronic lights-and-sounds vehicles around 1998, including the Star Destroyer, Blockade Runner, and Super Star Destroyer (the latter of which was of questionable quality.) The good news for you is that the good Star Destroyer-- the regular one-- ain't worth all that much and can be had cheaply on eBay. (The Super Star Destroyer, on the other hand, is ridiculously expensive these days.)

9. Now from the pictures of the final 12 ROTS figures, it appears the "Special Ops/501st Trooper" was made using the AT-TE Tank Gunner mold. This has sparked quite a discussion on the forums as to whether the figure will be made utilizing the #41 SA Clone mold (as it appeared to be at SDCC) or the #38 Tank Gunner mold (which it now appears to be). Because of the role the troopers had in the film, it is one of the most anticipated (and most desired) figures for collectors to obtain. With your Hasbro connections, could you please tell us which mold will be used to make the "Special Ops/501st Trooper." AND MORE IMPORTANTLY TO ME, if the #38 Tank Gunner mold is the one being used to make the figure will the "Special Ops/501st Trooper" come with a removeable helmet? Because in my opinion, that would make the figure that much better.
--Jedi Knight Valorius

Not surprisingly, we don't know what's happening here yet. Hasbro shows one figure at one show, shows another to the press and to stores, and the final product has yet to be seen by anyone yet. The debate rages on if this figure will be better as a redeco AT-TE Gunner or a Super-Articulated figure, and I can see the advantages in both... but honestly, if it's the AT-TE Gunner, I'll be disappointed. Sure, removable helmets are cool, but even cooler is a figure who has arms that don't fall off when you're trying to put a gun in his hand.

10. Has there been any word on an extended DVD version of ROTS, like they did with the LOTR Trilogy? Deleted scenes packed in bonus DVDs are okay but I would LOVE to watch a three hour plus Star Wars movie. I think the deleted scenes between Mon Mothma and Bail Organa starting the Rebellion would really add to the movie. If there is an extended DVD, what characters from deleted scenes could we possibly see made into action figures?
--David

The good news is that Lucasfilm confirmed that the DVD will include deleted scenes, just like Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, but they aren't talking about what we can expect re-edited back in the film or merely supplements. For Episode I, some scenes were added right back into the movie, meaning there's no way to watch the original, mercifully shorter Pod Race theatrical cut from that film. Episode II on DVD was pretty much the digital theatrical cut with a tiny effects tweak or two according to most reports, and many largely expect Episode III to be the same thing. The final cut, of course, will be revealed in a few short weeks...

But as to the toy question, well, we're already seeing them. The blue lightsaber Palpatine was the result of some editing and story changes you'll never see on screen, as was Anakin's red lightsaber. Numerous Clone Troopers were never shown on the silver screen, and the Jet Pack Clone was never seen outside the animated Clone Wars shorts as far as I can recall. Mon Mothma didn't really have much of a role in the movie as we saw it, and rumor has it other minor characters that got made as toys had meatier parts at one point-- ditto with the other prequels. I've been told Ric Olie was made because he had a bigger part, but after seeing his acting, if you can believe it, his role was severely cut back.

Hasbro has been making figures from deleted scenes for quite some time, like the Clone Trooper Speeder Bike, Geonosian with Massiff, Floppy Hat Luke, Episode I Booster Rockets R2-D2, and the basic Episode II C-3PO. Oh, and the deluxe Yoda vs. Super Battle Droid, too. There's no shortage of figures made from deleted scenarios and concepts out there, so if Hasbro really wanted to do toys from them, there's actually nothing preventing them from doing it without you or I or anyone else seeing the scenes in question first.

And that said, let me be the first to ask for a figure of Fat Human Jabba in furs from A New Hope.

FIN

OK, so last week I asked you if your Jedi vs. Sith Battlepack Anakins could sit. The answer has been a resounding no-- several of you have reported broken figures and many of you just said "I ain't gonna force it." In so many words. It's too bad that the Anakin and Obi-Wan figures seem to not be able to sit on the whole, as this set was one of the finest concepts I've seen in quite some time.

Chad had some more insights: I opened one Jedi V Sith set, broke Anakin's leg, and then returned it so I could get a good one. That said, I had the Anakin long enough to look at the joint and the two legs are connected by the action feature in a way that makes it impossible for that right leg to rotate. They cheaped out on the action feature. Pretty disappointing if you ask me, but I understand the desire to reduce costs. Too bad they couldn't release this sculpt with a new mold on a Clone Wars card--with less "makeup". But yeah, man. Don't rotate that leg. It's bad juju.

Also, for those that care, the Sony Playstation 2 game "We Love Katamari" has been leaked early. My friend Zac found one in Fullerton, CA and I found one in a Target on Ventura in LA. It's $30. And it's not supposed to be on sale before September 20. And my wife already beat it.

Oh, and it's my birthday this week. So, one update due to me trying to fit some other stuff into the ol' schedule.

For next time, 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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