Q&A For November 7, 2005


1. I was at my local Target this week and punched in the DCPI # for the Evolutions sets (087-06-1357), hoping to find the "Sith" set. The scanner displayed that there were some in the stockroom, so I asked an employee to look for me, told him what I was looking for, and he went back to check. He brought back a "Jedi vs. Sith" Battlepack, and said that was what the DCPI number pointed to. I told him that wasn't what I was looking for and showed him the shelf tag, which had some circular gray stickers over part of it. He said those meant that they were no longer carrying that item. So my question is, will any stores still be receiving the "Sith" Evolutions set? I found the other two Evolutions sets at the same Target, but have never seen the Evolutions set at any other store, other than this Target.

I'm not sure where to start, but I was often told that the grey stickers meant an item was on order... but hey, things change, and you never know. The Sith Evolutions set is still shipping but it's my understanding that it's almost done shipping. There are a lot in the system, meaning some stores are going to get theirs still, but it's hard to say who, what, when, how much, etc.

Don't forget, there are FOUR Evolutions sets-- the Clone Trooper "repaint" has different packaging and an extra accessory PLUS a different item number, which, to me, qualifies it as a new product.

2. I know in early 2006 Hasbro will start releasing their Saga line. I want to know how much longer will the the current ROTS line be produced? The first few waves have been out over half a year now but what about the "Final 12" figures? If I don't get a 501st trooper in the next couple of months, am I out of luck?

With Revenge of the Sith, I've learned that cases ship until they don't. There's usually some overlap, but it's hard to know for sure because we're making a startlingly abrupt transition from "movie year" to "fan crazy party time." There may be a quantity of older cases "in the system," meaning potential close-outs or eleventh hour shipments-- so since these figures JUST hit, and a lot of stores have yet to receive them at the time I write this, odds are you'll be able to find them if you check the stores regularly-- like, spend a few weeks hitting SOMOEWHERE every day or two (not three)-- just keep looking. My list of "never-seen"s (in the wild) for basics is currently at the Darktrooper and the Clone Wars Clone Trooper.

If you're not looking at grocery stores, Walgreen's, Kohl's, and their ilk... start looking when you're in the neighborhood. And when it comes to the secondary market as jumpy as it is, if you can get one (or more) for $7 or so a pop, it's not a bad thing to cover your butt.

3. Am I the only one who's already getting nervous about being able to find new figures in 2006? I know the final 12 of ROTS are just starting to hit, but I'm already sensing the familiar pattern of lower quantities of the last few movie year waves followed by a major drought. In 2003 I didn't get my hands on the first few waves of the year until April or May and there were a good number of figures I only saw once or twice in stores.

After reading some of the rumor lists that popped up recently, it doesn't seem like Hasbro is cutting back on the amount of product as much as they should. I'm also feeling pretty bittersweet about the prospect of troop builders from here on out. If case packouts were better I'd just screw the hunt and start buying on-line, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. What are your thoughts about how much of a headache we're in for next year?

While I'm not 100% final on all the details, Star Wars is Forever should apply next year when it comes to marketing the overall brand, which translates to "stores should be ordering lots and lots of stuff." But if you're a toy junkie, you know that this doesn't necessarily mean you're covered all year, and depending on how you shop, you're at the mercy of the all-too-fickle buyers for the Big 5.

Wal-Mart dropped Unleashed like a bad habit twice. And you know what happened there. (That's right, they're going to get to drop it a third time in 2006.)

I don't think we're in a headache. In 2004, and 2003, those first few waves did get out eventually, and some of them were even repackaged and shipped in that year's more updated packaging. Which, I understand, itsn't necessarily a plus.

The 2006 case packouts are about what they need to be. The first waves of 2003 had few new figures in them and the rest were repeats-- sound familiar? Two of each new figure per case is no worse than we're getting now (better, in some cases-- need I remind you all the Neimoidian Trooper was initially shortpakced?) and I'm quite positive... so far. Cases of nothing but new figures would probably be a good thing for the first wave-- Han & Leia anyway, here in LA we're still drowning in OTC Bib Fortunas some places-- but for wave 2? It's death. I'm giddy for General Veers, Major Derlin, and the new AT-AT Driver... but I'm not optimistic about them being the biggest sellers. (Well, maybe the AT-AT Driver.) The other figures in each case are insurance for collectors-- once we swoop in on the 100% new guys, kids might actually buy the other figures, and there are more kids with collectively more disposable revenue (their parents') than there likely would be of us. So, appease the rugrats-- what we need is new blood in this hobby, and from the look of things, if a new collector came on board in 2006, just the 2006 collection is going to be a good enough mix to make that one-year collector pretty happy. (Just like OTC, but not.)

As the line ages, and any toy line ages, you have to remember that you are in the position of the hunter and you have to go hunting for the final product. This might mean toy runs that last weeks, or shopping online if you don't already. Toy Biz dumped the Lord of the Rings license, what's to become of the final wave toys? Hasbro gave Xevoz the heave-ho, and dumped the final wave at HasbroToyShop.com and (yay!) where I work, Entertainment Earth. The final few toys from Beast Machines were a nightmare to track down, and many were dumped online, at Kay-Bee, and Kmart.

So. I hope you've got gas in your car or a credit card for online shopping just to cover your habits, but I think most 2006 figures should be fairly easy to find. Or you can just wait a year and check eBay and buy the whole set for less than retail, as that seems to be the style these days.

4. I saw the new list of figures for 2006 at Rebelscum.com, and IÕm a bit upset that they donÕt have at least ONE Padmˇ Amidala figure. Yes, the rest of the figures chosen are cool, particularly the ones that are borderline EU, and yes, girl figures ŅsupposedlyÓ donÕt sell well, but for Hasbro to plan an entire year without making at least ONE figure of the ONLY heroine in the prequel saga?!?! ThatÕs nuts, and disappointing. I guess my only hope is that they come out with an Evolutions package of Padmˇ Amidala, because in my opinion, all these battle packs and Evolution packs are awesome and should definitely continue. My question for you is, whatÕs your opinion on Hasbro continuing the Evolutions pack lineŃfor instance, even though they havenÕt announced continuing it, do you think theyÕre hiding it up their sleeve? (Consider, they refused to make Baby Luke and Leia way back at Toyfair and ComiCon, but eventually we got those babies)Ńand whatÕs the likelihood that if they do continue Evolutions, theyÕll make a Padmˇ pack as a last hurrah for the great heroine?

I have conflicting information on the future of both Padme and Evolutions for 2006-- so in short, if you want to listen to the rumor mill, believe whatever makes you happy because it could very well go either way. (Also, they supposedly announced the babies at Comic Con.) There are no widely known plans for box figure sets yet, but these things can change pretty quickly. Fans clamoring for Padme could just be a starvation tactic-- if fans still want her later, I'm sure Hasbro will cash in. In the meantime, I'll be complaining about the lack of female figures in the line on a regular basis.

5. In the newly announced Hoth wave for 2006, which figures are new sculpts and which are redo's ?

TBD. Hasbro's official image of Boba Fett from the upcoming Carkoon wave was unmistakably the 2003 figure, possibly repainted-- it's hard to tell with their fancy lighting and Photoshop-fu. Badly shot images of the packaged figure makes it look like he's that figure, with the 2004 Vintage Fett's legs and a new rocket. So with the Hoth wave, it's really hard to tell what's "new," but here's what we know to be new. Major Derlin, AT-AT Driver, and General Veers are all new sculpts. The Power Droid is based on the 1999 figure with a new hat. R2-D2 is R4-G9/R4-P17/half the EE droids' mold, but with R2-D2 markings, thus making him "new" in my book.

It appears General Rieekan and Darth Vader are based on $10 (or above) releases of the figure from earlier and the Snowtrooper is a bit of a question mark-- but I can tell you, those are the same legs the Saga and OTC ones have I goofed. I'm not quite sure about those legs, I was looking at a hi-res image and squinting at the ankles so much I totally missed the fact that it had kneepads all of a sudden. So if you've got all the basic figures ever made, and want all the majors, you're going to be buying at least five. These three are good question marks, but I'll probably snag them all anyway.

6. Do you think that Hasbro may have made a mistake in their handling of the upcoming Saga figures? EP III figs seem to have been a huge hit with kids (and, more importantly, their parents). However, as we head into '06, Hasbro is re-focusing on the original trilogy and giving us characters/figures that, while decent, aren't the type of thing that will interest the kids who want EP III characters. Do you think that by appeasing the collectors with a return to the original trilogy, Hasbro sacrificed the momentum they had in the SW brand with a new generation of kids. It would seem that kids who were excited over Episode III characters and figures will be highly disappointed when they go to look for new figures next year and, at least initially, only find less familiar figures from the original trilogy.

It seems to me that Hasbro had enough lead time on the success of the line to move the saga EP III or even EP II assortments up to the beginning of the year where they could have kept their momentum. It's like Hasbro has pretty much decided that as soon as the calendar turns, these new fans will simply lose interest and only collectors will be buying once again.

It looks like Hasbro looked back at the previous movies and said "hey, they got sick of the new movie pretty quick, so let's transition to cover all the movies to get some variety out there." In hindsight, maybe they'd want to change their minds, but when you really get down to it they kinda ran the gamut on Revenge of the Sith already. I mean, with the exception of a few Clone Troopers and Padme, the number of "must make" figures is pretty low. Honestly, short of background characters, can you really name a large number of missed opportunities from the last movie? If Hasbro kept it going, we'd probably be seeing more separatists, and while I want more myself, they're not selling well and at one-per-case in only a fraction of the cases, they're already starting to sit. That ain't good.

So 2006 returns to a mix of core characters-- mostly good ones-- along with fan friendly figures. Is anyone out there really disappointed by all the mixes you've seen so far if all of them come to pass? I mean, if we're being realistic, it's a good mix at the right time. I think Hasbro may miss the boat for Sith figure sales for Holiday 2005 because of the rapid-fire "must turn the line over in six months" mentality of the toy industry, but for next year, I'm liking what I see. It might be a mistake to abandon the prequels for so long, but time will tell...

7. Im alway readin your column and you often say: Ive got a few and stuff like that. Which made me wonder: how do you store your collections? In boxes or stand out? Do you unpack or save everthing in star cases? Some pictures would be nice!

All my carded figures are in Hasbro's shipping cases (with a few exceptions in star cases due to their not being properly durable for those), but all my open stuff is usually out and about. Sometimes I have to rotate stuff for space reasons, I can't have all of Beast Wars AND Cybertron AND Robot Masters all out at once, after all.

8. HI,I'm not really what you would call a collector but I am collecting a lot of toys for my 3 year old who really digs Star Wars.I've been able to score some cool pieces like the Tatooine Skiff and an AT-ST.I've also purchased a ton of figures that span the Saga. I loved them when I was a kid and I know he will to.I was just wandering if it's safe to say that there will probably be no more playsets and dioramas? If playsets are so expensive to make, then what was up with the Bespin Freeze Chamber playset?This was a brand new piece.Why didn't they just redo an old one from Kenner like Dagobah or something? I would really like to see a new Ewok Village.For some reason, I just can't seem to shell out the money for one on ebay.Is there any demand for an Ewok village by collectors? Oh yeah, I really dig the old Marvel Star Wars comic too! Lumina (I think that's mispelled) would be a cool figure.

Never say never. Hasbro surprises collectors, and companies like Retrobilia are doing third-party diorama things as well. So there are opportunities, they're just not all cheap, Hasbro-made action-packed ones. Hasbro's Fan Club Bespin playset was meant to be part of the normal line but was eventually made into an exclusive due to timing issues and retail interest, and this was designed at a time when playsets weren't the albatross Hasbro seems to make them out to be today.

There's pretty much no reason to do a new Ewok village. Back in 1983, it was a sensible item-- lots of new Ewok figures were on the way, it was in the movie, lots of action takes place there, it was the right toy for the market at the time. Today, forget it. There hasn't been an Ewok for sale since 2004 and there MIGHT be one coming up, but you never know. The original Ewok Village wasn't dirt cheap, I believe it was in the $30 range or so-- and today on eBay, it seems you can get one with a box for around that. A new one would certainly be no cheaper.

(And Lumiya's on my wish list, too.)

9. I was able to get Plo Koon's Starfighter recently and noticed it had that same paint scheme as Anakin's modified starfighter. Is there any explanation of why this is? Was it one of Anakin's extras/hand-me-downs that he let good 'ol Plo borrow? Don't get me wrong, it's a sick paint scheme, especially for unfortunate fools like me that were never able to get the Clone Wars version with the psycho engines...

As far as I know, there's no story on why it's painted the same. Anyone have a back story?

10. My question is which Anakin from ROTS is the best for the starfighter and also which Han and Chewie for the New Falcon cockpit, sculpt and articulation?

For Anakin, I like the deluxe one you can turn into Vader because you can remove his "skirt" and he can sit. He's easily the best pilot Anakin, he'd be better if he had his little halo thing.

For the Falcon, it's hard to say-- every figure has its flaws. I have yet to find the perfect pair, but I blame Chewie for being so huge for that.


More shameless plugging: over at 16bit.com, I'm running a low-budget podcast. I'm going to start reading a few of the questions from Q&A as part of it, so if you want an audio Q&A, check it out, let me know what you think, etc.

Last time, you asked me where to go for scans of vintage paper work for Kenner's toys. Well, we got suggestions.

Pete says the Gadders library moved to Vintage Fan, and it seems this is indeed the case.
Jason, Dr. Zoltar, Mr. Matter, Lance, and many many more suggested ErikStormtrooper's Imperial Gallery, which has a pretty diverse selection of backgrounds, labels, and more scanned online.
A Paz mentioned 12back.com has a lot of stuff, and it sure does. Don suggested Toy Restore.
It appears ShopStarWars.com cancelled my order for my exclusive clones that I put in the first day it was offered despite having updated my credit card information. Oh, goody. Now I get to overpay on eBay most likely instead of overpaying from the source.

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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