Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
February 6, 2006

 

1. I was yapping with a buddy of mine the other day and we were wondering why we have not seen figures of the prequel versions of Owen and Beru? If you ask me,Hasbro missed out on a great oppurtinity to make two neat figures for AOTC and reuse options for ROTS,they even could have made a gift pack out of them.I personaly would have loved to see a gift pack with Owen,Beru,Cleigg(with his hover chair) and a moisture vaporator,heck I bet lots of people would buy it just to get their hands on the Vaporator for diorama usage.Then Hasbro could have reissued the Owen and beru again with some gray highlights for their appearance in Ep III,for a company that enjoys reuseing old figs alot they really dropped the ball on a great chance here.But hey,we never know,we might see them in the new Saga line huh? Oh and what ever happened with the plans for the second series of assesory sets from the 2002 line? There was supposed to be a Rebel set with ladders and stuff for ships,a Imperial security console with Imperial Gunner and Jabba's Palace set with a Gammorean gaurd.I would have loved to had some of these,do you think we will ever see these come to our local retailer? Or are they going to become like all the other great ideas that Hasbro had but never followed through with because they were deemed "not profitable"?
--Daryl

I don't think words like "profitable" enter the equation so much as "interesting." Sure, Owen and Beru play an important part in the Star Wars Universe, but ultimately, they're space farmers. No guns, no lasers, no fancy armor. While I ultimately hope to see every character a) that has a speaking role, b) that has a non-basic size toy, and c) was in the vintage line winds up as a 3 3/4-inch modern figure, Owen and Beru rarely make the top of anyone's list, unless they're listing it for spite. Did Hasbro drop the ball on a great opportunity? I don't believe so, I think they looked at these figures and said "so what might more people buy, young versions of bit characters or this awesome armored clone from a game most people never played?"

In the short term, I think Hasbro chose wisely. But more on that in a moment.

Unreleased toys in limbo are just that-- unreleased toys in limbo. Like these accessory sets, there are dozens of "lost" items that were rejected by the exclusive partner. Some items, like those accessory kits, would be great to see again, but maybe in a different format. While as a fan, I'd like to see every concept completed, I can understand Hasbro going "so why are we selling this? Ladders? I don't know how many would sell." (The answer of course may still be high, but other things are easier/cheaper/whatever.)

It's not always profit, sometimes it's just a changed mind or a new direction. There's a lot of things we never hear about, and more still that we'd probably kill for. But, such is life in the hottest movie-based toy line. There's always next year, after all, Hasbro found a place for that Geonosis Arena Jedi prison thing, right?

Also, and this may be annoying to anyone who wasn't in the stores after this stuff in 1995, but you may be shocked to hear this. There was a time when most fans' wish lists were just three figures long: Grand Moff Tarkin, Wedge Antilles, and Slave Leia. While Kenner and Hasbro haven't given us everything, they're pretty good about recognizing fan favorite characters and making sure we get them, even though what we deem to be criminally absent characters cycles every six months.

That said, the first two prequels are still excellent fodder for more toys. More droids, more aliens, more Jedi, more Pod Racers, and dare I say it, even more Gungans. (Say what you will, Captain Tarpals is a good figure, and the revised Boss Nass is one of the best.) The Lars clan hasn't seen a lot of action in plastic, but like all things, is it something you really want to see? If so, please take my advice and yak about it until it sees plastic. BoShek's "campaign" for release was helped (largely accidentally) through constant fan dialogue about the character which ultimately raised awareness during a time where Hasbro could have made a low-run figure and not risk sales issues. If Owen and Beru (and the nifty Cliegg) float your boat, well, ask around, ask Hasbro, and make a lot of customs proving that there's interest. I think I've received about a grand total of 4 emails like yours on these characters since 2002, but that doesn't mean you're alone-- it just means you guys need to make some more noise.

2. Do you know if Hasbro ever planned an action figure scale AT-TE? I totally understand the economics that Hasbro has to deal with concerning larger-scale vehicles, and how gun shy they might be after relative flops like the Royal Cruiser and Lambda Shuttle, but I still can't wrap my brain around the fact that Hasbro never made a 3.75" scale AT-TE... I bring two factors to the table to support my argument...

1. Marketability - Correct me if I'm wrong, but pretty much every piece of Imperial/Republic equipment has sold well at retail... In my part of the country, AT-STs, Speeder Bikes, TIEs, ARC-170s, Gunships, and the AT-AT (the most expensive of them all) all flew off the shelves every time they were offered, with the only exception being the aforementioned shuttle, which was boring and would only appeal to diorama builders, so I think it's safe to assume an AT-TE, which would have 7 exterior guns and room for AT LEAST three clones (2 pilots and a gunner) would sell equally well.

2. Scale - If they created the AT-TE to movie scale, based on the dimensions from the SW.com databank, it would be an enormous 27" long, 12" wide, and 11" tall... but Hasbro doesn't create vehicles to that scale, as we see in the Republic Gunship, which would be about 38" long if created to movie scale... in the "toy scale" of the Gunship, which is about 20" long, the pill box of the AT-TE would be a manageable 14.5" long x 6" wide x 5.75" tall. Add 6 legs, and they already have the mechanism figured out for these, and voila!

So why, why, why haven't they given me an opportunity to give them more of my hard earned cash? They could probably get this to us in the $40 - $50 price-point range, and give my army some much needed ground equipment. Plus, if it did turn out to be a big seller, they could have re-tooled the existing Gunship mold to act as a carrier, and I'm sure kids and collectors alike would have thrown even more cash their way. But now that the movies are over, and because without movie support kids aren't bugging their parents for SW toys, I'm guessing this is pretty much a pipe dream.
--Joe

The AT-TE has been requested by fans, but not in droves, and while Hasbro has indeed considered it, it hasn't made it very far as of yet. Why no AT-TE? There's lots of reasons. First, no major character interaction or significant action beyond blowing one up takes place on it. It's basically a background vehicle, albeit an awesome one. The issues come from a variety of places, too-- what scale to make it? The Gunship was essentially deformed, and no electronics were present. It's relatively tiny and incomplete, plus we're about to get our 4th repaint of it.

Some fans write in angered about the deformed proportions of ships. Others understand it's necessary to get them at certain prices and sizes in stores. As such, saying "sure, mess with the proportions" opens a can of worms in some cases.

While some big vehicles sell, some don't, and the big issue is really stores and their decision of what to sell. Stores want things in and out quickly, with lots of profit, and fast turnaround. The Millennium Falcon is a good item because it's in 3 movies in a central role. Virtually all the major characters are in it or near it. It's a winner. The AT-TE's sales rely on Clone Wars fandom (which may be enough) and Clone Trooper fandom (see previous statement), but it's not like the Gunship. On the Gunship, you see Clones and nearly all the major Jedi, in a major battle, with the most popular characters and the title characters (Clones) from the movie. That's a solid item, plus it does quite a bit in the foreground, too. You remember seeing the Gunships and people doing things on them. Can you say the same about the AT-TE? Unfortunately, not really.

Hasbro has lots of vehicles they just haven't done yet in the modern line. The Cloud Car. The Star Destroyer. The Rebel Transport. The XP-38 Landspeeder. I can go on-- it's just a matter of picking and choosing. They do so few and they're so skittish about them that we're somewhat lucky to have what we have. The vintage days were different-- more kids were hardcore fans, cost-cutting wasn't as much at the forefront, and of course, parents bought kids big toys. Today, kids want video games, and the "birthday present" price is about $15-$20.

Any fan can go on at length about the vehicles he or she wants and would make a fortune on, but, well, it's just the nature of things-- Hasbro does what it can and hopes it can do more, just support the items you like and hopefully we'll luck out.

The POTF2 AT-AT was an $80 toy that was eventually clearanced in the $20 range. A new release of this toy is rumored for 2006. If Hasbro sells the crap out of this, the Gunship, and other large vehicles, they'll go "oh, hey, people want vehicles. Fancy that. We'll need to make some new ones." Dollars say a lot, and since Hasbro still gets $50-$60 for the Millennium Falcon, which is essentially the same toy that sold in 1978 for-- what-- $35 or so?-- $50 is probably a little unrealistic for an all-new mold in a non-movie year. Still, as always, if a big enough stink is made about something, Hasbro will probably give it a much bigger chance than they would otherwise.

3. Is it just me or are the Star Wars figures being released this year significantly less articulated than last years batch? Why is Hasbro cheaping out on the artiulation. It feels like we are going backwards instead of fowards
--Ethan

I think it may be just you. We've got 6 100% new molds as of today, and of those, most of them have 8-12 joints each. (I just took the average, we're at 10.833 points of articulation per new mold.) To me, that's good, about as kood as last year if not better since they're not jammed with action mechanisms to gum things up. The AT-AT Driver borders on super-articulated, and I can live without full articulation on some figures as long as the figure isn't meant to be in vehicles. Hasbro has said that in many cases, the amount of articulation a figure has depends on the figure's design-- if it's easy to add a joint (say, at the gloves), they're more inclined to do it than if it isn't quite as easy. But, this of course changes.

As far as figure reruns go, well, old molds are unlikely to see added joints. At that point it often makes more sense to do a new figure. Overall, I'd say we're about as good as last year when it comes to basic figure articulation. We could be a little better, but hey, it's not a movie year with millions more customers. And it's not like Bib Fortuna lends himself to loads of joints.

One of my goals for the year is to do some sort of massive figure information database (for my personal use) so I can actually go "oh, the average points of articulation on a figure for Revenge of the Sith was 6.25 so we've gone up." (For example. I just think that'd be handy information to have. Screw solving the budget deficit, I'm counting elbow joints!)

I was a fan of the vintage line, where your typical figure had 5 joints. In 1995, we were treated to 6. Today, we're seeing figures max out around 14, which is quite a bit for figures that in some cases do little more than stand in one place. Major Derlin and Bib Fortuna are the least articulated figures of 2006, and they've still got more going for them than your average Episode I figure. Complain if you must, but I have to know-- for our all-new sculpts, we have a very high average number of joints, an action figure stand with every figure, a bonus holographic figure, and, in many cases, more accessories than are necessary. For $6-$7, what is it you're expecting?

4. Just a general wonderment really, now that Hasbro has the mould for R5-D4 what's the chance we'll see some more R5 units? Maybe another EE exclusive 5 pack (I love the first two). Also if there was one done would Hasbro consider including the open panel that came with the VOTC R2-D2? Certainly the orange and white R5 unit from Amidala's starship would seem an appropriate choice to have this option as its seen with an extension arm repairing the hyperdrive. I wouldn't have thought it would cost Hasbro much extra as they already have the moulds and the quantity of plastic is negligible. Also how likely that Hasbro will release any more waves this year after the ones they've already announced? There are rumours all over the web and it seems that if they carry on shipping waves at the rate they are now they will have used up the ones announced by mid year.
--Ed

Hasbro's been very slow with Astromech repaints over the years, so I'd say make sure to let them know. Buy the droids you see, let them know you did (or just claim to them you did) and demand more of them. Right now I wouldn't expect R5 repaints for quite some time, unless Hasbro starts peppering them in the basic line as an obvious, cheap-to-do repaint. Cross your fingers, and be sure to keep asking around all over the place.

5. Due to the down sizing of the unleashed figures, do you feel that hasbro is going to make playsets for them. Back in the early 80's the micro collections were cut short, much to the dismay of many people at hasbro and fans. Do you feel or have you heard is there any chance that this maybe the plan?
--SithLT

The tiny size lends itself to lots of new product ideas, including playsets, vehicles, beast, and more. What Hasbro will make, though, remains to be seen, and surely some of these items will be shown shortly. I mean, they've already got a Tauntaun coming...

To anyone who hasn't picked up a set of these yet, allow me to advise you drop $10 on a set and give them a try. I just popped open the set with Chewbacca, Yoda, etc. and I must say I'm quite pleased. They're a little action-oriented but still excellent.

6. Do you happen to know what color General Grievous is?Is he white like most of the figures made of him,or is he a flesh color like his sneak preview figure?
--Eric

The answer seems to be "it depends." I'm not sure a final color has been decided on yet, and it's possible-- like Vader or Boba Fett-- his capes and armor look a little different depending on the scenes. He has a very different coloring in Clone Wars, or so it seems. I leave the debate on the table for you cats.

7. I noticed that the new Clone Wars Gunship's entry on Amazon.com says it is available only online. Is this true?
--Marc

This is not. It's just a glitch, this should be at TRU and Amazon. This happens every now and again.

8. Regarding the answer in Q&A about the larger Titanium ARC fighter: With all respect, that ship could've been made larger and still (with some creative positioning/packaging) fit in an Action Fleet sized box. Perhaps the large cannons could've come detached to get the wings to fit. Just think about some of the larger A.F. vehicles like the Rebel Blockade Runner and the Millennium Falcon. The ARC is quite undersized and it's a shame. I'm still hoping Hasbro at some point drops the metal and makes Action Fleet sized Episode III vehicles at a decent price.
--Robert

Well, you can't win them all. Dooku's Solar Sailer was kind of a dud Action Fleet ship, for example. Titanium exists to sell higher-priced metal collectibles, so for the time being, I wouldn't hold your breath on all-plastic vehicles of that scale. They're trying to keep to a size, a certain weight, or what have you, and the long and short of it is that it is, what it is. Be sure to register your complaints and let's hope the next one is more to your liking.

9. I've been focusing primarily on my vintage figure collection of late and I've noticed a trend. It seems to me that Silver paint is more susceptible to chipping, flaking, fading ect. than most other colors of paint. Gold also seems to be apt to do this.

The gold overlay on the vintage Bespin security guards, the Silver pads on Grand Slam from the GI Joe ARAH line and the silver-heavy vintage MOTU Ram-Man are some of the main culprits I've noticed.

Do you know if there's a reason why Silver & Gold paint has more of a tendency to do this than say red or black? Is it thinner as a rule?
--Anthony

It seems little has changed-- silver and gold are often very delicate colors in the toy world for reasons I haven't yet fully figured out. For example, there's a Japanese Transformer called Black Zarak (a G1 black and gold Scorponok) and the gold pieces are notoriously brittle. The vintage Blue Sears Snaggletooth has boots with silver paint that rub off, and, of course, there's the examples you cited as well. I also noticed a silver "ding" on the tips of my Naboo Fighter just this morning which was... depressing.

I don't think it's the thickness of the paint so much as something in the materials. Vac-metal figures are prone to problems as well, and it just seems to be a curse of trying to make a silver or gold anything in the toy world. All I can say is to be very careful and if you have the means, double-up on items you think you might accidentally damage down the road.

10. i recently heard that there is an 18 disk dvd set coming out of all 6 movies. I was wondering this is true or not?
--ben

Well, that's a good question. It might be. But as of yet, nothing official has been discussed on the complete Star Wars Saga DVD collection aside from Lucasfilm's interest in doing one being very real. I wouldn't expect anything until 2007 or perhaps after the next DVD has been established for a while, be it Blu Ray, HD, or something else. So for the time being, there are no known definitive plans for such a thing.

From last week...

Question #10 focused on a weird page from Lucasfilm, and many of you wrote in. The conclusion? Aside from the obvious, being it's not from 1986, of course. Ian's answer was the best first one I saw while writing today, so I'll let him tell you.

First of all, it's not from 1986 after all. Secondly, it's a screen shot from Star Wars: Lucas Learning's Yoda's Activity Challenge Activity Center (for Ages 6-8). I got it for my son when it came out sometime after the Phantom menace movie release but before the DVD.

By the way, Amidala and Jar Jar race kaadu across a pseudo-race-maze after they're done chatting.

Thanks, Ian! And thanks everyone else.

FIN

I got a few minutes too many to think on Friday night and tallied up most of the modern era vehicles. (Not beasts, nor laser cannons. Vehicles.) Using the criteria I usually reserve for determining what qualifies as a new figure in terms of repaints and whatnot, I compiled a list of most of the vehicles, if not all of them, and I got a number that really shocked me.

89.

For the record, I counted things like the OTC X-wing and the POTF2 X-wing as different, and I also included some items like the Escape Pod and Desert Sport Skiff (but not the Han Solo Jetpack, nor items like the Radar Laser Cannon.) And this only counts vehicles that I own and are sitting upstairs. (Except the Saga TIE Bomber with the battle damage, that's still on my to-get list.) So if you count all those repainted and rumored Jedi Starfighters, Gunships, and everything else for this year, we could be at 100 or so modern-age vehicles in no time. Much higher than that if you count Banthas and Tauntauns and what have you. The vintage line had about 41, give or take a few, with far fewer repaints. Of those, 2 were repaint, there were a small number of remolds, and 17 vehicles were non-movie designs. 17! In the modern line, just with a quick once-over, it seems that maybe half of our modern vehicles are repaints or remolds. (And in many cases, of vintage items.)

I find this fascinating because I'm wondering if we're better or worse off than the old days. Most fans write in saying the modern line sucks in terms of vehicles compared to the original, as we've only had very few vehicles. Looking at the numbers, I have to beg to differ. The only movie designs we're lacking in the modern line are the Cloud Car, Rebel Transport, and Star Destroyer... and while we'll never get the range of mini-rigs the old line had (a pity, as those are fun toys), we did get quite a few for Episode I. Goofy as they may be, the Sith Attack Speeder and mini Federation Tank are quite cool as cheap Star Wars vehicles and I someday hope to see many more similar items.

As a collector, I think some fans feel we're worse off because of reissues and remolds. For example, if you have purchased every Jedi Starfighter from 2002 to 2005, you'd have 8 vehicles spread over 3 molds. You'd have 5 X-wings, 3 Gunships, 4 (or 5 if you count EU) Speederbikes, 3 Slave Is, 2 Falcons, and some other vehicle repaints that never graced the movies. But anyone who doesn't like the green A-wing is worth ignoring as far as I'm concerned.

So seeing as we have so many modern vehicles, what's left to ask for? Obviously, there's three ships mentioned above. The Cloud Car is a classic design, and we have the pilot, but it seems like a weak overall vehicle as it has no real weapons nor does it interact with main characters. So I wouldn't hold your breath on that one in the immediate future. The Star Destroyer is huge, so I personally hope it's just a matter of time before a playset/vehicle of this ship shows up again. The final vehicle, the Rebel Transport, I just don't see happening again. It's too big and too plain for the modern age of toys unless it could be developed as a low-cost exclusive. Although if they retrofitted the inside to hold even more figures somehow, I'd buy several.

This brings us to the dawn of the modern age-- what else can we possibly want? Well, it turns out there are a few dozen candidates if you include repaints and a few select reruns. (I don't think anyone would mind seeing the TIE Interceptor again.) So here's my top 5 realistic (to me) choices for new vehicles that weren't in the vintage line or ever made in any capacity.

5. Episode I Sith Infiltraitor. Darth Maul merchandise is very scarce. In 2005, we saw but 2 Darth Mauls, and only in $20 multipacks. In 2004, we saw no Darth Mauls. At least, off the top of my head. 2003 got us a rerun. And there hasn't been a medium-dollar Darth Maul toy in ages. While it'd be scaled down slightly, I'd like to propose we see the Sith Infiltraitor as part of the midsize ($20) vehicle assortment. We're getting 2005 ships in 2006 boxes soon, so let's get some 2006 toys in 2006 boxes while we're at it. As long as a Darth Maul figure can fit comfortably in the driver's seat, a scaled down version would be awesome. I'd buy one, perhaps two.

4. Clone Wars V-19 Torrent Starfighter. I'm not usually a big fan of non-movie design vehicles, but when from the right material, it makes sense. This vehicle can be seen here and employs elements of the Imperial Shuttle, while acting as a spacecraft for Clone Troopers. Think of it as a modern ISP-6. Who wouldn't want this? I'd buy a regular one, and at least a couple squadron-specific repaints... if spread apart. My Clones need vehicles!

3. ESB EU Hoth Speederbike. If it was in the movie, I blinked and missed it, but both LEGO and game maker Lucasarts have included a Hoth-specific Speederbike with Snowtrooper pilot in various items. While they're at it, let's see an all-new Speederbike sculpt. And let's release it three times-- once with a AOTC Clone Trooper in that deco, again with a snow-friendly camo and a super-poseable Snowtrooper, and a third time with everybody's favorite ROTJ Scout Trooper, and in those colors. I'm sure we can save the Scout mold for a new BARC Trooper and the Snowtrooper for a new Galactic Marine. See? Everybody wins. Don't fear the repaints, unless it's a TIE Fighter in a slightly different shade of bluish grey.

2. ROTJ Concept Art Blue A-wing repaint. You know those old McQuarrie paintings? Heck yeah. I was hoping Action Fleet would have released this one, but it was not meant to be. A pity. I'm a big fan of Expanded Universe repaint vehicles, especially if they're based on animation or concept art, so I hope someone gets this one made. If not, I got a spare red A-Wing and some paint. If they can somehow get me a "new" pilot figure, even a slightly erroneous choice like Ten Nunb in his MOVIE ACCURATE red flight suit as seen at the end of ROTJ, I'd be quite pleased.

1. Star Wars Blockade Runner. The first anything you see in Star Wars is the Blockade Runner, or to you youngsters, the Tantive IV. I don't like using words like "deserve," as in "this deserves a toy," but it is the very first thing you see in Star Wars and has typically got the short end of the Action Figure scale toy stick. Sure, there's a Collector Fleet, Action Fleet, and MicroMachines scale vehicle... but seriously, let's get down to brass tacks here. This is the ship where it all got started. It needs to be done.

Oh... and Hasbro? Let's take the "treasure hunt" concept one step further. You know that Titanium white TIE Fighter? I want that coloring on a full-size TIE, please. This year, would be nice. Thank you. (PS-- I'd also take a Sail Barge but I was trying to keep the list small and somewhat sensible. But LEGO's doing one...)

So 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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