Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
February 10, 2006
1. I just read on a web site that covered the UK toy fair that there were scheduled to be "Over 80 basic figures this year". That seems like a lot for a non movie year. Does this jive with what you have been hearing? There does seem to be a lot of new figures out already (I just saw some of "Battle of Genosis" wave at a Las Vegas Target today).
Also, the other day my friends and I were looking at the new General Veers figure and realized he looked a lot like a certain Pulp Fiction director (especially if you look at the profile..the arrogant sneer, it's him!).
The original plan for 2006 was supposedly a hair under 60 figures, but we're going to be at 40 before Summer at the rate things are going. There's also the Greatest Hits assortment (12 ROTS figures on Saga cardbacks) and possible more surprises, so is 80 unrealistic? Factoring in exclusives and all, I'd say no, it's probably not too far off.
We never know what kind of repacks, variants, and surprises are in store for the year, or if the 80 number-- if true-- includes "2007" figures that show up in December. All we can do now is wait and see...
2. How are the sales of Force Battlers doing? Will we see more of these 7inch figures(new molds and repaints), or is the line dead?
Despite having some really great mechanisms and some of the best play mechanics on any toy figures, Star Wars or otherwise, what I've been hearing is that Force Battlers hasn't exactly been doing stellar business. I'm not 100% certain how reliable this is, but they seem to be doing fairly well at retail in my area, that or stores are just ordering low. (Something, I might add, they are not doing with Star Wars Customs, the motorcycles.) No new molds are known for 2007 (as of when I wrote this) as far as I've heard, but old and new figures will be cycled in and out all year, supposedly. "New" meaning "new for 2006," so like Jango Fett and what have you.
3. Well we know tha Hasbro doesn't like to visit bigger
ships, but what about smaller vessels like the Sith
Infiltrator, Sidious's Republic Shuttle, Grievous's
Ship(not my fave)or a V-Wing?
Last week, we touched on a larger overall issue we heard from toymakers over the years that was the issues surrounding ships go beyond cost, but importance and their profile in the movie. Grievous' Starfighter wasn't exactly front-and-center for long periods of time, and as of yet, none of those vehicles are known to be planned for a 2006 release. (But knowing my luck they've since been announced in New York without my having a chance to tweak this.) If items like the Sith Infiltrator are as important to you as they are to me, let Hasbro know-- Darth Maul needs a ship! The character is quite popular and the secondary market on vehicles has been booming, and surely a modest run of nearly any small vehicle with the right character involvement would sell nicely.
Although time will tell what fans think of Grievous. Sure it's a tangent, but Maul's fan love has been proven and the character has aged surprisingly well. Reaction to Grievous has been mixed, but odds are a second vehicle for the droid General would probably do fairly well. (Heck, you could even package Obi-Wan with it just 'cuz. A single vehicle that can be used by a hero or a villain is a rare thing indeed.)
4. Is there a policy against non-special edition toys? Will we never again see new toys of the old Sy Snootles, old Wampa, old Anakin, or the wolfman?
This is something I'm not entirely sure of. There's a rumor that someone may get Sy Snootles again in 2006 and that she would be a new sculpt, but that's just a rumor and who knows its worth. Supposedly a 12-inch classic Sy Snootles was in development Hell since before Attack of the Clones, and well, obviously nothing has come of that.
As far as other items go, odds are it's going to be a case by case basis. For example, the Cantina's wolfman (one of them), Lak Sivrak, was removed from prominence (if you can call it that) in 1997. The figure was released in 1998. Old Anakin has two figures out, a blue spirit and a... well, I guess it's more or less a tribute to the 1984 figure more than anything else. So he's got two. The Wampa, well, I wouldn't hold your breath-- the fact we have two unique sculpts already seems to me that we've got all we're going to get.
When it comes to new and old characters, fans seem fairly interested in characters even if they were excised from the movie. (I myself get a kick out of them.)
As far as existing items go, in some cases I wouldn't hold you breath. I don't think a new Lak Sivrak is due any time soon, nor do I think any new Anakin figures will sport the mug of Sebastian Shaw. While I know some of you hate this advice (howdy Forum Folk!), eBay should be considered your first target on any existing item, even before pestering Hasbro for a new one. If the original is worthless, a) you should buy it and b) it's probably not a great item for Hasbro to remake. (Exceptions, of course, are given to main characters.) Closed auctions on eBay revealed you could get just the single Spirit Anakin from the Jedi Spirits Cinemascene for $0.99 before shipping, and that the "flesh" Anakin sold shortly thereafter can be had for under $5 before shipping. Tons of Lak Sivrak were on eBay and didn't sell at the low price of $5, most went for $3 or less, or not at all. Enjoy those bargains!!
5. I wanted to write, not so much as question, but more of a defense of the people that constantly ask you about supporting characters and how you always seem to give the brush off answer.
For example, in this most recent column you discount Owen and Beru because they're just "space farmers". Thats true. And Shmi was just a slave woman (and not the good kind). She may not have been profitable or interesting, but they made her. What did she come with? A plate and a dish rag (I hoenstly can't remember :))
But they have certainly made some scrub and uninteresting characters.
The defense that they're not exciting enough characters I just don't think is a viable defense as to why they weren't made.
They were certainly more major of a character than many made in the past 2 years.
A good example is Bail Organa. While although he did have a gun (oh boy) to make the separation of the twins with the same Bail and Obi Wan was a misstep on Hasbros part. I don't know about everywhere else in the country, but my local Wal Mart STILL has these figures on shelves.
My guess is because everyone HAS the Obi Wan and Bail figure and, lets face it, according to YOUR theory, there is NOTHING more boring and un-interesting than two BABY figures (with NO articulation to boot! (I keed)) But why they didn't come with a Larrs or Mrs. Organa figure is a mystery.
I do not doubt Hasbro will make these figures. Of course they will, it's only a matter of time. I just think instead of discounting the people that write in with "the figures aren't interesting enough" et. al. I think it would be better to simply, honestly, say "You know what? I don't know why they haven't been made yet. Since we already have a Shmi, Wuhrer, and Old Owen and Beru. I guess it's just a matter of time. Be patient"
I think it may make some people feel better
Oh, allow me to apologize. You're so right. These figures are going to be huge sellers and drive the Star Wars brand to new sales heights only dreamed of by investors.
...c'mon. The Separation of the Twins sets were an exclusive made to re-sell you an existing figure with a new accessory. It's no secret why Queen Organa or one of the Lars family wasn't included-- Hasbro wanted to re-sell you Bail and Obi-Wan. Easy.
If you think this column should be all smiles and "hey partner, don't worry, Hasbro will some day see your plight!," please, start your own column and I'll send people to it. You need to make noise to see the figures you want, and Hasbro will make even the dullest characters, some times out of spite, and sometimes they will indeed sell well. If you honestly feel that Owen & Beru in their Prequel forms are a huge, popular item deserving of a brand-new sculpt that diverts resources from new Clones, aliens, Jedi, or even Expanded Universe figures, please, write in again and I'll try to post your response.
Nobody's saying that a boring exclusive with a cheap accessory sold for $4.77 is exciting stuff when you already have the basic figure. That's not the idea here. With one baby sculpt shared between two figures, the Separation of the Twins sets were, frankly, inspired. They sold through almost instantly in many markets and a lot of collectors never saw them. That's a success if I ever saw it.
Shmi sold. Beru (1999) sold. Owen... well, Purchase of the Droids isn't exactly what you'd call a runaway hit. But timing, production runs, and the market demand can really help a figure. Shmi wasn't exactly made in the same quantities as other characters, and in many areas, she was quite the slow seller. But she did sell. If Owen and Beru are your most desired figures, please gather like minded fans together and be sure to let Hasbro know at the next major convention you visit. They love to hear fan input and if their current prescription of new mold Imperials, Clones, Aliens, and random Expanded Universe figures doesn't do it for you, by all means, pass that along.
I can probably argue for or against any concept. Aliens Amanaman and Ellors Madak (Duro) were Fan's Choice figures that sat on pegs for years in some stores. Fan outcry and a high-quality figure sometimes aren't even enough for sales to meet Hasbro's expectations.
6. Last year there was a mail away offer for two galactic heroes and I believe it was from one of the inserts that Burger King had with the deformed figures you could get for Episode III. You would send in receipt(s) of Hasbro Star Wars toys totaling $20 or more along with $2.99 and they would send you the galactic heroes. I have not received mine. Did you send away for this? Have you gotten your figures or have you heard of anyone receiving their figures?
Last year at Comic-Con in San Diego, I asked Hasbro, and it turns out the two-pack was a promotional figure given away at that very convention as well as through Burger King's mail-in offer. The figures are R2-D2 and Yoda, and they're nothing you can't get in other sets of the Playskool/Hasbro chunky toys. If you did not receive yours, I suggest you write the address for the offer and contact Hasbro's customer service department at their web site, although seeing as it was a while ago, it may be too late.
7. I have one question that came to mind when I read the Q and A on the fan choice figures. It is this--Well Hasbro ever release the special multi pack figures they did (Amanaman, Duro, salacious crumb, the Kmart bar scene figures, etc.) and maybe the 'special vehicle with figure' figures and put them in a separate, single carded figure package since they have the molds already? I love just getting the solo carded figures and would like to see those special ones in my collection, too. Let's face it most of us don't have a ton of room.
While I think a box set of all the Fan's Choice figures would be awesome, I don't think the interest is there. While some fans-- myself included-- sometimes get happy to see old toys in new boxes, if the box (and bonuses) are cool enough, it works. As mentioned above, Amanaman and the Duro were weak sellers and in some remote parts of the USA, can be bought at clearance prices. (Both could be bought in Phoenix through at least 2004.)
In the case of the Duro, well, you can get a single carded figure right now-- that's how he was sold. So was Amanaman, with a bonus Salacious Crumb. I hope to someday see figures like the Blue Snaggletooth on a regular cardback, but I think it might be a while. Even though (hey Hasbro, if you're reading...) I'd gladly buy a couple of blue Snaggletooth figures for various reasons were they to appear.
8. it seems that there has been quite a few questions recently regarding vehicles, more specifically scale (AT-TE, gunship, etc.). which led me to think, "what star wars vehicles are actually to scale? i bet adam will know!" i just bought a naboo starfighter, and that looked pretty darn close, although R2 is a bit skinny. other vehicles that seem like they'd be relatively close to scale are the a-wing, the power FX x-wing, and maybe the snowspeeder and RotS jedi starfighters. so what (if any) star wars vehicles would be the ultimate and most accurate to the scale of the figures?
The scale of vehicles to figures are usually done to meet price points and box sizes, to make the most attractive product to store buyers and to customers like you and me. Sometimes, Hasbro makes the vehicle a little too small-- case in point, the Millennium Falcon or the first few X-wings. Other times, it's too big. The Snowspeeder vehicles are absolutely huge.
While I haven't yet done the research, here's a question for you all-- is this something you'd like to read more about? Vehicle scale? If so, let me know, and I'll start drafting an article for later on.
9. Please tell me that there won't be another mail away early bird kit, why not just put the 4 figures in a 4pk and sell them off the shelf and not have to worry about the mail in envelope being lost or having to wait six months for the figures to come. If the figures were included, they wouldn't be sitting reduced at my local Walmart for 10.00 each with a March 31st deadline to send them in. As a collector I would have bought more if not for the hassle of mailing it in, also what does while supplies last mean, if you bought the big envelope and sent it in you should receive the figures for sure since they shouldn't have made more envelopes than figures. Initially there was also no picture of the actual figures on the package and when they come to you, they are loose in a tray, not on a card, that sucks for exclusives, even rehashed ones. Great deal for 10 bucks though, what do you think?
The Early Bird Kit was, by most, not considered a huge hit. Wal-Mart stores didn't sell through them, and fans found them confusing. (Heck, I still haven't redeemed all the ones I snagged. And I need to, too.) I'm seeing these on clearance as well, but when they first hit, there was no indication as to what the figures you would buy looked like and Wal-Mart really isn't the best place to try a high-concept gimmick that alludes to a bizarre and in many cases not fondly remembered sales tactic from 1977. I applaud both Hasbro and Wal-Mart for trying to do something different, but unfortunately it just didn't make most fans happy, as can be seen in your (and many other) messages.
As for me? I think you get what you paid for, more or less. For $30, you got 4 $6-$7 figures, two of which were based on figures that usually cost about $10. (Vintage Chewie, at least. Maybe not R2-D2 given 2006's release of that figure again.) So let's say the figures are worth $20. You also get a cardboard stage, foot pegs, a Hyperspace trial (which is basically valueless), and some other stuff. To me, the stage was worth $30. There could have been no figures, and I'd be happy to have had it. The overall package is a good one, but I think the idea of telling collectors and children to buy an empty box of figures is one we won't swallow any more. Although if it was 1998, and these were sneak previews for Episode I, we'd have bought it in droves.
10. I've just seen pictures of the Sideshow Vader and I have to say I'm a little disappointed but relived. Disappointed in the proportions and mold of his helmet. It looks way out of scale Relived that I just got The real action hero Vader and I the detail is out of this world not to mention that I won't have to plunk down 300.00. Why the difference? I know they are different companies but for that amount of money?
The value of a dollar to a collector is a widely varied thing. Sideshow's $300 18-inch figures may be a bargain, and may not. They're made of real cloth, leather, metal, resin, polystone, and other materials and crafted to be a top-notch, high-end piece designed to be hard to get and collectible for years to come.
Me, I love the piece, but I'm a toy fiend and I go gonzo over $7 plastic figures with some of the lowest production standards one can get for Star Wars merchandise. Don't get me wrong, they're great, but the amount of work, craftsmanship, and research that goes into those giant Sideshow items (inaccuracies included) is nothing short of enormous. Plus it may be the prototype you're seeing.
If you see a collectible you don't like, do what I do-- smile! I love it when an item doesn't meet my expectations, as long as it isn't from Hasbro, of course. (As toys are awesome and should always be awesome.) If I see a bust, statue, or figure that doesn't do it for me, odds are I'll pass on it and save the money for another, better, future item. Sideshow's 12-inch Darth Vader will come someday, and odds are it'll be one of the best ever. Medicom's is great too, like you said.
Different companies have different production goals and price points, and it's like cars. Some fans want a $7 Darth Vader, and others want a $10,000 LEGO Darth Vader that's life-size. It may not make a lot of sense, and if it doesn't, you're on the right track-- licensed collectibles exist to get you to part with your money, to get you to buy a neat item that'll (hopefully) bring you some degree of joy. The pricing, quality, and sizes don't always match up. For example, Attakus' Metal Collection Darth Vader is about the same size as a Hasbro figure and costs nearly $100. For me, this isn't rocket science. I just pass on it and move along, and if the Sideshow Vader doesn't do it for you, well, I'm glad to see fans not just buying anything. (Although I must confess when I saw it last year I really really really wanted one, still do, and wish I had the scratch to get it.)
Silver. You'll understand later.
OK, so, New York. I went a couple of years ago as a roving reporter, now I'm going as a buyer for a fairly sized toy dotcom. Odds are I'm on a plane as you're reading this as I get to wake up at about 4:20 AM to get the plane. Oh, the fun of taking flights I don't plan.
I will indeed be seeing Hasbro and at some point reporting back (well, what I can) to you cats. Oh, and a word of advice? Keep vigilant on news sources. Today. (The next few days too.)
I'm also going to attempt to be reporting on everything I see for a podcast, as close to nightly as I can make it from New York. At first it was the 16bit podcast. This week, it's the Entertainment Earth podcast. Go to either site for signup information. It's basically me going "dur, I like toys and am tired" for 10-20 minutes a pop. (On a tangent, my two favorite podcasts haven't updated in weeks. Shameful. I... also haven't. But the difference is that I'm lazy.)
I'll be back "soon." Not next week. Probably the week after. I found my copy of Metroid II: The Return of Samus so I expect to have a SR-388tastic flight. Surely it can be beaten in a cross-country flight from LA to NY.
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.)
Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!