Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
February 27, 2006
1. Does the blaster that comes with Bren Derlin seem hopelessly out of scale to the figure? The handle is so small that if you take the rubber band off (as I did) he's unable to even hold it. For $7 a pop I think Hasbro can do better.
Well, that's the new "standard" size. In 2001, Hasbro released a new Rebel Trooper, and that was the size of the gun, and as such, that's the new standard and we've seen it with a few other figures so far. It's also redesigned from the 1997 model, which was nothing short of huge. The new smaller gun has so far been included with figures like Major Derlin, General Rieekan (2006), Rebel Trooper (2001), General Dodonna (2004), and Captain Antilles (2004).
Which one is better? Well, obviously, there's going to be a difference of opinions on that one. It is certainly not a large gun, but if you were to blow the figure up proportionally, it's a good size gun still, at least as big as a figure's arm from the tip of his fingers to his elbow in more than one case. I don't have a really good sense, personally, of how big this gun should be, and while it does seem a little tiny, it doesn't really seem off. I think the real issue is that since 1995, as a rule, Hasbro and Kenner designers made the guns a little bit larger for whatever reason and now that a lot of them are being scaled back to more realistic sizes, we're complaining. I'm not saying the scale is perfect, but I think we're better off now than we were 8 years ago.
2. Okay so it really doesn't directly involve Star Wars, but with Hasbro showing off some of the Titanium Battlestar Galactica toys in there Toy Fair booth my question is, to what extent does Hasbro's licensing agreement extend? More directly, how much of the Titanium BG stuff do I have to buy to convince the Powers-That-Be at Hasbro to produce some 3 3/4 scale figures and toys from both the new and old school Battlestar Galactica series? I of course will always be loyal to the Star Wars brand name but since SW vehicles are hard to come by I'd love to add some new Cylone Raiders to my Separtist space forces and a few centurions would really kick clone butt.
Believe it or not, this will impact Star Wars collectors. Why? Because the Battlestar releases are going to be MIXED IN with the Star Wars ones. (Don't believe me? Look at the new items I added last week at Entertainment Earth, the assortments are all there.)
The Battlestar Galactica license is going everywhere these days. Art Asylum is doing a bang-up line of Mini-Mates, Majestic Studios has a range of new 12-inch figures coming, and Hasbro has die-cast. So it will be both new and old items, but as far as I know, it's only going to be metal items. I've heard rumblings of Cylons in the Titanium figure assortments, and of course there's going to be small and smallish vehicles. I wouldn't expect a full 3 3/4-inch line of figures again, but I would expect some 3 3/4-inch figures that go "clang."
Hasbro also has the license for Stargate SG-1 and at this time I am not entirely sure if they're going to mix those in with Star Wars or not. Transformers Titanium, which has non-transforming metal robots, transforming metal robots, and metal vehicles, are currently all in their own assortments. (And you can see them at Entertainment Earth, from which this "unbiased reporter" gets the means to pay his rent. See? Full disclosure.)
3. First time caller, long time reader. I recently acquired the General
Grevious Wheelbike on the second time around release, and opened/assembled
it. Another good vehicle reproduction by Hasbro, in my opinon, except for
one thing: In Episode 3, Grevious appears sitting on the right side of the
wheel, as he is fighting Obi-Wan on the right side (from the viewers'
perspective). However, in Hasbro's version, Grevious is seated to the left
of the wheel, guns on the right.
Did Lucas decide to mirror the origianal footage for the release of the
film, after Hasbro had tooled the vehicle from earlier production stills?
Or is Hasbro's dyslexic tendecies to blame on this one? And is there time
to scream at Hasbro and get this error fixed before the third release with
Saga packaging, so the toy vehicle appears it it does in the movie? Why do
you do this to us Hasbro, why?
As this was not something I had initially noticed, I'm going to ask my research assistant, Mr. Google, for some help.
And then Mr. Toy Box.
But first, when it comes to Movie Year Toys (TM), expect mistakes. You might say "Adam! There's no room for mistakes! Hasbro and Lucasfilm are in bed like peanut butter and evil peanut butter! (two "Q&A Points" to anyone who gets the reference.)" Thing is, toys are made as far as 18 months in advance-- that's right, next year's products are already decided on and being made. Because of this and how George Lucas makes his movies, designs change, and the lead time to make some items is huge. As such, it's not unthinkable that an item will get made that, while right at the time, ends up being wrong by the time you get one to play with. Case in point: half of the Phantom Menace line.
Seeing as how the Transformers Wheel Bike is "correct" (to the movie) and the action figure one is not, well, I think the previous paragraph pretty much sums it up-- oops! The cost to retool the toy is immense, so unless Hasbro comes back and pulls an X-wing and does a whole new one-- which ain't gonna happen-- you have what you have, and that's all we're gonna have.
This issue just came up in a thread on the boards, but I figure I'll ask you directly, too.
Why doesn't Hasbro ship cases of army builders? Doesn't have to be a single figure - make it an assortment of Stormtroopers, Clonetroopers, Soldiers, Officers, Commandos, Guards and so on - but make them available in addition to the normal "main" and "secondary" character assortments. Nemoidian Warrior aside, I've never seen a peg-warming army builder. I tend to think they'd sell great through the online sources to the diorama builders - saves them the time and trouble of hunting down 50 figures one or two at a time and it would be great for retailers because they could balance out their overstock of main characters with troops. Most of the times I've seen kids asking mom for figures during those lean assortment times, the kids were disappointed that they couldn't find a trooper to go with their brother's Vader, Han or Prequel Obi-Wan.
I ask Hasbro this every few years. I get different answers all the time, and sometimes they're really great ones. Case in point: during Power of the Jedi, Hasbro remixed a Collection 2 case to include Gungan Warriors, Battle Droids, Senate Guards, and more! That was handy.
Have I ever seen peg-warming army builders? During The Great Purge at Toys "R" Us while I was in college around 1998, yes. I spent about $100 JUST on army builders in a two-day period-- and the figures were down to $0.99 each. Also, the Bespin Guard from Power of the Jedi was available at full price in many stores up until as recently as 2005. And once you get past the color of accessories, that figure is one of the best designed in the entire POTJ run-- and that's saying a lot.
Hasbro has said their main concern is a worry that a figure will suddenly stop selling if it floods the market, or that if the market out there is just small enough to eat up all they would normally ship, it may not be big enough to eat up everything. I think that there are exceptions to this but there's a lot of truth to it. Defining a "pegwarmer" is tough, but in LA last year, I saw Clone Pilots piling up for weeks, ditto with Wookiee Warriors and the #41 Clone Troopers, while figures like Anakin and Vader flew off the shelves. However, movie-specific clones like the Shocktrooper I never once saw in the wild, and I only saw but a single 501st-- and that was on clearance.
As a rule, it seems Hasbro believes they can sell-- for example-- 20 Vaders (1 to 20 people) for 12 Clones (1 case to 1 guy), and they really do want to sell to lots of people. As a rule, most major characters will sell for a good period of time, but some troopers will too-- it's just hard to guess which ones are a hit and which ones are a miss. Sure, it's easy to say "well, army builders that hit clearance will be gone in a heartbeat while non-troopers will sit," but that's not how business thinks. They want figures they think will sell through immediately, no store wants figures sitting around on the shelves, they want them to be so popular that they're barren at all times.
So, why no solid Clone cases? Fear. Hasbro and retailers are afraid that some figures will pile up, that's why we have assortments and that's why the assortments are so small-- 12 figures. Just over 10 years ago, most figure cases were 24 or higher. Stores are trying to get more variety in less space and short of an exclusive, there aren't many "safe" opportunities to do a run like this. (But you ask, do certain retailers ask for orange Utapau Clone cases to sell anyway? Yes. Do we get them? No.)
Hasbro's ability to make a good assortment is limited by stores, tooling, and market perceptions. At first, they weren't planning for Revenge of the Sith to run as long as it did, and if you paid attention to the case ratios, Darth Vader was pretty much done early on at first. Thankfully, they brought him back-- that's a great figure-- and they at least tried to keep a few clones in every case. Still, nobody wants to be on the bum end of 36 figures of ANY unsold figure, trooper or otherwise, so as such, we have assortments. Until we, the fans, start making a huge colossal stink about it and Wal-Mart goes "we want to sell these people Clone Troopers, make them."
5. I am a star wars collector who has, as I am sure many have, had to limit my collection due to space and budget. I started collecting again with the ROTS figures and so I am new to collecting the 3 3/4" figures. The way that I want to limit my collection is to just buy the new molds, but I don't always know which ones are the new molds. Is there any way you could give me a start on this list for the 2006 figures. I know scorch is new. I think that I heard that either Poggle the Lesser or Sun Fac were new. What about General Veers? Any help with a list of figures that have already hit stores and the soon to be released new molds of 2006 would be appreciated.
As a rule, if you can't tell if you want something, I wouldn't buy it. Plus "new mold" is kinda subjective. For example, the 2006 Boba Fett has a 2003 Fett's upper body, a 2004 Fett's lower body, and all-new coloring that, I must say, is quite striking. No new mold exists, but it's "new" by my standards. Also, the 2006 Utapau Clone is a repaint-- but it's a "new figure" to me because it was an orange Trooper when I had no orange Trooper before. So you can see where this is a bit of a pricky point.
So here's what I can best tell you so far.
The all-new molds are: Boushh Leia, Han Carbonite, Bib Fortuna, General Veers, the AT-AT Driver, Major Derlin, Scorch, Sun Fac, Sora Bulq, Firespeeder Pilot, Lushros Dofine, Commander Cody, Hammerhead, Garindan, and Hem Dazon. Without question, these are new sculpts. If you're paring down what you buy, these are in your "must buy" pile.
There's also a number of "old and new" figures, figures with just enough newness that I would personally advise you look them up. These are: Boba Fett, Snowtrooper, Gonk, Utapau Clone Trooper, Foul Moudama, Holographic Ki-Adi-Mundi, Sandtrooper, R5-D4, and Luke with fancy poncho and hat. R5 is an existing figure with a new head-- but, well, I shouldn't have to explain too much more about why you're going to want him.
Poggle the Lesser is a reissue of a GREAT sculpt from an existing multi-pack. You should get him if you don't have one already. Darth Vader is on the border of good because it's the 500th figure at $5.99-- which is good. Barada's a nice upgrade from an old multipack, but if the old Rieekan is better. Basically, what you really should do is just buy what you don't have. Got a Rieekan? You're good to go. Even the "new" Luke is probably going to be a minor upgrade. In a lot of cases, the old releases (even the deluxe ones) can be had so cheaply that the new releases are worth skipping. The deluxe "Droid Factory" with the same C-3PO and Battle Droid (and the means to make 2 figures) can be had on eBay for a couple of bucks-- that's probably the way to go.
6. Here's something that's puzzled me for a while. Hasbro owns the Star Wars toy license. Hasbro owns Play-Doh. Yet, to my knowledge there have been no modern Star Wars Play-Doh toys (except the very minor exception of that build-a-Super Battle Droid thing). Do you know why this is? Of course, in the vintage days, there were Play-Doh sets, but given that Hasbro has slapped the words "Star Wars" on just about every one of their signature modern toy lines leaves me scratching my head at this significant omission. Who wouldn't have wanted to repeatedly mold and squish Jar Jar?
Hasbro did some "doh" sets around 1996 in the red POTF2 boxes. There were molds that took the form of various characters and Slave I, Millennium Falcon, and other accessories to be had. The line was somewhat hard to find, and just went away around the time of the Special Editions, except the 2003 Deluxe Super Battle Droid set that had the Play-Doh like compound within. So, it could come back, but there's no known plans at this time.
7. In pictures from Toy Fair there is a Vader's Tie hanging amongst the Saga toys. Is this an exclusive item or scheduled for all stores? Or is it just decoration...?
According to notes I heard, the Mace Windu Starfighter and Darth's Fighter are supposedly not exclusives. (Up close, Darth's fighter has additional paint deco and looks a little bit more detailed than previous releases-- same mold, though.) These are probably new entries into the ongoing vehicle assortment (yay!), although I was told by the showroom guy that one of the items on display was a Target item and one was for TRU but he didn't know which. (Although the 5-pack of Carkoon characters is more or less an obvious one.) I can say, though, that the vehicles you saw were not merely decoration.
8. Now that we will get the purple Jedi Interceptor for Mace Windu, the Animated Clone Wars Gunship, Jedi Foul Moudoma, Arc Troopers and Jedi, when will get Ithorian Jedi Roron Corobb?
Do you think Hasbro would re-release some of the other items from the short lived Clone Wars toy line?
I would love to see the Ithorian Jedi myself, and I'm glad at least Gentle Giant is starting to get the ball rolling for him. Hasbro has no known plans to do one, but obviously, we all want one. (Heck, I'd overpay for one.) I wouldn't expect TOO many reissues of older items, but vehicles? Hmmm. Could happen, so says the mill d'rumores.
9. There's a lot of speculation that to mail away for the Ultimate Galactic Hunt George Lucas Stormtrooper figure you will need proof of purchases from each of the five upcoming Vintage Saga Collection figures. Why wouldn't five POPs from any of them do? Won't this be a problem, especially if the Biker Scout is as coveted as it looks to be?
Hasbro's playing up the "hunt" aspect-- they know about toy hunting, Mattel's Treasure Hunt line, and so forth, and are going to apply it to Star Wars. My advice? Start complaining now and be prepared to trade or order online. With the case ratio on the vintage guys as 2:2:2:2:2, there's enough to collect sets, but not to troop build. It seems to me Hasbro wants to encourage more collecting, and it's POSSIBLE that five POPs from ANY vintage figure will do-- just remember, we haven't seen the terms of the offer yet. But, it seems like it might be that it asks for a set.
10. I've been rereading through the New Jedi Order novels and again wishing that there were some plastic incarnations of characters from the series. While I agree with your past statements about such EU offerings ever seeing the light of day through the big H; I wonder what the procedure is for a company getting a new license to create Star Wars products? I was thinking about McFarlane being a great company to undertake a limited run of their awesome highly detailed figures that are clearly aimed at the collector to bring to life characters from the NJO series. I think they'd be great as some of the Spawn stuff I've seen them do just blows one away and some of the figures really remind be of the descriptions of Yuuzzhan Vong warriors.
Anyway I guess my question really is what does a company have to go through to get a license, and if you think it's remotely possible (in theory of course) for we as fans to make McFarlane (or any other company for that matter) know that we think they would be great at making a specific run?
McFarlane will likely get a shot at Star Wars when Hasbro is dead in the ground. Seeing a new scale of collectible figures is pretty unlikely, and honestly, not a whole lot different than what Hasbro did themselves for Unleashed. And you saw how the lone Expanded Universe figure did there-- although I think were it Scorch, or the red ARC trooper, we'd be complaining about never seeing it rather than only seeing it.
Licensing is a nightmare. I'm in the midst of working with a new company on a movie license which will be announced later this week, and there's a lot of hoop-jumping on properties without any existing interest in them. Lucasfilm is the 800-pound gorilla of licensing, and while it may be possible to get someone to get a license to do resin figures, or some other type of collectible, action figures are out of the question. People want to do Indiana Jones-- Lucasfilm says no. They control their stuff with an iron fist. (Obey the fist!)
Of course, you can scratch your EU itch in Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Miniatures line, which really aims to please anyone wanting semi-obscure characters in a smaller format.
On the whole, in a region, there's not a lot of doubling-up on a lot of licenses. Hasbro could license out the 6-7-inch size to another company and honestly, if Unleashed is dead, why not try it? But if someone like McFarlane did get the license, and from a standpoint of realism, they wouldn't, the first year would likely be core characters and not a lot of Expanded Universe except maybe sure-things like ARC Troopers, Commandos, or maybe Mara Jade.
I got sick, I was out of town, stuff happens.
Got Geonosis, and my Scorch has a loose waist. (No, not like that.) The joint's all floppy and I assume I'm outside the norm-- more on it in this week's upcoming review of the entire wave which, I must say, is a good one.
Since you made it this far, let me squash a rumor for you. Quinlan Vos? Not on tap as an Entertainment Earth exclusive. Happy rumor squashing day!
If this seems weird, I had to throw a question out at the last minute because I couldn't make the answer not insulting to all fan sites and companies involved based on how the question was asked. So to one of you, my apologies your question ended up being cut at the literal last minute, I re-re-read it before posting it and it just couldn't work out. (See, I exercise restraint on rare occasions.)
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!