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

 

1. Do you think Sideshow would someday be the U.S. distributor for the 12" Marmit figures? I can't imagine Sideshow not releasing a Stormtrooper, Vader or Boba Fett but it seems pointless to try considering how amazing the Marmit figures are. Do you agree?
--Rich

This is a pretty good question for reasons you might not guess. As a bit of a toy junkie still in training in some senses, one of the big things I learned at Toy Fair was that the world of licensing internationally is this big messy thing I never once thought about nor, I assume, did you. So this goes to show that not a week goes by that I don't find out that we as a collector base (and by we, I mean me) knew far less than we (again, me) thought. For the sake of time, I'll leave the debate of Sideshow vs. Medicom vs. Marmit vs. Kotobukiya vs. Godzilla to you guys.

The first, boring part of this discussion is just who has the license to bring these over? This, I don't know. I found out companies like Master Replicas, due to their existing relationship for high-end collectibles with Disney, have a license to sell things like Medicom's Real Action Hero Rocketeer in the USA. They can buy it from the manufacturer at a superbly low price and offer them in the USA, since they have a license. With Gentle Giant, Gentle Giant has the license to sell busts and statues in the USA. Internationally, other companies pay Lucas a license and royalty to sell these items when they purchase them from Gentle Giant, again, at a reduced cost.

So who has the license for 12-inch figures? You might say "oh, Sideshow!" but I'm not entirely 100% sure what the terms are of Hasbro subletting their license to Sideshow were for, I think, 3 years. Does it only cover what they manufacture, or a certain size of high-end figure, or 12-inch figures of any shape or form? I'll have to bug Sideshow about that as I didn't have time to do this at press time, but hopefully you see where I'm going for the second part of this answer.

Part 3-- what's a Marmit figure? You say "oh, it's a 12-inch figure you build yourself." OK, but what part of the license does this fall under, and does it conflict with an existing license in the USA? RC2 has the license for Star Wars models, but Dark Horse distributes Kotobukiua's vinyl models based on figures. And since these are figures, do they automatically fall under Hasbro's or Sideshow's license? I have no freaking clue.

So, part 4. Is it worth it? Marmit's figures are old now, and in some cases were blown out for cheap on eBay and elsewhere. (With that in mind I still need an AT-AT Driver, and FYI, they never released a Darth Vader). Given the fact that the value isn't exactly high on eBay and some of these can be had less than original Japanese retail, or the low prices you could get had you the right connections, I can't see anyone wanting to release these particular items from a financial standpoint. These aren't cheap to make and the runs have to be low, so what can you do?

eBay, chum. You can have them today and for less money.

2. I have a question about the Early Bird sets. Now, the extended release date was for the set to be postmarked by March 31. Now, I have a Walmart still sitting on nearly a dozen of the things for $11 (as of March 2).

Obviously, Walmart doesn't care about the time issue (I've seen this store sit on product until May at partial clearances), what will happen if stores continue to sell EArly Bird sets AFTER the deadline of March 31st, assuming they still have any?
--EagleEyeSteve

The question has come up, and at this point I doubt Hasbro wants to keep extending the offer. In most areas, it seems these kits are suddenly starting to dry up as the price drops, as low as $2 in some stores but closer to $19 in others. (I still have some to mail off.)

Does Wal-Mart pay attention if the offer expires? Well, some Wal-Marts have items on clearance for a while, or things pop out of the back room and they don't much care. My guess is that they will sit on these if they're already doing so, until it hits clearance just like any other poorly selling toy or collectible. It's not entirely worthless without the figures, and actually at some of the prices I've heard these being found at, I'd clean them out, offer or not. Just for the stand and stickers, I'd drop a couple of bucks, easy.

The overall problem with this offer was a total lack of educating the customer what they were buying until about last Fall, with the added bonus of telling people to buy an empty box for delayed gratification at a time when instant gratification wasn't exactly hard to get. I don't expect the March 31 deadline to have a direct change on anything unless you've got proactive Wal-Mart managers, which, based on most of the email you cats send me, you don't. (Not saying they aren't excellent workers who toil for pay most of us would scoff at. I'm just saying they have other stuff to worry about.)

3. A few months ago on another site they showed pictures of Titanium two-packs. They had older ones that can't be found anywhere but eBay anymore and were at a buy one get one free price. I haven't heard anything about these since. Have you heard anything about whether or not these are actually getting released?
--Erik

All I know about these is that they're supposedly a still-coming exclusive for Wal-Mart. No word on when, or if it's still on for sure. I hope so-- I got bit by the Titanium bug last week and am now scrambling to put together a set. (I've got 2006 in spades. I got none of 2005's offerings and my Wal-Marts sold out of their stragglers, damn them, as I am kicking myself for not getting a Naboo Fighter. And everything else.)

And did you guys see all the package variants on these things? There's two Shuttle packages and two Clone Wars Gunship packages. I wonder what else is out there.

Some of you-- OK, 1 or 2-- might remember I was pretty sour on these from the beginning because they were reruns, largely, of old Galoob product I owned. Well, here's some funny stuff. They kept "LGTI" (Lewis Galoob Toy... Inc. or something) on the toys and in some cases, repainted them to be nifty. For example, there's a vintage-style all-white TIE Fighter. Also, someone heard my pleas and half-answered them! They're giving us a blue McQuarrie-colored A-Wing this year. I am pleased!

When I last talked to Hasbro about them I let them know I was a little miffed because every great Micro line ends before it's finished, with the possible exception of MicroMachines as long as you don't need Expanded Universe vehicles or prequel vehicles to be considered complete. Action Fleet ended at a point where, well, it probably made sense-- most Trilogy items were made and there wasn't a lot left for Episode I, and the Episode II revival was weak and stuffed with repaints. So, Titanium.

So far Titanium is a more-or-less mixed bag. Some of the original Galoob deco sucks, and they're still using it. Also, many (but not all) of the original Galoob toys are cheaper than their modern equivalents. (Want a die-cast Sandcrawler? $3 or so on eBay. And it's supposedly coming out again.) Still, there are some aspects of it that warm even my cold heart. An Imperial Shuttle with fold-down wings. The Clone Wars Gunship. Clone Turbo Tanks. It isn't action figure scale, but well, it'll have to do.

So to go off on a direction completely unrelated to Erik's question-- where's my AOTC-style Jedi Starfighters?

(And for a PPS, I posted a lot about Titanium in the past week over at my own site, 16bit.com, including Transformers and Battlestar Galactica. Interesting stuff if it keeps going.)

4. I so upset with Hasbro I could spit nails! I collect one of each Star Wars figure (and have been doing so since the mid 80's) Š for me, not to EBAY, etc. I have been on the trail of SCORCH for three weeks. Unfortunately, I have arrived, several times, just after a case has been put on the shelf (I know this because all the figures are there except SCORCH!)

When is Hasbro going to learn to put more than 1 figure per case to discourage the EBAY monkeys? How can I contact Hasbro to let them know they are on the verge of losing several hundreds of dollars yearly, if I get totally pissed. (I can spend this same money with Sideshow, get a better product, and be guaranteed of receiving the product without running all over town.)
--Steve

One thing I hate about my day job is, at times, I have to plug something where it seems inappropriate to do so to give the best answer. Sometimes it's fun, but well, with this one, it's actually just the best place to answer it.

If you get the Entertainment Earth catalog, every issue has a big chart with all currently available figures and assortment mixes. (If you can get one, you should, it's a handy resource to know what's going to be limited. Not hard to find, though, as Rieekan is 1 per case in 1 case and not selling for crap in stores. Oh, the catalog is also available online, but it's a PDF so...) The great thing about the chart in the catalog is that it shows Scorch in multiple cases, and in some cases at 2 per case.

Hasbro has become a little more aware of hype generated by temporarily hard to find figures and is playing with that a little bit this year by launching some of the more popular figures, at first, at 1 per box. (Or in other cases, figures they know will be weaker sellers.) Scorch is going to be shipping in cases for a while, sometimes at 2 per case, and should be shipping all year.

As a collector who's been here for a while, it might be good to remember that this isn't uncommon. In 1998, then-Kenner launched the super-cool (for the time) Bespin Luke with removable hand at 1 per box and fans freaked. Cut to three months later, nobody was really complaining and they had them by then. This happens a lot, but in the end, unless a line ends, most figures will eventually either show up at retail, in another case, or just find their way to your collection at a lower price. I of course can name several Episode I-related exceptions to the rule, but that's another matter entirely.

As far as Sideshow goes, it's apples and oranges to most of us. A 12-inch collectible figure is not a 4-inch collectible figure. My preference is for small action figures and likely will always be, although it was pretty heavy on MicroMachines (and playsets) and MicroCollection until those went away. Is Hasbro really going to lose any money by making you wait a little for a figure? Honestly, no. Despite posts on forums with topics like "I quit" and "collector civil wars" and whatnot, c'mon, let's be realistic. Figures always find their way to the market one way or another, so if Scorch is the hottest thing in ever, Hasbro's going to want to make them for a while. And if scalpers buy them all up for a while, frankly, I say GOOD. Let them choke on them when they realize we, too, have been buying them and now they have to cope with more strict return policies at Wal-Mart.

The real problem in 2006 comes from stores not ordering enough combined with Hasbro not delivering full orders. (Or so I hear.) So basically, everybody loses in a non-movie year until a few months down the road when things correct themselves.

5. Has there been any word on the Darth Sidious electronic Lightsaber, if it's even in the works, and don't you think it be a great idea if hasbro made a electronic bodyguard staff, with sound effects and everything?
--James

I just got a look at Hasbro's information on lightsabers and it seems that, for the time being, there's no plans for any new character sabers. You will, however, see Count Dooku's weapon in a new box.

Also, for Fall, they're making a new line of electronic sabers that fully extend, light up, and make sounds with the touch of a single button. I got a look at a prototype of one and it's killer. Hopefully Sidious can see a saber around then, as its unique design may lend a challenge to good duplication in toy form with a blade on it.

6. I noticed Hasbro has slapped the word "Limited" on the die-cast Vader and Boba Fett Titanium figures. "Limited" for Hasbro could mean 50,000 for all we know. Is this just a way for them to make collectors think there won't be that many out there or will they actually be limited editions.
--Vincent

Typically, and for years now, "limited" means "limited to the number we think we can sell" unless there's some sort of production run number attached to it. An exception in Titanium, though, can be found with the TIE Fighter (white), Gunship (Clone Wars), and Slave I (Silver) to some extent. The former two only ship at 1 per case, with the latter shipping, mostly, at 1 per case.

There will be shortpacked, more limited versions with a "vintage finish" or "patina variant" (depending on who you ask) soon. These are basically "raw metal" figures with a black wash over it. I use quotes for "raw metal" because, well, there're plastic pieces in there too.

7. I heard somewhere that there is a Battle of Utapau wave to be comming, is this true and will there be the airborne trooper in it?

Also, im sure every clone luvin collector wants to know this, so will Hasbro be bringing out the barc trooper as fully posable....?
--James

Depends on where you heard it. If you heard it on the front page of a very reliable news site, you should keep it in mind just in case. If you heard it from some guy in a badly written forum post, you should ignore it. Anyone can start a rumor, it's not hard to do.

At this time, according to my information sheets-- which are not omnipotent-- I don't see any plans for more Battle of Utapau figures. It's possible someone saw Cody and the orange Trooper, saw the Battle of Utapau logo, and assumed that this was part of a larger wave. It's also possible we might see more figures from this particular scene later in the year-- but, as I say, no known plans yet. And, sadly, there are no known confirmations of a BARC Trooper.

8. Hi I just read Your Q & A on 2/27/06 where you write "Thing is, toys are made as far as 18 months in advance" and i was thinking that the 2 new Star Wars TV shows are expected to begin in, I think its late '06 for the animated one and '07 for the live action one, does that mean that they are already working on some new figures/vehicles/whatevers for the new shows? any chance of any details leaking out?

Also, do you remember way back in '05 the reports all over the internet that George Lucas made everyone at Lucasfilms sign non-disclosure contracts about episode 7-8-9? now in retrospect do you think they had it half right? instead of ep 7-8-9 it was for the 2 new tv shows? or maybe there are some long term plans for another trilogy even though GL said there wont be any new movies
--YF

So many questions!

For starters, yes, toys are one of the greatest sources of leaks for new movie information. Well, licensed products as a whole. I believe most Internet fans got their first glimpse of the "new" Godzilla from Underoos back around 1998 or so. I know we all saw our first official Darth Maul anything when an unpainted figure got leaked to JediNet. As such, it is very possible that a figure could give us our first glimpse at something from the show. But with that in mind, remember that it's going to be a while before this happens, because final mold tests and carded samples tend to be what leak, not concept models. So if there's a Fall '07 show, if we're lucky, we might see stuff in Spring '07.

On the NDAs, well, who knows? I think this could be a mostly fabricated report. I have no doubt NDAs are being signed surrounding the show but given the nature of the shows-- especially the live action one-- I don't think there's anything we're missing out on. I also don't expect another trilogy. I'm at a place in my fandom where I'm not really even thinking of what other stories they want to tell me. I like Star Wars, but with everyone shooting their opinions around of how they hate it but tune in anyway have brought me to the point where I think we're more or less spoiled and should be done with movies, maybe TV shows too.

Still, if we're getting 2 TV shows, that's a good sign. Reports got out that (supposedly) Steve Sansweet or Rick McCallum or someone said there will be 100 live-action episodes around the end of the decade. 100, 1-hour episodes. At best, a Trilogy of films gets us about 7, 7.5 hours of Star Wars goodness. Even if there's 20 minutes of ads per hour in a Star Wars TV show, that's close to 67 hours of entertainment. So as far as quantity goes, why on earth do we want more movies? Let's focus on TV!

9. Hey. I was taking a longer look at the SW Transformers and thought that when in ship form, some look pretty decent as substitutes for the Action Fleet (yeah, man, I knowÉpardon yet another AF question from me). IÕm thinking specifically of the 2 Jedi Fighters, the ARC-170, and maybe PalpatineÕs shuttle. You got a better look at them at Toy Fair. What do you think of them in this regard? The scale looked more or less right for the Action Fleet although the pilots are too small for the ships. Then again, we didnÕt have pilots for the last several ships of the line anyway. IÕm not a Transformers fan yet when on display, it looks like the fact that the ship can turn into a robot seems pretty well hidden.
--Robert

Well, that depends entirely on what you expect out of your scaled vehicles. I busted open a Titanium Ultra Snowdpeeder last night and was hugely impressed. It wasn't as hefty and big as a Code3 piece, but compared to Action Fleet, you can see Hasbro wants to make a piece that's more than worth double a typical Action Fleet ship in terms of overall value.

The Transformers line has the scale, but not the accuracy nor the spirit. Well, sort of. For example: yes, it's the same size. Yes, they have little pilots. But the proportions are off, and there's no display stand, and there might be robot kibble hanging off of the ship. But, if what you like are vehicles with removable figures in that scale, who cares? You're all set.

If what you want vehicles in roughly Action Fleet size with removable figures, Transformers aren't a bad line. They aren't perfect, but they're OK and look good on a shelf and are fun to play with. The downside? Some figures don't fit too well. The vehicles are good, though, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't predisposed to like Transformers a lot. (I have the entire Energon collection up in my toy room.)

Titanium is going to give you the best authenticity, but not the best price. The figures aren't removable and I'm still trying to figure out if you need a screwdriver to get the ship out. With their display cases, though, these feel like high-end replicas and not a $20 substitute for Action Fleet. (Which may or may not be a plus.) While opinions vary from ship to ship, well, this is the Action Fleet substitute I've been looking for as, to me, it's more about the vehicle itself than the vehicle with a removable figure.

Of course, if what you really want is Action Fleet, make a stink about it. It's the best vehicle line anyone's really done in terms of making the best quality pieces (with a few exceptions) and collectors love it. Hasbro's experimenting with vehicles because, well, Action Fleet's last run didn't quite work out as planned. I think we can blame this more on boring choices and reruns than anything else, but you gotta admit, some of those repaints were stunning. I just want my-- say it with me-- Episode II Jedi Starfighters.

10. I was curious with the great Vintage figures we are seeing, did you hear any rumblings of a Vintage Hoth Rebel Soilder, Bespin Luke, Bespin Han, Hoth Luke or Hoth Han? All of these figures seem to always just miss the mark of being great and the last Hoth trooper was out of scale and stuck in one pose.
--Gritt

The only rumblings I've heard about more vintage-esque product would result in the removal of my head. But I can say that I don't even think I've heard rumors about those figures. I've been mostly pleased with those figures in the basic line, except for the Hoth Trooper which I think left us all confused. It's a new sculpt... but it sucks? DOES NOT COMPUTE.

Figures like Han & Luke are always going to make return appearances to the line, and as you can see with the recently announced resculpt of Garindan, Hasbro can resculpt anyone at the drop of a hat. So, just keep making suggestions all over the Web, eventually, you're going to see what you want!

FIN

So like I said-- Titanium binge. I dug out my classic Galoob MicroMachines from the die-cast line-- the OT ones, still digging for my incomplete set of Episode I ones (so if you have any to sell/trade...) and I'm quite pleased so far. The idea was for Hasbro to make something that appeals to sci-fi and figure people the way Hot Wheels appeals to car people. I think, on the whole, it's working out quite nicely. This year, they're going to give us Star Wars, Transformers, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate SG-1. Three of which, have me excited and all ears. One... not so much. I don't know Stargate.

I think it's a really great start and like always, I have abandonment issues. Look at Action Fleet. Galoob pumped that line up to include Aliens! Predator! Starship Troopers! That was utterly glorious, and I still curse the fact that I didn't jump on all the tangent lines.

What some of you may or may not know is that I was a huge junkie for sci-fi Micromachines back in the day. Until we got "two old, one new" packs crammed down our throat, I was hunting for Trek ships and ultimately enjoyed getting those more than I did the Trek action figures. So where am I going with this?

I want rapid expansion for Titanium. Here's my license wish list. Naturally, we'll be leaving the cars to the experts.

1. Star Trek. Unfortunately/fortunately, Johnny Lightning is already doing Trek, but it seems to be somewhat hard to find. (As in, I've seen them at a comic shop and where I work and that's it.) So while I would like to see Ferengi Marauders and Romulan Warbirds in Titanium, I'm going to assume that isn't going to happen. But what about Alien? Surely, the license to cram a Drop Ship and Power Loader in Titanium exists. Chances of happening: low.

2. G.I. Joe (and Hasbro/Kenner). Admit it, you'd be pleased as punch to see a die-cast Cobra HISS. Authentic military has no place in Titanium so far, so since Hasbro already owns its own designs, why not make some of the more sci-fi oriented armory? Obviously, the interest in a small, $5 die-cast metal SNAKE armor or a super-cool Rattler in metal would turn a few heads. With G.I. Joe's Sigma 6 line aiming squarely at kids, and collectors getting offered repaints and remolded figures online, this could be a great way to keep Joe alive at retail. Of course, Hasbro owns a lot of interesting Kenner properties from the 1980s-- could these be mined for gold as well? What does the run have to be of something like the Silverhawks' Maraj, or the MASK Thunderhawk? A lot of us adults who are buying Titanium have very fond memories of 1980s toys, and shell out decent money on eBay to get them back. Tiny versions for our desks at work might be nice, too. Chances of happening: high for Joes... not so much on the others.

3. Star Wars: Expanded Universe. OK, it's sort of happening already. We've already got a white TIE Fighter and a Clone Wars Gunship on our shelves. A purple Mace Windu starfighter is an upcoming Titanium Limited release, and a blue A-Wing is coming. As someone heard my prayers. But how about the next level? There were some great vehicles in the Clone Wars toons that never made it on film. Also, the Outrider from Shadows of the Empire or Bossk's ship, the Hound's Tooth, are interesting designs. How about Darth Vader's BLACK Jedi Starfighter? Plus don't get me started on how easy it'd be to do a Speederbike with a Clone Trooper. Chances of happening: well, sorta already happening.

4. Video games. There may be license snags here, of course, but this is a wish list. Airships from Final Fantasies? (Or at least the ones where you can go beyond 16x16 pixel models) would be great. Cloud's motorcycle? Sure. And who wouldn't fork down some cash for a decent, forged metal Solid Snake (Megal Gear Solid) or Alucard (Symphony of the Night)? With Halo over at RC2, there are some licenses that are out of reach. But hey, there's decades of gaming history here-- MegaMan, anyone? Chances of happening: probably better than we think.

5. 80's movies & TV. While cars are being done elsewhere, vehicles (and robots) from other properties are left untouched. Bill & Ted's Phone Booth? Robocop's ED-209? I'd even venture out there with Voltron if I didn't think that odds are Toynami has the license wrapped up, but hot damn, wouldn't that be cool to see? Chances of happening: low-ish.

I'm high on packaging fumes. I'll probably come down next week, but as of now, I'm really interested in seeing this pushed to be something a) cool and b) interesting. Galoob went to town with vehicle and micro sci-fi in the 1990s and it looks like Hasbro recognizes this-- after all, every Titanium product, even the figures, have a Galoob and/or MicroMachines logo on them! It's almost like toy collecting in high school again, except I have money.

Since it survived the Wal-Mart exclusive window and apparently is selling through very well in many markets, well, Titanium may well be a friend to collectors. Some of the upcoming figures, like Bossk, are kinda like an Unleashed figure, but, of course, not.

So, since I missed 2005, I get to go back and fill in some gaps. Oh, the fun.

Since I doubt anybody will make it this far, I'd like to shamelessly plug 16bit.com, which is... well, it's not quite a blog, not quite a toy news site, nor is it especially well run. I post a lot of crap there that can fill time while you're at work if you need something to read. Today I posted Art Asylum Battlestar Galactica toys.

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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