Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
March 13, 2006
1. Has Hasbro given any indincation that they would do (or allow) a Darth Sidious role play saber? I remember during Halloween the year AOTC came out there were quite a few sabers for some costume place (I forget their name). I even managed to snag a "accurate" Mace Windu saber. I was sorely disappointed that no sabers were done for last Halloween. I wanted my Sidious saber!! Is there a story behind this?
It doesn't appear that there really is yet-- so far, Hasbro just hasn't wanted to do one, or haven't made it so it looks right. Will they ever? I don't know-- with the new spring-loaded ones on the way, its smaller and unusual design may be tough to translate to the toy format. Also, by and large, the Emperor isn't the most popular character you can make toys from, and for that reason, I wouldn't hold my breath.
2. I have to say I am really starting to get into Titanium ships...2 questions.
Do you think this could open up the doors for a few EU ships (Torrent Starfighter, Outrider, E-wing) and few other ships (V-wing, Grevious fighter)?
Is there a deluxe scale Venator planned? The small scale doesn't do a ship this cool justice.
As Hasbro moves Titanium forward, I think the chances for new vehicles from non-movie sources will get better in some cases. After all, at some point the potential sales for an obscure vehicle from Star Wars (to the point it may as well be made-up) will be able to outsell any from-the-show Battlestar Galactica item. I'm not overly optimistic that the Outrider, which we haven't seen or heard from since about 1997 will make the list, but the Clone's Torrent Starfighter is high on my wish list for a toy in any size-- with the upcoming Clone Wars show, it might be possible. And the V-Wing, well, it's in the games-- so maybe!
As far as an Ultra-sized Venator, the Clone Attack Ship isn't on my radar for that size as of yet, but anything is possible. I'm still hoping to see Jedi Starfighters of all kinds in that scale, myself, so here's hoping that the line takes off, that everybody collects them all, and gives Hasbro an excuse to keep making new and more obscure vehicles for us junkies. I'd still like to see a Corporate Alliance Tank Droid in a toy format. Why? They made a friggin' model kit of it, but no toys. Where's the justice?
3. I'm sure you get lots of questions like the one I am about to ask but
I think this situation is a little different. We now have Scorch but
what are the odds of getting the rest of Delta squad? It's the first
EU figure in quite some time so I'd imagine that Hasbro is worried
about recognition of the character but on the other hand it is a non
movie year (and we can assume it will be for now on, cartoons and TV
shows aide) so it might benefit them to use other Star Wars sources
for figures. The Republic Commandos are troops which always sell well
and they require very little re-tooling to get the other 3 team
members out. New weapons, backpacks, and paint. Surely that sounds
like a recipe for success to me. What about a possible exclusive
multi-pack or something of that sort? Questions like "will this come
out" are kind of silly, I know, but you do a pretty good job of
gauging the company and seeing the bigger picture. So what do you
think? Is Scorch a one time thing or just the first of the group?
Scorch is a test-- as is Foul Moudama. Do fans really want more Expanded Universe? Scorch isn't a fair test-- it's a Clone Trooper. You could paint one pink with logos from a My Little Pony on its chest and it'd sell. Hasbro's very aware of his popularity and is no doubt taking this into consideration for future releases, but as for specific members like Sev and Fixer? Nobody's talking yet. Additional modifications may be requested beyond the ones you list (improved arm and leg articulation and a non-floppy waist), and while it would make a great exclusive, it's probably a better item to sell to everybody. I mean, Clones-- why limit your sales potential by making them an exclusive?
4. Here's my question, If you have actually seen the nicely done Titanium Figure Series of Vader and Boba Fett, particularly the packaging, what makes Hasbro think retailers are not going to eventually have a problem with these? They are practically the size and just as bulky as the original Unleashed packaging. In fact, of the 6 or 7 Walmarts I went to one day, only 1 was carrying them, and they didn't even have a tag or shelf space for them. They don't have hangers on them either like the Unleashed, so they need shelf space. Being that they are "new" product, there might not be any problem now, but later on down the road with the anticipated release of further figures in the line, I just see a repeat of what happened with the Unleashed. I was just curious to your thoughts, and if you can possibly bring this to the attention of a Hasbro Rep.
While packaging size is a major issue, it's not the main issue. If a store had a toy that was a guaranteed hit but was larger, that's fine-- as long as the space it takes up is worth the money it makes, and it does. In 2005, you may have noted Hasbro doing new things to expand their basic figure offering. Items like Evolutions and Battle Packs were ways to get a product that's just an action figure (or 3, or 5) and gets you to drop more money on it. Fact is, if it's a 3 3/4-inch scale figure, fans will buy it, and it'll be a hot item. For now, at least.
Another factor is that in the case of these items, the packaging is the selling point. While you and I may find the notion of sealing a 3 3/4-inch figure in a screwed-shut "Amazing Sea Monkeys" habitat bizarre, Hasbro is aping the style of various mid-high end die cast collector cars. When it comes to collectible vehicles, a plexiglass container is something that makes the item look more prestigious (and expensive) than it actually is. Is there enough metal and parts in a Titanium figure to make it worth more than 3 basic vehicles? Probably not. But with the container, it suddenly looks expensive, and as the purpose of a lot of these is to be an adult collectible, well, it's a big experiment.
While Darth Vader and Boba Fett are easy sellers, it could be like Unleashed where they eventually don't sell fast enough at a big enough markup to make the retailers happy. (There's not a lot of room for profit on some of this stuff.) The "vintage finish" variants will help sell figures, as will the supposed 1-2 month turnaround time for new products. Will wave 2, with Bossk and a Sandtrooper be as hot? I doubt it. (Actually, Bossk is probably a really rotten choice for wave 2.) But if it sells well enough, hey, here's a great new cash cow for Hasbro.
In my area, these figures are selling quite well-- they sat for a couple of days and now I don't see them anymore. There were no shelf spots here, either-- they just showed up, sold out, and that was that. So far, so good. Unleashed had a much rockier start. I don't think the packaging is going to be the make-it-or-break-it issue, as you have to admit, it makes the toy look good. The question is, do you need another 3 3/4-inch Bossk?
5. ok,..maybe i'm just stupid, but answer me this: Are the new Titanium Series (big and small ships) Die Cast Metal? I see the words "DIE CAST" on the packaging, but the larger ships (x-wing, Snowspeeder, Slave 1 and Republic Gunship) look like they are recast Alpha Fleet Stuff. Are they plastic or metal,..and are those larger ships (the ones just mentioned) just repackages of Alpha Fleet stuff?
While no Alpha series vehicles have yet to be made in Titanium, the entire line-- so far-- is die-cast metal. The first two releases (X-wing, Gunship) are little more than Action Fleet vehicles with metal bits. They even left in the place for the original fuel hoses. The next four are all over the place-- the ROTS-themed Droid Tri-Fighter and ARC-170 are 100% new and for the price, are quite striking. Meanwhile, the Snowspeeder and Slave I are obviously based on the original Action Fleet releases, but a lot of changes were made. The fuel hose things? Gone. The original Action Fleet stand holes? Smoothed over. Even the flaps on the Snowspeeder are just a little different, and both of these OT-based vehicles even have little tiny pilots in them-- which, of course, seem a lot like Action Fleet figures. So they're metall, heavy, and awesome-- but if you're a collector on a budget, you may already own similar, cheaper, and more fun items than these. (The Action Fleet Slave I has a Han Solo in Carbonite and a ramp to store it in the back-- that alone is worth the price of admission.)
6. I have been avid about the Titanium series of small vehicles, managing to
get almost all of them including magnificent new molds like the Venator
and ARC-170. Now Hasbro is branching out into Battlestar and Stargate,
which to me is great, but is it just me or are they losing touch with STAR
WARS? The next two waves have some great BG ships, and I was stunned to
see the impressive Battlestar itself, but look closer at the upcoming
waves and there is nothing new in the way of Star Wars. This can't be it
for glorious new prequel molds can it? I'm almost angry that they've
forgotten about their main dough.
While there are going to be other vehicles in those assortments, they aren't going to take over. The majority of the line is still going to be Star Wars, and the bulk of the new ships (which unfortunately includes more repaints) are going to be from Star Wars. Hasbro's smart in that they want to branch out-- Galoob did something similar, bringing Aliens, Predator, and Starship Troopers Action Fleet to market-- but mixing the assortments? I'm curious to see how that works out.
My fear is not that they'll make fewer items from our favorite movies, but that the demand for other properties will kill reorders for the ones we want the most. Just think about it-- it was bad enough that Neimoidian Warriors clogged the pegs, preventing more new product from getting in stores. Imagine how bad it'll be if BSG or SG are the cause of you not being able to find a Titanium Cloud Car or other hypothetical future release! (Thankfully, Transformers are in their own assortments-- which is good because some of those are looking NICE.)
7. Any idea if the mail-away Stormtrooper Lucas will be carded? I'm
considering ordering a case (2 ea figure) of the Galactic Hunt figures
so I can mail away for two Lucas's, 1 to open, 1 to keep carded. But
if it's just in a plain mailer, I don't really need two.
Hasbro hasn't explicitly stated in anything I've seen directly from them, so I don't know yet. There are some sites reporting that it will, but it's hard to say as Hasbro's track record is all over the place. Mace Windu came in a nice little box, and the Early Bird figures came in a white one-- no doubt to reference the original. Since the cost for the figure ON TOP of the proofs-of-purchase is $4.95 for shipping, I would have to assume it is going to be packaged a little bit nicer, as recent offers from other brands like G.I. Joe were significantly less than that.
8. The clones are immensely popular as are Stormtroopers. I know the VOTC Stromtroopers are awesome. I have four. Are you as surprised as I am that Hasbro has not put another SA-style Stormtrooper on cards for this years TSC line?
Hasbro's total lack of interest to feed the market Stormtroopers never ceases to amaze me. It's the only figure I think can pretty much guarantee to be sold out of an assortment of repacks. During the OTC and VOTC lines, those guys didn't exactly sit, during POTF2, some fans were paying out the nose for them, and during POTJ and Saga, there were none to be had-- despite being the most recognizable (and most seen) trooper as far as screen time and movie appearances go. Hopefully we'll see some as the year ends, or we'll start seeing them packaged as an exclusive for somebody-- the demand is still there!
9. I have not seen any of the
basic figures at any of the Walmarts in my area. I
live in Olympia, WA right now. I noticed recently the
Walmarts have completely removed the pegs where the
figures would be. When I questioned an employee about
this he ran a scanner to see what the status of the
figures were. I was told that Walmart would no longer
be selling the basic figures. The employee said that
the figures have a 15% write up which is actually
pretty low compared to other toys Walmart could sell.
He pointed out that the Star Wars Transformers have a
28% markup. Do you know if Walmart is going to
actually stop selling the basic figures?
Wal-Mart is not stopping selling figures-- period. There are times where a SKU is discontinued (example: the ROTS figures were discontinued, the Saga Collection are a new product), but no, Hasbro has not stopped selling Star Wars to Wal-Mart and in some areas, the prices got bumped up by $1 recently.
Wal-Mart employees are good people. But, toy experts they are not. Answers range from informed speculation (like you often see here) to "here's an answer, no go away" (again, like you often see here.) While it's possible there's no items on order for immediate delivery, or they're out of them, there are no known plans to drop the line from Wal-Marts as of yet.
10. Any word on the Gentle Giant Animated line? I can't wait to add that Boba Fett animated statue to my collection. I've been checking the usual online retailers on a daily basis and haven't seen anything yet.
No word yet, but when I asked Gentle Giant a couple weeks back, I was told solicitations for this line would start up in the next couple of months. So, yay! Boba Fett is on deck first, I believe. Also, apparently the 3 statues we've seen are it for Trilogy-based maquettes in 2006. Oh well, but hey, I'm pretty much sold on them.
The big question for this week seems to be the big fan's choice update. Apparently, the ToyFare with the top 25 vote-getters from last year's online poll are to be revealed, at which point we get to vote again and pick the best of the best. This is good in some respects because fans will actually get to pick a figure based on popularity.
This is bad because, no offense, we tend to have bad taste (Ben Quadrinaros is not an interesting figure) and on the whole we're uninformed. Assuming the list of figures that got out a few months ago is completely valid, there's still a few things on it we don't know, like, for 100% sure, which Pod Racer pilots are coming. Actually, I'm almost willing to put down good money that at least 2 or 3 of the figures in this competition are already in development. (How can you tell? If the figure makes it out in under a year, it's a safe bet it was on deck and a ways along.)
Also, there's nothing, and I mean nothing like a good fan's choice contest to get our feathers ruffled. Remember the craziness surrounding the first one? For those that don't, the choices were a Duro, Amanaman, Bom Vimdim, Eeth Koth, and Teemto Pagalies. On the whole, fan buzz was that Amanaman was a shoo-in, and as such, fans rationalized that voting for the Duro made good sense as Amanaman "was a sure thing since it was in the vintage line." There was much gnashing of teeth and general yelling, and, of course, both of these figures-- despite being HUGE fan favorites-- warmed pegs like nobody's business.
So here's my prediction: the winning figure will suck, everyone will write in to this column and every forum about how it sucks, and how their choice, of course, would have sold a million times better. My guess is it's going to be something I find less-than-awesome. Specifically a post-Trilogy Expanded Universe human, an NJO character, or someone from KOTOR. (No offense to KOTOR fans. It's just not remotely high on my wish list when there's Exar Kun, Ulic Qel-Droma, Lumiya, Vlix, any of the Dejarik pieces, or, heaven forbid, a new Padme...)
What's going to be interesting to me is to see what we as a collective unit decide is interesting. I'm actually hoping to see lots of campaigning on forums, with banners and special sigs and avatars. It should be neat. We're approaching Year 30 of Star Wars and what never ceases to amaze me is the amazing way that as soon as a highly-requested fan favorite comes out, for the longest time, fans had another figure they were clamoring for as a group almost immediately. We got the modern Boba Fett, and then people were like "hmmm... Tarkin, Wedge, and Slave Leia, please!" We got those. We also got pretty much everything that large numbers of fans asked for already, and just last year, the figures fans were shouting for were Commanders Gree, Bly, and Cody, of which it seems we got barely adequate, adequate, and seemingly great renditions. Hasbro's quick on the draw.
I guess what I'm getting at is something I've said before: what the Hell is it we want, anyway? I don't know if this competition will answer the issue or merely confuse it further, but either way, I'll probably be heard complaining about whatever it is if it isn't an old Marvel character anyway. Cuz I'm a grumpy old man.
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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