Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
March 27, 2006

 

1. I just purchased the Titanium Darth Vader and Boba Fett figures, and wondered if the figures are removeable from their bases. Looking at the figures and bases in the packaging, it doesn't look like the figures are removeable, and every photo I've seen just shows the figures attached to their bases. If the figures are not removeable I may return them, as I think the figures with their bases just take up too much shelf space. Plus, all the figures I saw (three of each, no Vintage Finish variants, all newly pulled from their box) had somewhat bad paint applications, some had bent lightsabers, and one had Fett's antenna bent completely over on top of his helmet! Judging from these samples, it appears Hasbro has some work to do on them. And they're not the cheapest collectibles either. How common are the "Vintage Finish" figures? There were none in the case of six that the Target employee opened for me. Please let me know if the figures are removeable or not, as this will sway my decision on whether or not to keep them.
--Greg

First, let me give you a short, rule-of-thumb answer. If you don't think you care, you don't need to keep it. This has served me well and has made me wait for a good deal on a lot of "gee I don't know" items. (For example, the OTC Endor Gift Set at TRU. Waited for the freebie figure offer.)

With the Titanium Series goodies, so far, it seems anything that isn't an entry-level toy (i.e., $6 or less) is screwed to the base. The Ultra vehicles are screwed down, as are the figures. In the case of Darth Vader and Boba Fett, you'll need a screwdriver to remove all 8 screws. 4 screws hold the base to the canister, 2 hold the lid on the base, and 2 more hold the figure down. They come out quite nicely if you have the patience/interest in such things. (I reviewed them in a recent podcast.) The plastic bits sometimes are distorted and can be re-bent, the question is, do you care enough to fix them? If so, hey, great. If not, keep the money. At $15-$20 a figure, it's a hefty chunk of change, and they're selling so well that if you return them another collector will likely be excited to get them. Mine are OK, maybe I was just lucky.

The vintage finish figures-- the all-silver-with-a-black-wipe variants-- aren't common as dirt, but I've seen them in a few stores (and online, of course). Basically, there's two assortments shipping. The most common one has 2 regular Vaders and 2 regular Fetts. The other one has 1 each of Vader and Fett in both variants. While final production numbers will likely never be shown to me, it's my guess that there's fewer of the cases with the "vintage finish" so there won't be a ton of those available. The question should remain, though, rare or not, should you care? Me, I'm tentatively shooting to get Titanium anything within reason as they're covering most of my favorite things in the brand. But honestly, if you're at all on the fence, why would a version with less paint aps be worth a look?

2. Two quick questions on interchangeable parts.

First-Do you think we will see any more figures with changeable heads and/or limbs(Saga Dagobah Luke)? They could have done so with Han Carbonite. We could of got the just thawed "slick" Han head and the one we got.

Second- If so do yout hink Hasbro will release more "generic" figures? With a reusable body and changeable head we could see more Imperial officers, Rebel Pilots and Troopers
--Sean

First-- it's entirely possible. Hasbro has yet to jump out at such a thing, and a thawed Han head is a little esoteric for such a release. Then again, so's a "thawing" carbonite block. There aren't many opportunities for variant expression heads as there are, say, removable helmets, but it's a safe bet Hasbro has quite a few on the drawing board. (I mean, who doesn't want a ROTJ Spirit Anakin with their choice of 1983 or 2004 heads?)

As to the other question, Hasbro is dragging their feet. With the 50% new/50% reissue line we have this year, one would hope so. I know I never got enough Imperial Officers between Saga and Power of the Jedi, and I'm not being cute, either. I couldn't find them to buy in most stores and while I eventually got enough POTJ ones, I'm still in the market for more Saga ones. Ditto with Rebel Troopers. And I think most fans would be into more pilots and officers, but so far, Hasbro hasn't really gone all-out on the whole repaint thing.

Many fans, myself included, have no problem with repainting and swapping bits and pieces to make new and better figures. (Insert facetious humble Astromech droid reference here.) I honestly don't know what Hasbro's strategy is for troop builders down the road, but there are a lot of us who are very much interested in any Rebel trooper we can get (especially with a variant ethnicity or different facial hair), as well as things like Battle Droids or Clone Troopers. Why there isn't a sensible trooper repaint in every wave is beyond me, and I find it more than a little surprising that now we've seen 4 waves of figures in 2006 and in those first 30 figures, at best, 3 can be considered some sort of troop builder. And of those, the AT-AT Driver isn't, really, but Snowtroopers and Clone Troopers are decent enough choices. Still, it's no Imperial Officer, and it's certainly not a new Rebel Pilot. Still, the year is young-- there's a lot of figures (and if my Magic 8-Ball is correct, multipacks) on the way that could be stuffed with these. Although I doubt "Instant Imperial Bureaucracy in a Box" is on the way, but hot damn, that'd be cool wouldn't it?

3. OK, we learned why Hasbro doesn't send cases of single figures to retail but what about the online stores? Why can't we get them directly from Hasbro or Shop Star Wars? Wouldn't you like to buy your troopers a squadron at time instead of one at a time?
--Sean (one to grow on!)

I may have been subtle or cryptic when tackling this topic before, but here's the nasty truth. Hasbro doesn't want to. That's what it boils down to. Even if you met whatever minimums they may have, they just don't want to sell Clones by the case, ever. This may change, but Hasbro's like the 800-pound gorilla you may have heard referenced in metaphors the world over. It does what it pleases. It's no secret HasbroToyShop can't keep Utapau Clones in stock, for example, nor can ANY online store or retail store. (I've seen exactly 1 in the wild of retail.) For whatever reason, they don't want to overfeed market demand for this figure. Sometimes, it makes sense-- would the market be there for Battle Droid troop builders? (Answer: yes. Variants.) But other times, it doesn't. I don't think there's a collector out there muttering "dammit, I wish Hasbro would stop making so many Stormtroopers!"

4. With all the big name websites throwing their hats into the Fan Club presidential race, I think you would be a great choice as a represenative of our fandom! You've done a lot of great things for the sw collecting community, including getting us the EE exclusives stuff and your Q and A section is top notch! Give it some thought. Seriously!
--RollaJedi

Elections are popularity contests. After writing about this stuff online since 1995, I am still not popular. Nor do I expect to be.

5. I've been wondering something about ROTS action figure III-19. Why is it simply named "Padme"? No "Amidala"? No "Senator"? Not even "Amidala Skywalker"? It seems like Hasbro is disrespecting the character. Sure, her role in ROTS is much smaller compared with the previous two prequels, but is that any reason to make the figure and then say, "Oh, that's just 'Padme'?"
--Lord Edzo

Such is life-- for marketing reasons, story reasons, or Lucasfilm (and let me tell you, Lucasfilm makes a lot of interesting suggestions concerning how their characters are portrayed), well, there's a lot of possibilities. Do I know, and will I research it? Prolly not. It's just what they decide to do, and it's not always consistent or sensible, like the whole "When is he Darth Vader and when is he Anakin Skywalker?" situation.

The original thought on that topic was "No armor, Anakin Skywalker. Armor, Darth Vader." Then we saw the figure packaged with the Mustafar Playset as "Darth Vader," and the Lava Reflection "Darth Vader" around the DVD release. Yet, there was an Anakin Skywalker with dark rings around his eyes on a blister card. To confuse matters further, the Entertainment Earth Exclusive bust's official name is "Darth Vader Anakin Reveal."

When it comes to how characters are named, I don't pretend to know, or that there's a reason. The only thing my time in this hobby has told me is that I can now point you to things that don't make sense and go "see, there's your answer" as you get to sit there going "is he going out of his way to not give me a fair answer or what?" Please rest assured, despite our proximity to April 1, I am not screwing with you-- it's just that the Lucasfilm and Hasbro naming conventions don't fit together in an obvious pattern that I can quantify, formulate, and pass along to the world. It doesn't just look confusing, it is confusing, so the best I can tell you is "yes, it doesn't make sense," shake my keys, and hope that serves as a suitable distraction as I answer the next question.

6. know that Hasbro does not like to give out production numbers for thier figures but what is thier production cycle.What I mean is how long are figures produced?I haven't seen Cody yet and I know he just came out but my stores(Walmart and Target)have not stocked anything for a good while.There was one sighting for the Coruscant wave at Target and sense then nothing.I know he is a tough find but how long will Hasbro keep making him?
--Chad

You haven't seen Cody yet? Well, that only puts you in the same category as... well, most of us. One thing you can rest assured knowing is that Hasbro isn't making enough figures to meet demand this year-- you may have wagered as much, but the reports around the country seem to indicate everything's selling quite well. (Have you seen a General Rieekan lately?)

Hasbro makes figures until they stop. Through various sources, it seems Hasbro plans on making Cody for a while. I know it's an abstract answer, but it's the truth-- it ties in to some of the previous answers this week. Hasbro knows what they want to do if it makes sense to us or not, and we're not ever going to figure out how or why things are done as they are done. Maybe it's good for business, I don't know. I do know that you're going to see him ship for a few months, possibly many months, as Hasbro knows a cash cow when they see it. Lately, figure production is all over the place, and with Hasbro's newfound love of remaking older figures, you could see a figure ship for two months or for two years, in different formats (i.e., multipacks, slight repaints, repackages, etc.) You're probably going to have a ton of opportunities throughout the year, but this happens with every new wave. Scorch is becoming slightly easier to find, so just keep hunting or trading and you'll be in wonderful shape.

7. Does Hasbro have any plans for releasing figure and cup sets for this year as well? I didn't see much of the Vader/Stormtrooper/Leia wave anywhere. I was fortunate to find the Leia. How much do they usually go for on E-bay?
--Josh

There are no known plans for more as of yet. I searched high and low last year for Boba Fett, and actually just bought him off of eBay, finally completing my set. He cost me $6 Also, I'm going to throw one back at you-- "how much does something go for on eBay?" You're on the Internet. You can look it up, just search on completed auctions. There's no more valuable tool in collecting research than learning how to properly mine eBay for information, so this is absolutely something you should give a try.

8. I have a Theater Edition Luke Skywalker and the glue holding the bubble to the card failed and the bubble detached from the card. I managed to fix it well enough. I've asked around on some of the toy forums and others have had the same problem with this figure but no one really had much advice on how to prevent this. I kept it stored in a Star Case and took it off the wall maybe once a year at most. I knew the card was a thinner stock but I didn't know they had cut corners on the glue as well. Short of displaying it laying down do you know how to prevent this from happening if I get a new one. Are there any cases that are designed to support toe bubble and take the stress off of the glue? I know it is a problem for the Theater Edition Skywalkers but do you know if this is a problem for other Star Wars figures? I don't have many MOC figures but the ones I do have seem to be holding up just fine. I would imagine this could potentially become a nightmare for some MOC collectors though. Until it happened to me I never even imagined the glue would just fail on its own.
--Dan

This is a very widespread problem-- a friend of mine was trying to sell one at a convention and it literally separated off the card as he handed it to the guy who was buying it. The best you can do is keep it in a cool, dry place-- not too hot as the glue may become brittle faster-- and maybe try to find a case that pinches the bubble a little. I haven't heard of an ideal one yet, but if anyone out there has, please let me know-- I have one too and I'd like to make sure it stays on the card!

9. This is a strange question.I know the action figure line is for kids,but I'd like to see a deluxe set maternity table with the two "action figure" infants,the mega-pegwarmer Pregnant Padme,with a white shirt,and that cool midwife droid.Kinda like Vaders table.Also the six breasted dancer from Jabbas.Is Hasbro reluctant to make these sort-of,adult figures?
--ABarra9721

To continue the theme of "I don't know what Hasbro plans for the brand," well, yeah. We got Jabba's Slave Leia, right? That's pretty smutty all things considered. Also, Oola, and the may-as-well-be-naked Ayy Vida. I think it's something Hasbro will do if they want to but since we're having a hard enough time getting a good basic Padme and not even a deluxe one, I wouldn't hold your breath.

10. Well, the "Fan's choice" list has more EU representation than an G-8 summit. Talk about UGH. (Can you tell that I detest EU and it's X-Wing piloting horses and... Sorry.)

Anyway, the figure that really caught my eye (And the one that seems to be the early favorite if the small straw poll of I've taken counts for anything) is 'Padme funeral attire'.

Now don't get me wrong, it would be a swell figure, what with having that slick hover-casket and all, but as you so often remind us the 3 3/4 line is still primarily for kids. Do you really think Hasbro will be keen on making an "Action figure" of a floating corpse?
--Anthony

The first thing I need you to do is read this comic by a good friend of mine. (You should read the backlog too, it's a good comic. But start with that one.)

The Fan's Choice listing is basically a pile of crap-- part of me wants to be a conspiracy theorist and assume Hasbro or someone at ToyFare made it up, but it's in line with what I expect from GroupThink. (Although there's more than a few figures on the list that are coming in the next 500 days, according to many sources.) Depending on where you go, every group has a different favorite. A lot of people are voting for Vos-- although they probably won't NEED to. (Although maybe they will.) Some forums still think the Ice Cream Maker Guy is a great addition to any collection and hilarious, while I'm sitting here looking at this list more or less scratching my head. Am I so spoiled by the previous rounds that nothing seems good enough? Maybe-- I got a Duro, Amanaman, Ephant Mon, a McQuarrie Concept Trooper, and Captain Antilles. All awesome choices. These? Well, not as awesome, but not too awful.

So, who's buying Star Wars? I don't think anyone really knows. You might say "well, it's mostly collectors!" And the fish will tell you the keyboard is wet. Hasbro thinks it's mostly kids. I spend a lot of time in stores hunting and in my minute or two in an aisle, I tend to see others rifle through the pegs-- and as of late I do indeed see more kids than collectors make a purchase. On the other hand, let's look at the characters we've been offered in recent memory.

Slave Leia. Holographic Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura, and Plo Koon. Ayy Vida. Major Derlin. Lushros Dofine. These aren't figures for kids. While some of you are going "kids love aliens," while I agree, it just doesn't make sense-- look at the rest of the toy aisle. Nothing else offers this kind of variety and it leads me back to my central point today, and that's that the more transparency I get in this hobby, the less I understand how it works. I've talked to designers, marketing people, sales reps, fans, collectors, parents, super-collectors, writers, and more, and because of this, I can no longer say with any sort of accuracy which of these groups knows who's buying what and why.

Would a floating Padme corpse sell? Dunno. Padme wasn't the biggest seller of Episode I, nor did her (admittedly lackluster) only outing for Revenge of the Sith really make any Padme fans all that happy. The demand is there for *A* Padme, I don't know if it's there for *THIS* Padme. Fan's Choice figures don't have a record of being huge hits-- only Ephant Mon, which was deliberately short shipped, and the McQuarrie Trooper, which was not, have been popular enough to not wind up clearanced. (This may have to do with fan interest as well as too large a production run, there's no way to know, even though these are largely some of the best figures made for their times.) Unless Hasbro made her as a limited run I think she'd likely tank. Actually, short of the figures on that list of 25 that most fans feel Hasbro will do anyway (Clones, Luke, Maul) pretty much any of those figures are almost too obscure to do really well across the board. Seriously, how many young kids are going to know Nom Anor? Sure, I want one like he looked in the Crimson Empire II comics, but I'm likely on a short list.

I think Hasbro thinks the 3 3/4-inch line is primarily for kids, but it's not always easy to tell if that's true. Kids aren't clamoring for Commander Cody like we are, and it isn't kids who are keeping you from seeing it in stores. On the other hand, kids DO buy up Luke, Vader, Han, Chewie, Anakin, and Obi-Wan when you spit on seeing them for the umpteenth time. So if collectors get really excited about Padme, she could do quite well. Problem is, as a demographic, I don't trust us. I've been reading the forums-- people are going to their school and library computer labs and voting 30 or more times. Which, well, isn't cool, a figure that doesn't sell well doesn't help anybody. If a store has 6 pegs stuffed with the same figure, they don't go "well, this one didn't sell, so let's order another dozen cases."

Things like this are worrisome for Hasbro because while it's their olive branch to us to say "here's your figure," sometimes they smack us with it by not making enough, or we smack them by not buying enough. The Duro was an iffy seller with all the remaining stock, but does anyone deny it's one of the best figures Hasbro did? Plus, look around in stores. Fans have been begging for Major Derlin for a few years now, and Hasbro gave it to us. And how is it selling? But I digress.

Yes, this line is primarily SUPPOSEDLY for kids. This is the amazing fun you get to have when you spend all day with the line-- sure, it's for kids, but there's no product for kids to buy. So collectors are being fed kid-friendly figures in a collector-only market? I don't even know anymore. It's getting to the point where I don't think there's any sense rationalizing this stuff, just take note of what you see and want, and enjoy. It's more fun that way.

The one you didn't ask...
11. Why are there so many General Rieekans sitting around? Why can't Hasbro figure out how to ship these in the right numbers?
--forum postings a-plenty

I see this complaint a lot-- so much, I'm starting this 11th "question you didn't ask" feature to give you information I think you might need in your hunting.

So, General Rieekan. We're all agreed that we got him a few years ago-- but would you believe the new Saga Collection version may be the shortest packed figure of the entire line, save for variations and chases? It's true. One of the perks of my day job is I get to see the assortment information on these guys, and so do you-- every case ratio Hasbro makes, Entertainment Earth sells. (Barring some fluke which has yet to happen in 2006.) So far, General Rieekan ships at one per case-- in only one case so far. The main wave 2 case, and that's it-- as of today, that's it. Later today or later this week, you might see new case mixes, but keep that in mind-- with four waves of figures in 2006, with several remixes of each (2 of 1, a few of 3, and 6 of 4 so far) that's the only way you can get him. Which means that there are likely fewer Rieekans out there than Scorches. And Codys. And even Baradas.

As such, in the grand scheme of things, this may be a very rare figure in terms of quantities, but not in terms of availability because, by and large, nobody wants him.

So there you have it-- Hasbro didn't "overproduce" him so much as we under-give-a-crap about him. Keep in mind Darth Vaders are made in ridiculous abundance and sell out-- that's why it doesn't make sense for Hasbro to even make a limited repack of certain figures. If at one per case in one case at half the original price doesn't attract a buyer, well, obviously some characters aren't good for production.

FIN

So I got my Coruscant wave figures and my Ultimate Galactic Hunt figures last week. Here's the really short version of the podcast I'll be posting this week.

The Ultimate Galactic Hunt variant figures are a neat idea but I'm miffed I can't possibly expect to get a complete set of the little silver bonus holographic figures. These look excellent and I like them more than the blue ones. Aside from those, though, the concept-- while neat-- is probably going to exist mostly to please the secondary market on some level. For the record, I got the set of 10 and think they look pretty neat. Still, it'd be nice if I could get a spare set to open, I sincerely doubt I'll even see a spare of one of them so I can open it.

The Coruscant wave is mostly great. Giving Lushros Dofine's control panel to Grievous to futz with really makes for a nice little scene, Cody's great but short, Foul Moudama is like a huge hug, and I got no complaints about the Firespeeder Pilot other than I worry some fans won't like him. (And I'm quite curious if people will watch the movie for his two-second appearance and note the helmet coloring issue.) I hate to say it's my favorite wave of the year, as each wave has been great, but it's really cool and a lot of fun. Sure, you need a clear rubber band to get Foul to hold the dang lightsaber, but once you do you'll look at him and go "man, that's neat, even with the big stupid boots." It's a winner.

The one thing that irks me, though, is I realize my Separatist armies are pathetic. Hasbro's been bad about putting out Droid pilots or various Neimoidian overseers or even a really decent Super Battle Droid. I've bought extras of what have been released, but as someone who really did like the Battle Droid concept, I want more. So... please sirs, can I have some more?

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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