Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
April 17, 2006


1. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a set of the new vintage style figures already. They are great (even velvet vest Greedo). The VOTC (and VTSC now) are some of my absolute favorite figures. Any chance we'll see additional waves? I'd love to see a Jawa, Han or Luke Stormtrooper, or a Snowtrooper. Even better, what are the chances they will expand into the Prequels? I'm sure colletors would go crazy over a super articulated Darth Maul or a Clone trooper (any variety) on a vintage style card. Despite the inevitable Jar Jar, I think it would be worth it.

While there are rumors and speculation (as the cases read "Wave 1" on them), there's no known firm confirmation of a second wave yet. While it would be cool, and I expect to see more Vintage figures in the future, I am a little perplexed as to which figures we might get. (Although I'm sure we're all hoping for a good Return of the Jedi Luke.)

I too have the hope that Hasbro decides to continue along the "George Lucas Stormtrooper" concept and make new figures. Namely prequel ones. I mean, an ARC Trooper, Darth Maul, and Jango Fett would be neat, no? And I'm crossing my fingers for Luke and Han Stormtroopers. (I have the POTF2 versions and I have the Trash Compactor versions. Now I want the perfect versions.)

2. I have a question concerning the Vintage-style Saga2 figures coming out, and the George Lucas/Stormtrooper mail-away offer.

Are the proof-of-purchase stickers that you have to mail in going to be attached to the cards, or will they be loose inside the clamshells (possibly on some backing paper)?

I ask this because I like the look of the Vintage-style figures carded, and I would hate to have to justify buying two sets. I'm not fond of the idea of having to open one set just to get the mail-away offer, while having to spend the money on a second set just to have them carded.

These are taped inside the insert-- so they aren't loose, but they're in there. The clamshells have been spotted in two flavors-- heatsealed/glued and taped (like the 2004 originals.) So while you MIGHT luck out and find the set that just needs to be sliced a bit, more than likely you'll have to mangle a set to get out the forms. (Which is done to prevent theft, of course, but one has to wonder why Hasbro doesn't just sell the figure outright and skip this hoop-jumping and go back to having mail-ins from unrelated junk food products.)

3. Just a quick oberservation on the Greatest Hits Wave 2 assortment. It seems they are putting both AT-TE gunners and Tac Op Clones in the same assortment. Last year, it was said that they couldn't use the SA Clone (#41) mold for the Tac Ops fig as the mold was used for Gree in the same time period and they couldn't use the mold to produce 2 different figures in the same assortment. So, has something changed? Or will these just be produced in low enough quantities that they were able to run one figure, reset the mold and then run the other? At any rate, your thoughts?

Well, that's what some people said, but just because it makes sense at the moment doesn't mean it has more than an ounce of truthiness to it. After all, super-articulated white clones, Gree, and the Special Ops trooper all shipped around the same time, and we have both the red Shock Trooper and Utapau Trooper based on that mold shipping right now. So it looks like fan speculation strikes again.

Whatever's going on, both of these figures will be in the case, and Hasbro often employs multiple molds at multiple factories to make figures (or so is my understanding). As such, there's really no reason they can't do whatever they want, and with the crazy interest in Clone Troopers, odds are they are doing a little "army building" of their own just to have enough molds to keep us satisfied.

Oh, and for the record, I did some quick counting of Clones over the weekend. Did you know that to date, we've got over 64 different Clone figures including all major variations, exclusives, repaints, and so forth? With all the posed figures, pack-ins, Expanded Universe designs, and more... that's a lot. So whatever Hasbro's evil master plans for Clones are, I'm going to go out and wager that a) we're just getting started and b) the number of unique clones will be bigger than the number of total classic vintage figures before 2008.

(But a quick PS-- rumor has it the "Hall of Fame" figures are going to be lower run, but I have no idea what that actually means in the grand scheme of things.)

4. well this is a theory ive had for soem time, about 9 or so years ago ( i was young at the time) my dad bought me the death star droid freeze frame figure. My query comes when the man we purchased it from said its a rare exclusive and only 10,000 were made and the plastic turned pink in the sun, so he charged me about $50 for it. ive never heard anything about this anywhere, and the figure really does go a funny shade when in the sun , so did i get coned or is this a rare variant?

The Death Star Droid figure from 1998 was originally (in the USA) a Fan Club exclusive. It later was blown out at Toys "R" Us for $1.98 (I bought a couple), and prior to being at the Fan Club, you could buy it overseas (Japan, Australia, etc.) as a regular figure. At its height at retail, it was 50% of a $19.99 two-pack, so $50 was absolutely too much for something that could be considered sun damaged. I have seen some color differences from one droid to the next, so I would say in this case you got conned. Hasbro doesn't make X,000 of a figure that's special unless it's head-poundingly obvious, like the recent Ultimate Galactic Hunt figures (whose quantities are unknown) or a running change and those are more or less a beast unto themselves.

So in this case, you didn't exactly get a great deal, I'm sorry to say-- there are very few (ok, basically no) figures that are special versions of regular figures that are different enough to warrant that kind of money. (Although there are a few. There's a gray 1995 Darth Vader-- and when I say gray, I mean like the Special Ops Clone from the Fan Club. Don't bother checking, you don't have one, either.)

5. What do you think the chances are that we'll ever see the #41 SA Clone repainted in 501st colors? I loves me some 501st, but the at-te gunner body is all kinds of suck.

Many fans are wondering this since Hasbro showed us exactly that figure in San Diego last year. If you look at that link, you can tell it's the #41 Clone due to an error on the mold-- the belt pouches are upside-down, so they look like a "U" rather than a... well, an "n" more or less. Also, he's holding his antenna thing in his left hand.

Last year, rumor had it that this figure would eventually be a freebie with the game Battlefront II, but this never materialized. With Hasbro cranking out Clones left and right, it's widely assumed that this will indeed show up in some capacity, but what? And how? And more accurately, will Hasbro make it easy for us to get 20 at once?

For a display figure, I think the Tactical Ops Trooper (based on the AT-TE gunner) is pretty nice. He can sit easily and assume some poses that the super-poseable one can't-- so it's a trade-off. Frankly, though, Hasbro could take each unique mold and paint it up like the 501st and I'd buy a few of each-- I mean, why not? Get the best of all worlds.

6. Considering that these toys apparently made it to the prototype stages, what's to stop Hasbro from releasing the unreleased vintage Ewoks & Droids figures? Just put a recent date stamp on them. Much like the POTF2 vintage pack that came out in 1995(?).

Mainly because these cartoony figures' tools likely are lost, and that the total number of fans who want them are pretty limited. Me, I want them just because I want new characters in my toy line-- and I'd go ga-ga over Vlix because I like thugs, and more Ewoks are happy fun fun always. I think it boils down to the number you can sell. While Hasbro never confirmed it, most rumors had the Classic 4-pack, a mostly forgotten reissue of the vintage 1978 Luke, Han, Vader, and Chewie, pegged at 50,000-100,000 units. That's a lot. There's nowhere near that level of interest in the likes of Morag and Kleb Zellock, sadly, and as such we get to wait and hope the characters appear somewhere again so there might be demand for some figures.

Honestly, though, I'd be all over the Fromm Gang getting new figures.

7. I just recently bought the Titanium Snow Speeder and it got me thinking. Maybe you can answer these questions for me. Is the snow speeder only an atmospheric craft or can it also "fly" in outer space? If it can "fly" in space has there been any mention of it or stories of it in any expanded universe material?

It's my understanding, and for all I know this was debunked elsewhere, that the vehicle was indeed meant to be an atmospheric craft and not for space battles. According to the Star Wars Databank, this "extremely maneuverable craft had a flight ceiling of 175 kilometers," which does indeed confirm it was not meant for space purposes.

8. Given that there are so many adult collectors who are generally willing to lay down more for cash for rare and exclusive items, why doesn't Hasbro develop new products and sell them directly to this market?

Costs are high. Really high. When making a plastic toy you have to take into account safety, even if it's not being sold to kids, because that's how our lawsuit-happy "my dumb kid choked on this thing which is clearly not a toy now you must pay" culture. Safety testing, development, and the amount of money you can actually get are a bit of a sore spot. For example, if you sell an exclusive, you need to get to the whole market. Hasbro doesn't have a master list of collectors to reach, they won't even reach everybody by promoting the item on fan sites, their own web sites, and the major toy magazines. It's very important to have a ridiculous shelf presence, so while someone like Toys "R" Us or Wal-Mart have the foot traffic to move an exclusive, Hasbro proper does not.

Of course, there's other issues too, like precedent. In 1997, we got an AT-AT which, at $80, sold well and in most markets sold out. In 2000, it was blown out for $20 for reasons related, most likely, to inventory overload. In 1998, we got a $50 X-wing... same thing. In 1999, the Royal Starship, and in 2002, the Imperial Shuttle for $100 (later $25-$50) and $130ish (later, $75) respectively. Oh, and the Sandcrawler in 2004 was $60 and blown out under $20 in some locations.

Obviously, while we have money, money isn't "no object" to most of us especially when we're looking at toys. You have to make tens of thousands of an item to justify production at Hasbro, if not more, if what we hear is largely true. As such, let's say Hasbro decides to make a direct-to-consumer big giant vehicle that everybody would want. (This is hypothetical.) The molds alone will likely cost somewhere in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. And there's freight. Engineering. Safety testing. Marketing. Packaging. Labels. More marketing. Development. Salaries. And it goes on.

So let's say you can move 10,000 of something at $200 a whack. At that point, it's not too bad, but it's still small potatoes compared to what kind of money Hasbro can make if they repackage an existing item for Wal-Mart and sell it for rock bottom prices with a slight redeco to it. And this is assuming there's 10,000 collectors who can get together and agree to overpay for one big large toy. There's no way in Hell this will ever happen.

Even at $100, it isn't going to work, because so many of us are whiny people who make excuses. "I have no space," or "I'll wait for a sale." This is what kills good products. If it's worth having, it's worth having at full price.

So you say "Adam, you're such a negative jerk." OK, I'll give you that. But riddle me this: what is there out there that you think every fan would rally behind and buy from Hasbro at a higher price? As much as I would love to add Turbo Tanks and AT-TEs to my collection, I don't think that'd do it. While a big giant Death Star playset would rock, I think it needs retail support to sell-- rich parents are good customers, too, as can be seen with Bratz' sundry giant items. I think there's a couple of ships that might be able to make it work, but fan buying patterns and the fact we hate everything is likely to kill the deal before such an item could be considered.

As I've said in the past, while I'm not a big fan of petitions, they are telling. The petitions got over 10,000 signatures for the Shuttle, Skiff, and Wuher figure at the end of the POTF2 line and while Hasbro probably wanted to do them anyway, I have little doubt that fan support with those kinds of numbers didn't hurt. While many consider fan slacktivism and online petitions a waste of time, if you can collect ten thousand or more names, you might be on to something. As such, I say if you like this sort of idea, by all means, hop to it! Let Hasbro know we've got money. I'd drop $200 on a nice Death Star playset without thinking twice. (Although I'd drop even more if it were several playsets that could connect together that were sold over a year or more. But that's me.)

9. Any idea what the release dates are for the Toys R Us Clone Wars Gunship or Target Grievous? I haven't heard anything about them in a while and I'm afraid I'm going to miss them and have to resort to eBay.

Grievous is indeed out at some Target stores now. I found mine last week, and I very much dig the robot-on-fire figure. Is it worth $13? Not especially. Supposedly 75,000 were made, though, so it ain't gonna be rare even if you DO have to get it on eBay. (Several of Target's exclusives from 2005 can be found for less than original cost.)

The Gunship is expected, according to Amazon, May 1. So for now, I'm going to say that even though I don't expect it to be right. As of yet, there have been zero signs of a packaged "Hunt for General Grievous" (the set which most assume the "Defense of the Senate" pack on Amazon actually is), so it's hard to say. Although TRU exclusives do have a habit of just showing up a lot of the time.

10. Adam, who do you think is more likely to make the Star Wars toy I want if I pester them enough? Santa Claus or Hasbro?

Santa, definitely Santa.


So. What's new? A couple of things. First, the new Target exclusives are worth it, and totally worth it, respectively. Grievous on fire is a novel improvement on the "let's add lava deco to a figure" trend of 2005, as there are actual flames shooting out of his eyes. That's worthy of a few points right there, and at $7, this would be the best addition to the line in a while. But it's $13, so it's not.

The Skirmish in the Senate pack, I can't stop saying nice things about despite being 40% total duplicates. The Clones and the pod make the $20 a little easier to swallow, if you like clones and things that are vaguely vehicular in nature.

...what else...

Word on the street has it that Mos Eisley figures may be in stores before the month is up. I'm not sure I buy this, given it's two weeks, but you never know.

Also, after going through figures and realizing just how many clone figures we have, I realized how many clone vehicles we have. A gunship in three paint jobs, and an ARC Fighter. That's it. Anything else has dedicated (or included) figures, which, well, not exactly fun as your figures can't interact with the vehicle. As lame as it sounds, with all the Jedi Starfighter repaints, I'm somewhat crossing my fingers for a "Clone Starfighter" or SOMETHING to make my figures have a little more purpose than "stand, shoot." I mean, in the old days, Stormtroopers had Dewbacks, the Imperial Troop Transport, (technically) TIE Fighters, and the mini-rigs ISP-6, INT-4, CAP-2, etc. In short, they were busy.

So Hasbro, I know the AT-TE and Turbo Tank may not be the most easily produced things... but how about some nifty mini-rigs to test the waters? C'mon. You know you want a "Clone Strike" line just as bad as the rest of us... and those Clone Speederbikes sold really well!

Still, this doesn't mean there isn't room for more Clone figures. I myself am hoping Hasbro has room for more of their "Evolutions" pack repaints, especially "red" and "blue" themed ones-- but with a twist. For example, in some non-movie materials, Lumiya (cyborg lady pseudo-Sith) has a bunch of red Stormtroopers-- actually Royal Guards-- in a new kind of elite armor. Surely, an Evolutions pack with a red AOTC Clone, a red Shock Trooper, and an all-red Stormtrooper would be an excellent and awesome thing to get to market. (As Hasbro seems intent on keeping Shock Trooper supplies to a mere drip.)

A "blue" set with a 501st and even a plain Stormtrooper would be nice, too. It's not like we wouldn't buy a 3-pack at $20 a whack. (Cough, hint to Hasbro.)

Still, as far as I'm concerned, the next big "push" for troopers is to focus the line to more trooper-themed vehicles. For example, does anyone really need six or seven ROTS white Clone Pilots? No, of course not. But between my ARC 170 and Republic Gunship alone, I have 5, and spares "just in case." (I bought extra AOTC pilots for the same reason. Wisely.)

I pulled out my Imperial Troop Transport, and you know what? Clones fit in those side pockets quite well. There are still many smaller vehicles from the animated Clone Wars show that would make for great small toys, and I for one want more small toys. I love how Hasbro has decided to keep the $19.99-$29.99 vehicle price point alive this year with the sundry rereleases and repaints of Jedi Starfighters, Hailfire Droids, and all this other stuff the rumor mill tells us. But you know what? I'd like something new. $10-$15, maybe it could include a figure. Little shuttle pods, heck, give me a week and I'll give you concepts for Clone vehicle demolition squads to use against the droid armies.

In short, put my Clones to work, Hasbro!

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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