Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
April 24, 2006

 

1. Have you gotten a hold of the new Commander Cody figure yet? Reason I'm asking is because I was recently lucky enough to buy one for my kids and after I told them the helmet comes off... they pulled the whole head off? It pops back on quick enough, but just wondering if this is common or did I manage to get some sort of improperly assembled one?
--DK

What you're experiencing here is one of the many design flaws brought to life of trying to make a 3 3/4-inch action figure that's both kid safety law compliant and super-articulated for collectors. The big problem is, well, things fall apart.

While my Cody does not have your exact problem, my Vintage Saga X-wing Luke certainly does. To get the figure to look around, the ball joint is employed, and frankly it's not as good at its job as some other joints of the job is to keep figures from becoming decapitated. Yours is indeed properly assembled, it's just the way some of these figures are.

2. There are 2 versions of C3P0 with the battle droid head. One with the battle droid head on the body and other with C3P0 head itself. Is there any rarity with these 2 versions ? and if yes, which version is the rare one ?
--Chris

When they first shipped, there were 1 of each in the case. Now, it seems both are shipping in other cases. As such, neither is harder to find as of yet. Rarity is somewhat moot-- figures like General Rieekan seems to have been made in smaller numbers than these variants, and yet, nobody seems to care. I could make a crack about "buy the one you like," but at $7 a whack or less, well, uh, if you don't have that to spring, variant collecting isn't the best sport to take up.

3. So this is what kills me about the never ending debate over Hasbro and a toy AT-TE. The AT-AT is not exactly perfect in scale. Never has been but it totally kicks serious butt. Always has even to this day even if it can't exactly crush a toy snowspeeder under it's foot. Never heard a complaint about an AT-AT toy. You think Hasbro can't develop a smaller concept of the AT-TE that fans would dig? And it doesn't have to break the bank to make it happen. You make it sound like this is the most impossible toy to ever make and Hasbro can't do it. I don't believe for one second they couldn't make an affordable smaller version and hit the same cost as a Gunship. To think otherwise is nonsense. I would rather have a smaller version that seats four or five figs than nothing at all. And as for the profitability, you know Hasbro will be selling them in 2026 to our kid's children. Even now I bet they could make just as much of a profit with a smaller AT-TE,if not more, than they have with the Gunships. We aren't asking Hasbro to build a rocket engine for each of us. Imagine if they made this when AOTC came out. They would have had how many Christmas holidays, birthdays, an Episode 3 version, and I am sure an exclusive version or two as reasons to sell them. Not to mention those of us that would buy several. Tell me I am completely wrong......sorry for the rant.
--Chris

This is one of those "I don't know if this is a gag or if you're all serious at this point" issues, which sometimes produces ultimately amusing results. Short answer: scale ain't the issue.

The issue here is that the AT-TE is a big vehicle. The AT-AT is also big. Very few vehicles were designed properly sized. For example, the Snowspeeder is considered to be too big in nearly every incarnation as a collectible. The Kenner AT-ATs (technically, Hasbro has never made one under the Hasbro banner) are a little deformed, as are the Millennium Falcon, Slave I, Y-wing Fighter, and nearly every vehicle that was designed under the Kenner banner during the old days. (Although there may be some exceptions here and there, largely, the fans don't seem to notice or care.) The trend continues with modern vehicles too, just look at the Republic Gunship.

Could Hasbro take the AT-TE and make it smaller? Sure. But here's the thing: does it matter? No. Because Hasbro is very hesitant to release toys at higher (read: above $30) price points.

So far, in 2006, Hasbro hasn't released a new vehicle design. Not one. In 2005, the only "new" vehicle above the $20 mark was the ARC Fighter which was quite the bargain, and also deformed. Was it acceptable? Sure was. Could Hasbro do a smaller version of it at a lower price? Possibly. Consider that the AOTC version of Jango's Slave I sold for $30 at some stores. Cost is only a small part of the issue, the real issue isn't "oh golly, this is gonna be expensive!" It's "how many can we sell?" If Hasbro had to spend a couple of million developing the best toy ever, but everybody bought one, would they make it? OF COURSE. The problem is retailers don't generally support big vehicles. The problem is collectors sometimes wait for clearances. And the problem is that largely, fans claim Hasbro's choices for the big vehicles that do get made suck-- which is one I disagree with, by and large. (If Hasbro didn't make the Royal Starship in 1999, you'd be asking for one right now instead of the AT-TE.)

If Hasbro ever made the AT-TE, odds are yes, you'd get one like you describe-- smaller, cheaper, and a little deformed. That's how the vehicle game has worked from the beginning. The problem isn't that it CAN'T be done, it's that Hasbro doesn't currently want to do one. If it's because of market conditions, future plans (maybe for the TV shows), or even just good old fashioned spite, the point that seems to be missed here isn't that there's no way to do it. Of course there's a way to do it. And no matter how many shortcuts you take, it'll probably be a $60 vehicle. (The reissues of the Falcon hover around that, and I assume that a hypothetical AT-TE would be at least that size.)

As to the gunship and its price point? Don't use that one as an example. It's too easy to counter. For example, tell me if this makes sense:
Republic Gunship, 2002: $39.99-$44.99
Command Gunship, 2003: $29.99-$39.99
Republic Gunship, 2005: $29.99-$34.99
Clone Wars Gunship, 2006: $44.99
Hasbro's vehicle pricing methods do not follow a pattern in which I think I could easily say what the next move in terms of pricing may be. For an old mold with no electronics and no changes, a steady price or a moderate decrease make sense. A 50% jump does not. Also, big push seasons, like movie/DVD windows, seem to allow for more units to be sold, which means a lower cost. So if you want your theoretical vehicle, it'd be during something like-- as I mentioned-- the TV show, if it worked out.

It's not just Star Wars, look at Hasbro's other action brands. Outside of Transformers, toys for boys that cost more than $40 are pretty uncommon. That's the nature of the market-- you have to be doing crazy money to justify a very large price point toy. Like Bratz. (Yes, I'm serious.)

Will kids buy the AT-TE? Who knows? It doesn't matter if Hasbro doesn't feel like doing it, and at this point, it's not an item they're pushing for. Hasbro hasn't really proven that they "get" the Clone Troopers as a toy outside basic action figures. We get a trickle of figures, which makes some sense to keep interest up and not blowing the opportunity all at once, but they have precious few vehicles. (As stated last week.) You can make arguments all day long, but it boils down to this: Hasbro doesn't want to do one right now. As I like to say, if you really want to see one, please start a petition. Get 1,000 signatures, and get back to me and I'll gladly back you, promote the crap out of it, and then credit you years down the road if it gets made because of your tireless efforts. (Of course, keep in mind you'll likely need way more than 10,000 signatures for Hasbro to take note.) And on the topic of more vehicles...

4. I can understand Hasbro's position about not making new vehicles and repackaging old ones because of profit and shelf space, It's unfortunate but I understand . My question is this why repackage Vader's TIE Fighter which got released not two collections ago instead of older ones like a TIE Interceptor, Bomber, AT-ST or heaven forbid a B-Wing. Maybe I'm missing something here but it doesn't make sense then again Hasbro isn't known to always make the right choice. What do you think? maybe you know something I don't. By the way I liked your Q&A about the small clone vehicles, I've been thinking about small vehicles and wondered why Hasbro didn't release the speeder used by Obi Wan and Anakin to travel around Coruscant in ROTS Am I the only who thought they looked nice and would be fun to get them for our figures?
--Martin

The toy business isn't as cut and dried as "we just released this, let's put it out again." In the case of a vehicle like Darth Vader's TIE Fighter, Hasbro's doing something smart: capitalizing on the recent popularity of the MOST POPULAR MOVIE VILLAIN OF ALL TIME with a toy that one of MANY NEW FANS in the kid age range might want to buy. Also, it fits into how Hasbro's shipping these things-- in a medium-size vehicle assortment, along with the Jedi Starfighters. Stores can get behind the $19.99 vehicle price point and Hasbro said "oh, really? OK, well, let us get you some vehicles and get back to you." Also, Vader's TIE goes for a decent chunk of change on eBay, the OTC version from 2004 was an exclusive and somewhat hard to find, so while this sucks for the likes of many of us, it makes sense from a retail perspective. Little kids are watching Star Wars, which, to them, is new. So any "reruns" are essentially new product to them.

Arguably, any vehicle would be, but any product tied in to Darth Vader is likely to be a much bigger seller. Hasbro also released the TIE Bomber twice. The AT-ST was a pegwarmer and clearance fodder in late 1995 and 1996, making the 2001 release a bit of a surprise. The B-wing was clearanced out at Target. While eBay isn't kind to the collector, neither was the retail market. The B-wing was a $40 vehicle, and people passed. (Although the AT-ST/Speederbike/Paploo set was like $30 and worth it... and NOT clearanced.)

While I don't adore the fact Hasbro hasn't given me a new vehicle mold since the middle of 2005, I can't fault them for trying to profit off of existing, good toys. The Vader's TIE from POTF2 (and later, OTC) is one of the finest toys made in the modern line. Hopefully these reissues will sell so well Hasbro goes "man, we're stupid for not making more new ones and we've run out of old ones to remake. To the factory!" If the rumors of things like the clearanced Hailfire Droid being reissued are true... that's when I worry. Sure, it's worth a lot on eBay now, but that's common. Poorly selling toys often shoot up in value, you don't have to be worthless if you're a pegwarmer.

Hasbro has a new market to reach now: kids. The OTC Vader's TIE was, what, $30 and hard to find? This new release is $20 and everywhere-- as such, Hasbro can, in theory, make money off of the vehicle. This is a good thing. And I hope that it means Hasbro will start saying "let's make more small vehicles" and then, just maybe, a few new large ones too.

2006 is shaping up to be a decent year for vehicles, as far as number of products available on the market. It looks like, according to most rumor lists, we're going to get 1 Gunship, another run of the ROTS-box Falcon, the four "rerun" ships in new boxes, and something like 6 reissue/repainted vehicles. Plus, in theory, an AT-AT, possibly a Snowspeeder, and a couple of others. While there's no new 100% new vehicle in the mix and precious few Trilogy items, well, the prequels are hot and one of Hasbro's consistent best sellers over the last few years (according to Tomart and their ilk) says that things like electronic Lightsabers are bestsellers. And we ain't buying those, so aiming for that market is probably smart. For now, of course.

5. I think you've said before that Hasbro takes notice when there's an especially high secondary-market price for a particular figure...that that might drive them to do a re-release. What about all the end-of-line figures that were notoriously hard to find? Some, like Han AT-ST driver, Lando General, etc. got re-released on new cards. And we're getting several of the ROTS "final 12" in the Heroes and Villains line. But lots of figures haven't seen re-release, and would be both cheap to reissue and likely hot sellers (the EP1 figs like Sio Bibble, R2-B1...the POTC figs like Naboo Celebration Amidala, Rabe, Pablo Jill). Is it too much to hope that we'll see these again?
--Adam

There are times Hasbro looks at the market and says "item X is popular, we should make sure it gets in stores." Of course, your definition of "cheap" may differ from another's, as I personally don't think $20 is too out of line for a modern-era, discontinued, hard-to-find figure. It ain't great, but the thing is a lot of the figures are made with the intent of being a one-shot deal-- Hasbro makes it, sells just enough to profit, and moves on so it doesn't become a poor seller.

Reissues are dangerous, because you never know how much the market really needs at times. With years to fill with exclusive gift packs and more, I think there's a lot of good chances for more of these items to ship again. Heck, Hasbro already confirmed the Tactical Ops Clone will return, as you mentioned, but with Episode I being out of vogue this week, Sio Bibble might be a while. Like anything else, make a stink about it, let Hasbro know, and more importantly, if you can get a figure on eBay for about what originally cost (or elsewhere), buying it is a good idea. Rereleases are bad because they take up a slot for something new, which is bad because that's a Vader a kid might've bought and joined the line, or more importantly, a figure I'd want. (Hey, I've been at this for years. It's all about me sometimes.)

In short, be prepared to pay secondary market prices for figures if they've been off the market. Like baseball cards, comics, and everything else, he who doesn't get in on the ground floor gets screwed. It's not ideal for the newbies, but frankly, if Hasbro wants to make R2-B1 again, I hope they do a new one and use the R4-G9 mold.

6. I was wondering Why was Silver Slave one a Galactic Hunt & The White Tie A Normal Release & The Clone Gun Ship and the EP3 Falcon Just Limited? Is there a difference or is the white tie not rare as first speculated & the GH Slave 1 actualy a chase peice & the limited is just a Marketing peice?
--Richard

As far as I can tell, the "Ultimate Galactic Hunt" branding is a marketing thing for Spring. It's on a bunch of items, and supposedly may be on the Toys "R" Us Gunship and Clone packs as well.

With the Titanium Limited vehicle, it seems that in this case, they just felt like slapping a sticker on it. It's not exactly a limited item.

7. Looking at the figures that made it into the final round of voting for the fan's choice poll there's some stuff that's interesting and some that makes sense, but I'm curious why everyone laughed when I said I wanted the original Empire Strikes Back emperor? Everyone knows the frog looking emperor that talked to Vader in his personal chamber, why is he so funny? If Hasbro is willing to do a McQuarrie Concept trooper, wouldn't logic say that they would be willing to do an original ESB emperor? Any plans for this?
--Colton

Everybody has a favorite, or has an idea they got which they think should therefore be done. As I don't know everyone, well, they're entitled to their favorites.

Logic doesn't exist in this line. This is something I keep saying and I don't think people get it. There are reasons why things happen, but that doesn't mean they make a heck of a lot of sense to us on the outside. I would not hold your breath for ANY figure that was removed from the films in the newer versions, especially one which is essentially a bad special effect. And I have to say, lately, especially this week, I'd say about half the questions I get I think are people pulling my leg. As to if it'd ever happen, even if this is a joke question, Hasbro's probably giving it some thought or has given it some thought in the past. There's only so many ways you can do a new spin on a main character, and this is certainly a "new" way to do the Emperor. (Granted, I think your chances of this are about zero, but.)

8. Just wondering if you know when the TRU Exclusive Snowspeeder with Zev Senesca is coming out? Also…is it the same mold as the Hoth Peril speeder released in 2002…and is it going to have two figures also?
--Ross

It hasn't been confirmed yet. This isn't a smarmy way of me going "nyah nyah" or something, it flat-out has not been confirmed yet. That doesn't mean it won't happen, or it won't be an exclusive, or it will be an exclusive. It means just that: it hasn't been confirmed yet. Until I see pictures or something of a slightly more official capacity than even an entry in a store's computer, well, to me, it's not confirmed. A lot of items make their way into store computers that never see release, or are misleading, or only partially right. This one could very well be true, but without more information or images, I'm not placing any bets.

It is very likely that any new release of a vehicle that has a mold made for it will be the same mold or a slightly updated version of it. Hasbro hasn't treated us to many all-new renditions of old vehicles in the modern day. Kenner gave us the great all-new Vader's TIE in 1997, an all-new X-wing in 1998, and an all-new Landspeeder in 2002. With that track record, I'm not optimistic that we'll see all-new classic vehicles this year.

Plus you never know if it will be "Snowspeeder with Zev" or "Zev's Snowspeeder." If it's an exclusive, I'd expect a figure, but I don't know for sure.

9. I've just read your latest Q&A from April 17th. You mention that it would be a good idea to do some clone strike Mini Rigs. I was very amazed to read this, because I have this idea in my mind since many weeks and mentioned it in one or another forum. It would be great to have some small vehicles for all those clone troopers. We saw so many new planets in Episode III, it would be pretty easy to imagine some small vehicles for this terrains. I would buy them deffinitily as long as they would look cool and were not to poorly made.

But I think Hasbro won't do that. I believe they have testet the waters during the Ep.I line. Do you remember this little mimi rig that looked a little bit like the droid tank and had a blue ballte droid on it? I think it was pretty ugly and both (the vehicle and the battle droid on it) were poorly made. The qualtity and the paint job wasn't very good. I believe this vehicle wasn't a cash cow for hasbro and now they believe there isn't enough interest in new mini rigs. It's always the same. They have a great idea, but the final toy is cheap and lacks quality. And then they believe fans didn't buy it because they aren't interested in the idea of this new line.

I loved those little mini rigs in the 80s - esspecially the Captivator. They had a cool design and just the right size to play with it. The kids loved this line very much. I would love to see a new line of mini rigs based on the Clone Forces. But how to push this idea and sell it to hasbro?
--Matthias

Make sure they know you care! Make your own customs, write letters, send in letters to the toy magazines, and just complain, complain, complain until you get something.

Hasbro did indeed make a series of small "Invasion Force" vehicles in 2000 for Episode I. A mini Droid Tank was made, and while a little small, was a nice looking toy. (In other words, a good start.) Darth Maul's Sith Attack Speeder was a fairly solid vehicle. Obi-Wan's Gungan Mini-Sub was cheap, and Jar Jar's cannon... the less said the better. Even if it was a more movie-esque design. But at $10 per? It's shocking it didn't do too much better, but for many, it was nigh-impossible to find the Sith Speeder or Mini-Sub in the wild. I only saw them on clearance, myself.

As a young collector, one of the first things I gravitated toward were getting a set of mini-rigs in the boxes so I could crack them open and put them together myself. They're all great, or at least good enough playthings to make me want more. But that's me-- if you guys want more vehicles, big or small, it's up to all of us to basically buy all the new stuff and let Hasbro know that we're not a bunch of cheapskates who won't punk out on new, good, $15-$20 vehicles when they get made. It's risky as it's a lot of Expanded Universe, but c'mon, a $10 vehicle with a Clone repaint is enough to sell it. I mean, we're paying $13 or whatever for the various Target or Fan Club figures, right?

10. I only recently heard about the "Hunt for Grievous" Battle Pack. I heard it was a TRU exclusive, any idea on how big of a run it will have? More importantly, will it be available on Amazon for pre-order (as of now it isn't) or available on Entertainment Earth by some chance? I've wanted to get a hold of those ARC Troopers (prices for the Red are ridiculous on eBay) and I've had pretty bad luck trying to get any of the decent Battle Packs in "the wild."
--Will

Rumor has it that the Target exclusives are 65,000-75,000 pieces, which gives us a ballpark estimate. Toys "R" Us exclusives have so far never been offered to Entertainment Earth, as far as I know, so I'd say your best bet is to preorder the "Defense of the Senate" pack on Amazon and cross your fingers-- that's what I did. It should be the set you're after, and if it's not, uh, return policy?Cancel that order as soon as you have a reason to do so, otherwise return it and tell them you bought it because your idiot friend on the Internet told you to. (I'll vouch for you.)

If you're buying this set because you want the 2003 Clone Wars red ARC Trooper, this set doesn't have it. What it does have, though, is a modified Revenge of the Sith Clone Commander that has an added shoulder pad and an Episode II Clone head on it instead of the one with the binoculars. (At least in the photos I've seen, it doesn't even have the rangefinder, or the unique-to-the-ARC Trooper figure armor sculpting.) So it's a substitution, a tofu patty to the hamburger that is the original figure.

Even the standard ARC in the pack is a repaint-- so if anyone out there was hoping to get the original releases in this pack, it looks like you're going to be out of luck and eBay is still your best bet.

(It's still an awesome set and I ordered two myself-- although it may not be enough!)

FIN

Man, what a week! Vintage is starting to hit, new exclusives got announced (501st Stormtrooper), and un-announced and then re-announced (Shadow Stormtrooper), and a whole big friggin' list of new stuff that... well, frankly, there's no way to know how legit this is. Pieces of it are, obviously, but the whole thing? Who knows.

Aside from another ESB Vintage Vader, it's a pretty good sounding list. Vintage-style Jawa? Oooh. A new Ceremonial Luke? Aaaah. A... white... TIE FIGHTER!!???!! SWEET MOTHER OF CRAP! I'll take seven! Granted, it'll be the crappy stubby wing version if this list is true, but that's one more modern white TIE Fighter than I have right now.

Plus I can buy extras and get some red paint. I think some of you know why. Heck, maybe Hasbro can throw in some red stickers and throw me a friggin' bone.

In a way, I'm kinda glad about all the vehicle repaints, because a) so far, they sell and b) eventually, Hasbro will run out of options and likely start making new ones. Of course, before than maybe we can get an Episode III deco Millennium Falcon that has a backstory about how the 501st threw blue paint on it and took it over for deliveries or some such crap. Or, perhaps we'll see an all-black X-wing "scout ship." Maybe a repaint Landspeeder is to be had some day, or, better still, a $20 box set with the 2002 Landspeeder packaged with the 2004 Escape Pod. (That would be a nice set.)

Oh. And Hasbro? I still want my full-size blue A-wing. That, or some sort of comment to the effect of "we're never going to do this, go do it yourself." Please. And thank you.

And a question for you guys... as I am not a member of hyperspace this week, what kind of discount do you get on the Shadow Stormtrooper? I'm quite curious as it seems none of the fan sites are publicizing it if there is, in fact, sale pricing available. (Which is kinda amazing, as I'm a bit of a troop builder, knowing I could be getting a decent discount on a bunch of these would be a huge selling point.)

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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