Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
May 1, 2006

 

1. What's your feeling on the requirements for the Ultimate Galactic Hunt Lucas mail away - it sort of bothered me that I had to buy every single vintage figure to qualify. While the Biker and Holiday Special Greedo were brilliant, the new Luke X Wing, Han and Tusken I wasn't too impressed with, but had to buy to do the mail away. In the past, it was just any proofs of purchase - my Biker multiples would have helped - but not this time.

Also, with Zev'z snowspeeder supposedly up for this year, is there any word of a Zev or snowspeeder pilot figure to go with it? It's not hugely different from an x-wing outfit (just the parka, snow gloves and boots I think), but it's a neat army builder - or add a new head/helmet and it's Luke/Wedge.
--Duncan

The George Lucas Trooper seems to be a polarizing topic. Not so much that "do I like it or don't I" but "for what reason will I not like it"? Me, I like it. It's a goofy fan wank, a cute collectible, and something that is a novelty and not an item one will feel they are missing in their collection as far as having all the movie characters go. I also like all 5 vintage figures. Yes, all of them. Greedo is fun. The Scout is cool. I'm having fun with the Tusken. Luke's great-- I wish he were a regular figure so I could get more. Han's a little dull but I can live with one being merely OK in a line like this.

My main gripe is the $5 upcharge on top of the $50-$60 you'll spend for the figures. If I buy all 5 figures, and the specific figures no less, there should be a little less hoop jumping, but such is life in the modern mail-in. But, as I love to say, just be glad it wasn't Mattel. They did a mail-in for Moss Man in Masters of the Universe-- a line I was collecting to a great extent-- and put out a mail-in offer that required you pay, buy 3 figures on 1 visit to 1 store, it could only be a "top 5" store, and it was during a period in which no new figures were being released. So... yeah. It sucks, but it could be worse.

Plus if all you had to do was buy 5 Biker Scouts, fans would NEVER see them. I mean, if I could get and send in Biker Scouts and Tuskens, I'd have cleaned out the stores to get more just so I could get a few extra George Troopers. What they're doing makes sense, even though we don't like it.

As to your second question, this is the kind I love. I say "item X" hasn't been confirmed. People write in asking specific questions about Item X despite my not seeing it, being able to confirm it's coming out, or having any possible way to have insight on anyone else's upcoming exclusives. Unless you work at like Lucasfilm or Hasbro, odds are information about exclusives will only come to you through big public leaks or eBay weirdness. As such, I have no answer to your question outside "the last time they did a Snowspeeder they tweaked the POTF2 body, and odds are we'll see that again."

2. Have you heard anything regarding upcoming battlepacks fro TRU?

The Amazon website lists a "Defense of the Senate" battlepack available for preorder now and shipping May 1st. A few other websites have shown pics of an exclusive battlepack of Clone Troopers(available next month) to go with the exclusive Clone Wars style gunship(also an exclusive for TRU, available for preorder and shipping the 1st).

Are we going to get TWO from TRU(like K Mart) or did the one replace the other?
--Sean

This appears to be an issue vexing a great many collector-- but let's look at what we know. (And, more than likely, you can probably guess where this is going.)

For starters, Hasbro announced all their Spring exclusives a while back. In theory, there's no secrets at this point for the figure line. (They seem to like to spring Titanium stuff on us, though.) Back around February, we were told all about the Skirmish in the Senate set (Target), Hunt for General Grievous (Toys "R" Us), Demise of General Grievous (Target), Republic Gunship (Toys "R" Us), mail-in Lucastrooper, etc. Plus the dotcom exclusives. For this time of year, this is actually all we're expecting. Summer, convention season, and beyond is a different matter. As of late, Hasbro seems to like to announce things about 3 months ahead of time, so with that in mind, there should be no surprise items released in May of 2006. This doesn't mean there won't be new announcements for later in the year, or leaks, but it's pretty unlikely a new item will suddenly show up.

So. Fact: Toys "R" Us had FOUR exclusives up for preorder right now ("Dagobah," AT-AT, Republic Gunship, and "Defense of the Senate.") The Gunship and "Defense" packs were announced on the same day. Also, Hasbro announced the Gunship the same time it announced a "Hunt for Grievous" set, and each item is reflected on the other's packaging.

While I could be wrong, this is a no-brainer. From where I stand, there are two things the Defense of the Senate pack could be.
1. An error. This could be a glitch, a bug in the system for an item that was never meant to go to Amazon/TRU and somehow found its way into their system. It happens. Sometimes at Wal-Mart, oddball items get into their computers-- this is how we found out about the never-produced "Wedge Antilles Gunner Station," an item that was abandoned early in its development cycle around 1998. So for all of us who ordered "Defense" packs, we could just see our order evaporate when Amazon smacks their foreheads and goes "oh crap, we've been selling something with the wrong name."

2. A placeholder. Sometimes you can get 90% of the data on a product-- a weight, a SKU, a price, a release date, and everything else, but not have a final name. As such, a working name-- which could even include a name for another product that was shifted around-- could be on a list until the real item's name is used. Amazon has thousands of SKUs to manage, so it's possible that they'll just keep taking orders for a "mystery item" and send something out later. (This, too, has happened before.) Maybe it's a "Grievous" pack, maybe it isn't. This, too, happens to stores all the time-- it's not uncommon for development names to show up in a store's computer even when the final product is in your hands.

Knowing what we know Hasbro is putting out, what might be termed as an exclusive, and what's due when, it makes sense to assume (yes, assume) what this item is. We don't know what that is for sure, but we do know for a fact that Hasbro is producing a Clone Trooper 5-pack called "Hunt for General Grievous" (or some such) and it's expected in stores in May. And we also know Amazon has a "mystery" item that fits all the criteria except the name. There are no known plans for 2 TRU battle packs in May, 2006. There are no more known-to-the-public battle packs except one tentatively known as "Demise of Boba Fett," which was shown in New York and is widely assumed to not be an exclusive because of this appearance.

Finally, some have said "oh, it's the Skirmish in the Senate pack from Target" or "oh, it's a repaint of the Skirmish pack." To you, I will send $5 if you are right. Because you're wrong.

3. I just found the 5 UGH Vintage figures at Target and they were the heat sealed/glued variant clamshells. Bummer that it was not the taped version, but hey I Found 'em! Have you heard of any tips to opening these to keep the clamshell as intact as possible, or do I need to come to the realization that these are going to have to be opened and loose figures? Do I need to hunt down another set if I want them sealed for my display? Any guidance?
--Aleks

It all depends on your skillz with a knife. You can cut little slices here and there and remove these, but you're going to have to accept that taped or heat sealed, you will have to violate your mint-on-card figures if you want to send off for George Lucas. (Some collectors thing if you cut the tape and retape it, they're still mint. They're not. They're deluded and wrong. Once you break a seal on a figure, especially to remove a piece of it which is no longer part of the package, it is no longer a mint on card item.) If for your collection, you can live with a "carded" item with a few cuts in it to send off for something, like many of us did with the Early Bird Kits (it's a sensible thing to do for your own collection, I might add), you can probably slice it carefully and get them out. Advice? No. Just be careful and make your cuts carefully, it's really all up to you how you want to do it because there's no ideal place to make the incision, nor is there any way for me to know what kind of damage that you'll find the least offensive.

4. Well, after reading all of the questions on vehicles this week, I'd thought I would ask one on a vehicle I've been waiting to see re-released. The Target exclussive Tie Fighter in which Hasbro finally increased the wing size for the Tie. I think I only saw one at retail, if I did at all. If I did see one, I didn't have any cash on me that day. Anyway, this does seeem like an obvious choice for a re-release since this would be very popular and without it being an exclusive, maybe we could have the price point be a little closer to something reasonable instead of $40. You haven't heard of any rumors of this coming back out soon, have you?
--Pat

Due to its high price and the fact it went on clearance, there have not been a lot of requests for this to come back-- while it's awesome and one of my all-time favorite ships, it's big and was overpriced. (Ordinarily, I'll defend the price. But it's a $20 ship with new wings, which at best is a $30 toy.)

The good news for you is that if you have the money now, eBay is your friend. While not all of them go this cheap, I'm seeing auctions ending as low as $36 plus $7 shipping-- about $43. At $39.99 plus sales tax, it's not that far off from what you'd have paid at Target. So, to eBay with thee, and start whining to Hasbro and on forums that a) you want more of this vehicle and b) you want a newfangled "vintage" style battle-damaged version. (OK, OK. I do. But you'd like it too.)

5. Do you know if there are higher ratios of certain UGH basic figures than others? So far I have been able to find everyone at least more than once except Han Solo and Darth Vader. In fact for me Scorch and Commander Cody are two of the easiest to find.
--BJ

The rumors I heard indicated they were all made in equal quantities, although it seems distribution is making some figures more common than others for reasons unknown. For example, Entertainment Earth had a bunch of the cases with Boba Fett and the Snowtrooper, but I have no idea if this was because the other cases were more popular or what. Plus, Hasbro doesn't release production numbers with very, very few exceptions. As such, until someone at Hasbro blabs, it's going to be hard to say who's really the "rare" figures here.

6. okay so a month or so ago i got a few of the new saga figures and upon opening i realized that the package seemed thinner and more flexable, so i took note didn't think much of it, last week i got some from the hoth wave and same thing. so my question, first off am I crazy? an if it is not me is it the size? shape? or just hasbro cutting back on costs without hurting figure quality? (to tell you the truth i would prefer the latter)
--Austin

While I have not been paying attention for this, there are precedents of Kenner doing just that. For example, the Batman: The Dark Knight Collection line in 1990 released figures on different cardstock. Some had rough, some had glossy, and I had no idea why some were one way and the others, other. The same figure could be found on both styles at multiple stores, so it was a crapshoot.

More recently, I've noticed this on all kinds of things. Heck, just last week, I opened some of the extra POTJ Sandtroopers I bought a few years back, and found out the guns are made of different plastics. Some were stuff, some were rubbery. I heard the same thing about the sneak preview Zam Wesell's rifle, but have not confirmed it.

In the toy industry, variations exist in the kind of materials used to make packaging as well as obvious visual difference in the product proper. While I have yet to hear of your specific issue, it's not impossible to think Hasbro might have a reason for switching to a different kind of packaging for any reason, cost, or just what kind of cardstock was on hand that week.

7. I'd like to ask you about Rebel Pilots: won't you think there's a lack of pretty good super-articulated characters to be made? People only care about clones and imperials, and so we have left Zev Zanesca, ANH Rogue Leader, ANH Red 4, human B-Wing pilot, and new versions of A-wing and Y-wing pilots (for God's sake!). Even Biggs, almost "core" character, is forgotten by Hasbro... It's hard to see them merchandising a new Wedge without re-sculping him! Dutch Vander was the major hit model, almost perfect if we forgive the fact that his body does not fit in the X-Wing, and he is the only one made since 2004!

Can you talk with Hasbro? Maybe a 4-pack or Toys R Us exclusive... And let's see who's the chosen one for this year ROTJ wave!
--Alex

While Hasbro hasn't had a perfect track record with Rebel pilots, especially poor Wedge, they are fairly well represented. There are tons of pilots Hasbro has yet to make, especially from Return of the Jedi and, as you say, nobody seems to care. There's a good reason for this, and that's that in this day and age, Rebel pilots aren't very popular. It's not like when Mike Stackpole's X-wing novels and comics were on everybody's plate a few years ago, today nobody even thinks about pilots most of the time. That, and "guy in orange suit with new helmet" doesn't excite a lot of fans, even if there are still a lot of non-orange guys left to do.

Heck, the fandom at large, and even Lucasfilm, didn't seem to pick up on the fact (as far as I can tell) that Ten Nunb appears in ROTJ in a red jumpsuit, and never appears on screen in his white suit. In short, Rebel pilots aren't getting the royal treatmant because fans don't really care. I know this is going to sound snide, but let's look at your example of Dutch being not able to fit in the X-wing. While it could be a typo, Dutch was Gold Leader, and piloted a Y-wing during the Battle of Yavin. (And for the record, I just went to check, and he does indeed fit. You just need to unplug his... uh... grey crotch thing from his back and he sits in there just fine.)

Is Biggs a core character? No. "But he was Luke's friend," you say? Doesn't matter. Core characters, in toy lingo, are characters that are widely recognized and consistent best sellers. So Clone Troopers, Darth Vader, Anakin, Chewie, these are core characters. It doesn't mean "core to the story," or "core to what I/we/they think is important." It's "core to sales," pretty much, and Biggs just doesn't fit the bill of bestseller.

Very few pilots were distinctive in these movies, and some, like Wedge, had their popularity bolstered by the Expanded Universe. Fans didn't vote for pilots for the Fan's Choice poll, and on the whole, I think most fans feel that the majority of pilots have been done fairly well-- except for the "generipilot" that was repainted several times into figures for both Y-wings and the Red Leader X-wing.

As to my personal opinion toward these and any resculpts, after 10 years, there's a fine line between "let's just move on" and "let's do a new version." There aren't a ton of figures that fans are still clamoring for, or will support, and Hasbro has made a number of Rebel pilots. Here's a list off the top of my head.
A-wing Pilot (with red A-wing fighter, 1997)
A-wing Pilot (with green A-wing fighter, 2002)
Arvel Crynyd (1999)
Biggs Darklighter (1998)
Dak Ralter (2001)
Dutch Vander (2004)
Jek Porkins (2000)
Jorg Sacul (2002)
Luke Skywalker (1996, all-new mold in 2001, revised 1996 mold in 2001, new mold in 2006)
Red Leader (2003, with Red Leader X-wing)
Ten Nunb (1999, again in 2001)
Wedge Antilles (Carry Case version 1998, Cinema Scene 1999, OTC 2005)
Y-wing Pilot (with red Y-wing fighter, 2004)
Y-wing Pilot (with yellow Y-wing fighter, 2000)

There's a couple of "generic" pilots in there, and there's a couple of errors in there. But compared to the vintage line, which had a whopping 3 pilot figures over 10 years, Hasbro and Kenner have brought us far over a dozen distinctive pilots, and while there's room for more, there's also room for more ewoks, more unproduced vintage figures, more aliens, more droids, and... well, you get the idea. Unfortunately, Hasbro can only make so many figures per year and while I would love more of any kind of new character, frankly, I hope Hasbro holds back pilots for ships. And then we see more ships, too.

And are there more pilots? Oh heck yeah. While I do often jab at the Expanded Universe folk, there's so many Rogue Squadron pilots that would make fantastic figures that it'd make you sick. Plus there's a lot of movie pilots you left out-- for example, the "false Wedge" from the Rebel briefing before the Battle of Yavin. (Plus to go back to the EU well, Baron Fel, c'mon, who'd not like to see a Baron Fel?)

...but before I go, for argument's sake, you mentioned Imperials, and I assume you mean officers. Let's look at those, too, just 'cuz I'm curious.
Admiral Motti (2000)
Admiral Ozzel (2004)
Admiral Piett (1998)
General Veers (2006)
Grand Admiral Thrawn (1998)
Grand Moff Tarkin (1997, 2005, sorta)
Imperial Officer (2001, 2002a, 2002b)
Moff Jerjerrod (2006)
If you count all the pilots, troopers, Sith lords, and other related Imperials, yeah, you're going to have a much bigger tally with more people requesting them by virtue of this. But, so far, I think the Rebel pilots have received a fairly good number of figures, even if not each and every one (Red Leader) turned out to be great.

8. I know you get tired of the repacks and clone only cases blah blah blah. But seeing the " Heroes and Villains" wave what do you think the big "H " would do an assortment of clones i.e 501st, Gree, Cody, heck even the covert opps and the two target exclusives? That would be a no brainier to me. Also the Vader that is coming later this year that is the Bespin Confession, any word if it is a re-pack or new sculpt?
--Kevin

I for one never get tired of more clones or repacks-- perhaps you're thinking of someone else? I'm the one that refers to repacks as a necessary evil and a strong advocate of clones, repackaged or not.

Hasbro has been asked why they won't do Clones. Sometimes they say "well, stores don't want to get stuck with a lot of the same thing." Which is probably a true thing-- I mean, if Hasbro shipped 12 unique Clones, eventually one or two of them would be "the bad one" and therefore the one that the store chokes on. I do hope we see more reshipments of more Clones, especially brown stripe Commander Bly, as he seems staggeringly hard to come by these days.

The conspiracy theorist in me still thinks Hasbro is making Clones "hard to get" on purpose, same as with Stormtroopers. There's no reason there should be any demand for Stormtroopers after 11 years, but there is-- and there hasn't been a plain Stormtrooper sold individually at retail since 2004, and he was hard to get then, too. Clones, at least, are still shipping semi-regularly.

Vader is the same figure from The Battle of Hoth wave, which, of course, was a recycled "500th Vader" from 2005.

9. Hello my question is: will we ever see new skiff guards (or any new aliens from Jabba's palace for that matter)? Especially during the scene at Carkoon there are a lot of unproduced figures on the two skiffs and on Jabba's sail barge. What are the odds these figures will ever see plastic?
--Kevin

I'd say pretty good. Hasbro's just been sluggish about new figures and new molds as of late, but in the recent past, they've delivered some great items to us. In 2004, we got Tanus Spijek (Elom), J'Quille (Toothface), Rappertunie, and a box of random creatures in the Ultra line. 2005 was all pretty much Episode III, and this year is a real mishmash whose real focus is likely to keep fans and collectors interested until The Next Big Thing in 2007 or so. (Presumably, the anniversary and/or TV show.) So while we will see some new items here and there, it won't be immediate.

10. I recently purchased a Limited Edition Vintage Finish Boba Fett titanium figure. I was wondering if you knew how hard to find these figures are and if they are worth anything?
--Josh

A figure's value is best determined by eBay. Check closed auctions to see what an item goes for, and that's a good ballpark value for the item. As you have found one, as have countless others, I would not say it's hard to find, actually quite the opposite-- it seems pretty easy to get as many fans find it undesirable compared to the normal release. It's not a bad item, but as of now, it's not what you might call a hot item.

FIN

Some weeks come off as a bit more gruff than others-- this is one of those weeks. (But don't worry, I only hit because I love you. That, and I write the bulk of this on Friday night, late, after a long week. So now you know.)

One of the big problems I think we all have in this hobby is remembering just what came out-- the Rebel Pilot question is a fine example. Hasbro has produced so many figures, new fans (or not hardcore fans) don't even know what they've missed. Hasbro has produced well over 600 figures plus significant variants and others that, for some reason, don't make the "official" tally-- so I don't expect all of us to know everything, but some things catch us off guard. There's like 25 Astromech droids. There's just under 70 unique Clone Troopers. Not counting duplicate characters (except the Snaggletooth), there's more than 20 Cantina aliens. Jabba's Palace has 6 band members and 4 dancers, and that's before we get into the thugs, accountants, and gun runners. And there were about 30 Luke figures before 1999.

Star Wars is HUGE. Really, really huge. I daresay it's the biggest ever movie-based toy line in the USA, and I know I keep getting astounded when I take a step back and realize just how big it is. I haven't had the luxury of having the entire modern line on display in one room all at once since about 1998, and we've come a long way since then. Ain't it great?

So, what can we do to help keep it all straight and help you figure out what you've missed? Well, there's photo guides, checklists, and columns like this-- but there's still room for improvement and rest assured, we aim to give you 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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