Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
May 15, 2006

 

1. About the original edits on DVD... with a $30 per episode price tag, thrilling 2.0 Dolby Surround (dripping sarcasm), no foreign language audio track (how am I supposed to exist in tomorrows globalized reality if I don't know how to convincingly scream "NO, that's not true, that's impossible" in most major romance languages?), a three month primary purchasing window, and next generation DVD technology (and the inevitable OT and PT repackaging) less than a year away: why should anyone buy these?!?

I've already got DVD rips of the laser discs, which is a low res satisfaction of the original edit jones, so maybe my consumer instinct has been inoculated. What do you think of this craptastic turn of events?
--laidoff

Honestly? I think this is the end of a great fad and a lot of Star Wars' free publicity. Bootleg "Han Shot First" shirts, the never-ending griping about the changes (which weren't a big issue until Lucas said "we'll probably never see these again" made for a lot of free hype and tons and tons of complaining. You can't buy that kind of publicity, and nearly each and every person complaining about it also posted a story about the new DVDs. So for step one: Lucas was a genius.

So the movie's out for three months: that's what'll get you to buy it. If these things start to dry up, people will buy. Disney's done it for years and it usually works.

I personally think most fans-- not all fans, but most-- will have enjoyed spending the last several years complaining and would rather continue to do so than to buy these. I'm not saying you specifically, laidoff, but we did as a group say "we want the originals" and now we have them and we're complaining. Lucas seems to be making them as their original cuts-- not THX, not remixed-- because, probably, on some level, he assumed that's what we wanted. Lucas views sound like we do picture-- some of us hear "5.1" and go "oh, that's an upgrade, yeah!" Lucas and others may see it as a change. The orignial mix was not 5.1, it was, in most cases, 2.0. That's the original... a remix is a change and fans asked for the movies without changes.

By and large, the Special Edition process was an improvement. While some of the new scenes were a subject of much debate, you can't argue that a lot of FX shots were fixed-- and if you do, you were wrong. Look at the pre-1997 Landspeeder scenes. I dare you. They look awful. The matte lines around the Rancor? Unpleasant. Sure, it was awesome then, but seeing as a lot of fans have only hazy memories of some of those original cuts and remember them to be much better than they were, I think that despite our love for Lapti Nek, we're in for a rude awakening come September.

Oh, and I'm fine with the release. I look forward to it-- maybe not the pricing, but. $30 is "retail," which means we're looking closer to $15-$20 a pop, and there might be some specials for those who buy all 3. And next generation DVD technology does not interest me-- I don't have an HD TV, I won't be upgrading to blu-ray or HD DVD because I'm still quite happy with the player I bought in 1998, and I don't have a super-duper sound system to be able to exploit 5.1 or 6.1 remixes.

So for me, I'm quite satisfied. I wish it was just the 3 movies with trailers on 3 discs in 1 set, but whatever. This is what I asked for by and large, and, as I say, I put my money where my mouth is. All I have are my VHS tapes of the THX release, which are great, but as I didn't do the bootleg DVD thing, I see this as a potentially worthy upgrade. If you don't want them, hey, great.

Odds are this has more to do with selling people a single movie and not the trilogy. I could be wrong, but isn't the last time they sold ANY of the classic three by themselves before 1995?

2. So I'm f@$#in stupid and bought Luke and Tusken Vintage figures and didn't bother to check to see if the tape was intact, and of course some $#!t took the proofs and order form. Is there anything I can do, or am I SOL? I'm pretty pissed, and I can't believe Hasbro didn't think of this. I know they switched to the heat-sealed ones, but I'm still pissed.
--Brian

Well, you can return it to the store, explain the offer, and that someone returned them, screwing THEM, which in turn screwed you. You can also contact Hasbro Customer Service via their web site and explain the same story, as this is a real problem and the item you purchased was missing pieces unbeknownst to you. You got screwed, you don't have to sit there and take it-- the mail-in offer was a major selling point for a lot of fans and it's just like if the figure was missing a gun. (Which I saw at a Target the other week-- a guy bought a figure, created new parts of the packaging that he ripped with his computer, took out a blaster, and put the figure back. For a 2005 Super Articulated Clone Trooper Gun. I hate people.)

Also, for anyone buying the "heat sealed" or "glued" versions of the new Vintage figures, you are NOT safe. We've received many reports of successful pilfering from these, too. (I bought a vintage Tusken at TRU the other week, sealed, and it looked like it was tampered with-- and, shockingly, it wasn't.) I personally think Hasbro needs to seal them Palisades- or McFarlane-style, all the way around, but obviously security is not something toymakers usually have to think of. I think it says a lot about many of the customers who do this, and it would be a real shame to have to start locking up figures tighter than Fort Knox because Hasbro no longer trusts us, and the scum who buys the stuff to resell it for double at flea markets.

3. Quite often during the modern era of Star Wars collecting, we have all heard stories of ideas and/or pitches getting shot down by Lucasfilm. I am not necessarily against the whole Star Wars/Transformers line but how in the world did Hasbro get this approved by Lucasfilm?
--MistaBinks

In Tomart's Action Figure Digest, there was a fun little story. In it, they mentioned blue, red, and mutli-colored C-3PO figures-- all were rejected. They mentioned a blackhole Stormtrooper, and Han Solo with a "space glider backpack." Also rejected-- Lucasfilm didn't want their characters cheapened by non-movie concepts such as this, although some, like the mini-rigs, were seen as an economic necessity. (Kids need cheap vehicles and plastic was expensive.)

So. 1996: Kenner releases Han Solo with a jet pack. 2004: R-3PO, a red protocol droid from Hoth. 2006: black Shadow Stormtrooper, essentially the same concept, although the Shadow and Blackhole Stormtroopers are two different and distinctively decorated costumes. (Regardless of what Wookieepedia or the Star Wars Databank says. I'm right, they're wrong. The truthiness of this cannot be argued.)

Also, there was a bright cherry red Darth Vader which came out in 2005. In 2004, Entertainment Earth was proposed a pair of exclusive Jawas-- one bright red, one bright green-- which Lucasfilm rejected. (I wrote the article on it, so yes, shameless plug, but it's also a good example.) Heck, this may be the best sign of what happened-- in 2004, Lucasfilm would still reject a bright red goofy repaint. In 2005, they were fine with it. I think that says it all. Plus the M&Ms figures, which were something that was supposedly off-limits before 2005, and a lot of other oddities are being approved. It's Lucasfilm, mostly, and we're through the looking glass, people.

As a toy line, Star Wars Transformers were a sound concept. Transformers are beloved by kids. Star Wars movies are beloved by most people. And together, they're one of Hasbro's best-selling toys of 2006. Love them or hate them, stores are ordering lots of them and they seem to be moving at a decent pace, not the #1 toy of course, but few things are these days.

(Me, I'm on the fence. I have a few hundred Transformers, new and old, and I still buy new releases as I dig them. But the SWTFs are a bit more fragile, and don't stand on a shelf quite as nicely-- so as toys, I don't like them as much, just because I feel I'll break them on accident.)

4. Every time I get a new figure and open it for my collection, I never really know quite what to do with the plastic bubble and the inner plastic mold. I usually put these in the recycling bin with cans and bottles because I feel too guilty about just throwing them in the trash, but I don't know if they can actually be recycled. What do you with your packaging? Of course the card is easy, that can be recycled but I am always torn about the plastic. I'm not an environmental extremist or anything, but I like to do what I can up to a certain point you know?
--Phil

While we had curbside recycling pick-up in many residential neighborhoods in Phoenix, we don't in LA. As such, I throw them out, or if it's something I keep, I keep it. Since it's lacking the "recycle" logo on the bubble, I would wager it's not something meant to be recycled, although we can always bug Hasbro about this (heck, I plan to now that you've brought it up) to see if it is something they could add to the packaging.

5. I am curious if you know anything about the status of the Gold Titanium Darth Vader's Tie Fighter. If I remember correctly (although I may not be), it was rumored that it could be sold as a convention circuit exclusive from Hasbro for this summer after being handed out as a promo at Toy Fair earlier this year. I have even seen it listed on Hasbro's website with a price of $9.99 and furthermore have read “reports” or rumors of some people finding it out on the pegs or “in the wild” as you say (although that last one seems a little far-fetched to me). Have any plans for distributing it to the greater Star Wars collectors at large ever been confirmed for this item and I just missed it, or are there plans for it that could still be up in the air?
--Mike

I can safely say anyone telling you it's in stores is lying, unless a collector took it back to a store for kicks.

It should be available at conventions this Summer but Hasbro has yet to confirm that. Meaning it's probably going to happen.

6. I just read in one of the on-line forums about some one that found new figures at Wal-Mart and put a set on lay away for a friend while buying a set for himself. As he was in the lay away line he got into a tiff with another customer that was disgusted that there were three collectors in line putting figures on lay away. The customer was dismayed about kids not having a shot at the figures. Of course the collectors eviscerated this person in the forum.

My question is, as a collector, do you feel that kids are just as important to the toys as collectors? I do, and I know that kids and their parents feel the same disappointment if not more when they can't find their favorite figure (or any) on the pegs. Although I know that many collectors would give up a figure to kids if the opportunity came, I feel collectors' bad reputation with stores and parents is still an earned one. Any thoughts?
--Christen

As a collector, I hate layaway. I really do. So many people put things on layaway and it takes months for them to make it out on the pegs because a collector forgot about it and left it behind, which goofs up a store's inventory and thus makes reorders a little less accurate. I've always been of the mindset that if you can't afford your collectible habit of choice, you need to do without. (Which is why I had to pass on and drop a few segments of my own collection.) But in this case? The other customer can shove it. The collector found the figures first, and they were his to do with as he pleased, even layaway, which I hate.

I do believe kids are an important and necessary part of the line's health. GI Joe in the 1980s became number one because of kids-- not the older, 12-inch collectors jumping on board with the new tiny 3 3/4-scale. There's always more money in selling to kids, because you can sell more to them and if they really like it, it's a real cash cow. If you can get every kid to buy a Vader, that's a lot more than you'll ever sell to every collector who buys one.

As collectors we'll always have a bad rap. People don't understand the difference between collector, scalper, fan, or in some cases, gift-giver. I was in Toys "R" Us buying a Royal Guard several years ago and a lady-- with a kid and a cart full of toys for said child-- was giving me grief in front of the pegs for "taking it away from her kid." (I should point out I was holding the figure before she came to the aisle.) I said "well, if you want one, there's more on the pegs" to which she gave me a dismissive "feh" and kept walking.

Parents are bad-- really bad-- to collectors. Not all, but a lot of the proactive ones make up for the ones that aren't a problem. Store employees do indeed give special treatment to parents or people who look/act like they aren't collectors (i.e., ignornace: "I'm trying to find this... white trooper thing... red markings... I'm not sure what it is called but this is the number for it?")

Our reputation comes from a variety of things. Some of us are very rude. "I know you have this in the back," we'd say, "so go get it out for me, blah blah blah..." it happens. Me, I usually am EXCEEDINGLY polite to store employees because I understand they don't usually want to be there dealing with me and I'm trying to make up for whoever came before (or who might come next) in the "rude customer of the day" game.

I have a problem with people that assume I'm the scalper. Yes, I'm older than 12 and buying action figures. These are for me. It's what I do for fun. As someone who went to the same Toys "R" Us 9 days in a row on the way home hunting for Gunships, as someone who spent the entire year of 2003 making at least one toy run on every day stores were open, and as someone who, typically, hits a store or two every night at some point? I'm not one to give up my "kill." I don't appreciate being seen as "the bad guy" when I go to a store, see something I want on the shelves, and buy it because someone had a bad experience or what have you. It sucks. As a community, because of a few bad eggs, we have "earned" a bad reputation, yes... but it's not up to us to make sure kids get first crack at figures. After seeing dealers use their kids as a front to get figures/Hot Wheels/etc., the only toys I really want to give up are going to be ones I buy, and then donate to charity.

7. My collection is almost entirely action figures and vehicles. I didn't collect the Action Fleet line, the Micro Machines line, or the Titanium line and I now wish that I had. My question is about the scale of these different ships. I can't seem to find a site anywhere where this is highlighted. Are the scales the same? Are they retooled / resculpted / re-hashed versions of each other? How big are they compared to the 3 3/4" line?

One of the reasons I want to know is I'm looking for the correct size snowspeeder to smash with my 3 3/4" AT-AT. Oh what fun!
--Knight

There's really no true scale to any of the micro lines. The "scale" is "scaled to fit in a 6-inch box" or "3-inch blister... tube thing." Action Fleet and Titanium Ultra are considered by most to be more-or-less properly scaled to the action figure AT-AT, which, itself, isn't properly scaled to anything. (The head is too big for the body, or the body is too small for the head, and the head isn't big enough for the figures, etc.) While there may be a fan site out there that does the math and calculates the right scale for these items, I have never seen it.

If you're setting up a diorama for an AT-AT to smash a Snowspeeder, I'd go with the Titanium Ultra one or the Action Fleet ones. Whatever you can get cheaper.

For fans of the smaller scale, I just got a Titanium Ultra AT-AT the other week, and it comes with a Snowspeeder that's about the same size as the MicroMachines one. The real MicroMachines one, not the giant monster Target had as an exclusive in 2005.

8. Do you know if Hasbro is planning on re releasing Episode I electronic lightsabers? Like they did with Lukes and Darth Vaders. Cause I really want to get my hands on a Darth Maul Lightsaber and a Qui Gon Lightsaber. is there a possibility. And also is there even any word on a Darth Sidious Lightsaber. that wouldn't make much sense if they never release one. he is a popular character for lots of people, and i know I'm not the only one who want's a Sidious Lightsaber. he had a awesome Hilt.
--James

Don't bet on it. The normal electronic lightsaber available today is being phased out, it seems, with a new spring-loaded one due to hit this Fall. As such, the older style is likely (although not confirmed) to be discontinued, and there are no known plans to expand the existing electronic line as of today.

Darth Maul's saber was never reissued past Episode I, although it might come back some day. Until then, you can get it on eBay. And, as many often ask, there are no plans for a Hasbro Darth Sidious lightsaber. If you want one, consider buying one from Rubies Costumes, or Master Replicas. Also, Darth Sidious isn't all that popular-- merchandise based on the character doesn't do nearly as well as that of others, so I wouldn't hold your breath for this one.

9. I have an idea that I'm hoping would bridge the gap between people who enjoy the Expanded Universe and those that don't. I think it would be a great idea if Hasbro (or Sideshow) started something perhaps entitled the "Star Wars Expanded Universe Campaign". This would involve with each new wave of figures, release ONE character from each of the Star Wars novels. In many instances, I'm sure Hasbro could even use existing molds. Even if the character is Han Solo slightly redeco'd and the card labeled "The Last Command" etc. with the book cover as the background art behind the figure instead of the all too often lame comic book art.

There are so many Expanded Universe characters that would merely require a new head sculpt placed on the body of an existing mold. For instance, A NEW Grand Admiral Thrawn head on a white casting of Moff Jerjerod or Admiral Ozzel? Or even an existing Jedi Luke figure with an added vest for Shadows of the Empire."

OR, what are the chances of Hasbro starting a sort of "collector's club" that would produce these kinds of figures for collectors at realistically slightly elevated prices due to them being produced in more limited numbers. And considering these figures would be for collectors, Hasbro could improve on the plastics that they use instead of the flimsy "kid friendly" plastics they currently use.

With the demand for Star Wars figures starting to slow now that the movies are done & the line being mainly supported by collectors I can't see many down sides to my idears. But that's not to say there aren't any.
--Rich

Believe it or not, this has come up before-- to some extent-- here. I've mentioned a lot of "let's release X type of figure 1 per case" in some capacity and, by and large, it seems to be an idea people like. But there's a few problems.

One, novel versions of core characters. MAYBE. But fans will complain if our "Expanded Universe" figure was "Han Solo with greyer hair" or "Luke with old-man wrinkles" from a book. One of the points brought up again and again is that when a fan writes a forum posting or question or email asking for Expanded Universe, what they mean is "make Mara/Guri/Corran Horn/etc." (Whereas you or I might be thrilled with Splinter of the Mind's Eye Leia and Luke, they are not.)

As stated previously, Hasbro's reluctance to do Expanded Universe was largely from them wanting to focus on the movies-- the "we don't want to do these now" reason. A sensible reason. But in 2006, we've got Foul Moudama and Scorch. There's TWO new characters. And the Shadow Stormtrooper-- there's three. And if you believe the rumors, there may be a fourth, fifth, or even a sixth coming down the pike before 2007.

A collector's club? I'd say zero. Although if they did I'd try to start bidding to run one. Even with "tweaked" figures, a lot of us are going to have complaints. When it comes to Clones, Astromech Droids, Battle Droids, or Protocol Droids, you can get away with repainting. When it comes to an Imperial Officer, there's more to consider. Thrawn has an Imperial rank pin that's different from Ozzel's. Thrawn may (or may not) have gloves. Does Thrawn need something to carry a Ysalamir or two? How about those yellow shoulder things which his last figure didn't have? There's a lot more to consider on a minor tweak such as this, and I can tell you, Hasbro does like to make more changes on a simple "retool" figure at times. (Look at the Mon Calamari officer. New hands, new helmet, retooled ranking markings, and new boots.)

So while the idea is sound, it's one Hasbro's been futzing with over the years. (The Mon Calamari Officer, Endor General Leia, and K-3PO from Power of the Jedi were all developed specifically to use old tooling and get out fast.) And, of course, you can probably look at more than a few exclusive items that were little more than repaints, retools, or head swaps of older product. Plus this year, we've got a mix-and-match Boba Fett, a tweaked Power Droid, and the Flaming Death Grievous which used a lot of old parts to make a new figure. (And, of course, Foul Moudama, which is pretty much exactly made in the way you mentioned.) So it's a great idea, but I know a lot of us are hoping we just get an all-new sculpt for Thrawn. Maybe with knees. (We can dream.)

The demand for figures is most certainly not "slow now," according to most reports you guys send in. I'd say about 1/3 of the stores I hit are empty, or close to it, and they weren't the previous week.

Yes, demand for figures from the mass populace will start to dwindle, but that's when you need to worry. Hasbro doesn't make things more collector-friendly when it stops working, they dump it. Hence, no Unleashed 7-inch for a while. No 12-inch from Hasbro at all. No vehicles. So while I would LOVE a collector's club, and while I'd flip over new characters and never-before-seen costumes in the line, well, sometimes it's all up to Hasbro. I don't doubt we'll see more and more figures from the comics and novels and games because it's a ripe territory to stake out. I mean, some people might complain about some characters, but has anyone denied Scorch his right to exist? There's potential for a lot of figures there, but my main concern is the line being phased out or drastically reduced before we get there.

10. I couldn't be happier with the Astromech sets - and I'm particularly loving the R2 body which was used here, and also for R4-G9 and R4-P17 last year. What I'm wondering is: has this mold ever been used for R2-D2 himself? At first I thought it was the Naboo Escape version, but that one doesn't have the retracting leg feature, which (for me) sells the toy as the best R2 to date.

Is there an R2-D2 I'm missing?
--Matt

Sadly, no-- you've probably got them all. While early Hasbro photography (and the image on the package) for figure Saga 010, R2-D2, shows the figure you describe it has yet to be produced. I know I'm crossing my fingers for it as I don't much care for the chrome dome or the removable panel. So, for now, we're out of luck-- but maybe we'll get this repaint soon!

FIN

I've been wanting to do an "...of the day" feature for a long time. Q&A almost went daily a year ago, but I realized 7 questions a week in 1 question doses would be pretty crappy. With 10, there's a chance one of them may interest you, with 1, well, not as likely.

So I went with Figure of the Day. While many of you are hardcore fans who, since 1995, have kept meticulous records and can say everything about every figure, a lot more of you have no freaking clue what some of these are and, as proven by many questions, missed out on several (if not several hundred) releases. That's what the aim of Figure of the Day is, to highlight over a decade's worth of toys in daily doses so you can go "hey, I need one of those!" or "ugh, pass." With Hasbro rebooting the line every year, it's easy to become short-sighted and forget that Star Wars isn't just the last 6-12 months of figures, the modern line alone has been running strong since August (or July if you were REALLY lucky) of 1995.

Keeping tally on how many of you are reading the new features, it seems that by and large you either like the feature or haven't read enough to hate it yet. For this, I am glad. It's fun to do and hopefully over the next 3 or so years, you'll be able to find all the figures you missed out on, or remember a few of your old favorites and dig them out of storage. It's been a great line, and it's time to take a look back on it-- even if it takes three years to do it. (With all the bonus pit droids, 2-packs, exclusives, and more, it's going to be a long, long retrospective.)

Of course, it's going to suck up a lot of time, but hey, why not. I may as well not get paid for yet another job, right?

I've got some other features I want to do too, and as you know, I'm more of a "writing" guy than a "take a photo" guy. So there's going to be some REALLY AWESOME book reviews in addition to Q&A and FOTD in the coming weeks, and hopefully you'll be more interested in it than this review of Star Wars: The Comics Companion which, it seems, got a lower click-through rate than most ads we post from our lovely sponsors. (And thank you for your support.)

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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