Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
May 29, 2006

 

1. I'm looking at the newest wave of figures (Escape from Mos Eisley). Can you tell me which of these figures I already have (assuming I have one each of every original trilogy figure released so far). Is there anything new about the Empire Vader (why is this in this particular wave anyway?)? Are any of the accessories in the Vader new or have they all come previously packaged in one thing or another? Is the Luke simply a new head and a new trunk pack-in? What about the Sandtrooper? Is he a previously released scult with a new pauldron? Has this sculpt been released before with this pauldron? Is the Han the one we've seen over and over again already?
--Dan

Well, that depends. Technically, this wave is all-new, as are all of the 2006 Saga Collection figures. I can show you differences on each and every figure, and if you showed me the loose figure and asked me to guess if it's a new release or an old one, I could tell you. As such, well, these are all new. Here's how.

Han Solo: new head, new paint, newly colored gun. (New head = new figure, always.)

Luke Skywalker: New head, new poncho, new trunk. (See above new comments.)

Sandtrooper: VOTC Stormtrooper with new pauldron, new armor sculpts in back, new accessories. (With troopers, new accessories = new figure, always.) There's enough distinctive about this figure that, once open and in your collection, you'd need to be pretty oblivious to not see the nifty new details, so for $6, you should go buy one and discover the many improvements for yourself.

Darth Vader: Accessories, glued-down helmet. (Plus the stand reads "Star Wars" and not "The Empire Strikes Back.") Otherwise, virtually identical to previous Saga Collection release.

R5-D4, Hem Dazon, Momaw Nadon, Garindan: Duh.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. For me, though, a new head is a new figure, but it's up to me if I'm going to want/like/not vent against said figure. As many of you are sick of Cantina Han, you may wish to skip this one. Of course, anyone who's remotely observant, when these are places side-by-side, can tell you that they are very different figures despite sharing a body mold.

2. Today I found a Commander Cody with the new red mini hologram storm trooper. Is this something that is supposed to be a short run variation or is Hasbro going to be shipping all the current figures with the red holographic figure?

--Brian

You more or less hit the nail on the head. From this point on, new cases appear to be shipping with red holographic figures, and not blue. Blue cases are still in the pipeline and may continue to appear, but some figures are "carry forward" items like Commander Cody and, apparently, the Snowtrooper, Firespeeder Pilot, Lushros Dofine, Barada, Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Scorch, Utapau Clone Trooper, R2-D2. (This is subject to change but based on what little I know, this is what I'm expecting.)

So for those of you looking to get all variants of all figures, you're in for a heck of a scavenger hunt. (Me, I've got Utapau Clones and Darth Vader each with all 6 flavors of holograph-- and for me, that's plenty.

So while it is possible all figures will eventually ship with red, there is no guarantee. Also, it's easy to swap holo figures, and early 2006 figures with red will likely ship in limited quantities-- as such, you're going to be in for a bit of a hassle if it's something that makes you want to collect them all. (Me, I want a set of red. Loose. And silver. Still working on silver, myself, but I figure red will work itself out.)

3. Did you ever collect GI JOE? They (Hasbro) used to put out little 3-4 buck boxes of rifles, backpacks, helmets, and stuff in 'accessory kits.' WHY does Hasbro not do this for Star Wars (they are the same company, so its not like its an unknown idea). I'm not talking those Episode I kits that were filled with maybe TWO sabers and some other junk. Imagine being able to buy a kit stuffed with Imperial and Alliance blaster pistols and rifles, Sith and Jedi lightsabers and hilts, data pads, communicators, electro-binoculars, and robes? I would pay easily the equivalent price of two or three figures for such a kit because not only would it allow me to replace lost or broken items (any parent would surely side with me on this one), but it would allow my imagination to roam more freely (Obi-Wan fought Grievous with two sabers of his own, I could make my own Grievous saber collection, have Han fight Matrix-syle with two blasters).

What do you think?
--Derek

Much like you, I'm a big fan of good accessories and good accessory packs. I'm not above buying a figure just to swipe his weapons, and I've pilfered a few from my extra 4-armed Grievous to serve other purposes. So far, Hasbro's released 3 series of accessory packs, and a few bonus weapons with other gift sets. And, on the whole, they aren't working too well. The first batch from Episode I were a joke, nicely done but ultimately, nobody coughed up the money to buy them. They were largely well done and fairly priced, so series 2 became virtually impossible to get-- I know I had to pay through the nose to get them. The third batch was around 2002, exclusive to Target, and included bonus action figures-- and hit clearance too.

G.I. Joe (and a lot of 1980's toy lines) were able to do amazing things because of the market at that time. There is no figure line today that is so popular that selling packets of replacement parts makes sense for business as, by and large, people write the company for missing pieces or, in the case of collectors, are so anal they don't lose anything (or for that matter, open them.)

He-Man, Joes, Transformers, and even Star Wars got to do what they did because the 1980s action figure market was insane. That market is long gone, replaced by Xboxes and iPods-- so don't expect to see every awesome thing we grew up with, because, sadly, those days are over. (I miss them.)

In short, you didn't spring the money in 1999. And in 2002, when they were $10 and included a dubiously exclusive figure, you didn't buy them then either. ("You" meaning "Everyone," not "Derek," just to be clear here.) As such, it's a failed concept, one we like, but there's still several accessory packs in limbo from 2003 or so. Hopes aren't high that they will ever be finished.

What I do is be the clearance vampire. If I see a figure with a decent quantity of weapons for cheap, I buy it. (4-armed ROTS Grievous has a blaster and 4 Lightsabers-- that's a figure you should get just for parts!)

4. With the success of the Clone Wars series and their subsequent DVD releases, why havent we seen a release of the Ewoks and Droids cartoons in the same format, such as DVDs that have the entire series in one set? I know Hasbro released DVDs of each that contained multiple episodes (which I bought), but neither were the entire series, and left something to be desired... Any speculation or ideas on if/when we'll see the entire series of each cartoon on DVD?
--Jared

More than likely, the current releases of these episodes on DVD (and VHS) were edited together to capitalize on the direct-to-video kidvid market, and not to satisfy collectors and adult fans like ourselves. (If Disney can sell a Cinderella sequel, Lucasfilm can probably do an Ewok movie.) As such, these were not made with us in mind, and as such, we were offered an inferior product. (Which I did NOT buy. Like the Episode I VHS, it's not what I want-- therefore, I waited. And that's what you all need to do, too.)

There has not been a good answer as to why a "season box" doesn't exist. When it comes to TV on DVD, it's generally assumed that "rights issues" are a problem, and seeing how the music was changed for the current releases of these episodes, I wouldn't deny the chance that this is indeed the reason for the changes and the non-release of the Thall Joben/Jord Dusat arc of Droids on DVD.

I know I'm interested in seeing them in their original format, moreso than I am in seeing Star Wars in its again. (I've seen it dozens if not hundreds of times. I know Han shoots first. I've gotten past this. Now I want to see Vlix and the Trigon-1.) I'll be sure to keep pestering people until I get an answer!

5. I had not heard they were releasing a new AT AT?

But I found this off of Amazon TRU and details?
--Nick

Hasbro isn't what you would call stellar about being up-front with exclusives. For example, let me cite a few of my favorites.

1. Star Tours. After 4 series (and 12 figures), I'm pretty sure Hasbro has yet to post these as news items on their site, or mention them as they (or before they) see release.
2. Unleashed 2006. Despite saying these would be available in Fall 2006, maybe, I have purchased all 3 at retail in the past week at Wal-Mart. (As far as I know they may be an exclusive, as I know they will not be available online.) No official announcement from Hasbro has been made on their availability as far as I know.
3. Early Bird Kit. When released, nobody knew what the figures were, what they would look like, and so on. Need I say more?

The AT-AT will likely be similar. I expect Hasbro to leak images shortly, or to show it in July at Comic-Con. But what you know at Amazon is what I know, and all that has been released so far. I assume it's right, but now that there's a Toys "R" Us/Amazon split supposedly coming, who knows?

6. I know many people want one [prequel Beru figure]. Years ago after the release of AOTC at the Plano TX convention, I asked Bonnie Piesse (Way cuter in person!) if she had been scanned by GentleGiant. She stated that no, she had not been scanned. I know that she was later inserted into the Tatooine scene in ROTS (was originally filmed during AOTC filming with Obi-Wan handing Luke to Owen, not Beru, which I believe was changed during ROTS post-production). So maybe she was scanned then? Would one of your readers have anything else to add? I'm sure that Hasbro can just sculpt her from scratch *if* they ever decide to make her. but the actress states she was never scanned in the AOTC era.
--Brian

While many of us have lots of time on our hands to speculate or attempt to reason why (or why not) Hasbro has yet to make some of our favorite characters, the reasons are often very simple. In this case, Beru is not the best, most exciting choice of figures. (Before you shoot back with "What, and another LUke is a thrill?" keep in mind that it's a safer bet as far as sales go.)

Scanning by Gentle Giant is not a prerequisite for getting a figure made. The scans are largely there for reference for the sculptors, and a raw scan, while neat, is "cleaned up" (even for Gentle Giant's own line of busts) before being released as a piece of merchandise. So sculptors are still working, and the lack of scan data does not mean that a figure won't happen. (Also, just because they scanned it doesn't mean it'll see a collectible.

Young Owen and Beru are figures that are requested by, as far as I can tell, a vocal minority. I agree with you, I think they and all characters should be made as figures because they are indeed more interesting than a repackaged Clone or Han with a new hat. But it all boils down to Hasbro, what they want to do, and when they want to do it. If Hasbro wanted to do Beru, you'd have a Beru. I'm sure there are people in Hasbro that want to do a Beru. But for now, there are no known plans, but you can always let Hasbro know what you'd like to see and maybe, someday, you'll see it happen.

Not to poo-poo an idea, but, well, there's no magic bullet preventing any modern character from being made. Hasbro's whims are hard to determine, and for now, well, enjoy your Hem Dazon and cross your fingers for 2007.

7. Anyway, the recent astromech EE sets have me going over my astromech collection, and I have a question about the Star Tours figures. We frequently hear a lot about the difference between a repaint and a brand new sculpt, and how much more expensive/risky it is to design a new mold.

So how is it that the Star Tours "line" contained so many new molds? This is a line that was about as exclusive as it gets -- far more limited than the EE stuff, for example. Only available at Disney World, these figures could have EASILY been repaints, but they went all-out with it, making more figures, more new sculpts, than I would have ever thought possible for such a niche item. What was the thinking? I realize it is all speculation from our end, but is there anything I'm missing that, well, makes this make sense?

I suppose it would make sense if the production run was very high despite the exclusivity, but then I'd just wonder why more exclusives would be made for Disney World than for, say, Target, which has so many more point-of-sale locations it would seem natural to merit a larger run. How can Target get nothing but repaints as exclusives, and Disney get so many new molds?
--Lawrence

By and large, I assume that Star Tours came into being for a few reasons. One of which was to curry the favor of Disney. Until just a few years ago, Mattel had the master toy license for Disney stuff, and now, Hasbro has it. I wouldn't doubt that special products are part of the deal, and if you went to a Disney park and noted all the Hasbro toys that were exclusive to Disneyworld, or Disneyland, you'd be quite surprised. (Oh, and I mean non-Star Wars items, too.)

Also, the question exists: how many can Disney sell? I haven't a clue. Tens of thousands? A hundred thousand? This is something I don't know and will likely never be able to discover. But, if Disney can sell a lot of product, Hasbro will likely bend over backwards to make sure they have what they want.

Also, it could be Lucasfilm politics. If someone at Lucasfilm HQ wants something done, Hasbro might just say "OK." Giving Disney a nice exclusive could be some sort of back-scratching deal for all I know.

Personally, I think it's a numbers game. Exclusive or not, they don't go for a lot on eBay, they aren't hard to get, and with product at something like 5 theme parks, quantities are likely to be huge. I mean, I assume Disneyland proper could sell 10,000 units of each, no problem. If they're selling 50,000+ of each, worldwide, with little effort, Hasbro may look at that and say "new sculpts are worth it here because we're gonna make a lot of sales." (Also, a lot of Wal-Mart exclusives are very high runs-- pretty much the same reason, it's easy to sell that much stuff at a Wal-Mart.)

8. This question is about the larger scale unleashed line. I just started to really get into the unleashed line when they announced that it was cancelled (or basically cancelled. Those mini-figures look pretty stupid to me.) Well, I was pretty upset about that because, like I said, I had just started getting into them. Then I heard that they had decided to release the next wave of bigger figures after all so here's my question...Is the line going to continue or is it just these last three figures? If that really is the end, could you maybe point me in the right direction for the older parts of this line. Most of the figures I find on ebay are rediculously expensive. I don't care if they are loose or carded, I just can't find any way to get my hands on the majority of this line.
--Ryan

I just found the "final wave of 2005" at a few Wal-Marts this weekend (and let me tell you, some snot is cherry-picking the Clones), and a flood of memories came back. Memories of people writing in saying how much they dislike them, how they weren't selling, how they were too expensive, etc. And today, everybody loves them because they're hard to get or they weren't buying them during the first go-round, which is unfortunate because it's largely a good line of collectibles that was given multiple second chances.

It's the Arrested Development of toys. Wal-Mart dumped it more than once, and now has it as (I assume) a full-on exclusive. And fans who are finding them are complaining, and Chewbacca is pegwarming like crazy in the stores that got any. It's a bad sign.

Rumor has it repackaged figures and new sculpts are coming, although I wouldn't hold my breath. If you want older figures, eBay and trading are your only hopes today. If they show up in new packaging in 6 months, well, you never know-- I'd hate to steer you wrong one way or the other.

9. I went to my local Wal-mart a few days ago and saw that they had both versions of the ultimate lightsaber(one with anakin/vader, and other with the boy). My q is, is one rarer than the other?
--Dan

Neither. Or both. Mass-market items like this, sold everywhere, to kids, collectors, and so forth are not really collectible as of yet-- this is something you'll get an answer to in 2010, or later, as people start realizing what survived being played with or beat up at retail and what's truly rare. It's too early to tell, but if I were you, I'd bank on neither. It's too popular an item to expect to shoot up any time soon.

10. I very desperately want to get a DVD with all of the vintage Kenner toy commercials. How do we get Lucasfilm to realize that there is a demand for this (as well as the collection of all the other pop culture stuff shown at the Celebrations)??? I especially remember the POTF commercial that had all the silver coins raining down and then a shot of all the toys ever made together (including the new A-wing, shuttle and Jabba's skiff!)
--Mike

As far as I know, there has never been a DVD released with officially sanctioned toy commercials from ANY toy line. And while fans ask, nobody's talking-- it begs a lot of questions. What kind of rights do you sign away for a commercial? Are there archival copies of this stuff? And does Lucasfilm really care one way or another?

The likely potential market is small, and honestly, this is more of a project for someone with a video capture card, some old VHS tapes, and YouTube. Or perhaps a DVD sent to Fan Club members. I would say for Lucasfilm to see any demand for it, there would likely have to be rampant piracy of such an item in trading circles, which, well, I doubt we're ever going to see anything like that happen.

FIN

I'm away from my computer when it came time to post this, and I had 2 whole columns canned and ready-to-go. And they're on a computer which, at this time, I cannot get to. As such, this was written hastily and I'm somewhat tired after a long day, so hey, enjoy this trip through my backlog and my newest inquiries from you great readers.

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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