Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
June 26, 2006
1. I would like to know if you can answer two things for me. First, will Hasbro be shipping any more of the UGH cases of the Coruscant wave? From talking to other collectors and reading the forum posts, I'm getting the impression that Hasbro shipped out fewer cases from this wave than the previous waves. I go out hunting frquently and even I can see that the cases from the Carkoon, Hoth, Geonosis, and mixed waves were shipped out more heavily than the UGH cases of the Coruscant wave. What gives? I know Hasbro is well aware that the ROTS line did incredibly well for them and one can make the argument that this wave can be considered a part of the ROTS line. I hardly see any pegwarmers from this wave. Even the not so popular figures in this wave such as Lushros Dofine sell within a couple of days. Why not ship out a LARGE number of cases of the Coruscant wave (especially the UGH cases)? I would appreciate it if you could give us some good news.
Second, will Hasbro be making a corrected version of the VTSC X-Wing Luke Skywalker figure that will come with Luke's own lightsaber hilt. The one that's currently shipping has the Darth Vader lightsaber hilt attached to the figure's belt.
UGH. No. None. It's over. There may be some "in the system", meaning an odd case COULD show up at a drugstore or a freak Wal-Mart, but according to Hasbro, it's all over. Characters from this wave will ship on and off throughout the year, but UGH is over, and some of these figures might not be shipping again in 2006.
Each area is unique, and here, it seems the non-UGH Coruscant cases are still shipping. The leftover, non-selling holographic Ki-Adi-Mundis prove it. (Although they do move eventually.) Foul Moudama sits here and there, but not for long. Lushros... I haven't seen lately. He's a fine figure. (I loves me some Neimoidians.)
We got TONS of these here in LA. And they all sold through-- after that point, there's always a risk to shipping more. Sure, you sold tons, but can you sell tons more? The EpIII Heroes & Villains assortment covers the big guns, and for the rest, cross your fingers they'll ship again in remix waves before 2007.
I basically ask people "aside from UGHs, is there anything you can't get?" If the answer is no, well, move on. :) If Hasbro wants to cut back on some figures to make the line as a whole seem more popular and collectible than it actually is, well, this might be a good thing for the long run and the health of the line as a whole. It is depressing that the sales window for new toys has shrank. It used to be you could expect a toy on the market for up to 2 years. Then it was 6 months. Now, maybe 2 months.
And a corrected lightsaber? Don't bet on it. Hasbro's been bad about "corrections" since 2004.
2. So you guys posted a pretty good-sized scan of the pics of the new
Dagobah X-Wing. First, I can't believe Hasbro's found a way to get me
excited to buy my fourth X-Wing. Second, is it possible that the R2-D2
in the picture is actually the R4-G9 repaint we were all waiting for??
Is there something in the details that you can point out that could
show that it is, in fact, a repainted R4-G9? Short of the datalink arms
and such, could this really be the ultimate R2-D2? I really hope it's
not an early mock-up...
The article in Lee's, if anyone read it, seems to indicate ("seems" being a key word) that they got a sample to look at up close and this is exactly what Hasbro sent them. As it looks pretty close to "final" I would say that, for the time being, what you see is more or less what you should expect to get-- but the final packaged item shows up on eBay with no R2-D2. Are we doomed to never see this figure? Well, probably not. But it looks like we've got a while longer to wait, sadly.
3. I know you can't comment on who the mystery figure is that comes with Kir Kanos until July from Entertainment Earth. Can you tell me if the shadow outline is of the actual mystery figure? It sure looks like Comtech Han to me.
While I can't say too much, I can give you some hints to point you in the right direction. For starters, the figure we used for the graphics and in the catalog was Vintage Original Trilogy Collection Han Solo. The Star Wars Insider used a Cantina Han figure silhouette to announce the Cantina Band Member exclusive, I thought doing the same again was funny-- but hey, I'm weird like that. The actual figure is not Han Solo, which seems to be missed despite there being many instances point-blank saying it isn't. Maybe it's a joke at this point?
Also, keep in mind the name of the two-pack at most stores. The key words are "Expanded Universe"-- as such, Tatooine Luke and Cantina Han are pretty much out of the running-- which makes me happy off the bat. Outlines are usually a dead giveaway-- we've seen these characters so much that an outline of the right head, helmet, or even ears could ruin the mystery which will be announced at Comic-Con in San Diego. Unless it shows up on eBay first.
4. Sort of a bitter sweet moment for me (as Im sure of many collectors alike) to see the return of the 'Endor Trio', in particular Luke Endor. Sweet, because it's a fine looking figure, cloth poncho looks great, the working blaster holster snazzy, and it just looks nice. Bitter, because it's not our super articulated Luke Jedi we all want. I'll take this because it's the most movie accurate Luke Endor to date, but this leads me into the following questions:
1.) Is it possible Hasbro retooled the torso to not have the vest/skirt, and rather his final duel outfit?
2.) If not, because Luke (SA Final Duel) was among the top 25 in the Fan's Choice Poll, are his chances not that much better to see a perfect Final Duel Luke (and replace the dreadful monkey duel Luke?)
3.) Do Fan's Choice figures get put to the top of the 'make list' ahead of other figures? Because he is a movie figure, as well as a top seller among kids/collectors alike, could we possibly be seeing him in 2007?
4.) What's up with that extra skull Emperor's Wrath Vader (2) comes with?
Oy, questions a-plenty. 1. Possible? Sure. I'm not psychic though so I don't know what's under there. See more below, though. 2. Who knows? Hasbro's been doing very few Lukes since the prequels started. Anything is possible but I would have very high hopes for the Jedi Luke you all want in the next couple of years. 3. Fan's Choice figures, in the past, have been things Hasbro wanted to do-- we just pick the "when." This time, we picked them, and as such there's really no definitive answer as to what they have planned. As Kir Kanos was in development for a while and made this list, and many other figures on the list are rumored, well, who knows? 4. Most likely a test shot thing-- we won't know for certain if this is included with the figure until we see more final photography. I'm inclined to believe it, and the weird arm, was a leftover test shot piece and not a separate inclusion in the package. (Although that's my opinion, I could be wrong.)
OK. So... What was Luke wearing under his poncho on Endor? Guess what? You might all be wrong! (And I might be too.) In Return of the Jedi, we see Luke on Dagobah with his "Tatooine" Vest. And when Luke talks to Leia on Endor, he's wearing the same vest. But when he's "arrested," he no longer has the vest. (The scene where C-3PO is doing his storytelling is hard to see but it looks like he is, to me, wearing his vest.) So what does this mean? The vintage figure-- with the Death Star II outfit underneath-- might be wrong! And this modern figure may be the first more-or-less accurate version of the costume. Both POTF2 ones may have been wrong!
5. I feel like I'm part of a distant minority as far as the Unleashed battle packs go; I actually like them. I just wish they hadn't called them Unleashed. They really don't deserve all the crap that's been slung at them. My question is, do you think they'll keep making these guys next year, or is this it for them? For example, I would really like to see a Galactic Marine/Bacara battle pack at some point.
Also, I was happy to see that Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn managed to get into the fan choice polls. At least he has a chance. While I'd love to get a Neyo or Parajai guy or Galactic Marine, or even a GOOD BARC trooper (and I do think that all will eventually be made) a well made Kyle figure would make my day. What do you think his odds are?
As far as Unleashed Battle Packs go, unto themselves, it's a cute sub-line. Problem is, it's a snooze-- much like the first 7-inch Unleashed, after an initial splash, everything quieted down and now it's boring. While the Hoth sets are supposedly due this month (haha), it's been a long hard slog. Wave 1 was December, Wave 2 was, what, February or March? If not earlier? We don't have that kind of attention span. Titanium gives us new stuff pretty much every month, and while I would like to see a set based on Mygeeto as well, well, who knows? Clones are probably a given if the line continues, although if it continues at this pace, I can't imagine fans staying on board forever.
As far as Kyle Katarn goes, well, eBay's good. While the 1998 version isn't perfect, it can be had on eBay for as little as $3.75 plus shipping. Just hand him a Lightsaber and you're good to go. When it comes to really minor characters-- and let's face it, Kyle's pretty minor-- I wouldn't hold my breath, but I wouldn't give up all hope yet either. It's just if you can get a Kyle Katarn today, you might as well. I mean, why wait one to three years for your interest to burn off when he can be shipped to your door tomorrow?
6. While reading Tomart's "History of Kenner Toys" column (part I), I thought up some more queries I'd like to see you tackle. Here is another series of questions for future columns ---
Aside from the year (2006) and much more product being available line-wide since 1995, what makes Hasbro's availability so markedly different from Kenner's strategy to "keep making figures available all the time," and their approach to "Star Wars being forever," back in the 70s and 80s?
By that I mean, I could -- theoretically -- head down to my local store in 1981 and easily get 3 new Stormtroopers (albeit on ESB cards) to replace the ones I lost while playing in the creek on my property. If a kid did that now, he would be in trouble in more ways than one.
Without offering an economic dissertation, why was it feasible that SW so much more available (and attractively promoted) when I was a kid than it is now? Or has my nostalgia made me drunk with "things" that weren't actually the way I recall them?
I really "HATE" the way the Star Wars sections look in stores today -- even when compared with good ol' aisle 7C from TRU of yesteryear. No sense of panache at all in the modern presentation of most lines / items.
Time. The toy market of 1995, 2006, and 1977 were all vastly different. Action figures without being a foot tall and covered in cloth were a real novelty when Star Wars was new, plus it was the biggest thing going at the time. 30 years later, it's astonishing that it's being sold in stores at all-- I mean, movie properties typically arrive DOA, Ice Age 2 went straight to clearance, Cars is sluggish, Kong didn't do great business, and the supposedly "better than Star Wars" (HAH!) Lord of the Rings is so dead it isn't funny. Also, you wear rose colored glasses-- some figures were easy to get, some weren't. Kenner also only introduced 12 or so new figures in a year, but did you try finding the ANH Leia, Luke, or Han during Return of the Jedi? I did, as did my parents, and let me tell you it took a little while. (Thank heaven for the JC Penny catalog.) Keeping an entire line of (back in 1983) about 80 figures wasn't so tough to do, especially as the older ones were hard to get. Today? There's 500 friggin' figures in the modern line. No store can keep that going, so 70 or so a year being cycled in and out is about as much as you can hope for until Star Wars becomes, once more, the apple of everyone's eye. And that, friends, will likely never happen again.
Today's modern toy store isn't the toy store of 1983. Toy stores today are in much worse financial trouble, with Kay-Bee and Toys "R" Us being sold off in recent years and Wal-Mart largely crushing the toy market. Back in the 1990s, Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart were see-sawing for top slot in toy dollars. (This is staggering because Wal-Mart's toy section could fit into a small house. Whereas TRU is a big store.) Today, Wal-Mart is crushing everybody, plus we've got online speciality stores, the death of the mom and pop, and kids moving toward electronics rather than toys with the advent of the "tween" demographic making it effectively nerdy to be a toy fan at a much younger age.
So, in short, 30 years takes its toll in the market. G.I. Joe is totally different today, and VERY few toy lines survived this long. I mean, Star Wars is up there with Barbie, Hot Wheels, and G.I. Joe as having spanned generations-- the fact it's still making someone money today is nothing short of impressive. Sure, it's unfortunate the day of full aisles are over, but it's not like any other toy line is getting the grand treatment for more than a month at a time anymore.
7. I agree that 40 Clonetroopers is a strong showing and I think Hasbro's done
a really great job overall with variety. But I still question why they have
been so stingy with the iconic army-building troopers from Revenge of the
Sith, namely the impossible-to-find Blue 501st Anakin Troopers, the
Emperor's Red Shocktroopers and now the Yellow Utapau Kenobi Legion.
Granted, the Yellow Troopers are brand new and hopefully will become easier
to find, but the Red ones were shipped in a limited format as a paint
variant and the Blue clone was the hardest to find figure in the hardest to
find wave at the tail end of the ROTS line. I never saw either of them at
retail and I never saw either of their exclusive "gift set" versions in the
wilds of retail either. (Always remember: the root of the word "Exclusive"
is "Exclude") Honestly, I'd buy at least 20 of each flavor of clone if I
could. I know that Hasbro has no official line on this, but I wonder if you
have any theories as to what their reasoning might be. You've expressed
bewilderment at their reluctance to make white stormtroopers available. Is
this just some other deep toy manufacturing mystery?
When pressed, Hasbro often responds that a solid pack case of troopers scares retailers, and that makes sense-- 12 of any figure are dangerous in a market such as ours. (If you guys see 2 or 3 of something on the peg, you declare it a pegwarmer. Imagine if Target suddenly had 24 stormtroopers sitting there-- I bet a lot of fans would go "clearance fodder" and leave them be.)
As far as Shocktroopers, Hasbro's third dip in that pool will come to pass with Wave 3 of Heroes & Villains. Tactical Ops troopers are, hopefully, due to return soon. And Orange Utapau Troopers are actually not all that hard to find-- I know I've had my fill as have many other collectors. So overall, we aren't exactly starving for Clones, it's just that you can't buy them by the pound yet.
As far as why? My guess is you don't want to slaughter the goose that lays the golden eggs. Troopers are fan favorites but have never really flooded the market outside the run of Entertainment Earth Clones (a massive batch for the buying) and in many markets, Episode III Clones were pretty common. So they're trying.
Making too many of a figure available would kill the appeal to some, and increase it to others. For every collector that would buy 20 troopers, there are a couple who would find it less appealing if you could just get as many as you wanted. That, and if Hasbro played all its trooper cards, a lot of people would realize there's not much else to look forward to and quit. So by keeping some figures in shorter supply, they get your attention for a few more waves.
8. Why doesn't Entertainment Earth get an exclusive pack or two of Ewoks, similar to the Astromech Droids. 10 new ewoks would be easy and cheap for Hasbro, same molds in different colors, couple of new headdresses and accessories. Great exclusive for EE, as the Astromechs and Clones, have been, plus everyone would finally get all their Ewoks...?
Well, for one thing, I'm not able to accept direct solicitations for products. So there's that. Another is that this is more a "we don't have this we want this" product than a "we must have this why hasn't it been made yet?" product.
So the question is, given the average per-figure price of online exclusives ($8-$13, generally), would you be able to spring that much on Ewoks? Would everyone else? It's not a very in-demand thing, but then again, after this line's been around for 11 years, very few things are out there where fans can get together, put their money where there mouth is, and prove that fans really will pony up the cash when Hasbro puts out a good item. As far as pricing goes, this would be a stellar item for, say, Toys "R" Us-- 5 or 6 Ewoks in a box for $30? That sounds like a decent move. Toss in a Scout Trooper, everybody's happy.
9. Do you think NOW would have been a better time for a "Jedi master point"
style system with star wars items and getting the Lucas stormtrooper
figure?? As a marketing stand point this would have had people buying ALL
star wars figures, vehicles, etc not just 5 figures. AND since the point
were on the barcode it would have limited stealing POPS and returning them?
This brings up the memory of when I was 6 or 7 walking into stores with my
Kenner POP looking for the boba fett figure, then my mom finding the white
form there saying you had to mail in the POP, then getting my letter on the
delay of the boba figure, then finally getting him and my mom eventually
selling him with all my other figures in one of her many garage sales. The
SW pillow case she kept of course because that could be put in her rag bag.
With the success of figure of the day have you ever thought of collectors
story of the day???
Collector's Story? Well, let me put it this way Rich: Figure of the Day only works because I put effort into it. When I ask for responses from fans in catalogs, magazines, this column, or my old newsletter, nobody pitches in. Ever. I'm actually shocked I've had enough questions to build a two-column-or-more buffer. When it comes to stories about collectors, well, it gets old fast. Rebelscum's "Collection of the Day" seems to be taking the best angle by showing displays, and as such, I say leave it to the masters.
So, other questions. Jedi Master Points aren't the first modern era "points" on toys. Galoob had points on all their Star Wars product since the beginning which, if I recall, was in 1994. (Maybe it was '93.) Nobody once asked anything of Galoob for these points. Hasbro put them there "just in case." They were on figures you were buying anyway, and I never really expected them to do anything with them-- it'd be nice if they did, but they didn't. These are here to bolster sales, when things are slow, you do a mail-in offer. It's a quasi-loyalty program, but really it's more of a sales tool. I'd rather cash in JMPs for a mail-in figure than some goofy sticker thing, but hey, such is life. If they did JMPs, people would be stealing those too. Ya can't win, kids!
10. Any recent word on the release of an Episode IV white TIE fighter with correctly scaled wings?
I was shocked to have to change my answer to this one now that an image of this exact item leaked to the Internet. It's widely speculated to be a Target item although it could be anywhere. A "normal size" wing white TIE is rumored for next year but this certainly does make things interesting, no?
Well, who says that pre-Comic Con season is dull? I'm actually a little shocked how much news came out in the past week, myself. I'm REALLY hoping we see Nagai, Zeltrons, Hoojibs, and Lumiya someday. And if you don't know who those are, well, my "dead to me" list has some room on it still.
It's shaping up to be an expensive rest-of-the-year. We've got figure tin packs coming according to some reports, more basic figures, and probably somewhere close to $250+ worth of exclusive vehicles. (AT-AT, X-wing, Snowspeeder, TIE Fighter, Jedi Starfighters, etc. That's at least $90, $50, $30, $40ish, and $20-$30 a whack right there. Plus the non-exclusive ones.) I bring this up mostly as a retort to the wide variety of "Hasbro isn't making anything for the rest of the year" emails I keep getting. I understand that there isn't a site that currently spoonfeeds the fandom a complete rest-of-the-year checklist with ETAs and all right now, but c'mon. It's going to be a good rest-of-the-year.
While the AT-AT doesn't seem to be incredibly new-- and the $90 price point is bound to scare off a lot of people-- it looks like the rest of the line is filled with potential happy fun. The snowspeeder, especially-- I mean, working brake flaps. That shouldn't be at all exciting, but it is. The only downside is the last Snowspeeder we had was in 2002, and it had two figures. (Granted, not a new sculpt, but.)
I had to rewrite like half of this week's column, so it's late and time to update 16bit.com...
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. A lot of you have been sending "Q&" emails lately. I take it you're too good to type the "A"?)
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