Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
July 10, 2006

 

1. A little ago you mentioned having created an exhaustive list of Astromechs from the SW saga for the purposes of demonstrating what mileage could be made of existing molds. Subsequently we have ben graced with the EE Exclusive Astromech 5 packs, thanks in no small part (or perhaps even in totality), due to your efforts. Is there any prospect of you being free to share that list with the rest of us, assuming it is not the property of EE or some other entity? Such a list would be a great resource for us customisers, and also perhaps yield material for speculation on our parts, as to what we might hope for from Hasbro in the future. Of course, I would also understand if you were unable to oblige- it's easier to ask than do the same job for myself. :)
--Daniel

What, weekly Q&As, figure of the day, and responses to almost every email I get aren't enough? Sheesh. (Kidding.)

Seriously though, at this time, I'm not planning to post it because it certainly does not have every droid figure in the saga and I don't want to go through a bunch of "corrections." When I post something, if there's ANYTHING that's a smidge off, about 47 people write in letting me know their two cents about how they've done it way better and how I'm a glue-sniffing idiot. As such, I try to keep sure that I don't post anything unless it's perfect, or at the very least, "good enough." This is neither. Plus it's a list-- there's no pictures here.

Since a number of droids-- to my knowledge-- have no names yet, I highly encourage you to assemble the world's best list of droids-- I'd love to see it because, well, you'd be amazed how much internet research goes in to things like comics and toys. You might accidentally end up inspiring something in the Expanded Universe or the toy line, so if you're game, I totally think you should give it a whirl. The Internet needs more people working on these kinds of projects, and I'd also like to point out that I'm lazy and would like to have my weekends back. So please, join in the fun of way too much research! An associate of mine has been working on a droid project, but it's a ways off-- the more people out there working on sites, lists, and so forth, the better. Each and every one of you has access to pretty much the same information I do, so it's totally worth your while to start a new project of your own. Sure, there's a lot of fan sites and projects, but every one has something to offer collectors around the world. So don't wait for us, hop to it!

2. With the recent battle packs of both "The Hunt for Grevious" and "Clone Attack on Coruscant", many fans have noticed Hasbro's tendancy to "kit-bash." While I totally understand this practice for financial reasons, I was curious if Hasbro would ever be interested in releasing a "Make your own clone" type package which could include various heads, bodies as well as accent accessories. I know with all the talented customizers as well as play factor for kids, this could be a great hit for them with very little overhead. Thoughts?
--Tim

I always find the term "kit bash" amusing as I do frustrating, as there's no model kit being bashed here. "Head swap" is more appropriate, really, although it doesn't quite have the same artistic ring to it. Still, people love it. But I digress.

Clone Attack on Coruscant was a straight repaint, and Hunt for Grievous features two head swaps with a couple of change-ups in accessories. I'm a huge supporter of getting the most mileage out of molds whenever possible, as long as it doesn't leave us with an inferior product-- Fordo kinda failed in this regard.

Anyway, "make your own clone," eh? I'm going to bet on no for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I did ask at one point. (Oh well.) While a lot of fans-- vocal ones-- ask for more things exclusively for customizers, ultimately, that's a tiny fraction of the market and "art project" toys seem to be a tough sell. Thankfully, though, plain white Clones were made in abundance and head swapping is very easy on these figures-- and odds are getting old clone lots off of eBay and taking a trip to the craft store would yield you a better price, anyway. That, and many fans find customizing daunting-- a lot of us collect because we don't do models, or build furniture. So it's a niche within a niche, but it doesn't mean there's no money to be had in it. (Just not a lot.)

Plus, unfortunate as it is, Hasbro probably doesn't want to make a product that essentially says "we're making tons of money by switching guns, heads, and paint. Now you can do it at home!"

3. What do you think is better when looking for older figures, buying off the secondary market (eBay) or waiting for repacks? Looking at just this year's basic line, Hasbro repacked Barada (from PotF2), Gen. Rieekan (Saga deluxe), the power droid, Geonosis C-3PO, and Poggle. Most of those aren't main characters or fan-favorites, and odd choices. Not to mention, if not repacking, Hasbro improves on a lot of figures, so buying an older version might be a waste. What would you recommend?
--Omar

I'd recommend common sense, of course! Sometimes, it's obvious, and usually that's the way to go. You can get entire carded collections of figures for pennies on the dollar. If you can get 12 figures for the price of 4, shouldn't you consider it? It all depends on how you collect, really, and your patience. This year's $7 figure is usually next year's $3 figure.

If your goal is to have only one version of each character/costume, and that's the best one, my advice to you is to STOP SPENDING MONEY NOW. Just because Ephant Mon is awesome today doesn't mean Hasbro won't improve on him in the next five years. There are no guarantees about what will or won't come out again, so if this is a matter of great concern, take a look at almost any old toy line since 1990. They aren't all that expensive, and if you're picky, you can look back at the first wave of Spawn toys and realize they improved on them a dozen times over. There's really no reason to buy any figures today if you're living in fear of upgrades. Pretty much every figure from 1995-1996 (with a handful of exceptions) has seen some form of rerelease. That said...

Define "improvement." The 2006 General Rieekan figure has a blaster, a holo figure, and a stand with his name on it. The 2004 General Rieekan has a big giant screen accessory that looks awesome, but no gun. Which is better? That's up to you. The 2006 version is (supposedly) in stores and $7. The old 2004 one has gone on eBay for as little as $2 plus another $2 shipping in June, 2006. To me, the 2004 one-- were I forced to pick-- is better in every possible respect. Meanwhile, Geonosis C-3PO was based on a deluxe C-3PO that came with a playset, another figure, and could connect to another, larger playset. (You know, like you guys are always asking for but seem to forget happened.) That original C-3PO is $5-$7 on eBay, not bad for a $10 figure from 2002 that's more than twice as good as a currently available $7 figure.

Of the repacks in 2006, I'd say it's a big toss-up. Sure, the rerelease Poggle the Lesser of 2006 looks better, but if you want the Count Dooku or San Hill from the original Screen Scene set, you're outta luck. The new Barada is awesome-- but the previous two releases were awful. But if you want Nikto and Klaatu, you need to buy those old sets, or buy individual figures off of a collector or from eBay... or wait this whole thing out and collect once we all get actual perspective that is only granted by a toy line being dead. (Collecting in hindsight prevents dumb purchases.)

If the price is right and the figure is available, I personally think you should buy it. It's very easy to make an argument both for or against buying old figures, and ultimately, my opinion doesn't matter. Or at least, it shouldn't. Your collection is dictated by your tastes, and I'm very biased: I see the secondary market as a blessing these days because you can get tons of figures at great savings. That, and if everybody has a figure, and there's no demand for it, maybe Hasbro won't rerelease it.

4. Aside from the head sculpt and removable helmet, exactly what are the differences between the upcoming Kir Kanos figure and the ROTS Royal Guard?
--Chris

It has a removable helmet, new hands, and a new lower waist piece as well as new paint, a new cape, and a new weapon. His head is not a G.I. Joe head as many have speculated, despite there being some similarities. As far as articulation, it's pretty much the same. So it's new in the sense that Foul Moudama is new-- there's enough new parts, a new name, and a new backstory that, to me, make it a very interesting figure. (I love comics-based figures, as you no doubt may have guessed. So this is a really exciting one in my book. But if you didn't read the comics, well, eh.)

5. I am not an every figure collector but I am a every character collector and an army builder fanatic. Whether it is a figure or vehicle for my galactic empire, clone, wookiee, rebel, droid, gungan army etc., I add it on. When I saw the new accessory packs cancelled months ago, I was very disappointed. You have said before that the last set did not sell well and was clearanced at Target, I just saw the Hoth set and droid set lingering but the scout trooper and death star trooper sold well enough, better than the Geonosian figures and many Vader remixes I see warming up the pegs today. Is there any way we can have a poll or some kind of imput to produce a clone trooper(mostly clone trooper), expanded universe, jedi or sith accessory pack with or without a figure?

I'm sure there are alot of collectors who would like more clone trooper helmets, guns, and different color lightsabers, short sabers, double bladed lightsabers. Maybe just add more weapons in with a 4pk of figures, custom figure collectors would like these as well as the army builders and those little kids that buy as well, they probably lose many accessories and need replacements.
--Steve

There's a common thread in fan requests regarding cancelled items: often, we act as if we were slighted, regardless of the item being particularly good or not. I think these may fall under that umbrella, despite having some very good points.

The 1999 accessory packs-- all 10 of them (wave 1 had 4, wave 2 did as well, plus 2 electronic deluxe ones)-- were stinkers. Wave 1 was blown out, Wave 2 was only expensive because it was rare, and the electronic ones were largely ignored. The Invasion Force Jar Jar cannon also fared badly. So that's two strikes. Strike 3 was Target's exclusive packs in 2002, which did in fact sit in many markets, leading Target to want to try to sell items that were actually bigger hits. Yes, a large part of their sales can be attributed to the choice of figures, plus the low price point of basic figures in those days did not make these a compelling item for a lot of fans. But when a store orders tens of thousands of exclusives, they want sales, not excuses.

For whatever reason, accessory packs went out of vogue with the 1980s. He-Man had them, as did G.I. Joe. Ninja Turtles did as well, but they were phased out as the line matured and it was obvious kids didn't want them. By and large, fans voted with their dollars and they voted no. (Stores, of course, helped vote. But most collectors don't play with the toys and therefore don't need spare parts.)

Are there collectors that want more weapons? Sure. That's what the first Toys "R" Us Saga 4-packs were meant to address, but that concept got faded out quickly after the Imperial Forces gift set. Fans who lose weapons need to just write Hasbro and ask for replacements, or suck it up and buy another figure to replace the gun.

Personally, I do believe accessory packs are nice, and they'd probably be in a format you wouldn't like too much-- Battle Packs. There's plenty of room in those boxes for more guns and accessories, anyway. We're really missing out on Gunship Clone Pods, which you could pack with Clone figures, guns, helmets, and so forth. Heck, even an exclusive Jedi or something. It boils down to Hasbro not wanting to do it and fans not asking for it enough, and with the cancelled accessory packs from Jabba's Palace and Yavin IV being, admittedly, quite dull, it seems Hasbro just doesn't have any great urge to make a product of this kind despite there being a fair amount of collector interest. (But is it enough? Or is this another case of collectors asking for something merely because they can't have it, and not because they really want it? It's a tricky place to be.)

6. Do you think we will ever see reissues of the [old Kenner 1980s MicroCollection] playsets? Mabe with some of the unproduced components (Like Death Star Throne Room?) They really were phenominal toys, far better than anything since produced on a similar scale.
--Patrick

In short, no. Despite being what many fans consider the basis for what would be the ultimate action figure sized playsets, this is an item Hasbro has been dragging their feet about despite requests-- but you can make a difference! Look at what our complaining is going to get us for vehicles. (For the record, that'd be new vehicles.) I love MicroCollection, as it was the thing that got me to go to garage sales and toy shows in the first place back in 1986. They're great items, but I sincerely doubt we'll ever see them again.

7. Just finished reading [a previous] Q & A about how we have no playsets. Since Hasbro cant make enough profit on these types of accessories, why cant another company pick up the license and do slightly higher end diorama-like playsets? Who wouldn't jump all over an exact replica of the Tantive IV hallway done in sturdy materials and incane detail. Even if it was just a small portion, say enough for a few figures. Modular or not, you could sample so many scenes from all 6 movies that the choices are limitless. I guess it would be a slightly cheaper version of Attakus's Metal Collection. Do you think there's a chance of something like this? If so how can we get this done?
--John

The best example of this sort of thing comes from the UK. After paying the hefty tax to King George (i.e., Lucasfilm licensing fee), their Pride Displays Diorama came out and could display many action figures. It was a really simple item, and the original retail was $70-- after months, the price eventually dropped. I think it can be had for about $50-$60, which, for what it is, probably isn't too bad but let's face it: we're a bunch of cheapskates. Today, they're on eBay, and closing for about $20 or less before shipping. For an item of this size, quality, and production run, that means it wasn't exactly a big success.

Were a company to make something like you suggest, odds are it would have to be in resin, die-cast metal, or some other material because it would be made in a limited quantity, and these materials make it easy and cheaper to do such a thing. (And there's a precedent: Diamond made a resin mini-mates display stand for Toy Fair 2006 which I believe was $70ish.) Now, for those of you who haven't seen Attakus' line of dioramas, these are close to $2,000 a whack and several feet long. (For the sake of this argument, I assume your phrase "slightly cheaper" really means "90% off.") In all honesty, for what they are, you do get your money's worth, but, as I said, we're all very cheap. John and I went back and forth on this item over email, and basically it ended with my assuming that a smaller item like this, made by another company, would probably be closer to $200 or more depending on the scope of the item. John had a lower price point in mind, still a high dollar amount for a toy, but the problem is once you take this sort of thing away from Hasbro, it's no longer a toy. It's a collectible. And the price is going to be adjusted accordingly as if there was a lot of money to be had in these, Hasbro would keep making the item and making huge profits on it.

Sideshow is a fine example-- Hasbro made 12-inch figures for $20 or so. Sideshow's start at $50. If another company were to make vehicles or playsets, be prepared to double what you would pay for a Hasbro item of similar girth. Of course, you can also expect it to be more collector-friendly, without firing rockets, wacky colors, or cheap cardboard. This disappoints me, because I collect toys-- you know, things designed to be abused, buried in the dirt, and otherwise ruined. I loved the old Imperial Attack Base from Kenner because it had blow-up walls, and if another company were to do a diorama of a high-end type, that sort of thing would likely have to be left out for safety and breakage reasons.

As always, if you want it, prove it. Complain to Hasbro, and complain loudly. Complain to Lucasfilm, complain to Sideshow, complain to Code 3, complain to Master Replicas, complain to Gentle Giant, and complain to every store you buy from. (I complain to Entertainment Earth's merchandiser all the time, he passes these things along.) Someone will get the hint eventually, but remember: this isn't going to be cheap. If you want the best ever playset dioramas and think $200 would be worth it if it was awesome, then let the world know. If you think $50 is too much to spend, well, give up today, as it'll never happen unless Hasbro were to do it.

8. In Germany, from what I read in the net, we will only get the heat-sealed/glued clamshells for the VTSC not the taped ones, so my question is: Can the clamshells be reused i.e. closed again after being (carefully) opened. I don't think about having MOC figures, since I know they won't be after taking out the POP's and I want to get out the figures anyway. But for nostalgia's sake I'd like to put the vintage couterparts on the cardbacks and display them in the clamshells, like I did with the VOTC. For the most part I collect loose vintage figures and can't really afford "original MOC's". So will that be possible?
--Markus

With careful slicing, yes, you can get out a carded figure from a heat sealed VTSC figure, but you might be better off trying to trade for some taped samples. As it's late and I'm really not sure what it is you're trying to do, let me guess: you want to know if the heat sealed clamshells are worth a damn after opening them? Well, barely. Be careful, and maybe. But you might be better off just buying new, third-party (or Hasbro's own) clamshells to store these if you need to "put them back" for whatever reason.

9. By the way, how do you pick what figure you do each day [in figure of the day] anyways?
--RollaJedi

It's all random-- I basically go up into my display room, shoot a bunch of figures, and if the photo turns out good, I write about it. If not, reshoot. With the intent of covering every toy Hasbro and Kenner made since 1995, it's going to have lots of ups and downs, so there's going to be like a two-week slog of core characters, I'm sure. (There's so many of them.) Essentially, I just go to my display shelves and click away, with the odd request here or there. This is planned to be a 2-3-year feature, so I'll be getting to everything eventually. (If Hasbro's going to keep doing 60 basic figures plus dozens of exclusives, Vintage figures, and so forth, this could go on for a long time.)

Shortly before posting this, someone emailed me and told me how boring the column was lately. (Golly, thanks.) Because there's so many figures that aren't exciting, I have to mix it up a bit. That, or after the column is half over, there won't be anything but boring rotten figures left to read and I'll quit when nobody reads it anymore.

10. This isn't really a question. I just needed to blow off some steam.

I've been really happy with this line for the most part and I've been buying all of the new figs faithfully. I love the packaging and there have been some really nice sculpts of some very cool characters. I can't say the same for the ROTS line. Aside from the Clones, I didn't enjoy it very much.

I understand that in order to maximize their profits, Hasbro need to keep popular figures on the pegs for the kids. And I understand Vader is popular, however...

I picked up the #38 Vader last week and I must admit that I'm starting to feel a little taken advantage of.

This figure is the same identical sculpt as the #13 figure. If Hasbro thinks that they can keep taking the same figure and changing the number on the package only to sell it to me again 2 months later, they've got another thing coming. I won't be spending my money that foolishly anymore.

Hasbro needs to seriously rethink this practice IMO. It's not right.
--Milt

I had a really long answer written. About six or seven paragraphs. Then it dawned on me-- I wouldn't even consider reading something that long.

So: to Hasbro, congratulations on earning about five or six bucks. To Milt, thanks for reminding me of the phrase "TLDR" and how it should apply to this column.

I'm not sure entirely how to reply to this kind of question. Is it a joke? (Is the name a reference to Mr. Television himself?) Or is this an honest plea for help, or a frustrated young collector who got swindled out of his meager allowance? Does it matter? As my dad was (and still is) fond of saying, "you don't need it." It's good advice, I believe.

FIN

So, a bunch of stuff hit last Friday. (Well, it hit where I work and I got mine. Which counts.) I hope ya dug the quickie articles I put together over the weekend, although they didn't come together as quickly as I'd have liked. I need some sort of intern to farm out the graphics, formatting, and typing at this point. I mean, I've been doing this for 11 years, surely some college can convince some poor schlep to do my dirty work for college credit.

I saw much complaining about the Death Star Gunner's removable helmet around the web after we got to announce it here. Wow. Some people must really have awesome lives. Me, I've got other things to worry about so I guess I must've been blind to what a horrible thing Hasbro did by adding extra play value, detail, and accessories to a figure which could've just been a straight repack of a sculpt from 1996. I truly must work on my priorities.

And finally, I got a makeshift archive set up for Figure of the Day starting tomorrow. So now you can paw through the old entries. Yay!

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.)

Now I'm gonna finish up updating 16bit.com, finish another Podcast for work, and listen to more of Trout Mask Replica, again. Night all!

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