Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
July 24, 2006

 

1. Episode III clones have been available in abundance. Including the wonderful Entertainment Earth sets, Episode II clones are available. With POTJ, Saga, OTC, and Saga2, Sandtroopers, Snow Troopers, and Scout Troopers have been easy to get.

I remember Commtech, Saga, OTC, and Hall of Fame waves. There was a four pack, too. I love VOTC.

Why have regular old Stormtroopers been so hard to come by since the POTF2 line? When will Hasbro release something akin to the VOTC Stormtrooper in abundance? No, I don't want to buy Saga2 Sandtroopers and stain-cleaner. Hasbro has to realize the demand. Furthermore, two-packs a Stormtrooper and another non-army-builder would be a bad idea for army builders.
--Eric

Wait... Scout Troopers? Easy to get? I'm sorry, I'd like to know what magical land of delusion in which you shop. The 1996 Scout Trooper came with a very hard to find Speederbike, which, eventually, was easy to get and then yanked. The Power of the Jedi releases were so hard to get, I frequently got people asking me if they ever actually were released. And the vintage 2006? Don't get me started. With few exceptions, all troopers are a little difficult to get, I don't seem to recall anyone ever saying they got their fill of any of the Episode II Clones either.

But I digress. So, Stormtroopers? Well, there was the 4-pack in 2002 from the Fan Club at $20 a whack, which provided all-you-can-eat troopers at fair prices. It was even blown out in a few select cities at the Wizards of the Coast store. If you wanted them, they were out there, and they also popped up in two Battle Packs from 2005. (Not ideal, but they were there.)

As far as VOTC and beyond, Hasbro DOES get it. That's why you can't have any. White armored troopers (and other colors) are the "golden egg" of this line, it's a well Hasbro can keep going back to year after year and ensure that fans still want them. And more often than not, we can never get enough, because of some really amazing army building which prevents some fans from even seeing them. So by keeping Stormtroopers somewhat in demand, Hasbro wins-- we still want more, and it means there's a character from the original film that's seen numerous releases and we've not yet had our fill. We'll see more. I think the whole "oh go buy some white paint" argument is pretty awful, but hey, I'm lazy. At this point, all we can do is keep asking-- I've got no shortage of sandtroopers, but like you, I want Stormtroopers. So here's hoping for 2007.

2. With all this talk about the Mighty Sarlacc latety,I have a kinda good suggestion.Remember the Complete Galaxy Luke ? Couldn't Hasbro make that sarlacc bigger and sell it in two sections a la the trash compactor sets from a few years back?
--ABarra9721

I really can't tell when you guys are screwing with me anymore.

No, you can't just "make it bigger." All it was, was a mouth in the bottom of a globe. There's no playset here or really anything to build upon. If Hasbro wanted to fill fan interest in a full pit-- which at this point, it seems is actually just people giving their two cents on the subject in this column-- it would need to be a larger, original creation.

3. Has the TRU Hunt for General Grievous Battle Pack stopped shipping already? I saw it for about a one week period and haven't seen it since. How come I can walk into a Target and find their Battle Pack easily for about a 3 month period but TRU can't keep them in stock?
--Barbara

One kinda sucks, and one was loaded with a full army of the most awesome characters to appear in Star Wars, in many fans eyes, ever. When you put a box of 2 clones and 2 figures you don't want next to 5 Clones which reenact one of the Greatest Battles EvarTM, there's going to be lopsided demand. The Target set was very difficult to get at first, I know I got mine a while before most reports rolled in, and the TRU set seems to be having a slower roll-out for whatever reason.

As far as unknowns go, Toys "R" Us may have had a lower production run for the Hunt for Grievous. (Word has it Target ordered 65,000 of the Skirmish packs, which, if true, is INSANE. They've only got a little over 1,000 stores in the USA if I recall, and I don't feel like doing the research.) Also, Clone Wars fans are hardcore, and numerous. Kids adore it. Collectors love it. And lots of fans aren't just buying 1-2 of the packs, they're buying a ton because they want to rebuild their very own Muunilist 10, and to do that, you gotta buy a few packs.

I may be wrong in assuming this, but given the option of the Hunt for Grievous set and the Skirmish in the Senate set, which is cooler? I thought the Grievous set was one of the most amazing ideas of the year, if a no-brainer, and that the Target one, while cool, was kinda lame.

But this is all really moot. You saw it? Well, good for you. You're covered. Stop complaining and move aside for the fans who actually never saw it.

4. Over the last few years Hasbro proved there are no boundaries to what they'll produce figures from like Expanded universe, Concept art, Christmas cards. They even made 2 George Lucas figures that were never in the films and one that was. Do you think they'll ever make "Behind the scenes" figures? Like a R2-D2 figure with a dome that comes off and a Kenny Baker figure inside or C-3PO, Chewbacca, Vader, Fett, and Wicket with removable masks showing the actor underneath. They could even make a Yoda with Frank Oz operating him. With all the interest in "making of" DVD features and the actors still doing autograph signings at conventions I'll bet these figures would sell.
--djblank

I wish! In 2002, Hasbro told me that while they mentioned they would like to do a George the Director figure, they were told it wasn't something that would fit in the Star Wars toy universe. I don't recall if this was a Hasbro edict or a Lucasfilm edict, but either way, I wouldn't hold your breath.

So, behind the scenes figures? It'd be cool. But I doubt it. There's a chance-- I mean, we got a Death Star Gunner with removable helmet, after all. As collector figures go, these would be interesting-- and might make for a good Bust-Up, but as far as action figures it might be a little freaky. If you're a kid and you go to buy a Yoda and it comes with a bald guy essentially fisting him, I don't think that's exactly the best image for the Star Wars brand. Similarly, ripping off R2-D2's or Wicket's head and seeing a man's head in there may not be the best representation of the characters. Plus I think I speak for many Ewok fans when I say if we ever get a new Wicket, I'd like it to be a nice, plain, normal figure and a much-needed upgrade to the POTF2 figure.

5. I bought a 1990's AT-AT on ebay loose and I can't figure out where the square thing on the other side of the grappling gun goes. I can't see it just hanging loose like mine is now being correct is it?
--Two

When in doubt, consult the manual. (Or as they said at my last job, RTFM.) All you need to do to find these-- or any instructions-- is to go to Hasbro's Instructions Archive and punch in "AT-AT." Basically, the thing is a spool for the string to be stored. It's a little funky, but it does indeed serve a purpose.

6. I, along with everyone else, was one of the million collectors that was looking forward to Sideshow's 12 inch line when it was first announced. But unlike everyone else, I was the only one who was crushed to see that they suffered from the same symptoms as Hasbro's past efforts; namely huge heads.

My question is this. It's now pretty clear that I'm going to have to rely on Medicom to satiate my appetite for quality, correctly proprtioned Star Wars sixth-scale figures. I was thrilled to see the recent announcement of the upcoming Fett, Clone and Shadow Trooper, but whatever happened to the planned Real Action Heroes Anakin Skywalker? I distinctly remember news that they were planning on one, but I haven't seen anything since?
--Se

Different strokes for different folks. Hasbro's oddly sized rotocast heads were the bane of the line for years, and then they shrunk a little. Today, well, things are different and arguably better, but I know a lot of people complaining about the RAH line as well. As to the whereabouts of Anakin, I missed the memo on that one. It's possible it was planned, but watching Japanese toys be developed I see that they often announce things way too early and they either aren't due for a few months, or just never come out. All you can really do is wait for official photography or preorders.

7. I love the Titanium Figures but what is it with all that packaging!? With limited storage/display space, the size of the packaging is important to me. Do you think that Hasbro realises this when designing new products specifically aimed at the collector market? I have decided not to collect the Titanium figures, not because I don't want them, but because they take up far too much room for what essential is a 3 3/4 inch figure. Hasbro ... please keep it small and you will keep me buying!
--Jonathan

Packaging is very important for Hasbro, because in a lot of cases, that's what you're paying for. In the case of the Titanium Figures, you're looking at what is essentially the same as a $7 figure with fewer moving parts. And it's my understanding die-cast metal is pretty darned cheap. The packaging is sort of a "value added" thing, so the sea-monkeys tank it comes in, keeps the dust off, and generally makes it look pretty serves a number of functions. It's like the very large plexiglass cases for the Code 3 vehicles, but on a smaller scale. The cases exist to make the item look better than it actually is, possibly extending the amount of buyers beyond hardcore fans to incorporate people who just like Star Wars and buy, at best, twenty or thirty bucks worth of stuff a year. (They're important too.)

Much like the vintage figures. (Here's a secret, folks: we're being charged for the fancy packaging. There's nothing to make these things any more expensive than a regular figure in most cases.)At $15 or more each, it's pretty obvious these aren't a great value... but at $10? They aren't too bad.

By and large, I don't think Hasbro is keeping the "one of everything" club in mind when it comes to product design because we're a minority. Even the vocal fans who constantly complain that Hasbro isn't making Figure X or Vehicle Y don't collect them all anymore. As such, tailoring the line to appeal to a minority who generally buys everything without a lot of extra thought isn't a good idea for them when what they're attempting to do with Titanium is broaden the collector base. (Another secret: Titanium is Hot Wheels for nerds. [And yes, I'm a huge nerd.])

8. Adam, it seemed like the figures were heading in the right direction with super articulated ROTS troopers and especially Obi-Wan red pilot. Why aren't all figures heading this direction?
--Nicole

The usual answer I give on this focuses on how Hasbro does articulation on a per-figure basis, balancing costs of the assortment, the cost of the figure, and the need of that particular design in mind when deciding what the figure needs. Sometimes, I even go on about how Hasbro, due to time, makes a figure in a rush and realizes later that it would be sensible to make a new super-articulated version since the demand exists. But today, here's a picture of Sam.

Look at 'im. He's so fat! Awwww. So fat.

9. Can you clarify where the Darth Vader Sith Starfighter originates from? My wife says that Anakin flies it to Mustafar, but I don't see when he'd have had the time to paint his Starfighter in black. Is this from the expanded universe, like the novels, or is it actually in the movie?
--David

Well, I gotta say I didn't read all the novels-- but it is more or less from them. So while I know it comes from a specific book, I don't believe it went into the ins and outs of its creation and painting. From the look of things, the design Hasbro is using is really there own, not based on the cover of the Dark Lord novel. A significant amount of the vehicles coming later this year are from non-movie sources, despite what the boxes may say.

There's no evidence that Anakin's green fighter (which may have been Saesee Tiin's fighter) was ever removed from Mustafar as far as I know, so for all I know it still being there is a future comic book's plot point.

10. What happened to the rumored battle of yavin wave?Any word from hasbro?
--John

Keep in mind this was written before Comic-Con. (The whole column, I mean.)

If you haven't heard of a figure, seen pictures, or seen a pre-order at a major toy site, that means it hasn't been announced and is, as you say, a rumor. Fans sometimes make things up, other times they hear a nugget of truth and it gets out-- but Hasbro changed their mind and never meant for you to hear it. (Before you cry, hundreds of toy concepts get thrown out every year, it's the nature of the business.)

As such, the Battle of Yavin wave-- and any wave you hear about-- may or may not be happening. The reason you haven't heard about it is because there's no official word on it. You'll just have to wait like the rest of us for the official word! It's not uncommon for Hasbro to develop a figure, and swap it out for a later release for whatever reasons the market may have. (A well-publicized such delay was when the Ewok 2-pack was delayed several waves so Hasbro would crank out Grand Moff Tarkin early in 1997, or so I heard through the grapevine.)

FIN

So, just got back from San Diego. The questions and answers above, I wrote a week and change back so if there's something that's obviously out of date, well, there ya go.

Mystery figure. Big surprise, eh? For the record, they have different head sculpts. I got to play with 'em, I can assure you of this. The removable helmets are made of a plastic not unlike that of the Rebel Pilots 3-pack from a while back, so it's pretty good. And you can see through the visor.

I've heard a lot of complaints, and while I'm sick of most complaining these days, one does make good sense: why give awesome figures like Kitik Keed'kak, a new Aurra Sing, and Mace Windu's R2 unit to Wal-Mart as exclusives? I'm one of the few people that probably loves a good repaint-- I like seeing clever uses of old molds to make a new toy. It's a shame that, by and large, Wal-Mart exclusives remain some of the toughest to get despite being in one of the biggest stores in the country. Is it scalpers? Poor distribution? I don't know. But, I agree-- it's the big problem facing us in Q4 unless Hasbro releases them by the bushel. There's no excuse for any company to not want to take our money these days, especially when the product is GOOD. This is a complaint I can understand, because, well, if you want a figure, what possible reason should there be for you not getting it? (Me, I'm giddy over the Aurra Sing and Purple R2 droid. Both excellent figures. And I cross my fingers for a green redeco of Ms. Keed'kak.)

And the complaints about the "April Fool's" wave? Well, I laughed. Since the hobby for most fans these days seems to be complaining about the hobby instead of enjoying it, you gotta admit, it's funny stuff. There's not enough of us out there to make a lot of figures sensible as releases these days. Plus Diamond's got that Imperial Officers pack. If that doesn't make your year, nothing will and you should do yourself a favor and get out of the hobby.

Unfortunately, the vocal minority-- which hates everything-- is getting louder, while a silent group that's more or less happy with things doesn't say a lot. Seeing as how Star Wars has survived 11 years in the modern toy world, which is no small feat, I know I'm a little bit beyond the "let's complain about everything" phase and more on the "well, let's enjoy it while it lasts or until I get bored" phase. Just call me overly optimistic when I see 3 new, never-before-made Astromechs, some requested Clone repaints, the requested Holo Cody, 4 Imperial officers, and the remaining Republic Commando figures. (Anyone still whining about the knees? Really? Why?) I also got to see some complaints about the price of the Commando 7-pack, which is about $34. You people, there's no pleasing as 4 new figures (or new enough) with 3 repacks is a bargain for that price. Oh yeah, and Hasbro's making TWO new Tarkins. Holy cow, even for repaints that's freaking impressive.

There's so much good stuff coming out that all I can really complain about is the likely poor distribution of Wal-Mart exclusives as of late. But hey, that's not Hasbro's problem. I'm happy-ish, I just want more Unleashed Battle Bases. (At a lower price point.) Maybe I'm just too old-- when it comes to my hobby, I just don't like spending all day arguing with people who it seems can never enjoy what it is they have and have to dwell on things they'll end up buying anyway despite claiming are garbage. I doubt the notion of comic book 2-packs will appeal to everybody, but man, this combines two of my favorite things together. "Star Wars" and "The Crazy." $10 for 2 figures is a good deal, and two figures with a comic book for $10 is a bargain-- remember, the going rate of a full-size Star Wars comic book is about $3 these days. Even though it's a reprint, a $7 figure, another $7 figure, and a $3 comic is a good value for $10 unless you don't appreciate "the crazy."

The next year's worth of Expanded Universe toys easily trump the previous 10 years, so hey, let's make the most of it, buy what we like, and pass on the rest. It's not like a bright orange Rebel Fleet Trooper was ever going to really be Gargan or a dead Jawa anyway.

(And if you think I'm saying this just because I'm hoping the line goes long enough for Marvel #96 with Luke and Lumiya, #97 with Den Siva and Dani, #102 with Luke and Kiro, and #103 with Leia and Tai... uh... you'd be partially right. The humor in He-Man Luke from #107 wouldn't be lost on me either.)

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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