Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 9, 2006
1. Just a thought with a question inside of it...I think (I'm on a bit of a rant lately). When Hasbro's Q+A always defaults to ' we won't make that because it never happened in the movies', I groan. Or if they say they 'wouldn't think of making a Chewie with a Peter Mayhew head under the mask' (removable of course), I wonder. This is a bit of hypocracy. Was George ever in a Stormtrooper disguise or an X-wing pilot in the movies? If he was a stand in, then it opens the door to a Boba figure with Jeremy's head sculpt underneath, doesn't it? If he didn't don armor or a pilot suit then why is that an exception. I believe the last Q+A asked about a ship from a video game and they said it wasn't in the movies, so no they won't consider it. That storm trooper scout ship thing (circa 1995) wasn't in the movies nor luke with a 'sport skiff'. I am not saying I care if some of these things are done...I just grow tired of the answers.
You tire of the answers? How do you think I feel about being asked all the time like I have something to do with this? They don't pay me to nod and pretend to care after 50 times, you know. (Or pay me at all.) There's like 300 Hasbro Star Wars items this year between lightsabers, Unleashed, roleplay guns, battle packs, vehicles, exclusives, 100+ action figures, Transformers, Titanium series everythings... I'd say that you should just suck it up and enjoy the dozens or hundreds of items this year that you do like, but with most emails like this one, I generally assume I've lost you after "tire."
I had a big long answer here but then I remembered, you've already heard the answers. So here's the (unfortunately) shortest one I could muster: until 2005, Hasbro tried to make all product look like it fit in with the films. It didn't have to be in the movies, nobody said it did. After all, there are dozens of figures, vehicles, and accessories that never appeared in the movies and Kenner made "Expanded Universe" items since the late 1970s with original concepts (or things from concept art) like the Imperial Troop Transport and the ever-popular Mini-Rigs.
Chewie with Peter Mayhew's head is an interesting idea, but it doesn't present the character well. I know it sounds like a corporate BS answer, but hear me out. You're a parent. You buy a toy for your kid. The kid gets the Wookiee home and the head falls off, and underneath is an old guy with black eye makeup and long stringy hair. It destroys the illusion of the character pretty quickly. (A lot of fans complained about Trilogy Troopers with removable heads to reveal Jango. Imagine that with every character when you're a kid. It sucks the magic away pretty damn quick.)
The Georgetrooper is a collectible. Don't read anything into it, it's "hey-let's-do-this-it-sounds-cool." Most toy lines come from the angle of what makes a neat/amusing toy, and Hasbro has been given the OK from Lucasfilm to push the borders of what they can do from the movies and beyond. Which I dig.
EU vehicles are not impossible. I have a Swoop and an Outrider here that both say that it is very possible to do given the right media exposure... which most EU vehicles fans ask for do not have and will likely never get. I hold to my point that a random vehicle from a comic book that nobody knows without having to look it up on Wookieepedia or something is a poor choice for the line, though. If you have absolutely zero recognition of the name (or the picture), it's not going to be as exciting as something you might actually recognize. A lot of fans ask for things because they think it's a clever request, not because it's something they're actually wanting to get or think will be popular.
2. Hasbro is releasing a ralph mcquire concept each wave apparently, i dont see why they arn't relesing a kotor each wave considering there popularity. The concept designs are aimed at collectors as would kotor and they would proabaly sell better aswell, so can u help explain this to me because the rankings in toyfare suggest this would be a better thing 2 do?
Hasbro has released a few figures and vehicles based on Ralph McQuarrie's designs, and they know how they did-- and are making new items based on that. Hasbro has yet to test the waters with characters that exist solely in video games, and as of today, the number of potential customers who would buy a new Darth Vader or Chewbacca based on concept art is probably significantly higher than those who played through either Knights of the Old Republic game and know of the cast. But it's not "either/or," it's "let's do this now and do more later." As seen by the frequently plugged Figure of the Day column on the front page, Hasbro has made (and will continue to make) hundreds of figures.
Also, do remember that online fans in polls can organize, and there's no way to know what people will spend their money on yet. Lots of people say "I will buy one of these" if they aren't required to put their money where their mouth is. Many fans said they'd buy a Mace Windu Jedi Starfighter, the Unleashed figures they didn't yet buy if Hasbro reissued them, a B-wing, Kir Kanos, Clone Wars Gunship, and so on. Did you? It's a tricky place to be because toy collectors will ask for everything and the number of them who will actually always pay up are minimal. (I'm not saying any idea is a good one or a bad one, or any of these ideas were good/bad sellers, I'm just trying to say that just because we as fans ask for something doesn't always mean we'll buy it.)
If the figures from KOTOR do well, I hope Hasbro makes an entire wave (or 2, or 3) of game-based characters because it's a sensible thing to do. It looks like Hasbro is pleasantly semi-surprised to see the outpouring of love for non-movie characters, and the sales of 2006 figures like Foul Moudama and Scorch seem to indicate that yes, non-movie figures can sell well in today's market. But seeing as Ralph McQuarrie's designs have been known by fans for nearly 30 years, fans have been begging for them since a least 1996 or 1997, and so on, it makes sense to do McQuarrie stuff first. Oh, and also because they're already pretty much fully designed and already in production for next year. There's that too.
Plus, we were introduced to Thrawn and most of the Expanded Universe figures we got in 1998... in 1991. It took seven years to get figures. KOTOR came out in, what, 2003? It hasn't even been 4 years yet. Patience. It takes time to get some figures if it isn't part of an initial marketing blitzkrieg.
Finally, ToyFare's poll reached a very specific audience-- Star Wars fans who read certain websites (and ToyFare readers) that can vote on the Internet. Not all fans knew about the poll until after the fact, believe it or not, because not all collectors and buyers are people like me (and I presume, you) who keep tabs on everything that happens in the line. The "Fan's Choice" slot is designed to be one of the token "this is for the hardcore collectors" slots in a case, and just because the hardest of the hardcore fans wants something doesn't mean it will translate to mainstream sales. The ToyFare poll shows what hardcore fans online want, and this may (or may not) mean they're right. Look at previous Fan's Choice polls... some of the figures did really well, and others... well, didn't unless Hasbro deliberately made fewer of them. Most fans constantly whine that Darth Vader is a horrible pegwarmer, but you know what? He sold a hell of a lot faster than a lot of figures this year, and Hasbro has made four different carded Vaders in 2006 so far.
3. As part of Galactic Hunter's Comicon coverage this past July, there is a picture of a 3" Titanium Series Obi-Wan's RED Jedi Starfighter (like the one included in the 5-Pack with a raw metal AT-RT) in a 3" Titanium Series Anakin's Green Jedi Starfighter packaging. Does Hasbro plan on releasing Obi-Wan's Red Jedi Starfighter? If so, when? Most of the other Titanium items pictured with it are already scheduled for release and are readily available for pre-order.
Hasbro has yet to announce it at this point, assuming it wasn't an error, but it's not unique in the sense of not being announced yet. Our coverage also shows a Dagobah X-Wing, AT-TE, Dewback, etc. Let's wait and see what the future assortments bring us as there's a new one every month or two. But it could just be an error, too.
4. Hello. So I found the Dud Bolt/Mars Guo 2-pack today. The figures are among my new favorites, but I couldn't help but laugh when I opened them and saw that Dud Bolt's chin strap was IN HIS MOUTH like a ball gag. After laughing at the idea of some Chinese factory worker getting his small bit of revenge against his employers, and after I looked at the Rebelscum photo archives, I started to wonder: Are they all like that? According to the starwars.com databank...
... it's clearly a chinstrap. So are there any carded ones that won't make me think of Pulp Fiction?
It's hard to see it in Hasbro's official photography, but yes, it is supposed to be a chinstrap-- and it isn't. I just got mine last week, and it's obvious that it was sculpted to be a chinstrap. There's a little groove in it for his chin to rest in, but the plastic is so tight that it seems if you stretch it to go over his chin, it's probably going to break. The helmet can be removed, and you can reposition the "ball gag" so it rests under his jaw, but it's not going to fit snuggly like in the picture. (Or at least, mine couldn't be moved like that.)
But looking at his outfit... well, I'm not one to judge alternate lifestyles.
5. I have had a question for you and since you touched on Zutton in this latest Q&A (10/02/06), I will ask it now. To date, 5 Snivvians have been made. We all know that Takeel appears in A New Hope and Zutton appears in the Holiday Special. The vintage Snaggletooths (Snaggleteeth) are versions of Takeel, right? They appear in the cantina in A New Hope, right? They certainly bear more resemblance to Takeel. So then the only conclusion is that the vintage blue snaggletooth is Takeel and when Hasbro wanted to make a modern tribute to blue snaggletooth, they made it of the wrong figure, Zutton! Is this correct?
Over the years I've read many articles on Snaggletooth and his origins and I'm finding a lot of things contradict one another. So right now, there have been 3 modern era Snivvians-- Takeel from the Cinema Scenes set, Zutton from Power of the Jedi, and of course the blue version of Zutton from the OTC line.
The vintage Kenner Blue Snaggletooth was a goof-- Kenner said they were working from black and white stills and roughed in a lot of the detail. (Ditto with Walrus Man and Greedo and Hammerhead.) So the "corrected" red one came later. The belt of the vintage figure is unmistakably Zutton's, so some of the quotes on the Databank Page for Snivvian seem questionable. It seems unlikely that all they had was a head due to the distinctive buckle on his belt, right?
The Blue Snaggletooth is a tribute to an error, so trying to read too much into it might not be especially useful. The original figure had the infamous Zutton Belt Buckle, so if you ask me, Hasbro did it right. But what about that original Kenner Snaggletooth? It seems he's a little bit of Zutton and a little bit of Takeel, but the real intent is a little hard to nail down because of when he was released and the fact his fellow Cantina figures were also largely inaccurate. There's room for debate in the vintage line, but it seems the modern line is A-OK. After all, Vintage Snaggletooth does have Zutton's photo on the packaging (as far as I can tell.)
Now where's my Wiorkettle and Geezum figures?
6. With Hasbro introducing the Marvel/Dark Horse type figures [great idea]. Would'nt this be a great time to re-intro the vintage Droids and Ewoks series of figures in waves or spurts?
As animated figures don't fit in with the current aesthetic of the line, I have my doubts we'd ever see them. I wish we could, though-- but I have doubts they'd be good sellers. The likes of Jann Tosh, Jord Dusat, Thall Joben, and Uncle Gundy aren't very high on a lot of wish lists, although I know I'd be first in line to pick them up even if they were sculpted in a "realistic" style. I mean, if they can sneak a Dulok into the Clone Wars cartoon, maybe there's still hope yet?
Like KOTOR, if fans want it, I hope they ask for it. I know I want to see a "realistic" Vlix like nobody's business and am crossing my fingers for the Fromm Gang to appear in the new cartoons, but I'm not what you would call optimistic. Hear that, Hasbro? VLIX. (Do it.)
7. I have opened my SAGA and CLONE WARS Rebublic Gunships and put them together
for display. Now I want to disassemble and pack them away for a while to
make room for new items. Problem is, the large side wings do not seem to
pop off as easily as the other items on the ship. Do you know if the wings
are removable or are they now attached forever? I would hate to finally
pull them off an see the plastic connectors all busted up!
While I have managed to pop wings off once, it isn't something I would advise you to do-- the plastic doesn't look strong enough to survive a lot of stress. Hasbro designs most larger toys to come apart (rather than break) under stress, but if you're going to pack them away I would advise you just get some other, larger box to keep them in. Better safe than sorry, your Gunships are worth a lot these days!
8. I was wondering if you knew why they never made a Smuggler Lando figure. Where's Lando in the outfit he was wearing at the end of ESB when he and Chewie go looking for Han? Come on Hasbro. I need more Lando!
By and large Lando tends to not be a great seller, and this particular figure seems to be a more a "why don't you do this, it's easy" request than a "I really want to buy one of these because it's awesome" request. I agree it'd be nice to see it as there are precious few new characters to do from Empire Strikes Back of any significance, but it seems most fans really don't want him as much as other things.
9. I recently bought the Master Replicas FX ROTS Anakin Skywalker light saber at Borders Books. Then the other day, I got an e-mail from Master Replicas to order the new FX ESB Luke Skywalker light saber. I ordered the Luke version without thinking about it, but later question whether or not the Anakin & Luke saber are one in the same? Obi-Wan took AnakinÕs saber on Mustafar and eventually he gave it to Luke years later, however Luke didnÕt really use the saber until Empire, hence itÕs the same saber. If this is true then is Master Replicas just blatantly ripping people off? Did I just shell out $119.00 for a box with a different name on it? I feel like the Jedi Mind trick was used on me! Any ŌlightÕ you can shed on this quandary would be quite helpful.
For the purpose of the story, in theory, the same lightsaber goes from Anakin to Obi-Wan to Luke before it gets hacked off in Empire Strikes Back. However, the props were a little different in the movies, and the idea is that each movie's prop looks a little different-- so these items should be basically just different enough to make you mad. Darth Vader's lightsaber changes just a little from movie to movie, too, it's subtle but something Master Replicas wisely picked up on when making these items.
10. I think that Ian McDiarmid stole the show in Sith and
was the best actor throughout the entire 6 film saga hands down. He's
rumored to bein the new Star Wars series and fans are dying to find
out more about his back story. So any possible love for the most evil
of them all? Will Hasbro or someone else makes something that could
replicate his creepy voice during Anakin's transformation into Vader?
Will Sideshow will deliver a spot on, likeness of Papaltine with
multiple heads, robes, etc?
There's a fine line between "importance" and "marketability." Around Episode I, a lot of fans pointed to Mace Windu and said "he's a main character" because he's the leader of the Jedi Council. I've heard the same argument for Mon Mothma-- yes, she's the head of the Rebellion. Your role in a fake intergalactic government unfortunately has nothing to do with how well your figures sell, or how many figures you get. I'm still waiting for Diamond Select Toys to make a decent Grand Nagus Zek figure. He's the friggin' Grand Nagus, and he's not getting any love. But I digress.
Palpatine is the big villain of the saga, but merchandise based on him tends to be less popular and harder to sell. Sad but true! The world is still waiting for a proper "Yoda Duel" Emperor, an electronic Palpatine lightsaber, a Trilogy-based Emperor with soft goods so he can stand and sit well, and so on and so forth. However, in 2005, Hasbro did quite a few-- there's a Chancellor figure, a 12-inch figure, a robed Emperor, a transforming Emperor, an electronic deluxe Emperor, a dueling Emperor, and maybe I forgot one or two in there. So they did at least six within a very short time frame. But here's hoping we might someday see some more really good toys based on the most evil Sith of all!
Almost time for a break from Q&A? I'm thinking so, yes.
So, I just hit up a new Target here in LA shortly before I posted this. It was two stories, in a mall, and the toy aisle was right by the entrance. (As many a Target are doing away with the notion of the Gardening
Shortcut Center, this is nice.) It was quite unpleasant to get a parking spot (and find the entrance of the damn store) but the reason I'm blathering on this is to inform you that the Snowspeeder with Zev and the Kit Fisto's Jedi Starfighter are apparently getting put out, and in huge crazy numbers. So if your store has been holding them in the back and won't get them for you, have faith, and go to Target again. (Or just find a new one.)
Kit's Starfighter is (for the moment) still in the box. (Today was also a good day for Cybertron toys, you see. Sales and all.) Zev's Snowspeeder is pretty spiffy for a toy that's basically been rereleased three times since its debut in 1980 or so, with each one having some significant change. This one is particularly neat in that the battery compartments are all gone, "air brakes" are added, and it's label-free. It's not like previous releases where you have to put on stickers, or stickers were pre-applied-- there are no stickers. Everything is paint, and boy howdy, is it nice. It's also surprisingly shiny, which doesn't do a "used Universe" vehicle justice, really. Still, it looks good. Real good. It may be the best modern Snowspeeder to date, and Zev is certainly a pretty decent figure. (I wish he was carded, too.)
The vehicle isn't particularly new, of course, being a rehash from the original days of The Empire Strikes Back, but I think it's well worth snagging if you have $30 burning a hole in your pocket. After having seen the POTF2 one for $20 with electronics, and the POTJ one with two figures for about $30, this release for $30 with one figure and no spiffy extras seems a little bit like overkill.
Word on the street is that Kit Fisto's Jedi Starfigher (that's what the box says) isn't very good for your figures. The box (which is labeled "Clone Wars) shows the shirtless swimming version of the green Jedi in the pilot's seat, and I've heard you basically need to pop off the Revenge of the Sith version's leg off to get him to fit. As many of you know, I'm pretty happy when it comes to Star Wars toys, and little things like a wrong color here or there on a belt or an iffy paint op usually don't bother me too much-- because these are toys for kids, not a bust or a statue for the adult collector. But it goes both ways-- these are toys for kids, and it isn't too much to ask that Hasbro try just a little bit harder to make sure action figures are compatible with vehicles and playsets. I'm not asking for G.I. Joe-level articulation here, just make it so a figure can sit properly. I'm actually a little worried that next year's now-confirmed Sith Infiltrator might not be able to seat most Darth Maul action figures. (Actually, I take that back. I'm absolutely sure it won't be able to seat most Darth Maul figures. I hope they put one out alongside the vehicle that will fit properly. I'm willing to let a lot not bother me, but I actually open up my toys so for me, this is important dagnabbit.)
I also want to hear Man or Astro-Man is putting out a new album. Or Shellac. But I'm not optimistic.
Oh, and for my last mini-rant today-- as I had many-- I know some of you have written in wondering why I don't get more demanding for figures I don't yet see in production. The reason is simple: I'm OK with Hasbro dragging their feet to make my most wanted characters. Why? It's in my best interests to wait. If Hasbro made everything I wanted in 1996, I'd have my Lumiya, but she'd be beefy and mannish. With each passing year, figures get better and better. And after the 1998 Mara Jade, can most fans honestly say they didn't wish Hasbro got to her a little later? So, patience is pretty good if you're in the line for the long haul.
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.)
Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!