Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 23, 2006


1. I know Hasbro gave us a sneak peak at whats coming next year for the titanium line, but is that all there will be or is there a chance that there maybe more vehicles included in the two inch line. I dont want to sound like an unrealistic collector with his hopes up, but I want to see them make a Republic Assault Ship from Episode II for the two inch line. Do you think there is any possibility that we will see this in the near future. Its a great vehicle that has been pretty much over looked with the exception of the impossible to find Action Fleet series from 2002. Furthermore, I just wonder why no one else has brought this up yet?

I think it's very likely. At the rate Hasbro is going, the Titanium Series is going to eclipse the last "ultimate" line of vehicles in a short matter of time. Galoob's legendary MicroMachines series was the single best overall Trilogy (and Expanded Universe) vehicle toy line, but it seems that's going to change shortly. Pretty much every vehicle has been brought up as a "so when are we getting this?" item, it's a lot like figures in the sense of any sensible idea has actually been brought up at least a couple of times somewhere.

As you can only repaint so many X-wings (at least what, five?) and Gunships (four, easily), it's a very safe bet Hasbro will continue to introduce new vehicles because as far as the films go, there really aren't many left to do. I mean, just last week, I got a blue Naboo Fighter, a Star Destroyer with grey markings on it, and an ARC-170 with wacky space whale marks on it. There's a very finite number of ideas, and while I'm sure a Jedi Starfighter in X-wing colors is on the way soon, Hasbro still has a strong desire to do new molds (for now) and ships like you mentioned are going to be necessary to keep this line going between now and the time it becomes unprofitable.

2. you noted on the October 16th column that the Kir Kanos figure changed. In what way? Also, when will we see a figure of the day for the final production version?

There seem to have been a few minor changes between the "production sample" I had briefly at work in my possession, pretty much entirely in the accessories. First, the helmet-- you'll notice the ads and early web photos show it with a clear red/pink eye hole in the helmet. Heck, you can even see it here. The final figure had an added brown/black stripe to it. I believe the pleats in the cape are new-- I don't seem to remember them like they are on the final products, but it's hard to tell from the pictures I have handy. (You see, I was assuming what I had in my hands was final.) The only change to Carnor Jax might have been in the cape as well, if that was an actual change.

Odds are Kir Kanos will be a Figure of the Day at either 200 or much, much later. If anyone is interested in the FOTD based on the preproduction Carnor Jax, just click here. I don't think I'd change any of the comments I made about it since I wrote that up. Kir Kanos is pretty much identical to Carnor Jax except the head and paint job, so if you like one, you'll probably like the other.

3. With many companies such as Gentle Giant, Sideshow, Attakus having their line-up for the following year announced early at various toy shows, I have yet to hear or see anything new from Kotobukiya for 2007. To my surprise, everything we saw at the latest shows have already been released with the exception of C-3P0 and R2-D2 scheduled sometime in November or December. So, my simple question to you is have you heard anything even rumours that gives up some hope to future Star Wars merchandise from Kotobukiya?

Koto likes to play it close to the vest. How close? Well, we saw Bespin Luke, R2-D2 & C-3PO, and others at Toy Fair in February. They don't do too many big announcements, so odds are we'll be hearing more soon. (Unless their license is up, which I don't believe I've heard anything about yet.)

4. What are the odds of the final couple of waves of SAGA2 being as much of a nightmare to find at retail as the final 12 figures were last year? Is Hasbro aware of the potential problem and taking any steps to prevent it?

Right now it looks like their solution to last year's lack of stock for holiday shipping has been to flood the market with the GB waves. This seems to be causing more problems than it solves because they're falling off the pegs while new waves of SAGA2 are nowhere to be seen. I know distribution and sales vary from city to city, but around here even the GB Shocktroopers and 501st are pegwarming.

It's not entirely known what the shipments will be like. For example, Wal-Mart last year got cases with a mix of the Final 12 and the "Separation of the Twins" sets. It's assumed Wal-Mart's exclusive wave will be packed similarly, so some of the figures will continue to ship for a few months beyond the last "normal" wave.

As far as what doesn't sell, you're exactly right-- but be careful how you define "pegwarming." One or two figures here and there isn't a problem, and here in LA, I don't see many of any clones sitting around long except for the AT-TE Gunner. (Which I didn't really like enough to "troop build" in the first place.) From your email, it's like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Some people found enough of their Clones in 2005. For those that didn't, Hasbro reissued them. And now you're complaining Hasbro rereleased them. So what is it you people want, anyway? Due to how the items are set up at retail, this was the only option. Hasbro discontinued the Revenge of the Sith SKUs, and stores clearanced them out-- they were done. So Hasbro introduces them again as a "new" product, and we complain. Just what is the ideal solution in a situation like this? It was Hasbro's plan to discontinue Revenge of the Sith after a short time at retail because the movie lines were to run their course by the end of the year. (Bad timing, yes.)

The way I see it, other than the figures like Padme which Hasbro probably shouldn't have reissued, everything seems A-OK from where I sit. A few figures could stand to be reissued (Bly) or thrown out and improved (Gree), but it seems that everything else can be had with a little work for a pretty good price.

5. I've gotta say, I thought the whole titanium figure under a bubble idea was pretty dumb, (aside from the fact that some people apparently want these things - myself not included)
However, Han in carbonite block titanium is one I'd probably buy two of! 1 for dioramas and the other to display somewhere (work desk or something) And I'm not a big fan of purely display trinkits (hate the mini-sabers) Hey, I'll probably never have a multi-$1000 life size version (or a place to put it –well I guess if you gave me one, I'd find a place!) so a 3-3/4 version would be the closest I'd probably get. Not to mention being the only titanium (aside from maybe IG-88) that would make sense at this scale as a toy (yeah, when you "diorama build", your playing with your TOYS–it's o.k. if your o.k. with it–same as a billionire polishing all his porsche's in his garage, he's playing with his toys)
Even if it would just be a rectanguler block of metal, I'm sure it would sell better than all the Titanium Bossks cluttering up my shelves. How about an EE exclusive!

How about not? I want to keep my job. I don't need to give anyone a good reason to fire me if we have skids and skids of unsold, overpriced metal figures.

While I firmly believe there's room in the market for a 3 3/4-inch Carbonite that doesn't look like it's melting, it doesn't need to be $15-$20 and metal. As it has no action features and appeals pretty much entirely to hardcore collectors, there might not be enough of us to support such a product. But hey, some paint, some weights, and the figure from January can get you a perfect Carbonite block in a pinch. There's really no reason to do a Titanium release of it (or IG-88 for that matter), but to date, Hasbro and Kenner have released several Carbonite blocks. There's the cheap one with the Slave I from 1996-1997, there's the full one with the Han Solo Carbonite action figure (1996-1998), the fully-melted one (1998-1999), and of course the half-melted one (2006). I make dioramas too, but right now, as I see it, there are four modern Carbonites to choose from. While a metal one would be cool (har har) and maybe even a great way to do a definitive one, but if you're really all about the dioramas you've got plenty of cheaper options today. Who needs to spend $15 when you can spend $7?

6. With the Original Trilogy Commemorative Tins starting to show up in stores, I have been debating over whether or not I want to pick them up. Between all six tins, I'm finding that there are typically one or two figures in each that I actually want, and I have no interest in the tins themselves. I tend to be most interested in the troopers, which will also be the most difficult to obtain from secondary sources. I'd really like to get some of these trooper figures, but the $30 price for these sets is very prohibitive for one or even two figures.

I was wondering if you could briefly go over how the troop figures in these six sets differ from previous releases. Are any of them new sculpts, new combinations of old parts, or identical figures but for improved paint jobs? It would have me decide which ones I'd like to obtain. (Feel free to go over the other figures if you'd like, as I'm sure someone will be wondering about those, too -- if you feel like taking the time). Also, what would you best recommendation be for purchasing the troopers from these sets and the best overall price?

Well, the thing here is if you don't necessarily want something, you might want to save your money. As you've seen in recent years, Hasbro has been repackaging figures in new formats all the time. Today's tin exclusive might be tomorrow's troop builder pack, or fan's choice reissue. Anything I advise could be rendered wrong in months (or years), so you really can't ask advice on this kind of thing too easily. I might be wrong and not even know it.

In your position, here's what I would do: buy the tins, sell off what you don't want on eBay. You can probably get $5-$6 for each of the other figures in some cases, as customizers, kids, and fans who just want one or two figures might be willing to buy. You can always wait for clearances, too-- and in this case, I'd almost even advocate it. These are somewhat expensive and collector-focused, yet they are not collector-friendly.

As far as I can tell, there are no new sculpts here. They do switch up some accessories, and there are some paint variations (which we won't know all of for sure until we get final product, which I haven't yet got), but the troopers and the R2-R9 droid are the real reasons to buy these sets. Prices vary by store so you're on your own there-- but a post-holiday clearance may be in order for you if you don't mind possibly missing out. And you never know if Hasbro decided that this is a "premiere" for these figures and they'll all be carded by 2008. Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, here's the lowdown on the non-exclusive tins and why you should care:
Episode I: Darth Maul (Evolutions), Obi-Wan Kenobi (not entirely sure, looks like the 2006 Saga which is a slight resculpt), Qui-Gon (2001 Jedi Master), and R2-R9 (R4-G9 repaint). The droid is the gem of the set, but Maul is one of the best to date-- and if they fix his teeth, all the better.
Episode II: Clone Trooper (Evolutions, repaint), Jango Fett (capture claw sculpt, resculpted to remove the claw), Anakin (Evolutions), Count Dooku (Evolutions). Jango is "just different enough to make you mad" and the Clone is new but it's not-- if you want a removable helmet blue clone, now's your chance, but odds are you have a blue clone and a clone with a removable helmet.
Episode III: AT-RT Driver (repaint), Anakin Skywalker (Evolutions), Yoda (ROTS body, VOTC cloth cloak), Mace Windu (ROTS). The AT-RT driver is really the only high point here.
Episode IV: Sandtrooper (I think it's a modified Saga '06 with removable helmet), Princess Leia (Early Bird), C-3PO (VOTC), and Darth Vader (Evolutions with new torso and "Hayden"-style head under the helmet).
Episode V: Snowtrooper (OTC with removable helmet), Han Solo (Saga Hoth, no known changes), Chewbacca (Early Bird with snow deco), Luke Skywalker (Saga Hoth, but without the bloody face). This is a pretty good set overall, but it makes for at least #3 in the world of Snow Chewbaccas. (Still, it's the best sculpt yet.)
Episode VI: Princess Leia (Endor Princess Leia Collection, redeco), Endor Rebel Trooper (POTF2 sculpt with new head, removable helmet), Scout Trooper (VTSC with flip-up visor), Darth Vader (500th/Hoth/Bespin/whatever). This set has three good ones, I think it's the best of them.

7. I was wondering why Hasbro doesn't include more exclusive figures with ships. I know there's the pop-up visor BS with the new AT-AT, and Zev's snowspeeder, but there are many more missed opportunities. Look at the ARC that came out last year as a Sam's Club exclusive had 4 repacked figs - Clone pilots and R2-D2. How hard would it have been for them to swap out say, the blue paint for orange when running the R2 mold to give us a new figure? Or in one of the rumored re-releases of this ship for next year, why not run R4-P17 but with green paint instead of the red, as it appeared in the movie? Seems like a cheap way to get figure collectors to go for ships. Or are vehicle sales such that pack-in figures don't really affect sales that much?

Since I was curious, I followed-up with Kevin and asked him if he personally wanted more vehicles with figures, or would rather have them alone. The long and short of it seems to be "maybe."

Last year's exclusive ARC-- and a lot of exclusive product for Warehouse Stores--- are just packaging together existing products at a lower price because Costco or Sam's Club buys SO MUCH QUANTITY that they can sell a vehicle with three or six figures for less than the price of just the vehicle somewhere else. So when it comes to those big multi-packs, those aren't for collectors, or even kids really-- that's for bargain-hunting gift-givers. That, and collectors would be furious if there was a club-exclusive droid in a bundle with several other toys they already had and didn't want.

The pack-in with a vehicle to me is a real mixed blessing. I'm very pleased to have Zev's Snowspeeder, and even more pleased it came with Zev-- but I'd buy the vehicle either way since they retooled it enough to be interesting. As a kid, I thought about this a lot-- because it was Star Wars (with no pack-in figures) vs. G.I. Joe (with lots of them). I preferred no pack-ins because sometimes, all I wanted was the figure and sometimes, all I wanted was the vehicle. I don't like being "forced" to buy something. If I want a Speederbike, I might want to give it to Paploo and not to a Scout Trooper. Or maybe even to Luke.

Plus, I also believe there's more money to be made by splitting things up. I might buy more vehicles, or more figures, if given the option to pick and choose what I want. For example, I want all the Astromechs I can get-- and in many cases, extras. I don't want to have to buy anything (save for maybe more Droids) just to get an extra. In the case of the Tatooine Skiff, I don't want two Luke figures.

As a fan, my recurring complaint is I just want to buy the toys I want. I have money. But at least make me feel I'm getting my money's worth. While I didn't want to have to buy the AT-AT just for the Scout Trooper, Hasbro did me one better and gave me a slight redeco, thus making it interesting to me. (Yes, I like vehicles SO MUCH I'll rebuy them with battle damage and dirt.) But the thing is, I, like many of you, would probably buy several of the Scout Trooper that came with it-- that's money Hasbro is leaving on the table. Sure, they got me to buy an AT-AT, but I'd have bought it anyway.

I do not want to see existing vehicles with new figures. If they change the vehicle, sure, it's something I can deal with-- but by and large, in a perfect world, Hasbro should just sell vehicles by themselves, and figures by themselves. We'll buy what we need, be it TIE Pilots, Hoth Rebels, or Droids. Just make them available to us. (I mean, does anyone really want to have to re-buy something like the same Y-wing two or three times over to get an astromech repaint or a new pilot?) As far as I can tell, the market can support up to 100 (or more) figures a year, so this isn't too big of a challenge. Especially in a year like this where we got exactly 0 Rebel Pilots in the regular basic figure line.

8. With the "perfect" rebel pilot mold complete, is it conceiveable that Hasbro would make a battlepack of 4 Rebel pilots available, with just modifications on hair color and helmet detailing... easy to do... and I would assume that this would be appealing to anyone interested in collecting. I have seen many of the visual dictionaries and other info books that have several examples of helmet detailing that Hasbro could utilize in developing this.

We haven't quite hit perfection yet-- but we're getting there. I actually am not sure which body you're referring to in this question. The Vintage Saga Luke is very good, and the modified Zev figure is also very good.

If what you want is a series of generic pilots, there's no reason Hasbro couldn't do one, but pilots by and large aren't the most visually exciting figures. A four-pack might be a dangerous item to sell because, despite being 4 new and unique characters, they all look a lot alike. If there was a way to do it as a limited release item (and I mean more limited than most exclusives), it's be an awesome, no-brainer product that we'd all run out and buy 2-3 of. Plus with Hasbro packing pilots with so many vehicles, the demand/need for them isn't terribly high outside diorama builders, which makes it a bit of a niche product.

I wouldn't like to see a set just because it means it'll likely be a lazy set. Some pilots are taller, others are shorter. Some are fat, some are thin. The costumes are a little different, and new head sculpts would be required to make good figures-- I don't want more "generic" pilot faces like we got with the Y-wings and the Red Leader X-wing. Hasbro can (and does) do better. Zev, despite using some existing parts, is a stellar release and I hope to someday see a Luke from this mold. (Or a carded Zev so I can give him a Luke head.)

And frankly, I'm more than a little upset that we've had 3 Wedge Antilles figures and every single one of them is an old figure with a new head-- is a new sculpt too much to ask? Hopefully Hasbro will take pity on me in 2007 and give me a carded one with a coin that's actually new.

If there's one thing I've learned in this hobby, is that it's good to be here for the long haul-- and be patient. If Hasbro decided in 1998 that it was good to do a bunch of Astromechs, our R2-X2 and R3-T6 might have been based on that now-awful 1995 R2-D2 mold. We're better off for pilot bodies than we were a few years ago, but some fans think Dutch is the best sculpt-- I don't know if I'd agree. I'm fine waiting to see what Hasbro does, because now that we finally got a Zev, it's pretty good. I'm in no rush to get more pilots if it means each new one is actually a good figure, and the two Rebel Pilots released so far in 2006 are both very good ones indeed. (I kinda wish they gave us one in the tins, though. New characters > generic Rebel troopers, especially since the Endor ones are so abundant and have so many different faces.)

9. What's the difference between the Rubies Premium Darth Vader Helmet Replica and the Master Replicas Studio Scale Darth Vader Helmet coming out next month? How were separate licensees allowed to release such similar products in such a short span of time?

There's a fine line between costume and prop replica, and I don't know how the licensing works-- as Rubie's has made some high-dollar replica items as well in the past. More than likely, they were just different enough to be considered OK, especially in a movie year where there's more money to be made. (That, and I'm pretty sure they're just different enough to make you mad.)

10. I just finished watching the second disc of the Clone Wars animated series and I am wondering why Hasbro has not tapped into this series for more figures. Around here the Clone Wars figures are/were much tougher to find than any current figure. Does it all come down to them not wanting to spend $ on a new mold for what may be considered a niche market? I know my nephews love these figures more than the regular ones, and if Ebay is a good judge collectors like them as well. SO... what is the deal???

This is what we call a "missed opportunity." Saesee Tiin in his armor, more Clones, and more ships could probably have been sold for the series that ran from 2003-2005, and thankfully, they still want to. But it'll probably be from the new show. We did get a Foul Moudama this year, but I am still hoping we'll see more-- how about a Clone Wars Tin, Hasbro? Roron Corrob, a Clone or two, armored Saesee Tiin... you'd buy one. So would I. It's not too niche a market as kids really did dig this stuff and it sold fairly well, it's just that it seems Hasbro has bazillions of things it wants to do and not enough time to do them all. I'm sure we'll see more every year, but not all at once.


That's all for this week. Slow week. This whole time of year is pretty dead which is unfortunate as I'm more or less bored and ready to go get crazy excited over new things. Were it not for Target's Snowspeeder & Kit Fisto Starfighter and EE/HTS/SWS's Kir Kanos vs. Carnor Jax set, I'd be bored to tears right now. The most exciting toy running I've done lately is to a) get a Lava Titanium Vader on clearance (as it wasn't worth $15) and b) chase after Cybertron clearance rumors which, so far, have not panned out for me. (As I want a $20 Metroplex. Who doesn't?)

I finally got "Whitey" Endor wave Rebel Troopers this week. I really like what Hasbro did here. They took the 2002 body, gave it a new neck AND head (so it has both normal "neck" articulation and a ball joint), all-new legs, and a new belt. The cool thing is that there's a communicator wire that goes from Whitey's head to a hole on his belt, and the hole is on the belt of the other variant, too. This is really cool, because you can swap heads easily (Han Carbo 2006's head fits on the body just fine), and swap parts with the 2002 Troopers to make more different unique variations of this figure. I am VERY impressed as it seems Hasbro designed this figure with customizers in mind, which is utterly fantastic if you have extras of things and say "I wanna give this jacket to this one so now I have even MORE different Rebels from Endor!"

...this is of course my only complaint, too-- enough with the Endor Rebels already! I have enough. I bought both 2002 head variants, both 2006 head variants, several of the 1998 one, and some duplicates in there-- and we have another "new" one with the tin coming out soon too. I think my vast army of Scout Troopers is like at 8 including all versions since 1996. And my ewoks? It's sad, they have so few. To compare it to other squads of Rebels, the Blockade Runner troopers have had 2 molds (1 with 1 head that sucks, 1 with 3 different heads that are good), and Hoth has given us 3 unique generic troopers so far. Boo. Hiss. More for Hoth, please!

2007 is looking like it's going to be a big year, with more battle packs, probably another 75 or so basic figures, exclusives, and so much more junk to store. I mean, love. Junk to love.

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.) My backlog is now at zero-- so next week's column will depend entirely on if you send in any questions my way. Otherwise, it's vacation time!

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