Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
November 6, 2006

 

1. Hi, i was wondering if the new BARC trooper form the saga line, is a new trooper or just a biker scout repaint?
--William

Much like last year, the year-end waves are just repacks and repaints. So it's the Vintage Saga Collection trooper at a few dollars cheaper and new deco, which isn't bad.

2. This may sound completely insane, but I noticed something strange with my Mace Windu's Attack Battallion battle pack. I picked one up today, and it came straight from the case. When I got home, and was holding it close to get a good look at it, I started to notice a strange odor. After moving the box around, I noticed that the odor is strongest near where the flap opens if one were to open it. It has a weird paint/chemical/minty smell, for lack of any specific term. Now, from my years of collecting, I know some figures have a distinct odor when you first open them, but this is the first time I have ever experienced anything like this coming through the package. My thought is that perhaps it's the purple paint, as I don't recall any other Star Wars figure with this shade of purple, so it's not something that would have been noticed before. I don't know if you have one of these yet, but if you do, does it have a strong paint like smell as well, or did I "luck out" and get some freak mistake that will prompt me to have to track down another one. And I swear, I'm not crazy!
--Charlie

You might consider returning it-- so far, I have yet to hear of any such olfactory reports, nor have I experienced it for myself. It's possible someone did something to it during shipping? It certainly does sound peculiar, but yes, it does appear you are "lucky."

3. I know your primary emphasis on collecting is figures and their accessories, but I was just wondering if you have any other Star Wars favorite items? Do you get into the books, comics, posters, cards, bedding or food products or other items or is it just too much? Also what is your most unusual or rare item you own that is not associated with the Hasbro/Kenner products?
--Dan

I'm also a very big fan of Dark Horse's and Marvel's comics, I was a big fan of the trading cards, and pretty much everything Hasbro makes. Like most fans, I pick up a lot of odds and ends, but the current glut of merchandise has taken the fun out of collecting everything. Back when they were doing Bend-Em's, those were exciting, as were Action Masters. But today, when buying certain sets just to "collect them all" is a chore at times, I don't even want to look at the other stuff.

My most unusual non-toy item? Hmm. Well, it's not too unusual, but there was this bank in Australia that gave away an R2-D2 bank to people who opened new accounts in the 1970's. After hearing about that I decided I should have one of these, and I do.

I'd probably branch out and buy all the Gentle Giant stuff too, but I just started getting the Maquettes and I think those are pretty great. Most of my collecting outside Star Wars toys is actually other toys-- Transformers, Playmobil, Zoids, G.I. Joe, etc. My attention span for a new toy/statue/whatever is pretty much the same so it makes sense for me to buy stuff that's usually pretty cheap.

(Although right now, my most-wanted new announcement is for Topps to announce a fourth series of its Star Wars Galaxy trading card series. I loved it to death and would gladly put up with the ridiculousness of the trading card market to get another series of New Visions and bizarre concept art.)

4. Are sites like galactichunter, rebelscum, etc a "regular job" with an office or a side project/hobby for people in the industry like yourself?
--Richard

Depends on the person and depends on the site. On Galactic Hunter, I come home from work and have to spend probably an average of two hours a day most days checking news articles, writing a FOTD backlog, writing this column, answering emails, etc.

Frankly, I would love to do Galactic Hunter full time and spend all day taking pictures, writing reviews, doing in-depth columns on vehicles, how many figures get produced in a year, and so on and so forth. Problem is, well, we don't have a lot of advertisers and we don't have a lot of affiliate relationships. (Basically, if you buy something through an ad on our site, you're doing us a big favor. If you buy through an ad through someone else's, you're doing them the favor. Etc.)

Depending on the scale of your operation, yes, there are opportunities to do something like this full-time. But it means you'd have a lot of advertisers and a lot of readers.

5. Why is Hasbro being weird with the Target Shuttle?
--Jason

Right now it's a little tough to tell what the situation is. The last time I remembered Hasbro being very, very contrary on what we thought was a confirmed exclusive was around 2002/2003 with the now-cancelled second series of Wal-Mart exclusive Cantina packs. They were in Wal-Mart's system, they were on StarWars.com's Cargo Bay, many sites purchased packaged samples from Asia to photograph, and I myself managed to find a set on eBay to buy just in case they never made it out. Yet Hasbro kept insisting these toys did not exist and were not coming, basically. It was all very confusing but it boiled down to the factory apparently made the items, wasn't supposed to, and as such everything that happened, happened. So what does this have to do with the Shuttle?

Well, we don't know 100% yet. Yes, it's in Target's computers, but I can list you dozens of toys over the years that were in a store's computer and never came out. The page on Target.com is the most damning evidence so far, but it doesn't mean that it's a done deal. (It should, though.) It's entirely possible the deal went sour. It's possible it's an item for 2007. It's also possible that it was a proposal that never really went anywhere and someone got really excited when they got the mock-up pictures from Hasbro and decided to post everything.

Buuuuut it's also possible that this thread on Rebelscum is showing that, quite possibly, Hasbro/Target/Lucasfilm are being coy on this one. If this is true, and they're already on the way to stores, that means that yes, it's pretty much guaranteed to be out on/around the day after Thanksgiving, thus rendering Hasbro annoying. I understand the need to keep some things under wraps, and it's annoying to do but c'mon. If the entire fanbase has basically uncovered what's going on here, why keep it quiet? It helps generate lots of hype but we're still looking at moving tens of thousands of units of a vehicle that's too big and a lot of people already bought.

I seem to recall a lot of headache with the confirmation of the original modern reissue of the Shuttle with FAO-- I seem to recall Hasbro denying it even though I called the Las Vegas store and placed one on order. It's all very weird.

Finally, I have received a lot of notes saying "there's no such thing as a Black Friday exclusive." Well, yes there is, sort of. In 2003 Hasbro had a Wal-Mart exclusive pack of Transformers for a very low price that launched on Black Friday. I know this for a fact because I went in to a Wal-Mart, saw it on the shelves, and assumed since 30 were on the floor with price tags, it was fair game. (Nope.) So there have indeed been Black Friday (Day after Thanksgiving) launches for exclusive products.

6. Just read your new Q+A...can you elaborate on the Code3 situation? I am under the impression (from you previously) that they had the EP 1 + 2 (3D) posters in the works and they looked fantastic. Did this get scrapped? I left a space for these open and the wall is a bit uneven without. Weren't these a hit, and didn't we even hear about a new OT poster for the 30th anniversary? When these things and Master Replicas started working their way into Tuesday Morning stores this last year I began to panic.
--Kyle

At this time, I am not at liberty to discuss products which have not been announced for sale. (They do look fantastic though.) But I can say the people at Code 3 are doing fine and more information will undoubtedly find its way out in the coming weeks/months.

7. Regarding the voting for Greatest Hits repacks, how do you feel Hasbro should go about re-releasing certain characters? Should they be re-released exactly as before, or should improvements in molds and paint applications be taken into account? I'm thinking specifically of characters like R2-B1 and TC-14, which could benefit from improved droid sculpts. I'm worried Hasbro would go the cheap route and just give us the same exact things as before. I need that blue astromech with a working third leg.
--Michael

Since this is a "Hasbro gets free money" type thing (since the point is to do straight repacks in new packaging with a coin), I think they should do that. Pick the best figures that need no changes, and crank those out again. I see no reason to spend time and money updating a figure if the entire point is, like the "Greatest Battles," to reissue something with little to no work.

After just getting my tins, and the all-new R2-R9 (which was based on VOTC R2-D2 and not ROTS R4-G9, grrrr) I can say I really hope that Hasbro considers putting out R2-B1 as a "new" sculpt redeco in the future. (And R2-Q5 too. I know it'll look a lot better.) I think TC-14 was very good the first time, though, and should just come out again as-is.

When it comes to the main line, though, I'm probably going to start getting angry if we keep getting more repacks. Repaints, I'm good with-- give me dirty versions, battle damage, or redeco clones/droids and I'm all smiles. But Obi-Wan Kenobi from Episode III, I'm sick of. We had the regular pilot release. Then the Wal-Mart "Separation of the Twins" release. And the Saga Collection release, with a cloth cloak. And now the "Swimming" one in 2007. This is getting ridiculous. But I digress.

I really do think that if Hasbro "reissues" a figure the changes should be minimal. I want things I can skip.

8. I really like the VOTC figures, and would love it if they would recreate some of the more obscure cardbacks I had as a kid. Problem is, I know Hasbro will probably never get to the less popular characters. But what about re-releasing some sculpts with the VOTC packaging, and perhaps selling them for a buck more than regular figures? Sort of like an interim assortment between fully resculpted characters that they can charge the ten bucks for, and a straight repack. I can't imagine the plastic shell costs that much, and I can't see them improving characters like the Cloud Car Pilot, Teebo (give him an axe though), Chief Chirpa, FX-7 or R5-D4 beyond what has already been released. Maybe make this an exclusive or online thing...
--MM

Not likely. Premium packaging doesn't always do it for most people, and Hasbro/retaillers charge several dollars more for those kinds of figures. If Hasbro decided to make "vintage" packaging the norm for a year, though, I think it would be awesome and I would gladly pick up figures on this style of cardback. Unfortunately, this sort of thing appeals to a very small group of collectors. If we assume there's something like 20,000-30,000 of us right now who will buy one of everything (not including variants), a straight repack of figures on collector-specific cardbacks might be a pretty dangerous proposition.

But if Hasbro decided to make the "final" vintage figure some day (as we approach it), I'd love to see it on a "modern" Vintage cardback with updates of all the vintage figures on a photo on the back. As that would be an awesome collectible and a great milestone to celebrate.

9. Okay, I'm going to buck the trend of gushing praise and just say it: Sideshow Collectibles' human head sculpts are often awkward likenesses of the characters they're suppose to represent. It goes beyond the company's Star Wars products, too; Lord of the Rings is another line with several, um, unfortunate sculpts.

Now, I'm gathering that the company's artisans use only photo references for their sculpts. And I'm certain that it's argued that this makes the sculpt a true work of art, rather than a product of a three-dimensional scan. As an artist myself, I totally appreciate this perspective. However, as a collector, I want the products to look as much like the character as possible, and if this means using scan data as a starting point, then so be it. (I realize this is not an option for original trilogy characters.)

Gentle Giant's products—most of which benefit from three-dimensional scanning—tend to have amazing likenesses of the characters. I have to wonder why LFL passed up this company in favor of Sideshow Collectibles. Can you shed any light on this issue?
--Chris

The funny thing here is that while Gentle Giant does use scanning, they employ a lot of sculptors and painters to make sure things look perfect. While I know they have a reputation for computer scanning, I have been to their HQ a few times and have seen the sculpting being done. These are very talented, hard-working people with excellent taste in toys that go on their desks, and it's worth my taking a moment to say that they really do put a lot of work into these things. I can't name names, but there are some items in the past and especially next year that are pretty much 100% sculptor-made, and they look so good you probably wouldn't be able to tell they weren't scanned.

With Sideshow, I think their sculpts usually looks fantastic. Hasbro's 12-inch figures had good sculpts too, they just had horrible paint, and it makes a big difference. The wrong flesh tone, goofy "make-up," strange eyeliner, these things serve to ruin a good sculpt, and as far as I can tell, they're all doing very good sculpts. I think Sideshow might benefit from Gentle Giant's painters in some cases, as a mini bust is about 1:6 scale and a 12-inch figure is also 1:6 scale-- there's no excuse for them both not looking as good as one another.

I seem to recall reading an interview/review on Rebelscum on one of Sideshow's 12-inch figures a while ago that said something to the effect of "the factory botched it," which is entirely possible. I mean, those early publicity shots of Sideshow's stuff look great-- really great, even. But when I see the final figures come through where I work (as I sometimes am known to see what comes in), I'm rarely impressed with the human faces. You can fix a lot with good paint, and so far Sideshow hasn't mastered this for two of its most popular licenses.

10. After clicking on the link at Galactic Hunter to see the "possible" Snow Bunny Padme' over at the 4-INCHES site, I scrolled down and also saw pics of a TRU Exclusive Clone Trooper and a Clone Wars 3D set of ultra cool looking Plo Koon & Ki-Adi Mundi figures. Not being able to speak any German, I screamed out....in English of course..."WHAT ARE THOSE!?". Maybe you can translate and give some info on these products?
--Logan

Those are why I keep saying to people "ask Hasbro to do more concept art toys." Those are unrealized concepts, from Episode III if I recall correctly. They're not going to be toys yet, they're just being shown as an illustration for the TV show-related story. "Nur Spekulation" translates to "only speculation," and the copy does indicate these were shown on Sideshow's site earlier. Unfortunately, all this means is that people in Germany are probably thinking these would make good figures too.

I'd love to see those (and heck, I'm still wanting to get an extra special awesome Clone Wars box set with figures like that). There's a blurb at Sideshow about the concept art and I think we can all agree when I say "HEY HASBRO!" Exclusive 2-pack. You know you want to make it. (It's super-awesome Plo Koon and Piratey Ki-Adi-Mundi. I'd buy two or three of them.)

FIN

I know a lot of people have been asking about the lack of vehicles. But I just pulled some out and while they are all repaint so far, it's actually been a very good year for vehicles. And by good I mean expensive.
Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter
Darth Vader's TIE Fighter
Darth Vader's Sith Starfighter
AAT
Kit Fisto's Jedi Starfighter (Target exclusive)
Zev's Snowspeeder (Target exclusive)
Hailfire Droid
X-wing Fighter (TRU exclusive)
Republic Gunship (TRU exclusive)
TIE Fighter (TRU exclusive)
AT-AT (TRU exclusive)
TIE Fighter (regular)
Saesee Tiin's Jedi Starfighter

I may have forgotten one or two, and of course, the last two aren't out yet. Anyway, I qualify these all as "new" due to significant color, mold, and accessory changes. That's about $415 before tax & shipping. Tack on another $60 for the "hypothetical" Shuttle, and we're scraping $500. Yeesh. So for everyone who says "Hasbro didn't make any vehicles this year," I point to that list. Yes, it's true we didn't get a Cloud Car or a Turbo Tank, but we didn't get a Star Destroyer or General Grievous' Starfighter either. Still, if nothing else, it should show that these-- plus four additional Revenge of the Sith ships in new boxes-- are in big enough demand that fans want and can support yet more vehicles, which Hasbro can in turn repaint yet again down the road.

It seems someone, somewhere doesn't get the real demand for vehicles. It might be us as fans. But as a collector, I can say that it would be nice to have more spread throughout the year. (That list of 13 new vehicles was pretty much entirely released since September. Well, I think 11 of them were released since September, with 2 due, supposedly, this month and another one possibly due this month.) At my day job, I see a steady demand for vehicles and yes, demand for more than we have to sell. Most stores I go to seem to be selling the repacks from 2005 steadily, and I don't remember the last time I saw a Tri-Fighter in the wild.

While there seem to be know signs of danger of the average store getting stuck with too many vehicles (exclusives, of course, being a possible "special case" as we approach the new year), it seems people really want more new stuff, or even repacks. It's a shame Hasbro decided to flood the market with all of them all at once around the holidays, but hey, here's hoping for some spread-out variety for 2007. I know I can't wait.

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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