Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
November 27, 2006
Season Finale-- See You In January!


1. Here's a moral question for you: Do you feel it is acceptable to give away older figures that have been long gone from retail to holiday toy programs like Toys for Tots? Would a kid be disappointed if he got an older figure, even though it might be a major character? As figures improve and some sculpts get surpassed, I would think this would be a nice way to thin out some of my collection. I just wonder if people would frown upon giving away toys that aren't the newest and latest, even if they are mint and carded. Seems that since Star Wars has been around for so long, it's hard to tell what is socially acceptable.

A mint, carded figure is perfectly acceptable to "regift," as it were. If you were to slice open the figure, remove an accessory or two, and then give it away, there might be some quibbles-- but a lot of kids aren't exactly savvy about things like super-articulation, so as long as it's a good toy, it's a good thing to give a kid who may not even dream of a life where his ability to get toys can be anything close to the likes of your average collector.

Sure, it's nice to get the latest and greatest, but as long as it isn't something that will break safety laws, Luke and Darth Vader from 2002 is better than no Darth Vader or Luke at all. (That, and don't forget Hasbro has absolutely no quibbles about recarding/reselling older figures to us at full price. They're still good figures.)

2.Ok...Important question and I can't find the answer anywhere so PLEASE answer this one. I really, really want to know out of the "final 22" figures, which are actually in the movies? Like the "fifth fleet security" clone trooper, R5-J2, Commander Appo, "combat engineer" clone trooper and the camouflaged battle droids. Also there was never a holographic Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode 3 right?? Anyway's really wondering this so please include this in your QandA. Thanks a lot!!

Oh good, a "research" question. *Grumbles* For those not on forums, "Final 22" is slang for the next three waves of repaints (two for all stores, one for Wal-Mart.) Last year, it was the "final 12," and people are now retroactively putting the vintage Power of the Force line and a couple of ROTJ figures in another "final" cluster. Why, I don't know. And why you can't just look at the DVDs for some of these, I don't know. But here's your answer, Danny.

Definitely in/from the movies:
Chewbacca with C-3PO
Commander Cody (Holographic) R5-J2
Clone Trooper Sergeant
Elite Corps Clone Trooper
Yarael Poof
Padme Amidala
Kitik Keed'kak
Kabe & Nabrun Leids
Clone Wars/Comics/Concept Art:
Darth Maul (Sith Training)
Kit Fisto (Clone Wars)
Commander Appo*
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Holographic)** R4-K5
Aurra Sing
Mace Windu's Astromech
Concept Art (if it's in the movies I haven't seen it):
Clone Trooper (442nd Siege Battalion)
Clone Trooper (5th Fleet Security)
Clone Trooper (Concept Engineer)
Other (Possibly Hasbro originals):
Super Battle Droid
Battle Droids

The Clones from the concept art are ones I'd be a little wary of passing judgment on still because the opening battle has a lot of clones in it, and due to the lighting/blasts/camera angles, it's not entirely easy to see what all the markings are just yet For * - Commander Appo IS in the movie, according to most sources. His shoulder pad is not. So if you pop off the pad, he's a generic 501st Clone, or Commander Appo-- but with the pad, well, I've only seen a 501st Trooper with a pad in the comics. Obi-Wan (**) as far as I can tell in a quick once-over, doesn't appear as a holograph in Revenge of the Sith, but I just skipped over a few sequences on the DVD to check this as it's my busy season and I didn't have all morning to verify. Bail Organa DOES appear as a holograph, though, when talking to Obi-Wan in the cockpit of Grievous' Starfighter.

3. After opening the new Death Star Gunner and removing its helmet I was a bit puzzled to find that mine has red eyes. Are you finding that this is common? If so, was this was a mistake or intentional? If it's the latter, is there supposed to be some significance? It is by no means a big deal. But since I'm not really up on the EU, I was just curious if there was some backstory that this eye color was based on.

I first noticed the red eyes when Hasbro put out the Clone Trooper with Speederbike, and it seems to be a common thing on many (but not all) Clones with removable helmets. As far as the toys go, Hasbro has decided all trooper figures with Jango's face will have red eyes. Or perhaps Lucas Licensing decided it for Hasbro, but it doesn't seem that the Clones from the comics all have the red eyes. I checked a few reference sites, and did not see anything that mentioned the red eyes-- but it's not an error as far as production goes, my 30th Anniversary Tin Sandtrooper has red eyes, but the Snowtrooper's seem brown, and the Scout just has white eyes with black dots. Commander Cody seems to have non-red eyes, too, as do the AT-TE Gunner and the 501st Clone. So some do, some don't, and as far as I can tell there's no pattern yet.

4. My son (3 years old) enjoys Star Wars characters. I don't collect SW myself, but I got him one of the "Rescue Heroes"-like figures (Chewie) and he seems to like him quite a bit. My son really likes R2 and C3PO, and it seems like they have a pack of those Rescue Heroes-like guys with these two. Is that easy at all to come by?

The Jedi Force range of quasi-Rescue Heroes figures is dead and over, for the most part, although a lot of stores are sitting on older, unsold inventory. If you go to your neighborhood Toys "R" Us, you might find unsold product (at low prices) over by the toddler stuff-- just be sure to give that section a really good once-over before leaving, as they're easy to miss and most stores that still carry them have very few remaining.

5. I recently ran into the original trilogy tins (not the cantina band) at TRU. I started thinking about the trooper figures in each one and how great they are. The removable helmet is definitely a new take on the original trilogy troopers. What are the odds, in your experienced opinion, that these will be released by themselves. I'm not about to lay down $90 for 3 figures (I don't really want the rest). The scout trooper is already a second release because of the endor AT-AT (perhaps the body isn't the same but the head is). I really want those three figures but I don't want the tin sets. I suppose there is always eBay but I imagine a hundred other collectors are already thinking that too and will pay more.

I'd say the odds that some of these will be recarded later is pretty close to 100%, but changes will likely be made. For example, Hasbro has already confirmed that, in 2007, there will be a carded Stormtrooper with removable helmet. While there's a Sandtrooper in the tin, the retooled body makes me think we might see it retooled again and released sans grenade, backpack, and pauldron. (And I must say, the retooling was for the best-- the figure has a better range of motion than the VOTC Stormtrooper from 2004.) So there's one. I'm not so sure of the Darth Vader will be recarded, though, and he's a good one-- new torso, new head, and A New Hope-specific gloves. (Yes, there's a difference.)

I wouldn't hold my breath on the Snowtrooper in 2007, and I would assume it's probably a near 0% chance we'd see Luke, Han, and Chewbacca with snow on them carded later. I would say buying the ESB tin is a good sensible thing to do.

With the set from Return of the Jedi, I would also say it might be worth just buying the tin because Hasbro already did two releases of a Scout Trooper with the removable helmet-- and the heads are different. The deco is different, the sculpt at the neck is different, and it seems the face of the helmet is juuuust a little different. But the face under the helmet, and the scar, are very similar (but painted differently.) And as you said, the bodies of the AT-AT Scout Trooper and Tin Scout Trooper are indeed very different. As a hardcore collector, you'll want both. As a fan, the one in the tin is unquestionably better.

If you have the money and/or want the most diverse selection of Troopers possible, I would say getting the tins is a good thing to do because nothing is ever a sure thing. For all we know, something might happen tomorrow and they'll stop making toys from these movies, or the molds will get lost (it's happened before), and then you'll need to go get the tins. If you're REALLY on a budget, hold out for a sale. But if I were you, I'd be worried about getting the ESB tin as it seems to be slightly tougher to get, despite being the least fun of the bunch.

6. All of the repainted At-Rt drivers from the tin sets that I have seen are missing the white paint on their hands. Is this some factory error?

I've been checking them since I got mine, and they all do seem to be like this. It's possible it's an error, but I doubt it-- and if it is, Hasbro doesn't fix all mistakes, some just get by and that's the way things are. In this case, I wouldn't hold out for a corrected one.

7. Is there anyway we can get Hasbro to stop using those little rubber bands that pull hands out of socket and squish and rub paint off gunhands after a long time in the packages? Pack the guns and sabers alongside the figure like the VOTC, should save time and money in the packaging process and prevent figure damage.
Everybody has different opinions about what to pack in with the figures, most want more guns and accessories over those stupid little holo figures. I myself like the coins for a change and throwback to the vintage ones I don't have any of, but would rather have every figure come with a stand of some sort like the current ones and like most of the ROTS figures have, those are great. Will Hasbro keep going with the stands in the future?
Lastly, the Darth Vader with the coin album, is it an online item or will it be everywhere and only with the Darth Vader figure that I don't need another of?

Rubber bands are a lazy shortcut for bad packaging design. Hasbro has used them in G.I. Joe and is fully aware fans don't like them, and insists they're necessary to keep things in place. (They aren't-- the recent tin sets pretty much avoid using them.) Rubber bands don't seem to hurt paint nearly as much as the actual plastic, where they can put grooves in figures or deform the hands so they are no longer able to hold their weapons. I prefer weapons packed off to the side just because you get a better view of everything included in the set, it's fun to see a package and go "wow, this thing has four guns in it".

Well, when it comes to pack-ins, we'll agree to disagree. Coins are cool, sure, but just as worthless as any other "worthless" pack-in. With the holographs, kids can play with them and pretend their figures are talking to other characters. Force Files, you can read and learn trivia, names, and other facts. The coins, like the Freeze Frames, are pretty worthless. I'm not saying they aren't cool, the vintage ones are legendary, but I would be lying if I said that the coins excite me as a person who opens his toys. They'll go in the binder, and they'll stay in the binder. The lack of stands concerns me, like you, because those are very handy to have. The 2007 line will not have stands but Hasbro has hinted they'll start selling them in '07.

Finally, the coin album is offered to all Hasbro accounts. That means Brian's Toys, Entertainment Earth, Wal-Mart, Kay-Bee, Big Lots, and anyone with a Hasbro account can order this item. Will they? That remains to be seen. (And for the record, Hasbro has recently confirmed the Vader You Don't Need in this set is the Revenge of the Sith carded one. Which is a good one for pilot purposes.)

8. After the original release, I've finally found a "Republic Commando Scorch" two days ago. It seems Hasbro stuck with the promise of shipping more of this "Rare" figure (Mine came with a red hologram, if that means anything about how recent it was distributed). I was just curious...what other rare "The Saga Collection" figures are there?

"Rare" is a very loaded term these days. It works like this: if a figure isn't falling off the pegs due to over-availability, people call it "rare." If people can't find one, it's "rare." Truth be told, Hasbro only has one really rare figure in 2006, and it's General Rieekan-- he shipped at one per case, in one case. (An upcoming revision is on the way that has him packed with a red holo, and odds are that will be exceedingly tough to get.) Some of you might say I'm saying this to be snotty, but I'm not-- as far as production numbers go, Rieekan is the shortest-run figure of the year in the basic line. (At least as far as I can tell.)

Right now, I've seen pretty much every figure in stores, and the hard-to-get figures vary by neighborhood. Some stores are still loaded with Lushros Dofine, while others don't have any basic figures at all. If what you really want to know is "what's worth a lot?" you can go to eBay and take a look for yourself-- but keep in mind this, too, will vary from time to time and you never know when Hasbro will flood the market with any once-"rare" figure.

9. Okay, let's talk about soft goods. On the upshot: soft goods allow figures to sit properly, and therefore they are good. On the downside: soft goods are bulky, unruly and rarely match the aesthetic of the figures, and therefore they are bad. I'm in the latter camp here; with rare exception, I really dislike soft goods.

Now, that said, it's fairly obvious that soft goods are a good match for kids who like to pose their figures and pop them in vehicles. Collectors, on the other hand, always go for realism; it's about the sculpt, the paint ops, the whole presentation. It's in this light that I am so confused by the VOTC collection. Clearly, it's a premium product intended for collectors. So why do they opt for silly soft goods instead of accurately sculpted robes made out of plastic? The VOTC Ben Kenobi is a travesty, as is the Tusken Raider. They both look like little brown explosions. And yes, that's both literal and figurative.

What's your opinion of soft goods, both as a marketer and a collector?

As a marketer, what I really like are figures that sell. Soft goods (the cloth bits on action figures) are almost inconsequential, although one of the exclusive projects I've had some experience marketing had capes that didn't turn out quite as perfectly as I would have liked. (Although the Kir Kanos/Carnor Jax capes are pretty good overall, especially when wearing the helmets.)

Collector opinions are really tough to decipher. They don't always mean what they say, or know what the real issue is. Do collectors have a problem with soft goods? Some do. Some do, and don't know that they don't. What it boils down to with many collectors is "does it look good?" and if the answer is no, then they don't like soft goods.

Me, it's mostly about function. I like soft goods when they make sense for the figure, and when they work. So far, Hasbro has shown that it's exceedingly difficult to make a soft goods Jedi robe where you can put the hood up and it doesn't look stupid. However, the soft goods used on the Tusken Raider never struck me as being as bad as you claim, and Han Endor's coat turned out fairly well (or at least, good enough.) The cloth bits on Vintage, Evolutions, Anniversary, and most Basic Darth Vaders since 2005 have all been excellent, and I really do appreciate the cloth bits on the Episode I Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon figures so that the figures can sit. I really hope a good soft goods Darth Maul hits before the Infiltrator, otherwise I'll be reusing my Sith Speeder figure for that purpose.

In a line with no vehicles or playsets, articulation stops mattering, so soft goods are pretty much just an aesthetic choice. If I can't make my figures sit or stand in something, why have them sit or stand at all?

Since collectors prize articulation so much, soft goods are necessary-- sometimes, they're a necessary evil. I don't think collectors would be satisfied with a Tusken Raider that has ball-jointed everything, but plastic robes preventing those parts from moving. As such, I hope Hasbro continues to use Soft Goods on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes it makes good sense, and others... well, not so much. So far this year I'd say they're doing quite well, but if the figure's legs are prevented from sitting by a plastic "skirt" piece, there's really no need for a cloth robe. If the figure is going to be stuck being a statue, you may as well not even try to make it look like he has a decent range of motion.

And yes, Vintage Original Trilogy Collection Obi-Wan Kenobi was one of the worst uses of soft goods in the modern line. Good idea, bad execution. (Too clunky.)

10. I have a question about the GG bust-ups from the Clone Wars cartoon - I found the first series at Hot Topic, but there is a rumored second series to follow it. I remember seeing pictures of Saesee Tinn in armor and various clones, but cant seem to find them anywhere now. Do you have any details on the second wave, or know where pictures can be found? Thanks.

They are indeed coming, if memory serves, as a boxed set. (Much like the Cantina Band or Bounty Hunters.) Some of them can be seen in our Comic-Con Coverage. There's no word on a release date, but hopefully it'll be early 2007.


OK, that's it for real this time! I'll be back on January 1 (that's right, New Year's Day) with 10 questions and 10 answers-- if you keep sending them in over the break. Otherwise, I get a longer vacation.) There are lots of exclusives to hunt, parties to fake-smile at, and Final Fantasies V to keep playing, so I'll see you guys in the new year.

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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