Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
February 5, 2007

 

1. I just picked up the Titanium Royal Guard Interceptor, and wondered where the design came from. I assume it's from a video game of some sort? As a fan of Royal Guards, I decided to buy it, even though I don't care about any of the games. Is this where it's from, and if so, which game is it from?

Also, am I the only one who can't find the Endor Luke or the white Endor Rebel Trooper? Where are these two figures? Will they continue to ship, or do I have to turn to eBay as a last resort?
--Greg

The red Royal Guard TIE Interceptor-- or at least, some form of red TIE Interceptor-- comes from one of the PC games from LucasArts, but I'm not entirely sure if it's Galaxies or not as I haven't played that one. A lot of the oddball designs in Titanium are from either that game or Hasbro's endless imagination. (And either way, some of the designs are quite good.)

The Endor Luke is very popular, and I'm glad to say shipping again in big numbers-- I myself found tons of them last week when I went to Wal-Mart looking for the exclusive final wave. It turns out that the "shelf dumps" for the endcap are loaded with them, so you'll probably see more of them in the coming weeks. And the screaming sounds you hear in the store will be the echo of my yelling at the swine who bought up the entire shipment of the exclusives.

At this time I know of no additional shipments of the white (or black) Endor Trooper. My advice to you is to start looking into trades because, at this time, no non-exclusive cases are scheduled to ship with them any time soon, short of additional supplies of Wave 7 showing up again.

2. With the two upcoming TV shows I think the cartoon will be the unmitigated hit, while the live action show will suffer, basically because of Lucas's level of involvement. Don't get me wrong I think the guy has one of the most visionary imaginations of his generation, I just think his story telling skills benefit from the skeptical influences of Harrison Ford and Irvin Kershner, and suffers from the blind enthusiasm of Rick McCallum. The live action show (last I checked the rumors) is proposed to be 100 episodes, and Lucas's role in development and production keeps growing: so far from plotting, to scripting the first 20 episodes, and now rumors of scripting the whole 100 episode arc. In my all but totally irrelevant opinion the most Star Warsy Star Wars stories of the past decade were the KOTOR games and the Clone Wars cartoons, and the areas where those failed were where Lucas interfered (rushing KOTOR 2 to market, undoing the menace of Grievous in the Clone Wars cartoon) Do you think the Star Wars myth can endure 100 hours of untempered Lucas? His cannon has gotten increasingly loose just look at the subtle Buddhist influence of the OT versus the ham handed social commentary (that I agree with) of ROTS, the disappointing decline of Anakin, the never realized Jedi purge, the frickin Frankenstein scene, I won't descend to the beating of dead Gungans. Anyhow your thoughts. Can George single handedly float a five year 100 episode story arc? Will cartoon clones disassembling cartoon droids unseat G.I. Joe as Americas preferred after school half hour of carnage?
--Ben

This was one of those "I had to cut this down because the question wasn't exactly great/focused" answers.

"Good" is relative, as many fans new to the franchise find the original trilogy somewhat quaint, while they dig the prequels and Clone Wars. Everybody will have a different take on a TV project, and as far as I know Lucas' involvement is pretty much producer and the guy who comes up with the overall story for the show. (And as Clone Wars' final 5 episodes focused on the opening crawl, technically, Lucas outlined much of that story as well.) Different directors will treat the project with care, and from what little I know about TV sci-fi, it's unlikely that any series-- be it live action or animated-- will have a single director for a season, let alone its entire run. Look at Star Trek, there are lots of writers, directors, producers, and so forth on a single season-- even The Simpsons has a very diverse cast of writers and producers keeping the show on track, with Matt Groening involved very little on most stories.

Certain elements are cool in the context of a story arc and may not make sense as part of the larger whole-- or something may seem stupid by itself, and make sense as part of the greater story. Let's go with Grievous. In the cartoon, he's this newly built, amazing cybernetic warrior. In the movie, he's a little more wary and has a coughing problem. Some people say this doesn't match up, I say I see his torso get crushed. As such, there is going to be a lot of room for debate on if something was good or not. I also hesitate to lay any influence on video game release dates specifically on George Lucas without some sort of specific citation because, as far as I know, The Bearded One doesn't spend a whole lot of his time worrying about the nitty gritty of most licensed products, including games.

The truth is we have no idea what to expect from the future of Star Wars fiction as of today. We saw what Cartoon Network can do with television, and we've seen some movies. We also don't know the audience for these shows-- it's possible the 'toon will skew young while the live action series goes after the Battlestar Galactica audience. I'll wait and see what we get, and so will you-- it's not like we have anything to go on. Everybody has things they can pick apart with these films, and I guarantee you that even the best of Star Wars can be picked apart by someone who didn't quite love it as much as the rest of us. It's very early to speculate, but I'm sure that the TV show format will be more adaptable to criticism and the needs of the market, and by that I mean both toys and the show itself. Voyager dropped one blonde girl for another, hotter blonde girl about halfway through the show's run. Revenge of the Sith included Wookiees-- it was cute, but pretty much fan service. Things change, people change, and projects most certainly change. Let's revisit this topic after we're given any legit droplet of information about the show.

3. On the "coming soon" board at my local Toys 'R' Us, they had listed for April, Y-Wing Fighter. Do you know what this may be?
--Christopher

You have a "coming soon" board? I don't have one of those. A Y-wing vehicle has been more or less constantly rumored as coming out "soon" within 6 months of the previous model, but this one has been going around quite a bit since last year. At this time, no images or photos have leaked, but that's probably Hasbro's intent as lately, they've opted to not announce exclusives but rather let them just appear at retail. Keep your eyes out on news sites and the shelves because it's entirely possible that any one of you out there could be the one to break this story!

4. I just received my Death Star Briefing multi pack(s) from EE. I got 2, 1 to open and one to display in the box. In one of them, Darth's arms are at his side and in the other, his right arm is reaching out. Looking at both of them, I noticed that the plastic cradle in which Darth sits is different in each one. In the one where his arms are at his side, the plastic cradle is made to keep his arms at his side; in the other the cradle is clearly molded so that his right arm can be out stretched. The one with his arm out stretched is better looking and that is the one I will display, but do you know why it was decided to make two different pack outs, as minor as it is.
--DamonJW

While I have not yet personally seen this to confirm it, this sort of thing is not without precedent. A number of the Episode III deluxe figures had variant packaging trays, showing the accessories in different configurations. Also, the Clone Wars super-articulated Clone Trooper had multiple possible poses with its trays, and there are probably several others that have done this as well. I don't know if there's a specific (or intentional) reason why this is done, or maybe one factory did it one way and the other got the "correction" memo and fixed the rest of the units. While these things are sometimes intentional, I don't believe this was one Hasbro did to drive us nuts.

5. At one point in their recent Hasbro Q&A series, Hasbro answered a question along the lines of, "Which figure do you most regret?" and the answer that Hasbro gave was "all the figures in the buff line". This answer doesn't make sense to me. Hasbro was going for a stylized representation of the figures. Clearly many of these figures are superior to the vintage figures, so Hasbro's answer could just have likely been "the entire vintage line". When you read it like that, it makes no sense. Of course the vintage line was crappy compared to modern standards—little articulation, little detail, too few characters—but it was the damn vintage line and we loved it as children and many people still love them. Am I right? I am right. Stylized figures are cool. I think the Animated-versions of the clone war figures were great. Similarly, I think the buff figures take a lot of unnecessary flack. There are some great figures. Realism shouldn't be the end-all goal of every figure. Anyway, the point is buff Lando rocks! I like him better than the "Gary Coleman" Lando that followed.
--David

Hasbro (then Kenner) was quoted as saying that the "beefy" style of the 1995 figures were an intentional choice to match other popular toys of the time-- like Batman. Also, there were magazines who were complaining about the rumors of the "super-crazy muscular" figures before anybody even saw them, and it seems Hasbro knew early on collectors would not go for it. Of course, some would say that they designed the figures for kids. At Toy Fair 1995, they were telling many accounts that the line was to be a limited collector's line, much like their Starting Line-Up sports figures. So where does this leave me? Assume nobody knew what the Hell they were doing, and them move on.

The vintage line was probably the best line of Star Wars figures, because unlike the modern ones, Kenner made sure they worked as toys. Han Solo could sit. Chewbacca could sit. The vehicle could actually fit their figures. There was never a vehicle or playset that had foot pegs that were sized too big for the holes in the figures' feet. For the purposes of toys as toys, the modern line is basically crap-- there's no excuse to rehash the Imperial Shuttle TWICE with foot pegs that can't be used with any Star Wars figure that's been sold in the past 11 (now almost 12) years.

And I believe you're the first person to have any problems with the later Lando figures. Glad you like the figure, as if you check message boards from 1996, the figure was often called "Disco Lando" by many fans, proving that there probably were no "good old days" and everything is hated by somebody. When it comes to the Hasbro Q&A writer's opinion, well, that's the opinion of one (or maybe a few) person(s). Seeing as how authenticity is (in theory) very much prized in this toy line, it makes sense they'd beat up on a line where they went out of their way to give figures inhuman proportions. (And if you love stylized figures, don't forget Hasbro still sells Force Battlers and Galactic Heroes. They know realism and true-to-the-movie detailing isn't everything to all buyers, that's why we have these other sub-lines out there.)

6. The Wal-Mart near me has 200 (no joke) Modal Nodes Cantina Band Tin Sets at $26.68 each, racks and racks of VOTC Greedo and Han in Trench Coat and tons of immovable Greatest Battles waves. The amazing thing is that all these Cantina Bands Tins came out on the shelves after Christmas! Go figure. I predict that at $26.68 each, Wal-Mart will be lucky to sell one cantina band tin set per year, which means that shelf space will be free for other Star Wars merchandise in 2207. Whose fault is this? Clearly, if you believe Hasbro's reply in their Q&A series, they live in a perfect world, where their distribution system is infallible. I especially like when they said, "'Greatest Battles' and 'Saga' have 2 different line numbers and could never be mixed up or share the same pegs." That's rich. Have the people at Hasbro never stepped inside a Wal-Mart? Anyway, if it's not Hasbro's fault, whose fault is it? Do I just live by a Wal-Mart with an idiotic manager who doesn't know how to stock the damn store?
--Mr. K

Your mileage may vary. In Los Angeles, where I live, I have about 3 Wal-marts that I can go to with any regularity, and I used to live in Phoenix, where it was like 8. And here's the sad truth that Hasbro tells you, that I tell you, and that nobody seems to get: EVERY STORE IS DIFFERENT.

In LA, I can't find any Cantina Band packs to buy. I saw them about a grand total of 3 times-- once, before Christmas. Again, shortly after, and at another store. And again, at another store, just last week-- where there was one set remaining at full price. I was actually panicking that I never saw this one for weeks after everybody else said "oh, it's everywhere." I even had trading contacts overseas ask about me getting them a clearance one on the cheap, and I couldn't even find them one at full price if I wanted to at the time.

When it comes to "Greatest Battes," well, the Wal-Mart I hit the most has about 8 total figures, half H&V, half Saga. Another one I go to has a lot of older Saga stuff sitting around-- and another one had a lot of H&V, but sold through it all, with just Saga remaining. With the exception of some Padme pockets, it seems the rehash line did very well. So I have to say I can totally see where Hasbro is coming from when they say "well, that's not necessarily the case" when it comes to fans complaining about what does and doesn't sell. Back in Phoenix, I hit over a half dozen Wal-Marts regularly. And by regularly, I mean once a week if not more. Each one had different items sell well. The same was true about pretty much every chain I hit up, and I think either Hasbro misspoke or you misunderstood their "same pegs" comment. Stores track inventory by SKUs-- if it says "we're out of 85770" that means they're going to need more of it and the Magic Distribution System of Retail will do whatever it needs to do, be it discontinue the SKU, reorder, allocate pegs to another line, etc. Yes, they'll get mixed up on the pegs, but the amount of peg space devoted to each SKU isn't necessarily handled by humans beyond the stockers. If the computer says to restock with one barcode, then that's the assortment they'll put out.

It sounds like you're giving too much credit to any one person or organization here. Figures sit all the time, I saw Power of the Jedi Ketwol and Duros figures through 2005 in Arizona at Wal-Marts and Toys "R" Us, and Arizona toy stores have fantastic turnover. (That, or everybody who tells me what their stores are like seems to be lying to me.) Also, and this may seem too obvious, but the Heroes & Villains SKU is tracked/ordered separately from Saga Collection. They're different numbers, clearanced differently, priced differently, and yes, ordered differently. A lot of stores discontinued the H&V SKU as it was old (no new assortments coming out in the number), but here's an obvious answer: they stop making these things if they don't sell. The reason Hasbro keeps shipping out repacks of older figures is because there is a very good market for them, it's just not any of the people who post on message boards or write into columns like this one.

7. I know the new figure shots that just were leaked are far from finalized but if they release Biggs academy without a cape why bother with the figure at all. I mean come on?, your going to spend so much money on materials and plastic for Ephont Mon and not do a cape for Biggs? A Lando repaint of his cape should suffice, and why were on the subject of Lando, what about his smugglers outfit? With endless repacks of Luke and Vader we could have had this gigure by now! They could even go the cheap route and stuck Landos head on Han body. I'm sorry for the rant but Hasbro seams to snub the collector that pays through the nose to get a unique toy/figure, playset I wish! Entertainment Earth has to feel the same way, Moms and Dads are not going to EE for another Vader or Luke, the adult collector is driving the secondary market that inflates what a toy is worth.
--Lane

This is exactly why Hasbro abhors "leaked" photos-- they have no control over what you get to see. It's possible (and I daresay likely) that all of the accessories of these figures were not shown in these images. It seems odd to me that Biggs might not have a cape, and the quality of those images (scans of scans of photos?) wasn't exactly great. I think Hasbro would be foolish not to include a cape with Biggs, but hey-- it could happen. One Stormtrooper Han and two Stormtrooper Luke figures were released without helmets, after all.

As far as Lando in "3 seconds of screen time" disguise, it looks like you might be getting your wish later this year. Sure, the two actors have very different builds, and the torso sculpt would have to be different. And the arms too. And probably the legs. And the whole figure. But you might be getting your wish-- I've always viewed this as a boring, filler figure because there are countless other figures I'd rather see before this one. But that's me. I know if I ask "does anybody really want Figure X?" I'd get a dozen emails saying YES no matter what it is-- but that's part of the problem and why it's really hard for manufacturers to take our requests seriously. We want it all-- and a lot of us request things because we think they're funny/stupid and not because we particularly love the idea of owning it. Yes, a lot of collectors giggle with glee at the idea of a Bea Arthur from the Holiday Special, but the number of people who will actually buy it might not be big enough to support the concept. In the case of Lando, well, Lando has a habit of becoming a pegwarmer, even when the figures are really good.

I'm not sure where you're going with Entertainment Earth-- they just sell the same cases that Target, Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, etc. get, and I would assume that it's collectors, not kids, buying them-- so I don't know how many moms or dads are going online to order $7 action figures anyway. Sure, it's not ideal for collectors to get stuck with extra Darth Vaders, but the number of cases that go to online-only stores is probably too small for Hasbro to warrant making special, store-specific case mixes. (As in, I doubt they money is there yet for Hasbro.) Wal-Mart is of course an exception because they can sell through pretty much anything. Hasbro isn't snubbing anybody, they're just trying to get (at least in my opinion) way too much product on the shelves in a year and as such, yes, you're going to see rehashes and repacks in an effort to keep a line with hundreds of items in circulation in a given year appearing fresh.

Assuming your question and comments about the secondary market were not in jest, the secondary market means little to nothing to Hasbro in most cases. It's to their benefit to sell a million of one figure over 10,000 of dozens of figures, hence the endless parade of Darth Vader. The secondary market-- that is, flea markets, garage sales, eBay, and forum postings-- probably aren't markets Hasbro is considering so much as "will Wal-Mart be able to sell these to fans?"

It's very hard to generalize what anybody wants from this line. 11 years later, a lot of fans keep saying "nobody wants another Luke." Lies. Surely, I'm not the only one who was excited and quite pleased to see a new Endor Luke in 2006. Although if there's one thing we can all agree on, I would wager to say that's access. Just give us the chance to buy this stuff, and I'm a happy guy. I can skip stuff after I get the chance to see it.

8. I want to know your thoughts on which characters are overdue for either a first-release figure or an upgrade of an existing figure?

Now, keep in mind, this is your turn as a collector to make a wishlist. I figured it would be a nice change of pace from having to provide factual information.
--JediJunkie247

Man, I don't think there have been any facts in this column lately. Mostly just arguing, which is kinda worthless. But straight-out opinion, I can do.

My "wish list" is pretty much for Hasbro to complete updating the remaining figures from 1978-1984 in the modern line. Especially the rest of the Ewoks and the regular Klaatu. I would like to see a Wedge figure that isn't made entirely from recycled parts, too.

At this point, I would say there are no figures that are "overdue" for a first-release-- sure, some fans are going to cry out "Gargan!" or someone whose name is unknown to most fans. I'm a huge fan of obscure characters, but at this point it's really hard to say "they need to make this one or that one." After about 12 years, I've seen nearly everything get on a rumor list or mentioned by someone at some point, so I'm pretty content to sit back and see what gets made-- as long as Hasbro keeps it interesting. If we ever get a year that's 100% reruns, you'll start hearing me complain.

9. The new sculpts coming out of the Galactic Hero line look great, also some good choices of figures (ESB wave). Hope we get more movie specific waves. Any word on new vehicles? Or re-releasing the old ones? The Millennium Falcon was around $30 and was then clearanced out around me, but is now going for upwards of $80 on eBay. Would love to see a tie fighter or Jedi star fighters.
--Louie

I think it's a safe bet we'll see older vehicles again-- the Falcon sells for way too much money on eBay to be just a few collectors buying it, it seems like an item that's probably being bought by parents for their kids because they're out of options. I'd expect a reissue of those, but I wouldn't hold your breath for any villain vehicles unless a hero character had significant interaction with it, like the Speeder Bikes, or was small enough to sell as a "figure," like Darth Maul's Speeder. Personally, I think Hasbro was foolish for not having the Falcon reissued last year (Galactic Heroes or figure scale) because I'm sure they lost a lot of sales to eBay. There's a new crop of 5-year-olds every year who are going to want their own Falcon and well, 2006 wasn't good to them.

10. I have a few questions about this new Saga Legends collection that is being advertised on GH and Rebelscum. Is this a new line from Hasbro? I didnt hear a thing about it until the preorder started showing up in those adds for Entertainment Earth. Is this new line part of the 30th Anniversy Collection? The add says they come with coins. I would also like to know where are the last two waves of the regular Saga Collection that were supposedly going to be added on. Are they still coming, or are they over? I have yet to see any of them in my area and I am really hoping I didnt miss the boat on Commander Appo, or Yareal Poof with a lightsaber. Any information you have on this stuff would be greatly appreciated.
--Kris

Saga Legends is essentially the "Greatest Hits" brand for 2007. It includes select reissues, a few repaints, and some never-before-released-in-the-USA figures with collector coins. If you're a hardcore collector, there will be new figures to buy, even if you own absolutely everything. It is part of the 30th Anniversary line look, but I believe the numbering system will be separate.

The regular Saga Collection final waves are shipping now-- I saw a holographic Obi-Wan Kenobi at Wal-Mart last week, which means I missed a case. Hopefully Hasbro will continue to ship these for a while as interest is very high, so keep your eyes on the aisles! (Why everyone is in such a hurry for 30th Anniversary is beyond me-- Hasbro still has a fair amount of Saga Collection figures to ship before we're all covered.)

FIN

OK, so late last week one of my local Targets puts out a few dozen of the new exclusives-- Ambush at Ilum, Betrayal on Felucia, and Battle of Autobot City-- the latter of which you don't care about and I had found the previous week. Why should you care? Well, the figures aren't exactly as some of the forums and other news outlets lead me to believe.

The Felucia set costs $19.99 and includes Commander Bly, Aayla Secura, and three Star Corps Clone Troopers. Aayla is basically the 2005 version, with more pronounced head detail. Commander Bly is the first release, meaning no brown stripe down the helmet (the yellow is there, the brown, not so much) and he has the white armpit rings. (Variant hunters will probably understand.) Bly also includes the Evolutions blaster rifle rather than the previously used gun, which will make this Bly stand out from others on a display. The Star Corps troopers are also interesting as they are quite different from what I expected. One is the Evolutions Clone, but minus the battle damage deco. The other two have resculpted pauldrons, but here's where it gets interesting-- they're based off the ROTS Clone Commander sculpt with a different helmet. So for everyone saying these were modified "Super Articulated" Clones, well, they're wrong. Each includes the "Evolutions" rifle. The set is pretty good but I'm actually taken aback that Hasbro didn't include the best, most accurate Bly they could have. Especially since they made it as a variant in late 2005.

The Ilum set was a little more exciting. It's also $19.99 for 4 figures, except this time there are some new sculpts in the mix. The two Chameleon Droid figures are based on the same sculpt, and some assembly is required-- you plug in each of the four legs to the body, and you're done. Each leg has a couple of joints on it, but the plastic feels like it might warp with lack of care, so you might want to be careful about what poses you put them in. R2-D2 is the Jabba's Sail Barge version from 2004 with "snow" deco on his feet, and C-3PO has the same style of snow deco. The golden droid is the 2005 Revenge of the Sith sculpt. Finally, Padme is all new, and she has eight points of articulation-- but her fairly extreme pose prevents her from doing much other than a single pose, and her soft goods snow hoodie tends to be a little bulky and this may be an issue for some fans. For me, the issue is that C-3PO didn't get his golden coverings until after this episode-- it's not like it's a minor detail that they got wrong, he's the wrong freaking color. Still, it's a really nice set.

So which should you buy? For $20 a box, they're both very good deals. The Ilum set should be a must-buy for all Expanded Universe and Clone Wars fans, while the Felucia pack is a big and relatively cheap box of Clones. Either way, the sets are fun for the money and well worth getting. I checked several Target stores and while some were swimming in them, others didn't put any out-- so happy hunting!

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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