Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
February 12, 2007

 

1. Now that the green light has finally been given for Indiana Jones IV, what do you believe the chances are for Hasbro to finally do a proper toy line for the movie (or hopefully entire series)?
--Joel

Well, Hasbro-- or someone-- has to get the license first. It's my understanding that outside a handful of items for the Japanese market and Disney parks, Lucasfilm has opted not to grant anybody a license for Indy for roughly the past ten years.

With issues like money involved, it's possible Hasbro might not go for it-- or someone else might offer more. Mattel might see this as a great chance to try to warm up to collectors who have been wanting the property for years. NECA might snag it to make their high-quality collectible figures, or McFarlane might grab it and give it the Lost treatment by making statues with props for a low-low price of $19.99. Personally, I really hope Hasbro gets it because of a variety of reasons-- maybe a few Titanium vehicles, an Unleashed 7-inch scale figure (hey, they're doing Bumblebee), and of course basic figures.

The problem with Indy is that while Star Wars has a big adult audience, I would wager that Dr. Jones has an audience that's exclusively adult-- Temple of Doom isn't a kiddie movie, and while kids may be aware of the character through endless parodies on cartoons, I think the number of boys and girls ages 4-11 who have seen Raiders probably isn't huge. Depending on how many thousands (or millions) Lucasfilm might be asking for, it's possible Hasbro will just decide their licensing and R&D dollars are better spent on other properties that might appeal to their key audience.

Honestly, this might be a great license for the likes of Gentle Giant-- with all the adult collectors, statues and busts might be the way to go. We'll find out more as people announce that licenses were granted, most likely through press releases. What would make ME very happy is to have Hasbro get the figure license and crank out figures in the Star Wars assortments every few months-- sort of like how they pepper Titanium with Battlestar Galactica. Hey, if I were buying a case of 30th Anniversary figures and got an Indy Jones in it, I'd be a very happy camper.

2. It seems like when a subline dies (i.e. Jedi Force, Titainium 3 3/4", etc.) the last of the bunch are always very difficult to find or might not be released at all due to waning retailer support. However, since Hasbro has already spent the money for the expensive tooling on the unreleased item, why don't they recoop some of their investment and make a limited run of the item. They could sell these at Hasbro Toy Shop.com for a premium (more than the retailer) and the die hard completists would be tickled pink that they are getting something that didn't see widespread distribution.
--Michael

Let me ask a rhetorical question first-- do you even really want these "lost" items? It seems to me that a lot of abandoned concepts are desirable by some fans only because they can't have them, with the exception of something like the big Unleashed figures (given eBay prices). You say you'd pay a premium, but would you really want to pay $30 for a figure that arguably wasn't worth the $15 in the first place? (I would if it were off of eBay from an collector in China and nobody else could have one, but I detest the idea of paying premium prices for normal item that was sold to the USA market.)

It is entirely possible Hasbro will grant someone the final products as exclusives. Given what numbers I've heard tossed around for HasbroToyShop.com from Joe collectors, it seems like that would be a bad fit-- but Wal-Mart, or Toys "R" Us, maybe. I hope that they at least get the Cylon figure out from Battlestar Galactica because I think it has a really good potential to sell and sell well.

If a figure made it to the final packaged stage, than yes, it might make sense for Hasbro to find a buyer and try to get some of their investment back-- but the thing is, production costs money too. You can spend tens of thousands to develop an action figure, but the minimum production run might cost you another huge number in the tens or hundreds of thousands, and whatever that minimum run might be-- which in the 1990s, was around 30,000 for non-exclusives-- might be too high. Target had a very difficult time getting people to buy their Lava Reflection Darth Vaders for 50% or more off, and I can say that means there's a lot fewer collectors who will buy anything and everything than you might think.

As far as die-hard completists go, well, if an item doesn't come out, your collection is complete. Frankly, I think this is a good thing-- I don't mind not having something if nobody else can have it, either.

3. I have a somewhat odd question, but, shopping at which places sends the loudest message to Hasbro. For example, I love EU and I buy all EU toys to send the message to Hasbro that I want more. Does it matter if I get it at a big chain (Target), a big chain's site (walmart.com), a comic book store, an e-tailor outfit only (EE), or ebay? My guess is that the meaning to Hasbro is in the order I just listed, but I wanted your thoughts on the matter and the approximate relative amplitudes of each option.
--Paul

This was a really long answer, but I cut it down to save you a few days worth of reading. Basically, here's what you should do: just buy it. Obviously, if a certain exclusive does well, it's a sign to go back to the well and do more. If you get it on eBay, that shows old items are still popular. If you buy the latest and greatest, it shows there's still interest in more new stuff. In the case of Expanded Universe, I'd say go out and get Shadow Stormtroopers, Kir Kanos, Carnor Jax, and all the rest-- sure, they're not as new as they were, but if they all sell out it sends a message saying "people like this and want more."

4. originally the re-decoed battle droid 2-pack was to ship with the line with the super battle droid re-deco, the green clone from Ep 2, the security and 442nd clone. I've managed to score all the other guys from this line but have never seen the battle droids retail, and now I see they will be shipping with the next assortment (as well? Instead?). My question is, are these guys in both lines or did I just get really unlucky at retail and miss out on what I assumed would be a pegwarmer (and I guess the real question is, should I jump on a set on eBay or wait for another pass at them at retail)?
--Ed

It seems you got lucky. The Battle Droid 2-pack is shipping in a few case mixes, and I've actually seen this one a few times at retail-- which does you no good, but if you keep looking you might luck out. For all of its wave, this is probably one of the more common figures, which is good, as it's a really nice two-pack.

5. First off I notieed that with Aayla's Trooops that they do not stand well on their own and do not fit on the current stands as well. What can I do to disply them? (60 of them) Placing them in rows just does not work as one falls over it takes out about 30 of them.

They are talking about a Voovlif Monn figure from the Clone Wars did I miss were he was in th ecartoon? I am a big fan of jedi's and I theink the more the better for us collectors.
--Clifton

Let me guess-- you aren't the kind of person who spends a lot of time reworking something? In the case of the troops from the recent Betrayal at Felucia Battle Pack, I've had mine standing on a shelf for just over a week now, but I did move their legs around a little bit to assume a pose that seems to be better for standing up. You might want to futz with a few of them for a while to find the best pose, but it's also possible your batch has bad legs. If this is the case, you'll want to invest in some action figure stands, especially if you actually wasted spent money on 60 of them.

You can find the Wolfman Jedi Knight in episode 20 of the cartoons. He had only a brief cameo, after being the winner of a contest where fans got to pick a Jedi that would appear in the then-final episode of the series. Two of the losers (Foul Moudama and Roron Corrob) would find themselves in much better roles later on, and it seems all three might be getting action figures before the new year. And I agree-- you can never have enough Jedi figures if they're good, and these ones are certainly awesome.

6. Has Hasbro ever released the number made for each SW action figure? Have any numbers ever leaked out? Are you privy to any of this info at your current position?
--JD

Hasbro doesn't release this information any more, but it does get out for exclusives from time to time. Sometimes, Hasbro will print a number on the package, and other times employees of a store will say "our HQ has 50,000 units of this on order" which pretty much tells you everything you need to know. It was my understanding that Kenner in 1995 was trying to make something like 250,000 of each figure, but during Power of the Jedi in 2000, the number shrank significantly-- but to what, I do not know. I would assume each figure today is made somewhere under 100,000 pieces each, if not much lower in some cases. (Of course, 100,000 is a lot. I can guarantee you there aren't 100,000 collectors who buy one of everything these days.)

7. Since 1996 There have been five 1/6 scale Boba Fetts (Collector series, Electronic KB toys, Marmit, Original Trilogy Collection, and Medicom) and all of them have been from Empire Strikes back (green gauntlets and jetpack with a shorter rifle). Is there any reason why a toy company hasn't made the Return of the Jedi version yet? I always thought Fett's look in ROTJ was much cooler not to mention it's going to drive me nuts having my ESB Marmit Fett standing next to my Sideshow Jabba.
--DJ

Well, there's a fun "technically" here. Initially in 2004, Hasbro said they were going to release the 12-inch Vintage Boba Fett in ROTJ and ESB coloring, and at the time they insisted that they did. What they actually did, though, was release it with either a blue body suit (first release) or the more greenish one (second release).

To date, Hasbro has not produced a 1:6 scale Boba Fett in its Return of the Jedi deco. The 1979 Vintage figure comes close, but it's the "proto Fett" coloring, with one yellow gauntlet and one red, and a few other changes. Right now, your only hope comes from customizing it yourself, perhaps using parts from a 12-inch Jango Fett for the backpack, or waiting to see what Sideshow does for their inevitable release of Boba Fett down the road.

But licensors, take note-- there's a lot of potential in Boba Fett repaints. Nobody has released the "proto armor" since the olden days, and I know I'd love to get one with the crazy yellow gauntlet and brown hands. There's the animated look-- which Hasbro is finally delivering on the small scale. And of course, there's the ROTJ look-- that's a lot of redeco opportunities from one mold of a very popular character. And as fans, we expect you to get to it, chop-chop.

(And on that note, Hey Hasbro, how about 3 3/4-inch Proto Fett in 2008? It'd make a nice exclusive...)

8. Recently I was searching in the StarWars.com archives. I stumbled upon the picture on Temuera Morrison in Jedi robes holding a blaster. It seems he was preparing to become one of the Clones disguised as a Jedi to fool Jedi's arriving at the Jedi Temple. Though the scene was cut (no trace in the final scene, just in the original screenplay) it was interesting concept. I thought that it would be a figure Hasbro could make, even if it was kit-bashed.

Onto another matter, the new Alpha figure from the Wave 2 Comic Packs looks pretty spiffy. It looks to be a new, ground up figure. Your thoughts? Is this what will replace all the future ARC molds and pack-ins?
--Felix

Man, I've been pestering Hasbro about that "Clone" Jedi for a while. Obviously, it didn't come out-- but hopefully they'll get around to doing it as I think a lot of us would like a Clone Trooper in Jedi Knight disguise.

As to the future of ARC Troopers, well, you're asking a very broad question, and thankfully I have a broad answer. You know the TIE Fighter pilot? Well, just because you get a new mold doesn't mean Hasbro won't keep cranking out the 1995 version if it's "good enough." I wouldn't hold your breath for more ARC Troopers this year, but maybe someone will ask for a red redeco some day. (FORDO LIVES!)

9. I am a huge fan of the vintage Hoth Rebel Soldier with the brown vest. What are the chances Hasbro would make a "super A" army builder modern version? The mini Unleashed line has one with this coloring holding macro binocs so I'm hoping chances are good. What do you think?
--John

I would say there's some very obvious interest in a super-articulated Hoth Rebel, but it might be a while. General Rieekan and Major Derlin filled two retail slots for Hoth Rebels, so it might be a year or three before we see another batch. (For reference, the last time we got a wave of Hoth Rebel figures was January 2004.) I would say "maybe in 2008" but I would wager that would be TV show time, meaning no movie stuff for a while. But we'll see, I suppose.

10. How many years are left on Hasbro's license to make 3 3/4 inch figures? Based on the past eleven or so years worth of figures and the normal number of releases per year, and based on current trends of re-releasing older figures, how many more figures (new and re-released) does that suggest we can look forward to over the remaining life of Hasbro's license? In asking this question I fully realize the market and interest for this line could change dramatically and the effect of the TV shows on the line production are difficult to estimate. Nevertheless—what is your best guess (maybe a range would better here)? Finally, in coming up with a number, can you differentiate between never-before seen figures, completely re-done but previously released figures, and straight re-releases? Thanks.
--Rash Flembar

It's my understanding that the current license for Hasbro to make toys based on the Star Wars saga (which I'm assuming means the TV shows too) is through 2018. Just because they have it doesn't mean they'll use it-- Kenner's license lasted from the original Star Wars film through 1998, after all, and there were about 10 years of jack squat in there. For carded collectors who want all figures on all cardbacks, I would estimate another 1,000 packaged figures to be bought between now and when the license ends, assuming production is what it is today (about 100 a year.) Now, you might say that's crazy-- but basic Saga figures totaled up to 74 in 2006, with an additional 26 repacks for Heroes & Villains. (Plus exclusives.) The plan for this year-- so far-- is at least 60 basic figures and 28 Saga Legends, plus exclusives. And I'm not even counting the tins and Battle Packs here, folks.

I cannot differentiate between re-releases, brand-new figures, and repaints. It's not possible. Obviously, you can look at 2005 and 2006 and extrapolate based on that, but why? There's so much about the future that we don't know that it would be foolish to guess about the TV shows and future toys based on the old movies. That and there's a fine line with fans about which constitutes a new figure. Is the 30th Anniversary Tin AOTC Clone Trooper new, or is it a rehash? It's the first-ever removable helmet Blue Clone Trooper, but it uses an old mold and a plain blue Clone already exists. So it's really hard to tell.

The TV shows are a funny proposition because it might even mean fewer figures. Look at Star Trek over the years. You've got a central cast of 7-10 core crew members, a bunch of minor characters (your Roms, your Naomi Wildmans, your Barclays), your villains-of-the-week (sometimes), and of course, your crazy cameos (whoever the Hell it was Seth McFarlane played on Enterprise, Uncle Phil as a Klingon, and the one Next Generation with Max Headroom on it.) So aside from your core cast, and your "B" cast, each episode might get you between zero and two figure possibilities. It's not like they're introducing millions of new characters on Battlestar Galactica or Lost every week. (Well, maybe Lost.)

Heck, even look at Droids, which is the best example we have. It takes place before Star Wars and had a rotating cast. In 13 episodes, there were a lot of minor characters and cameos, but the figure friendly population was something like this: C-3PO, R2-D2, Boba Fett, Tig Fromm, Sise Fromm, Vlix, Fromm Clone Gangster, that weird robot assassin, Kea Moll, Demma Moll, Thall Joben, Jord Dusat, etc. etc. (I decided to stop typing.) I basically roughed out about 30-40 possible/likely figures, which, really, is pretty dang good.

So it all depends on the direction of the show, really. Let's say the live-action show is a series about a few Jedi on the run from the Empire. If this is the case, we can probably count on a lot of Clone repaints, a few core Jedi, an Imperial Officer villain of the week, some Droids, a few random aliens, and some other stuff. If the series focuses on bounty hunters, or a specific bounty hunter, you've got maybe 3 core characters, prey-of-the-week, and maybe some Bounty Hunter's Guild members and random Imperials. The focus of the show will dictate the needs of the merchandising, and the audience will as well. For all we know the live action show might be very kid-friendly-- a live action version of Droids, for example. It might also be very adult in nature, a creepy show about a ship lost adrift in empty space with no working hyperdrive. So in short, you can't really estimate too much-- and my guess of 1,000 is probably wrong, too.

FIN

Obviously, this was written before Toy Fair. So if something got contradicted, well, such is life. I should be writing a big report on the show thus far (from what I've seen/heard, I'm stuck in LA this year) so watch for that this week.

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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