Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
February 19, 2007


1. recenly saw a photo of a Galactic Heroes Leia as Boushh with a Han Solo in Carbonite. (SEE LINK)

Until now Ive heard nothing of this and looking around on the internet I havnt found it anywhere else either...all the sites with info or sales list the set as Leia as Boushh with a normal Bespin (not in Carbonite) Han Solo...even the official Hasbro site (SEE LINK)

Whats going on here? Is the set going to have Han in and out of Carbonite? Will it be an exclusive? Will it be a special promotion? Is this just a sick practical Joke by Hasbro?

I believe the phrase is "products and colors may vary." When Hasbro shoots official photography for its toys, they don't always show everything-- for example, the removable helmet Darth Vader for Galactic Heroes has a helmet. Hasbro's photo doesn't show that, either.

The jacket-free Bespin Han should come with the Carbonite. There's a lot of room for accessories in the packaging so it's actually not unthinkable that Hasbro would pack in a value added accessory. (To provide perspective on how overpriced these 2-packs are, in 2002, you could buy a set called Fast through the Forest with 2 Speederbikes, Luke, a Scout Trooper, and an Ewok for $6-$8. In 2006, just a Speederbike with a Scout was $5-$6.)

So kudos to Hasbro for giving us all more for our money. We deserve it.

Official Hasbro photography often leaves some things, shall we say, unexplained. Sometimes toys are mistransformed, shown with the wrong color accessories, or are shown without all of their parts. This is normal, probably in part because Hasbro's photographers have to shoot lots and lots of things and, one would assume, do not have all day. So for these Galactic Heroes, well, we just saw part of it-- and the real deal is going to be better. No conspiracies here, it's just that a lot of products aren't officially "announced" any more, photos just happen to get out and we draw a lot of conclusions. (I'm not saying this is a bad thing-- a lot of items never get officially announced by Hasbro, especially exclusives, so we don't always know what to expect until it shows up in stores or on an Asian auction site.)

2. Just a couple quick questions now that we've seen images and such from toyfair:

-Why oh why is there yet ANOTHER Jabba's Palace Luke Jedi when one from the Death Star 2 is needed way more?!?

-Chances of a repack? How soon?

-Are the death star 2 threads and utility belt on underneath the soft goods?

It all seems like they we're trying to squeeze one more dime out of us before finally giving us the Luke Jedi we all want.

You kids, and your "what we all want." We don't all want it. There's no one thing the fanbase all wants any more, Hasbro has done such a good job over the years of meeting our big demands in a year or two that, today, pretty much every request for a figure from an existing film is, in fact, a small request.

We really don't need any new Lukes. The bases have been covered-- sure, there's room for improvement, but do we need another Luke in black? No. It'd be nice, sure.

So you don't like Jedi Luke. Good for you. Save your seven bucks. Hasbro (and Kenner) often produced more than one version of a popular character in a short time frame to (you guessed it) sell figures and make money. Tatooine Luke saw no less than 5 (3 of which were carded) releases between July of 1998 and September of 1999, each with minor changes. This particular new Jedi Luke (Jabba's Palace) has a particularly neat battle-damaged hand, soft goods, enhanced articulation, and, of course, a coin. It's not perfect but it's neat enough that I want to get my hands on one to see if it's any good. It certainly looks like there's the "Death Star 2" gear under there, but even if there is, it's still lacking a hand with a black glove, which he had during that sequence. So sure, it's possible we'll see a retooled version of this figure later.

Of course Hasbro is squeezing a dime out of us. That's what they do, they're a business selling a lot of grown men (and women) children's toys. A new group of kids are born every year, and some characters-- like Luke, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 are ones that new fans like to buy. If you're a collector, or at least an enthusiast, one of the things you'll need to get used to in a modern toy line is that there are going to be a lot of things released that you might not like too much. If you collect the line after it ends, you can be a lot more selective in picking "the best version" because, as of today, there's a lot of room for improvement and Hasbro isn't shy about trying again.

So unless you're in the business of collecting them all, this is a good of a place as any to draw the line. If you don't see a Luke Skywalker figure with soft goods, more articulation, and a nifty bone accessory as worth picking up, why waste the money?

3. How long do you think that Hasbro can keep churning out Vintage style figures?

That's entirely up to you guys. My assumption is that this series will probably be the end of it, because Vintage figures are simply basic figures with a fancy package and a higher price point. (If they weren't, I doubt we'd see the molds reused for so many other purposes over the past few years.) The real question is how will this new batch sell? Last year, we had a couple of "trooper" figures with the Tusken Raider and the Scout Trooper. We had two good hero figures with Luke and Han. And we had a real wild card with Greedo, the most articulated version ever. It seems that, overall, they sold well enough to warrant this year's assortment.

This year, we're getting Hoth Han (ooh!), Bespin Luke (aaaah!), Battle Poncho Leia (nice!), a new Snowtrooper (not bad!), IG-88 (ummmm...), and Bossk (what?). Now, we have no idea how these will sell, or how the final product will look, until they hit the marketplace-- and then we decide if Year 4 happens with our dollars. None of these tended to show up on a fan's Vintage Wish List except maybe Luke and the Snowtrooper, so it's really going to be interesting to see if the marketplace will buy into this concept. This year's mail-in concept, a set of coins, is significantly less exciting than Stormtrooper George Lucas as well, so what we might be seeing here is the last batch if we don't pony up the money for them.

I would wager the line's best hope for a next series is to do something really engaging-- I mean, most collectors would probably agree an Imperial Dignitary, a Stormtrooper Luke, a super-awesome Han in Carbonite, or even a Droids-style C-3PO would make for awesome additions to the line. On the other hand, basic figures keep getting better and better-- would it be better for us as collectors just to wedge these figures into the basic line, or perhaps the line of Expanded Universe 2-packs? It's possible.

The vintage figures so far have been quite excellent-- aside from a couple of weak spots, the line has been excellent, and the stellar packaging-- for carded collectors-- is probably worth the slight premium price. It's just that aside from vintage repacks, there's only about 96 vintage figures from the films and the fan interest in actually buying them all is lower than you might think. 8D8? A new Ugnaught? These won't make for good $11 figures.

4. Hey Adam, one of my favorite vehicles is the TX-130 Saber-class fighter tank, do you ever think we'll see one in 3 3/4 inch size?

As that vehicle is hardly a household name (and something most fans would have to look up to realize what it is), no. Possibly for Titanium or the Starship Battles miniatures game, but for the action figure line? It would probably need to appear on a TV show because, as of today, that's a mighty obscure vehicle.

5. Do you think the first three waves of figures for the 30th Anniversary line will be released all at once in March? Also which wave will Elis Helrot be in? The German website has him listed in wave 4, and the website has him listed in wave 3.

Odds are these will be spread out a little. Strange things can happen in distribution but outside of a movie year, you usually don't see more than one or two waves released in a month. It's been known to happen, but not often. Elis Helrot should be in wave 3 or 4-- there are a lot of lists out there, but until I see the Hasbro solicitations at my day job, I tend to remain skeptical.

6. I have a question I have wondered for many years but never asked anyone. What and how is the reason and choice for the color backgrounds on the vintage figures on the name and figure itself?

I've never heard a specific reason, so I would gather it has to do with aesthetics and making the figures stand out more on the pegs. If anyone out there has heard a real answer, though, I'd love to be able to pass it along!

7. Adam, did it ever cross your mind that there is one obvious Chewbacca that has not been made yet? That would be the cell block prisoner with rifle, binders and scared mouse droid. That would be an awsome addition to the collection. I think that for the 30th ann hasbro should re-release some of the playsets, their will only be one 30th and I think it is a very special occasion. With some retooling you can turn the original death star into the second death star by adding Palpatine's throne on the third level. They could even just take the third level and sell it as an independent playset.

At the risk of being a downer... no. There was a "Death Star Captive" Chewbacca released in 1997 along with Luke and Han Stormtrooper figures in a 3-pack, so, more or less, that scene has been represented. If you want to get down to the nitty gritty, there are tons of 1-2 scene variants Hasbro hasn't done yet, like Ewok Captive Chewbacca, for example. It all depends on how specific you really want to get, and in a way it's an unfortunate sign of the times. I mean, wow, we're asking for another Chewbacca variant as a fan base now. Back in my day, we asked for Wedge and Aunt Beru and, you know, new stuff.

Let's stop asking about playsets. I get it. Hasbro gets it. They don't want to do them, and as such, they aren't going to change their mind if we keep coming up with clever ideas. (Although I personally think there are no reasons not to revisit the pop-up diorama playsets from a few years ago. For ten bucks or so, those were awesome and require zero tooling costs. Paper is cheap.)

The last thing I want our future to be is "more of the same," but it seems we're in danger of asking for it. I'm done with reissued ships and the thought of retooled playsets. Let's get some new pop-up cardboard dioramas out there-- Hasbro has no excuse for the being too expensive to produce. (Although for all I know they're really poor sellers.)

8. As a fan of the Vintage look, I was sort of disappointed to read somewhere that Hasbro wasn't interested in revisiting the POTF packaging. Not that those final figures featured such great cardbacks, but the completist in me . . . well, you get the picture. Do you think that the big H might have a change of heart given that carded TAC figures include coins? I think three or four POTF-packaged figures, with coin, would be a nice coda to the TAC collection.

We can hope-- but it seems the line is more of an event, so I wouldn't necessarily expect them at the and of the 30th Anniversary Collection. Perhaps a Spring 2008 release-- but perhaps not, given the TV show. At this point most of the line is pretty much firmed up for a little while, so we can hope Hasbro reads and sees that fans are interested in POTF-style "Vintage" figures. I think they look great-- and hopefully there can be a way to produce some previously-unmade modern figures. (Lumat, I'm looking at you.)

9. I am curious on the possibility of new Rebel soldiers, it is cool to see the new head sculpts in the Tantive IV set, but what of any rumors of Hoth Rebel Soldiers coming down the pipe, the ones we currently have are just too action posed and bulky.

I have heard no rumors and not even any wishful thinking. Requests for generic Rebel figures tend to be far and few between-- if we're lucky, maybe Hasbro can retool Derlin and do a new Hoth Battle Pack with new generic Hoth Rebel Troopers.

10. I have looked for information about copyright and licensing rights, but am unable to decipher what I'm interested in knowing. If you have an idea for creating something "Star Wars", where is the line drawn between copyright infringement and being able to create and sell something with ties to a specific franchise? My best example is the Ultarama and Pride displays. Do you know if a license was needed for either of these? (I've asked and gotten no response) I'm assuming the Pride one did but the Ultarama did not. I'm looking at producing something Star Wars fans might be interested in... but not necessarily other franchises (Marvel, Pirates, Potter, etc.). I'm not a big business looking to mass produce in the thousands... does this even matter? Any help would be appreciated.

I'm no expert-- but I can tell you what I've seen. Obviously, I am not a lawyer-- so you may wish to consult people who really know about this sort of thing when designing your packaging and marketing materials.

Ultarama was a neat product, a generic modular action figure display stand with no license. The stand was basically a generic display with plastic pegs-- there's nothing here that requires a license. Even the generic space (or snow, or forest) backgrounds were just that-- generic. A snowy toy playset isn't Hoth unless it says so on the box, or has something that's obviously taken from the film. (Like a shield generator.) If you wanted to make a product like Ultarama, odds are you would need no license from Lucasfilm to do so. A number of companies make license-free items compatible with action figures every year, from stands to Star Cases and beyond.

The Retrobilia Pride Displays Action Figure Stand did require a license-- but that was the point. The item borrows from the vintage Kenner and Palitoy line look, from the package to the sculpting to the logos to the background with X-wings on it. The entire idea was to do a licensed product that, according to the manufacturers when I saw them at Celebration III, would look and feel (and be sold like) the original vintage toys.

Depending on what you want to do, I would try to make a generic product with no license. A license is expensive to get and probably gets you only limited momentum in terms of free publicity-- if all you want to do is to make some decent figure displays or bases that aren't specifically Hogwarts or a Death Star or something recognizable, you should have no problem making an item on your own. Still, I would be sure to talk it over with someone in manufacturing just to be safe-- just don't use any licensed names and imagery if you can help it.


OK, some things to clear up/announce here.

One: there are two people named Adam at Galactic Hunter. I'm Adam Pawlus, I write this weekly Q&A column as well as Figure of the Day, and some news posts here and there. My associate is one Adam May, who went to New York to shoot pictures and report, writes Galactic Blogger, and is an all around nice guy. If you just met someone in New York named Adam this past month, it wasn't me-- I wasn't there. I was busy enjoying the 80 degree weather by staying indoors.

Two: Because I'm stupid, I'm writing yet another feature online. Apparently I'll be writing about Japanese toys (mostly Anime stuff) for Anime News Network. I guess this is to keep me from spending all day playing Gradius Gaiden or something.

Three: I still haven't seen the freaking Wal-Mart exclusive wave. From your cards and letters, it seems I'm not alone. And let me tell you, I'm hunting like a lunatic. (There's one store I've hit every work day-- and I do mean EVERY-- for four weeks now. Plus others not daily.) Hasbro originally implied these would be made in decent numbers, and that the Saga Collection would ship "through Spring." Seeing as how many assortments were announced last week that will ship in/around April, I'm now a little more optimistic that maybe I'll find these buggers.

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.)

Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!

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