Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
April 2, 2007
1. Has Hasbro considered the possibility of releasing Graxol Kelvyyn and Shakka (from Episode I's Watto's Box) as individually carded figures? Or perhaps Senator Horox Ryyder or some other Anx?
Yes-- Mr. Kelvyyn was up for the Saga Legends poll at Rebelscum, and the fans decided reissuing every single Trooper was a better idea. (Which is why we keep saying Democracy just doesn't work.) As such, Hasbro has evidence that it's wanted-- it still got a decent amount of votes, just not enough to, you know, win.
Or, if you're old enough, I'd suggest you buy online. A large number of this figure was made several years ago and the market has many of them available today. The most expensive buy-it-now eBay auction that I saw active as I write this is $20.75 + $8.75 shipping, but when I look at closed auctions, I see complete, sealed sets going as low as $7. And just the loose figure for $20, because as I've stated in in the past, there's a very weird desire for a lot of fans to pay more for a loose toy than a packaged one if it has something they don't need (i.e., spare figures, or the box). So go to eBay, get one of the $7 one, and pay the $7 shipping-- $14 is worth it to get Graxol and Shakka alone, Watto, a CommTech chip, and a full display stand make it one of the most fantastic deals you're likely to see.
Just remember-- if, and I do mean IF Hasbro makes this figure by himself in an upcoming line, it'll be at least $7. So why not get it today, and get some more figures while you're at it? You're good people, I'm sure you've earned it.
2. Given Passel Argente's re-paint/re-pack with the ROTS line, will Hasbro also give the single-card treatment to other previous CIS figures, such as San Hill, Shu Mai and Nute Gunray (the Geonosian War Room version)?
Given the recent release of Yarael Poof on a single card, will Hasbro also give the same treatment to other previous Jedi figures, such as Even Piell, Oppo Rancicis, Depa Billaba and Yaddle?
On the first-- and frankly, the second-- both figures are a result of Hasbro seeing the end of the year and realizing they need more variety and more product on the market. The decision to repackage and/or redeco older figures is usually the sign that the line received a last-minute augmentation and these were the molds that were available and made sense at the time for reasons that are too great for mere mortals like me to understand without understanding better how their manufacturing works.
Anything is possible, but you have to think about just how interesting those figures are to people who aren't specifically you. As I answered in the previous question, virtually all of these figures were produced in big numbers several years ago and you can get them today. You can easily get both War Room packs for under $30 shipped-- before asking Hasbro for a reissue, be a good collector and see what's on the market today. Recycle! Pretend it's good for the environment. With a few exceptions, most action figures released since 2000 are excellent and cheap, and it's going to be a heck of a lot faster to buy mint-on-card and mint-in-box figures from a collector on the secondary market than it would be to wait 12-18 months for Hasbro to take your suggestion and put out the product. Also, old figures on eBay are practically worthless-- you can't beat getting them at less than original retail, shipping included. Seriously, this is the way to go. I'm envious of newcomers to the hobby because, with few exceptions, they can pick up about 90% of the line for less than original SRP.
Oh, I've wasted my life.
3. I would please like your help on something. As I read from your Q&A (3/26/07), that even you have had problems finding the exclusive Wal-Mart wave at retail ("in the wild" as you phrased it). A lot of my fellow collectors in NJ/NY (including myself) have not come across a SINGLE figure from those final five. What gives? Didn't Hasbro state in their Q&A's that they would be shipping those figures in higher numbers to make sure that there would be enough at retail. How is one each per case high enough numbers? Or for that matter, how can one to two cases per store for the month be high enough volume? I find this situation to be absolutely ridiculous even bordering on insanity. Knowing FULL WELL the distribution problems that Wal-Mart has had with their store exclusives, why did Hasbro allow this to happen AGAIN? I think the "Separation of the Twins" situation from 2005 would have taught Hasbro their lesson regarding Wal-Mart. So what I'm asking (actually pleading) is if Hasbro will reconsider and send out more of the final five to Wal-Mart to offset the high demand there is out there? Will anything actually be done or are we (the collectors) totally out of luck? Is there anything we in the collecting community can do? I would appreciate any help.
Just walk in to the recruiters office, sing "You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant," and walk out.
No, wait, that's for the draft. (If you don't get it, ask your dad.)
Several weeks after these have hit, I have seen but one figure in the wild, and as I believe I said, I hit the same Wal-Mart store every weekday for over four weeks, only to miss them on the one weekday they put them out. I keep hitting this store and never saw a second shipment. Although I did score a leftover Nabrun Leids & Kabe from the first. (Also still not seeing the Saleucami Battle Pack and it's making me nervous.) And-- another funny aside-- I went to a Wal-Mart last Thursday night at about 7, no exclusives. I went again on Friday morning-- and saw two Aurra Sings that weren't there the night before, and no other exclusives of any kind. This is the kind of crap we have to put up with.
Hasbro screwed the pooch on this one so far-- but remember those words, so far. I don't know what's still coming, or what might get dumped at Kay-Bee or some online store six months from now-- weird stuff happens with exclusives at times. (I mean, seriously, did you see all the 2006 Wal-Mart exclusives that Entertainment Earth suddenly has?) So it's possible that this might work itself out in some odd way.
However, like many of you, I plan to go to Celebration IV and Comic-Con, and if I were you, I'd make this my one big talking point. It's not cool to make figures that by and large, fans can't get. Hasbro always wants to hear your suggestions, so my advice to you is to be polite, compliment them on your favorite figures, and then politely add that it's infuriating to not be able purchase toys designed for children even when you have the full adult resources. I say this in all seriousness-- I have a car and time and money. No toy should be so hard to get that I can't find it by hitting several Wal-Marts a week and in some cases, several a day.
But keep checking your stores and let's see if this remedies itself. And if you happen to see anyone from Hasbro, remind them that it's really important to offer these things on Wal-Mart.com if there's no plans to make them available in the retail environment. I guess it might be possible that some store in North Dakota is loaded with these, but I can assure you my stores are in no danger of being stuck with them.
4. Every year around this time, the stores fill with huge amounts of toys for the upcoming summer blockbusters, and I always wonder - in terms of sales - how do these lines stack-up against the Star Wars lines they share shelf space with? Clearly, they do not have the staying power of the Star Wars line, but do they tend to sell as well during their "window." I've seen all the challengers from Jurassic Park 2, King Kong, Godzilla, Planet of the Apes, LOTR,
the list goes on... While I suspect that the stores order huge amounts of this stuff, it sure doesn't seem to move and eventually gets clearanced out down the line. (Especially when compared to a Star Wars movie year). Seriously, I suspect I could still find some Hulk Hands if I looked hard enough.
Well Matt, it's hard to measure. The problem is that in a way, we're comparing apples and oranges. (Although it's my understanding that in 2006, Star Wars was supposedly the #1 male action toy license with the action figures doing all sorts of awesome sales.) Some stores will order gonzo amounts of Pirates and men of spiders and so forth because that's where the marketing dollars are-- if you carry those items, you stand to profit. Star Wars has been selling mostly on its history and its own merits, as the marketing for it has been... well, let's be honest: crappy.
Those big movies do very well, though-- so does Power Rangers, after 10 years it frequently is one of the top selling boy's toys on the market as a brand, even beating Star Wars in some years. Spider-Man products will likely mop the floor with the 30th Anniversary Collection because everybody loves Spider-Man. (Heck, even I bought some Superhero Squad figures and I've tried to swear off non-SW toys.)
But despite the perception, a lot of money is made. Hulk Hands were one of the best selling toys the year they came out-- parents bought them, kids bought them, they just sold like crazy. Since they're in solid-pack cases (and not assortments, like figures and vehicles) it's obvious when a store has a lot available-- it's not like they were horribly overproduced, it's just that it was a rare instance of a popular toy being produced in adequate numbers-- and in some markets, more than adequate.
Everything hits clearance-- even and especially Star Wars. Look at all of Target's exclusives. I've seen a number of items show up on markdown from the regular line, like a ton of Revenge of the Sith items at most of the major chain stores, be it BOGO packs, $1 Neimoidians and Jedi, and so on. Sure, it does well, but don't forget how horrible Episode I did-- everybody carried it and it got clearanced almost everywhere. Summer movies are a nasty gambit for toymakers as you never know what kids will latch on to-- like Lightsabers-- or hate-- like Planet of the Apes.
5. Do you know anything about this forthcoming Gentle Giant Bib Fortuna
Mail-Away coming this summer?
On the website it says that if you get both the Jabba Diorama and the Max
Band Diorama than you can send away for Bib. Will it work like the
Hasbro/Lucas Mail Away where each product will have a redemption sticker?
Also, the dioramas are very limited, so does that translate into Bib being
very limited or do you think he'll be sent to retail on his own eventually
I was told the offer would be something like this: Buy Statue 1, Buy Statue 2. Send in 2 coupons. Get Bib Fortuna. Bib will likely be very limited and not made available again elsewhere unless they were somehow stuck with unredeemed product. I wouldn't expect it to be sold at retail at all, but Gentle Giant's new collector club could be an ideal outlet for unsold products in the future.
6. i read your Q&A every week and find it very interesting and useful.
however, i thought your mention of 800+ figures was a little out.
over the years of collecting star wars im sure most people have their checklists of figures. put together from various sources (but mainly rebelscum and galactichunter) heres my list. (Editor's note: obviously, it isn't here.)
recently ive missed off a few blatant reissues but most are here (there is also a couple of strange inclusions like the ET and Asian build-a-commtech trooper but its good for most completists and dont get me started on the is a holograph a figure, should aunt beru's service droid be a seperate figure etc etc)
Ugh. No. You're WRONG.
This is why I don't compile lists or solicit for others to write them for the column. You cannot make a definitive list of figures and include items that a) are not branded Star Wars, b) are bootlegs, or c) aren't even produced by Hasbro or Kenner. Your list is autmagically wrong in my book, just like my counting the Jawa as one figure and the Gonk Droid as another might discount my counting mechanism in yours. But seriously... bootlegs? C'mon man. Those aren't real figures. You don't see vintage lists featuring Blue Stars and Headman.
This is what I mean about this being difficult to compile. Like R2-D2-- the Jabba's Palace R2-D2 from 2004, the Ilum R2-D2 from 2007, and the Dagobah R2-D2 from 2007 all share the same mold, but with different environmental decoration. Are they the same, or different? Are all those Battle Droid repaints the same, or different? And so on. Some people even count Takara's remote control astromechs-- which, well, I don't because the scale is just enough off and they aren't sold as part of the line. But to each his or her own.
7. I have a rather large (subject to interpretation) Star Wars toy collection spanning the vintage years through the current 30th anniversary collection (all of the vintage is loose - most of the other collections are in their sealed packages).
My estimate is that it is worth some were in the $15k range.
If I wanted to sell the entire collection, what would be the best way to go about doing so in order to maximize my investment (being that there is a lot of hype around the 30th anniversary - I think now would be the best time).
However, I don't believe Ebay is the right answer (maybe I am wrong) when talking about this much stuff, how ever I have seen large lots on Ebay.
I would be more then happy to send a list of my collection if that would help in your answer.
Do I get a cut of the sale?
Seriously though, you're probably in trouble. The sad fact is that there are more collectors around today than there are potential buyers-- a lot of products are now worthless. POTF2 figures are worth a couple of bucks each. Episode I figures are barely worth the box you ship them in. There are lots of exceptions but well, you invested in children's toys. Now you get to figure out how to deal with that.
Your best bet? Go through your collection and pick out "the good stuff" (anything you assume you can get $20+ for) and list it on eBay. Everything else, donate to charity, use as gifts, etc. There's just so much licensed merchandise for these six films that it may not get any better (or worse) to sell the stuff-- it's just that a few years ago, if you wanted a Bossk, you had one option: a vintage figure from 1982. Today, you've got that figure, a 1997 figure, a 2004 figure, a 2007 figure, a 12-inch figure, micro figures, busts, bust-ups, a Titanium figure, etc. Interest in Star Wars hasn't waned, but the number of people that want to buy all of this stuff is certainly not growing-- fans are getting more picky and as such, collections are going to be hard to unload.
Also, to everybody out there, please stop investing in toys. Buy 'em if you like 'em or need something to trade in the future, but otherwise, leave 'em behind. (Yes yes, send your hate mail, you know I love it...)
8. Hey Adam, it's Tyler. You know, the more I play games like Empire at War, the more I crave a Grand Admiral Thrawn figure. Forgive me if I've already asked you, but what's the likelyhood of hasbro either rereleasing the 90's version of him in figure form or, as I SOOO wish, making a totally new sculpt, given his popularity? I really would like a figure of him, he's one of my favorite characters of all. If not, would it be possible for you to suggest that they rerelease him or make a new sculpt for me? Or tell me how I might do so myself? That would be terrific.
According to that ever-dubious rumor mill, Thrawn is likely to appear in one of those Expanded Universe comic book 2-packs. Obviously, this hasn't been confirmed-- and it could be the old figure with new paint. But I'd say there's a good chance you will see *a* Thrawn in stores again very soon, but again, eBay. You can probably get one shipped to you for under $12 if a new one doesn't happen, and yeah, this is a figure that could really use an all-new sculpt. We weren't too fond of this one back in 1998 when he first hit.
9. Just a thought on your article's closing...
I think this is the beginning of the end... and this is how it begins. Very similar to how POTF brought on the end in the 1980's: a slew of new figures, new ships, etc. (for the line at the time) when you count Ewoks, Droids and POTF; the last movie 2 years and fading. Now, its very similar, only slew of new figures is now 200! Exclusives being so hard to track down, so many rereleases and repaints and you can barely tell what's what (even your info differs from rebelscum's on what's repainted and what's not, even after inspection from both of you, and I've found a few differences in my own observations).
I think this is the year that really breaks the line. I know a lot of collector's in my area are done with it now. They buy 1 or 2 figs a wave, but that's it. But most have quit buying at all. The others don't even mess with anything unless it an all-new movie figure. My kids are the same. 1 of them has quit altogether because he can't keep up. The other buys just the new movie figure and the heck with the rest. I think I may be the only completist within at least a 90-mile radius left here... there's really hardly anyone left.
And based on initial shipments of the 30th collection, we are going to be drowning in this stuff. In less than a week, every store here is drowning in 30th figs, with all the repacks/repaints piling up: the only things selling are the Galactic Marines, Airborne Trooper and Lava Miner. There are dozens of concept troopers sitting on the shelves here. I think the whole EU business this year will be the straw that breaks the camel's back on this line.
They aren't selling through around here, at least not in the quantities they're shipping.
The whole thing reminds me more and more of 1984-5. Loads of product, dwindling interest, coins... even new tv series in the mix, just like back then...
It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
My guess: next year, a substantially smaller line based around the game & tv series, at least I hope maybe?
There is literally tons of ships and battle packs clogging the shelves here, and now figures, and they aren't selling: except the few new figs.
In 1985, things like Ewoks and Droids were made to sell a new generation on this intellectual property-- to rebrand it for kids, sell more toys, tell more stories, and so on. It was a last, desperate attempt to keep the saga going as the Bearded One indicated the new movie would come out in, at the time anyway, 1998. (He was close.) So hey, at least they tried-- and in the 1980s, the toy market was pretty fierce. Star Wars had to go against Transformers, He-Man, G.I. Joe, Inhumanoids, Silverhawks, Thundercats, Go-Bots, and numerous other high-concept lines that, frankly, had better toys. (I LOVES my Star Wars toys but the figures didn't have things like knees, giant aircraft carriers, tape decks that turn into robots, or, uh, I guess Thundercats are furries.)
Today, we've seen lines come and go. Kids are buying Bionicle, Spider-Man... and Star Wars. And things die a LOT faster in today's market-- in the 1980s, a toy was expected to get a two-year shelf life if it did well. Today? Six months. Tops. The toys you see in stores today will most likely not be available at Christmas, and this goes across the board.
But let's go back to you. I don't know you, or where you live. I'm assuming you're telling the truth about your 90-mile-radius, because in my travels, the stuff seems pretty popular. Sometimes you drop in a store with pegs and pegs of a couple of stinkers, but they seem to go away in time. (Heck, I saw loads of leftover VOTC Lando figures through early 2006 here in LA while Phoenix had been mostly rid of them since mid 2005.) Thankfully, your experiences do not the country represent. Not yet, anyway, this could be a sign of things to come but I've been hearing doom-and-gloom for the line since Episode I, and in just a few short weeks I will own a McQuarrie Boba Fett. I just got a Sith Infiltrator vehicle (more on that at the end). And all this new stuff is flying off the shelves-- so there's old stuff in your area? So what? Old stuff tends to sit, that's normal.
Your freak store with its dozens of concept Troopers is most fortunate. I have yet to see one in the wild, and I've seen tons of stores with figures from the assortment. Consider yourself lucky, as the grass definitely seems green in your area.
I expect the TV shows to be like the movies-- big launch, lots of product, and if Lucasfilm does it right, new episodes mean frequent new products, more mini-launches, and years of toys. And if the show sucks, well, that's that. Every year new boys and girls are old enough to ask for an electronic lightsaber and some action figures-- Star Wars probably has several years of life in it just selling new spins on a few core products. If all the collectors left tomorrow, I'm sure the line would shift over to more roleplay items and would still continue in a much more dull format.
No need to worry yet, Chicken Little. But hey, I'm a good sport-- let's see if things are still rosy in six months. I think the market still adores new product and will gobble it up, as long as old stuff doesn't choke the life out of the aisles.
10. Adam, I just saw some pictures of the 3rd TAC wave and I had some questions
about the accessories that come with the figures. 1. Are Obi-Wan's robe and
lightsaber one peice or can they be taken apart 2. Is the moisture vaporator
going to be sold in multiple peices or just in one
From my squinting, I think the Obi-Wan cloak has the saber molded inside-- I could be wrong. It's hard to tell from the images and Hasbro ain't talking yet.
The Moisture Vaporator will require some assembly, but all the pieces you need should be packaged with the new Luke figure. Which, sadly, is packaged with an unlit Darth Vader lightsaber hilt. Once I can understand, but twice? C'mon Hasbro, just leave the accessory out if you're going to put the wrong one in there. With the correct, blue bladed weapon included and a big accessory, we fans are already getting our money's worth.
Last week, I explored the fact that the 30th Anniversary Collection had a ton of figures in it. About 85, specifically. A lot of you wrote in drawing all sorts of conclusions that I didn't intend, and some I found downright surprising.
I don't believe the line is an any danger of ending. I do believe a lot of collectors will stop "collecting them all," but as they do, kids come in and buy the battle packs and other figures because, well, boys on the Internet ages 14 and up aren't the only people who buy action figures. And it's not like we're in a position right now where, in most stores, somebody needs to initiate a clearance to unload all of the old stuff-- as soon as Saga Collection shipments stop (and there's still a few remix waves to ship), it'll take a little while for them to sell through, but we're not at that point yet. Old Jedi Starfighters are still selling very well, and the $20 vehicles are doing fine. Battle Packs tend to fly off the shelves where I live. In short, the line is in no immediate danger-- Hasbro has a decent pulse on what the entire market can take, and so far it's doing quite well. The fact that most of us are unable to find certain exclusives even with frequent and in some cases DAILY trips to the same store says something about its popularity-- and how frustrating it still is 12 years later that we just can't find what we want in stores, sometimes ever.
But another "numbers" tangent, has anyone been counting the Clones? We're almost at about 92 unique mold/color combinations between the silver one, all the repaints, the exclusives, and so forth. So I can say with almost complete certainty that the number of Clone Troopers will soon decimate the number of different vintage action figures sold between 1978-1985. How sick is that?
So, Sith Infiltrator. I got one. Yes, it's small-- like Jedi Starfighter sized, about 14-inches from the nose to the engines. It's a delightful item in many respects, and a bad toy in others. As a collector's piece-- something you put on a shelf and admire-- it's perfect. The box is gorgeous. The vehicle is painted well. No labels are needed. All in all, it's a solid item-- it's wacky split-the-front-for-more-missiles feature is well-hidden and not an eyesore.
It's a toy, not a collectible-- and as such I have a few minor expectations that must be met. One, that it can seat figures. Two, that the action features they added to "toy it up" a bit actually work. These are important things in toys because these are how one plays with them-- and if you can't play with it, it's a crappy toy.
So, let's start with the seating area. It's OK. I tried cramming the Sith Speeder Darth Maul in it, and its legs are so far apart that it takes a lot of fidgeting to get him to sit in there-- you can do it, but it isn't easy. (Ditto with the Sith Attack Speeder version.) Surprisingly, the Evolutions/Tin Darth Maul seemed to go in with the least struggle-- he sits at an odd angle, but he still fits without ruining his "skirt" too much. All of the other Maul figures I tested could not fit. I hope they retooled the soon-to-be-released "Saga Legends" Maul (the Sith Speeder version on a new card) but I'm not too optimistic. Also notable: you can cram pretty much any vintage (1970s-1980s) figure in here no problem.
So how about those features? Well, the landing gear is soft, and quite awkward-- the vehicle tends to sag a little because it isn't very sturdy. I don't think there's any real excuse for that since the first vehicles from 1978 all had perfectly fine landing gear-- it's not like a little foot that kicks out is hard to do, and if it is, maybe it's time we brought out vehicle display stands. Also, the swing-out sections of the nose section can't be opened without first firing the rockets-- that's right, the pylons bump into the missiles. So one action feature gets in the way of the other, when, honestly, this kind of thing might result in a kid breaking or at least bending the vehicle in a way that wasn't intended. However, the opening canopy is great and has lots of details, panels, and buttons. The pop-open wings spring open quickly, nicely, and without a hitch. And if you missed it the first time I said it, the vehicle looks really, really great. It's just, well, I want it to play as good as it looks. The Snowspeeders have always felt solid, and the Jedi Starfighters have all been lots of fun. So why should this new release feel a little too soft when you actually try to futz with it?
And to be fair, I should say that I'm being harsh-- the V-Wing isn't getting praised to death here, but I'll fit that in next week. The landing gear works, the wings pop-out fine, the Clone Pilot fits with no problems... I have one beef with it and it's somewhat minor. If you listen to episode #41 of the podcast I do for work you've probably heard it by now... but dang, the V-Wing is nice.
Oh, one last thing. There's a petition for a German exclusive figure going around. (For the record, there were at least two official Hasbro [as far as I can tell] Jedicon exclusively packaged figures in the past that weren't available outside Germany-- so hey, success already.) I'm not sure why people are pushing to make more harder-to-get figures when our goal as a collecting community is to INCLUDE the world market on all these great figures rather than EXCLUDING them, but hey, whatever. I'm having enough problems finding Wal-Mart's various Star Wars and Transformers exclusives, perhaps we could petition them to, oh I dunno, make those available worldwide a little bit better instead?
Got questions? I bet you do. Email me with "Q&A" somewhere in the subject line and hopefully I'll get to yours in the next column!
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