Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
July 2, 2007
1. I was just reading your [June 18] Q & A where you talked about the rarity of glow in the dark Star Wars items. You mentioned the only gitd lightsaber being with the McQuarie Stormtrooper in '03. There is actually one other that I know of, but in a larger scale. The 12" Obi-Wan from the Power of the Force line that came with Luke's blastshield helmet has a gitd lightsaber. I think it was the second or third 12" Ob-Wan made. I remember getitng this figure almost based on the gitd saber alone because I thought it was such a cool, unique thing for a Star Wars toy. I was hoping we would see some more, but I guess it wasn't meant to be.
Well, if there was a 12-inch line that mattered, sure. But it's dead to me so I ignored it for the purposes of the column.
The glow-in-the-dark features on toys, to me, are a fun thing I'd like to see more of. I mean, why not? It's a cool fun bonus thing to put on a figure that gives it an added element of play, even if it is kinda cheap. So how about it, Hasbro-- let's get some more glowing stuff!
2. With the new ARC 170 with clone wars deco set for release this year, what are the chances of seeing the regular ARC 170 released again. I never found one in the wild around here when they were out originally, and my clone army is incomplete without it. I am an open and display collector of clones so I can hold out, and the prices on ebay are just more than I am willing to spend.
Since 2002, Hasbro has proven that it is very unlikely that once an item is removed from the market that it will come back with no modifications. If we ever did see another version of the 2005 ARC Fighter, it's a safe bet it might have battle-damage or some other unique feature to distinguish it from previous releases, making it a "new" toy and therefore desirable to people like me who bought it back then.
As far as the secondary market goes, you won't see me cry any tears here. I'm seeing several go on eBay for $45-$55, which isn't exactly a huge markup from the $30-$40 range we saw in 2005, especially given it's a hard to get item. $45 is totally reasonable for a two year old and off the market item, so my advice is to consider just going ahead and buying it/trading for one on a forum somewhere. The Target exclusive version this year is slated to be $29.99, so if someone did decide to do another run, it isn't unthinkable that you could get one for close to the original price. I just wouldn't hold your breath here if you really want one, vehicles have a funny way of randomly tripling in price sometimes.
3. Are people NUTS? That's a loaded question because, yes, they are... but I'm referring to E(scalp)Bay. I'm starting to think that I'm the idiot for NOT scalping new toys on the Internet. Do you see this as a fad like trading cards (see Garbage Pail Kids, baseball, Pokeman, etc.) or do you think it's going to be able to support all the scalpers because people are nuts? I can't imagine buying a $7 toy for $20 bucks. I tend to want to buy the $7 toy for $6.50 and feel like I got a good deal. I'm assuming the fervor over Star Wars toys will die down eventually and I'll get what I want (however I hope it stays hot so we get every possible figure made), but I'm the guy that can wait to get his new stuff... it will still be new to me in a couple months anyway. What does the collecting expert say?
After this line being around for 12 years, it's pretty obvious that there will be a never-ending supply of people who have to be first on their block to get everything, and they are most certainly happy to fork over the cash. Just look around on the various forums for evidence-- an item gets its first retail sighting, and within days there are people who are suddenly worried they'll never see one. Sometimes it's justified-- obviously, you as a collector know your neighborhood and personal shopping habits enough to warrant such a purchase-- but yeah, people just seem happy to pay a little more to get stuff early. People justify it by saying "oh, gas prices" or "well, it's a good figure so I'm happy to pay a little extra." All they're really doing is encouraging the people to get stuff and put it on eBay.
Hasbro's done a great job managing supply (and therefore demand) to make sure everybody is still interested two years after the saga had basically ended, which is no small feat. In 1985, Star Wars was a flailing beast, with its last releases eyeing an uneasy future on the clearance rack while in 2007, the line seems healthier than ever, with obscene amounts of product in stores (and on deck) and no end in sight.
Sometimes, there are figures that you may never see in stores. It's impossible to tell. For example, I still never saw the green variant of the ROTS Vulture Droid in person, and I still don't have one. As of Father's Day, there has been no sign of the "I Am Your Father's Day" gift set in my neck of the woods, at least not that I can see. And it took me over a year to see an Ephant Mon in the wild. These things happen, so for some people, it makes sense to overpay-- I, on the other hand, prefer to use eBay to wait it out and get stuff after everybody has moved on. I think I paid like $25 for my Wal-Mart Saga Blue Box TIE Bomber, for example, and $2 for the variant red droid deluxe Mace Windu I never saw in stores. You just never know what'll happen on the secondary market, but courtesy of Hasbro's neverending stream of new product, most fans have no attention span and any "rare" item quickly becomes an "old" item. Not collectible, just old.
4. I'm loving what Hasbro's doing with the line this year. As far as repaints and new figures go, what do you think the odds are that we'll see the following before 2008 ends:
-R-3PO and K-3PO based on C-3PO Ewok throne? (bendy knees are great)
-New super-articulated new sculpts for Ackbar, Nien Numb, Hoth Rebel Soldier and Zuckuss?
-Saga Endor Trooper with a 3rd (new) head sculpt?
-More astromech droids using the VOTC body?
-More dirty clones (have you noticed many of the Greatest Hits Line are clean)?
-More Tie Fighter Pilots?
-Super-articulated Qui-Gon Jin and Padawan Obi-Wan?
-Non-comic versions of Han and Luke in Stormtrooper Disguise?
-Super articulated Emperor on throne (Heck give Akbar a command chair and resurrect the Ultra series)?
Based on Hasbro's 2007 line-- which is really all over the place-- I'd say absolutely anything is possible. Any kind of Clone Trooper, pilot, or other trooper is probably very likely. Hasbro has proved that when it comes to astromechs, anything is possible-- new droids use either the R4-G9 or VOTC R2-D2 molds, both of which are great, and frankly I don't much like the vintage one given an option.
Most of your list I'd put down as maybes, with things like Nien Nunb (not Numb, dammit) and Ackbar seeming somewhat unlikely. Ditto with the Emperor. Qui-Gon seems like something that's almost a sure thing, and I would assume that Obi-Wan Kenobi might be next afterward-- they're getting a lot of mileage from the Episode I molds and it's only a matter of time before someone finally stops trying to sell me the same damn figure a fourth or fifth time.
I would not expect new versions of R-3PO or K-3PO. If TC-14 weren't being reissued straight-up this year, I'd put her down as likely-- but it seems very unlikely that Hasbro would revisit existing protocol droids. But something new? Who knows. One can hope.
(And seriously, who the heck wants another Endor Rebel? We got three last year alone.)
5. What was your favorite toy of the vintage line when you were a kid? I quite liked the 3 3/4 inch Death Star playset myself, but my Micro Collection Cloud City set saw a lot of play time too.
I didn't have a lot of big stuff as a kid, but I did have the Micro Collection Hoth series (the whole thing) and the Ewok Village, both of which got lots of playtime. The mini-rigs were probably more favorites-- the MLC-3 was super cool, and when I finally, eventually, got the Desert Sail Skiff I couldn't stop playing with it. (In short, things that weren't action figures were my favorites.) Oh, and the Tauntaun. Friggin' loved that thing.
6. So I lost Vintage Bespin Luke's blaster. None of the other blasters I've got fit in his holster. I know accessories get reused all the time, so was this one that came with another figure that I can steal it from that you know of?
I know you probably don't have a spare yet, but were I a betting man, I sense you being able to get one for $2.24 on the clearance rack before 2007 is up. Or, better yet, contact Hasbro Customer Service and let them know what happened-- they might be willing to replace it for no charge. They're pretty cool that way most of the time. I went through a number of figures and haven't found one with an identical blaster, although many are pretty close-- maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Either way, you can go through your own collection and see what you can come up with-- it's a lot faster than asking me to look.
7. I enjoyed your commentary on the current state of the vintage line but please don't try to kill it.
I agree, many of the current Saga/TAC figs are up to par with V**C but I think there's a decent market for the vintage cardback.
If Hasbro would remove the clamshell, they could lower the pricepoint and have the two lines continue. This would please those who don't want to pay $10 for a figure and keep the retro cards going.
Heck, why doesn't Hasbro use the vintage cardback for the next line after TAC (without clamshells) and introduce figures from all six movies. They could also introduce a new line for the tv series. Most of their collections only run for a year, maybe year and a half anyway.
This would end the 'vintage debate', get it over within a year or so, and then start a whole new line for 2009.
Hasbro has plenty of non-V**C figs they could use on the retro cardbacks...and like with every line it would consist of new sculpts, kit-bashed and exisiting figs.
Just a thought.
I would hate to see some form of the V**C die.
If you as a fan have a thing for the packaging, there are tens of thousands of actual, real, honest-to-goodness Kenner action figures on real vintage packaging to be had out there, some of which aren't all that expensive.
But when it comes to the modern line, Hasbro sees the gimmick of this line as "premium packaging," which is code for "premium pricing" too. That's what makes the line special and therefore worth $3 more-- the cardboard. I've mentioned in the past that a vintage-ish cardback, perhaps with a J-hook, would be a great way to reduce packaging waste and bring this popular style back into vogue, but that's a different issue. Changing the basic line packaging to the vintage style is a separate issue.
There will never be an end to the vintage debate. As long as there are fans, they're going to argue, and there are some people who think that Hasbro should go back and do all 92 basic figures, plus variants of R2-D2 and C-3PO, plus Yak Face, plus different movie logo variants, of the whole line. And then there are people like me who really don't care about the packaging, we just want a nice figure at a nice price.
The next line after TAC is, most likely, Post-TAC. This means expect a very similar style package with a few minor changes, sort of like the change-ups we saw during Power of the Jedi (a dropped Force File in favor of a normal looking card), Saga (a slight refresh), or OTC (the dropping of the OTC logo in 2005). Hasbro basically said that Fall 2008 is the Clone Wars TV show. Assuming this is about when the toys launch (let's say September for argument's sake), that means TAC would have been out from March through about September, or about 18 months-- so most likely, unless Hasbro is feeling sassy, we're going to see a modified cardback similar to what we have on the market today. Until the TV show and they change the whole thing from the ground up yet again, likely (hopefully) bringing back lower prices and more variety with it.
8. My original take on the VOTC of 2004 was that it was a
one-time novelty. The packaging pulled on the
nostalgic heartstrings of us older collectors (ages 30
& up) and we bought it, for the most part. One of the
draws for me to this sub-line was the idea that if I
got all 12, I had a complete set. Now that they've
trickled in 11 more retro-packaged figures over the
past two years (albeit under the nom de plume VTSC),
I'm curious where this can/should/will end. Surely to
goodness they're not going to try and remake and/or
repackage all original 95 figures for this sub-line,
are they? I sincerely hope not, as that would take
another decade, or more, at this rate. But there also
ought to be some closure to it someday, shouldn't
there? I realize the retro packaging isn't a big
selling point on these figures for you and many
others. But for me, it is. Personally, I just can't
see them continuing on with this line much longer. But
if they just drop it, it will leave many of us with a
strangely incomlpete-looking sub-line. How, in your
opinion, could we see this end in relatively
Closure? What are you, some kind of emo kid?
In all seriousness, the line was originally introduced as a novelty-- "hey we need to do something clever to tie in to the DVD release oh how about this?" Fan demand is what brought the line back in 2006 and 2007, so what I say means nothing. If these figures sell well, we're going to see this line continue forever. However what I'm seeing is a lot of Lando-esque piling up of Leia Endor and Han Hoth. If the line wasn't evenly packed cases (as Snowtroopers, Bossks, and IG-88s seem pretty hot this week) maybe we'd see better sales across the board, but it's new, and it's still a little early to judge the line as a failure. Frankly, my problems come with the price and what we get for our money-- I mean, is anybody out there denying that you get more for $6.99 than you do for $9.99 these days?
I don't care one bit how the line ends. It will eventually, but I'd be lying if I said I was satisfied with the quality of this year's human product. Leia, Han, and Luke would all be reviled by fans if they didn't have the fancy packaging, so I can't honestly say I think it's a good thing that we're getting sub-standard figures at above-standard pricing right now.
As long as these sell, Hasbro will make more-- and hey, I'm not complaining about the quality of some of these figures overall. 2006 had a fantastic lineup, 2007 is a little less fantastic, but still good. It's just that it'd be nice if the line did something groundbreaking-- we're now treading water, with no new breakthroughs being introduced in the figures. POTF cards & coins would be interesting. Even throwing in something like Vlix from Droids would make me swoon-- but I just want to be a little more excited about the line before I can go "oh, please overcharge me 50% for each figure" again. This line is destined to be incomplete-- it's a novelty, not a whole new collection. It's not like Mattel redid all its He-Man figures in its retro collection, and I certainly don't expect Hasbro to redo all its classic Joes for the 25th Anniversary line. Enjoy these great lines while they all last, they're usually just done as something for fans to enjoy-- and we do-- it's just that they get a little less exciting two or three years later. Besides, it's not like any of us were chomping at the bit for a $10-$13 Vintage-style release of 8D8, right? (Right? Please?)
Things usually don't end with a bang-- they just end. I'd be happy to see some sort of representation of the other three as-of-yet unexplored domestic cardbacks (Droids, Ewoks, POTF) or possibly a trio of Prequel "vintage" figures, but aside from that? There really isn't much I want to see here. I don't like the idea of a figure I do want-- like an all-new Gamorrean Guard-- being $10 and therefore prohibitive to army build were I so inclined.
9. Will the 501st Clone Trooper that comes in Saga legends wave 2 (SL-17) be of the SA variety? The reason I ask is because I have read on some other sites that it will be a running change from the ROTS release to a SA variety. Some one posted on another site that it was going to be a repaint of the SL shock trooper (SL-08).
Now don't get me wrong; I would love a SA 501st Trooper, but I thought that the idea of the Saga Legends line was to simply re-release the "old" figures in new packages. What gives? What is the real deal?
Let me clear up a misconception first: the point of Saga Legends was not to re-release old figures in new packages. It was to make money for Hasbro and stores while meeting retail demand (DEMAND!) for more product in a short period of time, while (so far) keeping repacks out of the "main line." Some of these figures are straight-up reissues, some are repaints, but they all serve the same purpose: to make sure the stores have something to sell you.
According to Curto at Rebelscum, who is the go-to guy for info on this sub-line, he seemed to indicate the first run would be the existing mold (the modified AT-TE Gunner), and future releases may be the Super Articulated Trooper. I say "may" because nobody's seen a packaged sample yet-- Hasbro sometimes likes to mix things up and change figures based on mold availability, perceived fan interest, and so on. I think they're smart to have multiple versions of troopers out there like this, because it means more sales. I'll buy the cleaned-up first version based on the AT-TE Gunner, and a new super-poseable one. And whatever else they make. I just hope that whatever gets produced, enough get made so nobody has to start resorting to eBay.
10. When you said that you wished the Vintage line to end unless they had bigger enviornment pieces, does that mean that you want the Deluxe line to continue? I know we have been getting bigger pieces in our figures now with Kybuck, Umpass Stay's drum, the Torture Rack, etc, but with say the Ultimate Figures we could get more of the creatures without having to buy a $45 Battle Pack.
Next question, what do you think of a higher priced Battle Pack with more accesorries? Like if they released a higher priced BP with a couple of Jawas and a Ronto?
I have no problems paying $10 for a figure if it's a good value-- the Deluxe/Ultra line is a fine example of this. (Except for Rieekan, he was a somewhat crappy deal in 2004.) For $10, you get a figure with a giant accessory, or a giant beast/figure, or several figures in a box. We've been gifted such wonders as three-packs of Clones, Jedi, Droids, and Jabba's Palace aliens. We've seen such huge creatures as the Nexu, Jabba the Hutt, and the Wampa. We've even received some vehicles, like the Clone Speeder Bike, Escape Pod, and Vulture Droid. For $10, it's hard to deny that by and large, you really feel like you got something good for your money.
This year, Hasbro is doing a fantastic job with the basic line at $7 giving us huge props like you mention. Even if these were $10 each, in some cases, odds are they'd be more "worth it" than many of the vintage figures are today. I mean, think about it-- this year's Bespin Han is close to super-articulated and has a giant accessory. In the vintage line, the exact same figure would be $10, without the big torture rack. If they stuck the torture rack in with the vintage figure for $10, though, that'd be awesome-- surely you can hide it behind an insert or something. It's just that for $10, I want something more than what will eventually be very fancy retro (and I mean this literally) garbage. It's going into the trash or recycle bin, which is something a nice accessory would not.
High price Battle Packs are hit and miss ideas, just like any other. The current Bantha with Tusken Raider set isn't really all that great a deal-- you get a $30 beast (which originally had a figure), a $10 figure, and two $5 figures, which may sound good at first, but normal Battle Packs get you five $5-$7 figures for about $20-$25. I wouldn't mind seeing more of these bigger items, especially if they offered something totally new-- like new environment pieces, or Jabba's throne, or a new beast. The Ronto, well, I can't say I need more as I bought several a few years ago, but hey, if they can put out a $30 box with a Ronto, a swoop, and some Jawas, I'm sure the market exists for it.
I wrote two columns-- this one and next week's-- a little early. I went back to read them, and this one was "angry column" and the next one (July 9) is "happy column." Really weird how that turned out. Basically, I have to work at Comic-Con, which means I have to get a big buffer of stuff for you guys to read done before I leave for Comic-Con-- so don't be surprised if a question gets answered a week or two late, or if I just email you an answer if it might be dated before it makes the column.
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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