Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
July 9, 2007
1. With all Vader's releases since ROTS (excluding the first Vader's Titanium release), is there any of those releases that his helmet can be removed (based on ROTJ)? Either I don't know about this or Hasbro has released so many Vaders without taking into account of this feature. Is there any difference with Vader's (mold) releases in TAC between wave 1 (with coin album) and wave 3 (with Obi-Wan's robe/lightsaber)?
Yes-- sort of. Hasbro released a Darth Vader with removable helmet from Return of the Jedi a few times. I'm feeling like lecturing, so let's have a history lesson!
In 1998, Kenner made one for its Power of the Force line. The figure was obscenely well received and was a massive hit, selling out despite being packed at a whopping four per case. (At the time, the case he shipped in had 16 figures, so that's 25% of the case being the same figure.) This was easily one of the best figures of its day and still looks pretty good-- although many of their lightsabers faded over time, going from red to pink or even clear.
In 2003, Hasbro gave it another go with a figure with saber-throwing action. (This figure was rereleased in 2004, 2005, and 2007 in a variety of configurations.) The figure had big bushy eyebrows and, again, a fully removable helmet. Since the figure had an action feature which allowed him to throw his lightsaber, though, I wouldn't say you should track it down-- the figure had a habit of falling apart. By pushing the button to "swing the saber," the figure's cape would fall off, and in the process cause the helmet to fly off. It looks like a nice figure, but it's a nice figure mostly for its looks. It's not a lot of fun. (You can get it in the Father's Day 2-pack if you can find one.)
In 2005, Hasbro made the best one ever as part of the Evolutions Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker set. You simply must buy one. The figure is super-articulated and has a removable helmet with the "Special Edition DVD" version of Anakin, which has Sebastian Shaw with his eyebrows digitally burned off. This is the best one. You need it. Trust me.
The Darth Vader with the coin album is completely different from the one with Obi-Wan's Robe in the 30th Anniversary Collection. The coin album version is just a reissue of the 2005 basic carded figure, which has limited articulation and lightsaber-swinging action. The Kenobi Robe one, on the other hand, is based on the Evolutions figure I just mentioned, but has Star Wars: A New Hope-styled gloves, armor, and when you take off the helmet, it has Hayden's fried head. This figure is truly awesome and should be part of your collection, as super-articulated figures with a great accessory, a cool coin, and a nifty removable helmet feature should be in everybody's collection.
There were also some Revenge of the Sith Darth Vaders with some sort of helmet/head swapping features but I'm sticking to the trilogy based on your question.
2. Do you think there is any chance they will bring the Action Fleet or Micro machines scale back?
After polluting the market with too much Micro product during Episode I, Hasbro scaled back and now all we have in the segment is the Titanium Series line, which has effectively become the go-to product for the low-dollar vehicle price point. Attempts to revitalize the Action Fleet scale as Titanium Ultra failed miserably, and an upsized relaunch of MicroMachines as Target exclusives tanked in 2005-- but Titanium managed to do well and continue. Right now, if you want small sized vehicles, that's your only option and the only small vehicles Hasbro has been able to do well with since buying Galoob in the late 1990s. I wouldn't expect to see Action Fleet or Micro Machines again, although it wouldn't shock me to see Hasbro shop the scales around again when it comes time to do TV product.
My advice to you is to enjoy what's already out there, or start buying Titanium. Action Fleet seems totally dead, sadly. (My favorite micro scale was the 1982 Kenner Micro Collection-- it's the reason I started going to garage sales and toy shows. So I feel your pain here, it really sucks when a line is killed off and will likely never return.)
3. With all the TAC releases, will you be able to point out which ones are the new molds (including the UGH 2007 Vintage line) ?
Well, I live by this rule: if it looks new, it's new enough to buy. The R2-D2 with flame jets is based on the 2005 R4-G9 action figure mold, but has new decoration, accessories, and action features from previously released R2-D2 figures-- so it's good. A number of figures, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, are mostly old parts-- but the new weapons and new head make it, in my book, a new figure worth buying.
The only figures that are 90-100% new to this year's basic figure line are the Galactic Marine, Mace Windu, Super Battle Droid, Rebel Honor Guard, Luke Skywalker (Yavin), Death Star Trooper, McQuarrie Concept Boba Fett, Biggs Darklighter (Tatooine), Jawa & LIN Droid, and McQuarrie Concept Chewbacca. From the look of things (I haven't seen them all in person yet), these will also be all-new: M'iiyoom Onith, Elis Helrot, Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight), CZ-4, Umpass-Stay, McQuarrie Concept Darth Vader, Hermi Odle, C-3PO with Salacious Crumb, Roron Corobb, Yoda & Kybuck (well, the Kybuck anyway), Anakin Skywalker (Nelvaan), Darth Revan, Darth Malak, General Grievous (Pre-Cyborg), McQuarrie Starkiller Hero, Han Solo (Bespin), 4-LOM, McQuarrie Concept Snowtrooper, Ewoks, A-Wing Pilot, McQuarrie Concept Han Solo. I could be wrong, and more figures have yet to be revealed, but that's it so far-- it's a lot of 100% new figures out there, while others are clever reuses of old parts mixed with new ones.
4. Well, we now know three figures [at the time this was sent in] of the gigantic EE exclusive pack and I am really hooked at this point. The Fett concept paintwork on the clones is a really interesting idea. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn't still concerned about the rest of the figures. So far we aren't aware of any lame figures in the pack but I'm curious if there will be any lame (read: filler) figures like the geonosians in the republic commando multi-pack. I would have preferred to just buy the four clones and that's it. Can you tell us if there are going to be any somewhat boring or uninteresting army builder figures in the pack? The two clones have a really unique paint job so they are fine. Obviously it's all relative, and as you say, everyone's mileage will vary, but if you define lame with the example of "dumb geonosians I don't want" how would you respond to this? We still have 11 figures left and they could be very unique and desirable or they could be bland rehashes.
The set is hard to describe without giving it all away-- but hey, let's give it a shot.
There are no "dumb figures I don't want" in the set. The Clones are the least interesting troopers in the box. Llats Ward is the least interesting non-trooper in the box. And I think they're all pretty good-- the other stuff is just better. There are six figures in the set I think will knock your socks off, two of which are molds premiering in this set. I agree that the Geonosians in Delta Squad were sort of drab (well, I liked the purple one, but I already had the other one and a Sun Fac) so this set should make you happy as you do not have these figures in your collection. (For the record, I consider the Clone Troopers with Mandalorian markings as "new figures"-- a trooper with significant squad marking changes qualifies as a new figure in my book.)
I really would like to spill the beans, but unfortunately, this is the best reveal I can do for now. It's not like it's the alpha and omega of all exclusives, but there's something in there you'll probably really like.
5. The new "Stormtrooper in Hoth Battle Gear" (aka 2007 Vintage Snowtrooper) is my favorite figure, ever, period. I've been waiting for this toy for a long time. Now then, do you think that at some point in time Hasbro will take this figure and resculpt it into a Snowtrooper Lieutenant, like the one seen in Veers' AT-AT? There aren't too many differences, so I image resculpting wouldn't be too much work.
I agree, Don-- the Snowtrooper is an excellent figure, if a little hard to get. If the Stormtrooper is any indication, I'd say Hasbro might-- after all, that 2004 Stormtrooper mold has been remade as a 501st Exclusive Stormtrooper, a Removable Helmet Stormtrooper, Han & Luke Stormtrooper figures, a Shadow Stormtrooper, a Sandtrooper, and another couple of Sandtroopers. This mold has a few repaint opportunities from the video games (and the Blue Stars if anyone will answer my prayers over there), but aside from that newly ranked figures make the most sense-- although we've got a whole mess of lieutenant figures since 2003, so I'd kinda rather they hold off for a while if they ever do it. You can get a little more variety out of your Vintage Snowtrooper figure if you have any extra Snowtroopers from the collector tin sets-- just swap the helmets, and it's one step closer to a new trooper/new ranking trooper. Or at least a more varied army.
6. Why is Darth Malak bug eyed? And is there any hope that we can expect it to
be fixed before seeing it at retail? From the nose up, he looks like he's
being goosed. Otherwise the figure looks great and I am very excited to be
seeing Knights of the Old Republic toys. I guess it is possible that when I
see him for real, it might not look so bad, but all I can think right now is
that he's got Robot Chicken eyes.
Because KOTOR sucks and nobody wanted Darth Malak in the first place? (I kid Tim because I love.)
Most likely what you're seeing here is an early production sample which might be altered before it gets released, as in "watch for a variation" or "it might get corrected before release." (Actually, I wrote this answer like two weeks ago and Hasbro pretty much said exactly this on Friday.) The bug eyes are seemingly a result of the figure and how it was painted, and this has happened before-- in 1999, most Adi Gallia figures I saw had terrible buggy eyes, but after going through like 50 of them (I am not exaggerating here), I found one I liked well enough. You might have to do the same here, unfortunately, which is really a shame as one of these figures turning out badly will mean that most of you KOTOR fans will save your $7, resulting in pegwarmers and future hypothetical KOTOR figures being preemptively axed.
...which I'd be lying if I said that made me sad. (Sorry, just not a fan of figures from games I don't have time to play, although Darth Revan looks pretty good I must admit. Skeletor's minion Trap-Jaw in red jammies, not so much.)
7. I love repacks. There, I said it. Am I the only one? I remember back
in the day (vintage line) I could walk in to Toys R Us and be sure to
find a Vader or a Stormtrooper or a Chewy at any given time-
regardless of what movie-based line was on the pegs. Sure, it was the
same Vader on all three (four including POTF) cards but that was the
whole point. It was THE Vader figure. It was THE Chewy. The downside,
of course, was that there was never anything new with core
characters. The plus side was that if I got a Han... I GOT a Han. I
was done. Another advantage was that the line then was not JUST about
figures, but about the whole toy line. I got a Han, but now I could
get a Hoth playset for him, or a Falcon.
So to bring me back to my main point, I like repacks. These days
especially since it is near impossible to find some characters on the
pegs. I would love for some of the Clones I never saw to be around in
good supply for a while- sort of like all the "best of" lines but
with a little more longevity. I never got an Ultra Jabba- so now I
have to wait for Hasbro to gear up and decide to make a NEW Jabba
just to get ANY Jabba- unless I turn to Ebay which, some could argue,
is the way to get figures for characters I may not have anyway.
Just a thought. What do you think?
I'm there with you Dave-- repacks are great. As far as I'm concerned, every time Hasbro puts the same figure with no changes out in a new package, an angel gets its wings. And I save seven bucks. As fans demand greater authenticity, and stores demand more variety (there's a reason there are multiple Darth Vader figures out there, and it has nothing to do with adult fans), the days of old where Kenner could sell one Chewbacca for seven straight years are over. Fans will see it and go "I want a snow one," or "I want one with chains," or "I want one with a Dejarik table." Repacks make a lot of sense for Hasbro because they help keep costs down, help OCD collect-them-all collectors like me save a few bucks, and help kids get the figures they want. They're great-- I hope they keep doing them because, well, I don't collect carded stuff so it makes no never mind to me.
Unfortunately, the line is not set up to re-release everything. Jabba is a fine example-- you can't cram him into a basic cardback, although if Hasbro wanted to, I'm sure they could take the $20 Assault Vehicle assortment box and cram in Jabba and some other goodies to put together a nice $20 gift set. (Jabba, a throne, a crumb, maybe a new henchman... it'd be nice.) For now though, it's all up to eBay. The Ultra Jabba is my favorite modern one, although it is missing the Jabba the Hutt tattoo on his arm which, shockingly, was on the 1983 Kenner toy's arm. (Go look, I'll wait.) So hopefully if/when Hasbro revisits Mr. The Hutt, they'll fix the arm-- and maybe tweak the coloring a little. Other than that, the 2004 Ultra release was excellent and well worth owning, especially if you can get it for $10 or so. (And if you can't, let me know, I'm sure I got a spare in my trading stash you can have for like $10.)
I really wish Hasbro would bring back those "ultra" figures as they were great-- depending on the figure, they sold really well. ($10 sets with 3 Troopers or 3 Jedi did great. General Rieekan, not so much, he was a $5 figure with an accessory that could've been done for $5.99 easily.)
8. When Hasbro eventually releases the
Han and Luke Stormtroopers (non comic pack deco), do you think Luke
will actually be "a little short for a stormtrooper", or will it be
the comic pack re-deco?
I'm glad you asked. This lets me bring up a point-- it probably will depend on when Hasbro makes these figures. If Hasbro cranks them out soon, odds are we'll just get the head on the body with minimal changes in height, because the molds are ready to go and there's really no incentive for them to change anything. If we wait a few years, Hasbro would likely make them more "modern," which would hopefully mean an update to whatever the most up-to-date articulation map may be. (I'm pointing to the 25th Anniversary GI Joe line as an example, as it gets refined a little bit more.) So if we wait, I think we might get a shorter Luke. If we don't, I wouldn't get my hopes up.
9. I just finished J W Rinzler's book, "The Making of Star Wars", and
was fascinated by the ingenuity of all involved, especially the set
designers. Apparently, to make all the huge death star sets, in a
short amount of time, they were designed to be modular. When they
were done with one particular configuration, they would then re-
assemble it to be another part of the death star. He even described
the set as "Tinkertoys". Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I know
Hasbro is lukewarming up to playsets, but a few modular pieces that
can become much grander when put together could be great! We have
been building the Cantina Bar for years, why not the death star?
Kenner did something similar with its MicroCollection line, releasing mini playsets in small segments, so you could buy them all to make a giant "world" of Hoth, the Death Star, or Cloud City. And I've been bugging Kenner to do this since they first made contact with me (and other fans) around 1996. Rumor has it they're giving it some thought for 2008, but that's still a ways off-- things have a funny way of getting cancelled on the whims of the bean counters and/or Wal-Mart's picky buyers. All we can do is wait and see.
10. I read on the stickers to my stands that I just received that there is to be a Voolvif Monn Jedi Did I blink and miss him at the toy fair or at C4? Or is this another wave that we are waiting to be announced?
Hasbro held a number of figures back from Celebration IV so they would have other figures to show us later in the year, like at Comic-Con International later this month. To keep us interested, they spread out announcements so we see new and exciting things to keep us interested in the line all year long, especially during the slow periods. You didn't miss anything yet, keep watching your favorite sites for coverage and new pictures during the coming months. This figure is rumored to be in one of the last waves of the year if things go according to plan.
So I'd think of something snappy to say here but I just got off of playing Aegis Wing with my two best friends from college. It's really funny to see how quickly I can go from productive, underpaid writer with no audience to screaming lunatic. (For the record, it's about 127 seconds.) I'm a big fan of games like Gradius (a classic), R-Type (a delightful game), and Salamander (God's gift to humanity in digital form) so I have to say that if you're one of those people who got together with your buddies to play Soul Calibur or Street Fighter or whatever-- you might want to get this thing. Just so you can yell at your friends.
Comic-Con is about two weeks away, and there should be new stuff revealed there. Expectations: all 14 Entertainment Earth Mystery Mandalorian Clone whatevers, the Geonosis/Clone Wars wave of the 30th Anniversary collection with the McQuarrie Concept Rebel Trooper, the rest of the Fall exclusives (we're expecting a new TIE Bomber, I'm crossing my fingers for Vintage Kenner-style white) and who knows what else. Indy stuff maybe. It should be a good show.
But yeah, holy crap. Aegis Wing. It's not exactly greatness incarnate but if you've ever dreamed of the day someone made a 2D shooter where you could play with your friends over the TV while screaming at them, try it. And Lucasarts-- if you're out there-- how about adapting the concept to, say, X-wings? 2D shooters with various Rebel or Imperial ships would be super awesome. Admit it, you want one too. (If you're over the age of 26 and enjoy pre-Playstation video games, perhaps.)
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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