Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
August 20, 2007


1. Is the side opening cock pit on the 181st interceptor a new feature?? The TRU SAGA TIE had old style.

Hasbro is in the process of upgrading the Imperial motor pool, and yes, the TIE Interceptor is the lucky recipient of the new 2006/2007 TIE Fighter "pod" section. This means it has the new one-piece canopy, plus the retooled "backside" with the correct engine and the removed battery compartment. The center piece is different than the Power of the Jedi TIE Interceptor, but it looks like the wings are probably the same. I haven't had a chance to compare the new and the old yet as I don't yet have the new one.

2. Is the saga legends biker scout the SAGA vintage version or the ROTJ 3oth tin version with flip up vizor.

Unless Hasbro changed the plan, the Saga Legends Scout Trooper/Biker Scout should be nearly identical to the 2006 "Vintage" release. So no flip up visor, no grassy stains, just a plain old ordinary super articulated warrior.

3. Okay, so I saw the recent pictures of the Betrayal on Bespin and thought, "Holy crap!" Hasbro finally fully executed a concept to 100% awesomeness (I am of the opinion that on many items, they come so unbelievably close to an incredible item, and then just fumble the ball on some stupid detail that prevents it from toy perfection. For the sake of brevity I won't get into examples here). But then I thought, "Wait!!!! Why does Leia have a gun in her hand?" Then the horror grew, "Why the hell is there an extra Vader hand with lightsaber attached VISIBLE in the package?!?!?!?!" Then I was looking at the pictures again today, and then I thought "Why the $(#*# does Han have his manacles on??!?!?!!?!?!?!?" This is a Battle Pack I've been anxious to see pictures of ever since it was announced. Granted it's predominantly repacks with a repaint, to me this would have been an AWESOME set. But I guess here's an example of Hasbro fumbling at the endzone: gun in Leia's hand, extra Vader hand, Han's manacle.

So my question is, is there a chance this will change? I'm assuming it won't, but hope springs eternal. And why would they package something to represent a scene from the movie, and then more or less break continuity by packing in a bunch of extra stuff that's visible? It's great that they are including all of that other stuff, but, couldn't they have just put it behind a piece of cardboard? I'm guessing they want to say, "Hey, Mom/Dad/Grandpa/Grandma, look at all the stuff this comes with?" But is that necessary, is Star Wars not selling enough?

Sorry, had to get that off my chest.

My first reaction to this question involved some variation on banging my head onto the keyboard, but that doesn't read well. So let me start with this: Charlie, your problem with this set is not that the product is good, but that Hasbro listened to the other group of fans complaining that they sometimes threw out accessories that they never realized were in the box in the first place?

The non-exclusive Battle Pack segment is marketed mostly toward kids and gift givers. As such, there are mostly repacks and repaints, and the idea is to make mom and dad feel good about buying little junior a nice selection of figures at a very good price. Packaging is designed to illustrate everything the set can provide without a lot of words, or time-- you see, when a customer looks at a product on a shelf, it gets a couple of seconds of attention, tops, unless you're a collector (and you are a collector) in which case no amount of complaining is likely to change the fact that if you basically like something, a flaw or six won't necessarily kill the purchase. When you walk down the toy aisle you probably give Pirates and The Batman a fraction of a second of a glimpse-- so if someone picks up the product, it's in the manufacturer's best interest to make it as awesome as possible, highlighting everything before you have the chance to blink. And that's exactly what the set does.

I understand some fans want their Battle Packs to be 100% collector-friendly, meaning all new figures, or some detail on the box, or a different color of eyebrows or whatever. Yes, Hasbro's purpose as a mighty, money-consuming beast is to sell more stuff and to make more money. With the massively popular Transformers movie line, they also have the distinction of competing against themselves, meaning they need to do all sorts of awesome stuff to make sure they sell as much of the product line as possible. So you see a packaged product, more or less final, and want to know if Hasbro is going to "hide" the accessories which make it extra cool to the collector who doesn't have one? (And keep in mind, there are far more non-collectors as potential customers than collectors.) So hey Hasbro, there's a guy who doesn't want to see the parts that come in his sets. Me, I like seeing them-- in this case, I have the luxury of knowing the accessories before I open the box, and before it comes out, which is what I as a newsy person prefer. (Plus it's still a box of repacks, if you've bought every figure since 2000 I think you might have difficulty finding something new here.) But that's me. Let's move on, shall we?

4. Space Balls the Cartoon series?? Any chance we could see some figures? Also I thought Hasbro said they were going to increase the case pack assortment for the Mc figures looking ahead they are still going to be one per case. What is the deal cann they not see the popularity of these?

On #1: No, because one of the clauses (according to legend) behind Spaceballs being made as a film was that they were not to do any merchandise. The TV series is likely under the same agreement, but who knows-- things change, and loopholes exist for legal departments to exploit.

On #2: You're just not thinking fourth dimensionally. Hasbro has many case revisions and we haven't seen them all yet. Hasbro will be shipping 30th Anniversary Figures (sans coins) at least six months into 2008 as well. There are lots of unrevealed assortment revisions, and well, we haven't seen a single revision of the repaint wave, the ESB wave, the ROJ wave, or the AOTC wave yet. So there's probably 12 or so revisions right there. Patience, or if you aren't patient, start haunting your toy stores more like the rest of us. As much as collectors like them, as soon as we lose interest, several of these figures will likely be weak sellers. (That, and I'm seeing these guys here and there, but there's definitely a problem with getting enough Boba Fetts out there.)

5. Has hasbro thought about releasing a fraction of the death star briefing room table and floor which can be connected together (in 1/4 for example), similiar to the jedi council base. In theory it would simply involve producing one mold and it could be selt on the hasbro website as a collector item, i really want somewhere to put the figures from my briefing room set!

Just because it's a table doesn't mean it isn't resource-intensive. It still requires prototypes, sculptors, at least 2 different pieces (middles & ends, tops & bottoms), several molds to stamp out the pieces, and so forth. Oh yeah-- and chairs. (And the figures can't sit.)

Just because you sell something on HasbroToyShop or to collectors doesn't mean it's going to be a better item to make-- the same resources could be spent making Cantina booths, Jabba's throne, actual new figures, a real playset, etc. My advice to you is to dig up the packaging from the Death Star Briefing and pretend that's good enough for now, because let's look at it this way: Hasbro announces a new item. It's exclusive and on their web site. And the announcement comes in... it's a table and it's going to cost $10 or more. While many of us would buy it out of habit... it's a table. Without figures or some other thing in the box, it's just staggeringly dull to your non-hardcore collector, and to make money (this is a business, remember) these items have to appeal to people who aren't the "I'll buy anything" club. It's going to cost Hasbro tens of thousands of dollars to make a prototype, market it, package it, get approvals, pay the UPC consortium for a barcode (I don't make this stuff up folks), and so on and so forth.

Your other option is to do it yourself somehow-- some fans out there have figured out how to make molds of certain accessories and can help you design your dream piece, for a price. You might want to start asking around if anyone out there is working on such a project, and consider being their benefactor. Or perhaps you know an origami expert who can figure out how to fold one into creation after you print out a PDF of it or something.* That or wait until Hasbro gets to it, which may be never. (* Or perhaps Hasbro could put up foldable paper props as PDFs to print out and make, hmmm?)

6. Upon watching A New Hope for the (I have no idea how many-eth) time I noticed something new. When the Falcon enters the Death Star there are some Troopers stationed outside with what appears to be a different apparatus on for space. Have they always been there (pre Special Editions)? Is that accurate? What are these troopers called? Why hasn't Hasbro addressed these in the figure line? Am I just on acid?

These "space troopers" have indeed been brought up to Hasbro, and they are slightly different than our other troopers. Their answer was something along the lines of "we'll get to it, now stop staring at me kid." (Well, OK, that's not at all what they said-- but they did say it's one of many things they're considering.) There seems to be a bit of debate on these guys so I don't want to put too much in here, but it's a safe bet that if it was captured by a camera lens, it's going to happen some day soon. Unless it has a beehive hairdo and wears green, or is exclusively from the live action segment of a TV special involving something called "life day."

7. Kenner/Hasbro has done some really cool things in the past with the electronics on their ships - the nifty little light-up laser guns on the snowspeeder's laser cannons and the pulsating cannons on the AT-AT, as well as the light-up hologram and sounds on the re-release of the AT-AT are the first things that come to mind. Any idea if they are considering any more in the future, or has it gotten too expensive to do where they can't do it w/out significantly increasing the cost of the ships. I know they want to keep the ships in the $19.99 range as much as possible, still electronic TIE fighter w/green light instead of red (or TIE bomber!), electronic Y-Wing, A-Wing, or B-Wing, or even Slave 1...they could leave out some of the extras done on the previous releases and add the electronics instead.

Electronics are a great feature if it helps the toy's bottom line. At $50+, a toy has to sing to the customer, and noises and lights do a world of good at retail because try-me packaging helps people to play with a toy before buying it. In a smaller vehicle, there's less room for batteries, plus it seems Hasbro has discovered that a $20 vehicle doesn't need a lot of "oomph" to move. As such, removing the electronics to reduce costs is a really good idea for them, because a beeping Y-Wing isn't going to sell much better than a standard one at $29.99 at Toys "R" Us. (Crap in a hat, that's an awesome deal-- 2 figures and a ship for $30? What is this, my birthday?)

I'm sure we'll see more electronics in the future, but not in the $19.99 assortment (well, maybe for the TV show) and not any time soon. If/when we see a new Falcon, or an AT-TE, or something like that? Sure. But I've got my doubts we'll see a lot of smaller electronic stuff ever.

8. Am I the only one that doesn't hate the SW X-Mas special? It wasn't that bad. Had a great Boba Fatt animated short. The Cantina sequence with Bea Arthur was fairly typical of late 70's holiday TV specials. With all things retro being cool again, I watch all the clips I could on You Tube and actually enjoyed most of it (in an old school retro kind of way). So, 2 questions:

1) Do you see ANY chance of this being released on DVD (say as an easter egg in a future SW release)?
2) Any chance of a Bea Arthur action figure? C'mon, you know you want one. Better figure then that Ice Cream Maker guy. And Bea Arthur is hot...

The holiday special is something George Lucas has commented about wanting to destroy every last bootleg copy of. If that doesn't answer your first question, nothing will. I don't think that the animated segment is out of the question-- nobody really complained about that as far as I know-- but the live action stuff? Not likely. I think on some level anyone can appreciate yes, it's campy, and yes, it's something people want to see, but once you see it you really, really don't want to see it again. Except the cartoon.

As to #2, oh, you kids and Bea Arthur. People just love the Golden Girls. So many of us share the ironic love of the show and its stars, [don't click this without reading the all-caps disclaimer, and even then, don't click it] and some take it too far like with this Golden Girls Gone Wild art thing (NSFW-- ARGUABLY NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR FOR ANYONE, EVER, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD DON'T TELL YOUR KIDS, I POST IT HERE BECAUSE IT WAS ON NPR AND HEY, NPR IS SAFE RIGHT? NO.). I can appreciate a "haha let's make this figure because it's so insane" request as much as the next guy but honestly, no. Some characters from the holiday special saw action elsewhere in the saga (Chewie's family in novels, comics, etc.) and others are just going to help Hasbro sell new versions of popular characters (Boba Fett). Ackmeena and other human characters from the show are unlikely because they're only known to fans who saw the TV special nearly 30 years ago, or to those who have a bootleg tape of it. Why am I even going on? It's not going to happen. Sorry!

(And I could go on about the Ice Cream Maker Guy. But hey, the fans are vocal, and if it ever actually comes out they show what you can get if you organize and are tenacious-- the KOTOR fans could learn from them.)

9. I am a little confused about the deal with the [Saga] Legends Sandtroopers. I understand that there are going to be 4 seperate versions, that they will have varying levels of dirt and that there will be at least 2 different colors in terms of the pauldron. My question is whether or not we are getting the Evolutions super dirty version that we actually voted on? I have read, and maybe misunderstood, that the tooling is not available for the Evolutions Sandtrooper. Is this true? I know this is the case with respect to the pit droids from the Euro 2-pks.

On Sandtroopers: Hasbro has confirmed that there will indeed be at least 4 flavors-- version 1 has a grey pad and is based on the 2006 Saga Collection mold, just like version 2 (orange pad) and version 3 (black pad). Version 4 is an unknown but it is currently speculated that if it is different, it will be the Evolutions trooper as Hasbro has indicated (I believe via the great Curto of Rebelscum) that they intend to use that tool again in the future-- and the fourth figure would indeed be the future. The tooling is available, but is either a) in the wrong factory (there are LOTS of Hasbro factories, I hear), or b) in use. The Sandtrooper Evolutions mold is going to be used for a rerelease of all the Evolutions set, and the same style of tool is being used for the Tantive IV Battle Packs-- meaning the mold is probably seeing some hefty use right now. Also, things happen and things change-- as we've seen, not all the molds are where they think they are, and even if they tell us something specific, it's always subject to change.

10. A lot of the time it seems that you have to answer the same questions over and over again:
Do you think they'll ever make...?
How much is____worth?
-or-will my figure from last month with a different serial number be worth my son's Princeton education someday? If so, good...I wanted to buy a Jaguar. Pete's education is in your hands!
Why can't Hasbro get stuff in my area? Those [people] in Denver have had Nerf Wampas for two weeks and we don't even have the Nerf Taun-Taun yet. What the Hell!?!???!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?!

Once again, I think you handle the questions pretty well. If I were you, I'd have lost my patience a long time ago.

So my question is:
Is this still fun for you?

While you're at it, can you tell me when they're going to make the third Jawa that watches the other Jawa shoot R2 with that blue electric [weapon]?? Thanks!! That one is my favorite characters, and I NEED to know whether or not I should give up hope. I don't think I can take it any more.

Jawas are cool, and great sellers. I have little doubt that we'll see a "zapped" R2-D2 someday (I personally very much want to see one, even if it's just a deco change with no plastic energy bolts) and Hasbro seems intent of refreshing the Jawa concept regularly. To which I say, great. Here's hoping we get a new Jawa with yet another droid, or a Battle Pack, or some such soon because I love this stuff and so do you, and we all win when we get new Jawas. (Seriously though-- Jawa-themed battle pack with an escape pod, Jawas, R2-D2 with energy deco... is anyone writing this down? This is gold.)

Is it fun? Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. This isn't a profit center, and I keep it up for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it's a very popular column. (That probably sounds pretty self-serving, but it's true-- Q&A has been the most popular thing on the site most weeks since 2002.) People like it, people get something out of it, and that's important to me. If next week, nobody wrote any questions, this wouldn't be interesting for me to do and I'd eventually stop doing it-- I learn a lot from you guys because I get to see all these points of view that are different from what I see, which is very little. (There are no collectors in my immediate circle of friends and I sit in a cube most of the day.) If anything, I've been writing Q&A-- and other SW-related newsletters and sites since 1995-- because I learn from it. It's really important for me as a toy dork to have a rolodex in my head of Kenner/Hasbro trivia and this helps me keep on top of stuff. It also helps me get a lot of the stuff I hear, which can be entertaining or informative.

Distribution is tricky business-- sometimes I really can't tell if a product hit or not, and depending on how many stores one can hit, it's not easy to find out. Take the Father's Day two-pack-- anyone I meet from LA at conventions this year I stopped and said "hey, did you see this in the stores?" It's a legit question most of the time, because it seems to me that it just wasn't bad luck but an actual case of really rotten distribution. Hearing complaints like this helps me out because, yes, sometimes I get elevate these concerns to the right people, or take advantage of this information for other purposes related to my job. You'd be surprised some of the information I find staggeringly useful when it comes to things like store reports, broken toys, and so forth. Without you, I wouldn't know half of the stuff that I've managed to learn.

A lot of questions can be answered easily, but then I remember the important thing: people read this column because I'm way too in to this stuff. I've been buying the modern line since day 1 and collecting the stuff for years. Not every collector is going to own at least four significant modern paint variants of the Darth Vader's TIE Fighter, but I do-- and why should they drop $100+ on the same toy when there's someone out there who not only knows the answer, but can save you money if all you do is ask? Assuming everybody reading this knows the nuances between the .00 and .01 TIE Fighter Pilot package variants from 1996 is unreasonable, and that's why it's necessary to have some common questions repeated. Of course, people can read the archives too, but they don't, and won't, so I stop pretending that they might if I point it out to them.

The only thing I dislike is being the target of misplaced rage. I say a lot of things that should inspire rage, but my thinking KOTOR is a waste of plastic doesn't mean anything-- you can (and should) ignore me. I'm just a very hard working collector who stays up late, is slow on trades, and wants to try my best to make sure people have access to as much information as I can throw out there for as long as they find it worthwhile. I've probably outstayed my welcome by a few years, but it's not like anyone else is doing a Q&A/opinion/whatever column like this every week yet, so until someone can do a daily one, I'll probably still be here. And I really, honestly, do appreciate your reading after all these years, because if you weren't reading, I'd feel really, really stupid doing all of this for nobody.


Well, that was an unexpected turn at the end. Wonder if anybody's still reading.

Did you get a load of those Battle Packs over at Jedi Defender? Wowie zowie. Kudos to Hasbro for some very interesting concepts if those are legit. The Endor set is like someone got one of my wish lists-- it's a great set for $20. A Vintage Stormtrooper and Scout Trooper with damage alone would be $15 well spent, but an AT-ST Driver with a 2007 Rebel Trooper head and dirt deco, plus Chewie, plus Vintage Endor Han (sans coat) in a box? Geez Hasbro, what's the deal? Are you trying to make me love you? Because it's working.

The Hoth set also seems like a lot of fun. I just scored a clearance Hoth Han with a non-broken waist, so here's hoping this blue one* will also be not broken when I find it. That's cool. The recolored Derlin is neat, the Hoth Rebel is meh, but I do dig the Luke, more or less. Sure, he's going to be too tall, but fans have been basically demanding this figure, and if they fix the lightsaber all the better. If it has a fifth figure, I can't wait to find out what it might be-- a droid would be lovely.

*- So, Hoth Han. I forgot about this, and I can't remember if I saw it on TV or on a web site, but stay with me. There was a big Star Trek auction in the past year with loads of old uniforms-- including some old blue Starfleet uniforms that were stored for a few decades. The funny thing is that they discolored with age. The blue costume was, in one case, sort of a brown color. That's interesting, isn't it? The whole blue vs. brown debate for Han's coat may never be resolved, but there's plenty of evidence out there that some costumes discolor significantly with time. Given the changing story about the colors of Han's coat-- including Galoob being told by Lucas that "Han always wears black" in the 1990s-- leads me to believe we may never know what the full truth is here. (Yes, I know about the alleged licensing sheet that said brown from the ESB days. No, I don't buy it 100%.) I don't doubt that the costume is brown today but I'll always be wondering if there was a variant prototype costume, or if there's a discoloration with time issue, or something else here. But no matter the color, I do know this one fact: Vintage Hoth Han looks stupid with this thermal hat and/or his hood down. I want one with the hood up, gosh darn it.

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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