Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
September 17, 2007
1. Since the first test shots of the Attakus Millenium Falcon diorama surfaced, I've been socking away extra cash specifically to afford it. Partly because of the many delays, I now actually have enough in my bank account to buy the piece. Unfortunately, this good financial planning didn't carry over to me making sure to actually see, up close and personal, the diorama. So, my question for you is, compared to the publicity photos and that video that you can find on youtube, how cool is the diorama? (I'm assuming you have seen it at a convention or work.) Does the real, live diorama make those pictures look nothing, or did Attakus' publicity department work some magic and gussy up an uninspired product for its glamour shots? have you heard what are other people are saying?
Well... it's OK. Collecting is a tricky thing because when you hit a certain price point, I can honestly say I wouldn't trust a damn thing anybody says. And for me, that price point is about $100. I'm not exactly a huge fan of the Attakus style, and I really don't care for their metal figures (especially given the price), although they seem like solid pieces that will hold up to years of light abuse and/or smoking. But it's over a thousand bucks, and as far as I'm concerned, any new item isn't worth that much. (Except maybe some life-size items.) So I don't think it's all that cool, but obviously, I'm not their core customer-- my preferred collecting poison comes in $6.99 plastic doses or from Japan.
You can do a lot with that much money, but there's no denying it's a huge piece and if you want to have a giant showcase item, this may be the thing for you. It's certainly an inspired product-- anything that's several feet long is worth a look-- but do you need to own it? That's up to you. People talk all the time about the "joy of collecting" and how looking at a piece brings a smile to their face. Me, I'm a little different-- but if you like a very large item that will impress the snot out of any fan that visits your house, this may be one of the biggest and therefore best items you can get. (But I want something I can play with, not look at.)
2. I'll keep this question short and sweet. [Star Wars Shop Exclusive] Concept Grievous. $16.99. What gives?
I have no inside dirt here, but it's probably in line with the pricing of other such items given what I assume Hasbro charge. There's also a strong desire of ShopStarWars to charge what they can for this item-- as they know they have Hasbro Concept Figure fans over a barrel-- considering that this may be the only sale they get from some fans all year, it makes sense that they'd ask a little more for it. $13.99 (before tax & shipping) is my ceiling for what I consider to be reasonable, and the $25 Shadow Scout Trooper bordered on insulting. I bought one, because I can't deny it's a decent looking figure and I'd be sorry if I missed out on it. But I'm stupid, and so are a lot of us, and until we stop paying this much, there will be expensive exclusives like this one. If they put it in a big box with concept bodyguards, OK, cool. But $17 for one figure seems like they're trying to shrink the "I'll buy anything" club a little bit more every year.
...and I'd bet that what seem to be poor sales of the Lucas Family set had something to do with it.
3. What is happening to Code 3 in regard to Star Wars stuff ? I'm very disappointed that this company doesn't sell Star Wars anymore especially those cool 3D Posters that I've been waiting for Ep. 1 and 2.
While many fans expect a press release when a license expires, or when a line ends, this is usually the exception and not the rule. The rule is that a line fades away and that's that. Code 3 hasn't made any formal announcements, but the line is about as dead as a line can be. Don't expect anything new unless there's some top secret stock in a warehouse somewhere.
4. Will Hasbro release more of new limited edition Cinemascape statue [like the Darth Vader ones from the POTF2 days and Revenge of the Sith]?
The last item was announced in 2005 as a Wal-Mart exclusive. Wal-Mart rejected it, and it got sold to the dotcoms. Many of which still have units. Given that the figure was essentially an overpriced resin Unleashed figure, and fan dollars didn't support it, I'm going to say no. I was surprised it got made at all given the fact that I thought Gentle Giant had the license for resin statues, but hey, what do I know. I wouldn't hold your breath, but I would suggest Gentle Giant's product line as many of them are excellent (or at least merely great) and there seems to be a steady stream of them on the market.
5. I was just wondering if we'd ever see a Ferus Olin basic figure out there from Hasbro, with the popularity of the young readers novel series Last of the Jedi. Also since he is going to Face off with Vader's Secret Apprentice in TFU according to Game Informer Mag.
That leads into my next question: Is the set-for-next year wave of TFU figures going to be the only one Hasbro will produce? I mean, there isn't even a Secret Apprentice figure, or a Shakk Ti! And that Ferus would be a nice addition.
Upcoming figures based on the Expanded Universe are something of a crapshoot. Hasbro has proven that anything is game, after all, if you asked me a year ago if we'd get a baby blue Darth Vader, Bultar Swan in Jedi armor, and a New Jedi Order Luke Skywalker, I'd probably laugh and said no. And yet, here we are.
"Popular" is a loaded word. I don't think most toy fans read the Young Readers novel, and while I'm sure many of you do, it won't be in the thousands. There are other human Jedi like Cin Drallig that fans have been begging for that would be more likely to happen, if you ask me, unless the character gets significant face time. I haven't been following Force Unleashed closely enough to know who's in what yet (so Ferus is a big question mark to me) but even a hypothetical appearance in the game isn't necessarily enough to warrant a toy. After all, we never got a Krayt Dragon, or Arden Lyn, or Rookie One, or Hoar, or a Jawenko Lava Beast. (And if you don't know who they all are, that helps prove the point.)
Hasbro has a line of product based on the game-- this much we know. How extensive will it be? That has yet to be revealed. This isn't me being coy, either-- I don't know. We know they're doing a lightsaber, some mini-unleashed figures, and at least a wave's worth of basic figures. I expect more, but an entire wave of figures based on a game is more than most games get. We never got Leebo, or Guri, or Jix... as more is revealed about the Secret Apprentice, I'd wager Hasbro will announce their plans for this guy. But Lucasarts is keeping him under wraps, and as such, licensed products based on the character are also likely to be kept under wraps. I hate to give you a cop-out answer like "wait and see," but with the way they're marketing the whole project that's really all we can say right now.
6. I'm a droid collector. I have the original TC-14 -- is the Saga Legends version superior in any way?
Not that I can tell, beyond the CommTech Chip stand being replaced by an Episode I coin. If you like nifty packaging, it might be worth snagging, but as a loose collector you probably wouldn't necessarily find it appealing. It's a great figure and the silver decanter makes for many wonderful jokes about marital aids, but it seems the new release has nothing genuinely new to offer the hardcore figure junkie who's seen it all. For those who don't have a TC-14, you should go get one.
7. What do you think about the possibility of a Darth
Maul based on the Visionaries comic? If you are
unfamiliar, Visionaries tells stories written and
drawn by ROTS concept artists and are far out on the
Outer Rim of the EU. In "Old Wounds" a cyborg Darth
Maul tracks Obi-Wan to Tatooine in a quest of revenge.
This particular maul has long horns and wickedly cool
robotic legs and no shirt (and you know how much
people like to see Darth Maul without his shirt on).
It might make for a good comic two pack, since Maul is
a popular character with few costume changes and it
would give us an inter-trilogy Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Seeing that Hasbro is giving us our second "topless" Darth Maul next year, I'd say chances are good. There's not a lot you can do with the character, and this one is certainly different. My hope is for this figure being part of a comic pack with Obi-Wan, or even better some sort of multi-pack with Luke, Owen, and Beru. (That'd be pretty sweet. I'd buy it.) Seeing how awesome the Obi-Wan/Alpha set turned out, I'd love to see more Obi-Wan figures and more Darth Maul figures if they're in some way "new." So how about it, Hasbro? We got our pre-cyborg Grievous, so let's get a cyborg Darth Maul!
8. I know you get a lot of questions about when particular figures will be re-released or resculpted and sometimes the answers seem obvious and other times they actually seem to warrant a legitimate response. Additionally, it's obviously just speculation if something hasn't been announced but you do offer us a particularly unique view of the hobby due to the attention you have given to the business side of things. I know that back in 1997 when I started collecting I was only 13 and didn't care at all about how well figures sold. This preface leads me into my actual question: any idea when Yakface (Saelt-Marae) will be resculpted? I really loved this figure. He had a pretty good sculpt for the time and a great staff but now he looks a bit dated. He has only basic articulation and his paint scheme seems a tad colorful. There is now a Yarkora ship captain in the Star Wars: Dark Times comic series which means there is a small but slight chance at a reuse of some of his parts for a comic 2-pack. I don't know how well the first Saelt-Marae sold but I was hoping that between previous sales and fan discussion you have picked up on you could give your opinion on the matter. Is there even a demand for a resculpt of this character?
While there is a decent buzz for this one lately, Hasbro recently said there were no immediate plans to make a new Yak Face. Of course, they've also said there were no plans to do Sev, Fixer, and Boss, and more recently, no plans for a new Commander Gree or a new Elite Corps Trooper.
There is demand for the figure, but it might almost be more worth Hasbro's while to do him up as a modern "Vintage" figure due to the holy grail status of the 1984/1985 original. There's interest in this figure, but I can dig up interest on nearly anything these days. Fan demand is the best way to get certain items fast-tracked, so if you want to see it done, bug Hasbro, write letters, and tell your friends to do the same.
Right now, the demand for Dark Times product is about nil. I'm reading the comic, but it's taken almost a year to do five issues, and it wasn't launched as a bimonthly comic. And it's not even all that fantastic so far, and a cameo character like a ship captain who doesn't see too much action would seem low on the totem pole of figures to do from the series, after Legolas and Denver, the last dinosaur that is. The way Hasbro is denying the need for a new sculpt, I'd almost say that means one is on deck for 2008-- that's generally how these things go lately. Deny, deny, deny, and then confirm.
9. What is the shortest amount of time, so far, between a sculpt and a
resculpt of a secondary character? (Hasbro re-sculpts the iconic
heroes and villians constantly, but regarding secondary characters,
people always seem to ask you, "When will they re-do so-and-so, the
current version is lame?" ) They are doing a new Gree, relatively
soom after the original ROTS version, but with SAGA LEGENDS, I worry
that keeping older figures on the shelves, diminishes the
desirability/need of an updated sculpt, say, of RA-7, General
Grievous or a better quality Battle Droid. Your thoughts?
It all depends on how you define a secondary character. Hasbro did a Mace Windu in 1998 and again in 1999. Boss Nass was done in 1999, and redone as one of the MOST AWESOME FIGURES EVER in 2000. (Have I mentioned how much I like that one? Well, I do.) A year is actually not at all unprecedented, but Hasbro does what they want. You really can't divine what they want to do next, although Clones are a special case. I have no doubt they plan to redo a bunch of them just to keep Clone collectors busy, while things like aliens and droids are probably a ways off. 4-LOM was first made in the modern line in 1997, and again in 2007. R2-R9 was first made in 1999, and revised in 2006. A reissue doesn't mean a new sculpt isn't on deck-- Hasbro keeps cranking out Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker (the 2004 model), and yet here we are with a new one. It's really all up to Hasbro's mystical character selection methods, which I believe may include a Bingo ball cage, or perhaps a dart board, plus moderate sales data. A new Grievous is a given, though, it's just a matter of when and how. (If ever a figure's size, articulation, and accessories seemed to warrant a $10 Vintage price point, this one might be it.)
10. Let's just pretend that Hasbro is closing down production on Star Wars forever. There is no new cartoon, no live action series, George Lucas has gone all J. D. Salinger and shut himself away in his castle, swearing off "that space movie" and shunning his adoring fans. The Powers That Be have chosen you, Adam Pawlus, as Spokesman for the Collecting Community because, well, your articles rock and it's your Q&A column. Now, here's the task: You pick the Final 12 Figures to be released. Any characters. Any source material. Any accessories, as long as they fit on a standard figure card. (Of course, they've done some snazzy things for standard figures this year, so your field is open. There. Not really a question, but I thought it might be fun for you. (I foresee some classic Marvel characters...) Rock on!
Personally, I'd just kill the line and let it be done. A final wave selected by fans (even employee fans at Hasbro) would result in unsold product, which makes the retailers angry, which could hurt Hasbro's future bottom line. But since we're in fantasy land here and I do love compliments...
1. Vlix. The henchman from Droids, the TV show, was an amusing staple of my Saturday routine every few weeks in 1985 and 1986. I want the toy. Now.
2. Blue Stars. (Yes, like the blue Snowtrooper Uzay bootleg.) It's an easy repaint, and a trooper-- plus it's wacky. Low costs means more profits and blue figures mean happy me.
3. Sim Aloo. (The vintage Imperial Dignitary.) Gotta remake those old vintage figures.
4. Warok & Paploo set.
5. "Vintage" Lumat & Wicket set. You can probably share some tooling between the sets, or from previous sets. I was never pleased with the modern Wicket, so I'd want a new one before we call it quits.
6. Human B-Wing Pilot. A pattern emerges...
7. Lumiya. I'm a fan of the idea of the character, and she has a few things going for her: it's a chick, she's a Sith of sorts, she's a cyborg, and she can have swappable parts for in-packaging configuration variants. You know, like OTC Luke Dagobah, who was packaged doing a headstand or standing normally.
8. Klaatu, aka Wooof. Gotta finish that vintage line.
9. Silver Death Star Droid. It's a potential repaint, plus it's a vintage holdout. Make us all really happy by packaging it with a redeco Power Droid that looks like the vintage one.
10. Sharad Hett. We got A'Sharad. Now I want Sharad. Even if it's the 2006 Tusken Raider with new arms and new deco (plus a new lightsaber and soft goods), I'd be a happy camper.
11. Kiro. They made it seemed like he died quite a bit, and he had a cool set of armor. He was in the post-Return of the Jedi comics from Marvel, and looks like he'd make a fun toy. Bonus points for any water-based gizmo for his helmet.
12. Mantellian Savrip (Kalharr). It's the big Chess/Dejarik monster with the long neck that picks up other monsters in the original Star Wars and it's a real crime these guys haven't been done up as figures yet. Also, you fought one in the cantina if you played through Super Star Wars.
But honestly, the line has had a great run. I'm happy with it as it stands today-- the fact we keep getting items like animated debut Boba Fett, Nelvaan Anakin Skywalker, and a new 2-1B just continues to astound me. Due to the deluge of figures in recent years (and by recent years, I mean the 2007 line being 250 figures or so), I'd personally rather see some more new vehicles. But that's just my being unreasonable.
...of course, we still need some resculpts because, unfortunately, improvement rarely spawns perfection. My resculpt wish/short list:
5. Darth Vader. We've never been given a movie Darth Vader with a ball-jointed neck, so that'd be nice to see. Actually, if they managed to give the Evolutions sculpt G.I. Joe-style hip articulation (the good kind), a lightsaber hole on the belt, and the usual articulation, that'd be pretty sweet. Each new Vader is generally very close to perfect, but stops just shy of being the best-ever figure. Bonus points if they keep the cloth "robes" under the shoulder armor.
4. Wedge Antilles. One with a new body, please. Thank you. Bonus points for not making it part of a $15+ exclusive/gift set/pack-in/etc.
3. Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. Both Jabba's Sail Barge or Death Star II. Yes, I know we got a new Sail Barge one, but the head isn't very good and the soft goods are rather awful. The "vest" covers his back in the movie and all previous figures-- this one is more or less a cloth dickie. (It's worth noting the articulation is excellent of the new release.) Also, we've never really had a top-notch Death Star II costume-- the best-ever outfit was the 2003 one, and that had the worst Luke face in the entire line. Bonus points of Hasbro can combine both costume styles into the same action figure.
2. General Grievous. We've had a few decent ones, but all were just a little bit off. The Sneak Preview sculpt doesn't stand too well, and will fall over given time. None of them are particularly tall. Bonus points if Hasbro can find a way to make him stand up straight or be hunched over, depending on my mood, and extra bonus points for swappable arms.
1. General Kenobi. As in, armored, and not crappy. Yes, I know you can do a boil-and-pop custom. Yes, I know that he may be on the way for the new TV show line. But I want one based on the cartoon costume, done realistically, and I want it yesterday. Bonus points for helmets, swappable heads with Ep2 and Ep2 hairstyles, and a lightsaber that can go on the Clone Belt.
At my day job I do a podcast roughly once a week. This week's installment: short reviews and impressions of 30th Anniversary Waves 4 and 5. Yes, now you can hear me ramble about action figures while hearing what I sound like right after I wake up in the morning.
Did you remember to send off for your vintage coins? I kept putting it off, but the envelope is sitting on my "out" pile near the door. The set of seven coins is $4.95 plus six vintage figure stickers, which is actually probably more than it's worth (those coins would cost what, a quarter each?) but I want the damn set. Offer expires in February, but why wait until the last minute? Do it now so you won't forget. Also don't forget that the ShopStarWars exclusive General Grievous based on Warren Fu's design has an exclusive coin you'll want, too.
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!
Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!