Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
September 24, 2007
1. Is the red and blue deco of the 2004 Y-Wing based on anything? Is it part of the EU or just something Hasbro made up?
Kenner has been making Y-Wing Fighter toys with red markings since as far back as 1979 (or was it 1978?) when they cranked out red die-cast metal Y-Wing Fighters in the original vintage line. Since then, Galoob has also made at least one, and Hasbro has done a couple. It's possible the red coloring came from an early concept and since it looked good, they ran with it, and I believe it's also appeared in a few games. If nothing else, it's retro.
2. Remember the Darth Vader Star Destroyer Playset? Yeah, it was kinda crappy. But I've always been stupefied by a specific 'feature'...
On the box, and in the catalog, was the following description:
HAN'S MILLENNIUM FALCON can even hook up with the STAR DESTROYER!
(Sorry for the ALL CAPS...Kenner was apparently pretty stoked about it)
So the question, from some 26 years ago, is...how does this thing actually hook up with the Falcon? It doesn't sit on top of it (which would kinda/sorta explaing the 'escape hatch to nowhere), nothing seems to connect on the side...even looking at prototype pictures doesn't give me any clues, nor does any of the collecting sites out there that usually have the answers to stuff like this. Googling got me nowhere, either.
Little help for a brother?
I've actually never heard of this feature being shown. My guess is that it's a goof by the copywriter who meant to say that this is what happened in the film, but the toy doesn't actually do it. But for all I know it might-- anybody want to chime in here?
3. My question for you today requires a context first... not really
digging the blue colour schemes on the Tie Fighters Hasbro had been
releasing in years past, I held on to my cash in the hopes one day we'd
see grey repaints. Imagine my excitement when my dreams began to
answered a year ago. With the help of trade buddies Stateside I
snagged two of the grey Big Wing Ties last year and hope to employ the
same means to acquire some more vehicles this year as Hasbro pumps out
yet more grey Ties of various kinds. However, given that I am outside
the USA and the stores here don't sell SW vehicles, I don't have the
opportunity to view before buying. I love the new colours, but am a
little wary about the sizes. I loves me my big grey Tie Fighters and
would love to buy a 181st Interceptor or two to join them along with a
Tie Bomber, now that they are coming out in my beloved grey. It looks
like can finally begin building the Imperial Fleet I have been dreaming
of all these years. But, how big are the Interceptors and Bombers by
comparison? Will they look goofy and stunted next to my Big Wingers?
It looks to me from the pictures I have seen that the Interceptor will
probably be fine, but just how big is that Bomber?
Scale is a complicated thing, as vehicles move quickly and some of Lucasfilm's resources on just how big a ship is may vary from book to book, magazine to magazine, and so on. If proper scale is your absolutely most important criteria for making a purchase, don't buy action figure ships. Kenner and Hasbro always fudge the proportions so that they can make the best looking toy at the best possible price. The seating area is traditionally larger than it should be, and this goes for almost all ships. The TIE Bomber looks proportionally sound, and the TIE Interceptor is pretty excellent, but the toys were not originally designed to be in perfect scale with one another-- they were designed to meet a certain "fun" factor at a certain price point.
One handy point of reference is that the center pod of the TIE Fighter (and TIE Interceptor) is the same size across the board, so if you see pictures you can get an idea of just how big they are. Which is to say, fairly decently sized. The TIE Bomber is the same size, more or less, as the modern Darth Vader TIE Fighter.
My best advice I can give: if the sizes and colors are significant, worry-inducing concern, don't buy them. Just get model kits or micro-scale items which are all completely wrong with one another.
4. Now that I finally got answers from Hasbro about Cane Adiss and Dice Ibegon (excellent :) ). I was wondering if the upcoming Jabba's Palace Band sets will hurt the chances of seeing some of the characters resculpted and with better articulation? I'm thinking specifically of Sy Snootles and Joh Yowza who both scream to be upgraded. And Max Rebo, who needs a complete organ with the big horn attachment thingy. Also, the dancers could use an upgrade imo because the preposed shoulders and pea heads don't do it for me. And why arent they using the original Barquin D'an mold? I don't really like the soft goods treatment they gave him (and the cantina band) and the original mold was truer to his appearance in the film (all black, no grey pants). What gives?
And has Hasbro ever indicated an interest in doing a "Classic" Sy Snootles? You know, with the tusks and the feather and microphone. I like that design better than the Special Edition one and I know there are others who agree with me.
When it comes to the upcoming Wal-Mart Exclusive Band sets, there are no plans to retool anything. According to Hasbro at Comic-Con, there's not even a plan to repaint anything-- it should be straight-up reissues, although you and I and everyone else will be the judge of that come this Fall. As far as I know there's no confirmation on if Barquin D'an will be the 2006 Band Member or the 1998 Barquin-- all I've seen are mock-ups and when it comes to Hasbro repackaging older toys, things change often.
There are also no known plans to do a new mold for Sy Snootles, but I'm right there with you-- I'd be pretty gosh darn excited at the prospect of a "vintage" Max Rebo Band with the original three members retooled and redecorated.
5. I was looking at the picures hasbro posted of the upcomming Baron Fel and Hobbie comic pack and I see one glaring error. Where's the gotee? Why is Fel clean shaven? Or is this one of those "running changes" like the green/purple saber on the Mara/Luke pack?
Running changes are usually surprises to us all-- we didn't know a Purple Saber Mara Jade was coming until she showed up, nor did we know about the neck variation. As such, any variations on Baron Fel are things that will most likely slip into the system, but this seems like the kind of thing Hasbro may not due to previous comments about wanting to-- and I swear I'm not making this up-- avoid removable helmet figures with beards if at all possible. (Yes, I know there was Stormtrooper Lucas, I just pass along the anecdotes.)
6. I noticed something the other day. The only Saga Legends 'Expanded Universe' coin is packaged with the dark trooper. Nobody else! So, you either buy this figure if you want the coin or else. Correct? Or will there be other ways of scoring the EU coin?
At this time, yes-- the only announced Expanded Universe coin is the Darktrooper, and the Darktrooper has a gold coin. (Unfortunately-- I'd rather it be uniform across the line, personally.) However, Hasbro has not explicitly stated what the plans are for 2008 for Saga Legends yet. (They did confirm coins are going away in the basic 30th Anniversary assortment, but not Legends.) So depending on what Hasbro decides to do going forward, there may well be a silver EU coin in the works. I hope there is, at least.
Fun fact: the 2007 Darktrooper has retooled feet with a 2007 Hasbro copyright rather than a 1998 Kenner copyright. For the curious, this makes it easy to tell the original ones from the new ones if you care for such things.
7. I love the bar pieces with Elis Helrot and M'iiyoom Onith. Since I want to have a fully closed in bar section, do I need to buy extras of these critters or will there be more figures coming in the next year or so that will also have rounded bar ends?
This is one of those continuity error things, or at least, a license error thing.
According to the blueprints for the Cantina (seen at Wookieepedia and elsewhere) and the Cantina Model Kit (linked to at The Bothan Spy), the Cantina has a single rounded edge to the bar and the opposite side is the management office. As such, additional round corners would result in an inauthentic Cantina-- what we need is the office.
However, according to the C-3PO/Cantina playset from Galoob and the upcoming Wal-Mart Galactic Heroes Cantina, it is indeed round. So... uh... now what?
I'd side with the model and books, as those tend to strive a little harder for accuracy than offshoot toy lines, which just want to make a fun and good looking toy. So I'd ask you back if you really still want those extra rounded pieces as they may make your display incorrect.
Still, what does this mean for future cantina chunks with figures? It's pretty likely we'll see those sections, rounded or straight, again some day. Maybe Hasbro will cram one in with a Blue Snaggletooth in 2008. Maybe Toys "R" Us will get a Battle Pack with Cantina stuff in it with lots of bar pieces. Maybe customizers will be loads of Elis and M'iiyoom and get stuck with barrels of sections they just want to trade away to get them out of their house. You've got options if you want more furniture, but Hasbro doesn't really have a compelling reason to make it easy for us to get more with new figures.
8. In the past few years we have seen re-releases of exclusive vehicles: Y-wing, X-wing, TIE Fighters, etc. When will Hasbro get around to re-releasing the Skiff (Target, 2000), B-wing (also Target, 2001) and large scale TIE fighter (Target and TRU) ?
I think the Skiff is just a matter of time-- people want it, Hasbro knows it, and they just need to determine how to cram it into a normal vehicle box or whose exclusive it would be. The B-Wing was a poor seller in many markets when it hit, going on clearance for $20 or cheaper at numerous Target stores in many (but of course, not all) markets. As a bigger, more expensive item, your only hope is to have someone get it as an exclusive and I have my doubts it'll be any time soon. Finally, the large-scale TIE Fighter (the grey one, anyway) is still in circulation-- Toys "R" Us got additional shipments in 2007 and many (again, not all) stores still have it. Hasbro is generally pretty good about not stepping on any toes while an exclusive is out, so if it's a Toys "R" Us exclusive now, you probably won't see it repackaged/sold elsewhere until Toys "R" Us is done with it.
9. I just read in one of the Hasbro semi-weekly answers that they had spoken to Sideshow about doing playsets for the 3 3/4" figures. I can see the benefits; more detail better scale. But I don't know if I will feel good about paying around $60 for a play set that you might pay $19 for in a retail store like Target. I would probably pay it, but the normal Sideshow practice of making limited edition items, who know if I WOULD be able to even get it. ...How do you think this will all play out?
Behold, a hugely hypothetical response! As of today no known deal has been inked. This is based on assumptions.
Due to Sideshow being pretty much the sole Sideshow seller, it should do well. For them. For fans? It's going to depend on what kind of product they want to make-- a high-end collectible, or perhaps a return to quasi mass-market goodness.
First, there's the issue of materials. Low run playsets tend to be made of materials like painted resin, which doesn't hold up to actual play very well. If you put it on a shelf, stick figures on it, and never touch it again, it might be OK. But you'd still be buying a high-end collectible to use as a display for low-end toys-- it's unlikely these would be the playsets some people are imagining.
Second, let's look at price. Diamond Select Toys made a tiny resin playset for their Mini-Mates toys, which had no license tied to it and was made of resin. It was about $70 retail, and it was positively tiny. Attakus' resin Death Star Hall is $850 or so-- it's scaled to action figures, and is little more than a base with some walls on it. Even if it's a quarter of the size, that might still put it at $200. A $60 playset feels very unrealistic unless Sideshow decides to up the ante and try to make these slightly more mass market (thus selling more units and getting the price down) or unless Sideshow makes the items tiny-- no more than a square foot.
Third, let's look at a previous third-party attempt to do playsets/environments. A company tried to make some items called "Pride Displays" around 2005 and as of now, it's my understanding the company is no longer making the line. For $60, you got a chunk of plastic that basically looked like an old Kenner toy, but cost three or four times as much and had zero play features, plus it wasn't even scene-specific. They were a pastiche of multiple environments from the films, and despite a tiny edition size of 3,000 pieces, the dioramas were blown out at a fraction of the price because nobody wanted to buy them since they weren't really a playset, or a Hasbro product.
Fourth, let's look at precedent. Their This is No Cave Space Slug thing was essentially a rock formation with a head in it, and that was $80 for a 6-inch high, 8-inch deep diorama with very few distinguishing features. The Look Sir, Droids diorama is $70, and that's for a 10-inch in diameter diorama that's almost scaled to the figures-- and that's a pile of dirt with some troopers and an escape pod. They charge $60 for a tiny table with micro figures on it. While I suppose they could do a 180 on pricing, their stuff isn't cheap, and by and large we Hasbro fans tend to be pretty cheap. (Which is fair-- Hasbro's line is huge and will costs fans thousands of dollars to complete for just this year alone.)
Since Sideshow has pulled out of the bigger stores, like Target (who used to sell their excellent Universal Monsters several years ago) and Suncoast (who had Spinal Tap 12-inch figures), it's pretty unlikely that unless there's some new plans that are out of character for the company that such a hypothetical situation would be good for us. Do you want tiny scenes for $100? It seems to me what fans really want is basically what Attakus did with their Millennium Falcon, Death Star, and Dagobah dioramas but at rock-bottom prices. I sincerely doubt we'd ever see anything as impressive as the Geonosis Arena (which was $30-$40) or the Mustafar Playset (which was $30 with two figures) for anything remotely near those prices unless it came out of Hasbro, as Hasbro's business is selling lots and lots of a single item rather than a small number of a more expensive item.
Given the option, I'd personally take it to a more low-end direction than a high-end direction, as Sideshow seems to be pushing more and more expensive things. Personally, I miss the pop-up dioramas we got in the 1990s, like the Cantina, Jabba's Palace, and of course the pop-out displays on the back of Expanded Universe figures. I don't think fans will be satisfied if playsets come to pass as $100 limited edition 12-inch releases when what everybody really expects is a 3-foot-tall Death Star for $200 or less. Maybe they can make it happen-- but if the stuff is priced through the ceiling, I'm not interested. My focus is on Hasbro stuff, not Hasbro compatible stuff, and after 12 years I'm not looking for ways to triple how much I spend on toys a year. With all the multipacks and exclusive I'm already getting 250 or more figures in the 30th Anniversary Collection line-- I don't need $500 worth of environments too, or if I did, I'd stop buying any duplicate Hasbro product (i.e., Battle Packs) to make up for it.
I just don't like the idea. If Sideshow can do good, fun plastic playsets for $59.99 I'd love to see it.
A postscript to this-- in the original line, Kenner didn't make all that many (partially plastic) playsets. There's the mighty Death Star Space Station, the Creature Cantina, the Land of the Jawas (which was given a new backdrop for the Ice Planet Hoth and Rebel Command Center playsets), the Imperial Attack Base, the Turret & Probot Playset, the Dagobah Playset, the Ewok Village, two versions of Jabba's Dungeon, the Droid Factory, and the Jabba the Hutt Throne. Plus there was the all-cardboard Cantina Adventure set, Bespin playset, and so on. Not counting repurposed playsets, that's only about 9-- and the Jabba one isn't so much a playset as it is a seat for the Jabba figure.
In the modern line, we've got Endor, Hoth, Cloud City, Mustafar, Geonosis, two Death Star playsets, and two Naboo playsets. While I know fans don't like them as much as the vintage playsets, that's still 9 unique sculpt playsets. While we all have dreams of the world's most perfect display environment, I would almost say Sideshow would be better off doing their own scale with their own figures, like the "Look Sir, Droids" diorama. Only, you know, not so dull.
10. The Hasbro line has had a lot of misses like custom choppers, titanium forged figures, Princess Leia collection, SW Buddies etc., but one thing that seems to have been a hit and developed quite a following is the Galatic Heroes series. I really can't even remember when they started coming out - were they a follow-on to something like the M&M line or were they just another attempt at expanding the product line that actually worked? Do you know any of the backstory?
The Galactic Heroes concept, from what I've been able to find out, was in development since 2000 if not earlier. (There were some interesting discussions.) I know a lot of fans-- myself included-- loved the idea, especially since Hasbro did a toddler line for Jurassic Park that yielded some top-notch toys around 2000-2001.
In 2002, the first products were released merely as "Playskool Star Wars," and according to Hasbro at the time they did significant market research and found them to test extremely well. Kenner (and Hasbro) have experimented with toddler product for years, as it's a smart idea to sell stuff to kids when they're very young as a) they might stick around longer, and b) kids grow up fast. The 2002 line consisted of three small sets for $6 each (you'd get, for example, a Tauntaun, Wampa, Luke, and Han in a set or a Reek, Mace Winudu, Anakin, and a Geonosian in a set), the Millennium Falcon, and two medium size sets for $15 each (for example, a Naboo Fighter, Anakin, Darth Maul, a Battle Droid, and Obi-Wan Kenobi.) These items were a spectacular value but didn't do well in all markets-- I saw piles of Reek sets sitting around as late as 2004, and many KB Toy Outlets had the items at reduced prices for quite some time. This is staggering given how much better a value each 2002 set was compared to what we get today. Virtually every item in the Playskool line has been rereleased, in some cases with changes, as part of the Galactic Heroes range. (Except for Wicket the Ewok, for whatever reason.)
Around 2004, Hasbro reintroduced the Galactic Heroes line at a higher price with new packaging, and it worked-- people loved the variety of figures, the style, and yes, even the price. Sure, the X-Wing now cost $5 more and had fewer figures in it, but that's progress. Non-articulated PVC figures are pretty cheap to make, so Hasbro probably enjoys mucho profit on these little guys.
The M&Ms "Mpire" line wouldn't come to pass until 2005. It's not really part of the "Heroes" range, but they are similar in size.
So yeah, not a fan of the big giant high-end collectibles. Unless it's freaking huge. I can see paying for a 6-foot diorama, or a life-size Carbonite, or even a full-size Astromech droid. The idea of "luxury" dioramas for my action figures doesn't sound too appealing. What can I say, the old Turret and Probot playset is more on par with the kind of thing I want for my figures.
I caught the Family Guy Star Wars episode, which was entertaining enough. I try to stay away from Star Wars spoofs because I saw Spaceballs already, but it was good. Most surprisingly, the animation for the ships was pretty good, and there were plenty of in-jokes in the background. (Coach McGuirk, anyone?) If you didn't see it, make an effort to see it, unless you're also sick of parodies of the saga. And even then, give it a shot. C'mon.
Sooooo... what else. Oh, yeah. Wave 5 of Hasbro's 30th Anniversary Collection range is great. The Anakin figure is something else, the sculpt is fantastic and I hope whoever did it goes back and does a new Episode III Anakin some day. (Yeah, the Evolutions one was cool, but now I want more articulation in the elbows.) Here's hoping Hasbro gives us a crazy diverse batch of figures in a single wave like this every year.
I also got the Toys "R" Us Arena Encounter gift set. You can read about it on the front page. I dropped several Hamiltons on it mostly just because I wanted to show people what was new in it, and I was curious myself. Overall, it's a great item for creature fans, or fans who enjoy a good, significant repaint of a toy. I mean, the Acklay is a gazillion times better. I just like it but if you're not one to buy repaints or variants, I can tell you that you don't need this set. Although for the holidays, your nephew might enjoy 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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