Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 1, 2007
1. You've updated us on Wave 1 Saga Legends with regard to what's new, paint differences, etc. and what's straight repack... can we get an update on Wave 2, Wave 3... as much as you've had opportunity to personally inspect?
I stole this for the podcast I do the other week, so it's only fair that I answer it here too. (See how I used that to plug another project? Subtle!)
Pit Droids (cream): New enough. The mold was previously used for the UK/Asia as a bonus figure, and the coloring is slightly different than the original release. If you're a variant hound, you'll want these. If you missed it the first time, you'll want these. Overall, this is the exciting figure of the bunch. Buy lots and use them to cause trouble for your other toys. That's my plan.
Sandtrooper (orange): Old mold, new deco. Trooper fans should get this. The only reason you should skip it is if you've had enough Sandtroopers.
Imperial Officer (POTJ reissue): No change as far as I can tell. Buy it only if you want more or missed it before. It's a solid figure, and who doesn't love Imperial desk jockeys?
Darktrooper: Feet now ready "Hasbro 2007" rather than "Kenner 1998." Otherwise, the differences seem inconsequential. It does have a fancy-pants coin, so you'll probably want it for that. (Oh, and it was Figure of the Day on Sunday. See? That's another plug. This is why they don't pay me the big bucks.)
Clone Commander: There's a variant here-- some have a Sandtrooper blaster, some have the original Clone Commander blaster. Technically the gun makes it different to some people, but if you got the original release in Evolutions, this is nothing new.
Clone Trooper Officer (red, yellow, blue so far): The whites are whiter and the colors are brighter, otherwise these are essentially identical to the Entertainment Earth exclusive clones sold in 2005. I haven't got a blue one yet, but my fingers are crossed that the Toy Gods bless me this week.
2. I see that Hasbro is; as always, making re-deco of some old figures. What are the chances of seeing a new result Royal Guard with soft cape and a force pike from the ROTJ movie? I liked the red ROTS Royal Guard; but it has a gun and rifle and no option for a force pike.
Hasbro has made no such plans known, but we'd probably have to see the ROTS mold with a new hand at the very least if we were to get a version with a Force Pike. I hope we see it as I didn't get enough the first time around. As always, if this is something that we as a group want, it pays to make it vocal. If thousands of fans start screaming for something, odds are Hasbro will want to do it more than by seeing it mentioned once in what I presume is the only, and therefore most widely read, weekly SW Q&A column.
3. With all the recent Expanded Universe figures being made via the regular line, Comic Packs, Entertainment Earth exclusives, upcoming Evolutions sets, etc., I am very interested in reading more about the Star Wars EU. Yet, I do not know where to start? Books? Comics? There appears to be so many and I want to make sure I start at the beginning of a series, so I don't read out of order. Do you have a suggestion where I should start or where I could find some type of a checklist to help me read in order. I'm thinking I might be more interested in comic books, so I can share the experience with my son.
When I say "dude, there's a lot of to read," I want you to know I'm not being cute. There are hundreds (we're probably almost in the thousands) of issues of comics, dozens of novels, piles of video games, and lots of other resources that tell the story of the saga beyond the films. If you're new, I'd be very picky. I'd start off with picking up the various "Guides" out there, such as Dark Horse's comics guide, or perhaps the various Essential Guides to X (Droids, Vehicles, etc.) Skim these things over, and if something sounds cool, pick up the book(s) and read up.
The first two major products of the modern Expanded Universe are 1991's Heir to the Empire (a novel, later a comic) plus its two sequels as well as 1991's Dark Empire comic series. I consider these required reading as they kick-started the publishing program we enjoy today. After that? It's going to depend. It seems almost every single moment in the life of several characters is covered in some capacity or another, and there are even more on the way. Here's what I like in addition to the aforementioned things.
Star Wars: Tales. (Graphic novels, originally comic books.) God's gift to fans of the saga, no joke. Many of the stories exist outside the continuity or are intended to be humorous, but they're great. You get to see stories of Luke, Anakin, and tons of new faces. Some of the finest talent in comics made some great stories, they're short, and there's lots of them. Want to see Darth Vader fight Darth Maul? It's in here. Want to see a marooned Scout Trooper and Rebel Trooper fight for survival after being ditched on Endor? It's in here. A story about Darth Vader's birthday? A story about the spirit of Obi-Wan taunting Darth Vader after the destruction of the Death Star? Also here. There are six volumes and you need them all, especially if you get them on the cheap.
Shadows of the Empire. (Graphic novels, pop-up book, novel, video game.) This was the first "multimedia project" back in 1996, which is marketing slang for "how to sell merchandise without a new movie." Each version focuses on different aspects of the same story, which takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Highlights include the delivery of Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt by Boba Fett, Leia gets hit on by a green lizard man, Luke continues his Jedi training, and a trip through Coruscant's sewers.
Clone Wars. (Comics, novels, games, and DVDs. We're talking DVDs here. 2003-2005.) Leave it to Lucas' camp to come up with something ridiculous and awesome all at once. There are two DVDs with 25 episodes between them, for a grand total of two hours of animated awesomeness. In the series, you'll see General Grievous kidnap Chancellor Palpatine, you'll see Anakin be an awesome hero, you'll see Obi-Wan Kenobi joust on a speederbike, and you'll even see Kit Fisto in amazing underwater adventures. This series is an absolute treat, and as at least a handful of figures over the past few years come specifically from this show, you ought to rent/buy it now. It's good, you'll probably like it a lot.
Star Wars: Legacy. (Comics 2006-present.) This is the story of what happens over a hundred years after the end of the Galactic Civil War. So it's Luke's great-great-whatever grandson where things have evolved a little. Few characters from the movies are present, but some pop up and there's a ton of references to the old Marvel comics series (which I like a lot), the New Jedi Order books (which I didn't care for), and more-- but it's written so new or old fans can get into it. It's pretty good so far but it rewards those who are familiar with the past decades of fiction.
Tales of the Jedi. (Comics, several series 1993-1998.) This was spawned out of the backstory to Dark Empire. It takes place thousands of years before the movies but is both fun to read and a little creepy for the kiddies. I don't know how old your kid is, but you'll probably want to read this stuff before you pass it along to your offspring.
Some people would advise you get Knights of the Old Republic on the PC or Xbox, but unless you're a person with an abundance of time, you probably wouldn't want to do that with your kid. Despite there being thousands of pages of novels, very little important really happens. In nearly two decades of the EU, a few kids were born, two major characters have been declared dead, and countless guest-star-villains-of-the-week come and go. Also, there's the Ewok movies on DVD as well as the old Ewoks and Droids cartoons, which I liked a lot as a kid and are about ten bucks a whack.
4. Just purchased the CZ-4 droid at my local KB toys and I had a question about the eyes. I noticed in your wave 4 Hi-Rez images you can see the dots for the eyes on the figure. Every figure on the shelf had eye dots that are barley visible. Is this the way they are supposed to be or did I see a bad batch of figures.
I've seen a few, and the dots are very subtle so far. As production continues, you will no doubt see some variation from one figure to the next, but they're pretty gosh darn light-- so nothing is wrong with yours, yet anyway.
Also, did you know the figure splits at the middle? I just found this out. Hasbro sculpted some fancy pole thing in the middle, but you can totally pop the upper torso off the lower torso. It's very surprising as I don't think Hasbro or its engineers told anyone about this. Give it a try!
5. How does hasbro go about deciding who gets made? It seems to me there has been much fan demand for certain characters and it goes unanswered. By this, I mean Jedi Luke as an example. We are still waiting for that perfect Jedi Luke. One with or without his tunic. Especially a death star Luke. This figure has been asked for for years and has never surfaced. the most recent Luke was just about awful. Lets face facts. So how does this get approved? Who looks at this figure and says "Go for it!"? Same thing with the scale of figures sometimes, especially the females. They all tend to be too short and small. Do they not see what we see? What the product looks like when we get it?
I also wonder about the comic 2 packs. I am overall pleased with them. the character selection seems very eclectic but they all seem to focus on the Dark Horse comics. As you yourself has mentioned in the past, what about Marvel comics 2 packs? Lumiya and Luke seems a no brainer. Kiro and Luke on Iskalon. Leia and Fenn Shisa. Han Solo and Crimson Jack... there are others but these were ones that immediately leap to mind.
Lastly, the Droids cartoon characters! Come on Hasbro. people sometimes forget how much this show added to the Star Wars mythos! Boonta racing, the moon of Bogden, the Baobab family name. Updated figures of characters like Thall Joben, Jann Tosh, or Mungo himslef along with characters who never saw the plastic treatment. Maybe packed with UNALTERED dvd's would help sell these. Sorry, not a question, just a rant!
It's my understanding that Hasbro tends to make lots of lists. They come up with characters that need to be in rotation due to sales (Darth Vader, C-3PO), characters they want to do and have never done (past candidates include Wuher, Grand Moff Tarkin, Ephant Mon), and figures that could probably stand a refresh (oh, let's just say 90% of the 2006 line.) They can only do so many in a year, and they want to leave some items to be done at a later date-- for example, they wisely held off on Commander Cody in 2005 so they could have another home-run figure in 2006. The conspiracy theorist in me says some figures are done poorly on purpose so they can go back and do it again, although for all I know they think the recently released Jedi Luke is a really awesome figure. (It's close. But it's not.) Lucasfilm also suggests figures, as do Hasbro executives. So it's like at work and your boss comes in and says "I like these bar alien things, do more of them." And you do. I also firmly believe Darryl DePriest's Ouija board has something to do with it.
Scale is a funny thing. Many fans think that all figures are done by one or two guys in the same office-- not so! Several sculptors are employed by Hasbro, some under contract, some as full-time employees. As such, it's going to be damn near impossible to get everything perfect, and there's often some debate on just how tall or short a character is because someone didn't bring the ruler to the set in 1976. Things are getting better, but there are tons of reasons to make figures certain sizes. Why they made the first modern Jedi Luke as tall as Han, or why Chewbacca was short until 2001, I'll never know. A sculptor does the work, it is (or isn't) approved, and the rest is history. I don't believe there's any firm guide to how big a figure is to be, but there's a lot of documentation Hasbro works from in order to do the best job they can. With hundreds of figures, though, there's going to be mistakes.
Comic packs are great. Thank you for reminding everyone how awesome my taste is. (See, there I just plugged my taste. I'm on a roll today.) I'd say chances are good because some of the characters are gaining some level of fame courtesy of the novels (Lumiya) or courtesy of their species gaining fame through other projects (Nagai). If Hasbro did post-ROTJ Marvel figures, I'd flip-- but I'm a very biased person who thinks that most of the best Expanded Universe work was published between 1983 and 1988.
Droids? I feel like I'm alone here. I want Droids stuff, and I want lots of it. Tons. And ANYTHING. I'm desperate, man. Tig Fromm? Uncle Gundy? Freaking Coby? Great. Hook me up. The recently released Animated Debut Boba Fett is a great start, I did my part and bought a bunch of them because I'M CRAZY. One for the office, one for home, one for... who knows, one for the gold coin, etc. I firmly believe the characters are known almost exclusively to collectors because a lot of fans-- like me-- skipped the recent DVDs due to the fact they were, as you say, edited. (No theme song? No deal.) I personally hope Hasbro takes a cue from its comic pack line and makes DVD pack lines where you can get a couple of figures and a DVD episode for ten or fifteen bucks. Heck, I'd say that'd make a nice exclusive for someone, wouldn't you? Without the DVDs, these figures are a tougher sell-- I don't think you'd have a hard time selling parents on a cheap set of two figures and a 22-minute DVD for fifteen bucks, but putting out Uncle Gundy all by himself might be a bad move. Also, the series featured the Max Rebo Band, Stormtroopers (with some fancy laser batons), Boba Fett, and a number of other familiar faces. Plus R2-D2 and C-3PO. Plus countless vehicle opportunities. (I don't dare list here the depraved things I would do for my very own White Witch.)
6. A few weeks ago someone asked a question about your top ten "what if?" figures to be made. I'm just curious Ð in a similar vein Ð since you've been doing figure of the day you've had a chance to revisit much of the line. What would you list as the ten best figures (in your opinion) made thus far, and why? (This came to mind as I have been s-l-o-w-l-y moving my collection to a new display area and have been rediscovering some real gems).
It's really hard to say what's good or what isn't. Any figure you can name, I can find a flaw with-- and likely, any one I'd name, you would find a flaw with. (For example, my love of the Sacred Place Boss Nass is not understood by the masses.) If there were 10 figures I would say you just gotta buy though, let's see... (no clones are included because of, well, let's face it you probably have them.)
10. Boss Nass (Gungan Sacred Place, 2000). My love of this figure knows no logic. I just love it. It has tons of personality despite not having a lot of articulation. The sculpt is very accurate to the movie and the texture and deco are fantastic. It's hard to improve on this figure, given the character's build. A "mean face" variant, I could see, but other than that? This is good.
9. Darth Sidious (1999). It's a quality item-- sure, it's Palaptine's face under the hood, but the robes have loads of detail and just enough articulation to make me happy. It's a great figure and one fans shouldn't ignore.
8. Ki-Adi-Mundi from Revenge of the Sith. Again, quality item-- lots of articulation, good use of soft goods, excellent sculpt. Other than better elbows, there's nowhere to go but up.
7. Max Rebo (1998). Not perfect, but excellent-- a fine example of toyetic license with Max's underpants, and just enough texture and deco on the skin to make him seem almost alive. It's just so good it's amazing. It's going to be reissued soon, so get one.
6. Saesee Tiin (2005-present). The Revenge of the Sith version had an awesome sculpt, good articulation, and excellent soft goods. Other than ball elbows, there's little room for improvement-- you should own one of these. It's just a good figure.
5. Myo (2005). This is a figure that Hasbro did a great job on, showing off just how awesome they can be when they really try. Great deco, marvelous texture, excellent articulation. How I lived without owning a Myo of my own for two and a half decades, I'll never know.
4. Queen Amidala (Theed Invasion, 2000). I have no doubt Hasbro could do it better today, but the original release is colorful, well-sculpted, and all around awesome. She looks really good, and my only real complaint is that she can't sit. She looks fantastic, though, and has never been reissued. This is one worth owning.
3. Ephant Mon (2002). Hasbro claims they lost money on this one. I'm not sure I believe that this figure was a big loser-- it was incredibly rare in 2002, shipping in one assortment, and sculpted with such care you should weep. WEEP! The paint job is excellent, the articulation is good, but the overall appearance of this toy is so excellent that to not own one would be to do yourself a disservice.
2. Darth Vader (Evolutions, 2005.) 90% perfect-- my only legit complaint is there's nowhere on the belt to hang a lightsaber. My non-legit complaint is that I want a non-removable helmet. The mask is his face, dammit.
1. Han Solo (Vintage, 2004.) It's just really good. Trust me.
7. So, I just got done reading [a recent] Q & A. You spoke of wanting an improved Ep. III Anakin, with better arm articulation than the Evolutions version. Me too, and count Evolutions Maul under that same umbrella.
With that said...what do you think Hasbro is talking about when they said in their Comic Con presentation about the Evolutions re-release that they are "late" and undergoing "retooling." Surely they are not behind in their work just due to making new packaging? My hunch (as good as it can be considering that I have NO intel whatsoever) is that they are reworking joints on Maul and Anakin. What do you think (or better yet, what do you KNOW?)
While Hasbro might have said "retooling," I was at Comic-Con and I frankly don't recall it. It's possible, but I wouldn't hold your breath-- sometimes "retooling" means "fix the existing tooling" and not "let's add an ankle here."
Hasbro sent us/me (at work) publicity photos for the new releases and I see no changes in the product. Not one. I don't expect any changes at all in these items other than maybe updating the foot copyright info or perhaps adding in that extra lightsaber blade in the Vader set. It costs so much money to simply add a joint to an existing product that it's very unlikely they would do such a thing. It's a labor-intensive process and it isn't very simple to do, so well, man, it'd be nice wouldn't it?.
8. After all the big news with Mattel toys that contain high lead paint. What is your opinion with toys by other giant toy companies in regard to "Children Safety" ?
I should start off by saying a very limited number of Mattel products are at fault-- they make thousands of products, and a tiny handful had the paint. While it should be 0%, it's not like every Hot Wheels car you see is a potential death hazard.
While Hasbro has been the victim of lead paint rumors for years due to fans' inability to get real information of why a toy is hard to get, so far it looks like we're fairly clean. However, you're looking at an economy that's more concerned with low prices than anything else, and in such an economy, mistakes are likely to happen on the quest to the lowest bidders. I have no doubt something similar would happen were the toys made in Malaysia, Mexico, or even the USA-- accidents happen and are likely to happen again.
My main beef with "children safety" is the ridiculous extent to which toys have to be altered for the almighty safety law. No matter what you do, a kid will cram something in his or her nose, or fire it off in their friends' mouth, and so forth. LEGO introduced Pirate's cannons that fired in the late 1980s only to immediately remove the spring-loaded firing feature. The entire industry had to make significantly larger projectiles due to some kid firing off a tiny Galactica rocket in his friend's mouth nearly 30 years ago. While it's important to make sure the toy won't actively poison our children, I do get annoyed that we have to take every last precaution for child safety. In the early 2000s, we almost got a reissue of the original Transformers toy Fortress Maximus with a few changes and a new paint job-- but we didn't. Why not? It failed the "drop test." The "drop test" is when you drop a toy and it breaks into potentially "harmful" pieces. If you drop a two-foot-tall toy off a freaking ledge, what do you think will happen? It'll land on its feet, look up, and say "don't worry about me, everything's cool!" or something?
If a kid drops a $100 toy off the second story and it shatters, and the kid gets hurt, he deserves to get hurt dammit! (Kidding. Maybe...)
9. Great Top 10 List [in a recent] column, Adam. I'd buy all of those (Who am I kidding? I'd buy anything they throw at us.) and several of a few of them. Blue Stars: Beautiful. Anyway, how about this question, since you eluded to it last time anyway: We're in that same Fantasy World where Hasbro has chosen you to be the Boss (not Springstein). You get to choose the Final Six Vehicles. (I smell blue A-Wing.) Alright, go get some! (And if you have more than six ideas aching to be read, well, it's your article.) Rock on!
The scary thing about vehicles is I often think we've already seen the final six-- I'm surprised and elated Hasbro did an about-face on the vehicle question this year. Because six is good for new molds, I'm going to toss in some repaints too and shoot for an even 10 in no particular order. (Because we're all about lists today.)
10. White Witch. (Droids cartoon.) It's a cool vehicle with room for lots of figures, and because I'm selfish, I must have one. It's pretty cool, even if it doesn't have much in the way of enclosed seating. (Enclosed seating being one of my criteria for what makes a good vehicle as if a vehicle is enclosed, it isn't a motorcycle. Not that G.I. Joe made me sick of bikes or anything.)
9. Blue "McQuarrie Concept" A-Wing Fighter redeco. Because if Hasbro doesn't make one, I'm going to pester my pal Greg to paint me one because I don't have the skill. It's a solid vehicle, too.
8. Millennium Falcon: 21st Century Edition. New tool, larger size, slightly higher price point, and no wasted space if possible. We got our new X-Wing, we got our new TIE, the Falcon is due next.
7. Turbo Tank. Why? The shape lends itself to a new "Rebel Transport" type toy with loads of storage for figures, smaller vehicles, weapons, etc. It's also a design that should make for a sturdy toy.
6. Tatooine/Cargo Skiff: 21st Century Edition. New tool, larger size, price TBD. The one we have is a little too small and the mechanisms on the modern reissue, namely the plank, do not function properly. Let's try again, shall we? If we shall, I'll buy at least two.
5. Clone Wars V-19 Torrent Starfighter. It's in the cartoons, it looks cool, and Clones sit in it. That's good enough for me.
4. Blockade Runner. It's 2007. We first saw it in 1977. It's the first vehicle any of us ever saw on the big screen. So why the hell isn't there a toy yet?
3. AT-TE. Why not?
2. Gelagrub. (It's a big bug thing Clones ride on Felucia.) It looks neat, and again, Clones need something to sit on. C'mon, you want one too.
1. Star Destroyer. I'm not expecting something too ridiculous-- maybe scaled down at $60 or so-- but it's a major vehicle and there have been few figure-compatible toys based on it. I know it'd be a cross-section with a lid or something, but that's OK. I just want one.
10. The Pride Displays are the first thing in over 30 years of collecting
this stuff to get me goofy enough to want to track down test
shots/mock-ups/show samples. And I have no idea how to step up to the
next level of nerd. Any tips?
Locate, and then suck up to, former employees. These items are in someone's desk/collection/garage. They will eventually find their way to the collector's market, but a lot of prototypes are out there only because dedicated fans did a lot of work to get the designers to part with them. As such, you'll need to do a lot of research to find out who owns these, and be prepared to part with a few car payments worth of cash. It might not be that expensive, but when you're dealing with rare stuff, the price could be either very low or very high. Just go around, ask lots of questions, and expect a long journey for your prize.
So this weekend I went a-cruisin' YouTube in hopes of finding the episodes of Droids I had on a VHS tape off the TV from when I was a kid-- which were the Trigon cycle (White Witch, Race to the Finish, etc.) and a random Jann Tosh episode (Coby and the Starhunters). No dice. Even worse, it seems that the badly edited together DVD (which I haven't picked up yet because I was hoping to get the entire series with the original music and not cobbled-together "feature-length" stuff) has all the regular episodes except these five.
This is depressing. Especially since the bulk of the Droids action figures came from the Trigon cycle, which was the first one aired.
I did catch the clips on YouTube which had three minutes of a Mungo Baobab episode-- and I realize, at this point I no doubt lost most of you-- which was a little goofy but I gotta see more. I'm hoping to track down the DVD this week, even though it's hampered by the episodes not being presented as they were on TV. (And yes, this really matters to me and is the reason I won't buy some DVDs.) As far as I can tell, there's not a lot of Droids to release-- there's 13 episodes and a two-parter/one-hour special called "The Great Heep." And if you want to get technical, I guess you could argue the infamous Holiday Special animated segment is stylized to match the series and would probably be a big selling point.
With the upcoming The Clone Wars show, I really hope someone at Lucas HQ realizes that there's 26 episodes of Ewoks, 13 episodes of Droids, and a handful of specials that could probably make some decent bank, were they released in something resembling the original format with the original music, on DVD. I see Young Indy is on the way, which is kinda depressing because I hear they're re-editing those episodes as well. Apparently the "old Indy" stuff is being dropped, and some episodes-- like the original pilot-- are being reedited together with other episodes, which I really hate. What can I say, I'm picky. Those 39 episodes plus the specials could probably add about 20 or so hours to the Star Wars storyline, and maybe even open up some opportunities for some new figures. Hey, I can dream right?
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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