Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 8, 2007
1. since we've gone ahead and done figures and vehicles, let's go for the hat trick and make your list of top creatures. Same scenario; you're the boss. What would you have them crank out in the final hours? New creations, resculpts, any source you like, (though I saw you sort of jumped the gun with the excellent idea of the Felucian Gelagrub!) and um...have fun!
It seems unlikely that Hasbro sees creatures as their own beast, so to speak, anymore. Since 2003, we've seen them in action figure packaging (like the Massiff, Can-Cell, and Kybuck) as well as in gift sets (Tauntaun, Acklay, etc.) Unfortunately, this is an area Hasbro tends to neglect as major creatures from the films are largely out of circulation and have been for a while. Revenge of the Sith didn't give us a lot in the way of large monsters but that doesn't mean demand doesn't exist for other stuff.
It seems Hasbro and Kenner did a good job keeping up with creatures over the years. I mean, we have Dewbacks, Tauntauns, and so much more, so at this point it seems that there's really nothing significant that will likely ever make a reasonable toy unless it appears on TV or in a game. I think it's a safe bet we'll see either the Rancor or the Bull Rancor in the next year, but I'd like to see Hasbro bring back the beasts, personally. As a kid, I didn't care so much for the people in the snow suits, but the Wampa and Tauntaun? Magnificent. The Dewback was something of a childhood holy grail (it's a dinosaur and it's Star Wars) and the Rancor, well, I got one eventually. The creatures are strong, untapped designs but aside from the Gelagrub (due solely to the Clone connection) I can't think of many likely beasts Hasbro would reasonably be able to do. Sure, there's some cool creatures from the cartoons, but those don't seem to be a big source of inspiration to the Hasbro toy design team right now.
But just to rattle stuff off so I can move on to the next question: reissue everything again. Phantom Menace was packed with creatures, but it's not like there's a big market for the Clawfish.
2. A comment about the pit droids [from last week]. The Saga Legends pit droids are the same mold as the Episode 1 regular two-pack. The bonus pit droids from asia have stiff bent arms and legs and can't stand or do much except sit on their tool box accessory. And the back of the Legends card pictures two pit droids that came carded with Gasgano or one of the other pod racers. These guys have straight arms and legs and black tipped antennas.(Can't spell antenni). By my count there's three different versions of the DUM unit.Wait ,four if you count the folded up one that came with Jar Jar.And you probably do.
I hate wrong "corrections."
The Saga Legends Pit Droids currently available are based on the 2000 CommTech replacement figures for Europe/Asia. This is a unique sculpt. It has a narrow stance and does not have a right arm jutting out at a right angle from the body. The figure is a different mold than the Episode I two-pack in that it's a little simpler, thinner, and less detailed. One of the 1999 two-pack droids has a bent foot-- this is unique to the pack and you won't find it elsewhere. (And both of the Episode I droids were different, but similar, sculpts.)
So as far as tooling goes, for the saucer-headed DUM droid, there are at least five different "full" droid molds: Gasgano's Droid (stands upright, straight limbs), the 2000 Two-Pack (easily told from their "claw" hands and unique poses with different sculpts and details on their torsos), the 1999 "bonus" Pit Droid from Europe/Asia (bent knees and elbows but more or less positioned straight), the 2000 "bonus" Pit Droid (the mold currently used for Saga Legends) and, as you say, the Jar Jar "collapsed" one. For the Pit Droid fanatic, there's also a few other sculpts-- one came with Power of the Jedi Anakin Skywalker and is green with removable limbs. The other came with our pal Ody Mandrell.
Now let me get up-- again-- so I can look at the cardback of the Saga Legends set. (Dammit.) OK, you're right here-- it's the 1999 Gasgano droid. Hasbro was notorious for using the wrong figure on the cardbacks of many old new figures since 2006. (Take a look at The Saga Collection R2-D2, Saga Legends Boba Fett, and others I'm too lazy to go look up.) It happens, especially when you're dealing with reissues of figures which exist in multiple flavors and your packaging people, factory people, and photo people may not all be on the same page. Not that there's an excuse for getting it wrong, but I can tell you as someone who has been allowed to peek in the creative process and dealing with overseas factories that Hasbro does a remarkable job getting the line as well-done as they have done so far.
So you sir are wrong and made me get up, twice, and I hate that as I am a lazy columnist. That's why I write and don't go outside.
3. I am very disappointed with Hasbro Toy Shop.When they run out of the hot figures(now they have or had Revan,Malak and so on)it takes them forever to put more on their site.I emailed them when the Mcfett was put up and someone emailed me back saying they were limited edition.Also,how long is a figure in production for a figure? I have yet to find the MCvader at retail.After I found wave 5 everything dried up and nothing has popped up.What gives?
For the record: I work for Entertainment Earth, the competition.
OK, I don't get this. You're upset that one of the many online stores doesn't have a figure? This is how the line works, and how Hasbro keeps us interested-- things are hard to get, period. Hasbro Toy Shop orders cases from Hasbro, just like anybody else. They're not able to order 25,000 McQuarrie Boba Fett figures just to make sure they always have them in stock. They put up items as they can, just like every other online store, and you should not expect special things from them (aside from mostly excellent pricing and a few exclusives) as the Hasbro connection doesn't seem to get them any perks. You're just as likely to find your figures at retail, ShopStarWars.com, by the case at Entertainment Earth, at Brian's Toys, or elsewhere. Hasbro Toy Shop's mission statement is not to make every figure available to everybody all the time-- they put up what they can as they can, and that's it. If they order more, they'll have more.
As far as other figures go, McQuarrie Darth Vader started showing up for the very first time around September 1-ish. Most fans don't see figures in widespread distribution for one or more months, and this being a) a popular figure, in b) a popular subset, and c) still a brand new figure, you may not see it for a while. Hasbro keeps figures in production as long as they see fit. I have seen no evidence this figure will be carried over into the 2008 (and coin-free) line, but there are still three months left of 2007 and no doubt many figures will show up closer to the holidays, especially with all the figures hitting in recent weeks. Keep hunting, and failing that, order from one of our fine sponsors. This stuff is still very new and you can't expect to find one immediately unless you hunt stores, preorder, or are very lucky.
4. My collection has reached the point where I need to reduce the amount of space it consumes, so I've decided to start opening the figure packaging. While I "want" to open the packaging, I also would like to do so in a way that allows me to preserve at least one card back for each figure. The trouble is some of the blisters are glued to the card backs. Do you know whether anyone has devised a way to separate the blister from the card back without damaging (or at least minimizing the damage to) the front of the card?
There are ways to do it, and some figures are poorly glued/adhered to the cardback. I've had a few bubbles fall right off, which was handy. The simplest thing to do is just take a blade and trim the bubble down, removing the figure, but leaving the glued part of the bubble intact. I've heard some fairly crafty things involving hair dryers and/or moisture, but those are best left to people who really know this stuff, and not people like me.
What you should do is just dump the packaging, though, unless you plan to display it. As someone who has a bad habit of holding on to empty boxes, the best advice I can give you is to a) keep the figure on the card, or b) just ditch the packaging and save yourself the trouble of worrying about it later.
5. A couple weeks ago Wal Mart opened a brand spanking new Supercenter about a minute from my house. I went the day they opened and was surprised to see no basic figures on the pegs. They didn't even have pegs for basic figures. I searched all over the toy aisle thinking maybe they were somewhere else but they weren't. I've been back to the store 3 or 4 times since and still, no basic figures and no pegs for basic figures. I asked a manager what was going on and they were no help (big surprise). Why would a brand new Wal Mart not even have pegs for basic figures? Since the manager was no help, who can I ask?
New stores are weird. In 1997, they opened up a store near my home and all they had were pegs of Shadows of the Empire Xizor figures despite the figure having been out of circulation for some time. Some stores take a while to adjust to what they're supposed to carry, so I'd just wait a while and see what shakes out first.
After that? Complain to anyone who will listen. Hasbro has made interest known of wanting to know stores with significant product problems, so get the store number and get that info to Hasbro somehow. You can tell your Wal-Mart managers, but by and large they don't really care. The bulk of the ordering for big box stores is done off-site and local stores can sometimes request more product, but considering it's one SKU out of tens of thousands, getting them to pay attention to the collector demographic is quite difficult.
6. Hey, so that's neat about the final wave of Saga Legends. So let me get this straight, all of those exclusives I paid the marked up exclusive prices through Hasbro Toy Shop, Target, etc, are now all going to be available at retail for $7? That's really cool. Okay, I'm being totally facetious. What the hell? So basically the lesson is, don't buy an exclusive figure when it becomes available, because exclusive no longer means exclusive anymore and we'll just put it into a poll that all the fans can vote on, and we'll make more of a sought after or exclusive figure later on. That sets a really bad precedent. People are going to stop buying exclusives on their initial release because they'll just get them for a basic figure price later. Brilliant. Thanks Hasbro, you've now saved me a lot of money down the line. For example, maybe I shouldn't buy the Mandalorian set from EE because we'll probably have a poll down the road and end up with a wave or repacks of all of those figures?
And another thing, not that there are a lot of figures in the line that are worth anything, but it is kind of nice to have one or two that are worth a little something. Granted, that's not why I collect them, but still, it's kind of nice. For one example, I have a TC-14 That used to be worth a little something. Oh, now it's going to be rereleased. So much for that. And the list goes on. Of course, from the comments and posts I read, a fair amount of collectors seem to complain about paying too much for figures on the secondary market. Yeah, so when I go to see how much whatever it is costs, it's usually a couple of dollars above what it originally retailed for. Boo hoo. Since when did collectors become so spoiled that paying an inflated price for something that came out 6 years earlier (not that there's much that retains any value) is such an ordeal? Not to sound like the old man who says when I was your age I walked through the snow barefoot to school, uphill both ways, but come on, if you want something that's no longer available in the store, perhaps you should just buy it on ebay or wherever, and not demand that Hasbro reissue it. Or perhaps you shouldn't be in this hobby.
And seriously, how many people actually consider POTF2 stuff to be "vintage?" Unfortunately, from what I see on ebay, too many.
One of the problems is that outside the hardcore collector, "collectors" as a group are not necessarily a very knowledgeable one. While some of us read up on this stuff, do our research, ask a lot of questions, and try to learn what we can, others are completely unable to realize what their figure is worth (generally, nothing.) Yes, some people do consider the "beefy" modern sculpts from 1995-1998 to be vintage, but well, you have to also keep in mind there are lots of people out there that don't know Star Wars from Star Trek. We care, yes, but like the previous question asker, we have to remember that most people barely know about our hobby and do not care about it. There might be-- and I'm being generous here-- 50,000 fans who really, really care about this stuff enough to make it a significant part of their lives. Most people know Darth Vader from Darth Maul, sure, but seeing as how eBay comes up with odd distinctions for naming the lines (neoclassic? bwa?) it stands to reason that we can only ask a lot of questions before we buy something. Not all collectors are malicious, but some are, and others are just ignorant that their 1998 Skiff isn't the vintage one.
So, Saga Legends. I'm a little upset too, but I learned a valuable lesson: I will never, ever buy more than 2 of any exclusive trooper that costs more than $10 a whack. I got a half dozen of each of those Clones and a decent quantity of black Shadow Stormtroopers at full price because it was a Fan Club special and, well, I had a special connection to the Kir Kanos figure coming out.
Hasbro's rule on Legends was that any figure that didn't sell out at the exclusive partner's establishment wasn't eligible. Commander Neyo sold out, so he was fair game. R2-X2? Not so much, you can still get them from Entertainment Earth. The Mandalorians will likely be the same way, but let's use that as an example: let's say Hasbro were to hypothetically consider a carded release down the road. (Unlikely, but we're making stuff up to argue here.) If you buy the Entertainment Earth packs, the figures are less than $5 each. If you buy an individually carded figure, not only do you have to wait several years, but it'll be $7 or more. It's not a better solution in this case, unless all you literally wanted was one figure-- and you could probably get that one figure on eBay anyway.
I care not for secondary market value of regular product-- I've got pretty much the entire line short of a few variants and I'm happy with them. I do care, though, when Hasbro says "limited edition exclusive" and I pay for it accordingly, only to get it reissued for half price later. If a figure is $13-$17 on the primary market, and we pay it, we're eventually going to stop absorbing those high-price figures if they'll be out later for half the price. It's insulting-- if I see Concept Grievous in the stores later, I'm going to be more than a little upset. The secondary market is its own beast, but I don't much care for the Fan Club overcharging us for an exclusive only to have Hasbro give it to us at a bargain price down the road. It's great for newcomers, but for those of us who've been in this hobby for years, it's a little upsetting. (Ditto with Vintage Boba Fett. We were asked to pay $10 for it in 2004, and now it's $7? Why?)
Conversely, I fully support all retail reissues. More power to them. TC-14 and the Darktrooper were hard to get in 2000 and 1998, and it makes sense that Hasbro should try to help fans get them as they were in short supply.
When it comes to buying stuff, vote with your wallet. If Hasbro is giving you a decent deal, go for it. Target's exclusives are generally good if they're gift sets, as you get about 5 figures for $20. Wal-Mart's comic packs will be about $10 for two figures, which is good, and Entertainment Earth's Mandalorians and Diamond's Battlefront sets are also pretty good deals, depending on your S&H situation, as good as or better than basic figures. I'd say you could vote by not buying those trooper reissues next year, but let's face it: they'll sell, as many fans balked at the $14 price tag and will gladly buy them for $7.
7. So I was going through my stuff this weekend and came upon the Episode One
Royal Starship. It had been some time since I've spent any time with it and
I have to say, as a toy and a ship, I think it's awesome.
Which leads me to a multi-layered question. If memory serves, this was
around 100 bucks, do you agree? But I seem to recall it going out on
clearance months later in my area. Do you remember it as being a retail
bomb or was it a retail success? Maybe the movie made it tank, but in my
opinion that would be a real shame because this is a great item. It's big,
it's detailed, it came with a great red R2 droid, there's some sort of
yellow escape ship-thing, a mini throne room and a pull out bottom level
beneath the cockpit.
Now I wish that Hasbro would release a Tantive IV ship/playset the size of
the USS Flagg, but that's not realistic and I don't have any place for it
anyway. (But I'd still buy it!) But if Hasbro did a Tantive IV around the
same size and price point as the Royal Starship, that would be insane. It
could have the one hallway battle area, a smaller corrider where Leia and
Artoo do what they do, and in the back some sort of escape pod bay.
If the Tantive IV is not commercial enough for retail I can see the
hesitation, but what's stopping Hasbro from doing an ultimate/modern version
of the Falcon. I have the original Kenner version and never considered the
modern re-tools because I just assumed they would do a killer must buy
sooner or later. But here we are later and still there is nothing. A 100
dollar bigger, better fully detailed Falcon is almost a sure thing at retail
that they can re-release for as long as the line continues. Actually, now
that the line is over 10 years old, what are they waiting for? Would you
buy a $100 ultimate edition Falcon?
Many questions. Yes, the Royal Starship hit stores for about $99.99 in 1999. By 2000, it was getting marked down as low as $25-$50. It wasn't a huge hit, it was a nice toy but it wasn't a ship that saw tons of adventure. Not a single Queen Amidala figure can sit-- yet there's a throne for her in this set. Why? Because this ship failed, it left a bad taste in the mouth of Hasbro and its retail partners, leaving new big vehicles off the table. I personally don't believe it was a good test to see what fans would buy in the way of large vehicles, because frankly, it wasn't a very exciting one in the first place. (But given production lead times, Hasbro didn't see a final cut of the movie until the toy was pretty much done.)
It's very unlikely we'll ever see a large Blockade Runner toy, let alone one at a high price point. I'd love to see one too, but even this vehicle doesn't have a lot going for it other than Hasbro can redecorate it for Episode III and Episode IV, selling it to us twice. Other than that, there's some corridors, an escape pod, a conference room, and little else it can do. I want one, but I'm not hopeful.
Would $100 be enough for the best-ever Millennium Falcon? Probably not, but maybe. The one Hasbro gave us for $50 wasn't the best, although if we saw the resources of that $100 Royal Starship put into a new version of Han Solo's ship, that could make for a top-notch toy. Problem is, you have to convince tens of thousands of parents and gift-givers that this is a good item to buy, and it might not be. I expect a bigger and better Falcon in the future, but I don't know if I'd expect a perfect scale vehicle, or even something that most fans would be satisfied by. We have ravenous appetites for toys and wild imaginations, it's quite unlikely Hasbro would be able to deliver a toy that would please everybody for $100.
Also, I'm going to say this only once: Hasbro will never make a toy as big as the U.S.S. Flagg for an action figure line ever again. Maybe someone else might, but not Hasbro. Hasbro is not in the business of seven-foot long playsets that cost $300 or more, or in modern dollars, probably $500 or more. Unless American kids go nuts for toys again someday, I'd be shocked to see any brand new action figure toy for $150, unless it's an exclusive for a high-end toy store who can get that sort of thing.
8. Listen I have a thoughts or maybe just an idea. We all like jedi, Senators aliens those kind of things, I mean look at all the clones we received since ROTS. Will HASBRO consider ever doing a Jedi Wave based on all jedi's and so on. I am not sure as we have been seeing a awful lot of different jedis but I want more, call me greedy but that is what I am looking for. What are your thoughts on this?
In 2005, we got a wave that was pretty much all Jedi. Hasbro shipped a Revenge of the Sith assortment with nearly super-poseable versions of Agen Kolar, Saesee Tiin, Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Plo Koon, and it was awesome. But, that said, it was two years ago, so what about giving it another shot?
The chance of this happening again is unlikely, but not impossible. I could see it maybe happening for the TV show depending on the character focus, but it seems unlikely for movie assortments. Comic Packs Wave 3 was close, though-- you get Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade, a Jedi Princess Leia, Darth Vader, A'Sharad Hett, and Dark Woman all in a single wave. That's pretty darn good if you ask me.
Hasbro seems very wary of doing waves of any one thing. They want to mix it up a bit because it probably isn't a good idea to have an assortment of nothing but clones, aliens, or even Jedi. It's important to keep a number of items in circulation so people don't get stuck with only one option, because while you may be crazy for Jedi, some people might go to the store and get annoyed there aren't any troopers or droids. That, and as far as Jedi go, there aren't all that many left to make without delving into the comics or the very minor characters.
9. What can you tell us about the supposedly "Exclusive" pilot that
comes packaged with the TRU exclusive Tie Interceptor? Is this pilot
a repaint, and all-new-sculpt, and has it been classified as any
certain pilot (by name) or is their a title for it other than 181st
Tie Interceptor Pilot? Also, your thoughts on the vehicle, would be
I tackled first impressions on our front page way back in August-- here's a link to the article if you missed it. The Pilot is a generic 181st Pilot and has no specific name, and it's a repaint of a 2004 TIE Fighter Pilot. The pack-in figure is not really a new character, but it's a decent paint variant if nothing else. I'd suggest you buy it if you can spring the $35.
10. I've noticed several people keeping asking if Hasbro has ever considered doing the "build-a-figure" business with Star Wars as they have with Marvel. An even better question... have they/would they consider doing a "build-a-scene" giant diorama, made from mini-pop-up card dioramas built into cardbacks, like the POTF2 Expanded Universe figures? This would be a great idea to boost figure sales and get us a cardboard playset or two...
I bring it up a lot, but hey, why don't you guys help pester Hasbro? If this is something you want, write your local congressperson, or better yet, post it on your favorite forums, web sites, and official Hasbro Q&A sessions. They want to know what we want, and what they see here is filtered through my editorial lens-- so prove to them that you want it, and maybe we can get these once more! They're great, cheap display environments and they are far better than a super-high-end alternative that could cost hundreds of dollars.
Man, this was a rotten hunting week. Well, not rotten for everybody I guess. I scored some new Saga Legends Battle Droids but the great white Sandtrooper remains elusive, most likely to guarantee I have something to go out looking for during the week. I did, however, score me a mad phat Red Cobra Ninja figure and a Sgt. Stalker from the new G.I. Joe line on Saturday, and those are wave 3 figures. I've not seen a single wave 2 figure. See? It's not just us. All lines have wacko distribution some times.
So for those of you who missed them, or aren't incredibly lucky, fans are finding 30th Anniversary Star Wars action figures through wave 6 now. I haven't seen any from 6 myself, but the week is young and I've got lunch hours to fill. So, happy hunting! (And Taft in '08.)
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!