Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 15, 2007
1. I would like to know if you could please tell me how much longer Hasbro will be shipping out wave 4. I've come across WV4 and WV4.75 but trying to find WV4.25 or WV4.5 has been real tough. I'm trying to get all 12 Ultimate Galactic Hunt figures and I want to know at what point I should start worrying. I've noticed Hasbro rapidly shipping out both wave 5 and wave 6 of the TAC and Saga Legends wave 3 and wave 4. You helped answer a similar question for me last year regarding the Coruscant wave with the Ultimate Galactic Hunt figures and your response proved to be correct. Your knowledge on these matters is highly respected. Any help you can provide would be appreciated.
It appears that Wave 4 itself, as well as select figures, will ship for at least another month or two. You have to remember that when Hasbro makes a Star Wars action figure in the main line, it tends to be in numbers that-- according to some sources-- may range from 30,000-100,000. (Although not usually near 100,000 as of late.) As such, the limited supply is most likely temporary-- figures are just bursting at the seams of retail and some stores get enormous gushes of new product. It may go quickly, but these gold coin figures should still be around for a while as Hasbro intends on making these more common than their 2006 siblings. There's no guarantee you'll get all 12 because you can't predict the market, but seeing as I've seen several 2007 Galactic Hunt figures in the wild and never saw any of the 2006 line, I think things are going to be OK for most variant hounds.
2. Hey do you think that hasbro would ever make a super articulated ARC trooper or ARC pilot? And What are the chances of hasbro rereleasing the Clone wars "tiger shark" gunship?
The Super Articulated ARC Trooper pretty much exists. It's based more on the appearance from the comic books, but you can get one right now in the Obi-Wan Kenobi & ARC Trooper Alpha comic pack. It's probably one of my favorite sets of the year, as both figures are awesome despite being resculpts. I bought an extra one to keep on my desk at work to play with.
The pilot? My money is on 2008. We'll see, though.
The Rancor/Space Whale/ARC Gunship was quite popular in 2006, and sold for about $44.99. I've seen a few on eBay for that price, before shipping. As such, I'd suggest you start stalking eBay auctions. There's a good chance that the vehicle will make a return appearance in the saga, thus requiring a new release, but there's no way to know for certain. What I do know, though, is you can go get one right now on the secondary market for a fair price. And also, take note: just because you pass on a vehicle doesn't guarantee you'll see it again. Every new release of the Republic Gunship has been in a completely new paint deco, so there's no guarantee the next Gunship will be a reissue.
3. Being totally realistic, what are the chances of seeing the convention exclusive Mcquarrie figures re-released somewhere down the line? Seems like Hasbro would want to profit more from these and in my own opinion the best ones were all exclusives. Possibility of an exclusive set featuring all the figures?
Just last week, Hasbro confirmed that HasbroToyShop.com will get a second run of the Obi-Wan and Yoda set. At this time, there's no confirmation we'll see Luke again, but I think it's possible-- units are still available in Europe, in some places, after all. Lastly, R2-D2 and C-3PO are easily had for $20-- if you can't find them, you aren't trying. If what you meant to ask is "when can I get these for $7 each?" then the answer is no.
An exclusive box set? Unlikely. While some fans drool at the prospect, and it might even work for some businesses, I see it as a bad idea. I mean, it's a rerelease of several figures you already have in a very large, most likely $100+ box set. Still interested? I'd rather see the resources go to developing new product, or something more interesting out of the cardboard.
That said, I really do hope Luke is in circulation enough so everybody can get one for a fair price (and by fair, I mean convention price-- about $15.) There's no reason it should have to be more than that, it's a wonderful figure and one of my favorites this year.
4. in the recent Q&A, Keith asked about walmarts not having Star Wars and you said walmart does not care. I would've agreed with this in the past, but not now.
You see, I recently moved from Big ST. Louis, MO to a small rural town in Illinois. I went from hitting 12-20 stores a day to the town's only Walmart. Sure i can go to surrounding towns, but that gets boring (have you driven through miles and miles of corn?!?!?!)
Anyways, when I moved here in June of this year, all they had were the last remains of the WM saga wave. I bought them up to clear out the store for more product. 3 months later, they still haven't received anything. I asked the manager and they looked it up and found that it was no longer in their system and says it can't be ordered anymore. I wait patiently with no avail.
I emailed Walmart's customer service through their website and told them about this particular store. a week later, they have 2 cases in the store AND I get a call from THE manager of that store kindly telling me regarding my email, they now have Star Wars figures in stock!
So I hate to say it, but walmart does seem to care...... sometimes.
I think you got lucky-- I still hold to what I say. By and large you are not their chief concern, but yes, there are people out there who go above and beyond their job's duties, and hopefully this is more normal than I've seen it over the years. Typically I get dirty looks if I so much as think about asking them to do anything but ring me up. (And even then.)
5. Is there any figure that you would never want to see Hasbro revisit? I am fine with Sandtroopers at this point and do not need any more. Off the top of my head, there is about 16 unique Sandtrooper figures. I wouldn't be surprised if Hasbro doesn't make a Battle pack like the Arena Beast battle pack with more Sandtroopers, a Dewback, and Escape Pod with painting "just different enough to make you mad" to make me buy it. So Ð can you think of a figure idea that needs to be retired?
At this point, it's my belief that there's no figure that's so perfect that there can't be a way to make it better. Let's start with your example: Hasbro has yet to do right by me as Sandtroopers are concerned. I'm not saying the figures we have are bad, but they're inaccurate. Sandtroopers have unique helmets, different knee armor, and lots of little differences from a Stormtrooper. If you think that a Stormtrooper with a backpack and shoulder pad is a perfectly accurate Sandtrooper, well, you're wrong.
I'd really like to see them done in the new G.I. Joe style-- that is, with hips that can swing out, so they can better ride on a Dewback. There's always room for improvement on nearly every figure, which is one reason why Hasbro has us as a captive audience for so long. They're always finding ways to make a better action figure, and I have to commend them on that.
There's nothing in particular I would go and say "let's hope they never try again." There are some things which personally do not excite me, but Hasbro does manage to constantly surprise me by making something I'd find dull into something I'd want to buy. As I am a sucker. But as far as a figure that's good enough to not revisit? I can't think of one. Toy technology will always improve and as such, if you wait long enough, you'll always find reason to revisit somebody.
6. I know there has been alot of questions regarding distribution lately so I'm probably beating a dead horse here. In my area, pretty much all stores that carry Star Wars have recieved more than enough wave 1 and 2 30th aniv. figures, and almost all of them are pegwarming with the exception of the Lava Miner and the McQ figures. There is also an unhealthy amount of R2, 3P0 and Vader figures from the Saga collection that don't seem to be going anywhere. Basically, that means there are 3 versions of R2-D2 on the pegs (Saga Hoth, Legends, and wave1), 5 versions of Darth Vader (Saga Bespin, Saga Hoth, Coin Album, Legends, and actually a few from wave 3). How does Hasbro expect all these to sell through? And what happens to the ones that don't? I remember there being a TON of pegwarming ROTS Mas Ameddas and Neimoidians that suddenly disappeared one day when my Walmart redid their toy section. What do stores do with this excess stock that doesn't sell through? Why doesn't Hasbro want to admit there's a problem here?
Well, seems your stores suck. What do you expect me to say here? I can point to loads of stores near me that are drowning in old, unsellable product. It happens. And it's been happening to toy lines for years. These things always work out-- sometimes, the store stops stocking new product, sometimes it goes on clearance, and sometimes Hasbro reps will go to the store and collect stale product. (I've seen this done-- Hasbro has even sent Toys "R" Us empty shipping cases to return to the manufacturer for credit. I know this because I've seen the boxes sitting on the floor with a product name and "return for credit" stamped on it.) In most markets, these figures can and will eventually sell through, and in others, it won't. If Hasbro shipped cases of nothing but McQuarrie figures, they probably wouldn't sell too well as parents would assume there was something horribly wrong with their Chewbacca figure, or with their memory.
The way the toy market works today is a result of Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us demanding smaller casepacks with more variety back in the 1990s. Until some other big player demands a big change, and has the money to back it up, it's going to be like this for a while. Kmart tends to be a big offender due to higher prices and reduced emphasis on toys, but it's largely regional. We aren't entitled to find everything, unfortunately, and this may mean we have to hunt/trade/beg/etc. for some figures. For example, I've never seen the "I Am Your Father's Day" set in my treks around LA. Not one. Yet when I went to Phoenix in September, I saw dozens. Every market is different in what it gets and what sells well.
Finally, I do not know how often you hit stores. Because I'm currently in one of my Ahab-esque hunts for waves 2 and 3 of G.I. Joe 25th Anniversary, I'm hitting lots of stores every day, some multiple times a week. And I can tell you that a store might be empty Monday, loaded with figures Tuesday, and empty again by Friday. While I surely do believe that your stores may indeed suck (as some just plain do for stretches of time), it may be worth considering widening your search or perhaps increasing your frequency of hunting.
7. I was admiring the coin from the Starkiller Hero chick that I opened and realized that the coin says Luke Starkiller?? I thought this was a chick and dont understand why the coin says its Luke??? Any ideas on how this came to be, or if this is a mistake that someone at Hasbro really flubbed up?
It's not a flub-- names change throughout a product's life cycle. Some early materials indicated the figure would be "Leia Starkiller." When you have multiple places where a character is named, this sort of thing is common-- you'll probably notice a few inconsistencies between the coins and the names on the packages of several action figures. Also, the original concept art for the figure tends to be labeled "Luke"-- so it's not really too crazy that the coin would, too. At one stage of the figure's development, I have no doubt it was going to be a "Luke" figure-- the coins seem to have been made by a different vendor, so this could have something to do with it too. This is, I should note, purely speculation.
8. Given that some people have said that the toy market today is nothing like
the toy market of the time when the original vintage Kenner line was being
produced, how do we explain the lack of variety in characters from that
time? I think you yourself have pointed out that vintage figures such as the
very first Chewbacca sculpt lasted something like, what, seven years on the
market, repackaged and sold again and again? When people say the market is
different today, do they mean literally that less product is sold today
compared to then? Or do they mean that the "kid targeted" portion of the
market is harder to sell to in the way they used to (because of competition
from video games etc)? Therefore are people speaking of the difference being
not the quantity sold but the demand for rapidly changing product (also on
the part of collectors who make up a chunk of the consumer base), but as
part of the driving force of a market that sells perhaps even more product
than before? I guess I'm asking for some clarity on this if you can add
In the 1980s, toys were something of a status symbol. The kid with the U.S.S. Flagg, the Imperial Shuttle, or Fortress Maximus were essentially demigods in the classroom. Today, and every day, kids want to look more grown-up, and a lot of them see video games as a sort of status symbol of maturity which ultimately hurts the toy biz. More kids want iPhones, iPods, Sidekicks, and Xboxes than they do toys. And who can blame them? Today's toys are cheaper and not nearly as exciting as their counterparts from two decades go. Outside of Bratz, there really aren't many super-huge fancy toys that would cost a good chunk of a paycheck or qualify as a supremely impressive present. When kids want a super-expensive present, it's going to be digital. I mean, a kid can't even ask for a Millennium Falcon or a decent sized G.I. Joe jet these days, the biggest male action toy on the market from Hasbro seems to be that Ultimate Bumblebee from Transformers and that's not exactly compatible with the regular line in terms of size.
The market is different today for a ton of reasons. Back until about 1989, a male action toy line would have one version of a character in an outfit. You'd never see a dozen Chewbaccas, they'd just keep reissuing the same one time and again because it was cheaper to do so. Since Batman took off, or rather, Kenner's Dark Knight Collection line, toy companies finally realized that selling one version of a core character is a sucker's game-- kids will want 3 Batmen, a half dozen Michaelangelos, and every last Snake Eyes you can crank out. Kids are buying those Darth Vader figures that a lot of collectors claim "nobody wants."
Stores demand rapidly changing product (hence, repaints and repacks galore) and kids are aware of this. If the box is new, they notice. If the figure is changed, they notice. That and toys aren't cheap as they really should be. If you have an Xbox 360, you can find games for as little as $10, not to mention countless Xbox games from the original generation for a few bucks. Some parents see those as having greater value-- because they usually do-- as a kid will give a game hours, days, weeks, or even months of fun and a lot of toys are abandoned before the new toy smell wears off.
Kids will always want toys, and some of us never grow out of them. Stores are more wary of big, expensive items these days and find you can make more money by rapidly turning over product rather than showcasing a massive selection of product. However, we as fans know Star Wars is only as good as its most obscure action figures. We're at a point where things are very topsy-turvy and it's easy to make an argument for or against any point about why a company does what it does. Like all good economists will say, though, follow the money. The reason a lot of things don't happen is because there isn't a lot of money in toys, most discounters only make a couple of bucks on an action figure and parents don't buy their kids a lot of expensive ($20+) toys. Thankfully, Hasbro has been trying to make lots of bigger and better toys, but it's going to be hard to compete with the rose-colored glasses we children of the 1980s wear, what with our Terrordromes and our Ewok Villages.
9. So who ended up being the 12th McQuarrie figure? Was it the General himself?
At one point (and I think on some packaging), Hasbro said there would be 12 McQuarrie figures. There's a Stormtrooper, Boba Fett, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Starkiller Hero, Snowtrooper, Han Solo, Rebel Trooper, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2. Depending on how you count, I have 13 right there, and if you count General McQuarrie, that makes 14. (As he isn't on the concept figure packaging, I don't count him.) There's also the non-McQuarrie-but-still-concept figure General Grievous. My guess is the 12 was an error on Hasbro's part. It wouldn't be the first typo on a toy package and I'm sure it won't be the last.
10. just was wondering the saga legends clone commander from the evolutions pack.i have one with a clone rifle and one with a sandtrooper rifle.is this right or a mistake?
I saw piles of 30th Anniversary Wave 4, 5, and 6 at a Wal-Mart on Friday and it was still there on Sunday. Color me shocked. Still no plain white Saga Legends Sandtroopers. (Again, shocked.)
The original release had the Sandtrooper rifle, and this was an error on the part of Hasbro's factories in China. There was a second release (available now) with the corrected, smaller weapon.
So, want to know the toy highlight of my week? I found this new pack of G.I. Joe figures, and there's a jetpack with the Cobra figures that totally fits the flames that come in the 2003/2004/2006 Boba Fett action figures. (The same flame piece was included with the recently released convention exclusive jetpack figures.) Observe:
Hardcore? Yes. I have no idea if that means anything to you cats but I think it's totally cool. Especially since I have more flames than I know what to do with. (The pictures are from an in-progress review being concocted over at 16bit.com, which is where I talk about every other thing that I do. Also, I've started a barely-official Twitter feed for my day job-- it'll be rolled out elsewhere eventually, but there's some neat stuff posted to it if you're OCD about your news. twitter.com/entearth.)
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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