Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 22, 2007

 

1. Hi Adam, my questions are concerning the M'iiyoom Onith figure from the 30th Anniversary collection. I happened to be reading the fun short story "Nightlily : The Lovers' Tale" by Barbara Hambly from the "Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina" paperback and read that M'iiyoom (like all other members of her species who haven't suffered a nasty accident or genetic defect) has THREE fingers on each hand (not including the thumb!). This is mentioned in her description on Page 179 of the aforementioned publication. Upon reading this, I decided to look closely at my recently purchased M'iiyoom action figure and discovered she had FOUR fingers on each hand. OK, OK .. so what ... a simple mistake? But surely the designers of such figures would initially research the character they are going to manufacture? I have checked the database and Wookieepedia - both confirm that H'nemthe indeed have three fingers and a thumb on each hand. So I guess my questions are: What sources to designers base there moulds for new action figures on? and secondly Are mistakes of this type (ie background characters) likely to be rectified?
--GRAEME

One of the things about some of the alien designs-- especially from the original trilogy-- is that some weren't very well documented and when it comes to some things (notably, fiction) a lot of minor details can be missed. There's just so much stuff out there that it's nearly impossible to take every last thing into account when designing a toy, writing a book, or drawing a comic. (All of which are parts of the vast merchandising galaxy. I know some fans consider the books to not just be another product but, well, you're kinda kidding yourselves there.)

Wen it comes to cranking out the fiction, authors are allowed to rough in the details which aren't easily established, or aren't easily researched. In this case, I'm not sure if there's a good archival photo of the hands, and even then, if it's properly labeled or even consistent. (Don't forget, Ponda Baba has two different kinds of arms in the movie.)

While numerous resources indicate she has three fingers on each hand, well, the figure is the main visual representation of the character out there, so I'd say it's probably going to be the go-to source for future reference for many designers. There's about zero chance of there being a variation on this figure because there's really no sound reason for Hasbro to crank out tens of thousands of dollars to do another run of the figure with a change, or for that matter, another run of the figure period. Cantina aliens run their course quickly and I have little doubt that most (if not all) of this alien that will be produced is pretty much done by now (and en route to the USA), so don't get your hopes up. Also, keep in mind that Lucasfilm approves every book and comic and action figure, and there's a fairly arduous approval process according to some who have experienced it. It's Lucasfilm's job to verify all of these things, and if they were fine with it, well, it's something to note and that's probably the end of it. (I mean, do errors like this really bother us as collectors? As long as she can properly grip things they can fudge her hands all they want as long as they more or less look close enough. It's not like Quinlan Vos has giant hands in the comics, but the toy sure has giant ones don't it?)

2. What is the deal with the inferior articulation that Star Wars figures always get compared to their G.I.Joe brethren? Even in the 80's the G.I.Joe figures were all super articulated. It seems like it's supposed to be a big deal and a huge favor to us whenever we do get a super-articulated figure. And so many times, such as with Roron Corobb, what could have been a perfect figure is disappointing simply because of the crappy swivel elbows. It frustrates me to no end. And with all the mileage Hasbro surely knew they were going to get out of the Republic Commando figure, the least they could have done is give him ball-jointed knees! Even the VOTC figures are usually woefully inadequate... case in point, the Obi-Wan, Leia, and Luke figures from the first wave. I have to give props for Bossk and IG-88, but still, for these we're supposed to feel like they're premium figures deserving a ten dollar price tag, while they're giving that same kind of articulation to seven dollar G.I.Joe figs. And another thing that irks me is the odd choice of which figures do get SA. Why the rebel honor guard, and not the 2006 saga Endor troops? All the honor guards do is stand around while the Endor troopers actually need to be SA to be useful for us. Arghhhh! :)

I don't usually go for conspiracy theories but really, it's almost enough to make you believe that they do it on purpose so that they can make us justify buying a figure we already have when they release a better one. Another reason could be simply that Lucasfilm takes a healthy cut of the sale price whereas G.I.Joe figures don't have that cost burden and hence more R&D can go into G.I.Joe figs?

That being said... I'm still going to buy.... sad sad sad. They've got us by the....
--Phil

So are we complaining for the sake of complaining or what exactly?

Different toy lines have different budgets and different goals. A big part of G.I. Joe was the fact that the figures had greater articulation, but at the same time, they weren't super articulated, nor were they exactly brimming with detail. (Word was the actual cost of each figure to manufacture in the old days was something like three for a buck.) Also, those vintage Joes shared a lot of parts-- accessories, legs, "crotch" pieces, and so forth. I'm fairly sure that the mid-section of the arm (the one that connects to the elbow and the upper arm) was the same exact mold for nearly every action figure after the first year-- I could be wrong, but it's devoid of detail and cheap looking. Because G.I. Joe was Hasbro's own intellectual property, they could do this-- reusing parts wasn't a problem because there's no reason a Stinger Driver couldn't be a grey Cobra Officer. It's their call. With Star Wars, well, apples and oranges. Kenner wasn't owned by Hasbro back then, and you have to remember the Joe line was fairly revolutionary for its size in that period of time. Kenner's "house style" typically always resulted in figures with 5 points of articulation well into the 1990s-- it's just the way they did business and stayed in business.

In the modern day, you can trace everything to money. Let's look at Scorch, since you guys can't seem to get past this. Yes, it doesn't have knees. Did this hurt sales? No. Would it cost Hasbro more money to add knees? Absolutely. Is there any benefit at all to Hasbro to make a super-articulated Scorch? No. They are going to release the basic mold (with changes) almost 9 times (if counting both Scorch releases) and many fans are going to buy it. Making new legs adds a significant cost to the product, and when they're piecing out their development budget, they have to cut corners in some places. It's not just Star Wars, but sculptor time, tooling costs, and tool engineering has to go to Hasbro's many thousands of products-- including Transformers, Spider-Man, Littlest Pet Shop, FurReal Friends, and so forth. For all the complaining about Scorch, I think I saw all of 2-3 on the pegs over the past year and a half.

And sometimes, Hasbro just doesn't care. Vintage 2004 C-3PO being a prime example-- the figure is in no way better than the 1978 figure in terms of articulation, but fans were willing to pay for fancy packaging that really doesn't cost any more. It wasn't in Hasbro's best interests to make a super-poseable figure here as they likely lost no sales from a few figures which they took a shortcut on compared to others where it no doubt cost them quite a bit to develop properly (i.e., Chewbacca). And sometimes, Hasbro feels one kind of joint is good enough-- that's just the way things go. The average cost-per-assortment has to be considered as well, with some figures like Hermi Odle and Yoda with Kybuck no doubt gobbling up the extra production and development costs. Getting perfection across the board is expensive, and if Hasbro feels that they have to charge a price so that stores have to charge us $7 per figure as is, I have no doubt that super articulation across the board will bump it up. When you factor in that an across-the-board price increase of about 10% is expected in the toy industry in the next year anyway, well, who here wants to pay $9 for a single action figure? It's getting a little ridiculous and while it most certainly does suck that things like royalties and Hasbro's need to manage costs leads us to some less-than-perfect figures, you're a reasonable person. You can vote by not buying the figures. As a collector, knees don't make or break my purchase, but that's me. I'd rather see a figure with a good likeness or decent construction that doesn't cause a figure to fall apart if I pose it-- but that's another rant.

I'm also a big fan of Joes and in some cases, Star Wars is better. Don't believe me? Buy some of the new guys. Would you rather have a double-knee joint that allows only forward-and-back movement, or a ball-jointed knee like the Clone Troopers generally have to allow for more dynamic poses? Would you rather have elbows that can bend to 90 degrees, or ones that can't? Would you rather have oddly placed torso joints, or ones that are practically invisible? There are some things like those ball jointed knees that I wish I could see a lot more of in the new Joe line, and in the case of many Star Wars figures, the very nature of the costumes makes additional articulation rather pointless. It's not like a super-articulated Baron Papanoida would be any better.

Although, that said, yes I can see why the commando mold would have been nicer to see with knees or ankles, and of course I can see a benefit to Commander Cody being given ankles. But sometimes the figures are only able to be "good enough" for reasons we may never fully find out, and you can always pick up some other toy line. Granted, I'm easy to please-- I grew up with Kenner's original line of figures, which had 5 joints max, so things like elbows and wrists are enough to make me fairly happy. Overall I'd say we have it pretty good, sure there's room to do a little better, but there are lots of reasons/shortcuts that cause some figures to be better than others. (I'm sure if an Endor trooper was made today from the ground-up it'd be super articulated. It was made in 2002 and now we're getting retooled versions of it. It's life.)

3. Are either of the Ewoks in the upcoming Endor Battle Pack (w/ AT-ST, Speederbikes, logs, etc) considered new and distinct figures in the line?
--Paul

That's a call you as a fan will have to make. One is a new version of Wicket and is a repaint of the 1998 version-- it looks plenty different to me, so I'd personally consider it new. The other one is the Wicket body with a different head-- again, I'd consider it new. Fans all have unique definitions of what constitutes a new figure, a variation, and so forth, so that'd be up to you.

4. Hi Adam, I recently saw some pictures of the new 4-LOM which I hadn't paid much attention to before. I was very impressed with the sculpt and articulation and I'm considering getting a bounty hunter set together. I still think that Zuckus, from 1998, is still basically perfect, except maybe for some better articulation (have they redone him yet?). I was wondering which versions of Dengar and Bossk you would recommend. If there are very similar versions from different figure years please let me know as one may be cheaper than another on ebay. I have Fett taken care of. Thanks
--Dan

Every fan should have a set of bounty hunters! Good call, Dan. In the modern line, there's only one Zuckuss sculpt so far. It's a pretty safe bet Hasbro will try and redo him some day, but for now, he's your only option-- so you may as well get him. Dengar's best figure is the 2004 release, which has loads of articulation, a better sculpt, and the backpack-- the 1997 release was a little less, shall we say, good. Bossk varies-- each version has something going for it. The 1997 version is very good, not to mention cheap and common. The 2003 version has a better gun and tons of articulation, but doesn't really look all that different. The 2007 release has even more articulation, but bits and pieces of his costume are somewhat loose. So it all depends on what it is you want and can get easily. Since odds are any Bossk on eBay will cost you at least $10 shipped, it might be best just to get the current Vintage model available at a store near you.

5. My four year is dying to get a Millenium Falcon. From POTF to the present, which one would be the best as a playtoy? Is there any chance of a better designed one coming out any time soon?

Also, is there any chance I could find an AT-AT at TRU? Is that deal done?
--Wendy

The best Falcons for a four year old? None. It's not a good toy for a kid that small. The Galactic Heroes/Playskool one is ideal but it's $100 or so on eBay, so I wouldn't advise you get it-- but a reissue is probably an eventual sure thing, so.

If your kid is incredibly careful with his toys and doesn't tend to be prone to smashing things or cramming things in his mouth, both the 1995 "Power of the Force" version and the 2004 "Original Trilogy Collection" versions should be acceptable. They literally screw down some parts of the 2004 one so it's less likely to fall to pieces-- I prefer the 2004 model. From what people tell me, the one in the Revenge of the Sith style box (orange SW logo, flames) is the one to avoid. The toy doesn't fit together as well, supposedly, but it's otherwise the same as the 2004 version.

The AT-AT is still widely available at many Toys "R" Us stores. If all you go to is one or two, consider expanding your search-- each store is different, as the customers who live near it are different. I can go to some Toys "R" Us stores in my area and see tons of them, while others have one, or none. You might have to do some extra driving to get one for $100.

6. I have been trying for years to determine what figures are repacked in Target's 3 ROTS cup sets: Leia, Vader, and Stormtrooper. I missed these at retail. And, as I know they are repacks... don't really care to own them. However, for my figure listing, I need to know which figures were repacked in these cup sets (i.e. where they were originally from). Can't seem to find this info anywhere over the last 2-1/2 years... can you help me?
--Tia

The Princess Leia figure was the 1998 "New Likeness" figure. Darth Vader was previously shipped in the Toys "R" Us "Imperial Forces" Gift set, and elsewhere. The Stormtrooper is simply the 2004 version, which was the 1998 CommTech version, but without the "blast damage" feature. If you kept up with the line as a whole, there's nothing significantly different enough about any of the "cup" figures which should demand your purchase if what you're after is a complete, loose set of all figures and significant variants.

7. I have purchased EVERY mildly unique Sandtrooper release since 1995. I bought each of the different Evolutions packs to get the three variants of the Sandtrooper there as well. I bought the grey pauldroned Legends Sandtrooper when it hit shelves a few weeks/months ago.

I know they are releasing several variations of this figure (differnt pauldron colors, differnt scupts, different dirt patterns). Can you please clarify the following:

1) How many unique Sandtroopers are being released through Legends?

2) Of all of the different Legends Sandtrooper figures planned, which ones do I already own? Again, I want one of every Trooper and I consider any unique combination of sculpt, pauldron color, and/or dirt spray to be new.
--Dan

A few weeks ago, I was sure of the answer. Today, not so much.

Originally, Hasbro said there were going to be several figures based on the Saga Collection mold, and a couple based on the Evolutions mold were likely to follow. The Saga mold (the one that comes with the giant dewback prod) was to come in "muddy/gray pauldron," "dirty/orange pauldron," and "clean/black pauldron." But here's where it gets tricky-- nobody has actually seen a black pauldron in the wild. All the "clean" ones which have surfaced actually come with a white pauldron. The information Hasbro gave stores indicated it would be black, and so far, nobody's seen it in the wild-- until I see evidence to state otherwise, I personally believe the black pauldron Saga Legends Sandtrooper only exists as an early release test shot, and few got out into the wild. This may be totally wrong, but seeing as how the black one should be out and the white one showed up instead, I don't think we're going to see it any time soon. (But a few months from now? Who knows.)

Hasbro has confirmed the grey pauldron Evolutions trooper is coming out for Saga Legends, but I have yet to see the orange one show up as a pre-order at work yet. As such, I'd wait and see, but I personally expect a grand total of at least 5 releases so far, 6 if the black Pauldron makes it out, and more if they repaint that Evolutions mold again.

8. I mailed my redemption certificate and payment for the UGH vintage figure coin set on the first week of July. The check was debited to my account in mid July. It is now October; more than eight weeks, and I still have not received the mail away coins.

Do you know how and where can I inquire on the status of my coin redemption request.
--Bob

Hasbro.com has an online customer service area which is perfect for this sort of thing-- you should definitely give it a shot, and if it doesn't work out, try snail mail to Hasbro HQ.

9. Hey I'm a 12 year old who has a goal to have a army of 100 troopers and I'm just wondering What is the best way to accumulate troopers? and what are you top ten troopers?
--Rick

As a kid, I'd suggest shying away from army building unless you're already working toward a diorama or something. Hasbro has proven that today's trooper could be yesterday's junk drawer fodder because they continue to revisit figures to make them better every few years. The 1995 Stormtrooper was widely bought, and when the CommTech version hit in 1998, people thought the 1995 one was garbage. And in 2004, people thought all their other old ones were trash. It's all relative, so at this point I'd pretty much suggest avoiding all trooper building unless you see a figure which you cannot possibly imagine could ever get better. To date, I don't think any trooper/droid has got to that point.

The best way to get troopers is on clearance, or buying someone else's collection. If what you want is 100 of a single figure, keep checking the sales racks. I picked up several of the Purple clones from Target last year at a fraction of the cost, even though I didn't need them, because they were such a bargain and I figured I'd want them later. I would avoid a goal that high unless you can get them super-cheap, because what you're probably looking at is a $700 bill for 100 of the same figures and unless you're fairly well to do, odds are those figures will just end up in a box in a few months. There are better ways to spend your collecting dollars unless your whole focus is to go nuts with a specific figure, in which case, go for it.

10. I was wondering if there was any information on the 2007 Wave 6 of SW Titanium ships that were due this month? The ones shown at SDCC, including the "Shadow" AT-AT, the Hoth AT-ST and the V-wing redeco...

EntertainmentEarth removed their listing for that case assortment recently and the wave 6 revision cases shown there don't include ANY of those vehicles. Other e-tailers don't even know about that assortment, yet EE and the others have the 2008 Wave 1 assortment up for order (includes the AT-OT, the Tatooine Skiff and the "2005" Milennium Falcon").
--Greg

It's complicated, and obviously, there are things I am not at liberty to discuss. However I can tell you this: if you had one on order and it was cancelled, as it was confirmed cancelled, you'd probably get a cancellation notice. I have this case on order and I have not yet received any cancellation notice. I expect it to show up again soon unless Hasbro suddenly cans it, which, again, they have not done yet as far as anyone has informed me.

FIN

Holy crap. I'm seeing tons-- and by tons, I mean maybe 6-7 sightings in the past week and change-- of the new "Smuggler" Lando Calrissian figure, and every time I see one, I end up seeing at least two. People really don't like it. 4-LOM seems to be hanging a little too-- this is all very interesting to me because people are jumping after Wave 5 more (which I think is better looking overall and apparently so does everyone else.) No new exclusives have shown up in the past few days but it looks like Target is going to be getting about $250 from each of us over the next month or so. The clever, clever swine.

I found some of the new 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe figures over the weekend, and I must say these are mostly quite good. I'd be ecstatic to see Hasbro produce some figures-- namely Sandtroopers, Episode II and/or III Anakin & Obi-Wan, Hoth Han, and Hoth Luke-- with this hip construction. (I like for my figures to be able to mount their steeds, you see.) I'd be doing cartwheels for a Sandtrooper like this so it could sit on a Dewback properly. Oh, and if Hasbro actually sculpted it like a Sandtrooper and not like a Stormtrooper with a shoulder pad, added bonus. I'd be willing to drop $10 a whack for a few "perfect edition" Sandtroopers if they waited, let's say, a year or so. (And repainted the Dewback to go with it.)

In the off chance anyone at Hasbro is reading this week and could pass this along to the Joe team: Good work. Very fun stuff. Make a new version of this release of Undertow and I will be your bestest buddy and fax you a cup of coffee every Monday morning. The original is my all-time favorite Joe action figure and one of my all-time favorites of any line ever. I can't explain why-- well, OK, there's the awesome coloring, the amazing articulation, the expressive eyes, and the crappy accessories. The extras suck but the figure itself? Miraculous.

But back on topic. Neat stuff from Gentle Giant last week, eh? That Asajj Ventress/Count Dooku statue was a real surprise. (Maybe I missed the rumors.) My must-buy from the batch, though, is the Emperor Palpatine cartoon maquette. So ugly. So perfect. So 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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