Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
March 10, 2008
1. Is Commander Rex going to be Realistic Style or TV/Animated Style? Same question for the Clone Wars Speeder Bike Recon Patrol 2-Pack.
What comic book does the White Darth Vader with Endor Leia Comic Pack come from?
Who the heck are they and where are they from?!......R4-D6, R7-Z0, R4-F5 & R4-H5? (I found Bane Malar, R2-T0, R7-T1 and R4-J1 on Wookieepedia, but not these others.)
So many questions! Regarding The Clone Wars, Hasbro stated that all the figures would be in the animated style for now. As such, I see no reason that the Speeder Bike Recon Patrol might be not animated, but then again, who knows if they're going to make an eventual exception for the Battle Packs?
The White Darth Vader and Endor Leia come from Return of the Jedi Infinities #4. The issue focused on a "what if?" story during the movie, essentially what would happen if C-3PO shut down in Jabba's Palace-- and the outcome. It's a nifty comic but like many, it doesn't qualify as "great." It is plenty neat though.
As to the droids? Well, one of the problem with the research of Astromech droids names is that Hasbro and Lucasfilm sometimes use and sometimes ignore previously written materials. For example, R2-M5 and R2-C1 used to be known as R2-D1 and R2-D3. Why am I telling you this? I think we're about to play some droid name musical chairs.
The bluish R4-D6 is proving to be a bit of a mystery. A good friend of mine and I have got into a few back-and-forth email arguments over droid colors over the years, and I think this might be one of those situations. As far as I can tell, according to Wookieepedia, R4-I9 is a blue droid that served on the Death Star. But I was under the impression that the toy black droid I own called R4-I9 served the Rebels. So my guess is that Wookieepedia has it wrong (they've done it with droids before) and that the official spiel is that R4-I9 is a Rebel droid and R4-D6 is the droid that Wookieepedia is thinking of on their R4-I9 entry. This, of course, remains to be seen for certain.
The references I've seen to R7-Z0 come from the book The Essential Guide to Droids and an issue of The Star Wars Adventure Journal, so basically, consider him born of the RPG.
R4-F5 is Plo Koon's droid-- while this may sound like an obvious answer, there's a precedent. Plo Koon's Jedi Starfighter has a droid in it that matches these colors. This is just the first time anyone assigned it a name, before it's just been "Plo Koon Starfighter Droid" or whatever your fan friends call it. Ditto with R4-H5-- it's Kit Fisto's droid, and it comes from Hasbro's Jedi Starfighter toy. So what we're seeing here are two Wal-Mart exclusive droids who are being made as a result of two Target exclusive vehicles. Weird, hunh?
2. I recall hearing about the upcoming Shadow Troopers 2 Pack of figures, which will be "debuting/premering" at Jedi Con in Germany at the end of this month. Yet, I am not sure if this will be the only way to get these figures. Will they be coming to Hasbrotoyshop.com or somehow be available to those of us who cannot attend Jedi Con or who don't want to pay high scalping prices? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
My default answer for any upcoming product this year should be "start saving." One never knows what Hasbro will do in the end, after all.
In this case, I've taken care to note Hasbro's words when talking about this exclusive. The big tell is that the item will see the debut of an all-new Shadow Troopers 2-pack. To me, this is a pretty big tell-- a lot of items "debut" somewhere and show up elsewhere later. You don't say it "debuts" at a convention if what you really mean is that it's exclusive to the show. For whatever reason, Hasbro often has to be very careful what it tells fans. Maybe it's a contract thing, but if they out-and-out said "hey, don't worry, it's going to be on NAME OF SITE HERE Thursday" it might make the convention promoters upset-- after all, exclusive figures are a reason some of us make the trip to shows in the first place. (Hey, if it weren't for exclusive figures I'd probably never leave the house!)
I fully expect these to show up before August 2008 in the USA. My guesses are that the items will debut on either HasbroToyShop.com or ShopStarWars.com shortly after or during the convention (which takes place March 21-23) or will show up at one of their booths during the summer convention season. It's also possible another online store is going to get some units, but as of yet I have not seen any evidence to point me in any one direction. And this isn't code for "har har, I know where it's coming and you don't," I really don't know who's going to get this one as of yet. But it would seem unlikely for Hasbro to make an exclusive that excludes the nation of their largest collector following.
3. What do you think of this "Droid Factory" business?
I wasn't too fond of this idea because I know I'm gonna end up buying a figure I wouldn't ordinarily buy so I can finish a droid. From what I understand those first two waves are all new figures (or at least "new enough" for me), but I'm dreading straight repacks with droid parts. I can also guarantee there's gonna be taped up figures missing their droid parts all over the place (the coins were really bad in my area for a while).
Actually, you wanna know something? I'm sick of pack-ins. There, I said it. No more coins, no more stands, no more hologram figures, Force Files, Commtech chips, Flashback Photos, or Freeze Frames. Just give me the damn toy and some stuff for him to hold or wear.
So yeah, Droid Factory. Thoughts?
I think the Droid Factory may be the best and most relevant pack-in Hasbro has done yet. It's something you can't ignore. You can put extra weapons in a box and ignore them. Coins and Freeze Frames are placed in an album which, after completed, can be ignored. Big pieces of scenery may not fit in with all collector displays, and holographic figures-- while neat-- are disposable after you collect the whole set. (Who needs 72 of these things?) The droids are great because there are a lot of us who can't ignore a nice figure, and this allows Hasbro to crank out some more of these guys at a more fair price. Honestly, who wants to pay $7 (or likely $8) for a droid repaint? I mean, I will pay it, but since I'm getting all the other figures anyway it doesn't bother me in the slightest. If the price increase really does happen, it also helps offset the cost-- right now I'm paying $7 per figure, so if I were to buy 4 figures at $7 I'd pay $28 for 4 figures. With the droid, and an $8 cost (hypothetically), we'd be paying $32 for 5 figures, and in my case I'd absolutely buy the "bonus" figure. Now the other ones..?
Stolen parts are sometimes a problem and sometimes not. I saw some people steal holographic figures from the 2006 line, but it seemed very few people ended up swiping the coins from the 2007 line. Which is interesting as I seem to recall a lot of people writing me to predict stolen coins. The build-a-droid parts are very much more desirable than either of those, in my opinion, but maybe not everybody else's. That, and I don't know how much toy theft you see in your stores, but I see a lot. People don't just steal the coin, I see people steal the whole figure and leave the coin behind. I see people swipe Hot Wheels out of the package and entire Transformers. Most thieves steal the whole freaking toy, but only collectors would steal the build-a-figure part, which means we can pretty much hang our heads in shame when we see that happen. I guarantee you the six-year-olds out there are less likely to just swipe the dome or the left leg when there's a whole figure that goes with it.
But as to no pack-ins? Fans have been asking Hasbro for that since 1998, and their response tends to be something along these lines: costs are going up anyway, and the pack-in cost is basically negligible. It's that, or nothing. Any price increase is still going to happen and the price is not going down as a result. I would also add in that with the build-a-droids, it seems we're going to be seeing the same droids repainted a couple of times too-- I'm sure the tooling costs to Hasbro aren't going to be huge if they can just repainting the same arms time and again.
Seeing as I doubt we'd probably see strong sales of individual R7 droids, I'm glad we're getting these rather than none at all. My only real complaint is that I might get a lot of uneven distribution of parts-- like I can see if I do any army building, I might see myself buried under a pile of domes, without any torsos or legs to connect them to. But hey, here's hoping I can do some trades in that case.
4. How do you feel about the shield half accessories that
come with the new Destroyer Droids? When I first saw
pics of it, I thought it was awesome. A full shield
sphere that surrounds the droid like in the movies
complete with "gun ports" for the blaster effects to
poke out of if you buy two? Sweet! But after actually
buying two, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit
disappointed. Maybe I'm just doing it wrong, but the
only way I can get a droid to fit inside the full
sphere is by folding last joints of its legs
underneath it and by pressing the head almost flat to
the chest. Even worse, there's only one space in the
shield large enough for one blaster effect to poke
through. It's just frustrating because it is such a
cool idea and sounds like a great accessory, but it
falls just short of being good (I think it could also
do to be a slightly less opaque blue, but that's
personal opinion.) So where do you weigh in on this? A
for effort? Close but no cigar?
(The droids themselves I have no argument with, I
think they look fantastic without shields, blasters
I think it was a great experiment. There's only so many ways you can sell fans the same toy time and again, so this seems to have been Hasbro's attempt to make The Best Destroyer Droid Yet. The sick thing about that was that this is a figure from 1999 with a more recent head-- Hasbro got it right the first time, basically, and all the subsequent Destroyers have largely been crap. (Their legs warp after being on a shelf for a short period of time. So yes, they do suck.)
This one has been pretty good as a figure, but the accessory, as you say, is weak. You really do have to get the droid to crouch, and you can't see it inside the shield-- thus defeating the purpose. If I can't see the droid, it seems more like he's inside a comet than a shield. Hasbro's reasoning for it being so opaque was that without it, the illusion of a shield was destroyed due to how visible the pegs were. I'm not sure I buy it as a little extra paint (or perhaps magnets) could have been used to fudge those, but well, it is what it is.
So at least they tried-- but that's one of the neat things about the modern line. In the 1980s, Kenner never tried to do anything really out there, so it's easier to remember a line for not failing because they never really aimed for the stars. Hasbro, on the other hand, sometimes bites off more they can chew-- and for every Destroyer shield, we also get a moisture vaporator and cantina sections. I wouldn't advise fans buy two just to complete the effect, though.
5. I notice that Star Wars have been doing a lot of expanded universe action figures recently and I was just wondering if you think that Hasbro will ever make the Solo kids Jacen, Jaina and Anakin. It would be great to see them in brought to life in action figure form. Know I know that through the Star Wars universe we have not seen too much of the young Jedi's in the comics only in novels, but here's an idea that I think would work. How about if Hasbro and Dark horse -comics work together and make an original comic featuring the young Jedi and their adventures or maybe bringing The New Jedi Order to comic book form. I know that a lot of the Star Wars fans would love that. Anyway, what do you think?
Since Jacen doesn't have a lot of comic or visual appearances, I figure he'd be a little bit lower in the to-do queue than some other characters. They're basically unknowns outside the novels, as they've had very few comic appearances and-- unless I'm mistaken-- pretty much no game appearances. So the audience for the Solo kids might be a tougher sell because there's no easy visual reference for fans to go from, and including excerpts from novels isn't quite so exciting. That said I'm fairly sure we'll see adult versions of the kids (the ones who made it that far, anyway) eventually-- there are only so many new characters left to do as toys and Jacen Solo has a lot more name recognition than a lot of the characters we're seeing made as action figures these days.
If Jacen had some ultra-cool outfit like some of the Sith Legacy figures, so it might not matter who he is so much as that he looks neat, it could be a lot easier to pull off. But well, that's going to be up to Hasbro and Lucasfilm to decide.
New Jedi Order comics? Unlikely. I don't really dig the idea of retelling the same stories time and again in different media, but well, it sells. So who knows. There's a lot going on in those books, much more than you can really summarize in 32 pages.
6. Do you know when and how we are getting a force unleashed shaak ti? Hasbro has gone all out on these figures and that awesome rancor, but one of the main characters has been neglected ! Did she get moved to those rumoured battlepacks that never showed? Hopefully they wont miss her out and we dont have to complain about her for ages like many did with the kotor figures.
Hasbro has made absolutely no plans for a new Shaak Ti known. It's possible we might get one some day, but well, there's only so much you can do for a video game line given all the risks involved, like the game's constant delays. I mean, honestly, the figures are starting to hit now-- after a year's delay-- and the game still won't be out before August at the earliest. And what's more, there's a heck of a lot of product coming for the game. There's seven basic figures, an Evolutions set, an exclusive Battle Pack, an exclusive Rancor, two Wal-Mart exclusive sets, and a mysterious blue Stormtrooper Commander that's starting to make me nervous. Heck, at this point I might even snag a pre-release one off of eBay if it shows up. In short, it's a really robust line for a new video game, especially considering it's going up against a new TV show which will crush it like a bug.
There are going to be lots of things in the game that may not see toys immediately, but I have hope. I'm really hoping Hasbro will do another Battle Pack down the road, maybe with a couple of Felucian Warriors, and Secret Apprentice, Shaak Ti, and, oh, let's throw in a better deco Maris Brood for good measure. I'd shell out the cash for that, no questions asked, with a big fat smile on my face. As a toy line I'm really liking Force Unleashed as a whole so far and I am going bonkers over the Rancor. Here's hoping it shows up early.
7. Anyway, I have three [questions] here for you: 1. Do you know when or have any ideas about when Hasbro is going to provide some information on any specials/exclusives for Disney's Star Wars Weekends 2008? I have the room booked, but I'd like to plan the budget early.
2. Would you happen to know if Hasbro has any plans to do a "midnight madness" sale, kinda like they did for the Episode III figures? That was a heckuva lot of fun and a great way to heighten excitement for Clone Wars.
3. Finally, I have been trying to compile a "master list" of certain lines, i.e. Titaniums, and have spent much time looking at other "master lists", but every list is always different, which something missing or named incorrectly, causing confusion. Where would be a good place to find such a thing, other than collector sites (checked em all, all different!), maybe something compiled by Hasbro?
For your first question: there are no known plans yet and Hasbro likes to surprise people with this one. I'm not expecting any Disney park items yet, but who knows? Surprises happen a lot.
For #2: I have not heard of any Midnight Madness plans, and I don't think it really worked too well for Revenge of the Sith, at least in my experiences. The employees were rude, some stores had midnight madness and then said they were going to hold their exclusives for 7:00 AM the next morning (Early Bird kits), and there was just a lot of general unpleasantness. I think this could be avoided by just putting out the products normally, like any other line, and not expecting fans to be in three stores at midnight or opening to pick up exclusives. Just put 'em all out as they get there, we'll still buy them. I seriously hope they try to make it less insane-- at least for Attack of the Clones, there really weren't any exclusives to speak of.
But yeah, I'm a very lazy man. After spending several thousand dollars on small plastic men, I gotta say that the daily/weekly grind at retail is enough-- do we have to have these shopping holidays too now?
So, the last one. There is no good "master list" as Hasbro keeps tabs on figures differently than fans do-- they consider ships to be different by SKU, and I believe the Titanium Series Millennium Falcon has been released in an identical toy form in two or three different single packs. Ditto Jango's Slave I-- their SKUs say they're different but you're going to need a magnifying glass to find differences between the actual toys. Your best bet is to compile your own.
8. I was able to find the Kashyyk trooper along with all the other new wave one figures at my local Super Kmart. The bad news is that the figures were 9.25 each. I know you dont work for the Kmart managment, but why such the high price?
I also want to know why Hasbro is only packaging one army builder such as Commander Gree or the Imperial Jump Trooper per case? These figures are in high demand.
Kmart is annoying-- as a rule, they do charge more in a lot of markets. One store near my workplace marks every toy up 10% over another Kmart in my area, and it sounds like yours took it a step further. I haven't yet seen figures priced that high, but well, I don't blame them. If I were a struggling retailer and I had customers who would be willing to pay virtually anything for a hard-to-get item, odds are I'd consider playing with prices too. So I'd say just avoid 'em-- I'm pretty price-sensitive and generally I can wait out the high prices, even though it makes me nervous to do so at times.
As to Hasbro, well, it varies from case to case. A few things to remember: all signs point to these being the only figures that will ship until June or July. If you don't get your Jumptrooper or Gree fix this week, there's not going to be a heck of a lot of other stuff hitting for a while. Also, Hasbro has a number of assortment revisions out for these-- it looks like some cases will have higher troop ratios, but those may not ship everywhere. Also, it's worth noting that with Force Unleashed the first couple of cases typically have everybody at one-per-case so it's not like they're discriminating. Also, if the past is any indication, it's semi-intentional so they can rerelease/repaint/etc. down the road. I wouldn't be surprised to see any of the figures you mentioned in a Battle Pack come 2009. It's also worth noting that all new figures are in high demand, so it ought to be neat to see how it all shakes out. Maybe fans will go nuts for the Shadow Guard too.
9. When will the Star Wars films be sold in the High Definition format?
The question is on a lot of fans' lips, but it could be a while. The "format war" isn't over yet, despite Toshiba's HD-DVD format crumbling last month. Blu-Ray is the clear winner of the discs, but it's possible that digital downloads will take the top spot and the high-def Star Wars films will eventually be released on iTunes or another digital marketplace. If you recall with DVD, George said he didn't want the movies out until the format matured-- DVD was all over the place in 1997, and the trilogy didn't hit DVD until 2004. If that's any indication, it might not be available on Blu-Ray-- if it ever does come out on Blu-Ray-- for another four or five years.
Currently, your best bet to see them in HD is on the HBO High-def channels, as they run the saga on a fairly irregular basis. If you have the means to DVR it, I suggest you do so as that may be your best bet for quite some time.
10. Word is The Force Unleashed has lost a little steam due to the delay of the game. I still think the figures look great though! My favorite being the battle damaged Darth Vader. And i think this particular version of Vader is something that Kotobukiya and/or Gentle Giant should tackle! Any rumblings on something like this being made in the future?
I don't think it's so much "lost steam" as it has been eclipsed. It was originally meant to be the big push for Star Wars in 2007, where nothing really big was happening with the saga. That would've been great, really-- I mean, with no mega-DVD box or anything, 2007 was a pretty sluggish year. Now in 2008, it's going up against a major theatrical release, a new TV show, and an entire line of toys. It's really kinda sad how things worked out.
Right now, there are no known plans for a beaten-to-death Darth Vader high-end collectible, but I agree, the action figure is really incredible. With any luck, someone will pick up on it, but there are no plans known for such a release just yet. Seeing as there's only so many ways to represent everybody's favorite Sith Lord, it's probably just a matter of time.
So, it seems it's almost time for the new exclusives to start hitting. Some fans have already found Target's new stuff, or at least some of them. The Force Unleashed Kashyyyk Battle Pack, Aayla Secura's Jedi Starfighter, Mustafar Galactic Heroes, and Endor Galactic Heroes are starting to hit. The target date was supposedly March 23, but well, you know how that goes. So happy hunting there.
Oh, and on the happy happy fun news front, I got Waves 1 and 2 2008. I gotta say, I'm largely impressed. The Tri-Droid, sadly, doesn't seem to work too well as a $7 action figure. Like the wind-up Spider Droid, the limbs aren't too sturdy and I have a hard time positioning the legs and feet so it can stand up. Note I didn't say "stand up properly," so I don't even know if I'm doing it right or wrong or what. It's another noble experiment by Hasbro but I think it'd have been a better product were it constrained by the need to be sold in the basic figure packaging.
Commander Gree has a good sculpt but the deco is still off-- the silver edges on the armor were left off, and the dark parts aren't dark enough. I want my blacks black, dadgummit. The rest of the wave is pretty slick, with each figure essentially doing what it needs to do-- Po Nudo stands there nicely, the Kashyyyk Troopers were designed with removable belts allowing them to sit quite nicely, and the enhanced articulation on Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader makes them worth buying yet again, if you can believe it.
Force Unleashed... what can I say about figures that are almost a year late? It would have been nice to see some effort placed into making these already good figures even better, as each of them is excellent in its own right but also has a few hiccups. For example, the Evo Trooper-- his weapons are a bit more than the doctor ordered, giving him a Sandtrooper cannon and the Star Corps Trooper twin pistols is great, but he only has two hands and no holsters. The bandolier/holster for Rahm Kota's lightsaber doesn't quite work, in that it's hard to get the hilt in there. The paint job of Maris Brood looked fine when first revealed to fans, but the final figure isn't as hot. Some areas of her belt are unpainted, making it look like the super-slim Jedi vixen has fat hanging over her too-tight pants. Also, some knee joints would've been nice, as they would help distract me from the really bizarre wash on her skin which makes her look dirty rather than "dark." (I don't blame Hasbro proper so much as the factory.) The rest are pretty good overall, Juno Eclipse is just what I expected, as is the Shadow Guard (here's to low expectations!) It's a nice wave even though I don't know the deal with the story or the game yet, they're just unique and NEW looking figures which is a nice change of pace from wave after wave of revisions of figures I own. If you more or less dig the comic pack figures, you should like these too.
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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