Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
March 24, 2008
1. [...] I'm sort of at a crossroads and need some serious advice. Like many, I've been collecting since 1995 (and before), and have one of every carded OT figure from that time, and the PT figures that I like. So already, I'm not a completist. I used to be, but it just got to be too much. [...]
I recently moved into a house and at long last have an action figure room, but between all the vehicles, playsets, LOTR figures, and a few other things, I'm sort of at the point where I'm running out of room. And it's a good size room and I still managed to pretty much fill it up already. With the upcoming Indiana Jones figures which I'm planning on going completist on (and I agree, some of the sculpts aren't the greatest, but it's Indy, finally, and I don't see how it could possibly last more than a couple of years at retail) and whatever OT figures come out (so far this year is giving me a much needed break), I need to make room. Oh, and if they keep up those Ultimate Battle Packs I'm screwed.
Here's the dilemma and what is driving me crazy: I always thought that if I were going to keep one packaging variation of a figure, it should be the first one it came out on, I guess because it's the first and older. But, I LOVE the Saga2 and OTC packaging and there is no way I would break up either of those sets. So right there are a lot of doubles/triples. I also have a complete set of the Freeze Frame figures, so I'd kind of like to keep that as a set, but then if I were to get rid of the non-FF version, I'm getting rid of the first version with the picture on the package kind of like the old days. Then of course there's the UGH figures, both silver and gold, so there's about 20+ repacks.
And let's be realistic, monetary value plays no part of it because, well, except for a very few limited exceptions, none of this stuff is worth anything. That being said, there is an annual local flea market that I sell my unwanted stuff at and I can usually get about $4 a fig, so that's not too bad, considering what I would get trying to unload this stuff on ebay, which would be nothing, so dumping some of this stuff won't be too horrible of a loss. Well, it will, but what can you do?
So, you can see the dilemma I'm in, and I'm sure others have had the same problem. What are your thoughts, suggestions, besides seeking psychiatric help of course.
[...] I've purged comic books and other action figure lines in the past and never looked back. But this is Star Wars!
--Charlie (question edited down for length)
Well Charlie, thanks for making me feel old. My initial reaction to your question was something my dad said to me when I was a kid-- "you've got too much junk." And you do-- but there are ways to maximize your craptitude before the purge kicks in, since you have a house you do have some options to consider.
What's your collection worth to you? In order to keep it in good shape and/or on display, it's going to cost you some money. Between shelves, boxes, off-site storage, Star Cases, and other extras, the cost of actually collecting figures is way more than the figures themselves. I myself regularly drop money on clear plastic tackle boxes for loose figure storage, and at $4 for roughly every 12 figures, that adds up fast. As you have a house, though, you may be able to employ your (or someone else's) power tools to your advantage.
After I get organized, my plan is to make some shelves for my figures. If you have a room, you can do this too-- you can mount a series of shelves on the wall, roughly 6-8 inches apart and at least 4 inches deep, for the length of one or more walls. If you stagger them a little bit, or perhaps add something to "elevate" figures in the back row, you can get a lot of figures in a tight space. Assuming one nine-foot wall with shelves 7-inches apart and a 9-foot ceiling, with figures standing on TSC/2008 display stands, you can probably squeeze about-- and keep in mind, this is just a rough estimate-- 1,204 loose 3 3/4-inch figures on a single wall. You still have three more walls, and the entire remainder of your room. I would suggest you look into this, as the Home Depot is good about cutting wood/particle board for a very low fee and while you may need some help determining how to set up a rig like I described (I sure would), this is probably what you need to do. And if you can figure out how to enclose it to reduce dust, let me know, as I need to get thinking about this too.
Vehicles and playsets can be adjusted into the figure shelf equation. Some can't be, because things like the AT-AT, AT-TE, and 1, 2, or if you believe the hype, 3 Millennium Falcons are going to take up a lot of room. You might need some tables and shelves for these, or if you can swing it perhaps some tables or fixtures from retail stores which are repurposed for your toys. You can also ask yourself if you really need to have that much stuff-- I've got four different AT-STs in just the modern line alone. That's somewhat ridiculous.
I would do something similar with carded figures. To display them, you're going to need more surface area-- you can probably do something like get a bunch of pegboard and set up a bunch of walls with figures on both sides, or create an "aisle" like in the toy store with pegboard and shelves, leaving all your stuff out where you can easily access it. It sounds crazy, but the toy aisle is where our stuff came from, so why shouldn't it spend more time there? It's efficient. But between the amount of time you (or a skilled contractor) put into the project and the cost of materials, you might find that you're paying more to store the figure than you paid for it in the first place. This may not be worth it.
As to the question of purging, I'm at a similar point-- a lot of the random toys I bought on bicycle-based toy runs in college are taking up space. Sure, they cost anywhere from a penny on up to a few bucks, but having moved a few times and with at least a decade more worth of Star Wars on the horizon* you need to ask what's more important-- the having, or the getting? It might be in your best interests to start getting rid of lines you're not as thrilled about, or old sculpts. I'm debating dumping my Simpsons collection. Lord of the Rings is pretty much dead so you might be best off dumping it or some other line. Indiana Jones may be outside your needs as a collector. I'm finding I can't collect everything, even though I really want to. Something has to give, and it should start with anything you define as "extra." If you collected an "extra" toy line, get rid of it. If you have carded sets that are nothing more than something you store, those need to go too. I'd hang on to my 1995 figures, but they mean a lot to me for a variety of reasons.
Don't worry about the money. You invested in "fun" over the past decade in change, and you had your fun-- now it's time to invest in space, which means you're going to have to find some off-site storage house, or you're going to need to think about how much fun the less fortunate will have with your extra carded figures. Maybe there's a tax write-off in there, but I just donate my extra stuff because I know it's good to just donate something once in a while. I'm not doing anything with it, and maybe someone out there will have fun with it-- even if (shudder) it's a kid with a bunch of M-80s. You had your fun collecting these toys, and if you aren't having any fun with them today, let someone else give them a good home.
For some of this, the hobby is as much a sport as it is a... well, hoarding of plastic men. Catch-and-release might be something to consider. I love tracking down toys and learning new things, and this might mean that I-- and you-- have to let some of our older stuff go. It's not like we're giving up our childhood toys, we're giving up the toys we bought to relive our childhood, which is still going on. Unless you plan to quit the hobby tomorrow, or know of a way to get some more room, you really do need to make a lot of stuff go away at some point. Maybe not today, but face facts-- can you absorb another 10 years with the amount of product we're seeing in 2007 or 2008? I know I can't.
*- If it makes it this long. Anything can and will happen in the toy business and toy lines are cancelled in a blink of an eye, often on what seems little more than a whim. All I'm saying is you better buy the AT-TE and any Millennium Falcon if both come out in your neck of the woods this year. So really, the best thing you can do for your storage is to hurt the hobby for everyone else.
2. I was just wondering if there will be an update/revision to a later
release of the Fett Legacy Evolutions box set, where we will find the
currently (and sorely) missing Mandalorian emblem on Fett's
Hasbro has recently confirmed a variant will be coming some day soon for this item. When, who knows-- just keep your eyes open.
3. i was wondering if there are photo's of obi won and ani's jedi fighters that are out now compared to the tru exclusive ones.i like the fighters and was not sure how different in color they are.also was confussed on what lines of figures are coming out this year.i wanted to stay with realistic figures,what lines do i need to stay with.
I bought the TRU versions in 2005 and just got the new versions, and I can tell you they're identical. Anakin's Green Starfighter has the labels pre-applied, just like the 2005 one. Obi-Wan's comes with the wrong sticker sheet (yellow Anakin starfighter stickers) just like the 2005 one. The plastic color is the same, and the paint is identical right down to the battle damage. The only thing that's missing is the bonus figures and accessories. If you collect open stuff only, and have the 2005 releases, don't bother to get the new ones.
Hasbro has at least five unique basic figure assortments this year. 30th Anniversary (includes 2007 figures with coins and/or stands as well as 2008 figures with stands), Saga Legends (with coins), Legacy Collection (movie-style build-a-figure waves), The Clone Wars (animated), and another line which will include repackaged figures that are movie style but fit into the Clone Wars storyline. So you can ignore the animated ones, basically.
4. The other day I pulled out of my toy stash at my parents' house a number of POTF-era toys, mostly Imperials. My 5 year old boy immediately seized upon the two Cruisemissile Trooper craft sitting inside the box. He totally dug it, and it brought a warmth to my heart to see my little man playing with the stuff I collected when he was but a twinkle in my eye.
Anyway, I began to muse on how cool (in my opinion at least) that Cruisemissle Trooper thing was/is. I know that the prospect of seeing this remade in today's terms is less than zero, but man, I can't help but think that an EU vehicle AND figure based on this concept could rock da house. The vehicle is wicked cool, in my son's term. I still dig it - aggressive and menacing for a small, one-man fighter designed for one flight - the thing is really a flying piece of ordnance with control surfaces. Hasbro could even base the pilot on an existing TIE pilot mold - no new mold - keep costs down.
Who knows, perhaps deep in an Imperial hanger somewhere during the time between ROTS and ANH there exist squadrons of these things, piloted by near-Kamikaze Imperial pilots who're the black sheep of the fleet - the hard cases of the pilot corps.
For those who don't have it, the Cruise Missile Trooper was a bizarre arrowhead-shaped vehicle with a "dedicated" white Imperial pilot figure inside. It was a figure from the waist-up only, and could not be removed. The ship itself had unfolding wings and rocket launchers, giving kids a lot to fidget with. As a toy, it's not bad. As a Star Wars item, it's not very good-- at least to me. But for me, a good vehicle is one where you can insert and remove an action figure-- so anything where the figure is stuck isn't any fun to play with. But that's me.
Hasbro has basically avoided original-design vehicles since the Kenner release and with their current policy on vehicles, unless it's a repaint, I doubt you'll ever see an original Hasbro design again anytime soon. Their engineers have come up with some wonderful designs over the years for fun, small, and cheap toys but the problem is (at least from where I sit) what do you want the line to be? It simply can't cater to whimsical kid-friendly original designs and the adult collector market successfully, because adults complain. That's one thing they do very well, and since they're big spenders they can help make some things not happen. If the line shifts away from the adult fan and heavily to kids-- which could happen with the new TV shows-- Hasbro may well find it worth it to crank out original, small-scale vehicles based on saga-inspired designs.
An individually carded (or at least non-dedicated) white Pilot is indeed possible, and similar to the AT-AT Driver. It could happen, and it might have a place in the line as time goes on because as figures go, anything is fair game. Hasbro can make something up and it'll sell-- how else can you explain the original Mandalorians, countless purple Clones, gadget-covered Clone Wars Anakin from 2003, and so on? They're neat fun toys, and because they're cheap items being sold to a fanbase who cannot let a figure go unpurchased, it's an easy sell. Vehicles are tougher, but if fans demanded a Cruisemissile Trooper pilot I can pretty much guarantee you Hasbro will make it. Just nobody is asking for it yet.
...I personally would love to see more original vehicles made if they're small, cheap, and basically enclosed. I loved the vintage Kenner Mini-Rigs like the AST-5, ISP-6, INT-4, and the Desert Sail Skiff-- they were solid toys that felt right at home with my figures. If we can see more stuff like that, I think they have a chance of doing well, but I did honestly feel that the Cruisemissile Trooper was just a little too weird to be at home in this line-- it just felt (and I mean this literally) very flat. If it was thicker with an actual cockpit, I'd probably have loved it.
5. Can you tell which Grievous is in the cockpit of the Grievous star fighter on the side of the box? If you look close it looks like a repainted deluxe version but I could be wrong?
It is indeed the deluxe mold from 2005, but Hasbro's lighting may make it look like it's a slighty different color.
6. I am confused. The Hasbro presentation from Toy Fair specifically states that there will be "30 basic figures in 2008" with 8 figure waves having 2 astromech build-a-droids and each 6 figure wave having a protocol droid. Simple math..Wave 1 =8 figures + Wave 2 =8 figures = 16 figures. Now subtract 30 - 16 = 14. Do a little algebra x=number of waves...8x + 6x = 14...14x = 14..divide by 14..x=1..so that means one more wave of 8 figures and one wave of 6 figures to round out the remaining 14 figures in the basic figure line. Now on a very respectable site, Rebelscum, there is a rumor list with 3 build-a-droid protocol droids. That would mean 18 more figures, which doesnt add up to the 30 Hasbro says were getting. So in your infinite wisdow, do you know if we are getting more than 30 figures in the basic line....or are these droids going to be coming in the "Reissue" waves(ie. Legends, Greatest Battles, Heroes & Villians, etc) that we are certain to be getting later in the year?
First of all, this is assuming Hasbro is telling us everything-- I'm not convinced that they are. They have to have some surprises, or at the very least, they may be covering themselves in case they have another wave that might not make it. Considering how much stuff is coming from the team this year, I expect a few things to slip.
I personally believe this 30 figure thing was preliminary. Hasbro has confirmed...
1 Return of the Jedi wave (8 figures)
1 Clone Wars wave (8 figures)
1 Repaint wave (TBD figures)
1 Star Wars wave (TBD figures)
1 Revenge of the Sith wave (TBD figures)
So assuming the lowest possible number of figures, that means we're at 34 figures. Like you said, something is up-- so what happened here?
Hasbro has confirmed that a wave has slipped to 2009 and a repaint wave is taking its place. It's entirely possible that the "repaint wave" wasn't firmed up as of Toy Fair, because 8+8+8+6=30. The added repaint wave with a build-a-droid figure (if this is indeed what's happening) would gum things up a bit, thus increasing the number of figures a little bit. Hasbro initially said to expect about 56 (or 54, I forget) figures in 2008. That means we've got another 40 to go, which probably means either I'm totally misinformed, or that there are indeed 3 more waves to be revealed. We'll have to wait and see, because I can tell you that I'm having a hard time pulling up the right information to confirm wave release dates these days since so much is going on-- and even more is going on under the surface!
7. I was thinking about Hasbro's offerings for this year. There is an obvious lack of Original Trilogy items, save for a vehicle or two, the RotJ Wave and a Battle Pack or two. How do you feel about it? Does it affect you much? I'm very excited at the thought of some of the figures we are getting: Darth Talon and some other Legacy figures! C-3PX, a Droids character! But it just feels that the line is lacking without much OT.
Most people would chalk it up to this year being a movie year, but that hasn't been in the plans for that long!
Another thing is that the Basic Figures barely have any OT Waves at all. The Return of the Jedi Wave, a rumored ESB and ANH wave, but that's it. But we do know that there will be ANOTHER Revenge of the Sith wave. Obviously, we know that the Clone Wars line won't have any from the OT, but what are the chances that there might be more we don't no about?
Well, the short answer is we're spoiled. Star Wars should be a dead toy line by now, or at least it should have gone away for a while. Because collectors have an insatiable appetite for more toys and wallets to support them, the line is still alive, meaning that there's a lot of demand for more product. This is a good thing for people like me who love toys and toy collecting. This is bad if you're a fan with a focus, because really, what can you make from the Original Trilogy any more?
Right now, we're basically at a stage where a new wave is going to be some level of "more of the same." There are still a decent number of cantina aliens and critters from Jabba's Palace, not to mention background aliens from Cloud City and the Rebel Massing near Sullust. That's where most of your 100% new sculpts are going to come from. After that, there's a decent amount of droid repaints to do, plus a few new sculpts. There are plenty of ewoks, and a mess of Rebel Pilots, Imperial officers, human Rebels from the various movies, but when you get right down to it most of what's left is background stuff and unmade Vintage Kenner figures. We're getting a female Rebel Pilot this year, and I don't even know what her name is. I consider myself to be somewhat knowledgeable about these things, but it's off my radar-- unless I was the fan who had the trading card with her picture on it, I wouldn't know who she is, either. We're really scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
I personally feel The Empire Strikes Back needs to be given a rest until toy technology surges ahead. Hasbro has given us some impressive figures from the movie lately, but they're mostly remakes. I really dig the Evolutions Boba Fett and Torture Rack Han Solo, but the last ESB wave was all resculpts except for General McQuarrie-- who was a head swap. Most Trilogy waves are going to be at least 50% retreads, as you might have noticed seems to have been the case since at least early 2004. Hasbro simply won't make a wave of 100% aliens/droids/minor Rebels and Imperials because of needs of the market.
I'm more or less ready to give Revenge of the Sith a rest-- after I get another good Padme and Palpatine, that is-- but even those are new versions of figures we already bought. The prequel trilogy still has a lot of background fodder left to make as a figure, which is why it makes sense that Hasbro would give those films and non-movie sources a little more attention. You can't milk three movies forever, or maybe you can. It'll be some bitter milk though.
Some other things to consider:
Revenge of the Sith was hugely popular with kids and as the newest movie, it's still fresh. There are a decent number of figures left to make.
After 30 years, there's only so much genuinely interesting left to do. Fans weren't asking for the Ice Cream Maker Guy Wilrow Hood, Sgt. Doallyn until Kenner and Hasbro made everybody else. Some fans have been saying "I've been wanting this figure for 20 years" but what they mean is "I saw this movie 20 years ago" and "I want this figure" most of the time. There are fans who saw the movie on some home format and probably said "hey, that's neat" but few as-of-yet unmade Trilogy figures are genuinely figures fans have been lusting for en masse for decades. This isn't to say there aren't a few that have been requests for years now, but we're getting to a pretty obscure stage.
The modern line has been around for 13 years and somewhere just shy of 1,000 figures. 4 years were completely Trilogy-focused, and much of 2000, 2001, and all of 2004 were very heavily trilogy-focused too. Considering how much stuff is in the prequels, they have to get to them eventually. Episode I is 9 years old and there are still some Pod Racers fans have been asking for since the first time they saw the movie, like the boring and ugly Ben Quadrinaros.
8. Any clue if we are getting two sets of arms for The Animated grievous or do those bad boys finally articulate and lock in place as they should? Is the Tech there yet?
As you can see in this picture, Grievous' arms will indeed split for his The Clone Wars release. As to how the final product will be articulated and lock into place, I can't say-- but it looks like we're seeing some advancements being made with these new cartoony figures.
9. Can you confirm whether or not the Clone Scuba Trooper has a removable helmet?
I've been trying to dig up this one for a while but right now, all signs point to no.
10. So I just got the Target exclusive Aayla Secura starfighter and found that it had no stickers. Do you know if there are supposed to be? I wasn't really looking forward to putting them on (those cockpit ones are terrible) but after the number of times I've had to do it already I was starting to get the hang of them.
This ship does not include a sticker sheet-- everything is decorated on the toy before you open the box, to mixed effect. The astromech deco looks pretty incomplete compared to the rest of the line.
My big issue lately has been the issue of space. The final frontier seems to be a place for my stuff, as George Carlin might go on about, and I don't seem to have much space left for anything too big as it stands today. I've got some "extra" collection that's going to find its way to somewhere that isn't my apartment (no it isn't going to be free) because it's starting to look that duplicates are going to have to be a thing of the past if the "rumored" giant Millennium Falcon and AT-TE are going to be a part of my collection going forward. In short, the straw has broken the camel's back.
If you collect on a modest income, you're going to be looking at $3,000 (pre-tax and shipping) to retain your "one of everything" club membership in 2008. Depending on where you stand, this is a ton of money, a modest amount of money, or a drop in the bucket. That aside, it's a lot of stuff that takes up a lot of space-- more still if you're a fan of Indiana Jones, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Halo, Batman, and other licenses. And more still if you also do busts, statues, prop replicas, and so forth.
The last 13 years has really shown how much toy collecting has changed. It used to be that a toy company released their stuff, people bought it, it went away, and that was that. Rather than putting a dozen or so figures in stores per year like 1995 and 1996, a "slow" year is now defined as 60 basic carded figures plus hundreds more in gift sets, vehicles, and other exclusive packs. The hobby that was built on the back of toys for children is now an industry unto itself, and with that in mind, companies are going to capitalize on this huge available cache of disposable income.
So my question to you-- more because I'm curious than anything else-- is are you changing your habits? (I'm very curious to hear if anyone is going ahead full-blast and how you store your stuff. So I can steal and use your ideas.) Even Steve Sansweet has announced (in his Q&A column in the Star Wars Insider, and I'm paraphrasing here) that he's no longer buying absolutely every last Star Wars item because things like space are a real issue. It seems to me that what needs to be done at this stage, if you've been here for a while, is that you need to rid yourself of extra stuff, and convert a room or three to store items on shelves so you can actually get an idea of what you actually own. I mean, I know what I have, but I don't think I can picture every figure I own in any sort of group setting-- I've got a ton of figures but the past four or so years have been nothing short of a crazy whirlwind of collecting and I don't think I can give my toys a good home if they keep coming out at this rate. I know part of that is that the time I used to spend curating my collection has been taken up by other efforts (job responsibilities and Figure of the Day come to mind), but oy, this hobby has really exploded.
Oh yeah, and a postscript to this (and yesterday's) Q&As. If you think there are a lot of figures now, I'm estimating another 177 "new enough" action figures between April 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008 based on confirmed information, semi-confirmed information, and guesstimates based on 2007 Q4 exclusives. This does not include variations. (If you don't buy my numbers, just pull out a spreadsheet and start counting up all the basic figures, beast pack-ins and so forth. You'll probably come up with something similar.)
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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