Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
April 7, 2008

 

1. I've been looking at the new GI Joe 25th Anniversary figures and noticed how they have more articulation points than star wars figures. In particular, I noticed the hips and knees on the GI Joe figures allow them to be able to be posed in more positions.

My question was whether star wars figures will ever get more articulation like the GI Joe figures?
--Eric

According to Hasbro, there are no short-term plans to do this but figure evolution has a strange way of making great things happen. 10 years ago, we were all sitting around thinking how great it would be if Kenner started putting things like knees or elbows into the figures, and here we are today, where rarely does a figure come out with fewer than 10 points of articulation and many have 14.

Issues like cost and licensing fees are often tossed around, but over time it's possible that there will indeed by Joe-level articulation (or hopefully better, have you played with some of these things?) in Star Wars. Costs may come down, Hasbro may realize they need a way to re-sell core characters after exhausting numerous outfits and variations, and there may even be a time where Hasbro decides to make these figures a "premium product" and raise the cost for a higher quality toy. (Hey, it could happen.)

We're creeping closer all the time-- if you got the 2008 Commander Gree, while not perfect, its level of movement is roughly as good as your average 2007-era G.I. Joe release. It could still use some work (in more ways than one), but Hasbro engineers are definitely working on ways to improve these figures. How else can they expect us to buy another thousand of them?

Right now, though, I'd be happy with all figures being given (as possible) hip articulation so they can sit in vehicles or beasts like a Dewback or Bantha. I don't think that's too tall an order, really.

2. I was finally able to find a Kashyyk Trooper but was extremely disappointed when I got him out of the package. Why did Hasbro make him so tiny? He's positively diminutive and looks effete when compared to other Clones. Obviously all Clones are supposed to be the same height so how could Hasbro make such an obvious error? I was going to buy a small squad of these but now won't as I can't justify spending 7 bucks on something so chintzy. Do you think Hasbro will correct the situation and release a scaled up version?
--barbara

How does a few millimeters change a figure from "great" to "chintzy?" Oh right, you're employing hyperbole, my mistake. Well, I'm sure you won't buy any to show Hasbro your disappointment, right? There's no reason for Hasbro to resculpt this figure just for that minor a height difference, so I wouldn't expect anything in the short term. If Hasbro does a third version of this figure-- and odds are they never will-- I'm sure they'll do something about the height.

But seriously, ya gotta work on your arguments. This "chintzy" figure is bigger, more articulated, and painted better than a number of figures released over the past year at the same price. It isn't perfect, but I defy you to say that it isn't a neat product. If height is enough to get you to hate the figure, well, don't buy it. Since mine are likely going to be acting as pilots in an AT-AP anyway, height really isn't the most important thing.

3. Is there any difference between the '99 Episode 1 release of the AAT and the '04 Clone Wars version release?
--Jack

There are several. First, and most obvious, the Episode I release has a sculpted Battle Droid pilot inside that's colored tan-- the Clone Wars (2003) release has a red one. Visually, this is the most obvious change, and the two vehicles are barely different in color when you put them side by side. Both are brown, but the original seems a little bit more saturated and lively. Also, the black "dirt" on both is in different patterns. It's not a significant difference, but it's one you'll notice if you own both.

The Episode I release has an ejector seat for the driver. When you push in a switch, the figure is thrown out of his seat and forward, crashing ahead through the damaged vehicle. The newer releases had this removed for some reason, and the play mechanics are slightly different as a result. It wouldn't surprise me if this was removed to bring costs down-- fewer pieces means some reductions in expense.

Both are wonderful toys, but if I were a collector that could only get one, I'd get the original release-- even if it cost more. (And it seems it's actually cheaper, so lucky you! Everybody still hates Episode I!)

4. One of the more well known canceled figures is the Holographic Nute Gunray which I believe is from the would-be second wave of the light up series of "holo-projector" Episode 1 exclusives. This is the E1 sculpt just cast in transparent blue plastic.

Afterwards, these seemed to frequently appear on ebay at reasonable affordable prices (for an unreleased figure)...now, not so much. Were the ones that hit the after market well made bootlegs or were there that many officially produced before the cancel switch was hit? I haven't seen any on ebay for quite some time, but is there another seller of these currently since I would like to add one to the collection?
--j3h

A number of these figures are unauthorized productions, which means it's entirely possible that most if not all of them were produced without the consent of Hasbro or Lucasfilm, and were cranked out by enterprising folks in China on their lunch breaks. As such, there's no reason some guy in the factory couldn't track down the mold and stamp out a few dozen of them to trickle on eBay to sell to us at $30 a whack. (Heck, I'd probably buy one.)

When you're dealing with toys made from the same materials and molds as the legit toy would be, it's impossible to truly define it as a bootleg. Yes, it's unauthorized, but you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference as there really isn't a gold standard for an authorized release of this figure. Preproduction toys have all sorts of variations between them, and while it's possible someone out there has a guide to this (please write in if you do), most likely, they're all varying degrees of illegitimate. The question for you is if it came from Hasbro's factory, Hasbro's mold, and used the normal Hasbro plastic, is that close enough? What defines "the genuine article" anyway?

This figure was supposedly going to be released at least twice-- once as part of an unrealized Fan Club two-pack, but I don't believe I've heard it being one of the light-up projector figures, or if it did, the line was more extensive than I recall. (I know I've seen statuesque prototype figure sculpts for Queen Amidala and Obi-Wan Kenobi at some point.) Most of the samples I've seen had articulation so it's unlikely that the ones I've been seeing were ever intended for Wal-Mart's light-up figure line.

I would assume anything coming out of Asia is unauthorized, but then again, anything coming from the USA is arguably unauthorized as well. So buyer beware here. As to the likely follow-up question-- "Will Hasbro ever revisit this figure?"-- I'd put that as a big fat not any time soon. A number of figures were developed for Episode I that were pushed back or ultimately cancelled, and in many cases, there's a good reason. Nute Gunray was pretty unpopular, and holographic figures as a whole tend to be stinkers in many markets. If Hasbro could work it into an otherwise strong Battle Pack, it'd probably do just fine, but I can honestly say I'm not losing any sleep over not having one.

5. while at Jedi Con in DŸsseldorf last [month], I was able to get my hands on many figures previously hardly ever available in Germany. Since I remembered your FOTD about Momaw Nadon, I went ahead and got one for 5Û, which was a real bargain. It really looks pretty cool, so thanks for that advice.

I also bought a Darth Vader's TIE in TSC packaging to complete my collection of TIEs. This one, however, made me really angry. When I opened it and saw that the access hatch was off color, I thought, well, you might be able to paint that to match the fuselage. And then, I unpacked the wings...

So, my question is, why do things like this color mismatch happen? Aren't there people who check this before the toy goes into production?
--Daniel

Production problems happen all the time, especially when you're dealing with reissued products. While I haven't been able to get anyone to admit to this, the pattern of behavior I've seen over the past few years leads me to believe this wasn't someone at Hasbro proper asleep at the wheel, but most likely a factory issue. When you go to your factory, complete with language barrier, and ask for certain deco changes to be made on an existing product, sometimes mistakes happen. Take most of Saga Legends and recent repaint waves as fine examples. It's entirely possible that someone sent specs to the factory and they were not followed to the letter, either because of cost issues or an honest mistake. Either way, they're all a little off, so if nothing else you can take comfort in the fact that yours is technically not "broken," it's just part of a long line of toys.

6. Question: Do you know anything about scale? I'm wondering specifically about Kotobukiya models and the 12 inch figures we've gotten. If you have any information on whether these are supposed to be compatible size-wise, I'd love to know. I looked to buy a Koto Slave Leia to pair with my 12 inch Jabba. (the Hutt, all you dirty minds out there) I REALLY want a 12 inch slave Leia that can recline with my 12 inch Jabba... no funny business here I swear. I just think it would be awesome to have to display. None of the sideshow bodies will recline in the proper way will they? (you know the pose)... this mail get's worse and worse. I'm gonna stop now.
--Kevin

Scale varies a little from product to product but typically Kotobukiya's line is designed to be roughly 1:7 scale. A 12-inch figure is 1:6 scale, so while close, they're a little off. A Koto one would be a little smaller for your 12-inch Jabba, but it's also possible Sideshow will make one some day. I believe Gentle Giant's first Leia Slave statue is roughly 1:6 scale so while the right size, or close to it, it may be hard to display with Jabba due to her base. But hey, it's a thought.

7. I see that there will be a Star Tours Droid 5 pack released for the Star Wars weekends. Being a droid collector that cannot make it down to Disney World anytime soon, how can I get one of these for my collection? Sure I could ask someone, but I don't know of anyone going down there. Will these be available from another online retailer like some other exclusives were? Any info would greatly be appreciated.
--Jeff

I'm in the same boat-- unless it shows up at Disneyland, I'm going to have to call in some favors, or see if Disney's DelivEARS service will send me one. My notes show the phone number 800.362.4533 as the one to call when these start becoming available, they do not take pre-orders as of the last time I checked.

8. I got two for you, here we go: 1. On the 7th Legion Clone Trooper '08 Transitional (coinless), the cardback was an error (Stass Allie?) I know it was divulged that there would not be a Stass Allie figure right now, but can we expect to see a corrected cardback in assortment anytime soon? And: 2. On the Bail Organa/Obi-Wan Comic pack, the figures are swapped, i.e. it say Bail Organa underneath Obi-Wan and vice-versa. Is this going to be corrected? And while we are on that subject (okay, one more question) I heard about a Mouse/Basso pack with a white or gray shoulder pauldron. Any ideas?
--bryan

On the first: don't expect it. The figure only ships in one or two case revisions, if memory serves, and it'd be more trouble than it's worth for Hasbro to make a change. It could happen, depending on how long these see production, but I really wouldn't expect Hasbro to put time (money) into a minor change like this one.

On the second: most exclusives are one-shot deals, meaning no changes will be made. The entire batch of product is produced at a single time, meaning what you see is generally it. (There are exceptions but this tends to be the rule.) Mouse & Basso, on the other hand, had a running change before the wide release. Prior to release, they had no pauldron, but the main release had an orange pauldron on Basso. As far as I know, any white or gray pauldrons are either errors or the result of a fan who carefully swapped it out to take advantage of their fellow fans-- in other words, it's bogus. The character in the comic had an orange pauldron.

9. I was wondering if you could tell me who the alien is in this C3PO's commercial and is he a character from any the movies. Cool alien to get as a figure someday for our cantina dispalys?. Whatta ya think?
--Mark

Seeing as the cereal was post-trilogy, it's entirely possible the alien was a rejected design for Jabba's Palace, or even created especially for the commercial. I've seen a few articles about this creature, and cannot find a reference to a name or anything-- for all I know it was created by the ad agency. If it does belong to the ad agency, you'll probably never, ever see it as a figure. Even if it was a Lucas creation, it's a sign that we're scraping the bottom of the barrel-- we've done comics, we've done movies, we've done games, now it's time to do extras from an obscure licensed breakfast cereal from around 1984. I'm not saying it isn't a neat alien, it's just that you have to think about marketing it-- it'd maybe make a great build-a-figure, or some sort of "extra" in some package, but I can't imagine a toy being released with a sticker blaring "from the classic commercial!" when it comes to Star Wars.

Like anything, fans can grab ahold of something and make it happen-- through enough repeated mentions in any online capacity, figures can gain fame and actually succeed. So, this is one of those "if you guys want it you should probably start asking for it" things. I'd rather have actual Cantina aliens produced before we go to the cereal ads, but hey, if Hasbro could crank this one out easily maybe using an existing body, why not? The face looks fairly simplistic, though, so it really wouldn't surprise me if it was just created for the commercial and not meant to be seen elsewhere.

10. [W]hen you counted the extensive list of distinct figures, did you put together a spreadsheet or anything that you could distribute? I'd like to compare your list with mine. And second, so you know if wave 5 with the EU figures is going to still be shipping? If things look bleak on the store front, I think that I'll order a case.
--Doug

My "count the line" list was done as a tally by sub-line-- it's not an actual list of figures, it's a list of figure lines/categories and numbers. For example, Hasbro released 12 POTF2 carded figures in 1995, plus a mail-in, and in 1996 we saw some pack-in figures plus basic figures, and it's done this way-- as it was much easier to do than sit and type out over a thousand names. (Hey, I've got a lot to do ya know.) If/when I do release a complete list, it's going to be part of a massive annotated feature which I'm sure will cause much arguing.

As to the Wave 5, I wouldn't get my hopes up that you'll ever see these again unless you're a fairly hardcore toy hunter. The line is being slowly phased out, so if you missed them, you should start looking elsewhere for them. They may show up somewhere, but if you aren't the type to visit many stores many times a week, I'd suggest trading or looking online to someone that has a set they can sell you today.

FIN

That's all for this week. We've got a bit of a desert wasteland except for exclusives over the coming months, so strap in, it's going to be a long ride. Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, and Target should have a number of interesting things showing up soon, so cross your fingers there.

I decided to do something I haven't done in a while, and that's to invest in a barely-recent Star Wars video game. I think the last time I played a non-coin-operated Star Wars game was maybe Rogue Leader on the GameCube which, while good, lost me after a couple of weeks and helped to change my fanatical devotion to video games as an industry into more of an adversarial relationship. That NES Star Wars game didn't do me any favors, nor did Rebel Assault II. And while I enjoyed Masters of Teras Kasi due to what it tried to be, well, uh, yeah. I've got problems. Who the heck names a playable character "Hoar" in a family-friendly franchise?

Anyway, I bought Star Wars: Battlefront II for less than five bucks at Target. "Why not?" I thought. As a young old fogey, my attention span for anything involving a third dimension is short. My personal site/blog is called 16bit.com, for crying out loud. But I gotta say, this is a really neat game-- and most of you knew that back in 2005. I gotta say, now I see why Diamond/Previews did up the sets of figures for it. There's a definite element of fun found here that I generally didn't get out of most by-the-book adaptations of the movies or, well, many of those other games of questionable fun. I will say this though-- if you too are an old fart who thinks anyone who took Metroid into the third dimension should be drawn and quartered, I'd still dig this out of the clearance bin if you've been dragging your feet. Even if I never pick up the game again after this week, I definitely got my five bucks worth out of this one from just the Geonosis and Mygeeto levels alone.

I'm all curious what might await for the third sequel, should one come to pass. And now I'm less apprehensive about what The Force Unleashed might be seeing as Battlefront didn't entirely blow, although the multiple ports of the title may make it a pain in the neck to decide which version(s) to get, but I have a feeling that might be determined for me depending on what kind of pre-order bonuses show up out there.

And I just saw that one can buy Star Wars: Demolition for cheap on the Dreamcast. I don't know why that's tempting, as my Dreamcast is in a box somewhere and I didn't like the demo for the PSOne version. But there's something intriguing about that.

So, here's to Star Wars gaming once again. 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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