Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
May 12, 2008


1. The McQuarrie Concept figures were really, on the whole, pretty amazing. On the shelf, as close to art as a bunch of action figures can get. With a few exceptions though - C-3PO and Yoda's heads I didn't think matched the source material at all, real letdowns in the face of the genius work on the others. When Hasbro gets around to doing a box set of these figs (which I'm assuming they will, and which I would buy), what do you think the chances are of them tweaking these few little (but obvious in the context of the other sculpts) slip-ups?

I think you're operating on a huge assumption that there will be a reissue. The McQuarrie line included a lot of figures-- C-3PO, R2-D2, Luke, Obi-Wan, Han, Chewie, Boba Fett, Yoda, a Stormtrooper, a Rebel Trooper, a Snowtrooper, something which is arguably Leia-- that's a lot of figures, and 12 figure box sets rarely happen. Actually, I don't think I can name any boxed set that Hasbro cranked out with 12 figures in a single box off the top of my head unless it was figures in smaller boxes cobbled together. These days, they tend to range from 6-8, so I'd say it's pretty unlikely. I've also seen a lot of people speculating that Entertainment Earth will "obviously do a McQuarrie set." Uh, I work there, and I kinda have a little bit of say on the exclusives so I can tell you that it's not something I'd want to do. (A boxed set of characters that already exist as toys = boring. Sorry, I want new stuff.)

If/when Hasbro ever revisits these figures, I would expect some deco changes and maybe even a new head or two to mix things up a bit-- Concept Yoda had multiple head designs, perhaps we'll get the weird purple one from the comics, or one of the bluish ones. Seeing as these are three-dimensional interpretations of two-dimensional art, even though it isn't perfect, it's still not wildly inaccurate-- if the light was a little different, the figure may look exactly like Hasbro presented it. (Although I do think yeah, there's some room for paint improvements on the droids, but seeing they're still around for the original price today I think they'll see a reissue half past never.)

I wouldn't get your hopes up here unless someone like Diamond or steps up to the plate. While some stores can do well with a box of 100% old product, it's a tough sell without a bargain price, and targeting an item of that nature squarely at collectors seems a little risky unless the edition size is minute. And they rarely ever are.

2. What is the truth about the "rarity" of the Ultra Titanium ships? Were some rare at one point, and now they are gone, i.e. Millennium Falcon?

They come and go, namely coming from being hard to get to a huge stinker. A lot of these-- even the final, exclusive wave-- were closed out supremely cheap.

3. Where the heck is the Saga Legends Sandtrooper with black pauldron?

To date this item exists only in "sample" form-- that is, Hasbro had a few that came back to the states but it has never been spotted in stores. A few went to fan sites and media outlets (Rebelscum got one), and a few went to Hasbro's internal photographers for shooting for product solicitations. The white pauldron version (the one that actually shipped) was never officially photographed, so Hasbro's "official" shot of this figure is one that doesn't exist.

Obviously, you can cobble one together if you want-- I did. Take the 2006 The Saga Collection Sandtrooper's black pad off, and swap it with the white one. This doesn't help the carded collector, but for the loose completeist, it's identical to buying the rarer (and probably more expensive) Saga Legends release. For your health!

4. Here's an out there vehicle question for you: What do you think the odds of Hasbro ever making a Basilisk War Droid are? Sure, it's pretty obscure and never appeared in any of the films or cartoons and whatnot, but it has an awesome design, it showed up in the Knights of the Old Republic comic not too long ago, it could easily be the current $20 vehicle range size, and we already have a Mandalore to ride it...

It could be like the vintage Taun-Tauns as far as seating, so Mandalore could stand pretty much upright and not bend his loin cloth thing there and the needle-like projections around the head could easily be made to be spring-loaded missiles. Maybe it's not for the general market, but perhaps an exclusive?

Crap in a hat, man. The Basilisk War Droid-- a Knights of the Old Republic-era vehicle-- is pretty unlikely to come out. Hasbro barely even does any figures and now people are demanding ships? This thing is even more obscure than the Cloud Car.

If Hasbro gets to a point where KOTOR is a significant media focus (say, a TV show) then sure-- it could happen. If the line as a whole continues to grow and demand for vehicles outpaces actual sensible vehicles to do, sure, someone might go ahead and do this one. But to date, we've had about four figures from this era-- Darth Revan, Darth Malak, Mandalore, and Darth Nihil. (And I'll admit, they're mostly great figures. Mostly because Malak kinda sucks.) If demand for the figures continues to grow-- and it should, given how nice a job Hasbro did with them-- anything's possible. But it's partially up to you, the rabid fan, to vote with your dollars, make your voice heard, and to also remember this: I personally wouldn't care if we never saw another KOTOR release. (Well, except maybe Zayne and Gryph from the comics.) Be prepared to speak up to Hasbro during convention season, it might take several years, but hey-- patience. It took 20 years to get Grand Moff Tarkin, if you're persistent maybe you can get your droids within a decade.

Due to its obscurity, it'd be a frightening exclusive for a specialty account, and odds are the mass market (Toys "R" Us, etc.) wouldn't understand what it was. One of the things that makes it hard to do good game figures is you have to remember, if a game sold a million units, only a fraction of the gamers beat the game. And only a fraction of them are "toy people." So the item has to be a knockout on its own, and with the right figure and marketing, well, anything can happen. But let's be honest here, The Clone Wars and the new TV show are going to eat up the lion's share of resources, so unless a new KOTOR game comes out and is lavished with the sort of love that we saw given to The Force Unleashed, you are very unlikely to ever see this item. Hasbro has been quite shy of non-movie or non-TV vehicles that aren't merely repaints.

5. What's your take on the new Indy figures? I've bought just a few, and after looking at all of them on the pegs, the paint jobs look like crap. Especially Indy himself: the vast majority of them are cross-eyed! And Irina Spalko looks like Moe!

It would seem like Hasbro is spending more time and effort on their cashcows, like Star Wars and GI Joe, than they are on Indy. Do you think the quality will improve, or is this new line doomed to mediocrity?

Sounds like a case of "the grass is always greener" to me. A lot of fans railed against the first batch of 25th Anniversary Joes due to iffy articulation (many can't sit or bend their elbows properly). Few Star Wars figures have great human likenesses. Frankly, as a Joe fan, I'm a little sour on a lot of it because there are so few vehicles, distribution is awful (seriously, Indiana Jones in the first week has been easier to buy than Joe since July of last year), and I really want to love it. It just makes it so hard.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Hasbro did up the first waves in a hurry, planning to double-dip down the road with even more incredible articulation, detail, and accessories. Because that's what happened in Star Wars and Transformers, two lines which consistently crank out very similar product that's just better enough to make you want to buy some characters again and again.

After over a week of searching, I finally found an Indy with a decent face. I also saw many other, terrible faces which I almost bought, photographed, and returned to share with you. Some of the Raiders-themed Indy figures have the eye painted on the cheek, which, well, that doesn't look too great. I managed to find a single perfectly painted Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Indy with the eyes and hair painted appropriately on Friday, which was a real shocker as I was at a Target with a buddy from work pointing out the bad faces while he was perusing Justice League. And then I found the good one. So, yay. A lot of Episode I Qui-Gon (Naboo) figures had terrible faces and I passed through dozens before I found one I liked, ditto Adi Gallia. I think Hasbro is just getting started, and better things are yet to come-- except maybe the vehicles, which look killer, and I really want to buy those even without the figures.

As a collector who's actively trying to find reasons to not buy toys these days, I was pretty stoked to find one good one-- being picky isn't necessarily a bad thing, I'm a toy fan but I really don't need to have a complete set of Indiana Jones given all the redundancies. But I really am hoping that I won't have this much trouble finding a Short Round or a Henry Jones Sr. with a decent face. I might end up with less than a dozen Indiana Jones figures in my collection, but well, I think that's perfectly OK for my stash. I can afford to be picky.

6. wondering if you have any idea where to expect to find the atte and the falcon? My friend said he believe's it may be in the target and the toy's,r,us computer. So where do we expect to find these of july 26th, do we expect to find at target or toysrus or both.

Right now, the plan is for all stores who want this item to have it on or around July 26. Neither ship is an exclusive, so it will show up where they're ordered. Due to the massive size, it's unlikely stores will take on tons of units, so if I were you I'd suggest ordering online or rushing to your favorite stores on July 26 to make sure you get one-- considering the massive girth, you can only store so many of these things on an endcap, so I'd be surprised if stores got more than 5-10 each per location (if that). Just be ready with your wallet open on July 26.

Also keep in mind that street dates are very frequently broken. Just last week, I went into Target and saw all three individual Indiana Jones DVDs on an endcap. And then I went home and saw an ad for them on TV boasting they're due out next week. Stores sell tens of thousands of products, and they rarely can keep track of them all-- be persistent, keep your eyes open, and you just might get lucky. I certainly have with the prequels, most stores simply don't care about these dates and ignore them unless there's a well-communicated specific "launch event" to hold them for.

7. Recently I began picking up a few of the Indiana Jones figures, and I say a few because it is near impossible to find them with mint cards--even right out of the box. Who are the prodigies at Hasbro that design the cards with so many sharp edges? On the left side of the IJ cards, almost all of the points are always bent or crushed--and if you think back, ROTS cards had the same problem with the points on the sides, and some Saga with the bottom corners. What happened to good ol' rectangle cards with rounded corners, ala POTF?
--Mazter Jedi

Some weird things happen with carded figures-- any of these may qualify. So let's do a list, shall we? (Although I should say, most of the figures I've seen would qualify for a C-8 or above.)

A) Some fans are too picky. I don't know your tastes, Mazter Jedi, but I'm fairly anti-grading and the whole "let's get a figure that's 110% mint" thing kinda irks me because perfection in a mass-produced product is very hard to achieve. So if you're a graded figure fan, you really do have your work cut out for you I'm sorry to say. But on the bright side, if you find a good one, it's not like a lot of other fans will also have a supremely mint one.

B) Some cases get damaged-- a few years ago, when the first batches of Yoda & Chian, Aayla Secura, Bariss Offee, and Ashla & Jempa hit, every single one I saw for weeks was crushed. Every one, every store. And not a little bit, either, these were like someone sat on them, and I found this to be the case with other collectors I've contacted as well. Sometimes items get damaged in transit from China or to the stores.

C) Weird shapes are hard to keep nice-- sad but true, the awesome die-cut designs Hasbro uses to catch your eye may be harder to keep nice. There's really nothing you can do about it other than shrug your shoulders, move on to the next store, and pray nobody ruined them there. Hasbro has become increasingly less interested in the normal, classic, rectangular design (except with G.I. Joe) because they truly do provide themselves on creating snazzy packaging-- I can't blame them for that, but yeah, it's hard to keep nice as a collector. Of course, Hasbro's main push is to sell product, the ultimate storage and keeping-it-nice is not always a main consideration, nor should it be.

Hasbro has an intense focus on packaging-- the figure's box is a commercial for the toy, but on the shelf. They have literally seconds, or fractions of seconds, to get your attention to come over and pick it up. As such, the unusual designs aren't going away any time soon, but well, let's invoke "the grass is greener" again-- I mentioned the classic-style G.I. Joe cardbacks the other week, and a lot of fans said I was out of my mind for suggesting Hasbro bring back such a "crappy design" because nobody can find those mint, either. It's possible a lot of us are wanting the mintest of the minty mint, which is tough to pull off because there's only so much to go around. Over the years, we as a fanbase have gone from "one carded, one to open" to "one or the other" in a lot of cases-- which probably causes a bit of a divide. I mean, as a fan, I do have a lot of carded stuff, but I'm not at all picky about packaging condition-- if I can't find one I would define as "nice," I just don't bother. But I can see where you're coming from, which is, unfortunately, why grading organizations are going to make a killing, because there are going to be fans who pay a premium for a "perfect" figure. I guess all I can say is, keep hunting, cross your fingers, or prepare to lower your standards. Unfortunately, a "super mint" package is simply not something Hasbro is going to put a lot of effort into (beyond the whole starcase/jewel case for an added fee) because there's no benefit to them providing any sort of mint packaging guarantee.

So while I was looking for a "mint face" on my figures, you're looking for mint cards-- it's pretty much the same issue. If you have a high standard for what belongs in your collection or toy box, you're going to have to do some more footwork. Thankfully for today, the line is fairly abundant if you live in a town with a decent number of stores to check. But if you don't, well, perhaps it's time for a road trip?

...but yeah, plain ol' rectangle cards are a pretty good thing in that they reduce the amount of wasted cardboard and plastic, reducing the weight of a case and potentially reducing the costs of the product. Which, given the roughly $7.50 price point, would have been nice to see for Indiana Jones and that's one of the reasons I'm not going crazy collecting them. (Yes, $0.50 makes a difference to me when I'm buying dozens of figures, especially when there's a lot of work involved in finding a "good" one.)

8. I had another quick question - what figure do you think has been most improved by a new paint application? I was looking at the McQuarrie Stormtrooper, and it really is a radical improvement over the previous version. The repaint of the POTF2 Gamorrean Guard of a few years ago was also a big improvement, along with the Walmart redo of Nabrun Leids.

The repaint has proven to be a nifty tool in making new figures easily, which is good for Hasbro and not bad for us. I absolutely love the fact they are repainting the R4-G9 and R5-D4 molds to create great, consistently sized droids for robot fans like me, and I'm sure every release is 80% profit. So it's a win-win for those of us who love those things.

I would say one of the figures that did the best as a repaint was Barada, mostly because the first two releases were so bad. The 1990s and TRU releases were covered in dark grey splotches that looked more like slime than a variation in the skin tone, because the same color was applied to the clothes as the face. Thankfully, the 2006 release fixed that-- and there was much rejoicing. I'm also a fan of the wacky Marvel repaints, just because it makes an existing figure look like more of an art piece, I could see having a set of those guys on a shelf in an office. (I should totally do that if I ever get a legit office rather than a cube.)

But yes, Nabrun Leids, Aurra Sing, there are so many figures where Hasbro just went crazy and showed how much better a figure can look by improving the paint. They're even doing it with Transformers now-- take a look at the movie toys marked "Premium" on the packaging. Figures like Jazz aren't just molded in silver, but they're painted, and look so much nicer than the regular releases as a result.

But you probably want me to pick one specifically. This can be tricky-- but I would have to say I'm a huge dork for the Animated Debut Boba Fett. I love the figure for no logical reason-- it's just fun and weird. I like that sort of thing.

9. Any news on possible Indiana Jones variations or retailer exclusives?

Not many so far. There's going to be a Fertility Idol for Mighty Muggs at Comic-Con, so there's one. There are also reports of a "light skin" and "dark skin" Cairo Swordsman out there, I'm mostly only seeing the very dark ones so far. If I were you, I'd suggest setting up an eBay account with a saved search for "indiana jones variant" and "indiana jones variation," as they'll show up for sale and alert you to the fact that they exist. I use this feature to keep up on a bunch of things, as a lot of toys show up for sale on eBay before a formal announcement is made. So if I'm expecting something, it's useful.

I also use it to track CDs I want to buy. Very helpful.

10. I just wanted to let you know something I was told at my local Target. I asked where the Order 66 figs went from the endcap, if you noticed all stores put them up at a register endcap. The store manager told me that when their usage of the register endcap is 'expired' they were told to send them back to corporate. I said, "aren't they going to go on clearance" and she said that they were told to send them back to corporate and not put them on clearance. Have you heard of this?

It's possible what he's telling you is true for his store, as sometimes things just disappear and don't hit clearance-- I wouldn't believe him, though. It's also possible they were stashed in the back and as soon as they hit clearance, an employee or customer bought them all. I was at Target this morning and they still had tons, and I've received numerous emails about clearances starting for these already. It's extremely unlikely they will be "sent back" anywhere, but it has happened in the past-- the 12-inch exclusives that Target sold in 1997 and 1998 couldn't be blown out at 75% off and eventually ended up, MISB, en masse at Goodwill and thrift stores.

It's also worth noting that stores reorganize-- a number of Target stores in my neck of the woods removed these from endcaps and transplanted them elsewhere in the store. Sometimes, it was the action figure aisle, and sometimes, it wasn't. If you're a real clearance fiend, sometimes you really have to do some hunting to see where the store stashed their cheap goods-- you'd be amazed where things turn up some times. (If you aren't checking the book areas, you may wish to start.)


I had a long thing here about Indiana Jones but I read it over and it was boring. So instead, I'll just drop a reminder that Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie was rereleased on DVD last week and can be had for about $15, which is a lot better than the $100+ it has been commanding on eBay. Of course, there are no supplements to speak of, so blah.

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!

Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!

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