Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
June 23, 2008
1. There's been a photo of a vac-metal R-3PO floating around the web that supposedly is a variant in the Walmart Droid Factory 2-packs. Is it genuine?
Right now, there's no firm answer. As not one single fan has said they've found this in a 2-pack, and not one single fan has given up a picture (even a fake one) of a packaged sample, it's going to be tough to tell. It's possible to fake such a thing, and it's also possible it could be one of the infamous "lunchtime specials" out of the factory. That is, an item made by production line workers or management during "down time" for one reason or another that ends up funding their rent for a year when they sell it on eBay. Until Hasbro comes out and tells us what it is, or we see a packaged sample, it's going to be difficult to tell if it's legit. As I just got my R-3PO from Wal-Mart, as many others have, it seems unlikely to me that it's going to be shiny metal at some point soon.
Hasbro's recent Q&A implied the first protocol droids we would see would be based on the Death Star Droid frames, but these things could change-- it's possible this R-3PO could be a build-a-figure, or another character entirely released as an exclusive, a gift-with-purchase, or in some other way. We're just going to have to wait and see!
2. Due to aliens, robots, and the rainbow coalition fashion designer for clones, there appears to be an almost infinite number of action figures that Hasbro can make from the Star Wars franchise. What type of longevity do you think the Indiana Jones line will have in comparison? How many grubby Germans, Russians, or local thugs can Hasbro make?
Depending on the rate at which Hasbro cranks out figures, it could be months or years. With repaints and repacks, we see 200 or more Star Wars figures in a year, but if Hasbro cranks out 50 or so Indy figures, it might get exhausted quickly. I'm sure the line will continue as long as fans throw down the cash, but that's the real trick-- will the brand thrive without the marketing push for a new movie?
I figure it's got 18 months essentially on credit. We'll probably see the line last through late 2009 without too much difficulty, but "Guy in Suit" figures are probably going to start becoming the most-requested figures, which will alienate kids, which is going to get old fast. The line still has lots of opportunity for growth, and I can see Hasbro wanting to keep doing it-- and the Joes, and everything else in 3 3/4-inch-- just to build up a ginormous mold library it can borrow from to make figures until the end of time. I mean, if you make a few decent guy-in-suit figures, that can be adapted to other properties Hasbro has, or will have in the future.
So in short, it's all up to you, and Hasbro's ability to properly determine the production run of each and every local thug and German and Russian. Make too many, you risk poisoning the line at retail, which kills it off real quick. Seeing where we're at as of Wave 3, it seems the core, quality figures could be done before we get to 2009.
3. Only wondering... it seems that the Targets in the OC area have not restocked with anything since I've been here. I'd been frequenting the closer locations at least once a day, sometimes at opening time, but have come out dry. In fact, in the three weeks that I've been here I've not purchased anything at Target except for the Kir Kanos/Carnor Jax Comic Pack (which I should have purchased from EE since these clear visors are awful- I thought about eBay but it's usually expensive and it seems the sellers don't typically indicate or know which version they have). Vehicles, Evolutions, and electronic lightsabers no longer have DCPI or item numbers on the shelves. I know Hasbro said that stores would begin phasing out the 30th Anniversary Collection this month, but like with most lines, this last Saga Legends wave has been an absolute nightmare for me to find. I found a single Shadow Stormtrooper before I left Texas, and I found one Utapau Shadow Trooper hidden under a shelf at a nearby Wal-Mart. (This Wal-Mart seems to have ROTS product that occasionally appears out of the blue... I saw a couple Jedi Starfighters and my boyfriend found a Boga with Obi-Wan under that same shelf recently.) Other than that, Toys 'R' Us seems to be the only store with a flowing stock of figures, but even then they haven't seemed to be restocking the more recent waves. As for my question... is there any information that points to these final Legends figures being re-issued in some capacity when the line reboots with The Legacy Collection/Clone Wars/Saga Legends? I still need to get my mittens on a Covert Ops trooper to go with my Mace Windu squadron, as well as Commander Neyo and a couple more Shadow Stormtroopers to protect my UV-ray-exposed Carnor Jax. If not, well, I guess I'll have to wait them out on eBay.
The final Saga Legends are a bit of a pain-- they ship at (mostly) one-per-case and a number of stores are backed up with older figures and aren't reordering the new ones. As such, there's a very good chance that they're "in the system" waiting to get dumped somewhere, like a Kay-Bee Toys or a TJ Maxx on clearance at some point in the future. I see them on occasion, but if you're hitting only one store every day, I would suggest widening your search. There are advantages to stalking a single store, but generally only in addition to checking out a few others. At one per case, these figures can be gobbled up by a single collector before you make it to the toy aisle-- if luck isn't on your side, at least checking out multiple stores can improve your odds, help you learn your new surroundings better, and potentially stumble on some great clearance finds.
4. The fine folk at Hasbro have stated again and again that there would be no "big" vehicle toys in the line unless they were featured in the upcoming "Clone Wars" animated series / cross-marketing orgy. The AT-TE appears in the trailer and "viola", we've got a sweet AT-TE coming our way to incinerate Barbie's¨ Dream House under the Christmas tree this year.
As there seem to rumblings of more big hunks of plastic coming our way AND seeing how Jabba's sail barge does appear in the new series (I spotted it in the latest trailer). Could we finally see Jabba's boss ride on the shelves of the local TRU? I've been patiently waiting since 1983 and it's not like there's any shortage of produced action figures to populate the thing (Heck, toss a recycled Slave Leia and bartender R2 in there, I won't complain).
Based on its Return of the Jedi appearance, the Sail Barge had about 10 minutes of screen time, at the end of which it blew up. In sharp contrast, the Millennium Falcon had prominent appearances in three big movies, hundreds of comic books, dozens of video games, several novels, and so on and so forth. That, and what do we see the Sail Barge do? It's basically a set piece-- it hovers, and there are a few guns on it. As a toy, it's really, really, really unexciting once you get past the "OMG JABBA HAS A SHIP DROOOL" phase, which I'm still on, frankly.
So for the Sail Barge to be viable, it would probably need to have some action scenes and a lot more screen time. If the market for big, $100+ vehicles explodes this year and Hasbro has to come up with new items to sell us, there's a safe bet this could be on a list of new ships to consider. I like the design, I like the characters that use the vehicle, but we have to really consider that as a toy, pretty much anything a large slab of cardboard could do would be what the Barge could do. That, and there's the whole cost thing-- if Hasbro makes a big ship, it's a really ridiculous investment in R&D, tooling, approvals, and so forth. It would have to be an item that could be sold and re-sold for years, and had some level of kid appeal to drive sales, and unless The Clone Wars changes everything, I don't see this as an option you'll see considered for the high-end treatment.
5. Obviously the entire community of collectors is simply thrilled to be
getting the AT-TE and the BMF, and Hasbro has strongly intimated that
their production of further large vehicles depends heavily on how well
these first two sell.
As such, which retail store do you think collectors should purchase
these two from in order to make sure that they sell through? At
Christmas time Toys'r'Us is inundated with parents desperate to get
their kids something so I reckon TRU should be taken care of by them
so collectors should avoid getting theirs there. KayBee's will charge
more than the others for theirs so should we bite the bullet to make
sure they sell through? Target has a habit of losing patience and
putting things on clearance, which would be a complete disaster.
Thoughts? I want a Tantive IV!!!
Basically, just buy it when you see it, or order it online. The important thing to do is make sure you're buying it, and helping stores to realize they should re-order and insist on carrying more, similarly sized items in the future. While I also want a Tantive IV I'm not too hopeful mostly due to the fact I can't see fans absorbing multiple huge ships, not just from a financial perspective, but after seeing some shots of the Falcon in a collector's room, space is a real concern. I'm not sure where or how to display it myself right now.
But yeah, buy buy buy. Hopefully you can find it!
I was lucky enough to find the Droid Factory sets over the weekend, but not Wal-Mart's new comic packs. Based on how the comic packs look, I might be OK with this. I must say the droids are excellent though, and for ten bucks a set these are one of the better exclusives in recent memory. And to think, I was figuring we wouldn't see much of anything fun before July 26 aside from leaks. It's almost a shame that the bulk of the astromech droids are only exclusives, as some of these could have made for some great figures. Although I gotta say Plo Koon's astromech might be a tough sell, it's still quite nice.
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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