Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
July 21, 2008

 

1. While stopping by Walmart today to see if they had finally decided to restock their Star Wars pegs, I was taken by surprise when I saw a slew of new figures; Vader with the cool 2-piece mask, the new Ewoks, the whole "sand storm scene" bunch, Yarna, and many more in the new "clone face" packaging!
I was very excited to be seconds away from purchasing them, just because I haven't seen "new" figures in a while, and I was pretty thrilled about the build-a-droid concept too! (Finally, a useful pack-in!) BUT, to my dismay, as I presented them to the cashier (who at least was courteous & sympathetic to my situation), the scanner simply said "Do not sell".
I thought it must have been some sort of joke! They finally put out new figures, but wouldn't sell them to me! The lady tried, and tried to scan them, but no price appeared, only "do not sell"!
Has this happened to anyone else? I have already wrote-off Target for raising their prices, now Walmart is playing tricks on me. I'm very discouraged now.
Even if they were put out before the release date, which I've found stuff ahead of time in the past, but I've never seen a "do not sell" come up.
Is this something new Hasbro has created to ensure stores comply with release dates? It just feels so unfair to be "toyed" with like that!
--BJ

This does indeed happen-- I've even had a similar problem with a Transformers exclusive a few years ago. I read it's available at a specific store on a Transformers forum, and after work, I go there to get it. There's a big sign for it, a price thing for it, and piles of them. And they refuse to sell it, despite the fact someone bought one earlier and shared the receipt with the world. So what can you do?

I personally feel that if something is on the shelf on the floor, that's an offer to sell it. The average consumer is unaware of things like toy street dates, and if you stumbled on a DVD or game early, you can be damned sure that they'd sell it to you. Unless, of course, there's been a recall, or the item has a clear warning on it like "This is alcohol, and you are not 21." I don't like to be a hassle for toy store employees, but when it comes to stuff like this, I have no problem being a total pain in the ass. Once the item is made available to you, you need to be allowed to buy it-- period. If they don't sell it to you, they need to make it up to you. These are outcomes to this experience which I have personally experienced or have had relayed to me over the past nine years of writing this column:
1. Befuddled employee looks at you and says "how much is this supposed to be?", rings it up, and lets you have it.
2. Store refuses to sell item and won't explain why. Customer moans and demands to see the manager until satisfied, which may result in a free in-store gift card, being allowed to get the item to shut them up, or nothing at all.
3. Once item is scanned at price scanner, an employee rushes out of nowhere and immediately begins dumping stuff in cart as if some alarm went off somewhere so nobody else gets it.

When it comes to getting items out of the back, I can understand why stores have their policies to not root through cases until they find the figure(s) I want. But once it's on the store? You don't have to take any crap from anybody. It's not your problem, it's an offer to sell you a product-- and if nothing else, I would say you need to demand a gift card or sale of the product.

Of course, I have an agenda-- I think street dates for toys are a load of crap and need to be done away with. Stores will always-- ALWAYS-- make a mistake and items will get out. Movie, book, music, and video game release dates have been consistent for years-- new stuff is typically put out on Tuesday. Toy release dates happen, generally, no more than once or twice a year. And I can also say that a lot of the cases for these products are not marked with any date restrictions. How is an employee supposed to know he can't sell me Wave 2 Titaniums if, nowhere on the box, does it indicate they shouldn't be sold?

I know some of you have told me you like release dates. You're in the wrong here. This whole thing is a PR stunt so people can write stories about it for the paper or local news and we can be used as part of the marketing for our own hobby. These sort of things place a level of importance on this sort of consumer product which, frankly, it doesn't deserve. It's also worth noting I went to 3 Targets on my drive home on Friday, 2 of which had nearly complete Clone Wars displays set up and filled with product. Not everything, but a lot of things. This is yet another reason why street dates do not work.

2. im just kind of concerned about getting the at te and falcon on july 26th the reason is , i gave the dpcis for target and now they say the street date for there stores are 8/3/08 which kind of shocks me because i thought all major retail was suppose to get them on7/26. I believe toysrus midnight madness might be alright to track them down but i dont know why Ma and Nh targets are saying thats when the'll be put out i dont know if thats the same everywhere or is just target stores. Do you know anything about this? Im hoping toysrus in manchester Ct will have them both. I spoke with a employee and over the phone and said there suppose to have the falcon that event.
--Paul

The Millennium Falcon started being sold by Toys "R" Us Canada a month ago, and I found AT-TEs in a Wal-Mart on July 9. It's possible some stores may not have all the toys on 7/26 (lord knows this always happens) so you may need to stop at multiple locations of a store or multiple stores to find everything you need on 7/26. Some employees will make up a date to screw with fans. As such, go to the store anyway and if they refuse to sell it to you, let them know that Wal-Mart and other stores will be happy to take your money.

3. Any idea why there's so much stuff getting repacked for the 7/26 Clone Wars launch? I can't remember this ever happening with the line debuts for the other movies. In fact, unless I'm compeltely mistaken, I don't think there were ANY repacks for the prequel midnight madness events.
--R. J.

There were very few. For Episode I, Hasbro repackaged the STAP in new packaging-- the line itself was a complete reboot and no new Original Trilogy products were sold for several months. The Attack of the Clones/Saga relaunch was also a total reboot, and the repacks didn't come for a while-- but a few items, like the Jedi Starfighter, were still available. Revenge of the Sith had a lot of retools and repaints, but very few repacks.

This time around, it seems Hasbro was blindsided by the theatrical release of The Clone Wars as it came a little late in the development cycle. Much like the Original Trilogy Collection of 2004, it seems (key word: seems, I haven't confirmed this with Hasbro) that the company was in a rush to put together an entire line for a summer release date and this is what they came up with. Given Legacy Wave 2 was delayed from this Spring, and we saw no new products released for months, this seems to be what happened here.

It is extremely baffling as to why they want to include Legacy as part of a launch event for a new film. Considering the press and hype for the Falcon, I can get why that one item is getting special attention. But Luke in a scarf? Really? It would seem that while it makes no sense to us, it has to do with trying to keep things simple for retail-- just hold back everything, and that way, stuff from the new project won't get out early.

Unfortunately, it's always-- ALWAYS-- possible to get this stuff early if you try. For Saga, I was driving around a month before the release and picked up several figures early. For Revenge of the Sith, numerous Wal-Marts just put the stuff out and don't care. This time around, I'm seeing scores of items at Wal-Mart and Fry's Electronics, of all places. While I personally agree with the idea that repacks make the line look bigger, and it's great to give the new people coming in a shot at some of this stuff, it's a safe bet a lot of it is going to clog pegs quickly.

...well, maybe not. I mean, the Saga Legends line does OK, and the 4 repacks in the build-a-droid waves-- Battle Damaged Vader, the EVO Trooper, Commander Gree, and the Kashyyyk Trooper-- all have been consistent sellers around my neck of the woods. I'm sure it'll probably be just fine, for now at least. In short, it all boils down to kids not knowing what half this stuff is and it's all new to them, and the fair-weathered collectors who only collect at these Midnight Madness things because they have no idea there's more new stuff to come. I've been in stores and heard people ecstatic that they were finally making Star Wars figures for the first time in years... uh... what?

4. You know what would be awesome? A wave of figures based on the Dejarik holochess creatures. Or beast packs, whatever... The could be designed as actual characters in the same scale and style as regular figures. Hasbro could even include (or reissue as a repaint) a version that was translucent so you could make your own actual size holochess set. Good idea, huh? Tell them to do it.
--Antoine

Well, I've been lobbying for this for a while-- at this point I'm going to need fans to assist me so they won't think it's just the ravings of a single madman hoping to get his favorite figures made again. So step up, fanboys and fangirls, be sure to mention the Dejarik monsters-- specifically the Mantellian Savrip-- every chance you get.

5. After a long drought of Padme figures, there is a good number of them coming out this year, with a few more rumored to be on the way. But in a recent Hasbro Q&A, Hasbro stated that they are want to get out one per year from now on. I think that if Obi-Wan, who has one costume, gets 3 or more figures a year, Padme, with almost 40 costumes, deserves the same number if not more. What do you think about Padme? Does she deserve more figures, and if so which costumes would you like first?
--luedersb

From a fan perspective, it always makes sense that a company go and make every unique outfit. From a production perspective, sales are king-- and it makes sense to follow the dollars. Despite being pretty much all the same, Hasbro has managed to crank out multiple versions of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the exact same costumes year after year, and they are consistently big sellers. Kids know Obi-Wan, as do fans, and will shell out the money to get him. Padme, on the other hand, tends to not do as well but it's hard to say entirely if this is customer's fault or Hasbro's fault. When faced with poorer sales, Hasbro would say "well, people aren't buying up Padme figures, so we better not make as many per year."

Problem is, very few have been made as of late and it's hard to say if that's really an issue of "the market has spoken" or Hasbro just not making enough great products. By my count, we had preggers Padme in 2005 (which didn't sell all that great and was brought back in 2006 and can still be bought today), and this pretty much ruined things. The much more colorful, eye-catching costumes haven't been around in ages and one of the things Transformers designers always go on about is the importance of color. Kids see a figure and say "I want the green one" or "I want the blue one" a lot of the time. If the only individually carded Padme figure available over the past three years was a pregnant, oddly painted, earth-toned release, it seems we're dealing with one of those fancy-pants self-fulfillng prophecies. To make things worse, this year's only confirmed Padme figure is a resculpt of a Target exclusive that went on such extreme clearance that I could have bought dozens of the entire Battle Pack she came in for under $5. Sadly, it seems less like Hasbro is ignoring fan requests, but is ignoring the fact that their choices for figures aren't exactly the best possible ones to inspire sales of the character.

To armchair-quarterback things, I'd say Hasbro should crank out at least 1 or 2 "gown/dress" Padme figures to see how those do before putting her in the one-per-year category. It seemed to me the Amidala figures from Power of the Jedi did well, and were quite distinctive. The weird make-up, unique dresses, and (somewhat) interesting colors made these figures really stand out, especially the super-cool Theed one which I still hold as one of my all-time favorite action figures. If Hasbro wanted to do well with Padme as a character, they would need to be slightly better about which outfits get released, and how they get released. As it is, it seems that this year's selections may very well continue the character's position as a poorly selling release. Which is unfortunate.

FIN

It seems a lot of stores have thrown up their arms over the street dates issue-- stuff is selling, and briskly. Wal-Marts and Targets here in Los Angeles are putting stuff out, as are Fry's Electronics. Everybody-- and I mean everybody-- put out Transformers Animated early as well, so maybe we're seeing stores basically say "screw it" and move on. (I will say, too, that some cases are not stamped with 7/26 markings-- I've seen at least a few Titanium assortments with no such restrictions.) I just want people to sell stuff, period. Of course, this probably means I've already missed the 7/26 exclusives, and since I'll be at Comic-Con, odds are if I ever get Commander Fox or Holo Grievous, it'll be down the road after fan interest-- and prices-- are reduced greatly. Ah well.

Speaking of new stuff, I spent about three or four hours Saturday trying to get one of my toy display areas in order. I haven't really done a good job keeping on top of it since 2005, and we're about due for a cyclone of new stuff to hit. So, with any luck, I'll have it more or less in good shape soon. I won't, but it makes me feel good to think I will.

I spent a chunk of the weekend getting ready for next week. As the only regular poster on Galactic Hunter at Comic-Con, uh, well, I don't know what to tell you to expect in the way of coverage. Odds are I'll do some bits and pieces for you but I'm going to be in a lot of meetings and doing podcasts for work (you see, as someone who works in the industry, I don't get to go to shows to cover/enjoy them except as an afterthought). So you might be seeing more up-to-the-moment coverage elsewhere, but if you want to know what I saw and why I hate it, be sure to check this very site over the coming weeks.

I also spent a lot of time looking for more tackle boxes. I found another brand I like, finally, and it's priced right too. So yeah, wasn't easy, it seems someone is beating me to the stores and cleaning most of them out before I buy them all. (If you weren't aware, nothing is better for storing action figures than a clear plastic tackle box-- if you can find the right make and model. I thank/blame current/former? SW fan Ryan Silva for this knowledge.)

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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