Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
August 11, 2008
1. I just bought the new SAGA Legends Plo Koon. I love the way Hasbro has answered collector's requests to provide extra Clone Weapons! My CLONE GEAR locker included a Repeater Pistol, DC-15 Blaster, DC-17 Blaster Rifle, EMP Launcher & Droid Blaster(Battlefront II Multipack), and a Blaster Rifle(ROTS Jet Pack Trooper Deluxe Figure). I remember reading in a Hasbro Q & A that weapons from Battlefront II were going to be packed in with SAGA LEGENDS. Do you know what other Battlefront II specific blasters are supposed to be included? I would love to get an extra Chaingun or Merr-Sonn PLX Rocket Launcher. Are all CLONE GEAR Lockers going to have the same assortment of weapons with every figure or will different ones be packed randomly?
As of today, every single one includes the same assortment of weapons-- no changes. What you see is exactly what you're going to get in every pack. It's entirely possible they will refresh which weapons are included as molds wear out or as they need to increase sales somehow, but for now, that's it.
2. Any chance we will see a re-release of the plain white clone trooper animated with a long rifle?
I'm kind of shocked that it wasn't packed as an extra in the first place! I feel a little cheated since the figure had all three weapons when it was first pictured at Toy Fair. If there is anything you can do to convince them that this is a big mistake on the companies part, considering the image on the card is holding the longer rifle. The rifle is at very least the most recognizable gun that they carry. Maybe even a special offer to buy a pack of the animated version of this rifles online or something?
It's possible-- the basic white Clone is a little dirty, so as the line goes forward (assuming the animated style sticks) it's likely we'll see exactly that in the long run. Hasbro frequently changes the product from early images and the packaging images, so really, there's not much you can do here. I wouldn't expect extras unless they eventually find their way into a refreshed weapons locker, or are packed with another clone figure in the future. Which, I'd say, is probably the most likely thing.
3. What are your impressions of the new figures? I have found the Clone Wars series to be somewhat disappointing excepting that awesome R2 and pretty much any of the clones. Grevious is well-named for grevious error. I can't keep mine standing for more than 5 minutes at a time. The Jedi figures are all better than I expected, but the cream of the crop for me are the "realistic" Clone Wars figures. Clone armor Obi-Wan is my favorite, but all of them are great. I personally feel that Hasbro hit it out of the park on that 2nd wave of Legacy. So, what are your general thoughts?
I'd say you pretty much nailed it. Those "realistic" Clone Wars figure in The Legacy Collection are so good, it's almost like a point where they should just call the line quits and go out on a high note. (And looking at waves 3 and 4 this year... yeah.) They're all pretty excellent, and any faults I find in them are minor quibbles. The SCUBA Trooper turned out amazingly well, and Obi-Wan is wonderful. I don't think I could ask for much more out of that wave, except maybe knees on the Quarren and Mon Calamari figures.
The animated line is all over the place. Hasbro said they tried to merge the CG style with realistic proportions, and I think the end result looks pretty good. I'll write them all up in Figure of the Day soon (probably sooner than later), but here's the short version.
Clone Trooper: great sculpt, good design, longer than needed legs, but lots of fun.
Captain Rex: see above.
R2-D2: possibly one of the best figures Hasbro has ever made with the Star Wars license. By not owning it, you are part of the problem. Buy two, they're so good you'll want one to play with at school or work too.
General Grievous: Can't stand well, has no foot holes. Legs aren't positioned well. Great weapons, love the swappable arms.
Battle Droid: looks like it's wooden. Head's too small. Can't stand very well.
Yoda: good enough, I guess. More a statue than a toy, not groundbreaking, but cute enough. Should be a great seller.
Anakin Skywalker: Good sculpt, the knee joints are notably absent. Love the rappel line accessory and extras. The head sculpt is pretty great.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: see above, only more so. Why not just reuse the clone legs? The fact that it's an alternate head instead of a removable helmet is pretty slick. Not sure I like the head sculpt all that much.
Overall, for a new line, I give it a B. Which is good, really, as Grievous is actually pretty iffy. I wish Hasbro stuck with the realistic style just because the ones they just put out are so incredibly awesome and fun that I can't put them down. Hasbro says they have big plans for the line in this style, but it seems very slow out the gate and I gotta say I'd almost rather see 2-3 waves of "toon" figures per year with the lion's share of them being in realistic style in the Legacy line. There's really no reason they couldn't do an R2-D2 as good as this in the realistic style, and yet another armored Obi-Wan figure would probably sell well. Heck, I'm a little antsy that I don't have a "Season 3"-style realistic Anakin with his robes and armor yet. Right now I'm viewing the line in animated form as a great curiosity, like another Droids or Ewoks, as I don't think I can maintain the enthusiasm for it after several waves, or for that matter, years.
4. Do you think that Hasbro and, by extension, Lucasfilm, gets irritated that when they spend all this time & money putting together their booth & presentation for ComicCon 2008, they, not only not show us no more then 10% new product, but most of what was there was confirmed up to 2 months prior to the date via their Q & A's? Is it just a matter if time before they stop going to ComicCon 2008 and other conventions and just release all new products via their websites as they see fit? Hasbro must be a big enough company where Wal-Mart/Target/other vendors can go to THEM, vs. they have to showcase for the retailers?
Ultimately, I think whatever causes buzz and sales makes both Hasbro and Lucasfilm very happy. Comic-Con showed us a lot of new stuff, like scores of Battle Packs, lots of new figures (many of which would have been debuted had it not been for Celebration Japan), and of course, those giant $50 Battle Packs.
Lucasfilm and Hasbro exploit all of their channels to capture interest in various places. For example, in New York Toy Fair, Hasbro wants the media to come by and get people talking about their stuff on the news and, of course, online. (It used to be a retailer show for them, today, not so much.) Comic-Con exists as a major public showcase, and most people who walk through Hasbro's booth in San Diego aren't the die-hard collectors that read Q&A columns like this one (and to a lesser extent, so says the traffic, Hasbro's.) 100,000 people buy tickets to the show, and that's nothing to sneeze at-- based on sales figures I've managed to finagle through various channels (thanks, Target!) I can tell you there aren't that many collectors buying the line. That booth, with G.I. Joe, Transformers, My Little Pony, Marvel, Indiana Jones, and everything else, is one of the biggest advertisements they have. People can walk up and see new toys they would never hear of otherwise, because very few buyers are actively interested in the goings-on of the fan community. Were it not for that show, a lot of people wouldn't know what to ask for when their birthdays roll around, and a lot of magazines wouldn't have anything to talk about that month. It's a very unique kind of specialty marketing.
Even if Hasbro revealed 100% of the line prior to Comic-Con, it's an important (and increasingly necessary) avenue of promotion and a way to distribute warm fuzzies via free posters and exclusive products. It serves a function, and that's to get fans excited and talking. If every collector was hardcore-- and if you read this column and the questions it gets, I can assure you, they're not-- this would be a different matter. There are maybe a few thousand fans who would fit the "hardcore" bill (as in, knowing what's coming out and keeping tabs on everything) at best-- so Comic-Con is a great way to make sure fans (and yes, even some retail buyers like myself) can see what's new. (This may surprise you, but a lot of business gets done on the Comic-Con show floor.)
As to how Hasbro actually showcases its wares to vendors... I'll save that for a chapter or two in the coffee table book that nobody wants me to write just yet.
5. I purchased an AT-TE at midnight madness. I waited a few days before I opened it. Tonight I opened it and to my dismay discovered that the legs are unable to support the weight of the body and simply pop off. I have yet to get the thing to even stand on all six legs. Once the first leg pops off, three or four more follow. It is completely useless. I spent half an hour trying to get all six legs on at the same time. I went on the web and found that there are numerous other complaints of exactly the same thing happening. Some people have said that they have contacted Hasbro customer service and been told that their product is defective. How many reports of this have you been hearing? For a 100 dollar toy to not even be able to stand and support its own weight goes beyond the pale. I am going to return the [freaking] thing and never buy another vehicle again.
If you're actually going to return it and never buy another one again, why are you asking me? Your mind's already made up.
I get very few positive reports of any kind. People only write me to complain. Because of this I'd say it's hard to tell what the real defect rate is. Easily a few fans are upset, but in the grand scheme of things, that's not many. I've had some problems with the center legs coming off, but I have to say after the first week it hasn't happened again, and I can't even be sure why.
As to why these things break apart, you can thank your legislators. The toy industry is held to a number of standards, some of which are great for everybody (no lead paint) and others are just annoying (minimum projectile lengths, "the drop test.") What we're seeing here is most likely due to "the drop test," which I've just recently had the pleasure of praising after an earthquake. The idea of the "drop test" is that, when dropped, a toy has pieces pop off rather than shatter or break other parts of the toy. This prevents jagged pieces of plastic from coming into being, thus helping little Billy from experiencing shrapnel at too young an age. A few toys, notably the giant Transformers release Brave Maximus, were denied sales in the USA because of this test. I had a Unicron toy fly off a shelf a couple of weeks back, and when I came home, just a couple of bits fell off-- the toy itself was intact and not permanently damaged. If the AT-TE's legs were too securely fastened, it is possible (or so I'm told) it could tear off a chunk of the hull, which would be bad.
Of course, this isn't to say there isn't another mechanism for fastening the legs which would have been better, but I think you can thank the designers at ILM for giving us a fantastic design which probably wouldn't hold up too well during a real battle.
My advice to you would be to just return it, and hold off for one later on. If you thought it was good enough. (I'm still not convinced it was, it's neat enough, but it's not as much fun as the Royal Starship from 1999.) Hasbro sometimes tweaks the molds as the line goes on, so here's hoping it gets better.
Last week, some wonderful soul posted what appears to be the entire run of Droids to YouTube. While I'm not a big advocate of piracy, I'm a huge advocate of watching things I want to see. (And Lucasfilm, I've got money if you've got DVDs with the Fromms in them.) I haven't seen the Trigon episodes in years, and I stayed up late watching a couple of them with a big dumb grin on my face. I'm not sure what this says about me, but based on how much people seem to trash 1980s Star Wars television projects, these still seem about as good as I remember them. I should also point out I own a complete collection of the original Transformers season box sets, so maybe I'm not the pickiest person when it comes to reliving my childhood through television.
I will say, though, that it irks me these episodes aren't available on home video, and none of the episodes are available with the original music in the half-hour episode format. There's probably a decent audience out there, especially if an exclusive figure can be packaged with the discs. (Hey, I'd buy it.)
If you have the time, I suggest you check these out before they're all pulled and it's another 20 years before you can see them again. It isn't brilliant TV, but it is what it is-- Star Wars for kids who not 30 minutes earlier were probably watching episodes of The Snorks and The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo. If you can appreciate these old shows for what they are, rather than trash them for what they aren't, you may be in for a wonderful time. Especially the first four-- you'll see Boba Fett's protocol droid, a lightsaber, gangsters, Imperial Shuttles, and a bunch of other goodies.
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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