Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
September 1, 2008
1. Is it 1985 again?
Your final comments of [a recent] Q&A laid out the same picture.
Ewoks and Droids came out and its toys rocked for one last bit but ended up filling clearance pegs up to two years later.
(and GI Joe was rocking... swivel arm battle grip! ...however the "GI JOE Movie" w/ Don Johnson as LT Falcon pretty much signaled the downward spiral into neon-color-ness and silliness afterwards)
Is it "battle fatigue?" Are the fans tired? Have those diehards of the last 10 years finally moved on to something else? Not quite yet? Many have the TV show next year to look forward to... if that's still in the works. Or maybe only the few that are left are looking forward to it.
A Star Trek movie comes out this winter. GI Joe next summer (Hasbro's own sans Lucasfilm...) Competition? What does 42N-TLR have to say 'bout all that?
My godson is older now (grew up on the prequels) and is planning to sell off much of his collection ultimately holding on to only the fewest quality pieces of his stuff... and Clones. We saw the movie while I was on leave out west and even he said, "yeah, coulda waited for the dvd." (gasp)
I got the BMF. Its the USS Flagg of today. Enjoy it and the AT-TE 'cause I don't think we're gonna see big stuff again.
Oh, and I still want to see a 3 3/4" scale Colonial Viper with pilot and Cylon Raiders... Chances are...? Anyone out there listening?
Oh, so many issues! Let's start with the big stuff. As far as my comments, a lot of what I say here seems to be up to interpretation. Sometimes I'm intentionally vague, and other times, not. This was an unintentional time. I actually very much dug seeing The Clone Wars, but, as I say, remember I re-read the Marvel Star Wars comic books every few years and will sit through old cartoons on YouTube. I'm very curious about the places a franchise will go after it exhausts its main source of fuel. My biggest shock was really the audience non-reaction-- lots of big fans just decided to hold off because of the reviews, which I find baffling. We're Star Wars fans-- isn't seeing movies what we do? (Apparently not, given the recent sales of the new toys. It seems we're really collectors.) As far as I can tell-- and I could be wrong here-- the toy line is still doing just fine. We're drowning in new product, so Hasbro's biggest foible might have been releasing too much stuff at once in an off-season for toys. Still, they seem to be doing well enough.
A lot of you wrote back to my comments a few weeks ago, and the general answer was this: fans will not see it because they heard it might suck. I don't get it. We've been told Star Wars sucks for years, why start listening to critics now?
The toy aisles of 1985 and 2008 are so totally different, it's almost unfair to compare them. In today's marketplace-- and in pretty much every year since 1997-- Star Wars has some of the largest, if not the absolutely largest, boy's toys to be bought. Seriously, short of a bike, you can't do better than Star Wars. We have AT-ATs, Millennium Falcons, Royal Starships, and other ships of varying size, and most other toy lines rarely have a toy above the $50 mark. Granted, we'd all like more... and what we have this year is positively stunning. While some items are repaints, I think the toys of 2008 compare quite favorably with almost any line any year in the 1980s. While it seems very hard to believe that the line's best days are ahead of it, I think I said the same thing in 1999-- and we've had a decade of increasingly better products.
Some people grow out of things-- that's what happened in the 1980s. Kids who saw the original Star Wars got into girls, or college. Some moved on to G.I. Joe. Yet new fans would still come up and give the entire Return of the Jedi toy line a huge boost, it's just that it didn't have anywhere to go and the cartoons didn't do it for people back then. In today's market, a lot of parents know of all the big Hasbro franchises, as do adult collectors. Joe's doing ridiculously well this year, although I have my doubts the movie toys will excite kids as much as a potential subsequent TV show or a really good video game might. That, and I think collectors are decreasingly likely to jump ship to another line-- if you collect any post-1990 toy line for more than 5 years, your storage space is going to be limited.
I also have serious doubts both Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe will both hit theaters in 2009, especially in light of the delays of Star Trek and Harry Potter to next year.
As toy your Cylons, ask Diamond Select Toys. Hasbro's pretty much done with BSG.
2. Are the build a droid RA-7s supposed to be the Caretaker droid from Clone Wars? If not,I sure hope Hasbro brings it and Jabba's translator droid to us soon!
No. The black droid is 5D6-RA-7, and he was on the Death Star. This is his second action figure, and it's available now with The Legacy Collection Wave 3. You can tell Wave 3 was there because a lot of older figures showing up all of a sudden (Gree, Kashyyyk Trooper, etc.) have the new parts. The silver one is shipping with Wave 4, MB-RA-7, is a new version of the original 1979 Death Star Droid. There are no known plans for any protocol droids from The Clone Wars just yet.
3. In terms of material, quality, value, paint apps, and selection, what do you think of the new 10" Gentle Giant Animated Maquettes just up for pre-order versus the newly announced 6-7" Koto ArtFx Vinyl model kits? I saw the Koto prototypes of the troopers and am excited about those and I'm sure GG will have more maquettes but can't find any release dates.
Do you have any experience with either company?
I've got some stuff from each company, and it all depends on what you're looking to buy. Kotobukiya's products are more stylized-- there's an obvious influence from their other products here, and you don't see the same sense of realism you get from Gentle Giant. Their realistic statues have slightly Asian features in their human faces, and their R2-D2's dome doesn't really look all that fantastic. Meanwhile, the Kotobukiya Royal Guard is gorgeous, and their Attack of the Clones-style Clone Trooper statue is one of my all-time favorite collectibles. (Despite its helmet inaccuracies.)
Gentle Giant's animated maquettes are some of my favorite collectibles of any kind. The detail and sculpting were always awesome, and I see no reason for these to be any different. I loved what I saw in person at Comic-Con, and I would bank on Gentle Giant's being slightly better. Koto's are cheaper, though, and they're coming out of the gate with a larger selection of characters than Gentle Giant.
Koto's stuff tends to be slightly more forgiving if you should drop it or bump into it, whereas Gentle Giant's resin pieces are much more likely to shatter or crumble. No matter which item you pick, there are going to be pros and cons. My advice to you would be wait and look at them in person, and also wait to see which line has more of what you want. With two similar competing lines in the marketplace it's entirely possible one (or both) will fold before getting to your favorites, and it sucks to switch mid-stream. As such, I'd say wait until November for new announcements, or wait until early next year to see what's going to be hot. Interest in both lines has caused secondary market prices to plummet, so even if you miss them at retail you might be doing yourself a favor in the grand scheme of things.
4. Seeing as how we might get a "medical frigate" Luke, it made me think of question I wanted answered since the first time I saw Empire. Vader obviously cuts Luke's hand off at the wrist, so why on the medical frigate does 2-1B replace his forearm as well? Not a toy question, but I thought you might know.
Because it looks cooler. I think it's purely so, visually, it was more striking. Subtlety doesn't usually pay off as special effects are concerned, so a lot of things-- like the Carbonite block, for example-- are exaggerated to give it a little more emotion and a little more zing. And, as you can see, it worked.
From the perspective of the story? Well, it's possible they had to goof with his arm a little to get it to function, I suppose. Like if you want a tire on something, you can't just slap a tire on it-- you need to put an axle in there too, and other bits and pieces to allow it to spin properly. Perhaps the assembly needed to be implanted in his arm to make the hand work. But I think mostly it was just the effects department wanting something that, visually, said it all.
5. I know Hasbro checks out various forums. Which forums would be the best to suggest something? I would love to see R5-X2 and R5-A7 as the Build-a-Droids for an Episode 1 wave! They have slightly different shaped heads than the current R5, and I would prefer the more accurate sculpt over a repaint.
If you genuinely want to get a message out, post often, and post everywhere. You never know who's reading what or if you can get enough people in your corner for Hasbro to care. However, by my estimates most forums have so few active members that you probably won't register a big blip, especially for this particular topic.
I dislike using phrases like "lost cause" but the chances of Hasbro tooling a new dome for a figure rather than using what's already finished and paid for is pretty unlikely. If I were in their shoes, I'd do a repaint too. The slight difference in domes between Episode I and Episode IV-- and it is slight-- isn't going to hurt sales if Hasbro just did a repaint. Actually, most fans aren't going to notice, especially since what we're looking at is a bonus piece/accessory. While there are fans that care and complain online, most people who buy any droid are completely unaware of errors when they are made. (Take R3-T2.) They just like the colorful little robot.
If you actually see R5-X2 and R5-A7, and you very well might, specialized domes are pretty unlikely. I'm not saying they'll never do it, but put yourself in their shoes. You're at a huge company that, on occasion, posts a profitable quarter. You have a toy line where you know a number of fans will buy anything you make to a point-- you just sold a wave of figures from a video game that wouldn't come out for another half of a year. And now, you have a chance to make a toy line so that you can repaint a droid and put the budget dollars elsewhere for sculpting either a new head for a comic pack or maybe even an entirely new figure which may be able to be repainted and keep the line moving. Repaints are extremely important to the bottom line, and Hasbro and Lucasfilm are willing to let authenticity slide a little when redeco figures are concerned. It's possible Lucas Licensing may demand pointy domes, but I have a hard time imagining it.
This week's column is dedicated to Apples. Apples was a guinea pig who often sat and watched me type this column until she got bored and then squealed for food or attention. She also did some noises on a few podcasts I did for work. As rodents go, she was one of my favorites. She dropped dead rather suddenly on Saturday, and she'll be missed.
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!