Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
September 15, 2008
1. As you know, 2009 is the 10th anniversary of TPM. Consequently, do you suppose that Star Wars product in the original Episode I packaging will sell better on eBay next year? I'm wondering whether I should hold off my auctions.
My initial reaction to this question was that it was someone setting me up for a great joke-- then I realized it's entirely possible that the world does not share my favorite stock answer, which was some variation on "burn them."
The bulk of the line from 1995-present was widely collected-- a number of fans bought one of everything to keep in the package, and many of them bought multiples. Episode I was overproduced to a ridiculous sense, and it's going to be more than 10 years before there will be any interest in it. I'd actually go with "forget it." Not all toys are destined to be collectible in the long run, actually very few are. For every old figure you can sell for a profit, remember that there are Playmates Star Trek figures worth a dollar or three each, years of now virtually worthless McFarlane figures, and piles of G.I. Joes which have outlived the collector attention span. The added problem with Star Wars is that many of the figures have since been reissued, often in superior forms.
The anniversary likely won't help. If you're seriously considering dumping your collection, my honest advice to you is to see if you can break even (or profit on) anything, and unload it. Give the rest to charity-- the $1-$3 per figure you will most likely get, less eBay and PayPal fees, is really not worth your time. The vast majority of recent collectibles based on the Lucas saga took a nose dive in terms of value and I think you'd be better off keeping it (hey, you might have kids some day) or setting fire to it.
...or if you're feeling saucy, hold on to all your vehicles for a while. If history is any indicator, fans will care about vehicles, and 5+ years later, they'll start being interested in the figures. I personally do not believe most modern figures will ever achieve any significant collector interest unless Hasbro stops bringing them out again, and again, and again with a series of improvements. Why should anyone pay you $7 for a Mace Windu from 1999 when Hasbro has a new one with a box of weapons, more articulation, a properly colored lightsaber, and a cloth cloak for $7 in stores now?
If you bought the stuff to get rich, well, breaking even is a really admirable goal. The figures aren't going to skyrocket next year (or likely ever) because so many people put them away 9 years ago that they will simply never be rare.
2. Where are the new build a droids from?any movie or EU? And how many will there be?My favorite astromech is now R7-Z0 with the triangular eye,reminds me of Plankton.
SO far, the build-a-droids come from a variety of sources. There are places you'll find the R4 units in the movies, you can look them up on resources like Wookieepedia or fan sites like this one. The R7s are squarely Expanded Universe, and little visual reference exists for them. The RA droids, well, you probably know the deal there.
As of now there is no final tally on how many build-a-droids will be made, as Hasbro has yet to confirm how long The Legacy Collection will be produced. Previous lines say we'll get 40-60 figures in a line, which means we're likely to get something like 10-12 droids-- unless Hasbro decides to keep it going, which we all hope they will.
3. I'm still not a huge fan of, nor will I be collecting in
great numbers the animated style toys. I think they are great as a
limited tie in with the show and do have a few which I will display in
stylized ways, but aside from the vehicles they do not work with my
existing collection and I simply can't (or don't want to) spare the room
or cash for something that doesn't work with everything else I have.
Do you feel that this is a widespread attitude and will it translate to
the line being a limited run not unlike the previous Clone Wars line? Do
you think there is much longevity in the animated style figures or will
Hasbro eventually merge the characters and give us realistically styled
figures of characters in the show? I especially would LOVE to see a
realistically styled phase 1 Scout trooper from the movie.
The ridiculous volume of releases since 2005 have basically made collecting Star Wars a nearly full-time job. (Thankfully, my full-time job requires that I pay attention to it.) More than boredom, fatigue, or anything else, we've all spent so much time and bought so much stuff that any deviation from the norm is almost enough to make a lot of fans throw in the towel. I've basically lost interest in the other toy lines I followed just because of the effort required to keep tabs on it all.
The obvious new divide-- animated vs. not-- may or may not be a good thing. A lot of fans said they won't buy any animated, but seem to be gradually warming up to the line. I just don't know where it's going to go. Frankly, I want one big line-- not two competing 3 3/4-inch lines. Seeing how the toony toys are dragging, it seems like a lot of fans probably won't be won over by the new releases because there really aren't any to go get. Being boring is typically what gets me to quit a toy line, a big gap means I stop paying attention and move on to something else.
Despite Hasbro's insisting that there won't be any (or many) realistic versions of cartoon figures, I disagree. Realistic clone repaints sell, and it makes sense that we'll eventually start seeing realistic versions of some of the animated clones. Or rather, it seems like a great, cheap repaint that would help Hasbro's bottom line-- why not do it?
I think they're pretty slick, but if Hasbro ended the cartoony line tomorrow I wouldn't miss it. I might change my tune eventually, but one consistent style is really where I think collectors want the line to go. I don't think that's where the money is, but I don't have access to Hasbro's books.
4. Do you know if the upcoming Ahsoka Tano Clone Wars figure will be smaller and more petite than the other figures in the line,like the more recent Princess Leia figures?
She's pretty dainty, but I have yet to play with a sample up close. I don't know if she'll be quite as small as the recent Leia figures, but she does seem to be smaller than other animated figures from what I saw at Comic-Con.
5. Do yo know of any good database or "pedia" type software for keeping track of your figure collection? I've reached the point I can't remember what I have and don't have anymore.
I have two suggestions.
1. Excel, or your favorite spreadsheet application. Nothing sorts, scales, or is as robust when collecting data. I love it for some things, and it is pretty widespread at offices across the world. You can always work on your collection lists at the office, for example.
2. If you don't know what you want, then you don't need it. No, really. This has worked wonders for me and other collectors. If you don't know what you're missing-- unless you're a variant hound who catalogs every minor change-- I would seriously consider letting those pieces go. Of course, this is coming from someone who has collected toys pretty much non-stop since 1989 and is at a point where he'd rather just enjoy the stuff he has for a while. But that's me.
A large personal investment of time is absolutely necessary to keep track of the line because no book (and as far as I can tell, no website) will ever mesh up with every collector's idea of what constitutes a "collection." Do you need all 3 TIE Bombers? Or the blue and red Battle Droids from Episode II in the deluxe and basic line? Your mileage may vary, and because of this I would suggest doing the research to write up a list of what you have and what you want on your own. If nothing else, you might be able to find some pieces you can skip.
You can skip this next part. You probably should. Seriously, this is just me being angry.
Man I hate GameStop. I used to love GameStop (and Babbages and its other stores)-- in high school and college, I made it a point to go to one or more locations weekly. I picked up something (a figure, a controller, etc.) pretty much every other time I stopped in, or went with someone who was buying. It's tapered off a little in recent years due to declining customer service... and you can probably guess why I'm pissed at them this week. You may have even had the same experience. I called a store on Saturday and asked if they had any of the Stormtroopers available with preorders. "Let me check," she said. Pause. "Yup, we've got a ton." I respond with "so I can come in today, right now, pre-order the game, and walk out with the figure?" "Yes you can." I informed her I'd be down there in a few minutes-- as I had not yet pre-ordered the game-- and I could get it. It takes me about 25 minutes to get there and park, and the guy behind the counter looks at me like I was insane. "Who did you talk to?" he asks. "Her, I assume" I respond, pointing to the only female employee in the store. He comes back and tells me that no, they don't have any. "She said you did-- and that's why I came here to give you my money." He just shrugs, she walks by and I say "so you don't have any despite my asking about it a few minutes ago?" and she says "nope."
Now that's fantastic customer service. I've been giving my business to other chains in recent years because of more and more incidents like this one. At least make it up to me or explain why you lied to me to get me in your store. Ugh. Well, here's hoping you had better luck getting your Stormtrooper Commander than I did. My guess is I'll be watching eBay until the market gets saturated or people get bored with them. Thanks for nothing, GameStop #3815, but I do appreciate your ensuring Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and/or Toys "R" Us gets my gaming business from here on out. Oh, and by the way, none of your feedback forms work on your web site. Which I assume is intentional. Excellent work there.
Shockingly, though, I managed to find both of the Wal-Mart Force Unleashed Stormtrooper packs last weekend at $15 a pop. I know a lot of people are down on yet more repaints, but as repaints go, these are pretty good. The really interesting thing I noticed about them was that it seems on the packaging, one of the mock-ups of the Incinerator Troopers is a repainted POTJ-era Sandtrooper (or OTC Carry Case Stormtrooper/Saga Imperial Forces Stormtrooper), while one of the Shadow Stormtroopers is a repainted Evolutions Sandtrooper (or Tantive IV Battle Pack Stormtrooper). The actual product is simply repainted VOTC Stormtroopers, which works just fine. If you like these. (And I do.) Here's hoping Hasbro puts them out again in the future, even though the pricing here is about as good as we're likely to get. Supposedly even more Stormtrooper repaints are in the game, which I'm sure would make someone a nice exclusive some day.
I do like these, but then again, I'm easy. And at this time, I've only played the Force Unleashed demo, so for all I know the weapons are all wrong. Still, they're neat figures. I'd love to see more of them, as long as they looked pretty cool, especially if Hasbro started making mini-vehicles to go with them. (Hint, hint Hasbro.)
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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