Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
September 29, 2008
1. Do the collectors seeking profit want the production of star wars toys to cease, just so they can make money off of outdated junk? I'm sure i just stepped on a lot of toes but they can only make so many versions of the OT figs before every last character is produced and I'm tired of all the complaints the NT and Animated stuff gets. i mean call me naive but I collect for what this was originally destine for, FUN!
I don't mean to rant but collectors are going to have to warm up to the future of what star wars collecting is, "NT and Animated stuff in my opinion." I say that because animated stuff won't look right being produced in a realistic style! Who wants A realistic Worm Loathsome & I'll take the new animated version of the super battle droid over the movie version any day of the week! The style of it looks like something from the 60's which suits it just fine and they still haven't got the size right on the movie one or two or three...
I don't think I've really heard any fan regularly say that they wouldn't mind the line ending aside from me. Collectors seeking profit want profit-- I don't really think most fans who buy the stuff purely to flip it are as picky about what it is they're selling as long as there's a buyer. I'm sure a few fans out there are looking at their stashes and are saying "I have thousands of figures, I don't need another one" but have so much time and money invested that they want to see the line through-- and with the animated line, a lot of people are using this as a place to draw a line because it's not fun for some people. I look at collecting toys as a bit of a sport, to a point, assuming I can actually bag my quarry. (And when I can't, well, GameStop is on my "dead to me" list. I'm hoping to buy the Stormtrooper Commander from one of the made-in-China guys on eBay at this rate.)
As far as realistic vs. animated goes, the argument isn't so much that realistic is better, but that it's consistent. For new fans, the new animated line is a great jumping-on point, but for people who have been here since 1995 (or longer) it's just yet another visually incompatible toy line. Yes, some new characters will absolutely look better (or best) in animated style but that's really not the point. The point is Hasbro is that Wave 1 of The Clone Wars is basically another round of more of the same, which you have to admit is a bit of a downer. Given that maybe half of the figures released a year qualify as new characters, multiple waves of different-but-the-same toys is a bit of a bummer, wouldn't you say?
2. Instead of 1-of-every-figure, I'm trying to track down a few incarnations of my favorites, from Vintage to 2008--not paint/deco changes, but new molds/significant changes. What does your list look like for Boba Fett, Stormtrooper, and Bossk? For instance, the Bossks I have now are Vintage, POTF2, Saga (Executor Meeting), and VTSC.
This is probably the best way to collect, mostly because it's going to save you a lot of money. The problem with it is that I basically advocate getting everything for some reason or another, an exception maybe being the just-different-enough-to-make-you-mad figures in Battle Packs. For this kind of information, I'd suggest checking out my Figure of the Day column-- because the answer is going to change depending on what it is you're looking for. For example, the Capture of Tantive IV Battle Pack Stormtroopers have a better pose, but the ones in the Force Unleashed Kashyyyk Battle Pack have better articulation. (I wouldn't suggest the Vintage one due to discoloration in the plastic.) A good rule of thumb is to basically not buy anything from before 2000 unless you don't have a newer release to pick up.
3. Wondered if you have any opinion on whether the oddness happening in stock markets etc in the US will affect in any way how much product Hasbro will put out in the near future? I know you're not a Hasbro insider, but in your opinion, will all the economic-gobble-dee-gook going on make some in decision making departments think twice about how much spending power the average citizen has now and decrease proportionally either the number/variety of items or the quantities of each distributed? I mean, as you've pointed out numerous time, collectors are all over the map about how in debt they want to get for their hobby/addiction but there has to be some people who will either reduce the amount they buy or drop the hobby completely and that has to affect the numbers for Hasbro on some level. Maybe I'm jumping the gun here but there does seem to be a lot of doom and gloom in the news lately about slowing economies and comparing the falling stock market to Great Depression era stats. Maybe it just makes for better, engaging news?
If every collector quit buying tomorrow, the line would suffer-- but it'd still be doing better than Indiana Jones with its entire fanbase. History generally shows that economic slowdowns do cause people to buy less, but it seems entertainment doesn't suffer as much as, say, housing. People are still bored, sad, interested, or in need of gifts-- the market's downturn won't change the fact that we're still going to want to fill the Borsk Fey'lya-shaped hole in our lives as soon as possible.
I will say that we're probably all going to be very happy we have an AT-ST and Millennium Falcon right now-- the big crazy things may be less likely to happen, but then again, maybe not. If Anakin's new freighter from The Clone Wars, the Twilight, does well, maybe we'll see a big one of those. (I can hope.) Risky investments in the part of toymakers may be less likely, but you never know. Hasbro is difficult to read, and I say this as someone who has worked with the company in a variety of capacities short of actually being on their payroll. Most of what they do seems to come from what they want to do, and this may or may not have anything to do with external forces.
There are so many kids out there-- and kids tend to want toys, economy be damned-- that the line should be fine for quite a while. I see no reason we'd stop seeing Galactic Heroes, Transformers, basic figures and vehicles, and that sort of thing any time soon. There may well be enough toddlers out there to pick up some of the slack-- it may change the direction the line goes, but maybe not. Kids like weird aliens, droids, and clones too. Also, I've not many collectors throw in the towel-- they still buy, they just buy less. Still, stuff is selling, so I'm not presently worried. Again, just be thankful you don't collect Indiana Jones.
4. I've been wondering what is up with the Star Wars figures these past few years? The head sculpts are getting worse and worse! Core characters like Luke and Han aren't even recognizable anymore. The sculpts are soft and the paint is pretty bad too. Comparing the recent Tatooine Deleted Scene Han to a Han from the late 1990's and I personally think you would find the older sculpts are crisper and more accurate (aside from the beefier body of course). The Deleted Scene Luke doesn't look at all like Luke really. There is pretty much no Mark Hamill in that head.
So, yeah, we have better articulation now but what good is that if the figure itself looks janky? Is this just a sense of nostalgia on my part? The POTF2 figures are what got me into star Wars and action figure collecting (I'm 24 now). What are your thoughts on this trend in the more recent figures? It seems they started going down hill around Episode 2 or so. Don't get me wrong though: clones, aliens, droids, and other non-descript figured look great but the likenesses I think are terrible.
A lot of this, I think, is just different standards. For example, when you get right down to it, do any of the Luke or Han figures really look all that great? Those POTF2 figures in 1995 were horrible, the vintage figures were so stylized that they could be almost anybody, and very few humans really look like the person in question unless there are some very specific features to make people go "yes, that's so-and-so." (I'd say Tarkin is one of the better ones.)
Basically, at this scale, a perfect likeness is difficult if not impossible, especially on Hasbro's budget. Even a bad sculpt can be rescued with the right paint-- as I've pointed to before, Mighty Muggs all have the same sculpt, yet paint makes all the difference. People wear make-up to accentuate (or obfuscate) certain features-- the same can be done with toys, Hasbro just chooses not to. I'd say some figure likenesses are pretty good, and some, well, not. It's pretty hit-and-miss, but I am hard up to think of a human head based on an actor in the films that we've received since 2005 that has been perfect, or at the very least, a significant improvement. I think there must be something about Mark Hamill that is quite literally impossible to capture, ditto Harrison Ford. If Gentle Giant has trouble with it, and so does Sideshow, well, it's tricky then. (Although Diamond's new Han Solo Hoth 18-inch figure does look pretty great.)
5. I've been searching high and low for Revan and Malek at reasonable prices. (Less than $15 a figure) I've had no such luck. What do you think are the odds Hasbro will ever re-release them in the legends line?
I have two suggestions.
History tells me that we will see reissues of both somewhere, somehow, eventually. How? No idea. Maybe we'll see some Battle Packs, or perhaps "Legends" reissues as you suggest. But I wouldn't get your hopes up before 2010 unless fan outcry causes an abrupt change in Hasbro's to-do list.
So it seems a lot of you had questions about The Force Unleashed, some of which are spoiler-y. I'm going to touch on some of those next week, so be warned.
Re: Last week's column...
- The Temple of Akator playset for Indiana Jones is, apparently, out. I've never seen it, I still haven't seen it, so I'm taking your word on this.
- The Star Tours figure 5-pack with Rex, C-3PO, R2-D2, etc. is also apparently out. And it is now showing up on eBay, so I'm inclined to believe it.
For anyone that got the Star Tours set... is C-3PO different? I can't tell if it's the Endor version with jointed knees from the picture I saw... if it is, I guess it's the same, but if it's a non-kneed figure with a silver leg I might have to track it down. Variant hunters want to know!
Oh, and it seems Indiana Jones is basically on its way out-- this is good and bad. It seems the line is going to end before it spirals into the reissue hurricane we see in Star Wars, but before we see some collector-friendly figures. It's probably just as well as the property skews older, and I've met very few hardcore Indy collectors since this all got started this year. Well, that's a half-truth-- it seems LEGO is doing just fine with their products. (I'd say the LEGO Indy > Hasbro Indy, but that's me.)
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!