Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
November 24, 2008


1. I've been biding my time (holding out) on purchasing the Big Falcon. Ditto the AT/TE. Was at Walmart yesterday and there's at least 18 of 'em sitting high up on the shelves above floor merch. Obviously, Target has a penchant for putting stuff on clearance within weeks ... why is it Walmart is so behind the eight ball when it comes to slapping on red tags? Yet I found about 3 dozen Death Star Troopers for $4 and Vintage Hoth Han and Endor Leia for $5; which is sad since those figures are almost 18 months old!!!! Any chance of seeing a 50% off the Falcon before Christmas at any retailer???

While strange things do happen in retail, I'd wager any significant widespread discount of these items before December 26 isn't terribly likely. Target is consistently the most clearance-happy retailer in the USA, while Wal-Mart will slap clearance tags on products and not change the price. It's an interesting difference.

The holiday season's buying patterns may change things, but that's yet to be seen. It's not uncommon for armies of moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and grandfathers to buy every last toy out there simply because they have to buy little Bobby something. A lot of people last year went on about how they were going to buy the Target ARC Fighter and Ultimate Battle Packs on clearance, and in many markets there simply wasn't an opportunity. It's difficult to predict the market, but the one thing I can tell you is that if these items do sell out, odds are it's going to be a while before they start to go up in value. Fans aren't eager to pay more than $100 for anything, and since we're already at that point, if you end up missing these for some reason, odds are eBay will be kind to you. (Not super-kind.)

As of today it certainly looks like there's no shortage of these items, but the holiday shopping season isn't really kicking off until right about now. Given various economic factors, it's a very exciting year for armchair quarterbacking, and I'll be watching the industry-- as I hope you all will-- to see what happens. But seriously, don't expect to see these for half price before the holidays have run their course... and even then, it might not happen. For all I know the stores actually ordered conservatively.

2. Have you had any notion of wavering on your "one of everything" habit? I'm on the fence:

1. Lars Homestead - I refuse to pay $50. But $30 in TRU coupons may convince me to cave.
2. Pirate TIE Fighter [Adam's note: This is the Ecliptic Evader TIE Fighter]- $53??
3. Crucible EE [Adam's note: This is a Diamond/Previews exclusive, not Entertainment Earth] set - The price tag isn't the kicker - but these figures are terrible. The Power Rangers comparison is obvious. This is one of the few products made by Hasbro that I just HATE by looking at it.
4. Geonosis Arena Creature pack - I think you would have defined this set as "different enough to make you mad" $60 has helped me avoid this so far.

And by the way - I did draw the line with the animated figures. I have a couple, but that's it. "Unfortunately", the vehicles seem cool enough....

Do you think our membership to this club is dwindling more than ever? Perhaps the economy has more to do with it than toy selection. Perhaps in better times, I would already have purchased the 4 things I mentioned.

As always, my business is Hasbro's to lose. And they are losing it in bits and pieces. For example, while I still buy all the 3 3/4-inch figures, playsets, and vehicles, that's it. The other areas are a little more pick-and-choosey, I used to pick up all the blasters, lightsabers, and Transformers. That's no longer sensible. Hasbro has gone from releasing around 20 figures a year to circulating over 200 a year-- unless you see toy collecting as your chief form of entertainment, it's expensive. (Case in point: 15 basic figures in the TAC line, 29 in Legacy, 18 in The Clone Wars, plus various comic packs, battle packs, exclusives, Evolutions, and so on in this seemingly slow year. And we haven't even started on vehicles yet.)

Due to what I do-- which is different than most collectors-- yes, I'm going to buy everything for the action figures. I work on this site, my day job does involve a large amount of know-how surrounding this line, and frankly, it's what I like to do. A lot of collectors still buy everything, and if you watch the various forums you'll see just how dedicated we as a group still are. Angry fans say that they don't like a set, so they're going to show Hasbro their displeasure by buying only one rather than two. Love it or hate it, a lot of us are in this for the long haul, even though it's not always a pleasant trip.

So for now, yes, I'm still in this for the long haul. A lot of what I do is to buy things, examine them, and report back to you on what's good and bad about them. I enjoy the act of tracking down and looking the products-- especially the bad ones-- and I hope you get something out of it, too. I believe it's important to try and get as much information out there as possible, and while there's a lot you can get off the forums, some things don't get examined in detail. So yes, I'm going to keep buying this stuff, thank you for asking.

3. Do you have any idea why the Hasbro Star Wars Titanium die-cast vehicles retail for $7 ???? If you compare them to say...oh, perhaps the Mattel Disney Cars characters, which retail for $3.50 each, they are TWICE as expensive. Both are licensed brands, and both use about the same amount of metal, plastic, paint apps, etc. The only main difference is that the Titanium vehicles come with a plastic display stand. Still, this shouldn't make the price double. What gives??? Is Hasbro, or Lucas just greedy? Why don't they lower the price on those things????

In addition to different licensing fees, rising labor costs, and royalties, it's largely simple economics. Hasbro and retailers bumped up the price of figures in 1999 because the market could take it-- the demand is high enough that the business end of this hobby certainly can charge more. Since fans continue to pay it, there's no reason to drop the price. That's why the action figures are now $8... and other factors, again, like rising production and labor costs.

If you get right down to it, a $10 Transformers toy is significantly more impressive than most $8 Star Wars figures. It's apples and oranges, really-- there are so many other factors involved beyond "the toy is this big and essentially the same material" that we as fans will never see the full picture. As always, the important thing to do is the price is too high is to stop buying that particular segment if you aren't getting your money's worth. The ever-increasing price of Robot Heroes made me drop that range, and I freaking love that line. With time, most of these items actually go down in value so if $7 is too much today, odds are you'll get them for $5 or less in a year or two.

4. One of the recent build a droid figures was a droid from an eu source, wouldn't it not be better to release astromechs from the movies or the series which have more fan interest and will make collectors buy the whole wave. Have Hasbro exhausted all the movie astromechsout there? In the recent Hasbro q and a they announced HK-47 do you think this means that future build a droids will be less obscure/more desired?

Why Hasbro does what it does is hard to say-- both R7 units weren't seen in the movies (or comics, or as far as I can tell the games) and were nifty new additions to the line. I don't doubt that Hasbro realizes that it almost doesn't matter what the build-a-droid figures are because most fans who collect are a little OCD and will buy the parts needed to complete droids if they've got most of it. It could be another R2-D2 and would do just fine.

As of today, there are still probably at least a dozen good astromechs left to make, and that's not even counting the ones that could use a remake. Heck, we still don't have a non-chrome dome R2-D2 with a modern sculpt that isn't damaged or on fire. And there's the blue R3 unit from the Death Star, Jabba's astromechs, the Queen's other R5 unit, various Rebel droids, and so on and so forth. It's a good thing someone *cough* managed to get some 5-packs made as exclusives, because there's still a long way to go here.

When you get right down to it, the notion that "this was in the movie/had more screen time so it should be made first" is long, long ignored. Hasbro made a weird grey and black Shadow Clone before the Utapau trooper with the orange markings. Kenner and Hasbro cranked out three versions of Biggs Darklighter in regular retail assortments before the first individually carded non-exclusive Wedge Antilles, which still hasn't happened. Heck, I can go up to my toy room and show you a bright candy red Darth Vader despite there being no E-3PO yet. Them's the breaks-- due to collector interest in non-movie droids and Hasbro's (I assume) desire to have movie-based product to sell down the road, we're going to see a lot of this.

This says nothing about obscurity and desirability. For example, I was quite pleased to see R7 droids as I did not yet own one. MB-RA-7 (the silver Death Star Droid) is by no means obscure, but I doubt he's desired by more than a tiny part of the collecting community. I'm quite pleased to have one, but I doubt anyone who isn't a droid fan, a Kenner fanatic, or an Imperial collector really cares about it any more than any other figure. Every bizarre, obscure figure is in someone's top 10, even with the so-called joke figures that get made. As such, I'd say nothing Hasbro does can lead you to conclude anything about the line's future beyond, as I've said a lot lately, absolutely anything being possible.

5. Any info on the 'exclusive' blue clone trooper helmet with light from Wal-mart? I had to research but found a .pdf from Hasbro's Comicon Q&A listing it's street date as 11/1. My kid wanted it to complete his blue trooper costume, thinking th real helmet is much nicer than the cheap mask included. I was tempted to get the red Target one, but, in store it was $32.99 and on-line at $29.99. When I asked their 'customer service' they said they don't match prices, the on-line store is a different entity. I know that's a little off subject, but have you heard that one before?

I've said it before, I'll say it again. Hasbro's Power Point presentation release dates are largely fabrications. It's just an estimate-- the stores will put them out when they want to, or when they are received. Numerous exclusive and non exclusive products have been delayed this year, and it wouldn't shock me at all if someone were holding something back for Black Friday. (After all, Target's still being stingy with its two Clone battle packs.) Basically, the sad fact is that it will show up when it shows up, and this goes for all exclusives. There's no official release date on most products, so you just need to keep an eye out.

Price match policy varies from store to store, and manager to manager. I frequently took print-outs of the Petsmart web site to the store to get a 25% discount on guinea pig bedding over the past few years, as merely telling them the price was typically responded to with "well, we don't match prices we can't verify." Ridiculous. (This is until they raised the web price earlier this year.) Also, consider the value of the cash versus the time-- in my case, I was saving $5 per bag and was going through at least one bag per week. (This adds up.) In the case of the helmet, it's $3, and in the grand scheme of a collector's toy buying habits $3 will rarely break a purchase unless we're like being cheap. (Which I do.) When it comes to an exclusive, I'd say do what you feel is best-- but don't be shy with the printouts at the CS desk if you think it's worth the hassle. Given how quick Target was in blowing out its Legacy-boxed Darth Vader Voice Changers, I'd say you can expect the Clone with the torch to hit clearance sooner rather than later. But to take the time to argue $3? When we're talking under a 10% discount, I'm not surprised they're not bending over to make you the deal, especially this time of year. (Granted, I feel you're in the right and prices should be the same across the board, but this is a common happening in the B&M vs. Interweb marketplace.)


Did anyone catch The Clone Wars last week? From the synopsis, it looked like someone was going out of their way to screw with fanboys. The focus was on Jar Jar Binks, Nute Gunray, and C-3PO. Naturally, I couldn't not tune in. It was actually decent-- it worked well as, you know, a cartoon.

So, uh, yeah. Thanksgiving week! In some previous years this is where I traditionally ditch you fine people until the new year, but lately there have been enough questions to keep the column going. Same applies this year: if I get a week where I don't have enough questions, I get a vacation. Otherwise, I continue working for you fine people. (I've got a couple columns in the can due to planned slacking, so things are looking good.)

In the interest of crowdsourcing-- that's Web 2.0 speak for getting you, my minions, to do work for me-- I've got a question for you. One of my readers last week found me in one of the many places I hang my hat online and asked if I knew where he could buy the tiny plastic USPS R2-D2 Mailbox replicas showing up around the web and on eBay. I did not. As of this column, I still don't-- do you?

I also just got word that Target's two Ultimate Battle Packs are hitting. I can't seem to find any evidence of these being in back rooms at my local stores, so it's my hunch that, like last year, these are going to be advertised on the Sunday following Black Friday. The asking price is $62.99 a whack, which seems to be worth it for the Battle of Christophsis (2 $20-$25 vehicles, 6 $7-$8 action figures). It seems the Clones may be unique, as it seems they're the AT-TE deco figures, minus the dirt-- plus both vehicles are different from the individually packaged releases. So it's totally worth it, which The Battle of Carkoon set is clearly not. 1 Skiff ($20 tops), 5 figures (released as a $20 Battle Pack in 2006, $35 tops as individually packaged figures), and a vac-formed desert with a mouth in it ($???) in a box-- it's less enticing, surely. And I say this as someone who would generally tell you that anything based on Return of the Jedi will always be better than something based on the prequels or a TV project. A pity-- but odds are I'd have paid a similar price for a customized version. So with me being me, I'll take one of each thanks.

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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