Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
January 5, 2009
1. I have a question that is SORT of in the action figure catogorey. Pertaining to the Stormtroopers/Clone Troopers. I know recently that Hasbro or Mr. Lucus had stated something about the STORMTROOPERS from the original 3 movies were really Clones left over from the clone wars. I thought I remember reading something somewhere years ago that the STORMTROOPERS were not clones but were humans from around the galaxy who joined the Empire and went to school and training. So now I am confussed, I know the CLONETROOPERS are clones but what are the STORMTROOPERS????? ThanksÉmay the force be with us all !!!
Just for the new folks, this column isn't a purely Hasbro Q&A column-- it just ends up that way a lot. Movies, comics, whatever-- fire away.
So, are Stormtroopers just leftover clones? This is something that's the subject of some debate. In the late 1970s, Lucasfilm released a poster book that explicitly stated Stormtroopers were clones. In the 1980s through the 2000s, it was either ambiguous, or obviously not clones. All sorts of people joined the Empire, but things got more complicated in 2006 when Hasbro released its Death Star Gunner action figure. To many (like me), toys are basically how we view the movies-- if the face under the helmet is a clone, then by gum, it's a clone. And it was a clone. Since then, we've seen Scouts, Stormtroopers, and Snowtroopers with Jango's face. Lucasfilm obviously authorized this, so to some extent, yes, some are apparently clones now.
Also, official Lucas sources have recently been indicating that there are multiple "templates" for troopers, and in comics like Legacy we see a future where there's very much a mix of races, genders, and ethnicities in military units like Joker Squad. (Yes, I'm excited about those figures. But well, you know why I'm biased most likely.) So the end of it is this: some Stormtroopers are clones, some aren't-- and they aren't necessarily all Jango clones, either.
2. Does anyone in the SW community have a 'Grand Total' regarding how many SW characters from the films, and EU have been represented in the 3 3/4 toy scale? I know the question has been repeatedly asked as to how many figures over all have been produced since the lines inception and for a variety of understandable reasons no one can agree how to answer that question. But what I am asking is how many Characters have been represented in toy form. To be clear, a character like Han Solo would only be counted ONCE regardless of how many conjurations, costumes or films he has been represented in. So with this criteria, Do you know what the grand total is?
No, and let me tell you why.
Fans and official sources are constantly shuffling what is or isn't a new character. Some people say the recently released build-a-figure of MB-RA-7 (silver Death Star Droid) is the same as the RA-7 droid released as the sandcrawler. Some fans will tell you that each unique Rebel trooper with different hair colors or faces is a unique character, and when you're dealing with things like Clones it gets a little sketchy. They're the same, but different, but the same. Also, there are fans that have told me that they believe the Carbonite Block constitutes a new figure-- so it and Han Solo would be two unique "characters" in some books.
For these reasons, I will not be tackling these issues. Whenever I do, someone decides to write up 20 pages on how I'm wrong but never bothers to offer their own take on the count, so as far as I'm concerned this is something that's wide open to interpretation. With variations in army builders-- to me-- meaning "new character," obviously some won't agree. And there's issues like Darth Vader and Anakin-- they're the same character, aren't they? And Episode I Anakin is nothing like Episode III Anakin, so to me these are virtually different characters, ditto C-3PO. So you see where this can get tricky. I'd estimate it to be in the high hundreds, but again, this is not an issue I'd like to tackle. If any of you want to do some crazy researched article, I'd be glad to host it or give you a shout-out on the front page.
3. Now that oil prices have plummeted, and seeing as the materials the figures of are petroleum based, what (if any) are the chances are seeing the prices of the figures dropping a bit? I have been a completist collector for a decade, but this year was especially tough to get every figure due to the crappy economy and high gas prices.
History shows that this is indeed possible. Let me show you with a list of average toy discounter (Target, Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart) prices over the years.
1995 - $4.99
1998 - $5.99
1999 - $6.99
2000 - $5.99
2002 - $4.99
2003 - $5.99
2004 - $4.99
2005 - $5.24
2006 - $6.99
2008 - $7.99 (your mileage may vary)
So as you can see, it goes up and down, plus there were lots of variations within each year depending on when and where you shop. This is just how I remember it generally being, with the big price hikes every now and again. The pattern seems to be that after a year or two of price increases, you generally saw a drop-- except this year, you saw a steady increase. Personally, I don't think the hobby can take a steady climb to $9.99 for a figure unless the articulation, accessories, and extras (like build-a-droid) remain consistently great. There's a very good chance you might see a price drop in the new year, but you might not. The economic situation and Hasbro's desires for units sold vs. profits per unit could change things, but steady kid and adult acceptance of higher prices means they may have no good reason to reduce prices unless they think fans will buy more figures at a lower price.
Seeing as I basically dropped army building this year, as well as buying 2 of most things, I can only assume many of you have as well. Perhaps it might be in Hasbro's best interests to consider lower prices in 2009, but if things continue to sell as they are, I doubt it.
4. Am I correct in counting a total of ten Star Wars: Legacy action figures having been produced as of this point in time between EE's Joker Squad and the two comic book 2-packs? Are there any I am missing from memory or have you heard word of as near future releases?
As of today, there are four figures-- Antares Draco, Ganner Krieg, Cade Skywalker, and Darth Talon. In a couple of months, the six figures of the exclusive Joker Squad set will be out. After those, Darth Krayt and Sigel Dare will be coming in a comic pack. Beyond that, I'm fuzzy-- so you'll be able to get at least 12 from the series. And if you're reading the column and not yet reading the Legacy comic series, I do suggest you give it a whirl-- it's good fun.
5. I'm planning to track down the Darth Vader (Anakin) and Obi-Wan figures from the Mustafar playset. Are these figures unique or have they been repacked at some point? The figure images I've seen from a sister site shows what appear to be handpainted samples. Are these pre-production images that were later changed for the release or are the figures from the playset just a little ...wierd looking? They look a bit rough.
I actually did these up for Figure of the Day, so let me direct you to those first of all: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader.
They're all like this-- the faces are painted, and not molded in the flesh color. (This variant happened a few times in the 1980s Kenner line and I noticed it frequently in the 1990s Star Trek line from Playmates-- except in those, they came both ways.) I personally think these are not worth getting unless you're a collector who has a burning need to truly collect them all. As toys go, they're weak. As freebies with a playset, they aren't half bad. So I'd say if you're the kind who has to get this stuff, by all means do so, just remember that you were warned.
So, I'm back. I'm on a new iMac which, as of now, is working out to be a fantastic little machine which seems to put my old tower to shame. I've been hammering away on Figure of the Day over the holiday-- because my life is basically writing this stuff now-- and also playing Civilization Revolution on the Xbox, which I think you should also do.
It was really eye-opening to see the stores just before and after Christmas. Star Wars toys were a little thin, Indiana Jones and G.I. Joe seemed fairly abundant, and no freaking Transformers anywhere. It's certainly an interesting shift, and supposedly there were more robots in disguise this year to keep up with the expected increase in demand due to the movie and new cartoon show. Also, it seemed the AT-TE did pretty well in my neck of the woods, but the Millennium Falcon, not so much. I mean, it makes sense-- something new that appeals to the kids should do well, especially if it's cheaper. If you didn't already score a Falcon, you should have little trouble doing so at or under $100 in the coming weeks.
Toy Fair-- that is, the toy trade show, not Toy Fare the magazine-- is in February. There, Hasbro will no doubt tell us all how the holiday season did and what that means in terms of more big toys. Personally, I'm hoping we don't see too many because I'm getting to the point where room and also interest is starting to be a premium. I've had access to Millennium Falcon toys to play with since I was about 10. Now, I'm ready for something new and different, but also fun and portable. The AT-TE was great, but the new Jedi Starfighter that splits into two toys was way more interesting to me. Here's hoping things cap out at around $50... after we get a Turbo Tank or a Blockade Runner.
It's probably going to be a heavy year for figures, and from what I'm reading we should be knee-deep in new Clone Wars cartoons through April. The prices for old figures and toys continues to sink on eBay, there's a ton of new toys to go out and get, so I'd say 2009 is a pretty good time to be a fan!
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!