Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
January 26, 2009

 

1. With the upcoming Toy shows what revelations do you expect to be unearthed? I've seen leaked pictures of molds of Jedi, youndlings and the like but what, in your opinion, will be the piece de resistance for 2009?
--Koth

We go through pretty much the same cycle every year, which is something like this. Information leaks. Hasbro doesn't talk about it at Toy Fair due to it being too far off in the future (i.e., past July.) Fans are angry there's no confirmation and take that to mean that nothing of that sort is going to happen and/or the item has been cancelled. Repeat at Comic-Con. It's also possible all manufacturers won't be in New York-- I'll leave it at that.

As such, don't expect to see everything you've recently seen leaked. Some times Hasbro will clam up about an item even if we've seen an officially packaged sample, like the debacle that was the Felucia Stormtrooper Commander from The Force Unleashed.

This year, my expectations: Star Wars LEGO should continue business as usual, showcasing more large sets as they seem to be doing pretty well at any and all price points. The sub-$10 price point will remain dormant, although with the 10th anniversary of the LEGO-Star Wars brands' coming together, we're sure to see something (or somethings) neat. Since the focus is on the TV shows in general, I wouldn't expect to see a lot of Original Trilogy product, but if you love clones odds are you're going to be happy.

Hasbro's The Clone Wars line will undoubtedly continue to be awesome, with more new clones, Jedi, aliens, and droids for your consumption. Expect the line to become increasingly kid-friendly while keeping an eye on what makes collectors irate (i.e., there will be more core character variations but not like Batman.) Everybody in retail seems to want bigger price points, so since the $20-$25 vehicles have done consistently well, and we presume that the AT-TE did very well, it would stand to reason you can expect some larger vehicle in 2009. Personally, I don't want anything huge, because I collect everything Hasbro action figure-related and space is finite. With the recent Turbo Tank leaks, unless it's a hoax-- and let's face it, it isn't-- it's a safe bet unless the item gets cancelled at the last minute.

I don't expect much of interest out of Gentle Giant, except maybe an overall reduction in SKUs and a greater emphasis on mini busts. I'm not sure how the statues for the cartoon have been doing, but the "classics" busts (the cheaper, armless ones) seem to have expired. Bust-Ups seem dead too. The company is great with surprises, and I hope they'll have something unexpected to show in the near future.

The Legacy Collection will undoubtedly continue business-as-usual, which is something like this: each wave will be 50% new versions of core characters, have at least 1 figure redone you didn't necessarily want, and have 1-2 token "never-before-done" characters. I am not optimistic that the Millennium Falcon did well enough to warrant another large OT vehicle, nor have I seen any evidence that Hasbro plans on tooling up any all-new OT vehicles in the smaller size... but that doesn't mean they won't have something to announce sooner or later. I expect the Return of the Jedi wave to be shown in person, unless there's something else coming up first. So new Ewoks, a new Slave Leia, Nikto, a new Jedi Luke... this is what I expect you'll see. More than two waves is extremely, extremely unlikely.

With Hasbro's push of G.I. Joe (of which they expect great things) and Transformers (which should do just fine), I don't think Hasbro is going to be spending its shelf capital on Star Wars in a very large way. The big money is likely in robots in disguise, so maybe we'll see something meaty in 2010.

2. What do you think the chances are that will we ever see some of the following stuff from Hasbro ?

Clone Turbo Tank. - I figure since the AT-TE was well received and fans have been asking about the Turbo Tank do you think Hasbro will lay this on us in Christmas 2009 ?

Return of the Jedi Emperor Palpatine figure with throne ? - this is a figure that has yet to hit the mark, would love to perhaps see maybe an Ultimate Battlepack with perhaps 2 Royal Guards, new SA Sculpt Palpatine, new SA Sculpt Luke Skywalker, new SA Sculpt Darth Vader and maybe a plastic Throne Room playset.

A Return to the Indiana Jones line - I know Hasbro said that due to the poor sales of figures and the fact that there is no movie on the horizon that the line is going to be moth-balled but what if they re-released the line with new figures and fewer of the core characters (ie less Indy and Mutt and more of the villains and sideline characters.)

And finally - what are the chances truly of Hasbro realizing that fans want playsets. I mean if they make smaller less involved sets that perhaps come in a Battlepack format, and are interlockable, with new figures to increase the chances that they do well, and not make them exclusive to retailers, then perhaps fans will buy them and they will be a huge success.
--Jeff

I'm going to start at the end of your email here. You (everyone) need to stop asking about playsets here. And in general, I'd say. Hasbro said no. Hell, when is the last time you saw a really big action figure playset? The Millennium Falcon is likely going to be the single most impressive action figure-scaled toy/environment of the decade, if not beyond. This is it, people. Hasbro doesn't want to do playsets, as they tend to be expensive and generally ill-received. (Granted, this is as much their fault as it is ours.) If anything happens, it's likely to be paperboard. There will never be small connect-and-collect playsets. The allure of "exclusive" has changed dramatically since 1997-- back then, anything was sure to sell out and sell for a premium on the secondary market. Today, exclusives are used to help drive traffic but to also guarantee a store inventory. Popular items (basic figures) may be in short supply, so having a Battle Pack guarantees Target will have something to sell fans (kids included).

Were this sort of thing to happen, it's get boring real quick. Like most things in this hobby, we want them because we can't have them. Even the greatest $100 playset would pale in comparison to whatever it is you-- and I mean the collective you-- might imagine. If Hasbro did up a Hoth toy, if it didn't incorporate every cool element of every one of Kenner's old Hoth playsets, there would be massive complaints. If the Ion cannon was too small, I'd be hearing about it in this column. Really, playsets are an area in which Hasbro can only do wrong. Financially, they're risky. They're not constantly in front of people. If for some reason the Death Star became a major location in the TV show, sure, maybe. But how many environments appear in more than one episode of the show? If you want to ask Hasbro for these, by my guest, but do keep in mind this is an issue-- much like Indiana Jones-- I'm well beyond wanting to discuss. Get your hopes way down, and if something happens maybe you'll be pleasantly surprised.

As to the other items, well, it appears you've stepped on my landmine. No Indy. Indy is dead. Stop asking for Indy. America had its chance to have the line and said they'd rather not. It's economics. Re-releasing anything would help no one.

So, how about the other things? The Clone Turbo Tank is pretty much going to be entirely relying on what Hasbro perceived the success of the AT-TE to be, and of course repeated exposure through animation. We know they're considering it in light of recent leaks, so unless it gets cancelled in the preproduction phase (which does happen), you'll probably see one in the next year. If the AT-TE served as a mandate for all things big-- and it seems to have sold through-- it's certainly possible. But don't sit around dwelling on it, it'll probably see an announcement at Toy Fair in February or Comic-Con in July if Hasbro does it. Remember, Hasbro reveals things when they want to, and it's very likely it'll leak out first as a result.

Kenner did indeed make an Emperor with throne around 1998. It may not have been completely to your liking, or perhaps you missed it, but on the bright side the Cinema Scene set "Final Jedi Duel" is now extremely cheap. It features the best Emperor, Vader, and Luke that era had to offer-- and it's worth about five bucks. As to an Ultimate Battle Pack with all new sculpts, sure, who wouldn't enjoy seeing that? I'd also like to work from my home and blast Big Black all day, but I don't think that looks particularly likely either.

3. Now that we have images of the six figures in the ESB wave, I am confused. I was sure that Ice Cream Maker Guy was going to be in the ESB wave. Didn't Hasbro confirm that he was due in 2009? Will he be an exclusive or something?
--David

No, I believe Hasbro confirmed that the Ice Cream Maker Guy-- you know, the figure so popular nobody knows the name-- will be coming in a wave, not necessarily the first ESB wave of 2009. According to a recent Star Wars Insider article, it's looking to be Fall as a basic figure. Hopefully he'll do well, it'd be a real shame to see pegs of Willrow Hood alongside the pegs of Gargan I'm seeing now.

4. In the toy isle the other day buying my fourth IG-86 Assassin droid, clearly one of the coolest figures ever made (My opinion). I noticed several with navy blue colored plastic guns? They had the same silver paint application for the scratched effect, but I didn't bother to pick them up. Is this a fluke at the factory or one of the many variations we can most likely expect from the clone wars collection?

And what's up with Hasbro not making a Nute Gunray, he has been in 3 episodes already??
--CP

Hasbro has been extremely busy when it comes to variants-- there are a lot of very different paint jobs to be had on some figures out there. Clones especially-- if anyone is cataloging these in detail, please do share.

As to no Nute, well, he's had two figures. Where's Yularen? He's been in like half the episodes and the movie. And where's a decent movie Wedge? Or any of the countless characters from the games and comics? Hasbro basically does what it wants, applying "well, he was in X so we should have it" doesn't necessarily really fit. I wouldn't get your hopes too high as the cartoon toys seem to be more kid-focused and as a result will likely not feature a figure that will appeal solely to a narrow adult audience and Tom Kenny fans, at least not in the short term.

5. In the Clone Wars cartoon series, why do almost all of the Jedi wear some type of armor? I mean, besides marketing reasons. Obi Wan wears some armor, Mace Windu does, Kit Fisto, etc. It seems kind of against the standard simplistic robes we are used to seeing them in. And it's not like a little shoulder pad or just a gauntlet is going to provide any real protection. So what gives?
--Charlie

I believe one of the Visual Dictionary books said something along the lines of it being armor from fallen Clone comrades worn to add protection to their persons during battle. I'm sure it's due to how the fan response toward Obi-Wan's armor went so well, not to mention the fact that multiple Jedi had added armor in the original Clone Wars (2003-2005) series. They're building on what works, and as the war escalates they need additional protection. It's possible we'll see more heavily armed Jedi as the series progresses, but I presume a large part of this is to distinguish the good guys easily. They have similar armor, the Jedi logo, and all that jazz. Having the character completely armored would be more sensible, but it would also make it hard to distinguish a Jedi from a clone. Given the audience for the show is much younger, it's probably a smart idea to have a unifying element on most of the good guys-- the armor-- while having some added robes to ensure that the generals stand out.

It does raise a real issue of continuity, though. One of the problems of doing prequels (or these between tales) is that you might establish something new that probably should have been kept in a later installment, but now you really can't show the armor in Revenge of the Sith. It's in Lucas' and Hasbro's best interest to change up the character design, but not necessarily yours if it might make your head explode. Still, it's nothing against what has been established in the line. We've seen armored Jedi in the comics and toy line before, just not really in the movies.

But yeah, it's marketing. It's a lot tougher to sell kids their 5th Mace Windu in essentially the same outfit, plus it'd be getting a lot more dull to watch if we spent year after year of the same guys in the same outfits. Look at Captain Picard in the Trek franchise-- he had no less than 3 uniforms in the series as captian, plus at least two more in the films. It's important for any franchise to mix up its look to avoid becoming totally stale.

FIN

I wrote this in advance due to my being away from the home office last weekend-- so yeah, there you go! Have a good week, send in your questions, and I'll be here next time. My backlog is getting a little dry, so if you've got a burning question, fire away.

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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