Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
March 16, 2009
1. I just wanted you to hear from that "single fan that is excited at buying another Malakili"...
I will definitely buy the new Rancor Keeper (and it has been a full 12 years since the last one), even if it's a case of "just when I thought I was out, they drag me back in... (again)." And frankly, the Gargan figure was one of the better figures of the past year, pegwarmer or not - it was an amazing sculpt and paint job. Put that figure next to Mon Calamari warrior from Clone Wars and ask yourself if six breasts doesn't constitute art.
Were it not for older fans - the old farts who buy such things as a new Rancor Keeper - there would be no prequels or Clone Wars cartoons. While some might say that wouldn't be such a bad thing, Star Wars would be just another "Battle Beyond the Stars" or "Spacehunter" were it not for the old guard, and maybe Hasbro senses this at some level. Oh, and that we can shell out $150+ for a large vehicle even in a downturn, whether it's for us or our child (or both.)
I think you're rationalizing this too much.
I would dare say it's important that the Rancor Keeper got an action figure-- very much so. But this makes three action figures based on the character, and the last one was an epic poor seller. Like, few figures sat around that much. It's Malakili's fault that other products didn't get produced. It's directly Malakili's fault that the 1998 Expanded Universe figures were in short supply-- they all shipped under the same SKU and the figure just didn't sell. And what's worse, Hasbro repackaged the figure in 1998 and continued to ship it. Making sure a new generation of fans has access to a character is important, but put that figure with the actual Rancor monster, or perhaps in a Battle Pack. After Gargan, it's obvious that humans of a modest girth with minimal clothing do not appeal to the fandom at large. Unless shortpacked, which is another problem.
Yes, Star Wars is unique in that there are many fans across a broad spectrum-- young and old-- who will help even the most obscure figure sell. But some don't sell, and as a fan who bought figures during Malakili's non-selling reign of terror, I can assure you that this is a very strange move. I could have bought dozens for a dollar or less each. Hasbro making this figure over one of the alien keepers or even a new Han Solo is really interesting on multiple levels. I'd really love to know why this figure made the cut over another one.
Nobody here is talking about quality or even "what collectors want." This is simply a baffling choice given Hasbro makes such a stink about not being able to slot in enough figures in a year and being so careful about producing figures that will sell.
2. Why haven't we seen a more detailed Han in carbonite recently? There was an upgraded a new version in the saga collection but it did not have a back cover. There was one detailed version included with the purchase of the Slave 1 ship.
Uhhhh. No. There wasn't.
The 1996 version of the Slave I was the last to include an actual carbonite block, and that recycled a mold from around 1981. It was a hollow block which was too short and had no back. The last Boba Fett version of the ship shipped as a Target exclusive in 2004, and while it included a rocket-free version of Boba, no Han Solo accessory was included nor was there anywhere to store the block on that particular version of the vehicle. To date, the various Carbonite blocks from Hasbro and Kenner rarely have a back-- there's one where Han is "unfreezing" but that one really didn't have a front. To date, no Han Solo action figure has been packaged with a carbonite block which could completely encase the figure-- not even the original 1984 version could do that.
The most detailed carbonite block to date is indeed the 2006 The Saga Collection version, but it had a few strikes against it. Like you mentioned, it had a hollow back, and it was "melting". Hasbro could have (and probably should) go ahead and repaint it if their assortment plans call for a new Han Solo, because it really nice a pretty decent sculpt. It could be better, sure, but seeing as Hasbro's first modern carded Han Solo in carbonite was in 1996 and their second was in 2006, it might be a while before we see another individually packaged version of this figure in this scenario.
3. Has the entire run of AT-TE's sold through? I've been looking for one for the last month and haven't been able to find one. I'm not going to complain about the fact that I paid full price for the BMF when it was released, but if choosing to buy that first and holding out on the AT-TE is going to bite me in the arse, I cry foul.
Seemingly so. The stores I watch haven't restocked them, including some online ones. I watch a few fairly closely and while orders are still being taken, most stores have not received new product from Hasbro yet, which says to me the production run was a success. I don't know if they made enough to recoup their development costs, but if the item will be going back into production it's a safe bet that it did more than well enough.
It's very unlikely that you're going to miss out. If you look at eBay, you can get an AT-TE today for a price I think you'll consider more than fair. If you have to wait for your local store to get it, you'll probably be in luck if you live in the USA. Elsewhere in the world, who knows, but again it may be worth your while to look at the surprisingly good closing prices on eBay as of late.
4. Why is it that the packin astromech legs for the build a droid astromechs are always with the heroes and not the troop builders? (Here's 3 examples: expanded Return of the Jedi - R4-D6 legs with Han Solo and Luke Skywalker not Ewok; Expanded Clone Wars - R7-T1 legs with Padme & Saesee Tiin not Quarren & Mon Cal; Ep 4 - R5-A2 legs with Han Solo and Luke Skywalker and not Spacetrooper & Jawa.)
Can we not have a few spare astromech legs? we have plenty of bodies and heads.
Well, two things: one, that's certainly the way it seems, and two, you're not entirely correct.
For starters, I'd argue that Luke and Han Solo in Stormtrooper disguises are army builders. If you have a figure that, when you leave the helmet on, is a generic trooper, that's an army builder. They each come with legs, or at least my samples did. The Jawa is distinct enough where you could treat it as a distinct character or a unique Jawa, I'll leave that up to you.
Also, certain troopers shipped and re-shipped with different droid parts. I believe I've got EVO Troopers and Kashyyyk Troopers with multiple different droid parts packed with them, which came from later assortments. I have yet to catalog all the droid part variations-- there are many-- but depending on where you shop and when, you might be surprised by what you find. It does seem that the pattern you describe is largely true, but there's definitely a few exceptions. You might consider posting on our (or other) forums and asking for spare parts. Some people are willing to let these go fairly cheaply, or to trade at a ratio I think you'll find more than fair.
5. I know Hasbro has said they won't be making any Clone Wars TV characters in the "realistic" movie line. Do you agree with this position? I realize that at the very least, it would be strange to have both on shelves together, but would it really hurt the line(s) in any real way? Do they think that, were realistic Ahsoka Tano figures available, people would ignore the animated line entirely? I suppose I'll have to wait until the show is dead and gone (whenever that is) before I get realistic Ahsoka Tano and Gha Nachkt figures, right? Maybe if I wish hard enough, they'll make a few characters available online or something.
There seems to be an attitude in this hobby that Hasbro should make absolutely every possible figure that I, you, or anyone can think of. Every variant, every scene, with accessories from every moment in every possible style. I'm not picking on you, Brian, but it really does seem that any time a fan has an idea for something, other fans will back him or her up insisting Hasbro is run by a bunch of goobers for not having done it already.
It certainly wouldn't hurt the line to have both styles out at once-- they do it for Yoda, Anakin, Obi-Wan, Clones, C-3PO, R2-D2, and other characters-- but it's basically just not what Hasbro wants to do right now. They're weird like that. After years of no original Marvel Comics Star Wars characters getting toys, we got a couple of good Mandalorians last year and we're getting both Shira Brie and Lumiya this year! Who'd have guessed? We're basically at the mercy of Hasbro's whims here, which usually work out for the best. There's no reason to "make a few available online" because these core characters would likely do far better at retail with kids AND collectors over just being online for adults. I like the cartoony figures for what they are, and while I would have preferred a single unified style, that ain't happening.
This wasn't a thrilling week for Star Wars. Actually, it seems the first few months of most years kinda blow. Where are the new exclusives? (Well, we got Joker Squad, but where's that Toys "R" Us exclusive vehicle repaint-with-figure assortment or something at Target?) I'm still getting a lot of email from fans not being able to find Wave 5 of Legacy, and as far as I can tell all the animated stuff is doing great.
Which is good. But gosh darn it, I want to go hunting for something. I've actually been hunting cheapo video games and-- yes-- continue to hunt for a decent Xbox 360 arcade-style fighting stick. (DAMN YOU MICROSOFT.) I think I'm now hard-wired to drive around and look for stuff. I actually went to like a half dozen grocery stores to find a specific jelly last week. And now I'm writing about it, forcing you to read it. Surely, this is just not right.
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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