Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
April 13, 2009
1. I have been thinking that my collection is lacking a more modern version of the classic hairbun Princess Leia from A New Hope than the one I have from way back in the 90s. Right now, I'm thinking that the VOTC Leia will fill that spot nicely, although it is slightly more than I am thrilled to pay for one figure on eBay, generally. How soon do you think Hasbro will get around to doing a new take on this version of Leia, or at least re-releasing the VOTC version as part of Saga Legends? I haven't heard any rumors about one coming up, unless they throw something out at SDCC.
Leia has been kicked around a lot, specifically, she's been kicked out of the line's pecking order. At press time, Hasbro has yet to release Leia in the new white packaging, and there hasn't been an all-new Leia since at least 2006. This, to me, speaks volumes in your not getting your hopes up.
Hasbro did eventually redo Obi-Wan Kenobi, as the 2004 Vintage figure is really awful and the 2009 figure is pretty excellent. With this in mind, it's possible we'll get another Leia if Hasbro does a new Star Wars wave in the next few years. I know a lot of fans don't like buying on eBay, but let's be honest here-- if you buy on eBay, not only are you helping out fellow collectors, but we're making the most out of that which has been produced. Do the world a favor, and buy what exists rather than wait for Hasbro to spend its resources on a reissue which could bump a figure that might make them some more green. Seeing as the VOTC Leias I've seen are getting few to no bids, it looks like that with a little patience you can score one of these on the cheap.
2. How long before we get a new Dewback that actually looks like one from the movie. The CGI Special Edition is ok but nothing like the 12inch one they put out years ago. Dewbacks would sell great! You must have at least two or three. And then Hasbro can sell even more Sandtroopers!
Based on Hasbro's various Q&A comments and the market today, I'd say it's possible but not super likely. The real question is if we can expect the figure on the TV show, or if Hasbro decides to put it in the new smaller-but-kinda-pricey vehicle/creature assortment. What you're likely to see is the 1997 toy reissued-- a new sculpt seems unlikely in the near term, but Hasbro has been known to surprise folks. We'd need a new Sandtrooper mold if they did another Dewback, though, perhaps one with lateral hip movement for once.
3. The prices of SW figs (and a lot of other lines) has been going up and up (roughly 7-8 bucks now). I heard this mentioned on a podcast, how much higher will/can they go? Myself I cant see paying even $9+ for a SW fig , would you? Can SW stay alive much longer with these prices?
Yes, but the audience will continue to shift. At a lower price point, kids typically will buy more different figures. Collectors are at a point where, after thousands of figures, it seems that we'll just buy what we want to-- price isn't as much of a factor. If the TV show encourages kids to buy, and kids buy a figure every month or two, odds are that huge pool of customers will help the line last a good long time. I personally don't think the line will be selling to older fans once it his $10, as the vintage lines have proven that the novelty of fancy packaging wears off fast. Currently Hasbro has some "fat" in its basic figure line, like big table accessories, droid parts, and so forth. There's room to drop some of this bloat to bring prices down, but it's not presently in their best interests to do so-- if they can sell you roughly the same amount of figures, or maybe even a few less, at a higher price then they're going to be better off.
The Star Wars license and not the quality of the product dictates the price, and most people who buy action figures do so based on their favorite licenses and characters. So since there's really no competing item in the marketplace, it's a safe bet that Hasbro will be doing just fine with this brand for at least a while longer. The rising prices seem to only be hurting certain product segments, specifically the figures targeted squarely at adult collectors (Gargan). The kid stuff seems to be doing OK as far as I can tell.
4. Question: In the Darth Vader Gunner Station FOTD Your commentary was: "Still neat though, if you like strange little toys from a time when Kenner was willing to experiment with such things. (That era of Star Wars is long since over.)" I think I get what you mean, but I wanted to see if you could clarify the statement, and ask if you think that era will ever return?
Back around 1998 Kenner was experimenting with ways to sell action figures-- basic figures have been around forever, but that's not enough. Toymakers want to find a way to sell a more expensive product, and that's why we see things like deluxe figures, Battle Packs, Cinema Scenes, and what have you. These fill a higher price point for birthday presents and the like, as a lot of people at the store buy with the mentality of "I want to spend $10/$15/$20 and I know they like Star Wars. What have you got?"
The Gunner Stations were an attempt to sell kids a more action-oriented figure with bigger accessories, and they didn't work out all that well for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was product glut. Fans demand a certain level of authenticity, and these oddball items were way off the radar in terms of what adult collectors would accept and frankly, a chair with a gun isn't all that cool when you can get the whole ship for a few bucks more. Because of this, I don't think we will ever see toys which are essentially cross-sections of other items again. We'll see new smaller ships, or we'll see packs of multiple figures. If Hasbro wants to make a new "accessory" or "vehicle" and is interested in spending money tooling said items, it's probably going to be something a little more substantial and less esoteric. As toys the Gunner Stations are a really amazing little sidestep in what would become the most extensive licensed action figure line on US shores, but today, it's all about the figures. And maybe a few vehicles. Hasbro's paring back its non-figural segments these days, too.
5. I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding some of the things Hasbro mentioned about the Battle Pack line in recent Q & A sessions.
Specifically I'm curious as to your opinion of the upcoming gun station battle pack, which was originally planned as two Clone Pilots and two gun stations, but due to costing issues was reduced to two Pilots and one station. Maybe its just me, but why not go with one Pilot and one Station and put it in the new mini rig line instead?
Hasbro also mentioned that the Battle Pack packaging was going to revert back to the old tall and thin design. Why do you sppose they would do this? Doesn't the tall and thin configuration mean that Battle Packs like the Jabba the Hutt one or the Scramble on Yavin won't be possible in the future?
Sucks, don't it? That's pretty much my reaction. I'm not sure how this will truly change the content of the packs, but I think you mailed it on the head-- we might see these smaller mini-vehicles in the new smaller-but-still-pricey vehicle assortment. It is indeed unfortunate that the gun pods are going to be one per box, because most of us don't want one. We want two. Maybe Hasbro knows this and assumes we're going to pay $40-$50 for the packs to outfit our gunships, but that doesn't seem very likely now that I write it out. I'm crossing my fingers that Hasbro reissues the gun stations in another capacity because I don't think it's as unrealistic to pay $15 for 1 figure and 1 station as it is to pay $20-$25 for 2 figures and 1 station. But it's still a bit extreme.
I figure the reason for this is probably because the smaller vehicle assortment was introduced-- the Battle Packs are figure-driven, mixing figure gift sets and small vehicles in a single SKU may make it harder to determine what's truly selling. And hopefully we won't have more situations where we get less bang for our buck as gun pods go.
A common question people ask me is "so when aren't you going to buy everything Hasbro makes at full price?" Guess what? It just happened.
The straw that broke the camel's back is the recently released exclusives at Toys "R" Us. There are two The Clone Wars vehicle-with-figure sets-- a repaint of the V-Wing with a Clone Pilot, and a repaint of the Hailfire Droid with General Grievous. So what you're getting is a $20-$25 vehicle with a $8 or so figure. The price? $40, so reported on Sandtroopers.com last weekend. While I don't mind paying a slight premium for exclusive figures, but a premium for a vehicle repaint from 2003? Not gonna work for me.
So I, who generally will say "buy what you like" and "vote with your dollars," will now be following my own advice. $80 for two figures I already have and two vehicle repaints just seems like a rotten deal, and as a "gift package" goes these should usually be comparable to similar items sold at retail, not sold at a premium. It's possible (and I dare say likely) that these will sell to kids or to adults buying for kids, but as a collector, this hurts. Although if these don't go on sale or don't go on clearance, now that the "hole" has started, it's going to get real easy to pass on stuff as the line continues.
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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