Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
May 4, 2009

 

1. I made my usual after work toy run today and sadly, I'm still looking for the 4 clone wars figures that are long over due in my opinion! To my delight I found the, Jabba/TC-70 Battle pack, which has a awesome "moving rubber mouth", No wonder they removed the second figure, but still no new figures. Who determines when new product goes out in any given store? Is there an enforcer of toy dates or do they just pick a date to put everything available out? I would prefer a slight trickle, then a midnight madness style find. Have the store's sales strategies changed?
--CAP

US toy distribution is a lot less organized than you might think. The concept of specific street dates for toys is reasonably new, typically stores just put out stuff when it showed up. In May 1999, they held some of the stuff back for a launch, but quite a bit leaked out too. Since then, Hasbro has put street dates on the shipping cases for some toys, but I've noticed that with very few exceptions, the big retailers tend to ignore these. And why not? They have other things to worry about. I was at a Wal-Mart yesterday and saw a few boxes of new Transformers movie stuff on the floor.

After a SKU is launched, like Battle Packs, it generally works like this. The stores have a SKU in their system for "Battle Packs." It's not specific to any version, as far as can be told the stores really don't care which ones they get as long as they sell. So Hasbro will get a message from let's say Target, saying "we need more Battle Packs" and Hasbro will send whatever's handy.

As far as date enforcement goes, sometimes there's a notice in a store's system saying "DO NOT SELL THIS ITEM". It's not always specific, so sometimes it'll say there's a street date, and other times it'll say that the toy has been recalled for safety reasons. I'm not kidding, they're really this disorganized at a retail level. A lot of stores just ignore these policies and put out whatever whenever because they're smart and want money. The most recent date-- Hasbro's Wolverine/X-Men/Marvel 3 3/4-inch launch-- was broken by numerous stores in my area. As was Legacy last year. And Transformers the movie in 2007. And Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Mattel has done this on occasion, and so has LEGO, but it's so uncommon that most stores don't have a good system in place for this like they do books, DVDs, video games, and other media-- which, I might add, are also frequently broken. A buddy of mine and I used to make it a point to go hunting for stuff put out early because, well, it was something to do.

I'm very biased against street dates because, as a nerd, I don't care for anything getting in the way of me spending my money. There's no benefit to the store making me wait a week to buy something.

2. Last year I asked if their were any possibilities of some other Titanium land / air speeders coming out (like the X-34 (Luke's land speeder) I had mentioned them doing maybe Zam Wesell's and Anakin's speeders from AOTC and really hoped for Bail Organa's XJ2 speeder from ROTS. At the time you were fairly optimistic in your answer. Well as we all know by now the Titanium line is being (IMHO) foolishly tanked. Any chance of Bail's speeder being done so it could fit the 3 3/4" in line? I just think that along with the Arc 170 and General Grievous' ship this was other really fantastic combo of retro meets future vehicle designs.
--Ron

A while ago, Hasbro was going on about how the future of Titanium was bright. And now, not so much. Basically anything that isn't Galactic Heroes, LEGO, or 3 3/4-inch is likely to get canned at a moment's notice because the laws of the toy industry don't necessarily apply to those lines as much. Any toy line segment-- or line-- existing more than 18 months is a genuinely amazing feat.

Bail's Speeder is pretty unlikely in any scale except, perhaps, LEGO. If I were a betting man, I'd bet on bricks. It's like the Cloud Car in a sense, it's a vehicle you barely see which really doesn't do much of anything. You can argue about how it belonged to a kind of important guy in a scene of a movie, but really, it's not like we're seeing toys of a number of vehicles. Unless there's a push on the vehicle on television, a 3 3/4-inch release seems quite unlikely, especially given how the reception for the previous speeders wasn't too warm. (For the record, I consider Zam's Speeder from 2002 to be the worst vehicle produced by Hasbro, Kenner, Galoob, or any licensee for Star Wars. I'd gladly send a big box of toys to anyone who can show me how you can fit Zam in the cockpit in any way that doesn't look stupid.)

3. I was in a Toys R Us over the weekend doing my usual hunt (still looking for that damn Spacetrooper). When I was flipping though the Star Wars pegs I noticed that virtually all of the Clone Wars figures were in the international tri-logo packaging. I have never seen that in the U.S. before. Can you explain what the heck is going on? Was this an accident? Any light you can shed would be appreciated.
--Dan

Star Wars figures are generally made at the same factories regardless of destination-- it isn't unthinkable that a case or two from the Europe-destined pile ended up in the US-destined pile. This has happened quite a bit over the years, increasingly so when the demand for the line gets higher and higher. It's not intentional, and it likely won't be something you see again if the reports since 1995 are any indication, but it is kinda neat. A bunch of 1997-era figures ended up at US discounters in trilogo packaging at one point, I've got a Hammerhead from then to prove it. If anything, what you're seeing is probably the cheapest way to pick up foreign packaging for a US collector.

4. I saw a picture of an Old Ben Kenobi Mighty Mugg on the back of the Target exclusive Biggs figure. Ben is the last of the core New Hope characters to be represented in "100% Recycled Awesome", and will effectively complete my collection, unless they whip up a TIE pilot or Death Star Trooper. From what little info I can glean on the internet, Ben will be a shared exclusive (evil marketing monsters!) between Entertainment Earth and someone else. Do you know who the other retailer will be? I don't want to have to buy the whole wave to get one figure.
--Patrick

These eight figures are actually shared as a sort of "Internet exclusive." So if what you're asking is how to buy them without paying shipping charges, it's possible one of your local comic shops may be able to order a case, either from EE Distribution or perhaps Hasbro directly. Just check your favorite stores for availability, as vague as that is these could pretty much turn up anywhere that isn't Target, Kmart, Wal-Mart, or Toys "R" Us.

5. I got the new Millenium Falcon for Christmas and it's great. I love the detail and the new Han and Chewie figures. Now, I want another big toy. I'm not up on all the Clone Wars stuff...I want OT/NT stuff, like a new AT-AT. Will there be a new AT-AT come out? If so, when? I want to buy something big!!!
--R

A new AT-AT for Galactic Heroes is indeed expected, but as far as AT-AT's goes, that's about it. Right now there's not much for non-prequel-era big stuff planned for the 3 3/4-inch line, aside from the TIE Fighter with large wings, the bigger X-wing, and the Falcon, pretty much all the other big vehicles are based on 1980s molds. So there's an Imperial Shuttle if you want one, but it has 1980s-sized foot pegs and really isn't all that spectacular. If you decide to go prequel trilogy, the Royal Starship is pretty striking and does a lot of neat things. It's no Falcon but it'll give you something to do with all your Naboo toys.

FIN

I just got my ESB wave figures on Friday-- Luke, Leia, Palpatine, Ugnaught, Hoth Rebel, U-3PO, and Captain Needa. The figures are all quite good, not necessarily worth $8, but good. $8 for a single Ugnaught seems a bit much in this day and age, especially considering those buggers didn't sell particularly well as 2-packs in 1998... and the many more years they sat around.

From talking to you guys, it seems a lot of you are having problems with this wave and the previous one, meaning maybe, just maybe, Hasbro is going back to its roots. One thing that's good for Star Wars in terms of keeping up fan interest is the "see this? you can't have it" approach, where they starve the market which slowly increases the amount of stuff people will buy. Rather than picking and choosing, fans would often pick up extras out of fear they wouldn't see it again, which was pretty much the opposite of how 2008 went. Here's hoping they ratchet down at least a few figures this year, because nobody wants a long-awaited fan request to hurt the rest of the line's distribution.

I'll be covering some of these in FOTD this month, but I think you can rest assured that if you buy them, you pretty much know what to expect and that you will likely dig them. The Emperor was a particularly pleasant surprise, the new hood and revised soft goods made this into the biggest unexpected treat in some time.

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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