Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
June 22, 2009

 

1. I recently saw the preview for the upcoming game Knights of the Old Republic - I am interested in learning more about it. do you know if there is comics, books on the subject. Also, I only know of two figures that were made for KOTOR, e.g., Darth Raven and Malak. where there any others that you know of?
--Fred

If it's an upcoming game you saw, most likely the thing was actually The Old Republic (no "Knights of"), an upcoming Windows MMO title. Since it takes place roughly 3,600 years before the original Star Wars trilogy, it's essentially new territory. There may be brief references to events in this era, but nothing has been fleshed out yet.

The Knights of the Old Republic games for the PC and Xbox take place closer to 4,000 years prior to the films, and there are quite a few stories in that period. First up are the Tales of the Jedi comic books, which were released about 10 years before the games-- some of the surnames, groups, and designs from those comics were brought over into the game. I'm actually a big fan of the series, which was mostly awesome until the end. (There are several mini-series in the storyline.) In addition to that, there's the Knights of the Old Republic comic book running right now, which plays around in roughly the same timeline.

There are very few figures from this timeline, but there are more than just Revan and Malak. HK-47 just hit, and he's a build-a-droid figure from The Legacy Collection of Hasbro action figures. Mandalore was first released a couple of years back as part of the Evolutions Fett pack, and is still available-- he's from the Tales of the Jedi comics. Also from an Evolutions set is Darth Nihilus, from the second Knights of the Old Republic video game. So right now, if you bought everything, your collection would stand at about five.

2. I remember reading somewhere that DK was supposed to release a guide to Star Wars collecting. This was some time ago. I think they do top quality work and was looking foward to it however to date it has not come out. Any info on this book?
--Barbara

Unless I missed a memo, there are no plans for a book of this nature. (We sell their stuff at my day job.) They are, however, making a LEGO Star Wars guide with an exclusive Ceremonial Luke Skywalker minifigure, and I expect this to be pretty gosh darned popular. (I mean, book with toy? That's almost as great as toothpaste with toy. [And yes, I did get some bricks that way with Colgate when I was a kid.])

3. Is it possible that Hasbro could offer large scale vehicles and playsets if they sold them in pieces or stages? Sort of like a build a droid / mail in type of offer. I'll use a large scale AT-AT for example. The first piece or stage would consist of the head or cockpit of the vehicle. It would be made to scale with the 3" figures and possibly come with a pilot or a snowtrooper. Once that item is purchased the customer would recover an offer to purchase the next stage of the vehicle inside the packaging. That offer would advise of a price and a deadline stating how long you have to purchase the next piece or stage of the vehicle. Of course the buyer would have to pay for shipping. Hasbro would receive the orders and after the deadline date, start producing the next stage of the vehicle and ship it with another figure to the customer. When the customer receives that package there would be another offer to purchase the next stage of the vehicle, if required. I guess Hasbro could determine how the item would be broken up. This would occur over a period of time, and I think Hasbro would avoid over producing the items if it was done this way. The items could be in the $50.00 to $70.00 range, and maybe ship every toyfair season.
--Mike

I think the key thing here is the word "Hasbro," and the answer is "no, they're not going to make any more damn playsets." Environment pieces were being toyed with until late last year, when the likes of the Sarlacc Pit and Lars Homestead received high retail prices and a chilly reception from fans.

Hasbro flat-out is not interested in direct-to-consumer marketing, period. What they are in business to do is move huge volumes of product-- this is why (save for variants) most items haven't been rare lately. It really isn't in Hasbro's best interests to undership an exclusive, so these things get made in huge numbers-- and are distributed accordingly, except at Wal-Mart. High-end limited run direct to consumers fly in the face of this business model, particularly in a market where retailers struggled to sell environments which theoretically had strong fan appeal.

While you might see smaller purchases as a clever way around big price points, keep in mind that a lot of fans-- myself included-- do not like buying half of a toy. We want the whole toy. I don't want to buy wings, I want a complete ship. I also don't think gift givers would be very interested in gifting young fans with half a playset or a chunk of an AT-AT, particularly at prices that high. And this is ignoring the minimum run needed for Hasbro to fire up the molds in the first place, which is higher than most other companies from the intel I've seen over the years. Diamond Select may be willing to make 3,000 of something, but Hasbro seemingly isn't.

And while I said I wouldn't take any more playset questions like this one, I included it for a reason: so I can once again challenge one of you to put your money where your mouth is. There's nothing preventing you from replicating a variety of scenes from the movies in toy form, because some natural environments (and some unnatural ones) can be mucked up into a 3 3/4-inch scale toy "Space Station" or "Forest Battle" or "Snow Bunker." (Arguably, the Micro Collection playsets are pretty far removed from the exact designs of the films. And the Imperial Attack Base? Remove the Shield Generator and there's nothing Star Wars-y there.)

I think the real question you all need to ask yourselves is aside from a giant Death Star, is there really anything that's worth making in a big size any more? I submit that there isn't. If you bought the big Falcon and AT-TE, odds are your free space is being gobbled up and neither of these toys really provided the fun one might hope a toy of that price range should. Sure, they're neat, but is a $150 Millennium Falcon honestly better than 5-7 smaller Starfighter-class vehicles or dozens of figures? I could be wrong but I personally think the Turbo Tank is going to be ignored by collectors-- and possibly kids if it doesn't get more screen time-- and that as a group we will not pony up the cash for items of this nature.

...but if fans can produce compatible items without breaking any copyright laws? That'd prove there's real demand. Since Hasbro won't even make a decent cardboard playset (with a cost of basically NOTHING) I can honestly say that you're delusional if you expect there to be $50 playsets, let alone anything more expensive, out of the Rhode Island toymaker.

Right now, the power is in your hands, consumer. Hasbro isn't going to make it. Sideshow, reportedly, isn't going to make it. Can you find a way to do it? Then do it. Odds are you'll cry like a baby when you see what it costs to tool parts and ship the product in from China.

4. Do you think Hasbro would ever release a resculpted dulok from the Ewoks cartoon? I'm thinking comic-pack but I'm not sure if they were ever in print or just on the show. They seem like comic-pack material to me.

In your best estimation, would Hasbro ever rerelease the vintage figures? Playmates did that with the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures recently and I think they did an excellent job. I've seen this done before with other figure lines as well.
--Dan

I wish. Looking at the line in its current scope, the Duloks are probably off the table unless Lucasfilm starts pushing the classic cartoons on DVD. I don't think Hasbro would risk doing comic packs on characters this obscure, although I wish they would-- Vlix appeared in an issue of Droids, for example.

As to the vintage figures, Kenner did rerelease tweaked 1978 versions of the Luke, Vader, Han, and Chewbacca figures back in 1995. Fan reaction was not positive, and production numbers were reportedly obscenely high, in the 100,000+ range. (This is completely unconfirmed by Hasbro sources.) As such I would say that vintage-style figures are very unlikely to be reissued, but as far as the packaging goes, Hasbro likes that look too much to shelve it for long. And frankly, we love it too. Since the tooling for those older figures is largely lost-- those rereleases were cast off the original figures, hence some imperfections-- that means reissues would take away from the development of new figures from The Clone Wars or The Legacy Collection, neither of which seem like good ideas to me. I'd rather they continue to look ahead rather than back, while expensive any fan with a little time and patience can assemble a vintage collection. (And yes, it may be five or ten years, it took me a friggin' long time.)

5. Over the weekend, I read that North Korea is threatening nuclear war against South Korea. The US economy is continuing it's downward spiral. Threats of nuclear war in the middle east are ongoing. According to the Mayan calendar, Armageddon is going to take place on December 21, 2012.

Do you think Hasbro is taking any of this into consideration when planning the return of the vintage line? It sounds like they are up for bringing it back, but are waiting until they've exhausted all of their other concepts. The way my luck has been lately, I fear that the day they announce the return of vintage, someone is going to push "the button" and that will be that for us collectors.

Is there any way to light a fire under their butts because I want my vintage in-hand before the world gets bombed back to the stone ages and thundarr the barbarian figures are all that we can get.
--Dave

Are you making fun of me? I don't appreciate that.

FIN

While I basically poo-pooed the possibility of Hasbro making new action figure playsets, that doesn't mean another toymaker can't come in and try-- I doubt Hasbro will sublicense their line, but you've got options.

LEGO. They're making an Echo Base, a Home One, and an Endor Bunker all this year. They've also produced Jabba's Palace, the Sail Barge, a larger scale Slave I and Death Star, mini-rigs, a big Star Destroyer, and much more over the past 10 years. If you want to collect good Star Wars toys, Hasbro is not your only opportunity. What's more, with LEGO, you can always build your own.

Galactic Heroes. You can reuse the cardboard dioramas from the gift sets if you're really feeling desperate, I use them for some Figure of the Day backdrops and they turned out quite nicely. Not all of them, of course, plus this scale is another chance to collect differently.

There's also the possibility that someone new might get a toy license, I know it's unlikely but I'd love to see Playmobil give it a whirl. I pick up some of their stuff from time to time and it's consistently sturdy, well-assembled, and packed with accessories and features. I got a good look at a $60 boat which features an exposed glass bottom, compartments to hide accessories, tons of moving parts, and the ability to float, plus working winches and other goodies. The next time you go to Toys "R" Us or a snooty educational toy store, take a look at this stuff and get a look at the kind of play features they include. While the company never licenses entertainment properties, remember, neither did LEGO until the announcement in 1998. (And in the interest of full disclosure, Playmobil Star Wars toys are the only line I could see pushing Hasbro Star Wars toys out of my heart as Most Favored Toyline. That's how much I admire their stuff. I'd shell out $50 for an X-wing in their style or $120+ for a Falcon, no questions asked. Also, their figures are cheap.) The only way vehicles and playsets are likely to make a return is with a strong demand from a younger audience, and I gotta say Galactic Heroes or other toddler toys may be the best "in" for that sort of thing.

So yeah, as of today? LEGO is meeting your demands for this kind of stuff. They're great toys-- expensive, but prone to reissues and improvements. Any time is a good time to start collecting it if you want a truly expansive line of vehicles, playsets, and other environments. (It's just sorely lacking in figures.)

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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