Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
July 6, 2009
1. Army builders need troops from all camps. However, for our toys to be fun, they need to be functional. The Super Battle Droid has long suffered from poor design/plastic choice causing an inordinate amount of bend in the legs (as you know), and practically making the SBD useless in displays. Is there any relief on the horizon from Hasbro? If not, how far away are we from getting a better designed version?
That depends-- what have you been buying?
Both the Saga Legends (2008-present) and Clone Wars (Animated, 2008-present) figures seem to be a step in the right direction. While not perfect, I've yet to have any problem with either figure toppling over. Granted, they haven't been on shelves for months, but in the few weeks they were out standing up it seemed OK to me. Part of the issue is, unfortunately, also due to pose and climate. During the hot months of summer, figures get a little more bendy and are far more likely to topple over.
Obviously there's always room for improvement, and Hasbro has had good droids and bad droids since the whole Trade Federation started to inspire figures with the first release from Kenner back in 1998. I still think the first ones they did tended to be the best, but as always one's mileage will vary.
2. In [a recent] Q&A you make a point to state that the upcoming [The Old Republic] MMO is Windows. Are they (stupidly) excluding the Mac or did you use the term to stress it will be non-console?
I have seen numerous references to its being published on the Windows platform. I have seen no Mac or Linux references. Obviously between WINE and Boot Camp and all that jazz, you might be able to force it on other operating systems, but I have yet to see an announcement for a port on either the Apple or the Crazy Open Source Hippie Programmer platforms.
3. What types of figures are you most interested in right now? Are you an OT guy? PT? EU? Concept? Are you more interested in new, never before produced figures or ultimate versions of pre-existing figures?
Right now the areas with the most untapped potential are the non-film sources, specifically, television. The Clone Wars line has really impressed over the past year with several big vehicles, small vehicles, a ton of clones, big roleplay guns, and more. It's closer to an honest-to-goodness toy line than Hasbro has given us in years, which I really like seeing. It's refreshing to see things made to be better playthings, to mixed degrees of success. The animated-style Clone Trooeprs and various droids are some of the finest things Hasbro has ever given us, so of what we're actually getting, these seem to be the most fun. Legacy has given us three waves this year, and while I know there are some vocal fans who were crying like babies for a prequel Beru and Owen, I am not one of them.
As to what I'd like that I'm not getting, more 1980s comic toys and TV toys. I would absolutely lose my cool if Hasbro made Caravan of Courage or Battle for Endor stuff, which they won't, and I'd be happy to commit various crimes in order to get new stuff from the Droids series. The upcoming 2-pack of Luke and Lumiya from the Marvel comics will most likely be my favoritest thing of 2009, simply because it scratches an itch I've had for nearly 20 years, back form a time when I first bought a Star Wars comic. The upcoming Shira Brie is also cool, but not as awesome. The concept stuff is great, but I was extremely happy with the 2007 offerings to the point where I wasn't left wanting more.
...and I'm not just saying this because a Blurrgh appeared in an episode. Or because it wouldn't be unrealistic for the Fromm Gang to show up around this time period.
4. Why are people so upset with the price increase in figures? In 1999, Episode I figures were $6.99 at most places, even $8.99 at KB Toys if I remember correctly. 10 years later, they're only a dollar more and the quality has improved tremendously! I know, in 2002 figures were $4.99 for a while, but a great deal were pre-posed and look poor compared to today's figures.
People do not like to part with their money-- quality or quantity means nothing to some fans, it's all about the actual amount spent. Hasbro could go from a $6.99 single figure to a $8.99 2-pack and you'd hear nothing but complaining. That's the nature of our people.
With the increase to $5.99 in 1998, they started adding more articulation, parts, and Freeze Frames. In 1999 to $6.99, it's a CommTech chip and, arguably, better overall sculpting and deco. And it's been a wacky roller-coaster ever since. A lot of those 2002 figures were really excellent, like Bespin Luke, Ephant Mon, Chewbacca, and all those magnets. But I'm easy to please. With the build-a-droid parts I think the current figures are as good a deal as they were at $6.99. But really, there's no denying the value of sticker shock. Hasbro could make the figures twice as big, fans would still be taken aback by an increase. It's just our nature.
5. Just by looking at how many toys have been fluctuating slowly from store to store - I can tell toy madness has died down considerably for Star Wars and trendy toys are not even as hot from current block buster movies. What do you think the hottest Star Wars toy will be for this year and what about current toy conventions have they leaked out any upcoming hot exclusives.
From what I've been hearing, The Clone Wars has been performing extraordinarily well, and while I don't know if it's going to do as well this Summer as it has for the past year, it's still doing fine. Kids are buying, collectors are buying. It's likely to be the future of the line until we see another movie or a live-action series, as Hasbro is hesitant to hitch its star to the video games as a source of characters.
At this point it seems that The Clone Wars is taking the line a kid-friendly series should, with a few exceptions. For example, have you looked at what Ahsoka is selling for on eBay these days? $20-$30. She hasn't shipped in quite some time, so if anything we're seeing that Hasbro doesn't quite know how to fill demand for kids like they seemingly do for collectors, at least in the sense of what people are willing to spend on the secondary market. If anything, I'd say the stars of the cartoon will remain hot for a while, because kids really do want Rex, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and so forth. I know it's hard to believe, but take a tally of what is and isn't selling at your local stores and you'll see that I'm probably pretty close to the mark.
As to the other blockbuster properties? It seems that yes, things may be a little slower with some key popular items selling. Transformers isn't nearly as insane as 2007, which is probably good because this is likely more an issue of Hasbro not leaving money on the table than diminished demand. Except Robot Replicas, those kinda suck. The new G.I. Joe property seems to be trying really hard to please kids and collectors, which may be tough if the film sucks and that stigma brushes off on the toys-- which seem just as good as if not better than the previous line.
Comic-Con is just a couple of weeks away, and as always I'll be there with a camera taking pictures and occupying the Entertainment Earth booth between meetings. Feel free to say hello if you're there.
Unless ShopStarWars.com has a surprise exclusive, which is possible, odds are the only items for sale for Star Wars Hasbro fans will be the X-wing Luke with Ladder and Stupid Grin plus the reissue of the Stormtrooper Commander from the Force Unleashed in the new packaging. Kudos to Hasbro for listening to fan demand for another go at that one. The X-wing pilot... not so much. Also available are Gentle Giant's Pink Vader Helmet & Red Stormtrooper Statue & McQuarrie Concept Boba Fett bust, Funko's 501st Clone Trooper Funko Force figure, and Sideshow's Luke & Han in Stormtrooper disguise.
Here's hoping we'll see some great surprises at the show, but as things like the Galactic Heroes Slave I begin to leak out plus all the leaked The Clone Wars figures, it seems unlikely there's going to be a ton of new items to show off. But there's always a few, and I'm hopeful they'll be great.
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!
Click here to read the previous installment of Galactic Hunter Q&A!
Follow me on Twitter! Or don't!