Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
August 10, 2009
1. Well I guess I have a small gripe regarding the new star wars action figure packaging. I like the smaller packaging and all, but the design really ... well... sucks. I like the look but the design doesn't lend to keeping the card back in good condition during shipping. All the new figures I have seen as of late have been bent on edge. As a carded figure collector (and yes there are some of us left) this just blows. It is nearly impossible to find a "decent" card back. I love the new clone wars figures. For an animated style figure the look is excellent. The card back art is excellent but could Hasbro do something to help keep the card backs from getting damaged in shipping? The Movie style G.I. Joe figures look great and the card backs look perfect at retail.. it's too bad Hasbro couldn't use that as a template for future Star Wars cards. It's small yet sturdy and doesn't lend itself to bending during shipping. I am just depressed that I think this line is going to be impossible to find in "decent shape"... What's your 2 cents worth?
The overall line look is often dictated in part by Lucasfilm, which has a template which is used across all licensees. As such, some elements are no doubt dictated by Lucas' camp. As far as finding a mint one goes, well, it's a mixed bag. On one hand, it makes a perfect specimen just a little more desirable, on another, it's something of a hassle.
I should also point out that pretty much 100% of Joe fans seem to say they hate the Rise of Cobra packaging and vastly prefer the previous G.I. Joe classic style cardbacks. So there's some grass is greener stuff going on here. I'm not a huge fan of this particular packaging style in 2009, but I didn't love the last iteration of Legacy either-- if it all looks alike, it's pretty disposable. I am, however, glad that it's a little bit smaller, which is pretty much good for all parties involved in the long run.
The supervillain in me is totally cool with the product being slightly dinged up-- because in the long run, that means there will be fewer totally mint figures, which might mean that there could be a long-term interest in people paying a premium for perfect figures from this line. Maybe. Probably not, if recent history on eBay is any indicator, people just stop caring about basic figures within 12-18 of their release.
2. I know Leia wasn't shown actually drinking on Jabba's barge, but she comes with a glass as an accessory.Maybe Hasboo is going to suprise us with a big sail barge.The turbo tank is coming,and last year we got two large vechicles.Leia also comes with a pair of standing legs so she can "fire at the deck!". Throw that crappy Jabba's Sail Barge R2 in as a pack in and I'd be interested.
Most likely, the cup is there as an added bonus since Hasbro likely had a few pennies left in which to cost out the figure and had to make something. While I do love Hasbro, I think their ability to keep things completely secret is pretty up in the air. Or, to be a little less diplomatic, they haven't been very good at it. Hints are dropped, pictures are leaked, etc. Also, Hasbro point-blank said "we're not doing a Sail Barge." I have to agree with their sentiments that it seems like it would be a weak seller, but since fans won't be happy unless it's a giant $200 monster anyway it seems like a good item for Hasbro to not do.
I don't expect another "big" item this year since Comic-Con has come and gone... anything over $100 would likely require sufficient media attention and at this point, Hasbro would be very unlikely to wait for the very last minute. We'd know by now. (Or at least I assume, I'd know by now.) If anything, I expect that glass to be for a Jabba figure that we either don't have yet, or the Saga 2004 release. (And a note to Hasbro if they're reading and working on a new Jabba: the 1983 version had the arm tattoo sculpted on it. None of the modern ones have it. It might be worth including on the next one.)
3. About a year ago, a line of Star Wars key-chains called Stack-Ems were introduced by a company called Basic Fun, Inc. Darth Vader, a Stormtrooper, and Boba Fett were all available. I rather liked these LEGO-ish figures. Are there any additional waves of these available and/or on the way?
These got dumped at Big Lots-- so maybe. Three series were produced, the second of which includes C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca. Series 3 has clones Rex, Fox, and Cody.
4. Has Hasbro ever said why they no longer put more figures on the back of the cardbacks? Obviously, they can't put everything there but wouldn't it make sense to at least put more than just the figures that are shipping in the current wave? For example, today I picked up the Cad Bane wave. On the back of Bane's card, they only pictured the other figures that are in Bane's wave? Wouldn't it make sense to picture a few other waves on the cardbacks as well? In thise case, the Bane wave is wave 8 and the last wave I actually saw in stores was wave 4 (Magnaguard wave). Without putting more figures on the backs of the cards, I wouldn't even know I am now 20+ figures behind?
They give different reasons at different times, but as you pointed out, now they're basically trying to stick to figures shipping right now-- but the internal paper catalog sometimes has other upcoming releases, which makes sense, as few figures seem to ship beyond their initial release these days. It's entirely possible Hasbro doesn't want to put options out there, particularly if those are options a fan can't get. As a kid, I'd not buy a toy after looking on the back and seeing something better. When Kenner did Batman Returns, a vehicle showed Catwoman and none of the figure cardbacks did-- so I figured I could skip the Bat-variants and wait for Ms. Kyle. I don't doubt that Hasbro would rather fans buy something they might actually see rather than hold off for some other thing.
Much like the bulk of fans, Hasbro seems most interested in looking ahead. If things go according to plan, the figures which are "out now" probably will be gone in a few short weeks, so Hasbro probably doesn't want to spend effort promoting them. Although if the rumors are true about the future of the packaging line look, I'd love to see Hasbro return to the "let's show everything" style cardback, even for just one year.
5. I've not heard much about the 2" Unleashed line and didn't see any photos of any offerings from this line at ComiCon. I know Wal-Mart has single-(re)packed exclusives and a lot of the figures have been re-released on single cards for places like Dollar General, Big Lots, and Family Dollar. However, is the line now "dead?" I rather liked this missing link between the RPG miniatures and the basic 3.75" figures. Any hope of this line continuing?
Wal-Mart also got a completely unpromoted assortment of single-carded (and stickered) figures from these packs, but it seems to have finally run out of steam. It was fun for some, others hated these. With no new product introductions, it's likely that any new product will be exclusive, or canned.
I got my Turbo Tank last week, and I'm actually really happy with it. I'm a little surprised to see fans genuinely disappointed it isn't in scale-- really, does anyone want it to be twice as big and three times as expensive?-- but it's pretty great. I'm particularly pleased by the fact that they made it compatible with figures that can't easily sit down, which is unusual for Hasbro. For example, there are these pockets for figures in the area behind where the pilots sit, so you can have a Jedi bark orders at the troops. Also, the gunner areas allow figures to stand in some places, while not requiring a full 90-degree bend to sit down in others. Nice job!
Still, it's a big, expensive toy and as such it's going to be up to you if it's worthwhile. I feel most collectors get as much out of a $10 toy as a $100 toy-- which is, get it, open it, shelve it, and move on-- so buy appropriately if you're on a budget. I've had a lot more fun with it in a few days than other toys I've had for months, though, so I would deem it worth your while if you have a ton of figures, which I would wager you do.
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!