Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
September 14, 2009

 

1. Do you think Hasbro will make Jariah Syn (Legacy) and Zane Carrick (KOTOR) action figures anytime soon? I mean according to San Diego Comic were getting Deliah and Jarel in comic-packs first wave in 2010 why not them. And I'm sort of shocked that they made Jarel before Zane sense he is the main character of KOTOR. Whats your make on it?
--Marze

Hasbro's decisions on character selection are really all over the place-- for example, we got HK-47 and numerous Sith Lords, but no Jedi from Knights of the Old Republic. Hasbro put out the AT-ST 18 months before a driver. In short, what you're seeing is normal-- I'm a little surprised we don't have Zayne yet either, and I figure we'll see him eventually somehow, but for all I know it's in development as a surprise Q4 exclusive set. (Stranger things have happened.)

Assuming the comic pack line continues, Hasbro is always going to need something else to do later-- when doing 2-packs, it generally makes sense to put a character that should be a strong seller with one that may not be. (This doesn't explain Darth Nihil and Deliah Blue, though.) Hasbro is going to need some "A" characters from the Expanded Universe for later, and if the comic pack line is indeed flailing-- and given there was a new wave in January and then pretty much nothing until August, well, what would you expect?-- figures like Zayne may be strong enough to work as individually packaged figures in a future basic card Expanded Universe wave. So I'm OK waiting. Failing that, there's always Fan's Choice 2012.

2.Why is it that I can walk into any TRU or Target and find their exclusives without much trouble but when I try to find them at Walmart's It's never easy. For example when the new Droid Factory sets came out I hit 7 Walmart's over a 4 day period and only saw them at one store.
--barbara

Wal-Mart's distribution varies by store. Not city, not state, but store. Here in Los Angeles, I can go to some stores and they get new exclusives, but are gone in 72 hours. (Yes, I check.) I go to other stores-- daily-- and then never see some exclusives at all, but then stumble on ONE Evolutions pack, meaning they were there, I just missed them. I don't know your region specifically, but sometimes your not going to the stores often enough (at least weekly, or more than once a week if you expect something should be hitting) means you might be missing out if your store just gets a case or two. Toys "R" Us seems to gobble up big numbers of high-dollar items, which, on the whole, don't sell quickly. Wal-Mart's more expensive exclusives tend to stick around a bit, like the gunship last year. If it's under $20, it goes in a couple of weeks, typically. Target's preference toward some sort of "set date" makes it easy-- the stuff hits en masse all at once, so your luck is generally improved for that reason.

Still, it's always going to vary. There was a time when people would complain it was Toys "R" Us that had the worst distribution. Wal-Mart has been a consistent pain since 2005, starting with the Early Bird Kits not even shipping to several stores, but from the sound of things you're finding what I'm finding, and likely what others are finding-- there is no such thing as one-stop toy collecting shopping.

3. In your 24 August Q&A, under "Echo Base Invasion," you said, "throw that unreleased clean-shaven [Hoth Rebel Soldier] in here if it isn't coming out any other way, which seems to be the case." What did you mean by that? Will the beardless Hoth Rebel Soldier II be released on the red-and-white card back as part of Legacy Collection?
--Edward

According to Hasbro, it seems there are no plans to release the Hoth Rebel Soldier on a red card as of today. Also, there are no plans to ship it on a blue card. So now the real question is when will we get one? Hopefully as an added figure in a 2010 wave.

4. I was wondering whether you believe collectors are starting to lose interest in collecting the Star Wars 3 3/4" line. While I certainly applaud Hasbro for making more obscure characters from all six movies, it seems that the emphasis on the Clone Wars animated line and the fact that they've made just about all of the main characters and vehicles that there's not much to really anticipate other than endless repaints and updates to figures and vehicles that have already been released. I live in San Diego and it seems that the Star Wars section in the various stores rarely gets any interest or attention.

While there will obviously be a hard core group of collectors who will buy anything Star Wars related, do you think we're approaching a 1985 Power of the Force situation all over again?
--Joel

The insanity that was the end of the line is likely something that's going to happen some day-- but not now. There's no reason to panic as long as Target, Toys "R" Us, and Wal-Mart are all supporting the line. When that stops? OK, start freaking out.

Since 2006, fans have said Hasbro is out of ideas for main characters in the movie-themed line. Since then we've seen new Lukes, Leias, Boba Fetts, Clone Troopers, droids, and more. Hasbro's ability to get dozens of figures out of Darth Vader-- essentially a one-costume character if this were any other toy line-- proves that the line has legs. The stuff is selling.

As to your locale, I don't know San Diego too well but I will say if you're going to fewer than 3 locations of any given chain, your sampling is basically worthless. Nothing personal, but I see such a varied distribution and sales in stores from neighborhood to neighborhood, and you guys share with me other issues, and Hasbro still sees other things, that clearly, what we see is not necessarily the best evidence of what's going on. Like some say, exclusives are impossible to get-- and I go to another store 10 miles down the road, and they're drowning on them, marking them down.

The sky is not falling. Hasbro has at least 6-8 really good Cantina aliens left, as many Ewoks as they'd like to do, several main characters to redo as new sculpting techniques come into being, and so on. I mean honestly-- after the 2007 figure, is it wrong to expect a fourth visit to Ceremonial Luke? Is it unrealistic to expect a better Jedi Knight Luke after the arguably awful 2007 version and the seeming negative response to the 2009 version? I don't think so.

Star Wars' longevity is going to be thanks to three core facts. 1. Every year, a new generation of kids turns 4. 2. Parents often buy kids what they wanted as kids, and as such, some brands keep coming back and selling. 3. Many collectors are sticking with the line almost out of spite, to see it out to the end no matter what.

Hasbro seemingly has a year and a half to two years on deck with product ready to go into production as needed. With something like 50 figures in the red packaging for Legacy alone, I don't think we're seeing a real slowdown until we're down to maybe 20-30 new releases a year, and with all the comic packs and exclusives we're a long ways off from that stage.

5.Sorry if you have touched on this before, but I'm pretty outraged and need to let it out. At a recent WalFart trip, I came across the new Darktrooper B-A-D sets...for a whopping $17 each! These sets were only $12 last year and eventually dropped to $10 at some stores. What the h*ll is with the outrageous price increase? That's $8.50 a figure, about $1.25 more than I'm paying for pegged figs. I think WalFart might be keeping these until they hit a clearance rack (in 2013). Do you think the Target Geonosis Arena 2-packs will be similarly priced?
--Mazter Jedi

Wal-Fart? Is this the level of discourse we're at now? (And for the record, you're allowed to say "Hell" in this column to your heart's content, no need to self-censor.)

Some stores-- notably Toys "R" Us-- have started getting exclusives in and, after a month or three, started jacking up the prices. This was unusual in that the prices were far higher than expected with the Droid Factory. $17 a unit may be a result of the supposedly lower quantities that Hasbro mentioned at Comic-Con this year, or Wal-Mart doing the math and saying "We sell figures for $8 each, and this box has two figures in it plus an extra piece. How does $17 grab you?" While expensive, it's not exactly a rip-off. It just isn't a great deal like we had last year.

So last year, we spent $60 and got 13 figures-- a steal. This year, we spent $85 and got 11 figures, some of which had no changes. (Hasbro, if you're reading, that's my main beef. At least repaint Anakin or something.) The value overall was lowered, but remember, we got last year's Droid Factory Wal-Mart packs before Hasbro increased the snot out of prices across the board. $7.72 (the per-figure price of the 2009 Wal-Mart Droid Factory) certainly isn't a spectacular value, but I don't feel we're being taken to the cleaners. At $20 per? Yeah, we're getting hosed. What I don't get is why fans are suddenly mad with these, yet gladly paid $13 for Target's overpriced clamshell exclusives and had no problem shelling out $10-$13 for the frankly obscenely overpriced "Vintage" collections over the years. How is this the worst of them? That I don't get. We've had worse.

Target's sets are currently in their systems at $12.99 per unit. Target has recently changed prices over time, so if Hasbro increases the price to Target, or Target decides to jack them up and see how we react, they could go up. For the time being, you should expect to pay $12.99. And failing that, Target's clearance rack may assist you down the road.

FIN

I bring this up and I'm pretty sure nobody believes me. But I'm here to talk to you about toy hunting today.

I've mentioned many times that if you don't go to the same store multiple times per week, you might very well miss things. In the past week, I've been to several Wal-Marts each several times. One in particular helps me prove a point.

On Wednesday, September 2, the store had the new Jek & Yoda and Thire & Rys sets-- a full PDQ display of them. I returned on Monday, and they were totally sold out. I came back again on Wednesday and they had a PDQ and change worth of Evolutions packs, and a chunk of those sold through when I returned on Friday-- when I came back to the first sighting of Cody & Echo and Rex & Fives, and they were down to 1 Cody/Echo and 3 Rex/Fives.

My point is this: stuff sells out quickly. Wal-Mart stores in particular are designed to turn over product extremely fast, and they replenish so quickly with other products that you might not realized it already sold through. In less than two days, an item came in and sold through completely-- an exclusive, no less! So many of the questions I get are "my stores aren't getting new product, what do I do?" and I honestly don't think people believe me when I tell them they need to go more frequently. A single case of the new The Phantom Menace figures from the build-a-droid series has but one of each figure per case, so a single carded collector could wipe out a store's shipment. If they open and collect packaged figures too, that could eat up two or more cases.

The point I'm getting at is that it isn't always the store distribution. They make tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of many of these items and stores like Wal-Mart-- especially Wal-Mart-- have hundreds if not thousands of people going there daily for soda, cough drops, video games, toothpaste, socks, all kinds of stuff. Just imagine that if a tiny percentage of those people just happen to look over at the toy aisle in case they need a gift, a collectible, or a get-well present. There's a reason this stuff blows out in less than a week, unless it's a flop.

So with that thought, happy hunting!

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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