Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 12, 2009
1. I was wondering if Hasbro would make a label sheet to customize the Republic Gunship, for example, female Twi'lek, Crumb Bomber, etc. If not, is there a website where I could print them?
While common in Transformers and G.I. Joe circles, custom Star Wars sticker sheets seem to be something of a rarity. At this time, Hasbro doesn't make anything like this for sale individually, and it's very unlikely they'll make a sheet with the ships as they'd rather you just buy the ship again. I suggest you-- or someone out there-- get cracking, as an "upgrade" sheet of stickers could have some real value. Or rather, it would, if more people opened their stuff.
2. You may have answered this before, and if so, sorry to ask again, but I have to. I've been looking for the Target exclusive battle packs ĞAmbush at Abregado, and Assault on Ryloth. According to pics from the Hasbro booth at comic con, they were supposed to be on shelf September 6. Well, no go at my two Targets in town, but of course, they're available online at Brian's Toys at $49.99 each, and a couple of other etailers. What's up with that? If something is a store exclusive, and hasn't even started selling yet, how can that "exclusive" already be available at other stores? Same goes with the Walmart exclusive Octuptarra droid, it's available at lots of online toy stores, yet it's an exclusive.
So, how does this happen? Does Hasbro ship these exclusives to other vendors?
Thing the first: Hasbro are a bunch of liars when it comes to dates. Those little tent cards with release dates at conventions are estimates, and the specific dates you see on any item is largely just a rough guesstimate. Hasbro doesn't know exactly when a distribution center is going to get a figure and when that figure is going to be delivered to a store near you-- it really is something I wish they'd drop in favor of just the month or, better still, the season. Target is currently the only store that has some sort of consistent internal "set dates," but those are frequently broken and items just tend to show up whenever.
Items show up early at other online sellers through a variety of sources-- first, make sure they're actually in stock. It's not uncommon for pre-orders or magazine ads to have prices for items that aren't out yet. (ToyFare frequently includes unreleased toys in their Hot Secondary Market Top 10 lists, or at least they did for a long time.) So that's one possibility-- the others are that these are sneaking out the back door, which isn't too hard to pull off at Target, or perhaps they're coming from Asia or another region which got them early. The higher prices may reflect transportation costs, or the usual mark-up for stores that buy up an item and resell it online.
When an online seller has another store's exclusive in stock, it's often-- but not always-- purchased at the stores you shop at and flipped back at you. Take a look at the pricing-- are you being charged double for an exclusive? If so, you can probably bank on it having been ganked from an actual retail store and sold back to you, or transported from Asia.
3. I was recently unpacking some older figures that I had hastily stored in a large Ziploc bag. I've noticed that several of the figures are pretty significantly warped or misshapen. I have a few other figures (mainly some Battle Droids) that have bent under their own weight. Do you have any suggestions on how to reform droopy figures? I have a vague memory of reading a tip that cooling a figure after a few seconds in boiling water would restore the "memory" in the plastic. I'm too chicken to try it without being sure and a quick Google search didn't turn up what I was looking for. So, I though you might be able to help me out.
The prescription will vary from figure to figure and region to region, because heat and gravity tend to be the problems. In some cases, laying a figure on its back in a warm (or hot) room and letting nature take its course may help. It might also make it droop elsewhere. Dipping the figure in hot (like insane hot) water and holding it in place somehow as it cools also works, but there's always a chance to burn yourself.
I'm just now transferring massive amounts of bagged figures to tackle boxes, which is probably what you should consider. Not necessarily the fishing bait/tackle boxes like I use, but a different, harder storage material may be in order. Also, don't worry about damaging your figures-- check the going rates on closed eBay auctions. If you need to replace it, it's not like it'll cost you a lot. My experience is that generally speaking, it's the accessories that are going to give you trouble.
4. I'm baffled at the most recent Luke DS2 release (and a bit more baffled as GH's label as 'best jedi Luke ever').
I've been a long time collector (grew up and started on day 1 of POTF2 (long sabers and all!))
The only release we saw of DS2 Luke was the Throne Room Duel cinema scene (my favorite). We waited six years for them to revisit DS2 Luke, that being Throne Room Duel Luke (god how we suffered. What did we do to deserve this release?) We've waited ANOTHER six years for an attempt at DS2 Luke, and from the hype surrounding this figure, it sure didn't deliver.
What do you think went wrong? How could this much demanded figure (and a personal fan fav. of mine) get the raw treatment yet again? I was (foolishly) expecting VOTC Han 2.0(superior quality) in this figure, and instead got a modern, action featureless TuRD Luke. Think they'll get the message collectors are not pleased? I've seen some boards on the net and some people are not happy (putting that lightly).
"Best ever" is relative. Have you seen the other Death Star-specific Jedi Knight Luke figures? This thing could be a Tatooine Luke painted black and it would still fare well.
For whatever reason, Hasbro changes each new release in a variety of ways, sometimes improving some features while making others worse. In the case of this specific figure, it seems that we're in some sort of weird loop in which we see improvements while at the same time, the figure still needs a lot of work.
In the case of the 2009 Death Star Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker figure, I'd put it at "great but not perfect." Clearly, it's not Han Solo from 2004, but another tiny step toward the best figure we're going to get. Were I a more paranoid man I'd assume Hasbro was doing tiny little updates to keep the line going another ten years-- and really, why shouldn't they? They're quite capable at making something great and at times, we get something that's OK, or maybe merely good. This figure is one of those I'd call pretty good, but where's the lightsaber hilt that can hang on his belt? Why are the shoulders so broad and the thighs basically rubbing together? As a toy it's pretty good-- I like the new waist, the swappable vest thing basically works, and it does pose nicely-- but it does still look a little off.
Still, before you complain too much, I'd say see it in person and if someone lets you, try and play with one. It's not as bad as the photos make it look, and those that say it is a lot better once you get your hands on it are telling the truth. It's just not perfection, and as Hasbro recycles so many bits and pieces to cut costs, it could be a while. Look at what a joke the various TIE Fighters have been-- each one has a tiny element upgraded, and Hasbro sold us all on over a half dozen of the things as a result. Luke is no different. We'll see another new version, perhaps improved, in the next few years.
5. My wife and I were having a conversation about what the next AT-TE/Turbo Tank-sized vehicle will (could) be... We decided that, in our opinion, the Twilight and Republic Attack Shuttle would be the most likely candidates based on a few factors:
1. Both have plenty of screen time in the animated movie and TV series.
2. We've seen the inside of both vehicles in the TV show.
3. Both vehicles have already been immortalized by Lego (I know there's absolutely no affiliation, and Lego is able to churn out new models without the need to produce new tools, but there is some precedent here, as both of the recent large scale Hasbro vehicles, as well as several of the starfighter assortment vehicles, have first been realized in Lego)
4. (Putting my kid hat on here, because obvioulsy I'd but this toy for my 3 week old son, not me...) Both vehicles allow for several firing weapons as well as core-character focused play.
So I ask you... Do you agree with my assessment of the situation, and of the two options, which do you think will make it into plastic first, and for what reasons...?
I've made no secret about hoping that Hasbro does the Twilight first, as it's essentially an open-ended play toy that can do any of dozens of adventures. You can haul cargo, go on rescue missions, have space fights, and all sorts of goodies. It's essentially Anakin Skywalker's Millennium Falcon, which is very appealing. It also gives kids another Anakin-specific ship, which could be great. It's possible Hasbro prefers to sell Clone-specific stuff based on sales, but I don't have any insight on this.
The Republic Attack Shuttle is neat, but it hasn't been given many chances to shine yet. Arguably, neither has the Y-Wing Bomber, and yet I have one in my toy box now. It's very likely Hasbro will pursue either or both options if the series continues to perform well, but we don't know which-- if any-- large price points will survive 2009. Will the ARC 170/Y-Wing assortment collapse because nobody seemingly wanted to pay $70 for a formerly $30 vehicle? Will the $100 price point get dropped because enough people didn't know what a Turbo Tank was? (After all, as of its release, it's not like it was in the cartoon yet.) Who knows? There seems to be little reasoning why certain things get made beyond Hasbro deciding "hey let's do this." I don't think there's as much reasoning involved beyond "can we sell a lot of these at a specified cost?" and "is there any existing buzz?"
When you get right down to it, the AT-TE hasn't been given too much to do on the series, and the Turbo Tank is scheduled for Season 2. And the Y-Wing? When did we see that, once? All three of these exist most likely because Hasbro realized older movie fans also would have an interest in them for one reason or another, and the fact that you can buy a Turbo Tank and Y-Wing Bomber says that Hasbro has more than a little faith in higher price points.
...not that this is getting at your question. History says Hasbro would be more likely to do a Clone vehicle, but hey, I can't exactly trace a logical path as to why we got the vehicles we got when we got them. All I can say is I'd very much like to see a decent Twilight, and the Republic Attack Shuttle I could take or leave. Not that it's bad or anything, but I got plenty of Republic Gunships, and I have very few battered spice freighters that look like a Volvo copulated with a B-wing.
Much fuss has been made over the past week about the end of Legacy, as an action figure line with build-a-droid. I've said this before but I think it's worth repeating: Legacy is indeed going to come to an end. Every 12-18 months, Hasbro rebrands. We're about due. Since Revenge of the Sith, I've witnessed the end of The Saga Collection and The 30th Anniversary Collection, the end of The Legacy Collection is something that will most likely happen sooner than later. It wouldn't stun me if the Expanded Universe wave were the final batch of figures before the changeover, but I base this on nothing other than the speculation surrounding the fact that no wave has yet been announced to follow it.
Hasbro's Star Wars movie-themed line is still performing fairly well, as evidenced by the complete lack of product from the past 3 waves at most of your stores. (Speaking of, have you been checking Kohl's?) This could be do to lower production, or the possibility that stores continue to choke on Ak-Rev and Yarna D'al' Gargan figures months after Hasbro sent its agents in the wild to recall unsold product. (I can't speak for the country, just what I see in my own back yard.) Clearly, this stuff isn't making it out in the numbers fans would like, but I'm curious if the numbers getting out are meeting Hasbro's expectations or the sales needs of the retail space. Target employees once said the reason they stopped carrying some lines was because suppliers couldn't get them enough product-- so they would drop it for a period of time, despite performing well, as the shelf space was empty and therefore losing them money. I should also say I don't know how much truth is in this, but it was something I heard a lot from 2000-2002.
So while I think you can all safely assume build-a-droid is going to go away for a while (if not forever) and the "Legacy" name is going to be dropped, it feels unlikely that we're going to see an end to movie-based toys unless it dies by Hasbro's whim. Some lines can survive as collector-only brands as store exclusives for a while, as seen by the G.I. Joe line in the late 1990s, the current (and slowly dying) Target-only Justice League series, the Target-only Playmates Star Trek figures at the end of its run, etc. The three major retailers would likely support Star Wars as an exclusive brand would the opportunity arise, so I would say it's a little premature to say that the sky is falling, but the line is due for some serious thinning. After all, I just paid $70 for an exclusive brand-new Toys "R" Us exclusive Republic Gunship retool. That was not a pleasant purchase, nor was the $60 Lars Homestead a year ago, nor the $40 Starfighter assortment-with-figure repaints, and so on and so forth. There's still money to be had from this brand so I honestly don't expect it to go anywhere in the next year.
...I also wouldn't be shocked to see it pulled back as the new live-action series debuts, simply because it seems damn near impossible for Hasbro to succeed in supporting classic stuff, a new live-action show, and a cartoon (three separate new SKUs) all at once. Unless they merge them all into a single SKU, which, again, would not be a stunner after seeing it happen with the Battle Packs last year.
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!
PS - bonus Q&A on Wednesday this week! That's what happens when we get a lot of participation from you guys. Thanks!
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