Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
October 29, 2009
1. My question involves the comic packs line and it's potential end. I have loved this line, like many others, from the beginning. As a figure and comic collector it's been the best thing going for me in the Star Wars line for a couple of years now, and supplied me with wanted figures from the expanded universe. I have often wondered how Hasbro could afford the line. I mean they always talk about the cost of tooling, and packaging in the basic line as a reason why certain figures can't/won't be produced. Then I go to Wal Mart and get a comic pack for $12.88 or a single card figure for $7.68. The math doesn't seem to work out in my head especially when the comic packs may offer 2 new sculpts, as in the Dark Empire Luke and Emperor clone, or the entire line out now with Krayt, Lumiya, Vong,etc. Can you please explain how the pricing works out with 2 new sculpts and comic? Don't get me wrong I love the pricing and 2 years ago when you could score them for $9.99 or $10.99 was even better. Also if the line is declining will we see the release for the comic packs from SDCC with Tholme or Exar Kun, the 2010 line the showed us or the Wal Mart exclusive packs that were supposed to be out already? Hell I'm still waiting to see the Droid Factory sets from Wal Mart in my area. Would love a Corin Horn if anyone wants to sell one.
When it comes to prices, there's a weird balance. For example, Hasbro says that retailers are free to set their own prices-- which is true, but typically the prices are very closely tied to Hasbro's wholesale prices, which I can't get into too much without getting in trouble. But over the years, when this information flowed a little more freely, a lot of interesting tidbits came out as to how cheap the figure itself was and how much of the price was devoted to things like freight, packaging, and licensing fees.
So why might two figures in a package be cheaper than one? Simple-- reduced materials and freight cost, for starters. It takes slightly more materials to make a 2-pack package than it does a single one, and you save a bundle in freight because the amount of space a basic carded figure takes up in a Hasbro shipping case is significant. It's not too hard to fit two figures in there, so Hasbro essentially is passing some of its reduced costs along to you. Hasbro saves money when they put 2, 3, or more figures into a single package, particularly when the designs for said package are slightly more space-sensitive. Take a look at the 2000-2005 G.I. Joe line as a fine example, you typically got two action figures for $6-$8, which was a real bargain even then. 3-figure comic packs (mostly old molds with new heads and deco) were $9.99. There are absolutely huge savings in multi-packs. (Heck, look at exclusive boxed sets compared to single exclusive figures.) The comic itself is basically free, it costs something like a quarter to print these, royalties are of course a separate issue.
Hasbro also saves a little bit of money by continuing to ship old figures. When Hasbro ships Darth Vader and a Rebel Trooper again, that's pure profit-- the product development is done, they just cash the check. This lowers the product development costs of the assortment, and the average per-figure price in the case at least a little bit, which certainly doesn't hurt.
So-- what about those figures? A fine question. It all depends on the stage of the development process, and Hasbro's own desires. We know neither of these. If Hasbro already completed the tooling on Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma-- and boy oh boy I hope they did-- then they're invested in these to a point where they will most likely show up somewhere, be it a Comic-Con exclusive or perhaps even a future boxed set or even as a basic carded figure. If Hasbro has not already created the tooling, it may be in their best interests just to walk away and call it a day. If you start seeing unpainted test shots on eBay from China, that means you're in luck. (Or, you know, something official from Hasbro.)
As to the Droid Factory sets, boy are you out of luck. By all accounts, we've seen all of it. If it's gone from your area, you likely missed it. As some stores received only 4 sets, it's possible two collectors snapped them all up and that was that.
2. I have a lot of loose figures and know that you are the loose figure king. Just wondering what is the best way to store or your preferred way of storing loose figures, ie bags, tackle boxes, whathaveyou? I was going to use bags but I think you are a fan of the storage/ tackle box. I am also afraid the bags cause figure discoloration etc. Any tips, also if it is some kind of box you use, please let me know where to find those, and I while I am on the subject how do you store the blasters and accessories, as well as loose ships too?
First, let me put these rules up. 1. Don't smoke. (Smoking does discolor some plastics, particularly white plastic figures from before 2004, over time.) 2. Keep stuff in a cool, dry, preferably dark place. 3. Keep it out of the sun. Seriously. Keep it the Hell out of the sun's direct rays.
The perfect storage solution will allow the figures to "breathe" slightly so moisture doesn't build up inside the storage thing. You can use little plastic bags, and I have, but if you go cheap your figures may get damaged. For larger figures, this may be the only decent solution, but most figures will fit inside fishing tackle boxes. My models of choice are the Plano 3700 (available at Kmart stores, formerly at Wal-Mart) and the Flameau 5007, formerly sold at Wal-Mart. If you hunt around you should be able to get these for $4-$5, and depending on how you store your figures each one should fit a minimum of 12 action figures. $0.25 or so per figure isn't too bad in the long run. I prefer this plus some cheapo shelving, it works like an efficient filing system and it makes it easy to get to stuff if I sort it right. (Note: my stuff has been in disarray since 2000 and I'm just now trying to fix it up. It's a big job.) I keep my weapons with the figures.
Other fans have suggested a cheaper solution involves those sliding tray things you see at your favorite big box stores (variations on this). You get these, then you line it with bubble wrap, and lay figures on top of the wrap. Then you put a layer on top of that, with more figures, and repeat. This is great for long-term storage, but if you actually want to get to your stuff? Seems kinda clunky.
Keep in mind that simple aging will cause some plastics to break down and discolor. There's literally nothing you can do in some cases, short of trying some of the whitening solutions fans come up with, but as to prevention there's really nothing in some cases. So be careful! We don't know long-term effects of tackle box storage, although POTF2 figures I've had stored since around 1998 have been fine so far.
What I want to find is a good paper solution-- I've stored some larger toys in paper lunch bags, and these have worked out perfectly. If I had a cardboard box with tiny dividers with slots, I bet that would work really well too.
That's great for figures, but vehicles? I haven't found one yet. I would suggest making sure you absolutely do not use foam peanuts without some other covering, as I have seen foam peanuts "melt" to vehicles over time and it's a real pain to scrape them off labels and damage is likely. I would suggest wrapping vehicles in packing paper or paper bags, or if you have them, old sheets and/or towels. I keep my ships on display, so I haven't had to box my stuff for the long run yet.
3. I read the forums at various sites and saw a comment recently regarding the molds for some of the vintage toys. The comment was that the Cloud Car mold along with others is at the bottom of Hong Kong Harbor. I've heard some of the old molds are lost or damaged but haven't heard anything like this before. Do you know anything about it and if it's true how did that happen?
It's not entirely true. Some of the molds are in Macau.
A lot of old toy molds weren't properly catalogged and stored-- it used to be common wisdom that when a trend ran its course, the mold to make the toys were probably worthless. Hasbro licensed some to other toy companies like Funskool and Olmec Toys to make other products, and a lot of molds became anchors for boats in a harbor. After all, what the heck are you going to do with a giant worthless heavy chunk of metal? Since most toy lines ended and went away, and didn't stick around for 15 years, this was a really sensible thing to do. It's not like Major Matt Mason has made a comeback yet, Chatty Cathy isn't exactly a household name these days, and Stretch Armstrong got redesigned when he came back a while ago.
As collectors, we tend to be packrats. (Or at least, I am.) The notion of throwing out something you might be able to use (or sell) later is simply ridiculous, but we're in a different era where companies now truly value their old molds and tend to get a lot more mileage out of them than they used to. With Transformers, Hasbro and Takara have reused some molds to the point where they have informed fans that they no longer function. And these are recent toys, specifically Transformers Armada Mini-Cons if anyone's taking notes.
4. I don't understood why Lucas doesn't do CGI movies/shows about Luke, Han and Leia. They could adapt the novels and comics as well as creating new stories. And they could even probably get some of the original voice actors back, I'm sure Hamill, Williams and Daniels would be in at the very least. It would maintain kids' interest in the original trilogy, and older fans like myself would be interested. I have no interest in these Clone Wars shows, but I might tune in to the further adventures of Luke, Han and Leia and gang. Do you think Lucas is purposefully holding out on post-ROTJ movies and TV shows?
Lucas has been quoted a few times as saying something to the effect of he's done telling the story of Luke, Han, and Leia and leaves it in the hands of the various authors of the Expanded Universe. So unless he's covering for something, he's basically moved on from those characters. Since he was recently involved in the prequels, it makes sense to springboard from that time period with The Clone Wars and the nameless TV show which I assume will be out after The Clone Wars ends. (Two Star Wars TV shows on at once seems too good to be true.)
So yeah, he's holding out-- but with good reason. He's done. And if he's done, that's it, show's over.
5. Is there any reason that Hasbro has decided that getting Ahsoka out on a new card is not a good idea? Anakin, Obi, and Rex are seeing refreshes but why not her? In my opinion she is the most interesting thing to come out of the cartoon.
Hasbro did indeed rerelease Ahsoka Tano with Rotta the Hutt on the new red packaging, it's just in slightly shorter supply. I've seen two, one of which is in my stash.
So this week I just got the new Battle Packs which, sadly, I have not had time to open all of just yet. I cracked open the Endor one a couple of days back, and it's great. Sure, Warok looks nothing like the figure I've had for years, but he's pretty cool. The Endor Poncho Luke is pretty well done, the mold is a recycled 2007 Jedi Luke but the lighter skin color makes him look all the better. And Col. Dyer? Just fine. The clone with the grub is pretty good, but the grub itself is pretty iffy. No real articulation or moving parts, but the head can be squeezed so the little pincers close. It's a neat and unusual toy, but the set could have absolutely benefitted from the inclusion of a second trooper.
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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