Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
January 18, 2010
1.What's your take on the Fan's choice results? (I have to tell you, my first reaction was "Jocasta f**king Nu?"). It seems to me that certain characters were chosen at least party because Hasbro has expressed a disinterest in making them -- Nu, Jaxxon. If that's so (and it may not be), I'm not sure the fans taking an antagonistic tack toward Hasbro is either desirable or intelligent. Your thoughts?
And to think, I was just hoping someone would ask this.
After the first Fan's Choice poll, I found out fast that the outcome was basically like this: fan anger, soon followed by fan acceptance, and if the figure stuck around fan scorn would follow. Generally speaking I've been mostly happy with the figures picked, because we have such delights as Ellors Madak, Amanaman, Ephant Mon, the McQuarrie Stormtrooper, Captain Antilles, General Dodonna, Darth Revan, and kinda sorta Quinlan Vos. That's a pretty good pedigree, as most of these sold well enough-- particularly the McQuarrie Stormtrooper which Hasbro has gone back to the well on for a grand total of three runs. That's nothing to sneeze at. Unfortunately, Bastilla Shan (the winner of the last ToyFare/Hasbro poll, see ToyFare #151) isn't as well known, buyer-friendly, or in-demand. But if there's one thing I've learned about the video game industry is that gamers are loyal and largely starved for toys, so I expect the latest winner to do OK. She isn't as cool as a Sith Lord but she should attract gamers to hunt her down to the point where she will most likely be a little tough to come by.
The most fascinating thing about the poll is how spread out the votes were-- most figures had roughly 4% or less. Jocasta Nu barely trailed the winner, and Darth Caedus performed well, as did Darth Plagueis. I've had the discussion with a lot of fans about Jocasta, and while I expect a figure of her to be a weaker seller, she does have dialogue in Attack of the Clones and also appears in the cartoons. So that's a plus for her, as she's a little recognizable to more than just hardcore fans or book fans. I think it's a pretty safe bet some of you know the other runners-up, but more likely, you don't.
Basically every fan is interpreting this data differently. Some are very upset by the lack of original trilogy characters in the top ten or in general, but after 15 years and thousands of figures I pretty much think these people are either trolling or whining. There are a lot of Knights of the Old Republic fans out there and while I am not one of them, they're a patient breed and Ms. Shan would only be the sixth figure from that game series. Considering how many people claim to love it, and the sales of the first five, why not go ahead and do it? (Besides, all the KOTOR figures are clearly selling and "worth something" if eBay is to be believed.)
...now, if you want to hear me complain? I voted for Jaxxon, and I find Darth Plagueis a weak choice. I'm not particularly interested in unseen backstory characters, particularly when the unseen backstory character is the dude who said "The Banking Clan will sign your treaty" with black robes on. So Bastila should be just fine, I think.
2. Question concerning the latest Wal-Mart exclusive Droid Factory sets. You know, the overpriced at $17 a pop and admittedly produced in low numbers ones?
Well, Hasbro has now come out and claimed that these weren't successful. Are they insane, mistaken, or putting a strange spin on things? They never showed up here in NJ in large numbers(meaning, they did not pegwarm or clog up distribution) When they did, they sold out(meaning, they were 'successful') Always. And never once have I stumbled upon any marked down/clearance priced ones(again, meaning they were a retail success) I refused to buy them at the ridiculous $17 price point, and would've considered myself lucky to find them cheaper.
So, is Hasbro saying that other parts of the US were swimming in these? Or, are they saying that Wal-Mart balked on the next batch featuring a repainted BAD Darktrooper? What's really happening here, Adam?
A discussion I have a lot in the toy business is what constitutes "success." As much of a cop-out that is, basically it's successful if you want to look at it that way, and if it isn't, it isn't. I don't know how many units Hasbro made, how many Wal-Mart actually took of those, or if Wal-Mart just decided to charge a $6 premium and they sold poorly because of some pricing games. Hasbro might know, but we don't, so that's what makes this tricky.
A lot of units are just now showing up at full price in a lot of markets, and I've seen new shipments scan at $17 at stores that have been out of these for months. (While odd, this is not unprecedented at Wal-Mart.) So in short, I have no idea if we're being bluffed or how success is being measured, but basically if Hasbro doesn't want to do something, they're not going to do it. There's flexibility there.
As you stated, the big H has confirmed that the next wave of Droid Factory for Wal-Mart would indeed include a repaint of the Darktrooper which, if you ask me, would suck. The 2008 batch of 13 figures had basically all-new stuff-- the Darth Vader wasn't anything special, but all the others were a little different. The 2009 batch of 11 figures had 3 which were basically straight-up reissues with new accessories, and this, of course, sucks. And the quality was much lower (if you ask me) so overall, I'm not sorry to see this line not happen. I know we as fans have a knee-jerk "you-can't-have-this-now-you-want-it" thing, but really, I'm counting my blessings that this didn't materialize. Maybe they'll show up in a better format later.
3. I have one question depending on the Corporate Alliance Tank released in the Clone Wars line last year.
Will we see a repaint of this absolutely awesome vehicle in 2010? I hoped to see the Kashyyyk version as seen in episode III, but we finally got a brown-grey-painted NR-N99 tank droid...It would be very nice to remake this Kashyyyk themed vehicle by painting it in light-grey/silver and black. There already is a model of the Kashyyyk version in the Star Wars Miniature game series which is nearly identical with the version of the movie.
Also the V-Wing had four releases in the last three years so it would be doable to make a repaint of the Corporate Alliance Tank in the near future. That will be better and more likely than a simple repack of this vehicle.
My guess is yes, but right now we haven't had any leaks to indicate that this would indeed happen. Most likely, we'll continue to see continued shipments of the existing toy in a new box as Hasbro has been hesitant to redeco Separatist vehicles aside from the AAT. I was hoping to see a Super Vulture Droid in Episode I colors, and it's still expected to see the Magnaguard Droid as Cad Bane's ship. But hey, who knows?
4. I am wondering which style you prefer animated vs realistic as far as figures go? I personally find myself liking the animated figures more and more. Tell me you wouldn't love an animated vader or solo or skywalker. or stormtrooper for that matter?
For the time being I prefer how Hasbro's doing things-- everything is "realistic" except for The Clone Wars. Ultimately I'd prefer everything to be in one style, whatever that may be, so if Hasbro dropped the movie line some day, sure, animated Darth Vader and Boba Fett would be pretty swell. I've got a lot of Boba Fetts, so I'm OK with Hasbro just keeping things segregated otherwise we might have ever fewer new characters. After all, a cartoony Darth Vader would take up a new sculpt slot that might have brought us, say, Aurra Sing (who appeared on the show) or Ziro the Hutt. (Yes, I want Ziro the Hutt. He is awesome.)
5. Now that we have seen hasbro do clone wars style jedi starfighters for Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka do you think that we may see astromechs to go with Obi-wan and Ahsoka's fighters? or will we have to make do with what we have from Build a Droid and battle packs. I think that R4 and whatever Ahsoka's droid is called would make great additions to the clone wars line.
I asked Hasbro this very question and they said that they're coming down the road, probably, but nothing specific beyond "probably not 2010." I'd like to see them, we've got multiple slots to fill and only R2-D2 and Goldie so far, and Goldie's a little punk.
Toy Fair 2010 in New York City is just around the corner, and I'm actually not going to be able to go this year. A pity. So hopefully people will cover the snot out of it. I'm not sure what all is going to surprise us given how much has leaked, so hopefully Hasbro will sneak us a peek of the first batch of post-Legacy carded figures if nothing else. As we've seen what seem to be plans for tons of great new vehicles and such. Oh, and some things they'll elaborate more on, but we're not here to take the wind out of their sails, are we?
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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