Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
March 1, 2010
1. I have a question about release dates. Why does there seem to be such a lack of information when it comes to the release dates for everything? Is it that Hasbro doesn't know exactly when they'll be shipping things? I understand that the estimates at Comic Con were exactly that: estimates. But I can't seem to find a bit of information regarding the release dates of The Force Unleashed packs at Toys R Us, the Comic Pack wave that includes Tholme, and the final wave (the EU wave). Do you have any idea when any of these are coming out? I also thought I read somewhere that the EU wave was being moved to a Toys R Us/Online Retailer exclusive. Is this true?
Since forever, toy release dates are always bad. Always. Unless there's an artificial street date, which means they hold product back when they could have put it out earlier, stuff shows up pretty much whenever it shows up. Really, it's part of the sport. When it comes to these products, the pre-order dates on various online stores are your best guess for these things because those do come from Hasbro-- but they miss their targets frequently. It's basically normal.
Hasbro did confirm the EU wave will indeed get an exclusive window at Toys "R" Us this Spring, and Hasbro seems to say that product will go to online accounts in June. So if you have a pre-order, you may as well keep it. Just don't expect to ever see this wave at a Wal-Mart or Target in the USA.
2. I was wondering what your thoughts were with regard to Hasbro and how closely they pay attention to or consider the secondary market.
The recent Qui Gon and Eopie set and the McQuarrie sets seemed like Hasbro taking a look at Ebay and saying "Hey, we could be making money off those old things!"
Do you think they ever do examine what's going on with the secondary market to decide what to re-release? And don't releases like the McQuarrie sets kind of deflate some of the fun of getting the hard sought figures in the first place, lowering the appeal of the hobby to some?
The Rocket Firing Fett in particular has me imagining a future flooded by new Vinyl Caped Jawas and Blue Snaggletooths.
On the other hand, do you think Hasbro ever creates something with secondary market demand in mind, like the "extremely limited" comic packs for Celebration V and SDCC? Or is that just silly posturing and they'll always try to fill whatever demand they can??
While Hasbro does pay attention to the secondary market, they pay more attention to fan outcry. If we say "hey, I can't get this and I want it" and dozens of other fans say the same thing, then there's a market they could be missing out on if they don't make more of something. I was quite surprised with the Eopie mail-in simply because the secondary market prices, while high, have been declining steadily and it seems fans were mostly asking for it because they thought other fans wanted it. (Protip: be selfish.)
The Rocket Firing Boba Fett isn't being reproduced because it's rare or expensive, but because it's a legend. This item is Hasbro saying "hey adult collectors, we have something that may be of interest to you that statistically, you know about and do not have." I've met maybe two fans who have one. And while this is still an imitation, it's as close as we're probably going to get-- I'll be quite curious to see if fans will shell out for four or five carded figures to get one. The vinyl Jawa simply isn't as cool, and the blue Sears Snaggletooth, technically, has been redone for the modern line. It's also not quite as legendary as Boba Fett.
The McQuarrie sets are another example of fan demand. Fans would not shut up about getting boxed sets of these figures since the line got announced, and as far as I can tell they seem to be somewhat slow sellers. (If you ask me, it was a mistake. The secondary market prices for the carded figures came down quite a bit before these were even confirmed.) I personally have been asked for these countless times, and well, I'm not a big fan of straight-up reissues. But that's me.
The "extremely limited" thing is probably something of an exaggeration, in part to avoid what happened with previous years' convention exclusives which may be worth less than issue price. It's hype. Even if it is more limited, the collector's pool has shrunk and the character choices probably won't pull in as many casual fans. Just because you go to Celebration doesn't mean you're going to know who Camie and Fixer are, and even if you do, there's no guarantee you're going to care. I wouldn't worry about these, even if the run is smaller the real secondary market value for most modern Star Wars items tends to be low to the point where all you'll need to do is wait a little bit.
3. WHAT THE HELL was Hasbro thinking going with the closed peg hook on the vintage figures? I couldn't believe it when I first saw the pictures. I understand they're giving us the whole vintage thing, which is great, but isn't that kind of a HUGE step backwards in retail merchandising? So, let's say there's one figure you want. Oh good, they have it. . .and it's the tenth figure back on the peg. So now I get to remove the nine figures ahead of it just to get to the one. It's going to be a nightmare. Remember this trick from the old days: envision the same scenario as above, but instead of removing all of the other figures, you just yanked the one you wanted straight down. Hey, I was little, I didn't know better. I'm sure Hasbro is going to love the complaints they get from retailers about all of the figures they can't hang back up because they've been torn off the peg. Seriously, this has got to be the dumbest thing they've done. What are your thoughts and do you know what the hell they were thinking?
I have to say when I first heard they were doing this I assumed, like you did, it'd be a J-hook. I mean, that's what happened with the wonderful G.I. Joe 25th anniversary line. This is probably Hasbro saying "let's do it as close as we can to the originals," which, well, that's not always a good thing. The Kenner logo, while cute, seems a bit of overkill, and like you I think that punch-out hook is probably not the best move. People damage packaging all the time getting J-hooks off, they're going to destroy these-- mint-on-card figures might actually become a rarity, which could do interesting things to how this line moves forward. Or it could do the opposite-- if you can't get a mint, unpunched card, is it possible collectors will say "screw it" and move on? This is going to be genuinely interesting to watch, for me at least.
4. As of now the AT-AT hasn't been officially comfirmed by Hasbro but with the packaged versions of the Snowspeeder and the Cloud Car it seems likely. It seems like so far one key vehicle from each of the OT is slowly being perfected, or as close as they can get with the costs involved. With the Millenium Falcon from A New Hope and the AT-AT from Empire what would your quinessential vehicle choice be for Jedi and why?
As the big guns go to redo (note: redo, not do) I'd say we're in really good shape. The Imperial Shuttle rereleases were both awful due to the lack of resized foot pegs (and yes, I consider that one minor thing a real annoyance), but I wouldn't bother to redo it just for that. Likewise, the A-Wing and B-Wing are both great, the new TIE Interceptor is just fine, and I can't say there's really a ship that absolutely positively needs a big and crazy new giant version.
I would, however, plead for new molds for the Speeder Bike and the Tatooine Skiff. The Speeder Bike needs fixed handle bars and maybe some new way to look like it's "floating." Over the years they've consistently downgraded this one, I never really got over the removal of the exploding feature. The Tatooine Skiff has always sucked. It's too small, fragile, and just doesn't house figures as well as it needs to, plus it's not particularly well-balanced. The Galactic Heroes one feels much more stable, so it would be nice to see what a modern team of designers could do. Unless they've already gave it a shot and realized it wasn't worth the hassle, of course.
On the whole I'm largely happy with the vehicles that exist. I don't think the AT-AT needs to be redone, the only thing I'd really fix were the proportions of the head and the body and the new version doesn't even do that. So it's new, it's expensive, and it's cool, but it certainly isn't necessary.
The only things I'd really go nuts for from Return of the Jedi would be playsets-- either Jabba's Palace, an Ewok Village, or the Death Star-- and we're likely to get none of these. Especially not the village.
5. What is up with all of the packaging that comes with our toys? I know that Manufacturers want their items to be appealing on store shelves and that this isn't really a new thing. However, what I've always wondered is how much of the wire tie downs, plastic clamps, and tape is really used as a theft / returns deterrent. If so, was that really such an epidemic that it now takes a good deal of time to open a simple battle pack or ship as to not damage it in the process? Are these items added by human hands or by machine?
Depending on who I ask and when I get different answers as to if it's hand-tied or machine-assisted or what. Since last year (and much complaining in previous years), Hasbro has actually downsized its packaging quite a bit. The 2009 packages were a fraction of an inch smaller on all fronts and had less "stuff" in it, and the new Vintage cardbacks are going to be extremely light on waste-- kudos, Hasbro. I dig retro, but I love keeping garbage out of the dumpsters, especially since I as a consumer (and you too) are paying for this extra packaging. Vintage packaging is going to save Hasbro money, and while the savings will not likely be passed along to us since we have demanded every figure be super-articulated, at least this might help pay for the extra joints. Where was I? Oh yes.
The best thing Hasbro introduced in 2009 were paper ties rather than plastic ties, as these are easily trimmed and removed without nearly as much injury. There's still a preposterous amount of plastic and tape, particularly in Galactic Heroes scene packs, but at least Hasbro is making efforts to reduce waste. And while I know some of you don't give a crap about reducing waste, we all benefit from less packaging through reduced freight charges, a smaller amount of plastic and paper used in making these products, and, of course, a smaller packaged toy takes up less storage space. Thousands of figures later, this is what matters the most.
So yeah, welcome to the slow season. Right now I'm finding I'm agitated that Kamino Galactic Heroes set with Taun We, Boba, and all of that never hit, and neither did the Sandcrawler-themed set. These were to be late-summer Toys "R" Us exclusives. Hopefully the "new" figures from these sets will come out, either in these sets or (better still) as 2-packs. Looking them over, it seems young Boba and Taun We might be the only real winners out of the Kamino set with the Sandcrawler showcasing Owen Lars and the Gonk droid. Luke doesn't seem all that different, and R5-D4 basically exists in another set. So... who knows?
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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