Galactic Hunter.com's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
June 14, 2010
1. Am I understanding this right? The return of The Vintage line will see figures that include new sculpts, as well as straight re-packs, a smaller bubble resulting in fewer pack-ins, no clamshell, resulting in "punched" cards and all that for a $9.99 price point? Are you serious? Will you be attributing the failure of this line to lack of collector dollars out there? At that price point and the mix of straight re-packs, you're setting this line up for failure from the start. How much do you REALLY value the collector segment, Hasbro? I'm sure you're answer will be along the lines of "well due to costing combined with the niche that is the collector segment, in order for us to tool new sculpts, we need you to buy a bunch of figures we've had on the market again, and for a higher price". It's BS.
Manny went on to complain about the quantity of violins on television. (Not really, but let's say he did.)
While you do have reason to be outraged, you've got a lot of misinformation in there. The target price at most stores will be $7.99, not $9.99, so basically the same as it was during Legacy. There will indeed be fewer pack-ins and fewer large accessories, but these figures will frequently sport more articulation than their Saga Legends and animated counterparts (but not always). I think it's weird that Saga Legends and Clone Wars are going to all have display stands, game pieces, and other doodads while Vintage has a smaller packaging waste footprint that apes a design from 30+ years ago, but that's me. There's no massive price increase, it's just going to be business as usual, ignoring the recent across-the-board price drops at the big box stores.
The core collector probably won't change their buying habits based on this-- although if Hasbro could find a way to make Star Wars figures $4.99 again for at least 1 solid year, I'm sure we'd see a big upswing that would last at least a couple of years. Nobody bats an eye at dropping $5 on a toy, but $7 or $8? For some reason, that hurts a little more.
2. The new vintage line is what most star wars collectors have been wanting since 1995 and Hasbro is finally giving collectors what they want. The OTC and SAGA vintage were great, but the back of the cards were not so great. Is there any chance that the newer vintage figures will have vintage style backs of the cards? What is your take on the recards for personal collections? Is there any place to get the slim hasbro protective clamshells?
With the quick figure turnaround, there's probably little incentive to have the entire line-up on the back of the cards for any marketing-friendly reason. Of course, even with 3-4 figures on the back, it doesn't make a lot of sense to just pick a handful of figures either. I guess they just wanted to do what they thought looked cool.
I think the recards are a basically good idea on paper. If they sell, they're the best idea. If not, well, not. A lot of collectors will likely jump on board with this line, so they'll be "new" to the new collectors. Also, recards tend to be popular figures which would have a chance of selling were they just reissued on the original packages-- so assuming Hasbro did their market research right, these shouldn't be a big problem in the grand scheme of things... but let's face it, there's bound to be a pegwarmer or two in some markets and my money is on 4-LOM.
Slim Hasbro clamshells were never sold individually, you'll have to go to a third-party product or just suffer and use the big ones.
3. Hasbro has stated that with respect to the Vintage Original Trilogy cards, if the figure is new (not one of the original 96) then a new card photo would be used (ex. the Echo Base Han Solo). So do you think, however, that the people at Hasbro that are making this decision are smart enough to know that a Death Star II Luke is not the same a Jedi Luke from Jabba's Palace? Everything so far looks good, however, one could easily argue that the Boba Fett evolutions being released as a VOTC figure should have a new picture from ESB as it is a ESB Fett and the other Fett was released in 2006 on the flame ball card. What do you think? I'm just afraid that Hasbro will use a photo already used when it is not appropriate.
If there's one thing I'm sure of, it's that Hasbro will never likely give us a satisfactory Jedi Luke. In the old days it was easy-- details were smoothed over, some details were merged, and generally speaking "authenticity" wasn't the name of the game until (if you ask me) about 1997.
With the 2007 Jedi Knight Luke, Hasbro insisted that the screwed-up cloth vest was in fact true to the movie, despite the fact that literally every Jedi Luke with the vest to date actually had a back to it. So either that was damage control, or they really don't know the nuances between the scenes-- which is possible. I mean, without looking at the movie, do you remember if Luke had his vest on in the scene where he talks to Leia in the Ewok Village? How about the following sequence with Darth Vader near the AT-ATs? These aren't details that are always poured over perfectly, and sometimes you're going to see Hasbro crank out a figure with an error on it. At this point, I'm convinced Luke from Return of the Jedi is cursed to never be truly perfected, and we'll be stuck with that damn chin-strap dangle helmet until the end of days.
As far as photography goes, I'm sure Hasbro will use something new if it's specific to the Death Star sequence. After all, as you pointed out, they didn't just use the existing Hoth Han photo from the 1980s action figure line. If Luke has the cloak, I bet we'll see the old photo. If not, it'll probably be new.
4. I have found [Celebration V contest] stickered existing [Hasbro action figure] product. Is it possible that the winning game pieces are in packages that store employees didn't mark? Could the game pieces have been placed in relatively new shipment items and even though stores may have gotten stickers they may not get winners? Best of luck to all. Find all ten prizes.
It's very possible, we really don't know. According to Hasbro, they sent someone out into the field to place the golden ticket figures on shelves, and others stickered the figures out in the wild. If what you're really getting it is "do I have a chance of winning?" the answer is a resounding "hell no, math says you will never win." With tens of thousands-- if not hundreds of thousands-- of battle packs, action figures, and other items being marked up for this offer, it's like the lottery. You're not going to win. So let's stop worrying about it. It's also possible a variation collector will have a winning game piece, but want to keep a stickered variant sealed for their collection. It happens. At this point, I've got everything I want-- and the only reason I'd pick up another figure is to get a variant I missed, be it the green-marked Clone Tank Gunner (who has one to sell me?) or something like the contest label. But I don't buy package variants for my stash, so yeah, no.
5. Let's assume that we'll eventually get definitive versions of all major characters worth upgrading—in other words, the logical completion of the movie line as we know it. Any idea if there might be some other engineering breakthrough that would start the upgrading process over again? I'm sure a couple decades ago, few people envisioned super-articulation or real-scan technology. I used to think the next major upgrade would be electronics inexpensively fit into each figure, but I guess that's not happening. Your thoughts?
There will always be opportunities to upgrade figures. The biggest area for improvement, if you ask me, isn't in sculpting or electronics, but rather in deco. Fans often forget how important paint is-- a little color can change a Stormtrooper into a Shadow Trooper, a 501st Clone Trooper into a Shock Trooper, or a Naboo Guard into another kind of Naboo Guard. And that's just using a simple color swap.
Paint does wonders for changing how something looks. The Be@rbrick line of figures is a great example-- Medicom has made hundreds of figures using one mold, but tons of different paint jobs. Also, and I've brought this up before, consider make-up on people as a great example of what color can do. Hasbro could probably simply repaint their existing figures with a better-quality paint job and everything would look significantly better-- a wrinkle here, some shadows there, and so on. Hasbro's sculpts are generally pretty good, but all of the detail tends to get lost with a selection of a weak plastic or their decision to drop deco detail in favor of, let's say, articulation. So I would say that if there's one thing Hasbro can improve a great deal and we would notice, it's paint. (Don't believe me if you want, but just imagine how cool R2-D2 would look with a really great dirty paint job that doesn't look muddy or cheap.)
Hasbro did incorporate electronics into a number of figures since 2002-- specifically, light-up eyes in the C-3PO that came with Chewbacca (2002 and 2006) as well as a number of R2-D2s (2002-present). And don't forget the Power FX Emperor, Luke, Vader, and Obi-Wan Kenobi from the 1990s, as awful as they looked. The technology exists, it's just that the figures tend to get bulky looking and it seems that at this price point, electronics are less of a true selling factor.
I personally think Hasbro can "wow" more buyers by improving decoration than they can by finding new ways to make wrists move. Sure, some collectors may buy more of a figure because it's awesome, but if you can make a Han Solo that really looks more like Harrison Ford, surely you'll encourage more people to jump into the line.
Still no sign of Ravage. But Comic-Con is just around the corner, meaning we'll probably start seeing another batch of items hitting stores before Hasbro gets to announce them. (This is why you don't hold things past Toy Fair, it just gets annoying.)
Still no sign of new toys either. I'm all for "flushing the system" but Hasbro seems a little too keen on long gaps with few to no new releases-- were it not for Toys "R" Us and a few shared items, what would you be doing right now? Enjoying what you already bought? Madness. Going 45 days with no new releases isn't good, and Hasbro has seemingly done this with all its major boy brands in 2010. I don't like it. I get bored. Other toys come home with me, like this old-westy horse-and-wagon Playmobil set that looks like it came out of Oregon Trail. Is that what you want, Hasbro? Well, is it?
I did get my Legacy Wave 13 figures over the weekend, and I'm going through those and taking pictures and notes and stuff. You'll see one in Figure of the Day later on Monday (today). It's sort of a shame that Hasbro doesn't do more Expanded Universe waves because they seem to be consistently strong performers, with very few exceptions. The Force Unleashed (Wave 2, 2008) didn't do gangbusters, but they were all new characters and someone decided it'd be a good idea to take the main damn character and not sell him in a consumer-friendly form. On the other hand, 30th Anniversary Collection Wave 5 (2007) did great, and the few figures that hit in 2006 and 2007 as part of The Saga Collection sold just fine. I seem to recall other random figures peppered through the various ranges also doing quite well, even the repaints and head-swaps and other simple new ones. Truly, the fans have spoken, and one of our favorite things from the movie series is the stuff that doesn't come from the movies.
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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