Galactic's Star Wars Q&A with Adam Pawlus
July 5, 2010


1. Hasbro says the long lost two galactic heroes cinema scenes (Kamino & Purchase of the Droids) are coming out August 1, 2010? Do you believe it?

It seems like a reasonable thing to believe, given the lack of new Galactic Heroes this calendar year. It's unlikely (but possible) the item will get bumped again, because if the item has to be ready for August, it needs to be completed and on a boat to the USA by now. I assume they checked before answering, but who knows? If it never comes out, it's not like we have to go through the trouble of tracking it down.

2. Do you know what happened to the comic pack with a Noghri warrior and Ralrra? I remember this being announced many months ago before the comic packs were cancelled, and haven't heard anything about it since. In Hasbro's latest Q&A sessions with the various collecting websites, they announced that Entertainment Earth would pick up the 4 cancelled comic packs (Fel & Isard, Mereel & Montross, Jarael & Dyre, Blue & Nihl), and today they put up the pre-orders for these four, but where did the Noghri and Ralrra go?

Hasbro never really confirmed or announced that pack as a specific, definite thing. Fan sites picked up on a rumor or a list, but it was never, ever confirmed by our friends in Rhode Island. So that means, in short, Hasbro owes us no real story since it hasn't been announced, but it might mean a Noghri could be in some stage of development purgatory. It might happen some day. It might not. If it got far enough along, it might be planned as next year's Comic-Con exclusive-- we have no way of knowing until Hasbro says something or a picture gets out.

3. I saw the redemption certificate for the mail away Boba Fett on and it says that you can use any UPC from the Build A Droid 87535 assortment, or the Saga Legends 87995 and 21115 assortments.

Which assortments are those? I'm looking at the UPC's I have and none of them show those numbers...

For example, what figures were in the 87535 BAD assortment? The last ESB assortment, or the TRU exclusive assortment?

The numbers on your UPCs are figure-specific, not assortment-specific. So the number you want to look at is actually on the cardback itself most of the time, and not on the UPC. And odds are you tossed out those cardbacks a long time ago.

What Hasbro means: any individually carded figure since the 2008 blue-and-white launch is absolutely fine for this promotion. So any build-a-droid figure is fine. Any animated Clone Wars figure is fine. Any post-coin Saga Legends figure is fine. The vintage figures and the shared exclusive Expanded Universe wave? Fine. You're fine.

87535 was the SKU for the entire collection of Build-A-Droid figures, from the 2008 Return of the Jedi wave up through the final Expanded Universe wave. If the figure included a build-a-droid piece, and was not one of Wal-Mart's droid factory packs, it qualifies for this promotion.

4. Not to beat a dead horse but why do you suppose we had to wait so long for new toys to come our way? Is it me and a hundred other people or has this been the longest lay over ever in the star wars parking lot waiting for new toys? Have they said anything about why we had to wait 5 months for new stuff opposed to last year and the year before that waiting only 2 months for stuff. Is it the economy doing this or what? Just curious????? I'm really just super excited for the new stuff!

What we're seeing now is a mix of Hasbro's decisions of what they like to do clashing with what retailers actually do do result in a mix that yields a very unpleasant blackout period for us. For example: Hasbro likes to hold announcements for Comic-Con, and they like to hold some products for around that time of the year too because that's when Target and Wal-Mart tend to reset their toy departments. Toys "R" Us tends to reset whenever they please. So again, this is something you can kind of blame on the big box stores-- all of the basic figures and battle packs and vehicles are being moved to a new SKU, so it's not shipping under the same item numbers any more. (All build-a-droids were under the same item number. That's right, blue cards and black cards were the same SKU at retail- 87535.)

The really horrible thing is that the original plan was for Legacy to finish up around December, leading to a lack of anything until nowish. Typically Hasbro has just been really good about timing when one SKU ends and another begins, like Revenge of the Sith ended in December and The Saga Collection started in January. There was some overlap between the 30th Anniversary Collection and The Saga Collection, but there was a huge gap between the final wave of 30th Anniversary and the first wave of Legacy-- about 5 months. In 2000, Episode I ended around February or March, and Power of the Jedi figures didn't show up until closer to July.

So this isn't unheard of-- it's just obnoxious. Hasbro basically missed an entire sales window this year, and it wasn't just Star Wars. G.I. Joe has had virtually no new products since late 2009. Transformers has also been quite slow, with very little coming out in 2010 up until just about now. Part of the reason for this is to sell off old product, but in the process Hasbro lost almost a half year's worth of collector dollars. (Actually, that's not true-- they just squeezed it all into Q4, when we all have more bills for the holidays, which they did last year too basically. Everything was in August.) So while Hasbro has been reporting slower sales on some items, and it makes sense that there's some slowdown, we can armchair quarterback a fair amount of this. Heck if I know if we're right, but if you only release 2 waves of comic packs in a year, it's pretty damned apparent that no new product = no sales. Sure, kids buy stuff, kids get bored eventually too. (The comic packs have had the same SKU since their debut.)

Last year's transition wasn't really a transition like this year-- the same SKUs carried forward. This year, we're switching over to all-new SKUs on pretty much everything. So that actually does make a big difference in how toys were distributed, because it lets stores "discontinue" the old product mixes while only bringing in the new stuff. With a line like Legacy Build-A-Droid, it had a single SKU for the run, so the older figures wouldn't be discontinued and burned off-- they were still considered a part of the active product plan. (Does this make sense or is it too "inside baseball" for your tastes as a group?)

Hopefully next year they don't have any gaps of more than 1-2 months. Because more than that, it's easy to say "screw it." And giant releases like this August, where nearly every major line restarts all in the same week, that's just a horrible, horrible idea. Multiple waves of multiple lines all at once is a great way to get people to say "how much is my toy bill this week? Well, gonna skip all this stuff." For example, for now, I'm having to drop G.I. Joe and non-Galactic Heroes and non-3 3/4-inch Star Wars, and am doing Transformers on an item-by-item basis. Spreading out new product is good for softening the blow, but with all the sales going on as the new stuff hits, well, it's not so bad.

5. The Wicket/Princess Kneesa 2-pack was halved into just Wicket. (ShouldŐve halved it the other way.) DonŐt you think we will see whatever sculpt they had for Kneesa in some other format down the line?

Generally speaking if Hasbro has done enough progress on an item, they will find a way to release it. Otherwise it's just wasted money. I assume that Kneesa may see release some day, but we don't know how far along it got, or if it was yet another Existing Ewok Body With New Head. In which case, they could not do it, and it wouldn't make a difference. Also, there's no (that I know if) "realistic" Kneesa sculpt, so Hasbro may have elected to keep it out of vintage because it's more fun to charge people $8-$10 for a single tiny figure.

Funny personal story on Wicket-- back in the real Vintage days, I couldn't find a Wicket and it was one of the figures I really wanted, and my parents did indeed overpay by a few bucks to buy the one we saw at a Long's Drugstore. So I can personally verify that I have indeed paid a premium for a tiny figure (by way of the parents' wallet) but that was at the height of Ewok-mania. Which wasn't all that big.


So the "August" items are starting to show up now-- which probably means we can expect waves 2 and 3 of some of these new Hasbro lines in August. I've seen stuff-- so far-- at grocery stores and Toys "R" Us. If you want new toys, you'd better get cracking. For some reason Toys "R" Us is jacking up their "Vintage 2010" line to $9.99 per figure, and because fans don't know that Target's plan is currently to charge $7.99, they seem to be selling just fine. Odds are Toys "R" Us figured that fans were used to paying $9.99-$12.99 for a figure with nothing significantly different other than the configuration of packaging and thought "eh, why not?" I can't say I blame them. We are frequently chumps when it comes to premium pricing on figures at a retail store, as evidenced from 2005-2007. $13 for the same Anakin with fewer accessories and some orange paint operations? We bought it.

Remember, this kind of thing is not unheard of. When the X-Files movie came out, Kay-Bee had the toys first and charged an unusually high premium, even by their standards. During Power of the Jedi, Hasbro reportedly dropped the wholesale price after Episode I but most if not all stores kept retail at $7. All you have to do is wait, or wait for a sale, or buy your figures elsewhere unless you can't find a better option. An option who sells by the case, and delivers to your home or office. (Yes, I work for an online toy store. Can you blame me for pitching it to you?)

But yeah, new stuff. A quick rundown for you:

The Clone Wars: Pre Vizsla is the winner of the wave, followed by Aurra Sing. Pre is so good I suggest students of action figure design by him and study how his legs and lower body were constructed-- I am impressed. Aurra is basically good. The Mandalorian Police Officer is not spectacular, but is neat enough to buy. General Grievous is incredibly ambitious and has so many features you would assume it was for collectors, however, it is extremely soft and has a hard time standing. He has no foot holes, either. While impressive, he also sucks.

Vintage: Buy everything. If you don't have a similar figure, get it. Even if you do, all upgrades (save for Darth Vader) are more than worth it. Boba Fett and 4-LOM are not significantly different but are good figures. The rest are all pretty great, Bespin Luke impresses and the Cloud Car and Mr. Ralter are required purchases for vehicle fans. Dengar is shockingly good.

Vehicles: I only have the Snowspeeder and Cloud Car so far and dig both. The Snowspeeder is so configurable, I don't think anyone who is inclined to like a nice toy would dislike it. There's so much it can do compared to previous releases, it's a must-buy. With the Cloud Car, Hasbro made it fun by factoring in lots of moving parts and play features, and my hat is off to them for a job well done. Buy both. Yes, even if you have all 4 existing Snowspeeders.

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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