DAY 2: HASBRO 2006 PREVIEW
SAN DIEGO, JULY 15 2005-- After days of intense speculation, Hasbro answered the questions on everybody's lips with a smirk, a roar, and in some cases, deafening silence. Starting off with the big rumor-- Transformers and Star Wars-- Hasbro was mum at both the Transformers and Star Wars panels, despite direct questions. (No, it wasn't me.) But Hasbro did confirm there would be a US release of the red Hot Shot from Cybertron as well as new molds in the Cybertrom Mini-Con two-packs assortment. But as always, you don't care-- what you want to know about comes from a different galaxy far, far away.
By Adam Pawlus
Photography by Mike Sullenger
In 2005, as mentioned before, you've got 12 more Revenge of the Sith figures, pretty much all of which are repaints or repaints with some tweaks. What you may not know is that the prototype for Commander Bly got stolen-- so if you went to the booth Thursday or later, you missed this one. No more Revenge of the Sith packaged basic figures will be released.
Not shown, but discussed, were the three clone repaints you saw here at Galactic Hunter earlier. The repaints of the Clone Pilot (Black), Clone Trooper (Shock Trooper), and Clone Commander (green) are legit and coming in future assortments-- and Hasbro said they were going to try to ship these army builders in bigger and bigger numbers.
Hasbro's 501st figure-- part of the final 12-- may or may not be referred to as such. At press time, the name is still up for grabs. Frankly, we hope they're officially named "Special Operations Clone Trooper" on the insert, and then in BIG GIANT LETTERS on the bubble sticker it says "501st Legion" or some such. Give some fans their due-- as far as paramilitary organizations go, they're my favorite!
Now, what's next? The future of OTC appears to have been greatly exaggerated-- the new Saga Collection (not to be confused with the AOTC line from 2002-2004) is a revision of that concept, with a wraparound bubble a la Revenge of the Sith. The black and silver look with a new background continues, though, and this faux retro look really sizzles.
Each wave will be based around a theme, as many waves have been in the past-- how well will Hasbro stick to them remains to be seen. The first wave, as the rumors have said, are indeed based around the palace of Jabba the Hutt. Each figure is packaged with a display stand featuring the movie logo on the top and the name of the figure tampographed on the front-- it's a classy accessory. Hasbro would not comment on the rumors of additional pack-in items at this time.
The first three new mold figures are Princess Leia (Boushh Disguise), Han Solo (Carbonite Chamber), and Bib Fortuna.
At press time we do not know if Boushh's helmet comes off-- but we're checking. Han Solo's carbonite block is red at the top so it looks like it's melting. The new sculpt will hopefully be repainted as a normal carbonite block because from the look of things, it's the best yet. Bib Fortuna finally gets a new sculpt, and while we love to see him, it's a mixed blessing-- here in Los Angeles, the OTC version languishes at Toys "R" Us.
The other rumors you've been reading have some truth to them, and others, well, not. As Hasbro didn't confirm a number of these details, though, I'll have to leave you to speculate on which is which.
As far as other future basic figures go, the big news is the confirmation of Commander Cody from Brian W. at Hasbro. We say "W" because he never told us how to spell his last name. (He's also responsible for a good chunk of Attacktix and is a very nice fellow.)
Hasbro said-- repeatedly-- that they plan to fill the demand on Clones, and it really seems they're trying hard. Significantly harder than I would have expected a company to do, so they deserve big points for that.
Naturally, exclusives tend to get a lot of attention because these are going to require the most work to track down. Our previous report was seemingly incomplete, as we have new things to share with you.
The Lava Reflection Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader (i.e., Anakin) are indeed part of Target's Premium Figure Program. In your lingo, this translates to "overpriced overpackaged repaints." These will have the clamshell and likely be $11.99 each. While these are infinitely superior to the Darth Vader and Clone Trooper figures as far as paint quality appears to be concerned, they're just overpriced rereleases of $5 figures with a new base. We like them, but it's possible these items will languish if parents don't eat them up when these are the only main characters available to their kids.
Target is also getting a five-pack of Clones, all repaints, mostly new ones. They're in a nice Republic Gunship box, will cost about $20, and I think will please all who find them. (I'm going to buy a few when I see them.) I believe another 501st Trooper is in there, and as that seems to be another favorite, it'll be a welcome addition to another Clone Commander repaint and more. This, along with Kmart's set, is going to get a lot of love from the fans.
While specifics were not given as far as pricing or production goes, Target is getting the very first "official" (read: not cut from) Revenge of the Sith Expanded Universe figure.
Based on an original, unused design from the film, a Stealth Clone Trooper is coming that's black and grey and awesome. Here's hoping it'll be super-common because I want a squad of these guys. With so many unmade Clone concepts, you might be saying "Why make an EU design?" Well, just look at it. C'mon. Gorgeous.
There were no signs or mention of the rumored Toys "R" Us Clone 3-packs. Given the vast quantity of Clones coming, it might be bogus-- at press time I don't know.
The previously mentioned Jedi Temple Assault is indeed one of two Kmart exclusive five-packs. Easily the best of them, the set includes three "special ops" (501st) Clones, Anakin, and another Clone Pilot which I don't freaking need and neither do you.
Wal-Mart is apparently getting Obi-Wan with baby Luke and Bail Organa with baby Leia. We're very curious to see how these turn out.
Oh, and one more thing...
Entertainment Earth's Exclusive
Why pull this one out? Well, this is the item I may have hinted toward in recent weeks. Its development was long, and the final names for the droids were revealed mere hours before the press release went out-- and as such, I'm going to pimp it, because this is an item developed by me for me. And you. But mostly me. (I even got to be on the press release. [Hey, don't blame me for mentioning this-- it's ten new droids!])
Why no R5-D4? No mold. I asked. I didn't want to see the "Attack" mold again, and I assumed you felt the same way-- if you did want it, well, my apologies. You can blame me here. I don't like the Attack mold and will do everything in my power to prevent you from having an opportunity to buy it again, which basically boils down to you not seeing it in these sets.
Notes: Black-and-silver packaging (Saga or OTC, it's still in flux), much like the Clone troopers-- the price should be about the same.
The designations "Imperial" and "Rebel" are arbitrary-- as obscure characters, the factions don't line up for all the droids, obviously, as prequel droids are split between the two packs and neither faction really had droids in the prequels. So yeah, we're aware.
Will there be a third or fourth pack? I have no idea. It's up to you-- I have a few droids I very much want to see and I'm sure you do too. If sales warrant a sequel, well, you can pretty much guess that I have an idea of what I'd like to do.
Please note that while not likely, this is all subject to change-- molds could be altered, figures moved around, etc.
R3-T6. This is slated to be the same mold used for R3-T7 from the Sneak Preview AOTC wave, minus the accessory. It's a white droid with a clear dome and lots of red markings. A link to his page at Astromech.net.
R4-E1. BoShek's droid. As BoShek (POTJ) was born out of Hasbro as a gag after realizing the production run could be the right size so it could sell through, they made this one after reading me blab about the character in Q&A-- so naturally, I like this droid. The figure is planned to be based on the R4-M9 mold, repainted in red and white. He looks a little like R5-D4. Link to entry at Astromech.net.
R4-A22. This is the name Lucasfilm gave the droid-- when writing the proposal of this AOTC extra, I knew it as R4-T8, which is what it said on the Astromech site. Apparently, that's wrong. Like R4-E1, he's based on the R4-M9 mold and was seen roaming the streets around Dex's Diner.
R2-Q2. This, and the rest of the Droids in this particular set, are all based on the ROTS sneak preview droid R4-G9, which is probably the best ever mold to use on any R2 unit. If you twist his dome, his leg goes in the body, or comes out. R2-Q2 is a grey droid with various colored markings, and he served two roles, we think-- one was on the Tantive IV as (again, we assume) an Imperial droid when the Rebels were captured, and the other was as the droid of Biggs Darklighter.
R3-T2. As seen elsewhere, the litte droid does not have a clear dome. While wandering the desert, he got damaged, so his old dome was replaced by a red and white one. Otherwise, he looks a lot like R2-D2. Think of him like the cars you see with mismatched hoods and/or doors.
R2-A6. The second Droid on my list, this figure was sold as a 12-inch scale release in 1999 for Episode I. He's basically R2-D2, but green and not blue. As seen here, he belonged to Ric Olie. This droid, like all listed in this section except R3-Y2, will most likely use the R4-G9 mold.
R2-X2. For some reason I thought this was Wedge's droid-- it isn't. It belonged to Red 10 during the Battle of Yavin, and was clearly visible in the pre-fight briefing. (This was a leftover from an unusued exclusive concept which you wouldn't have liked anyway and as such he belonged on this list.) Black and white, you'll recognize him on sight even if the name doesn't ring a bell.
R2-C4, R2-M5. I knew these as R2-D1 and R2-D3, but the official names are actually what you see here. These are basically R2-D2 with orange markings and R2-D2 with red markings-- and I'm not sure which is which. (The reason you don't know these names is because they were kinda sorta just named this week.)
R3-Y2. Not on my initial lists, but a great droid. While Astromech.net doesn't have clean images, I'm told that the droid has a clear dome and an olive green body. Sounds cool! I bet he'll look awesome next to Commander Gree, even though there's no connection-- this little droid served on Echo Base. And died there. Should be a repaint of R3-T7.
Released years ago, the series had a lot of potential and tanked as the market wasn't prepared for high-end collectibles. Aside from Predator and Jurassic Park items, Hasbro/Kenner made a Darth Vader and a statue based on an A New Hope poster with Luke & Leia which was sold in resin and another edition in pewter. Wal-Mart is getting another entry in this high-end line with an all-new Darth Vader statue-- which we found to be shocking. Wal-Mart isn't known for high-end collectibles, but hey, who knows what'll sell these days? Price, release TBD.
The line's thin and according to Hasbro, this is because they were unprepared for its success. (We find this hard to believe, but OK, we'll bite.) The new packs include Obi-Wan and a Clone Trooper (either Utapau or 501st), Anakin and a Clone (the one Obi-Wan doesn't have), Yoda with a BARC Trooper, and Darth Vader with Holographic Darth Sidious. The backpack danglers line will continue with Darth Vader and Darth Tater. There are no known plans for non-danglers versions of Darth Tater, but we're hoping. So we're looking at a lot of repaints-- hopefully we'll get more next year?
The rumors are true. Due to the line selling well, but not well enough, the line has been put on hiatus. Basically, Hasbro says the line isn't selling out and they aren't making enough money per figure to continue in the 7-inch scale, so the line is being dropped in favor of Unleashed Battle Packs-- which are, basically, Armies of Middle-Earth type figures. 2-inch figures, mostly troop builders, many of which aren't available in 3 3/4-inch yet. We are not amused. It is not known of Unleashed can continue in some other capacity, but rest assured, we're going to try to find out what it'll take to get it from becoming another Action Fleet.
A number of concepts were shown, none of which were finalized. These include "Micro Collection" stlye figures and playsets, vehicle-based dioramas, and more metal everything. We love the orignal Micro Collection and would jump at new versions... but reruns do not interest us in the slightest. An on-site survey may determine the future of this seemingly successful collectible range.
This line is selling like crazy and series 2 is due in the Fall with 30 new figures based on all-new and older molds. Jango Fett, Darth Maul, and many others will be released, although we wish we could have seen the likes of Qui-Gon Jinn... maybe next time? The line has lots of potential and we continue to wish it well, as the game itself is actually a lot of fun.
As stated above, such a toy was not confirmed. Some have said it was an outlandish rumor, and while it most certainly does sound like an outlandish rumor, the Transformers brand has been applied to another license-- Animorphs, a line of young reader books. The toys sucked, as it involved humans turning into real world animals, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the denizens of Cybertron past, present, or future-- no Maximals, no Decepticons, nothing. As such, yes, it is indeed thinkable that such a thing could happen-- doesn't mean it will, but there is groundwork on what Hasbro can do with the brand. When asked about a hypothetical line at both panels, fans were treated with a smirk and a "No Comment." Take it as you will, folks, as dozens of items are in development at all Lucas licensees that never see the light of day.
At the GI Joe panel, it was asked if Hasbro will finally do Transformers/G.I. Joe toys-- and the answer was a definite no. Booooo. I want my Optimus Prime HISS.
That's all for now!
There's a lot of items on the way and obviously, we left some out. We're tired. Keep checking back for more