Q&A Part 2JEDIDEFENDERQUESTION:
The new 30AC Han Solo with Torture Rack seems to be receiving a mixed response. Many fans seems to love the Torture Rack, but dislike the scene-specific Han included. What are the chances you’ll be releasing a new super-articulated Bespin Han in 2008 so those unhappy folks can turn their frowns upside down?ANSWER:
We have no plans right now to update Bespin Han. We'll be turning our attention to a different Han next year.QUESTION:
Will the 2007 Vintage Snowtrooper torso ever be reworked/tweaked so that we can get a super-articulated Snowtrooper Officer (as seen in the AT-AT Cockpit with General Veers)?ANSWER:
Interesting idea. We will look into it to see what kind of match exists.QUESTION:
Have you ever considered adding non-traditional accessories to the figures (when costs allow, obviously). For example, how about one of those large plants from Felucia the next time we see a 327th Star Corps Trooper? Or even a small shrub for the next Ewok release. Something like that might help spice up some of those many clone re-issues and give diorama builders some nice fodder to use.ANSWER:
We have considered other accessories, but it always comes down the cost of the piece relative to the iconic importance. Plants aren't high on the list, though.
Given that we've seen several re-released vehicle repaints (some with pack in figures) any chance of the Naboo N-1 Starfighter (without electronics) getting re-issued as a store exclusive (maybe with an Episode II dirty paint application) with a pack in figure and alternate astromech droid? Maybe the pack in figure could be either Captain Typho or Padme Pilot?ANSWER:
We haven't looked at it yet, simply because there have been other vehciles to do before the N-1QUESTION:
The packaging for the Saga Collection 2008 will have to change a little bearing in mind the coin is being replaced by a stand so any chance of a sneak peek?ANSWER:
Sorry, we don't have a sneak peak available yet. However, the blister will become a little wider out to the edge of the current coin area, and the stand will be shown inside the blister.QUESTION:
Thanks for allowing us to have our say in the 2008 Saga Legends voting. Any chance we could get a complete list of the final standings for all the 20 figures included? Also, will any of the other 15 finalists be considered for re-packs anytime soon?ANSWER:
Thank you for getting your readers to participate. The final order, based on # of votes:
1. Shadow Stormtrooper
2. Commander Neyo
3. Covert Ops Clone Trooper
4. Utapau Shadow Trooper
5. Zev Senesca.
6. ARC Trooper (Clone Wars) red & gray
7. Clone Trooper Pilot w/ball turret
8. Clone Trooper (Saleucami)
11. Graxol Kelvyyn
12. Ephant Mon
13. Stormtrooper (Vintage OTC)
14. Colonel Wulf Yalaren
15. Coleman Trebor
18. Gungan Warrior (Fambaa set)
19. Sio Bibble
20. Bespin Guard
We are considering more of these for release in future lines beyond Saga Legends, but don't have any specifics. Suffice to say, it was great to get the fans and fansites involved in the character selection and it will have a great impact on things we do both in Saga Legends and elsewhere. Thanks again!
Will the just-announced Saga Legends wave 5 include collector coins? If so, what color will they be? The reason I ask is because some fans are eager for an EU coin in silver, and 3 of the winning figure qualify as EU. ANSWER:
Yes, they will come with coins. There will be at least one silver EU coin in there. ; )QUESTION:
Recently, Entertainment Earth revealed that the Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in Stormtrooper disguise figures would be re-released sans the blue "comic book style" coloring. Will we this also see the "red eyes" changed to the normal black color? On a related topic, will the Chewbacca and R2-D2 also be changed to "normal colors" or will they still retain the comic book deco?ANSWER:
Verrry interesting question and one which we have spent considerable time discussing. The comic packs are not simply a repack exercise (like some battle packs). The intent of the comic 2-packs is to be true comic versions of those characters, as if those versions of the characters "stepped off the page" and were in the real world. To this extent, the red visors, Chewie colors, and R2-D2 colors are an essential part of that comic artwork. Those details will not change on re-release. However, the shadow effect was added to the figures in an attempt to mimic the comic tenchique of figure-ground separation using shading (otherwise, Stormtroopers would be mostly outlines and would lack depth). Blue is often used in comics to show shadow to reserve black for character details, which would not be present on a figure if they stepped off the page. So, after we discussed on the team here, it was decided to forgo the shadow on re-release but keep the other details to be true to the comic roots. The reason we love the comics is that there are differences, sometimes small, sometimes major, and it's important to focus on which ones to keep for a point of differentiation from mainline figures.QUESTION:
The Comic Packs this year are a definite hit, and we're all excited to see they are coming back next year. A thought occurs to me with this year's selections. I notice that many of the Dark Horse figures are inspired by the Clone Wars comics, such as Quinlan Vos and A'Sharad Hett, while the artwork and the comics included in them are from other appearances. Was this an intentional mismatch? Were there plans at one point for the matching outfits. Or (as the conspiracy theorist in me suspects) was this a subliminal way to bring back the Clone Wars era back into the minds of collectors, anticipating next year's The Clone Wars animated series? ANSWER:
It was certainly not a way to bring Clone Wars back….only because as far as we are concerned they have never gone away. The simple explanation is that we locked onto the comic issues we wanted to do, and were planning to do the outfits in those issues. In discussion with Lucasfilm and among our design team, it was decided to focus on the same character match-up, but pick the more iconic version of that character's outfit, since we may only have one chance to ever make a figure of that character.
Earlier this year, you sold an album that was intended to hold the coins that would be included with this years action figures in the 30th Anniversary Collection. By my count, that would be:
60 basic figure coins
7 Saga Legends (TPM, AOTC, ROTS, ANH, ESB, ROTJ, EU)
4 Convention giveaways (CIV, Celebration Europe, and Comic Con, plus bonus
Indiana Jones IV gold coin)
5 Convention exclusives from figures (2 McQ Luke (C4 & CE), 2 McQ R2/3-PO
(C4 & CE), 1 McQ Obi-Wan/Yoda)
1 SWS Exclusive (Concept Grievous)
12 UGH variants
If my math is correct (and I used a calculator to double check) that comes out to a total of 89 Coins. How do you propose that I get all 89 coins (provided I can collect them all, and believe me, I'm trying) into a coin album (that cost me $11, FYI) that has only 80 slots? And this doesn't even take into account the 6 Vintage coins (5 for the figures + the bonus coin) and the Toy Fair coin because they come with their own special cases, even though I would prefer to remove them from those cases and display them with the rest of my coins.ANSWER:
That are actually 90 coins. Previously, on a different Q&A answer, we had confirmed there were 89, but we forgot the concept Grievous. However, you are right….there are more coins than slots to house them. The only way to house them all, if you have them all, would be to get a second binder where you could also bring in the vintage coins as well. The original intent of the binder was to give some blank space for extras and duplicates, and then we just kept coming up with different coins to the point where we had more than the slots could house. Our sincere hope is that you are enjoying the "hunt" for the coins and forgive us for the spillover!QUESTION:
If a website like Brian's Toys can offer the "One of every figure club" which allows members to be shipped one of every action figure in every wave of Star Wars Figures that gets released, why can't Hasbro Toy Shop offer a similar program? Surely, HTS can get Star Wars figures just as easily - if not easier - than any other retailers? And why can't Hasbro Toy Shop get new Star Wars figures in a timely manner? Or when they do happen to receive new/currently shipping items, they sell out so quickly? And then take so long to be replenished, if at all?ANSWER:
HTS actually tried this model during Episode III, but it did not go over well since it was started after the figures had started shipping and supply proved an issue. We ultimately had to cancel out of the program, so we have not been quick to jump back into it and have let others carry the ball. With planning, it could happen, and we will discuss again. Regarding HTS, they are treated the same as our other retail partners, and their supplies are based on forecasts and orders...if they are selling out quickly, it means that they need to bring up their forecasts to match demand for the next round.QUESTION:
Do you have any comments about the horrendous distribution Star Wars figures are getting at this point in the year? At retail I can find nothing newer than Wave 3, yet some online shops (like HTS and Amazon) are already shipping out Wave 6? And other online shops (like EE) are still waiting to receive Wave 4. How are customers supposed to buy product if there's no product available?ANSWER:
Troops - it's a problem that we are looking into to always try and improve, but it is a very complicated issue and a little different from the past because we have a number of waves in a compressed time this Fall. We don't have a simple answer for you because there are numerous parts to it and we would need more background to address a particular store.
Here are the "trueisms" to start with from a macro level: We are producing ample supplies of all waves (based on our forecast data and sales history); as inventories sell down at a store, they are flagged for reorder by the inventory management systsems in place to keep sale going smoothly; we ship to retail distribution centers to resupply stores based on both replenishment of current sales and seasonal forecast increases (for example, getting ready for holiday inventories will increase). We do not ship directly to stores, but instead we go through the DCs, so we don't exactly control where and when each wave goes to any individual store. Part of it is affected, of course, by how much inventory is at that store already...if a store is slow to sell down, then it may not get reordered when the next wave is available. Compounding the issue is that, at least with 30th Basic figures, the coin delays at the start of the year compressed our wave deliveries for the back half.
Coin production problems are solved, but it means that we will see a lot of variety that normally would have been more spread out compressed into the back half. Usually, we like 6 weeks between new waves, but this Fall it will be more like 4 weeks or less which does pose challenges. We still want to get the new figures out, rather than delay some waves into next year, so we are releasing them as they come in. When a new wave comes in, we also get some of that out to retail so nobody gets shipped all or most of any wave....even if we still have not exhausted supplies of the previous wave.
This, combined with the earlier note about when stores get resupplied, means that the waves may not show up at your store in the order intended. It is also possible that a store may miss a wave initially (we hope not totally though). We do our best to spread it out and ship all retailers each new wave, but we can't control the flow from the DCs to store level at that fine a detail. Now, like we said we are making good supplies of all waves and even though the next wave (5 or 6 for example) starts showing up before the previous, it does not mean we are done with Wave 4. We will continue to ship 4 to ensure all retailers get their share. Whew! If you stuck with us through this, hang in there....we think we have some amazing figures on the way and hope you are able to find everything in time at your local store, or, worst case, in different local retailers before too long.
SIR STEVE'S GUIDEQUESTION:
Will the Vintage-style Luke X-wing pilot body be used on height-appropriate pilots like Wedge, Jansen, Hobbie from the films, and perhaps even Corran Horn, Tycho Celchu, Nawara Ven, and others from the EU since they're all closer to Luke's height (around an inch or 2 either way) than the tall stature of the Dutch Vander pilot figure that's up above 6 feet? ANSWER:
If and when we get to some of those Rebs, we'll look at the bodies available and try to pick to make meaningful height differentiation among pilots… that is a good goal to have. QUESTION:
The final results of the Fans' Choice Saga Legends '08 poll were surprising, to say the least - 4 troopers, 3 of which are just former exclusives that are mere EU repaints. The 5 winners don't seem to jive with the fan sites' poll results, which have the Shadow Stormtrooper and Zev playcing highly, but Ephant Mon placing even higher than Zev, and Blue Snaggletooth and Graxol Kelvyyn placing much higher than the Covert Ops Trooper and Utapau Shadow Trooper. Some fans are finding the winning 5 figures a rather underwhelming group and are concerned that the final results may have been skewed somehow, whether by error or by certain fans signing up multiple voting accounts. Granted, this isn't a presidential election, but the odd results like Ephant Mon not making the top 5 despite being the #2 ranked from all the sites asks, can we get a recount on this poll? ANSWER:
We can't say for certain that some fans did not vote from different accounts... that is certainly possible. We did the vote this way to get the broadest possible voting, and there were indeed some big surprises to us in the final vote order based on the initial web site straw polls and top 10 lists. One thing that is clear - backing up the first Saga Legends poll, is that troops are still in demand. Here's the complete top 20 in vote order: 1. Shadow Stormtrooper. 2. Commander Neyo. 3. Covert Ops Clone Trooper. 4. Utapau Shadow Trooper. 5. Zev Senesca. 6. ARC Trooper (Clone Wars) red & gray. 7. Clone Trooper Pilot w/ball turret. 8. Clone Trooper (Saleucami). 9. Zutton. 10. R3-A2. 11. Graxol Kelvyyn. 12. Ephant Mon. 13. Stormtrooper (Vintage OTC). 14. Colonel Wulf Yalaren. 15. Coleman Trebor. 16. Pablo-Jill. 17. Chewbacca. 18. Gungan Warrior (Fambaa set). 19. Sio Bibble. 20. Bespin Guard. We are considering more of these for release in future lines beyond Saga Legends, but don't have any specifics. Suffice to say, it was great to get the fans and fansites involved in the character selection and it will have a great impact on things we do both in Saga Legends and elsewhere. QUESTION:
Does the Star Wars brand manager or other higher-ups for the line ever personally go down stores' toy aisles to see how product is moving? If so, what do they see of that, and does it ever affect distribution - especially seeing a number of pegwarmers not selling? Does it influence those people in any way? ANSWER:
We go out to retail constantly to check on our local stores and see if there are any key learnings or trends to be aware of. We are careful not to jump to conclusions based on what we see locally, and to check what we see locally against the nationally-reported data before reacting. In some cases, if we see locally jives with the national data, we will revise future case-pack weightings (ratios) or the items we are about to manufacture and which will hit shelves in several months. In other cases, what we see locally is not a national trend and does not need to be addressed or is a flag to watch from week to week to see if we have spotted what could be an issue.
To be continued in the next post.