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« on: May 23, 2009, 01:04:21 AM »

JTA - HASBRO STAR WARS Q&A ROUNDUP - WEEK OF MAY 22ND, 2009


Thanks for dropping by and checking out JTA's roundup of all of the Hasbro Q&A sessions from around the web.  This week's answers come in a little late as Hasbro has slid back the time to answer.  The roundup is continually updating as we get more and more responses posted at the participating websites.  If you know of a site that's participating in the Q&A's but isn't represented in our roundup, please drop us a line with a hyperlink to that site's Q&A.

You can check out each site's postings by clicking on the website title.  And please do, as some of these websites need the traffic.  The Star Wars Q&A's are posted alphabetically.

Also be sure to check back as we distill the Q&A's down to the real nitty gritty with out Q&A Headlines.  That is where we give you real news that comes out of the Q&A:  newly confirmed items, assortments, exclusive details, etc.  And feel free to post about what Hasbro is saying in the Q&A process here in the Jedi Temple War Room.

That being said, let's start of at home:


JEDI TEMPLE ARCHIVES

QUESTION:  Would you consider a Battle Packs set that would include a take on the 212th Attack Battalion as seen in Revenge of the Sith? And if you did, would you be able to better match the orange color used on the armor so it is more authentic to the film? It almost seems like a no-brainer since the other Battle Packs that have focused on Order 66 have been such great sellers and disappeared quickly, like Betrayal On Felucia or Treachery On Saleucami for example. I am sure collectors and kids alike would love to see these Utapau troopers out again (especially since they have not made it into the Saga Legends line yet).  And perhaps you can guarantee collector support if you recolor the orange or provide us with different battle damage applications.

ANSWER:  That is a great suggestion for a Battle Pack, and one which we'll consider for the future.  Interesting comment on the orange coloration - we had not heard that one ourselves but will look into it. Thanks.


QUESTION:  I think the Scramble On Yavin Battle Packs set is the best in a very long time.  I don’t think any collector could complain for the value of product you get for the money. Since this [value for the money] has been a steady complaint from the market, I think if you keep providing us with great Battle Packs sets or incredible action figure waves like the New Hope wave from early this year (which really gives us 11 action figures and awesome accessories) it may quiet the complaining.  Can you tell us if it is possible if you will be able to continue and focus more with this medium/platform for the Battle Packs and Basic collection?

ANSWER:  The Scramble on Yavin set did come out great, but the format of the mainline Battle Packs will be changing back to a primarily kid-targeted multi-figure set definition because the intent of this assortment is really to provide more themed sets that make popular gifts or "trade-up" purchases.  Unfortunately, we can't sustain new tooling in this assortment and the focus needs to be on providing as much value as possible.  As for your question on basic figures - we try to make every wave as strong as possible and agree with you that the EpIV wave turned out great.  We have some additional great OTC waves coming out this Fall that we think you'll be equally pleased with.  One thing that will be changing slightly going forward is that there will be fewer figure multi-packs like the Jawa & WED droid, or Trinto Duaba & Dice Ibegon.


QUESTION:  As awesome as the Sideshow 12” figure line is, I think it would be more than fair to say that they have unintentionally alienated the 12” figure market.  A single 12” figure that has surpassed the $100 mark is an unattainable purchase for the collectors who could only spend $20 per figure.  Is there any chance you are any closer to possibly considering bringing back the 12” line, however small and infrequent, so more 12” collectors from all incomes can get back into it?  Rumors exist of a 12” Hammerhead mold being completed, Oola, and the Max Rebo Band, and a ROTS Aayla Secura and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  We would love to see these figures finally realized in Hasbro 12” form.  The line seemed too quickly abandoned before Sideshow took over, there was no official closer so to speak.

ANSWER:  We do not have plans to return to the 12" format any time soon.  Actually, we did not abandon our 12" line, as much as it tapered off from previous heights and the final shot for us was the 12" EpIII lineup.  The volumes had been trending down for us for years since the great run of 12" Star Wars in the late '90s. Since the 12" figure collector market is much smaller than the 3-3/4" market and the diminishing production volumes just did not make sense us to keep pursuing. Finally, since collectors have gotten much more sophisticated and exacting with regard to what they want, it made a ton of sense to have Sideshow work their magic with the format. Sideshow is bringing out figures of an astonishingly high quality, which are, in our opinion, worth every penny.




And now to continue through the online Star Wars collecting community...


BANTHA SKULL


QUESTION:  Hasbro, what are the chances of some battle packs with repaints of Battle Droids for the Clone Wars? There is the one with yellow highlights, camouflage deco, blue highlights and others as well as a battle pack with the various astromechs seen in the various episodes? We already have Obi-Wan's Delta 2 Starfighter, but no R4-P17 to fit in the droid slot. Thanks for your consideration!

ANSWER:  More of the Battle Droid variants from Clone Wars are already on the way. As for Clone Wars astro droids, it's certainly something we have heard loud and clear from fans and will be looking for ways to get more of the them out, and Battle Packs may be one possibility. R4-P17 is one of the most important ones to get out there and we'll look to him first.


QUESTION:  So you've given us detailed pics of the upcoming Legacy ROTJ Nikto figure. The large cannon accessory appears to have some kind of clip at the end of the "arm" or "base". Clearly, this is meant to attach to something big in order to keep the figure from falling over. Can you please provide us with pics of the BMF Jabba's Sail Barge you plan on releasing in 2010 but haven't told us about yet?

ANSWER:  The design team did put that in there for forward-compatibility, should there ever be a chance to do a Sail Barge. There is certainly no Sail Barge in development for all of the reasons we have previously articulated - not iconic enough, not a kid-demanded vehicle, and it would have a massive tooling budget against probably the lowest demand of the "big vehicle program" we have been driving. In short, not a good formula for success, that would likely grind the program to a halt. We would love to do it, because we are fans and it is a cool vehicle to us, but unless Jabba and the Barge shows up in a big way in future entertainment the chances of this one are slim.( oh wonderful sail barge)


QUESTION:  Hasbro, in regards to the recently revealed Saga Legends on the new cardbacks, why do you continue to keep making the same choices for repacks? As every SL we've seen on a new card are figures we saw in this year's (Stormtrooper cardback,) and TAC's Saga Legends line. While we realize the need for core characters, is there any way we can shake these up a bit? Maybe replace Vader with the infinitely times better Legacy mold? Or put older Clone Trooper paints - 212, Cato Nemoida, or 7th Legion - in place of clean ones?

ANSWER:  The simple answer is that we are drawing on the same figure because Saga Legends have been extraordinarily successful in meeting the needs of kids for core characters, and we see that demand continuing. Your point is a strong one regarding different trooper variants - as some of these are long-overdue for a return to the lineup. There's a strong possibility that we'll add future waves of Saga Legends to the lineup that can get some of these back in - since they meet the dual needs of strong Clone Troopers for kids, as well as offering collectors another chance to get them. As for Vader - he's still being repacked in the Legacy Collection, and this not available for Legends. He is a strong figure and sure to be back out on a basic figure card in one form or another.





COLLECTION STATION


QUESTION:  Without any collector/fan website input, what would Hasbro's Star Wars product offering look like? The fans, kids, collectors, etc. obviously have some influence, but from your perspective, how much? In light of the Organas, Yarna, Moff Jerjerrod, the Sarlacc set, and Lars Homestead set all shelfwarming, would Hasbro make those sorts of things if you didn't have a vocal collector base constantly nagging you in Q&A which obviously influences stuff like Yarna and the Spacetrooper and Willrow Hood? Is the collector base being more of a squeaky wheel getting too much grease, and if you weren't hearing that squeaking, what would the line be like?

ANSWER:  Great question! Without the collector input, we would not be emboldened to push the envelope on articulation and figure variety, to explore sub-themes such as aliens, Rebel Pilots and troopers, Ewoks, Droids, and Imperials, nor develop new and updated vehicles. Collector feedback, whether in the Q&A, in person at fan conventions, or via other media like the 2006 Toy Fare Top 25 Fans' Choice poll have all been outstanding sources of feedback and influence on the line. The collector Q&A has been a great way to both receive input on the line and get information back out there - two-way dialogue which has been instrumental in shaping the line. The Fans' Choice in the Saga Legends was a direct result of the Q&A, as have several figures that were asked about which have been added to our parking lot and subsequently turned into figures (the wildly successful Spacetrooper was asked about in a Q&A just as we were looking at that scene ourselves and asking, and we credit the Q&A for spurring us into action on this one). One of the biggest influences collectors have had was the 2006 Toy Fare Fans' Choice poll, which voted and ranked the Top 25 most wanted Star Wars figures. Since that seminal list came out we have knocked off at least 22 of the figures including the upcoming Jacen and Jaina Solo figures...quite an impact on the line! Some of the things you mentioned are not necessarily a result of fan requests but our desire to try some new things in the Star Wars 3-3/4" line, like iconic scene sets (Sarlacc and the Lars Homestead, for example). Since we are collectors ourselves, and want to see some new things done, we are willing to take chances and hope that what we do resonates with fans. It doesn't always work out the way we want it, though, but that's the nature of trying new things every now and then.


QUESTION:  Although Titanium Series has done an ok job releasing vehicles from the Clone Wars, there's only been a loose smattering despite the series' meteoric rise in popularity. Still to be made from the Clone Wars includes the Tri-Droid, Pirate Tank, the Malevolence, the Trident, Pod Hunter/Separatist Boarding Ship, Escape Pod, Hyena Bomber Droid, Weequay pirate saucers, CK-6 Freeco swoop bike, as well as existing movie vehicles which are in the Clone Wars not yet done as Titaniums, like the STAP, Acclamator, Munificent-class Banking Clan Frigate, Padme's Naboo H-type Yacht, and LAAT/c carrier. So the Clone Wars is already a rich source of material that has only been somewhat mined in Titaniums. Are there any more Clone Wars vehicles due out before the line's end (besides the Y-wing which we already know about)? Why wasn't there a greater focus on Clone Wars vehicles in the line when it was becoming apparent the line was facing doom?

ANSWER:  Since Titanium has very few kid purchasers and the vast majority are collectors, we chose to direct our tools to vehicles that we thought would provide more interesting diversity to the vehicle lineup, such as the Bounty Hunter ships this year. We only have so many slots for new tooling, and most of the vehicles that you bring up from Clone Wars are less interesting than the Republic Gunships, V-Wings, V-19s, Starfighters, and others that we chose to repaint instead. Of the ones you specifically asked about from Clone Wars, we are doing the Malevolence and Hyena Bomber, and Cad Bane's ship the Xanadu Blood.


QUESTION:  On the recent Jawa with WED Droid set, the Jawa comes with a small tin can-like piece that has 2 posts sticking out of it. Although there has been much speculation as to what this accessory is, no consensus has been reached. Also, the small accessory doesn't seem to have a dedicated storage spot on the figure's outfit unlike all the previous Jawa accessories, it has a sideways peg but the only peghole found on the Jawa is being used for the ion gun's power pack. So, what exactly is this accessory representing, and where does it fit on the Jawa? Or is it supposed to attach to the WED Droid instead?

ANSWER:  To be honest, your guess is as good as ours! We have speculated that it could be a power pack or transmitter for the blaster that stuns R2. But it could just as easily be can of rockwart soup or 40 weight motor oil. It is fun to speculate. As for the storage of the canister, there is a small hole on the back of the belt. The hole can be used for the canister or if the Jawa is holing the canister, to further secure the pouch that is attached to the gun. In hindsight, we should have added two holes. See attached pic for reference.






CREATURE CANTINA


QUESTION:  Given that the universe is infinite, and time is generally agreed to be linear in non-singularity space, when could we expect to see single-carded TIE Fighter Pilots with insert-molded ankles and flatter-soled boots for better balance and poseability in army-building displays?

ANSWER:  We have a great TIE Fighter pilot version coming in the Wal-Mart exclusive Imperial Pilots Legacy pack this Fall, but he does not have insert-molded ankles.  Beyond that we don't have a basic carded version slotted into the lineup anywhere, but that's a solid choice for down the road.   


QUESTION:  Reading the questions and answers about the upcoming Clone Pilots / Bubble Turret Battle Pack in other sites’ Q&A sessions, you have said that the cost for producing a pack with two pilots and two turrets would be too much, and that the run for this product will be about 12 months, then the Battle Packs will revert to the original “slimline” packaging.  As someone who wants to supply two turrets for each of his five gunships (and I bet I’m not the only such one), do you think you could see your way to releasing a pack containing one pilot and one turret in the new deluxe “Figure-and-a-Vehicle”-style assortment, should demand for these turrets outstrip the initial supply?

ANSWER:  Right now we don't have any plans to release the turret in the Clone Wars line, as the Figure/Vehicle SKU is kid-targeted and the turret something that will have more narrowly collector appeal.  However, if demand remains high after the turret has run its course in the current Battle Pack form, we will consider it.  In that case we'd release it in conjunction with a Clone Wars-style clone.   
 

QUESTION:  Hey Hasbro - first, I'd like to comment that I really appreciate the improvements to figures sculpts and character likenesses made over the past few years.  Over the course of the line, the progress has been amazing.  As an artist, I'm usually my own worst critic.  As a matter of fact, I hate just about everything I've ever done.  All I see are the flaws.  So I wonder if you guys suffer the same affliction.  Are there any figures in particular from the last few years that you're disappointed with?  Ones that you look at and they just make you cringe, or that you harp over wishing you could go back and fix?  They just sort of sit there in your face and mock you... "You call yourself an artist??  YOU'RE HORRIBLE!!"  Or am I unique in that respect, and should immediately seek out psychiatric help?

ANSWER:  Interesting question.  There are *definitely* figures we wish we could "have back" and correct the issues we could not address the first time.  For the most part, we are used to having some things turn out differently than we may have intended, owing to reasons related to changes at the factory level (deviations from the original sculpting hard copy), timing (accepting what we have rather than delaying to redo), or costing (either less articulation than we wanted, or decreased deco).  Occasionally, we have a chance to go back and have another chance at a figure, such as Snowbunny Padme who didn't turn out the way we wanted the first time, or the "jubilant" Luke sculpt which will be coming out for the Comic Con exclusive .  Other times, like with the Princess Leia figure from Shadows of the Empire Comic Pack with Xizor, we just have to accept that this is the best figure we are likely to have in that outfit. Her ankles aren't what we were expecting, but chances are very slim that we will ever be able to revise her.  It's something that we get used to, but also keep in mind the bigger picture - with interest in Star Wars so high, we're lucky to be able to consistently have chances to knock off so many great hero and lesser-known characters from the Saga and EU every year.  If a few don't come out quite as we intended, but the majority do, and we maintain our shipping schedule, we're pretty pleased.         






To be continued.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 01:20:18 PM by Gold 5 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2009, 01:15:33 AM »

JTA - HASBRO STAR WARS Q&A ROUNDUP - WEEK OF MAY 22ND, 2009 - PART 2



GALACTIC HUNTER


QUESTION:  Whatever happened to the Tales of the Jedi comic pack featuring Ulic Qel-Droma and Exar Kun? You mentioned a long time back that it was coming, but we haven't seen any pics or updates on this pack, all while other new comic packs are either being revealed or rumored. Was it canceled or delayed? (If it's still heading down the space-lane, might we ask for a photo of it?)

ANSWER:  It's still on the way, in the second wave for Fall.  It's trailing a bit at this point so it might not be on shelf until October - we'll have a firmer date for you at San Diego Comic Con. We don't have an image of this set ready to show just yet - we will reveal it at San Diego Comic Con.


QUESTION:  Hypothetically, if we were lucky enough to be blessed with that awesome trio of "inebriated" Jawas flopped outside of the Cantina, would they be more likely to be a hard accessory with light-up eyes, or actual figures with soft-goods?

ANSWER:  Well that one caught us by surprise!  It's highly unlikely that we'll ever make a set or a figure specifically for this, but it would be nice to have Jawas that can be posed as such.  To achieve that, they may have to be soft goods, or a hybrid.  However the biggest trick is likely to be the ball-jointed hips required to hit that cross-legged pose. That's a little extreme for a Jawa figure design, but you never know.

[Editor's Note: That "Jawa Juice" is strong stuff, and they are kinda adorable, right?]


QUESTION:  Medal Han Solo? Medal Chewbacca? Are they slated for some sort of nice gift set with a spruced up Luke Skywalker and Ceremonial Princess Leia? (Also, since Carrie Fisher, in her royal capacity, appeared on MTV to give Chewbacca his medal, does that make her appearance there fair game for a Princess Leia figure, too?) ;-)

ANSWER:  We have a Galactic Heroes multi-pack lined up for the Medal Ceremony, but do not have a 3¾" Battle Pack or set lined up. We would like to do a medal Chewie some day, but since he does not get one in the film this is a little bit controversial and we have not discussed the idea with Lucasfilm.  Since he does get his medal in the novel, there is precedence for perhaps an "EU" version to commemorate this. Perhaps something we'll look at down the road, but unlikely in a multi-figure set.





HAN'S HIDEOUT


QUESTION:  It's been a while since we pestered you about our good pal Han Solo... are you ready to tell us which version we're getting in the A New Hope wave later this year? The kids on the internet are spilt - about half are thinking new Death Star Escape version, the other half are thinking he's from Yavin someplace.

ANSWER:  He's not from Yavin, so the other half would be right.


QUESTION:  It sounds like the new red & white cardbacks will be a bit smaller in size, much like the Marvel cards on the pegs at the moment. Will the smaller cardback affect our ability to get the occasional larger pack-in items (like the Bespin Torture Rack) we've been spoiled with these past few years?

ANSWER:  The smaller card size will limit the pack-ins we can fit in, but the reality is that costs have forces us to scale back on the number of larger-scale offering we can include. We still hope to sneak the occasional one in when we can and feel it's imperative to round out the figure.


QUESTION:  That new Galactic Heroes Snowspeeder is fantastic! Any chance of more Galactic Heroes from Hoth, like say a repaint of the snowspeeder with Wedge, Janson, and a new Snowtrooper sculpt?

ANSWER:  That is a great idea - we are always looking to take the "fleet" type of approach with our Galactic Heroes, like we do with the 3-3/4" line. Thanks for the suggestion.





JEDI NEWS


QUESTION:  A simple quick question, why does every Han Solo figure now have the same blaster?  The long barrel scope version is only seen in ANH, after that he has the shorter scope version in ESB and ROTJ. Any chance of getting this version of the blaster for ESB and ROTJ versions of Han in the future?

ANSWER:  Thanks for pointing that out - we'll take a look another look to make sure we are selecting the most accurate blaster for Han.


QUESTION:  Recently images have surfaced showing carded shots of the ARF Trooper and it strikes me that the hips on this figure look terrible. Will these be altered for a future release or is there still time to do something for this outing?

ANSWER:  That is a pre-production version with the first generation hips.  The ARF Trooper has ball-jointed hips, developed so he could ride an AT-RT, but this early version is not where they will end up.  We have spend considerable time working with the vendor to bring them in tighter to the body.


QUESTION:  How come that retail prices for Star Wars figures are so widespread, when they basically all come from one source (the same factory). Prices range from $7 in the U.S. to $15.48 in Germany, $12.88 in Belgium and Netherlands, $11 in the U.K. and $18 in France...?  With the worldwide economy in turmoil and oil prices at such low levels - the price should be coming down not up!  Personally I can see a lot less sales because of the increase in price, and especially once the younger audiences have vanished from the toy aisles again.  [Keep in mind that the prices quoted above are not inflated for special figures but can be found at large retail stores selling each figure from standard cases for the same prices.]

ANSWER:  The short answer is that we sell figures to all retailers in U.S. dollars which fluctuate in price and present problems for pricing stability; on top of that there are widely varying local taxes.  Combine these effects, along with retailers own margin needs, and you can have tremendous variability in local prices for all toys, not just Star Wars figures.





MOUSE DROID

QUESTION:  My son and I love the Clone Wars voice changer helmets. He has the Blue and I have the plain white. They are really great items with excellent electronics and very durable. Yet we have been thinking...as Boba Fett is a favorite character of his (ours)...is there a chance at a Boba Fett Voice changer helmet in the future? You could even make a Jango Fett plus an entire Mandalorian range in different color schemes.

ANSWER:  We're really glad you like them. A Mando helmet is a cool idea, but we would only consider it if there was some form of additional current entertainment support for a Mando-type helmet. Being relevant to kids is the only way to make an item like this viable (look how long we waited to do a Clone helmet!).


QUESTION:  The articulation in your figs keeps getting better and better but sometimes some of the figures have swivel elbows rather then the ball jointed elbows.  My question is will you guys phase out the swivel joints and completely replace them all with ball joints? Also is there any talk about a new way of doing the hips? Perhaps ball jointed hips?

ANSWER:  Thanks for the comment. It's unlikely we'll ever phase out swivel arms, as they remain a viable alternative for us as we can't simply produce every figure with super-articulation due to extraordinary costing challenges. We are happy with our current hip designs, and don't feel the need to go to ball hips as a universal solution.


QUESTION:  This is more of an idea for "down the road", but one I was wondering if you had ever considered. 2-Packs seem to be popular among collectors, and can make great display pieces when the packaging is interesting.

So, have you or would you ever consider do a series of 2-packs featuring the Animated version of a charcter along with it's Legacy version? It would be an interesting way to perhaps celebrate the Animated series and the SW Legacy at some point down the road. Now, I know that not every character could be done as not all characters in the animation appear in the Live-Action. Obvious choices would be Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Padme, Clone Trooper, Grevious, Dooku, Commanders Cody & Gree, C-3PO and R2-D2. What do you think?

ANSWER:  At the present time, we would not consider this sort of combination. The simple reason is that it would narrowly appeal only to those collectors who appreciate both styles of figures. While more and more collectors are getting into Clone Wars, not everyone collects both styles nor would want to be "forced" to collect the other style to complete their collections.





To be continued.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 01:12:41 PM by Gold 5 » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2009, 01:31:40 AM »

JTA - HASBRO STAR WARS Q&A ROUNDUP - WEEK OF MAY 22ND, 2009 - PART 3



RAVING TOY MANIAC


QUESTION:  Every major character in the movies has received a Mighty Mugg with one exception: Padme! Is she coming and when?

ANSWER:  There is a Queen Amidala figure in the Mighty Muggs line, but that is the only Padme that will come out for the line.


QUESTION:  As a Star Wars collector, I have ALOT of figures. What I don't have is a great way to store them. Back in the old days, there were vinyl cases with plastic holders that worked great. Is there anyway to re-issue (or even better, make new ones) these so we have some way to store our figures?

ANSWER:  We don't plan on re-releasing the vinyl carry cases, but we are looking into a re-release of the Darth Vader carrying case. If that's not your cup of tea, then we recommend storage boxes like the type that are used to organize small household objects, found in the home section of stores like Target. These are clear, and can hold up to a couple dozen figures. They don't have trays like the vinyl cases, but they are modular and relatively inexpensive.


QUESTION:  Are there plans to re-release the recent Death Star Trooper figure as a repaint of the vintage Death Squad Commander/Star Destroyer Commander figure?

ANSWER:  We are saving that one for a possible re-release should we ever relaunch the Vintage line. With the nostalgic package, it would make the most sense.





REBELSCUM


QUESTION:  The Jabba's Rancor Target Exclusive pack has been available for some time via Target.com but has yet to find its way to stores. During the Toy Fair presentation your slide show said it was "In Stores Now", yet it is not. Any word on the hold up of this guy or when we should expect to see him (ie release date) in Target stores?

ANSWER:  This has been a source of frustration for us, as well as Target. When this item slipped its original date from last Fall into Spring, Target agreed to take it but did not have an open spot for it on either the planogram or an end-cap. They are still finding a place for it on-shelf and when we get that date we'll keep people posted.

Dan's Note: We have in fact just today gotten reports of the Rancor hitting Target stores across the U.S. Happy hunting!


QUESTION:  In order to improve sales on the TLC line, have you looked into non-movie themed waves? That could make it easier to anchor waves with more popular characters instead of having to focus on one film per wave.

In order to keep figures flying off the pegs, would it be possible to stagger waves throughout the year (one wave every two months) instead of very little in the early months of the year followed by a glut of product in the fall? It would be easier for collectors to catch up and for kids to save up for new figures but still allow bigger items in the holiday season for gift-giving.

ANSWER:  As for non-movie-themed waves, we are looking at going that way but not until after 2010. The reality is that after the first couple of waves each year, we carry-forward the "Greatest Hits" anyway, so the result after a couple months is the same. The challenge with managing The Legacy Collection waves is how many of the purely collector-targeted figures we produce, and how many we release. Too many released too deeply for the size of the collector market at any one time could lead to back-up.

One solution, which we don't plan on implementing, is going to only versions of the more popular characters....this would ensure sell-through but would eliminate a lot of the newer and more niche characters. Finding the balance is the key.

As for regular schedule, well that's the real trick, isn't it? Ideally waves would arrive every 6-8 weeks apart, like clockwork. Unfortunately, a combination of different delays has caused periodic bottlenecks to occur. We are ahead of it for the rest of 2009 and 2010.

Of note - there will always be a bit of a dry spell in the months before the line look changeover.


QUESTION:  In a recent Q&A you confirmed the upcoming TFU wave is going to be canceled due to the slagging Legacy line. The reason you gave is that Hasbro wants to scale back on the main action figure line and focus more on the animated series. My question is will this be a temporary phase until things are a little more sound (economically at least) or are you really planning on scaling back and eventually phasing out the main figure line? How will this effect unmade characters, core and background alike, and future Star Wars developments like the live action show? Does the future of Hasbro Star Wars really lay in The Clone Wars and repacks?

ANSWER:  Actually, none of the reasons you relayed are the reasons we gave to as to why we were moving the TFU wave from mainline basic figures to the exclusives line (note that the figures will be coming out, just not as basic figures).

What we did say, and we are happy to clarify, is that the number of active collectors seems to have softened, which presents a problem for a basic figure line like The Legacy Collection where new sculpts of more obscure, fan-requested or as-yet-unmade characters remains part of the "heart" of the line. Because of the high volume expectations for the basic figure line, it needs to be very tightly planned or we will miss our targets and retailer expectations will not be met. We are very committed to the main Legacy figure line and do not foresee this fading out as long as there is a strong collector following.

Slowing demand results in two problems - when we are left with extra figures at retail above what we have planned and forecast, and also in lowered volume expectations for the line, which throws the financials for that line (including the amount of tooling that can be assigned) into trouble. It's something we will be keeping a close eye on, since we are fans ourselves and want to see the line continue to be able to explore some of the more interesting and niche characters that add so much color the Star Wars world.

We will still continue to pursue new and interesting exclusives whenever possible, which is another way of delivery new and interesting figures. The challenges on Legacy do not have anything to do with The Clone Wars - that line was planned to be very robust alongside Legacy.





SIR STEVE'S GUIDE


QUESTION:  In Q&As lately, there have been some disturbing answers that subtly point to problems with the future of the Star Wars collecting hobby. Repeated mentions of Hasbro's iteration of Force FX sabers underperforming at market, then the cancellation of Titanium Series, and now the bad news about the TLC basic figure line culminating in a whole wave of figures getting pushed into exclusives. Force FX not thriving might have something to do with the fact that there is a focus on re-releasing existing designs, or perhaps the lack of marketing and "event" releases. Titanium Series has suffered unbelievable amounts of repaints and price increases, and zero marketing. TLC basic figures have seen heavy production of collector-oriented figures like Yarna and Breha Organa (despite even collectors knowing these should have been hard to find rather than abundant), and miserable pacing with just 3 waves of new figures between July '08 and May '09. Hasbro generally has a poor track record of nurturing collector markets when it comes to lines not centered around the 3.75" theme. Doesn't it seem as if that part of the issue is management decisions, overly lofty expectations, even (in the case of Force FX & Titaniums) Hasbro desired profit margins which can't match the lines' business models established by previous licensees, leading to these lines stumbling and thus their collecting markets waning?

ANSWER:  First off, things are not so doom-and-gloom when it comes to FX and 3-3/4", and in fact we are very excited about what we are bringing out and believe fans will be delighted as well. We discussed the current situation on each with candor, because we want to fans to understand what is happening in each case. In the case of FX, things are taking longer for a reason. The majority of the business, year after year, was built around the core sabers. New products introductions were a relatively small part of it, since the main consumer for these sabers is not the core collector but a more casual fan, with majority of the business being done in book stores and specially channels (not conventions or the Internet as some might think). These channels and this type of discretionary purchase were hit hard last year, with some going out of business. Combined with an excess of the Master Replicas sabers still in the market last year, it meant a longer than expected ramp up. The good news is that will be behind us as we head towards fall, and new sabers will be on the way, with more new styles coming in 2010 and 2011. In the case of the 3-3/4" collector-figures, there will be fewer of those coming in the basic figure lineup for the near-term and we feel that collectors deserve to know that as well as out commitment to ensuring that the figures will come out even if they are not in the basic lineup. The situation is basically like this: following EpIII, we had reached a new plateau in figure collecting, with a lot of re-engaged fans coming on board through The Saga Collection and 30th Anniversary lines and helping keep Star Wars basic figure sales at very high levels. During the last three years we released a fixed amount of each purely collector-targeted figure - figures like the Mustafar lava worker, any Cantina alien, Umpass-stay, most McQuarrie figures, etc. The releases of these collector-targeted figures would be the lowest quantity of any figure in the line, determined to be a quantity of each figure that would satisfy the core (completist) collector base. This quantity was reliable and consistent and the figures would always sell-through with time. Last Fall, however, we saw a change. There was an overall reduction of collector dollars in the action figure collecting hobby to which Star Wars was not immune, and we saw this on a more granular level in the sell-through of purely collector-target figures. While the hero figures (Obi-Wans, Anakins, Lukes, Vaders, troopers, etc) continued to do very well, the collector figures really started to struggle compared to all past years. This resulted in a need to recalibrate our release levels for these figures, since without that recalibration the normal releases we would make on purely collector figures would now be too large for the current collector market to bear, pegs would really start to back up, and the whole Legacy/Droid Factory figure flow would grind to a halt - in short, a disaster, unless corrective measures were taken. Therefore, we pulled back on the amount of each we release. Since this resulted in a significant impact on the financials of the overall basic figure lineup, as collector-targeted figures cost more than others given their almost 100% new tooling yet smaller production runs, we had readjust future waves because we could not construct them the same way with as many purely collector-targeted figures we as have been delivering. We made this to known to fans because they deserve to know, as it will have an impact on how future basic figure waves will be affected. It is far from a gloomy outlook, as collector-targeted figures are still vital to maintain that emotional core of the line and we have many great ones coming, but instead a short-term (we hope) adjustment to make sure that the basic figure program is going strong. We will also still look to our exclusives lineup to augment the basic figures and comic packs with new and exciting figures drawn from the films and EU, which are great avenues for new and interesting ideas since they stand apart from the basic figure lineup. We certainly don't want to feel the fans who have stuck with us feel like we are letting them down - to everyone who is reading this we say "thank you!" and can't wait to showcase some of the things we are working on for this Fall and beyond at Comic Con We also hope that the fans who were on the sidelines last Fall due to the economic conditions will be able to come back over time; this is a fantastic hobby to which we are deeply committed and earning fan enthusiasm and loyalty is something that promise to work hard to earn.


QUESTION:  Last time we asked about Titanium Series capital ships, the 3 examples we used got blasted out of the sky. But there are popular capital ships, from the Acclamator (which you already said "no" about) to the Malevolence to the Rebel Medical Frigate to the Interdictor and more, which are deserving of Titanium Series releases, many of which are recognizable to a general audience and have no other toy outlets. With Titanium Series now facing a finite and already set-in-stone future, are there new capital ships planned for release in the line? If not, what was the thinking behind not choosing them?

ANSWER:  It's not always a question of recognizability, but a question of what makes the best-looking vehicle. Not all vehicles are created equal, we track weekly sales of all different ships in the line to assess which types fans are selecting at retail. The capital ships, unfortunately, are not the most popular ships in the Titanium line which remain the more aggressive fighter-classes, droid ships, gunship, and the like.


QUESTION:  The gauzy material used to make black capes and other soft goods is intolerable. The material is always cut too large, never hangs right, and is translucent. Darth Vader especially has a real miserable time of it, looking more like he's wearing a black chiffon number than his menacing duds. And not one figure using it can avoid it flaring out, poor Garindan looks like he's flying away. We've seen better materials used at this scale, even by you (the second Darth Maul figure comes to mind), so it's past time to reassess new materials for these purposes. If nothing else, getting sharper and better-looking cape designs will sell more Vaders to collectors and kids who already have an army of them. So, what say you on this matter, why are you still using the gauzy black cloth, and are you willing to look into better materials and better sewing for them?

ANSWER:  Thank you for you positive and insightful feedback. Fabric cloaks or capes at the 4" scale have always presented difficulties. There are several issues that have to be balanced and they are not always within our direct control. Firstly, fabric is purchased by our vendors for the open market, unless they have some still on hand from other items. So, they have to buy what is available and making special orders from fabric manufacturers increases costs and delays the manufacturing schedule. Secondly, fabric that is less "sheer" has a higher thread count. That is why it is more opaque but this comes at a higher cost and thicker fabric also tends to not drape as well on the small figures. So, draping vs. opacity has to be evaluated. Finally, the largest cost to fabric pieces is due to the labor that is required to cut and sew the pieces. The hemming of edges greatly increases the cost, adds thickness, and tends to cause the fabric to hang poorly. We tend to use a polyester tricot material because it can be heat cut which keeps the edges from fraying and eliminates the need to sew hems. I for one do not envy the vendors who create these tiny pieces of Star Wars apparel and think they do an outstanding job. But, we are always striving to improve in every area.





SNOWTROOPERS


QUESTION:  Last year, with the launch of The Clone Wars, you guys (Hasbro) gave us collectors an awesome breakdown on what was being released in the form of a PDF booklet/brochure. That was incredibly helpful when it came to determining personal spending budgets. Will we be seeing something like that again this year? Please say, yes...

ANSWER:  Yes indeed, there will be a new one available this year at Comic Con timing.  It takes a tremendous amount of energy to bring this out, and we had hoped to do one for the Spring lineup, but time got away from us.  We're glad to be getting one out for the Fall lineup.


QUESTION:  Is there any chance Hasbro would be interested in doing any All Williamson designed Han Solo, Luke Skywalker or Princess Leia figures based on the Classic Star Wars comic series that Dark Horse reprinted?
 

 How about figures of Luke and Leia from the Splinter of the Mind's Eye comics?



If you do make these figures, with all due respect, PLEASE keep them in scale with the rest of your EXCELLENT figures, as I passed on the Shadows of the Empire Comic Pack due to the small Princess Leia.


ANSWER:  Thanks much for the comment.  Yes, we are very interested in doing some of the Classic Star Wars issues - just figuring out how and when to fit them in is the trick.  The characters would probably not look different from the regular line, since Williamson was trying to go for likeness matches.  Aside from some great takes on the main characters (the space suit versions of Luke and Han from this series are outstanding), the series was also known for some very interesting color choices which is always interesting when we need to fill out the lineup with packs that are less reliant on new tooling (which is always a consideration with comic packs).
 Look for the first of the Classic Star wars packs later this Fall.  As for Splinter of the Minds Eye, we do want to do Luke and Leia, and possibly a Yuzzem, at some point in the future but have not slotted any Splinter packs into the lineup.  It is true that the size of Leia has changed over the years, but the height of her in the Shadows pack is accurate to her height in the Star Wars universe.


QUESTION:  It's great to see Hasbro finally release a 501st Legion trooper using the #41 RotS mold. However, I bought a few and noticed a problem: the helmet's blue stripe is incorrect!  The stripe should be continuous but instead we have a gap between the black rim and the visor. Also the stripe is too wide and should instead narrow from the top of the helmet to the chin.  Please see the paintjob that was done for your TSC Commander Appo figure which was done correctly (although on Appo, he had too much dirt and his chest stripe didn't reach all the way to the neck). Can Hasbro please correct the problem for a future Legends release, I'd love to army build dozens more but only if it's accurately done.


ANSWER:  Thanks very much for the heads-up - we had not caught this one ourselves and will definitely take a look.





To be continued.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 01:13:35 PM by Gold 5 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2009, 03:39:26 PM »

JTA - HASBRO STAR WARS Q&A ROUNDUP - WEEK OF MAY 22ND, 2009 - PART 4



SW ACTION NEWS


QUESTION:  In a previous Q&A you said that you had no plans for a commemorative 1000th figure.  You said you weren't sure where you were in the count.  Several of our listeners have done the math and, counting 3.75" single-carded figures only (which appears to have been the math for figures 100, 200, 300, and 500) we count that at the end of the Ugnaught wave for BAD and the Jar Jar wave for CW, you will have only had 877 figures (give or take a few as everyone's count is bound to differ somewhat).

I would also like to add the general sense of disappointment felt by our listeners at the news you were not planning on commemorating such a milestone as 1000 figures.

Given that you're over 120 figures away from 1,000 we do hope that you may reconsider doing something special for figure 1,000.  Recommendations from our listeners has been focused on figures that cover both Clone Wars and vintage, such as  Yoda, a Clonetrooper or Stormtrooper, or an R2 and 3PO 2-pack (which would technically be 1000 and 1001, but...).

Given what has been said in recent Q&As about the lack of collector buyers recently, I can think of nothing better to bring collectors back into the fold than some special figures in special packaging to mark such a milestone (Has any other figure line ever reached 1,000 unique figures?  NOT one of our questions, but something to ponder).

ANSWER:  The real issue, which you have underscored, is what qualifies as a figure in the count. You are correct in that the previous figures commemorated basic figure milestones, but the commemorative figures themselves should not have been included in that count since they were not basic figures (the Boba Fett 300th did count as the #300 figure in the count for the 500th Vader).  Also, multi-packs were counted as one figure, when as you indicate they should have been two if they had different and unique deco. Just counting basic figure cards doesn't seem to really do the history of the line justice.  The simplest count would be to continue to go with basic figures, but we're not sure that all different figures shouldn't be counted, or even unique characters/versions (perhaps ignoring upgrades).  We'd be very interested in hearing what the general fan consensus is on the topic...perhaps something for one or more of the fansites to poll their user base?         

 
QUESTION:  In a Hasbro Q&A with Galactic Hunter you mentioned that collector interest seems to have waned in Star Wars figures and as such you will be taking action, such as moving The Force Unleashed figures to exclusives, out of the primary line-up.  You also stated, in a different question, that you don't believe the price increase is at fault for this falling out of collectors.  What do you think has caused collectors to stop buying figures, and do you think this is something likely to reverse itself?

ANSWER:  The situation is basically like this: following EpIII, we had reached a new plateau in figure collecting, with a lot of re-engaged fans coming on board through The Saga Collection and 30th Anniversary lines and helping keep Star Wars basic figure sales at very high levels. During the last three years we released a fixed amount of each purely collector-targeted figure - figures like the Mustafar lava worker, any Cantina alien, Umpass-stay, most McQuarrie figures, etc. The releases of these collector-targeted figures would be the lowest quantity of any figure in the line, determined to be a quantity of each figure that would satisfy the core (completist) collector base. This quantity was reliable and consistent and the figures would always sell-through with time. Last Fall, however, we saw a change.  There was an overall reduction of collector dollars in the action figure collecting hobby to which Star Wars was not immune, and we saw this on a more granular level in the sell-through of purely collector-target figures. While the hero figures (Obi-Wans, Anakins, Lukes, Vaders, troopers, etc) continued to do very well, the collector figures really started to struggle compared to all past years. This resulted in a need to recalibrate our release levels for these figures, since without that recalibration the normal releases we would make on purely collector figures would now be too large for the current collector market to bear, pegs would really start to back up, and the whole Legacy/Droid Factory figure flow would grind to a halt - in short, a disaster, unless corrective measures were taken. Therefore, we pulled back on the amount of each we release. Since this resulted in a significant impact on the financials of the overall basic figure lineup, as collector-targeted figures cost more than others given their almost 100% new tooling yet smaller production runs, we had readjust future waves because we could not construct them the same way with as many purely collector-targeted figures we as have been delivering. We made this to known to fans because they deserve to know, as it will have an impact on how future basic figure waves will be affected.  It is far from a gloomy outlook, as collector-targeted figures are still vital to maintain that emotional core of the line and we have many great ones coming, but instead a short-term (we hope) adjustment to make sure that the basic figure program is going strong.  We will also still look to our exclusives lineup to augment the basic figures and comic packs with new and exciting figures drawn from the films and EU, which are great avenues for new and interesting ideas since they stand apart from the basic figure lineup.  We certainly don't want to feel the fans who have stuck with us feel like we are letting them down - to everyone who is reading this we say "thank you!" and can't wait to showcase some of the things we are working on for this Fall and beyond at Comic Con  We also hope that the fans who were on the sidelines last Fall due to the economic conditions will be able to come back over time; this is a fantastic hobby to which we are deeply committed and earning fan enthusiasm and loyalty is something that promise to work hard to earn.  As for prices, the increases are inevitable to keep pace with our rising costs, but sales of kid-targeted figures (Clone Wars and Saga Legends, and the core heroes in Droid Factory) have been doing incredibly well over the same time period.     

 
QUESTION:  Given that you actions are already being taken to deal with the loss of collector buyers, what does the future hold for the EU figures planned, in the comic 2-packs or the upcoming EU wave with the Solo twins?

ANSWER:  The EU wave with the Solo twins will still go out as scheduled, as the last wave of Droid Factory for Spring 2010.  The comic packs seem to still be doing very well, but our main challenge with them has been managing costs since two figures and a comic, with so much new tooling in many of the packs, has presented a problem for us.  Look for this Fall's lineup of comic packs to be retooled and rejiggered, with some figures that were planned for later waves of comic packs finding their way into other avenues, like exclusives, and a few more replacement packs that are less reliant on new tooling finding their way into the mix for late Fall and Spring 2010.       
 

QUESTION:  So if there is a reduction in collector-specific figures, does this mean we will be seeing an increase in repacks, more of the Saga Legends, while Clone Wars holds steady and Build-A-Droid figures decrease in release?

ANSWER:  Clone Wars, given its popularity, is on the rise while Saga Legends will be help to about the same level.  No other changes to Droid Factory are planned other than the removal of the TFU wave, but we will be pulling back on the volume of the purely collector-targeted figures to make sure that we don't have back-up on shelf.  Future Legacy-type waves will likely have a bit fewer collector-targeted figures, at least until we see evidence that deeper releases of figures are justified since the lower-run figures (which typically involve new tooling) have a disproportionate and impact on our financials, and if the volumes remain smaller we will have fewer slots to work with in our overall line planning.     





YAKFACE


QUESTION:  I'm greatly looking forward to the upcoming Sail Barge gunner Nikto figure. However, in looking closely at his rail cannon accessory, there is obviously a clip on the bottom which one would assume would be used to attach to the railing of a some sort.

Was this done to "future-proof" the figure IF a Sail Barge were ever to be released? Or is there serious consideration currently being given to producing one?

ANSWER:  There is indeed a clip there, in the case that there ever was a future accessory it could plug into. We have dreamed about it, but here is not serious consideration given to producing one. We know fan interest in this is very high, but fans alone won't be enough for a beast like this to succeed - we'd need to have some serious entertainment support to get kids interested.


QUESTION:  With the release of the upcoming Anakin Concept figure, can we expect to see more concept art figures being released?

There are some amazing pieces you could choose from, one in particular is this Padmé Amidala Concept Art that would have been used for Revenge of the Sith had the character not died in childbirth. I think that it would be a great figure to release and would be rather popular due to the fact it's based on an alternative ending of a main character.

ANSWER:  After the four concept figures being released this year, we have no more concept figures planned. They could return some day, of course, but we plan to tackle some new figures with those figure slots.


QUESTION:  The new Luke Skywalker (Medical Frigate) is an all around great figure in my opinion, plus it covers a version of him that's not been offered before. The question is with his accessory. There's been debate on various forums and amongst my friends as to what this small silver piece actually is. Can you clarify definitively that it's either the commlink that Luke used to speak to Lando aboard the Falcon or is it a tool used by 2-1B to "test" Luke's new cybernetic hand and is it possible to provide the reference photo used in sculpting this "mystery" piece?

ANSWER:  Yep, that is exactly what it is  But seriously, just as with the mysterious Jawa canister whose function was unknown but we decided to include anyway, one of the fun things with Star Wars is imagining what various devices do or how they work. The same holds true for the toy executions. We are just big kids at heart here at Hasbro and we often try to imagine how I would play with accessories as a child. And in this case, we did imagine children using it both ways. See attached pic for reference.

CLICK FOR IMAGE






Keeping checking back as the JTA Q&A roundup will continue to be updated through the weekend as more sites post their Hasbro Star Wars Q&A sessions.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2009, 01:18:44 PM by Gold 5 » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2009, 01:21:46 PM »

Hasbro has posted their official Q&A roundup HERE.  Two sites added.
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