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View Full Version : Why are we still waiting for good likenesses on Leia, Han, the Emperor, etc.?



JediTricks
11-04-2009, 03:39 AM
Here we are at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we have figures like Giran that appear to be nigh-perfect 1:18 scale miniatures, and yet we're STILL waiting for decent likenesses on any version of Han Solo, ANH Leia, the ROTJ Emperor, a quality soft goods cape for Vader, a C-3PO that can match the quality of the Clone Wars version or the BAD protocol droid mold.

What is going on???

Why is it that secondary characters we get tons of quality, yet on main characters like these - characters that have since become quite iconic with the passage of time - we're still suffering underwhelming designs that deliver at best only so-so results? Shouldn't these sorts of things get priority since they're so recognizable? Yet once in a while we get a new version and almost every time it's more of a flop than the previous, take the latest ANH Han Solo figure for example.

LTBasker
11-04-2009, 04:43 AM
That's one of the major reasons why I pretty much gave up on the figure line. There is no sensible reason other than greed as to why they keep pushing mediocrity when it comes to main characters. I know it sounds bitter and the usual cliched Hasbro-villainy fluff, but I honestly believe the sole motivation is greed. They don't want to make nigh-perfect figures, they want to keep peddling cost-effective, slightly improved mediocrity so they continue to be bought by new and existing customers.

We know it's not a matter of the retail-end cost of the figure, considering the doubled-price "vintage" figures were rarely superior than what was available in the main line.

JediTricks
11-04-2009, 05:10 AM
Right now, I'm attributing it to incompetence, "greed" sounds so Machiavellian and that requires a level of planning skill which Hasbro as a company hasn't shown much ability to deliver competently. ;) And look at the DS2 Luke situation we just got, the prototypes showed something that looked like no better than the 2004 headsculpt, yet the actual production model was different and far better - they couldn't deliver intentional incompetence if they wanted to.

I can't imagine giving up the whole figure line over a lack of main characters - although typing that out just now it does make a little more sense - when there are so many cool secondary character figures coming down the pike. I plan on avoiding the new Han figure for example, but that doesn't mean I won't get the Imperial Scanning Technician.

I guess I can find that type of perspective on this after giving up completism AND collecting the Sideshow 12" line which has been a more selective for me.


So, we have one vote for Incompetence and one for Greed. Let's turn this into an uproar. :D

El Chuxter
11-04-2009, 08:15 AM
I'm going with greed. If it were incompetence, we'd not have a good Giran. They do too many "slight" improvements that are still lacking. Like why release Grievous in the right size, but "conveniently" forget the cloak that is an important part of the character? Because people will buy it, since it's a little better, and buy one with a cloak in a year or so.

Then again, they re-did Malakili, who was adequate, and not Evazan, who is more important and who still doesn't have a figure that looks like anything but a Goof Troop supporting character, so maybe it is incompetence.

Darth Jax
11-04-2009, 08:31 AM
just to play devil's advocate (not that i believe it), but maybe it isn't hasbro's fault. the characters that they can get "just right" are mostly ones that rely on masks and make-up. maybe at that scale you just can't accurately copy a human face relying on nothing more than snapshots and celluloid.

Old Fossil
11-04-2009, 08:50 AM
just to play devil's advocate (not that i believe it), but maybe it isn't hasbro's fault. the characters that they can get "just right" are mostly ones that rely on masks and make-up. maybe at that scale you just can't accurately copy a human face relying on nothing more than snapshots and celluloid.

Hasbro has shown time and again that they can do human character likenesses very well. Take any of the Rebel pilots from the last decade as an example -- Porkins, Biggs, Zev Senesca, "Good Shot" Jansen, Dutch Vander. Many of these have only fair detail to the body sculpts but have extremely well done heads.

Hasbro's frequent bungling of main character likenesses is baffling and inexplicable. It's what helped kill their 12" line, I believe.

Qui-Long Gone
11-04-2009, 09:18 AM
JT, thanks for starting this thread.

My vote is incompetence....to say greed is a motivator says less about Hasbro and more about us the collectors...."hello pot, this is kettle calling...you're black."

Jax, you are correct that helmets and masks are easier to sculpt than actual faced...I think that observation is valid.

This was my argument over the summer about the top 30 wish list...who needs Jocasta Newt when we need a definitive Solo/Leia/Emperor? Sure, the entire cast of SW deserves figuring, but what about the main characters?

DS2 Luke is a promising start (not a great figure, but an upgrade). We've seen sucess with figures such as Obi Wan, the Fetts (helmets help!), Chewie (masks help), Lando, etc....so it's possible to get these figures correct--or better. I also think this forthcoming ANH Luke (Jedi revamp with Obi Wan/R2/3P0) is very promising....

pbarnard
11-04-2009, 11:03 AM
I think it is more they know they have only 1 shot at minor characters every 10 years (should the license be renewed again). They go all out. They'll get several shots at mains, and just try to tweak till they do get it right and than bash us with it ad nauseum. So the moment they do get one right, be prepared to see it forever in Saga Legends, battle packs, vehicle pack ins etc. The reason why the aren't as careful is because in their business model they have to release main characters. So it leans towards greed.

Ando
11-04-2009, 12:31 PM
I think it is more they know they have only 1 shot at minor characters every 10 years (should the license be renewed again). They go all out. They'll get several shots at mains, and just try to tweak till they do get it right and than bash us with it ad nauseum. So the moment they do get one right, be prepared to see it forever in Saga Legends, battle packs, vehicle pack ins etc. The reason why the aren't as careful is because in their business model they have to release main characters. So it leans towards greed.

This is pretty much what I would have said. I'm going to be cynical here and say it's called job security. Without having insider connections or knowledge, it would make sense to me to continue to make core characters in new and different ways and continue to improve upon them (It's why I would guess they made us a Han with a stormtrooper helmet and what looks to be a clone trooper breast plate piece from the clone trooper trainee/recruit figure from the 30th Anniversary Collection in 2007). More of Hasbro rattling the cup.

Without the core characters continuing to be redone and re-released, Hasbro would have to dig a little deeper into the license and make more obscure stuff that they can't or don't want to do. Eventually they will run out of altogether new characters to make into figures and as people here and on other sites have said it's those core characters that kids+parents need to see on the shelves to keep them buying toys.

Mr. JabbaJohnL
11-04-2009, 01:55 PM
I don't think that they honestly are putting flaws into figures just so they can go back and do them again. Some characters are pretty much perfect now - Darth Vader, Chewbacca, the stormtrooper, R2-D2 (from the upcoming battle pack), Obi-Wan in most of his incarnations, Qui-Gon, Boba Fett, and so on. If they wanted to, they could just keep cranking out figures based on the same molds, and they do exactly that. I mean, they can add things like the headset to Chewbacca, or the restraining bolt to R2-D2, to add a little bit of variety. Casual collectors and fans are going to get these figures whether they're all-new molds or whether they're from five years ago, but by doing these changes, they get more collector attention as well.


Here we are at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, we have figures like Giran that appear to be nigh-perfect 1:18 scale miniatures, and yet we're STILL waiting for decent likenesses on any version of Han Solo, ANH Leia, the ROTJ Emperor, a quality soft goods cape for Vader, a C-3PO that can match the quality of the Clone Wars version or the BAD protocol droid mold.
If we're just talking likenesses, then I think the Endor shield generator battle pack has a damn good Han. On Leia, I think most of the figures made in recent years are pretty good. The VOTC Leia is indeed too doll-like, but figures like the new slave Leia show that they are indeed capable of doing right by these characters. With C-3PO, isn't it Lucasfilm who always wants him to be shiny? I mean, I want one in the BAD mold, but the ROTS and TSC ones are still pretty damn great even with their somewhat limited articulation.


just to play devil's advocate (not that i believe it), but maybe it isn't hasbro's fault. the characters that they can get "just right" are mostly ones that rely on masks and make-up. maybe at that scale you just can't accurately copy a human face relying on nothing more than snapshots and celluloid.
Well, I believe it, to a point. If you really get down to it, Giran's face is off - the mouth is too wide, the grooves are too well-defined, and the nose should be farther down from the eyes, but everyone is claiming it to be a masterpiece. Yet if a Luke or Han figure has similar problems, it's considered to be a complete waste of space. We hold the main characters to a much higher standard of quality, particularly the humans. I'm willing to bet that, in our lifetimes, we've seen Harrison Ford's image a thousand times more frequently than we've seen Giran's. We see humans every day, all the time, so when something is a little "off" on a figure, it's really obvious; with the aliens figures, then, "good enough" often passes for "perfect".


I'm going with greed. If it were incompetence, we'd not have a good Giran. They do too many "slight" improvements that are still lacking. Like why release Grievous in the right size, but "conveniently" forget the cloak that is an important part of the character? Because people will buy it, since it's a little better, and buy one with a cloak in a year or so.
Yeah, but you think there's an agenda behind everything - they stopped selling a five-year-old Clone Wars DVD since there's a new show on TV and people don't need to get confused, and to you, it's a conspiracy. :p

I think, on Grievous, they legitimately couldn't cost out a cape for him. I'm pretty sure you don't have this figure, but if you check it out you'll see it's made up of a ton of intricate parts, and it's pretty huge, so it's not a stretch to imagine that it was a costly figure to produce.

So, I dunno. I disagree with the "Hasbro is teh evil haha" line of thought since it always strikes me as extremely childish and I don't honestly believe that they're intentionally making bad product just so they can later correct it. We can complain that they're not doing things 100% great all the time, but that ignores what they are doing right, which is quite a lot.

El Chuxter
11-04-2009, 01:58 PM
Since Grievous is so damned big, why not bring back their $10 pricepoint and give him a cape? I'd rather pay a couple bucks more and get him right. He is something like nine feet tall, after all.

I'll believe Lucasfilm isn't trying to keep attention from a superior precursor to the show they're currently pushing when every 5-year-old DVD goes out of print, especially the bad ones. (I'm looking in your direction, Punky Brewster Complete Series.)

pbarnard
11-04-2009, 02:00 PM
Since Grievous is so damned big, why not bring back their $10 pricepoint and give him a cape? I'd rather pay a couple bucks more and get him right. He is something like nine feet tall, after all.

I'll believe Lucasfilm isn't trying to keep attention from a superior precursor to the show they're currently pushing when every 5-year-old DVD goes out of print, especially the bad ones. (I'm looking in your direction, Punky Brewster Complete Series.)

Or just give the BAD RA7 one the cape from the Droid Factory.

JediTricks
11-05-2009, 06:22 PM
BTW, in Q&A we've asked them about this a few times, and they say it's a challenging medium, and there will always be variety between sculptors and production.


I'm going with greed. If it were incompetence, we'd not have a good Giran. They do too many "slight" improvements that are still lacking. Like why release Grievous in the right size, but "conveniently" forget the cloak that is an important part of the character? Because people will buy it, since it's a little better, and buy one with a cloak in a year or so.I think Grievous didn't have his cape due to costing. Also, you're ascribing a lot of staying power from the collector market, but Hasbro's claim is that there isn't all that much, they aren't the driving force in sales. I bring that up because kids don't buy every small incremental change figure, they want Han, they buy an available Han - when he breaks or gets lost, they buy him again. So it seems like it's in their best interest to make it right, not wrong, because that'd only drive customers away. Just because I'm a sucker doesn't mean the majority of customers are.



just to play devil's advocate (not that i believe it), but maybe it isn't hasbro's fault. the characters that they can get "just right" are mostly ones that rely on masks and make-up. maybe at that scale you just can't accurately copy a human face relying on nothing more than snapshots and celluloid.That is true, a lot of the characters they can't get right are humans, and while they are better at background human characters than main ones, there are still plenty of lesser-than humans too. I'm not sure that's a good enough reason though, look at the new DS2 Luke, or ep 2 Count Dooku, Evo Padme, most Landos, the new Obi-Wan ANH, ROTS Obi-Wan, Leia Boushh and Bespin. I wonder if this is another case of "gotta rush the figure to market due to themed waves" being at fault.



If we're just talking likenesses, then I think the Endor shield generator battle pack has a damn good Han.Crud, I didn't even notice it was a new sculpt. Looking at pics, it does look very good for ROTJ Han. I never liked that body though, long neck and thin limbs. It needs to be used on a better body, and we still need an ANH Han, but yes, for likeness they did deliver quite well it seems. I think "likeness" needs to mean a good face on a body that works though, likeness should include context.


On Leia, I think most of the figures made in recent years are pretty good. The VOTC Leia is indeed too doll-like, but figures like the new slave Leia show that they are indeed capable of doing right by these characters.That is why I said "ANH Leia" to begin with. I don't think the new Slave Leia is a great example of quality likeness though, it's fair but not what I'd call that accurate.


With C-3PO, isn't it Lucasfilm who always wants him to be shiny? I mean, I want one in the BAD mold, but the ROTS and TSC ones are still pretty damn great even with their somewhat limited articulation.It is LFL who wants chrome, but ROTS and TSC prove they can make leaps, they just seem to be leaps that are still 1 or 2 steps behind everything else, and I think both those figures are not up to snuff with other figures in the line from their own eras, they are just better than previous C-3POs. The torso on Endor C-3PO is good, but the legs are only ok, and the arms and head are blobby and simplistic. And there's still the whole problem of vac metallizing being really crummy, it comes off very easily, and ruins the scale by being too shiny.



Since Grievous is so damned big, why not bring back their $10 pricepoint and give him a cape? I'd rather pay a couple bucks more and get him right. He is something like nine feet tall, after all.Maybe because no deluxe pricepoint has ever sold well in the history of the line. And if they did sell a figure at $7 and then again at $10 with just a cape as the addition, you know there'd be an uproar - rightfully so.



Anyway, I think we should be asking more questions about getting main characters done right, we should be demanding stuff like ANH Leia done correctly.

bigbarada
11-05-2009, 06:55 PM
Well, I believe it, to a point. If you really get down to it, Giran's face is off - the mouth is too wide, the grooves are too well-defined, and the nose should be farther down from the eyes, but everyone is claiming it to be a masterpiece. Yet if a Luke or Han figure has similar problems, it's considered to be a complete waste of space. We hold the main characters to a much higher standard of quality, particularly the humans. I'm willing to bet that, in our lifetimes, we've seen Harrison Ford's image a thousand times more frequently than we've seen Giran's. We see humans every day, all the time, so when something is a little "off" on a figure, it's really obvious; with the aliens figures, then, "good enough" often passes for "perfect".

I would agree with this assessment. Look at Ephant Mon, there are so many innaccuracies and liberties taken with his design; but no one seems to notice or care.

With the background characters, it seems that they are judged on the merits of being actions figures alone. With main characters, people seem to want a perfect, lifelike 3 3/4" representation for under $8. If Hasbro doesn't deliver on that impossible standard then they are evil, greedy, incompetent, whatever.

I don't agree with that at all. I've been collecting these toys since 1978 and I've noticed one thing about other collectors, the higher the overall quality of the line, the more unhappy and angry collectors seem to get.

Back in 1983, we got the exact same Darth Vader figure that had been released in 1978. If you didn't like it, you just dealt with it because Kenner was not going to make a new version. Now it seems that we've gotten spoiled by the constant resculpts and tweeks and we will settle for nothing short of perfection.

El Chuxter
11-05-2009, 07:04 PM
$10 deluxe figures have not sold well historically, true. However, every time they've been tried, the figures were cheaper. (IIRC, the ROTS figures at $6 were the highest basic figures have ever been at a time that deluxe figures were available.) If the price difference were only $2.50 (if they could sell them at $10 MSRP), maybe they'd do better?

Darth Jax
11-05-2009, 07:16 PM
$10 deluxe figures have not sold well historically, true. However, every time they've been tried, the figures were cheaper. (IIRC, the ROTS figures at $6 were the highest basic figures have ever been at a time that deluxe figures were available.) If the price difference were only $2.50 (if they could sell them at $10 MSRP), maybe they'd do better?

it seems that most of the 'deluxe' figures were inferior sculpts of the figure or severely lacking in articulation.

Qui-Long Gone
11-05-2009, 08:02 PM
we should be demanding stuff like ANH Leia done correctly.

...and I would add, JT, spending less time trying to get Hasbro to make figures such as Jocastu Nusless...

JediTricks
11-06-2009, 03:50 AM
$10 deluxe figures have not sold well historically, true. However, every time they've been tried, the figures were cheaper. (IIRC, the ROTS figures at $6 were the highest basic figures have ever been at a time that deluxe figures were available.) If the price difference were only $2.50 (if they could sell them at $10 MSRP), maybe they'd do better?I doubt that logic would fly, keep in mind, you're really talking about shelf real-estate, so it's a big risk with little reward taking up more space. Plus, with only $2.50 difference, where is the "deluxe, more toy" part going to really come in? Thin margin when the basic figs are 3 times that amount for very little figure.


...and I would add, JT, spending less time trying to get Hasbro to make figures such as Jocastu Nusless...If that's what truly floats their boat, then I don't mind. It's just the folks who are on board for what seem like the wrong reasons that I don't dig, the ones who "need" this figure to "complete" their collection but don't actually like the character.

El Chuxter
11-06-2009, 08:34 AM
I did forget to mention that almost all the old deluxe figures have been (like DJ said) really bad remakes of main characters who were available cheaper at the same time. Crap like the flipping AOTC figures weren't worth a buck, and it showed. No way were they worth twice as much as the basic versions also available. The only truly unique figures I can come up with were the Probot (who I don't remember being too big a pegwarmer, though it was mediocre) and Amanaman (who's actually smaller than some recent basic figures).

I'd be fine with moving large figures (Grievous, Muftak, Ephant Mon, maybe even Chewbacca) into a deluxe line. Regardless of how much droid parts cost, they do cost money; cutting them out would help keep the price down. It would also mean there would be slightly lower costs in basic waves to be "averaged" out, so no more worries about tables appearing in early pics and having to be axed. The trouble is, based on the Clone Wars stuff that looks like deluxe, they'd be $15, which no way would work.

AmanaMatt
11-06-2009, 03:11 PM
I totally agree with this thread.

I am still waiting for one C-3p0 that actually has detailed protocol droid arms - without excess plastic fused with the 'spokes' - kinda like one of the R3p0s a few years back. surely, they can pull off one truly spectuacular threepio.

we've never gotten a fantastic ANH, Emperor, Bespin Han...

As far as Vaders, Hasbro has done two that blow me away: Anh version from the Masters of the Darkside 2-pack, and the new two piece helmet version. I have no issues with those in any way, including the soft goods....the new slave leia had good quality cloth for her soft goods. If they did that on a new Vader, Id get it

I plan on hitting SDCC in 2010. If I go, I will respectfully give Hasbro a piece of my mind on this issue..

JediTricks
11-06-2009, 04:04 PM
Deluxe is aimed at kids because they're the ones who will support it. When we had collector-oriented deluxes it was even worse, remember the POTJ Deluxes? They choked Toys R Us with their dead, even fans choice poll winner Amanaman. Slave Leia was immensely better than the POTF2 and she came with the deck cannon - I bought 2 on clearance for like $4 a piece. Then there was Saga Ultra, which didn't do much better despite a great Ewok Glider, a decent Jabba, the Tantive IV's escape pod with non-chrome C-3PO, Bubo and Wol Cabasshiite, the nifty Wampa, and John Kerry Hoth Commander... ok, that last one isn't a good example of my point, but the rest are. They didn't sell well despite being nice deluxe sets.

And Probe Droid was enough of a slow-seller that I bought an extra on clearance and painted the "eye" black, cutting off the opposite end.

CW's Deluxe line is "figure and vehicle", and it's more product for $16 than a previous deluxe set. Comparing the Freeco Bike to the Escape Pod, the pod is smaller and simpler. Wow, what a comparison! But my point is that the CW line at $16 is delivering more product (I still think it's a pricepoint that won't work though).



Matt, good point about the little actuator pistons on 3PO's arms, they're just blobs on those figures, yet I look down at my U-3PO BAD and while it's not perfect, they did sculpt the heck out of those.

I asked Hasbro not too long ago about doing a Vader with better cape material so it wasn't black chiffon, they said "thanks for the suggestion". I wish I had saved that custom pic I saw a while back that was so good, it had the cape sewn around the shoulders and was thick enough that you couldn't see through it, it looked fantastic.

Wow, SDCC next year huh? Good luck making it, if you do, make sure to get together with us ahead of time on the forum so we can meet in person, at least save you a seat at Hasbro (Chux saved our bacon on that this year, no thanks to Tycho's dawdling :p).

AmanaMatt
11-06-2009, 04:30 PM
Wow, SDCC next year huh? Good luck making it, if you do, make sure to get together with us ahead of time on the forum so we can meet in person, at least save you a seat at Hasbro (Chux saved our bacon on that this year, no thanks to Tycho's dawdling :p).

That would be cool.......only thing that may stop me from SDCC. Friend of mine is getting married. if he plans it in June, that's when i go to Ca...we'll see. I miss SDCC.

Devo
11-06-2009, 05:20 PM
I'm not waiting on accurate likenesses of the core characters. These days I just wish Hasbro would go back to school on how to get basic human body proportions right...then I'll go back go lamenting the inability to get Luke to look like mark hamill.

Jaff
11-06-2009, 05:43 PM
I am fairly pleased with the Han likeness' to date. The Leia's are ok. The Emperor is just beyond words, how in the world can they get a Anakin from ROTS just about perfect in evolutions, or a Ephant Mon, and they can't even touch quality in their emperors with exception to the 1999 Darth Sideous figure?

El Chuxter
11-06-2009, 05:45 PM
The more I think about it, the odder it is that they could so totally nail the likenesses of John Kerry, Lyle Lovett, David Duchovny, Quentin Tarantino (twice!), Joe Lieberman, and Bubbles the Chimp, but haven't been able to translate this success into actual main Star Wars characters.

Devo
11-06-2009, 06:15 PM
And whatshisname Ryan Stiles? Isn't that the rebel technician figure from Scramble on Yavin BP?

El Chuxter
11-06-2009, 06:20 PM
That's right! Plus Tom Green, the Bespin Guard.

Rik Duel
11-06-2009, 10:40 PM
I agree that the Endor pack Han has a decent head that looks ridonkulous on that body. They've recently said that bespin Han has been pushed to 2011 with a different Han in 2010. Maybe that will be an Endor Han with a normal body. (which could be recycled for Bespin and it will have only taken 15 years to have them both. Phew.) Geez, the core character thing really is annoying when you think about it.

Qui-Long Gone
11-07-2009, 08:19 PM
I do like the head sculpt on the Han Stromtrooper...and the head sculpt on the Endor battle...does that head fit on the VOTC Endor Han?