The first of SSG's 2 Comic-Con interviews with Hasbro Star Wars brand manager Derryl DePriest is a walk-through of the Star Wars section of Hasbro's booth.
JediTricks: Let's start with the top. Wooof - some of our readers have been going crazy for Wooof- Derryl DePriest: Ok, in a good way, or not a good way? JT: Oh no, they've been pushing so hard for so many years- DD: Yes they have! JT: What made now the time for that figure? DD: Actually, the answer for Wooof is that he should have been in the line last year, because he was on the list until the very last moment, and I believe that when we actually... it *was* going to be Wooof and we went to make a figure selection, we actually picked a different guy than Wooof and we were told that actually it's not Wooof, it's a different guy but we were already down the path so what we did is we bumped Wooof out to this year, which is even better because he looks, he's going to be awesome on a Vintage card, so it's even better. But Wooof came to our attention because of the fan demand, that's really why Wooof is in the line. I mean, you could point to fan influence in many many many of the figures. You know, some of the figures were our own choice, like Gamorrean and Ackbar where we really wanted to update that, but when you look at characters like Wooof or the skiff commander, those are figures that the fans help us guide, so we pay attention to what fans are asking for, we look at the polls and we park the figures in what we we call our "parking lot of ideas" so when the next time we go to draft up a line, we infuse fan thinking into that. And the next time, interestingly, we're actually gonna create a line is very soon, so we're going to, in the next 1 to 2 months, craft up what the 2012 line is going to be, so that's all going to be baked and come together very soon for us. We're looking forward to getting started on that. JT: Yoda here, he's got this blue lightning ball but he seems to be displayed with the Empire Strikes Back figures, what's the deal, is he cross-saga? DD: Yeah, he's actually going to be senate-duel Yoda- JT: Ah, ok, that makes perfect sense. DD: Yes, so he will senate duel our Sidious friend there. So see the determination in Yoda's eyes? JT: Ah, yeah. Or he has gas. DD: Ha, either one, either one. JT: So the soft-goods on senate-duel Palpatine/Sidious seem to be fuzzy, a very vintage style perhaps, but also it seems like it might be inverted, usually the fuzzy is on the inside [of the soft-goods], and the packaged version in the display is the same way [fuzzy on the outside]. DD: Well, the packaged version is the way he is going to go out, so I believe that... now, Brian Parrish, who is the designer and is not here, so I can't answer with certainty.
But I did talk to Brian today though, so I can give you a little tidbit about the Gamorrean Guard if you like. JT: Ah yes, yes, that was going to be my next question. DD: The Gamorrean Guard will in fact have his furry, soft-goods, um... JT: Loincloth? DD: "Loincloth", yeah, to say it delicately, it's a loincloth, right. JT: And the funny thing is, the guys on my board when they saw those pictures without it, a couple of them said "it will", they had the faith that it would be there, that Hasbro would get this right. DD: Good. Somehow it's missing from the show and we didn't notice it, but good news for fans, so our little pig guard friend has, I think, gone from when we originally conceived doing him in the Vintage line, a figure that we knew we could update, to what may be 1 of the biggest hits of Vintage here. And wait until fans see him on the card, I think we're going to have to make more. JT: Great! Have you held the production version, is he a hefty figure? He looks like a hefty figure. DD: Well, let's see, I think this one is production, he is hefty. JT: I ask because I got some of the Vintage figures recently... somehow... and on a couple cards, the blisters are very easy to come off, and I'm wondering if you guys are going to put extra... I don't know how you'd put extra welding to keep a blister on a card actually - for this figure. DD: Well, I tell you, we transit test everything before we ship it, so out of the factory they make sure, they put it on jiggly machines and, you know, jiggle them like for a week or so to make sure they will withstand the rigors of truck transportation, container transportation across the sea, and things like that. So we test everything to make sure that we're building it so that it's certain it gets to retail intact. So I'm confident that, yeah, it will stay together. [Derryl opens the case and hands the figure over, minus its hat and accessories] So why don't you feel it, what do you think he weighs? He's not Ephant Mon. JT: Oh yeah, he's not Ephant but he has a good heft, not too heavy, not too light. I like it. I approve. DD: Alright, good, passed the first test seal of approval there. Good. JT: What prompted you guys to come back to Luke Death Star so soon? DD: Ahhhh, well, yes indeed. Obviously he's not a Tatooine Luke like I was implicating in the Q&A [the SDCC Hasbro Star Wars Panel the day before]. He is the Endor Capture Luke. So he's an important one for us. We weren't exactly satisfied, actually we thought we did a pretty good job with the last one- JT: I liked it actually. DD: But we paid attention to the fan boards, and that's one that seems to have polarized fans, so people either like it or some people do not like it. Luke is such an important character for us, that our strategy has been to get really great versions, especially in Vintage. We said Vintage we want no mistakes, no go backs, no do overs, we gotta nail these figures. We knew we wanted a Jedi Luke in our Vintage collection early, because that's a figure that we can use to carry forward, a strong figure to anchor every wave. So we said, even though we just did one, we think fans will forgive us for doing it again, taking another stab at it. And that's why we basically updated and this time, you know, took the time to do it right, and we think we nailed it. So, that's why, because we knew we wanted a Jedi Luke, we knew the fans were divided, we listened to them, and we updated to what we think is a great figure. In hindsight, the card art should probably not have been the vintage image [the vintage card art was Luke wearing his cloak in Jabba's Palace while drawing a gun towards the Hutt gangster], it probably should have been a new story, like say an Endor capture. JT: You know, we haven't seen the new card's art, so that's a giveaway. DD: Yeah? Oh, well the card is going to be the classic Return of the Jedi card art, but he will not have his soft-goods cloak, which makes him a little different from the vintage figure. JT: That actually reminds me - Luke Bespin is one of the few vintage figures that came in the old days on 2 card arts, so why go back to the card art you used only a few years ago [on the Vintage 30th Anniversary Collection Luke Bespin]? DD: Yes. Well, because the figure is essentially the same, so we... there was some debate about that, so we said, he's already come out on an Empire card, we're essentially doing, it's not a reissue it's a new figure in there, but we decided to essentially... that figure is such a substantial upgrade over the previous version that we decided to keep the same card art to reissue. So you bring up a good point, there are a couple of asterisks throughout the assortment that's essentially the same type of figure but basically the 2nd version of a vintage Empire Strikes Back Bespin Luke. JT: Well, the second, the alternate vintage card art, it seems more dynamic and not as muddy. This image looks... DD: Yeah. JT: I think Kenner didn't have good source material and they might have gone to something else, and it's just surprising to see it again considering how much better this figure is than the one from 3 years ago. DD: Yeah, well, we didn't actually think about using the alternate illustration when we originally conceived it, but in hindsight, that probably would have been a nice thing to do too. JT: So I have a really small question about this next one. What's the white stripe on Vader's chin? DD: So, again, Brian Parrish isn't here to answer that question, but we don't think it's a mold mark like some fans are saying. I believe it's meant to be scar tissue, so there's some different coloration to show on his face. But we can get Brian to confirm that, throw it in as an official bonus Q&A and we'll answer that. JT: I'll absolutely do that! DD: Alright. JT: Sgt. Bric, these mail-aways have been coming and going so interestingly, and the last 2 years have been so many of them. DD: Basically, 1 every 6 months is what we're trying to achieve. JT: You mean per line, or just in general? DD: In general, but occasionally there's been 2 within that time period.
[Someone comes by to tell Derryl, who as we're talking has been straightening up the display figures that have fallen over during the past few days, that "Baron Fel fell", and a good laugh was had by all.] DD: So we're basically trying to do 1 every 6 months, but we may have a period where we don't do one, so at this time we happen to be doing 2 different mail-ins because we felt that launch of Vintage should not go by without celebrating that, so hence Boba Fett. But at the same time, we want to get the battle game in the hands of a lot of kids, and get kind of a carrying case out there [at the panel, Hasbro revealed that the mat also doubles as a carrying case for 16 figures and their accessories, as well as cards and stands and dice], so that's why we're doing 2. JT: Going through the Clone Wars case, I notice a few figures here that are existing figures that you've heard a lot of complaints about already, because they're nice figures and they shipped in a small amount. Aayla Secura, Darth Sidious, TX-20, the cloaked Magnaguard. Now, in your Q&A, you said that the "wave" shipped in about equal numbers to what came before, but the waves shipped in "revisions" so that some of these figures didn't end up in those later revisions of the same waves. DD: That's correct, but in absolute numbers, they were released in about the same number. JT: You mean individually, the figures? DD: Individually. The figures were released, not... I didn't mean that one... when I say a "wave", I mean the total of all the new figures, rather than a "ratio". We call them a "ratio". JT: Ah, I always thought it was "revision", I'm sorry. DD: Well, "revision", "ratio assortment", it's all the same. JT: On the case, it says "R#". DD: Yeah. But what I thought fans were really asking was, is the absolute number of these we made really rare, and the answer was it's not rarer than the previous wave necessarily which didn't seem to sell through as fast as this wave, so what we're doing is, right now we don't have any of them slotted for re-releases, but we're gonna be cognizant of the continuing demand for these, and if fans really aren't getting them, some of the figures I think do deserve to be re-released, like the Magnaguard. JT: Thi-Sen, not many people have found that one that I know, and that one has got people really jazzed up. DD: Right, right, exactly. Characters like Aayla should have continuing demand as well, so we'll probably have an opportunity to get more of them out there, and we'll look for that. So fans should know that we understand. It may take a while because we work a long time in advance, so sometimes it takes a while to really respond to that. JT: Alright. Let me take time out for a second if I may, I'd like to personally nitpick this figure [new Clone Wars Grievous] just a little bit if you don't mind. DD: Sure. JT: I got it a few weeks ago and I really wanted it, it's taller, it's super-articulated, and it's a great-looking figure. First off it has these cut-off arms [as swappable accessories] and the episode he's from, his legs are cut off, not his arms. DD: Okay. JT: Also, unfortunately, this figure, I cannot get it to stand because the foot claws are more rubbery than the first Clone Wars Grievous to the point where not only do they fold up, but then his ankles fold up and he's on his back in 10 minutes. I was wondering if, it's too late now since the figure is out, was that a conscious choice, or is that something that could be addressed as the figure goes through the factory, maybe putting out the material with slightly less plasticizer or whatever it takes? DD: Well, the problem is that those feet I believe are PVC so to switch to a whole different material, well we can't do ABS either because of the sharpness of the edges they would break very easily. JT: Well, do you remember what the first one was? Because those are even pointier. DD: That had to be PVC as well, but the joint construction was different on that. JT: It had no joints below the hips. DD: Exactly. So that's what you're getting at here, you're getting at very thin joints. It's the same problem we've had on Battle Droids through the years, we're dealing with very thin joints on PVC parts that, due to the fluctuations of temperature, can often make that joint weaker so that the character falls over. So it's something we're aware of, I wasn't aware so much until the Q&As came in how people had difficulty with this figure, so I think we can go back and take a look at it. Unfortunately, the solution for this one might be a complete overhaul. We just may be done with him, maybe go back to original Grievous for a while, and then figure out a new Grievous that addresses those concerns. JT: Ah. There's also the shoulderpads, they're anchored only with a thin pin and they pop off very easily, they're an instantly lost part on mine. DD: Yeah, ok. So there's a lot- JT: I really like the design, that's the problem, and even though it's not as weathered in the deco, I really wanted to see this figure come out, so I'm hoping that somehow, there's some easy way for you guys to bring it back. DD: Ok, thanks for the feedback. JT: Alrighty. So it's always great to see vehicles. It looks like you guys are really expanding the Deluxe Figure & Vehicle line. Is there any way we could get a name for this line that's a little shorter? It's quite a bit to type and say. DD: There will be a new name for it next year. We agree with you completely. So we've got the new name that will come out next year. And it'll address that. It started off as a conceptual idea, now we need more of a consumer face and name for it so people can talk about it, so it is in on the way. We're thrilled, and this is one of Mark Boudreaux's lines. JT: Oh yeah, it shows. DD: Yeah, the attention to detail, and what we're able to deliver, like the Naboo Star Skiff, it's like a mini-starfighter it's so good. And the Freeco Bike, it's amazing we can get these great new designs in this assortment, so we're just thrilled to see it, to see fans appreciate it, kids appreciate it, to see it continue on. JT: With role-play, you guys have seemingly done the impossible - removable blades [on the Force FX lightsabers]. They've gone up $10 I believe, and they come with more accessories to go with it. Is there anything on the horizon already that you can tell us about that's not in this right here? DD: That's not in the case? JT: Yeah. Or any ideas even if you can't confirm any specific thing. DD: Well, you know, there are more detachable blade sabers coming from more characters, but I don't want to reveal what they are right now. But we love, love love love this new approach, and even the fact that you can display just the hilt as a replica, a functioning replica by itself is amazing, but then it's still a playable, adult-targeted toy. So we're gonna keep that continuing, there will be new sabers flowing in next year. And we may or may not give a sneak peek at C5. JT: Is this line on the bubble right now, or is it pretty solid? DD: To tell you the truth, we have had some struggles with this ever since we acquired this line, and it seems that the numbers to make this a really significant line haven't been there since we took it over, so it's taken longer to get to this innovation than we would have liked. We wanted to get to this a year earlier, but we had to work through some inventory issues, you know, kinda sell off the previous, fixed-blade sabers that we made a committment to, because - no surprise - these are very expensive. But now we're in a good position, we think we've got a fresh start with it, and hopefully the fans will step up and show that they want us to continue this line. JT: Why start off with the Episode III Anakin and, I believe it's the A New Hope Vader, when those 2 are the ones that HasbroToyShop was carrying most recently? DD: Well, we feel they're the most iconic sabers, so what we're really getting here, I think, what has built this business to date, this Force FX line to date, is a combination of core fans and then an even bigger contingent of kind of casual buyers who look at these as ultimate trophies. So what we really want to appeal to is, we think we're giving the fans who already have the fixed blade sabers, a whole new way to appreciate Force FX in a removable blade form, but also we want to continue the best and most recognizable characters for that casual fan, that somebody who might get something for their husband around Christmas, you know, kind of the ultimate gift, or somebody who wants to put it in their office at work, and you know, show their love for Star Wars and amaze people with the cool tech. So we need to have the best characters continuously available so that's why we jump-started wave 1 with the best characters. JT: On the Maul saber, will that be double connectible like it was on the old version? DD: Yes it will, yes it will. JT: Excellent. Will it be the same exact connection so that people can mix-n-match so that don't have to buy both? DD: That's correct. Actually, I think the Maul saber... [Derryl studies the display] ... it doesn't have it [here in the display], but it should be coming with the connector piece just like the original one. JT: Good. I mean, I hate to say it, but I would like to save a hundred bucks and only buy 1. It's nice but I don't need 4 Maul sabers. DD: Ha! Yeah. JT: I noticed that the centerpiece in your side of the booth is the toy lightsabers, and it's a really interesting idea, but why is does it end with Grievous' new saber, is it just because it's the newest one? DD: It's the newest one. Basically, the story we're telling here, more visually, is inspired by the "Lair of Grievous" episode, obviously. So the idea that Grievous has captured all these Jedi lightsabers over time, we figured, there's an interesting way to kinda visually present that story, and play up Grievous, whose inspiration is woven through our new electronic spinning lightsaber. So what we basically decided to do is tell the story of Hasbro's innovation in lightsabers over time visually, so Grievous' trophy case is literally one sample of all of the innovation. Actually, we couldn't even fit 'em all in, we had to cut a bunch out. But it's one sample of the innovation that we've brought to the most iconic signature toy weapon of all time, the toy lightsaber, and that forms the backdrop. Most people I think don't appreciate that, but it's a little subtle thing there. And we'll bring this to C5 for fans to enjoy. It starts with the inflatable lightsaber [from the 1970s]... JT: Which you've coyly light up from the top. DD: Exactly. The Droids lightsaber is the first electronic lightsaber. And then other innovations we've done since then, not necessarily in chronological order, except for the corners from '70s until today. So that's the story of the lightsaber innovation over time. Thank you just for asking. JT: Before we move away from this side, there is the Revenge of the Sith Vintage cards over there, and the logo you guys used is clearly reminiscent of the Return of the Jedi cards. However, there is only 1 line at the bottom of Revenge of the Sith, whereas on the Jedi cards there was a line below and a line above. Why is that? DD: Well, we wanted a consistent framework for all of the prequel movies to come, so that's just what we settled on for the design with the 1 line on the bottom. JT: Huh, ok. That was easy. Now, moving on to the other side of the display, there's a few high-ticket items in here, in this one with the AT-AT, there's the R/C Hailfire Droid, and there's even the baby AT-AT, the Galactic Heroes one. For a time where it seems like you guys are not entirely sure of the future of the collector market, you think that it might be shrinking or it might need a little bolstering and you have to pull back, what is it about these high ticket items right now? DD: Well, overall, it is true that we've tightened up on the line so if you think about how much it might cost a fan to be a completist in the 3 3/4" world, it will cost less to be complete for this year's line than it has been in the past several years. So we wanted to tighten up, we wanted the line to affordable, and for people to catch on, especially when you think about the restart of Vintage, we know Vintage is a very powerful line that has an intense emotional connection to fans and we want to make sure basically we started something that fans could feel they could achievably afford every year and stick with it and restart. That said, we wanted to make some big statements and Star Wars is a very powerful brand, we didn't want to ignore the opportunity to celebrate some big achievements, and notably the AT-AT is a celebration of that. The Hailfire Droid is going to be one of those toys that, when we put it on TV, really can get a new type of kid because it's radio controlled, it's got action, it's a little bit of a different play pattern than we've seen before in our Star Wars line and we haven't seen it in a long time, but we think it's going to get kids in because it's a very exciting vehicle. But that comes with a price to do the electronics and do the R/C, in the Clone Wars line it pushes it up to be a little more expensive. We think some fans will like it, of course we hope all fans like it, but really that's a kid-targeted item that we think will delight a lot. The reason for those 2 being higher priced is very, very good, very strategic, and what we think is hopefully under that umbrella of affordability that we want to strive for. JT: Recently we were told that Galactic Heroes are kid-focused. We've always heard that, and it's obvious since it came from a Playskool line, but some of these characters are definitely not kid-focused. DD: Ha! You're right. Here's the thing, we know we have fans active in Galactic Heroes because we see it in the Q&A that comes in, and we've taken some chances on character selection like Republic Commandos and the Mandalorian Warriors that are a little more Pre Vizla, a little bit more collector-focused, not as important characters to kids, maybe not even recognizable, we've done Darth Revan and those guys before. So we feel a line like Galactic Heroes which has had a lot of characters to date can support a few new additions like that, but going forward we're going to be very cautious about that and really there won't be too many of those in the line as we go forward. So it might be the last that you see of these more collector-targeted figures. JT: Well, Republic Commando, no kids have heard of Republic Commando. DD: Yeah, but in a way, both of those are safe choices, all of the ones that mentioned because they're still clones and they're cool-looking clones, so that set, the Republic Commandos, will sell to any audience. And the Mandalorian Warriors, they have good presence in the series and they fit that kinda Boba Fett/Jango Fett frame there that's so popular with kids, so we figure... and you know, Darth Revan's a Sith, and kids can't get enough of "bad Jedis", so those all really fit. But we're... probably going forward we're not going to see as many of those kinda Expanded Universe guys in the line. JT: Since we don't know who these are exclusive to, I think the images speak for themselves, so I hope you don't mind that I'm going to bypass them right now... DD: No, no, I can tell you and we just don't put them on the stickers. The Vintage vehicles, there will be 3 Vintage vehicles this year. There's gonna be a Vintage version of the AT-AT, it's important for fans to know, there will be nothing different about the vehicles from the non-exclusive versions, it's package version only. So fans know no difference. The 2 Starfighter vehicles will be the Rebel Armored Snowspeeder and the Imperial TIE, the small-wing Imperial TIE with the updated cockpit we've done, those will be at Target later this year in October, and so those will be around the same price as the Starfighter vehicles, $24.99, they'll be on the endcaps when you go into Target. And then the AT-AT will be exclusive to Toys R Us, out around the same time, we're hoping for earlier, we're pushing for September because we really want to get that out as quickly as possible for fans, so they could have their choice - the new "shadows" version, the black and the blue package, or the Vintage package version. JT: Speaking of the AT-AT, you know that Brian Parrish put a little Aurebesh... DD: He sure did! He sure did! What did it say? "Hope you enjoy the AT-AT. B. Parrish" You know, I gotta say, our guys, they are fans just like folks reading this, and when we can put in those little personal messages, it's a small thing to fans but a big thing to us to put that in there as a little signature of sorts, so we're glad folks figured it out very quickly. JT: With the Star Wars Transformers, there's 2 new here, we saw little rumblings of the TX-130, the Republic Fighter Tank. But the Republic Attack Cruiser was totally out of the blue. This line is starting to get a bit clone-heavy, but it's nice to see these vehicles. DD: Yes! JT: What prompts these specific choices, besides just the show is on right now and it's what kids recognize? DD: That pretty much is the main driving reason. But actually what you see here are the new vehicles that we're doing. The truth is from the original trilogy or the prequels, there aren't many vehicles that we haven't done. The most iconic ones, those still get carried forward, for instance Darth Vader's TIE Fighter is in almost every wave that we do Star Wars Transformers, but we just don't bring it to the show. So we're focusing here on the new ones, which are not coincidentally drawn from the new entertainment, but they compliment the existing library of classics that we continually get out there. JT: Now, exclusives... DD: We have some! JT: Really, I hadn't noticed. DD: Ha ha! JT: Camie and Fixer is a very bold choice, I know it's a canceled set but now it's uncanceled. DD: It is now uncanceled! JT: Do you predict that it will be as exciting as the Maul and Owen have been here at Comic-Con? DD: My prediction is... probably not, and the release will be a little bit less than the Darth Maul release. But also, we're releasing them at C5, which is the perfect venue for characters like Camie and Fixer. Comic-Con, everybody knows Darth Maul, and a new version of Darth Maul is great because Comic-Con is a bit more of a casual audience and not as many Star Wars fans. C5 we have the perfect opportunity to tell the Camie and Fixer story to that group of folks who are likely to know it. But still, we're gonna keep the release a little down, because the last thing we want to do is end up with a lot of Camie and Fixer figures. Because if the fans at C5 don't know them, then the world at large probably isn't going to know them either. JT: Kul Teska, why him and why now? DD: Ok, well, a lot of fans probably think that our model for partnering with Lucas on video games is "day and date" just like we did with The Force Unleashed. I think what we've learned since then is that video game figures have been extraordinarily popular, and even years later as you can see the continued demand for Knights of the Old Republic figures is huge, Republic Commando is still huge, Battlefront figure sets still sell extremely well at Toys R Us. So basically, because of the large audience that's playing the Lucasarts Star Wars video games, the demand continues on. What we've decided is we won't do a "day and date" partnership on the upcoming video games, hence there are no figures out for The Old Republic or TFU2, but instead, as soon as we get really great imagery, locked-in final imagery of that, we will start spotting those in. So right now we're looking at the 2012 line plan like we talked about, which we're going to create in the next month or 2, that will start to be populated with the characters we're seeing from these video games. You know, a couple at a time, 1 or 2 at a time, maybe some exclusives thrown in. But basically we're not going to be "day and date" anymore, but they will come. So the reason why we did Kul Teska is, we looked at the Republic Heroes video game and saw Kul Teska, and said that's an interesting bad guy for the Clone Wars line, because he's large, obviously, and a new type of villain, and basically target him so he's going to be at Toys R Us this Fall. JT: There's been sightings of him already. DD: Oh good, he's out there in the wild, so go get him! So that's why. And the other thing is, when we come out a character like the first Galen Marek figures we did, they didn't have the final head sculpt on it, so by waiting a little bit longer we can make sure we get them right and still satisfy that fan demand. And TOR and TFU2 are going to be huge. JT: You mentioned Knights of the Old Republic, very quickly, will we be hearing anything more from Hasbro at C5 about Knights of the Old Republic? DD: About KOTOR specifically, or The Old Republic? JT: KOTOR. DD: No, neither. And not at C5 for TOR, it's just too early. Likely, you probably won't see or hear anything from us for a good year on TOR. Of course we are thinking about TOR. We're working with Lucas, let's be honest, those 2 games [TOR and TFU2] are going to be incredible, and we're fans of the games ourselves, so we'll get 'em and we'll play 'em. I played through TFU with my kids actually, and documented everything as they were playing through it, and that was a lot of the inspiration for the character selection we did from the notes that I took sitting down with my sons as they played through the game. So we have to play the Wii version which was a very popular version. JT: That might explain some of the character choices being different from the main game. DD: Precisely. And because I was familiar with these, I was able to advocate them as well. But you know, it's all part of the whole Force Unleashed program, the games are going to be a little bit different, but I happen to love a lot of the characters that were woven in there, so that impacts the choice a little bit. JT: You've told us who these exclusives are, we haven't heard yet who these exclusives on Jabba officially or these Hoth Battle assortments are, can you tell us? DD: Ok. They might have been in the presentation, I'm hoping they were. JT: You did not mention in the presentation. Oh yeah, you didn't have a Jabba slide at all in the presentation, that's right. I remember because [exclusives designer] Brian Merten told me he was thrown by that, he was expecting to say something, and we think the slide got pulled, or the slide didn't make it. DD: No, the slide didn't get pulled, I guess we just totally missed it. So we'll make that up at C5, thank you for noticing that. Jabba's going to be at Wal-mart, and he's going to be available any day now, I don't have the exact date for it. And the Hoth sets will be at Target. That'll be at Target in October, so it follows that Ultimate Battle Pack vein, not quite as big as the ones that came out before, but following that same kind of formula. JT: So, Target had a little trouble with the first round of these Geonosis Arenas, and it's surprising that we're getting the rest of the circle filled in, especially when you told us you weren't sure you were going to be the new [Ep II] C-3PO. DD: Right, right. Well, it is true, and one of the reasons why you're seeing packaging that is different than the black and blue packaging theme coming out is really 2 reasons for that. One is, the decision on whether to continue them came very late, but Target ultimately decided... we were faced with the opportunity of offering these perhaps to another account, and Target said "no, we want these, we feel we own that Geonosis idea, we want to see this set completed, but instead of the Spring when they were originally planned for, we actually want to push it out to the Fall." So they're coming out in October. Now, part of that the decision came late, and we were faced with, well, can we update the packaging in time to match the rest of the line, and the answer was no, which also works out because fans can get them to complete that ring with one contiguous packaged look if they choose to display them that way. So it works out that it will be in the red and white, kind of a variant to the way we normally do things. But Target stepped up and said they want to complete the set. What makes this 6 a little bit different from the previous 6 is there's a heavier concentration of core characters, so we feel good that, whereas maybe in the first set there was a lot of characters who were unfamiliar to some fans and to a lot of kids, most kids we could say, we think that this set actually has more of that concentration. We were actually saving some of the characters for wave 2, and I think that'll really help endear them to kids, and kids will pick 'em up because they recognize a lot more of the characters. We still wanted newness, so you're going to see newness in just about every figure, except some of the droids, but all of the main characters have new heads or new sculpts. For instance, that Count Dooku might be the finest Count Dooku in the Legacy line to date. JT: Finally there's Star Wars Mini Muggs. First off, are they "Mini Muggs", are they "Mini Mighty Muggs"? DD: They're actually called "Mini Muggs". So it's the new name for the Muggs. I wish we had the packaging here, but the idea here is that we did a lot of the Star Wars Mighty Muggs but they kinda ran out of steam after a while. And we did some talking to fans of vinyl and really found out that the Muggs themselves are pretty big, and a lot of vinyl fans love putting a lot of things in a very small space to make a statement about their expression. Thus the idea of the Mini Muggs was born, which is taking that same silhouette but scaling it down. It's a test of sorts, so they're coming to Target, three 3-packs, and we're going to see what the response is to those. Whether we do more or continue that, we love the mini size, and think some of the faces are even cuter. JT: Pricepoints, it seems like we're getting more with these for less. We're getting more value because the Mighty Muggs are a pretty simple body, they're a buck body and you guys just put the graphics on them, and these are pretty much the same but you're getting 3 figures for $12.99. DD: That's right. One of the advantages for us when the Muggs kinda get shrunk is less deco per character, so that actually helps, when we did the large format a lot of our costs were tied up in all that deco that we did, that really makes the figure. But here we're able to shrink that a little bit and offer more for fans, so we're delighted to be able to do that. JT: And I guess the last part of the booth... [just as we're about to walk away, a figure in the case falls over] Uh oh! I was about to point out he was leaning... DD: And he's gone over! JT: Yeah! He was doing like a little superman lean thing when you first opened it, and his glue was melting.
[Derryl reopens the case to straighten the figure, nearby a convention-goer in the booth sees this and jokingly yells "oh, he's got it open, get 'em, get all the figures!"] DD: It's happened before. Yup. Commander Bly. JT: Really?!? DD: A figure that will live in infamy, yeah. In '05. Steve was there, remember? Somebody swiped it out. SirSteve: I remember! DD: As I was setting them out, the new ones, the repaint wave we announced, by the time I got to the end, I turned around and Bly was gone. "What the heck?!?" SS: Really, and you were right there? Wow! DD: Right there, swiped it out. And that's why that wave got delayed, because that was the paint master. SS: Somebody's brave to have pulled that. JT: So there's this beautiful diorama [of Echo Base, the centerpiece of the booth] and it's just amazing. DD: It's so big! This was built by a guy that we've worked with quite a bit named Patrick Kelly. So Patrick by trade is a scenic designer, and he does a lot of custom work, he lives in Kentucky, he does a lot of custom work for fans like people who commission him to do 1:6 scale GI Joe helicopters and ships, and he does scenic work for stage productions as well. He's an uber-fan of both GI Joe and Star Wars, and so we commission him to do a new one every year. He knocked himself out on this, this is his greatest work ever perhaps! And the layers of details are unbelievable. So this will be at C5 for fans to enjoy. JT: There's a lot of new stuff in here, stuff he could not have possibly access to on the shelf. Was he able to get a little assistance from Hasbro? DD: Oh yes! It's not like we came up with this idea last week here. No, we helped Patrick out with everything that he needed, he told us his vision and we supplied everything we can. I think some of the stuff he probably went out to ebay and picked up a few extra pieces, because we didn't have 'em in stock. But we helped him out with as much as we could. JT: Well, it's brilliant. [Hasbro's newest Star Wars flying R/C toy comes buzz-bombing around the booth towards us.] There's also the scary remote-control Millennium Falcon around here. Have you guys noticed that in this booth it seems to fly, heh heh, fly at your customers a lot? DD: Ha ha! JT: Luckily it's foam! DD: It's the first time the Millennium Falcon can actually fly, so this is very exciting for us to actually get our Star Wars vehicles in the air, so you'll be seeing a lot more of these types of great new, we call 'em expressions in Star Wars. A lot more R/C, a lot more tech-based, a lot more flying, you know, vehicles and play patterns like this, it's a very important area for us to go, and that'll be one of our big featured items with retailers this Fall. JT: I just noticed this section in the middle is your sculpting design sample, it's where people get to watch figures get designed. Last year and the year before it was sculpting, and this year it's digital. Why was the choice made to show this end of it now? DD: Well, I think the idea is here to show how the technological advances in tools that really assist us are being applied to our figures. Now, this is one way that we're sculpting figures, we still do conventional, a lot of sculpts by artists by hand, and that is the mainstay of the Star Wars line still. So we're just showing new twists on modern sculpting techniques as we apply. One thing we like to do is give fans a little window into how it happens, share that with you so people get to meet our sculptors, and build a rapport with them as well. JT: Great, thanks! And that's it for the booth walkthrough.
- Our second SDCC Hasbro interview is now online as well, check out the Hasbro SDCC Q&A Interview here.