JediTricks: First off, you know that Toys R Us has been shelving your product and selling your product before the upcoming street date -
Derryl DePriest: Yeah, I can't comment on that.
JT: You can't comment on that, okay.
DD: Ha ha!
JT: Good to know!
DD: We do know that some products are out there early.
JT: Last month on the 9th, the Hasbro Star Wars Q&A program hit its 4-year mark, June 9th, 2006 -
JT: And congratulations are certainly in order!
DD: YES! Thank you!
JT: This program has been likely the most successful official toy brand Q&A of all time.
JT: And I really do believe that, by the way.
DD: Thank you.
JT: In my job of Q&A editor, I've had to archive all the questions Hasbro has answered in a file on my computer - one long page -
DD: I think you missed some from the 2006, you should go back.
JT: No no, I have every question from then. That's not fair, I have every question I found.
DD: Ha! That's what I meant! So you're a collector yourself, right?
JT: Oh yeah!
DD: Are you a completist?
JT: I used to be a collecting completist, I stopped around the Saga line and I decided to concentrate on stuff that I liked or that tickled my fancy, and it's really been a big advantage to the way I perceive the brand.
DD: Interesting. So I was gonna say, if you are a completist, I could torment you by saying I know you missed some from 2006, you better go back and find them!
JT: You know I bet I have the ones from '06, it's the ones from a few years later!
JT: So why I do it is to partly help avoid asking questions that have already been answered, and partly to help guide my site's democratic question polling system - all of our questions are being written by our readers (with a little editing from me) - and I have counted 3,836 answers to date.
DD: Ha ha ha!
JT: That's an impressive amount of Q&A! And if you're saying we missed some, you could have passed the 4,000 mark and didn't know it yet.
DD: Ha, I'll take your count and say it's accurate.
JT: In following all of your team's answers, there's been quite an education in running a successful toy brand - learning about the ins and outs of exclusives, working with retail partners and vendor factories in Asia, collaborating with a licensor, balancing a line's budget, and how different ways of expressing "no comment" can mean wildly different things from "avoiding legal troubles" to "why yes, there is a new Slave I in the works", just as an example, you know, theoretically. -
DD: Ha ha! Oh, did fans figure that out? Did somebody discern that?
JT: Um, yes they did.
DD: Oh man, oh man!
JT: They've seen the whole set, I'm afraid.
DD: No comment.
JT: Yes. I've already talked to Brian about that one. The comment was "no comment" in the angriest way possible.
DD: Ha ha!
JT: Compared to other toy brands' and companies' Q&As, the Hasbro Star Wars team's answers have been impressively forthright and in-depth, and generally direct and honest (when not trying to be intentionally evasive, such as with the rather cheeky pre-confirmation answers on the BMF) -
DD: Yes, yes.
JT: And although some fans don't understand that the limitations inherent with running a toy brand mean not everything can be answered, it seems as if a greater understanding has been reached by the overall collecting community due to this program. Reflecting upon all of this, how do you take it all in? With each round pushing 60 questions at the Hasbro team, and just 3 weeks to answer them before an all new batch come in, your answers generally don't feel stressed, is managing it difficult? Did you expect back in June of 2006 that the Q&A program would grow to 4,000 questions?-
DD: Ha ha! No!
JT: Are you as amazed as I am that the Star Wars collectors can come up with so many different questions that don't overlap or just ask for their desired item of the moment, round after round? And on behalf of myself, my sites, and my readers, I'd like to thank the entire Hasbro Star Wars brand team for 4 great years and 4,000 great answers, and I look forward to many more!
DD: Wowww! Ok, that's a huge question. That's actually a very interesting one. So first of all, thank you very much, it's been a privilege to actually do them. And here's why I'll answer question you asked which is a very interesting one, it does take a lot of time to answer questions and not be glib. It's actually very easy to be glib, with Star Wars we set out from the very first session to try and solve a problem we had with the fan base, which was a real wall that seemed to exist. So we wanted to smash down a wall which had built up between corporate Hasbro and the fanbase at large. Our mission to do the Q&A was really precipitated by kind of a lack of insight or understanding into our actual processes that we used when creating the line, when making the decisions we do, and balancing the fact that we're fans but at the same time we're working at a company and we have financial obligations to the company to deliver on a certain target, what was promised, and we have to balance that. We hope that we've made that kind of corporate financial aspect almost invisible to the way we approach the line, it's a necessity that's always behind us. But that's why you see things, I talked about, like, we had to balance the costing and here's what goes into costing. We'll make a character selection or wave selection or vehicle selection based on balancing all the aspects of how big these characters are, how much deco they're gonna take, how much tooling - you know, that's always a big one - how much tooling a wave consumes, and by doing so we're able to give fans the ability to communicate, to write and talk about things in the same way that we do, and we've seen an evolution in the way fans perceive the line, which means that we've done a good job helping fans understand the things that we have to balance. So my appreciation goes out to the fans too for responding to that, which means that we can move on to other questions of character selection or things like that that we know people really want to get to.
JT: While avoiding pitfalls like asking a million questions about the Tonnikas when we know now that you can't answer them, and you can't give us a "no comment" in a way suggests anything because you have a responsibility to the company and the company has a responsibility to Lucasfilm and Lucasfilm has their own responsibilities to consider.
JT: And it really is an education.
DD: You know what, you're right. And getting back to the point where it would be easy to be glib to answer questions, to be short and say "no" or "yes" to some questions. The Star Wars fanbase is the most passionate fanbase on the planet. We exist, our jobs exist because of the fans. Our approach to the Q&A is when somebody asks an impassioned question, to respect that question, right? Sometimes they may not be things we want to be asked, but it's our job to answer them, to not show an emotional response, to answer them with the respect the question deserves, and we treat everything equally. Some people want very specific answers, some people very broad, but everything really deserves an answer, and that's we approach it. So, our answer back to the fans is to show an appreciation of the passion and respect that they bring to Star Wars.
JT: That's actually something I wanted to touch on, I didn't even write it down. Here at Comic-Con this year, the team's been a little lighter, Brian Parrish couldn't be here, but between yourself and [Brian] Merten and Mark [Boudreaux], you guys have been manning the booth brilliantly. And I think this year more than ever, the passion you guys have for this brand has really come through and it shows in ways that maybe not everyone's going to get, but that your passion is reflecting our passion in a way that, say, a different brand or even a different Hasbro brand doesn't seem to have for us. And that's not to knock other brands, it's just to say how impressed I am personally with your team.
DD: Oh, well thank you very much! We're fortunate to have the talented guys we have on the brand, and it goes for all of Hasbro, but in particular on Star Wars, to have Mark Boudreaux, ha ha, still young, young Mark Boudreaux meeting the challenges that come up with the same vigor and excitement as when he first started at Kenner [33 years ago] is amazing. And to pass that contagion onto some of the younger generation of designers who follow his example, it's a wonderful team to work with and we're so engaged with the brand, and talking to fans and doing the Q&A and meeting with them at Comic-Con and C5, it ignites us, it gives us energy too. It's just a circle that goes around whenever we can interact with the fans.
JT: That's great! I really believe that we're lucky and that's Hasbro's lucky to have this particular team at this particular time. Because there were some dark times before you came on board.
DD: Ha ha!
JT: There were, I mean, there some times where we wondered if there was gonna be another year.
DD: Awww, we won't talk about the past. Ha!
JT: Well, that's my point, there is no more need to talk about the past.
DD: Ha ha!
JT: Alright, so let's move on to the next question. Sometimes, fans get a "feeling" of what your answers have been over their actual substance which has led to misunderstandings such as "Hasbro lied about the BMF before it came out" and "Hasbro never answers anything directly, they just throw generic spin" and such like that. They're getting the wrong idea about the Q&A program. Taking the BMF as an example however, in going back over your answers from that pre-confirmation period, there are a few no-comment answers and a few answers that address only the extremely specific aspects of the question to avoid giving everything away, but while that might be evasive, the answers were always honest and never during the 18 month design period before the BMF came out was there an answer that said it didn't exist. A lot of these fans don't understand that, and while these are just Star Wars fan sites, this is technically journalism and Hasbro as a publicly-traded company is not legally allowed to directly lie or mislead in these situations as this could affect investor behavior. We understand that there are some things you cannot comment on such as trade secrets and legal matters, and there are other things you would prefer to keep under wraps for various reasons such as keeping inaccurate fan expectations down and just a sense of brand timing. So what do you say to those fans who don't understand that though? And is it tough for you guys dealing with balancing the need for the occasional "non-answer" answer against fans' desires for more and more confirmations and info about the line?
DD: That's a fantastic question. First of all, I appreciate how this actually takes a higher view of the Q&A, a very philosophical view. So we're happy to explain.
JT: My 8th grade journalism class has really paid off!
DD: Ha ha! We've never been asked these questions, so we're happy to answer. Personally, I'd be totally honored if Wall Street investment community was paying attention...
JT: Ha! So would I.
DD: ... for Q&A for future indications of Hasbro's success. To be honest, the things that we talk about in the Q&A, in the grand scheme of Hasbro things, are small. They're big to fans, and they're big to us on Star Wars, but Hasbro's such a large company that, whether we announce or deny an individual item, it doesn't make much of a difference. The reason why we decide to hold information at all rather than answer every question to tell fans what's coming is because, in our experience, and I spent a long number of years in the video game industry before coming to Hasbro, in general the longer you advance something before it actually comes out, the less interesting and new it seems when it finally arrives. And one of the things we want to do in Star Wars, because we have such a broad and expansive line, is mete out that information to make sure that it flows out, that we always have something new to talk about with fans every month or every couple of months, so there's always something new and delightful to look forward to, that it doesn't seem like we know everything and then there's a year wait before we find out everything else again, which could be one way to do it, we show you everything that's coming out, wait a year, and do it all over again -
JT: That was the old Kenner days, but that was a totally different market.
DD: Well, these are different times now, and the Star Wars line is more expansive than it was back then, and we're doing a lot within what we talked about earlier, trying to make it affordably attainable every year so fans can stick with this and have confidence, and will be able to afford everything and be complete. But the basic idea is, we want to hold newness and announce things to create excitement within a reasonable window before they come out. So that's basically why we have a release calendar, what we call a "first look" calendar, that really guides our decisions. Now, unfortunately, for reasons I can't talk about, sometimes the news get broken on the internet by factors that are not under Hasbro's direct control, and obviously this is not ideal, this is not the way we want it at all. Ideally, we would be able to say we come here to Comic-Con and say "hold onto your seats guys, in October, here's the big one" and keep cool while they go "wow, holy smokes, I didn't know about that!" You know, it's unfortunate, because we like that delight, we like to be able to kind of romance it, and bring it to life for fans with our story, and our passion behind it. And sometimes, you know, it's unfortunate things get out there and kind of blows that reveal that we'd like to have, that kind of maybe theatrical launch. It's the nature of the business, we try and get a handle on it, but the reason why things leak on Star Wars in the first place is because of the incredibly passionate fans behind the brand. I mean, people want to find out before we do it, it's a game, find it out and beat Hasbro.
JT: You know, some people actually recently are saying "Hasbro leaks these themselves" and it's ludicrous, but people really believe those leaks are you guys somehow... working against yourselves.
DD: Well, that's not true, because we would prefer to come here to Comic-Con or to C5 and announce to fans. We know that people wait in line for a long time to come and see our panels, and it's a defeat for us when we come in and have nothing new because work on these things has already leaked out on the internet. That's not what we really want to achieve, we want to delight fans and have newness and surprises. In fact, we want to control, I mean, it sounds imperious, "we want to control the release of information!" but that's not it, we actually want to tell that story in the best way possible, and it's not everything at once that is overwhelming, things don't have a chance to live and breathe, and we want to give time and space to everything. So that's really the motivation. But getting back to the big Millennium Falcon, because I think you're hitting on something that we try to deliberately do, we don't want to ever lie to fans, and I think what you say really in this kind of overview is exactly the way we've attempted to answer the questions. Now, sometimes fans are very specific in asking a question and we will sometimes tailor our answer to this specificity of that, especially if people are getting very warm on something that is part of a big release later. We will answer the question to the best of the ability. And other times we'll outright say we can't comment on anything when it might be close to home. Some fans have made a real game of it, of reading into our answers, sometimes correctly, and sometimes our answer might be misinterpreted. And in some cases, we may state that somebody's not coming, or we don't have any plans for that, fans will actually say "that means they're probably working on it!" That's not our intention either, but we'll give all the information to the fullest we can, we don't want to deliberately lie to fans or mislead them about something, our intention is to always answer truthfully, but keep those secrets to ourselves whenever we can.
JT: This Q&A program has given fans a bit of a voice in shaping the Star Wars Hasbro brand's path. We've suggested figures, corrections, variations, and a myriad of other ideas, and while of course the majority are never taken further than an idea, and others have only confirmed that the Hasbro team's thinking was already on the same page and the idea was already in the pipeline, but there are the occasional gems that Q&A has turned from concept to reality. It's neat for us to see a fan suggestion come to life, not just through the Fans Choice polls, but these other avenues as well - even something as simple as correcting a figure's paint applications or turning a belt upside-down rightside-up. Of course, there are also lots of questions asking for a very specific character or an idea that is well outside budgetary restrictions, but over the years do you think the fans have toned down the wilder and overly-specific suggestions through Q&A, and are now giving a better level of this type of feedback through the program? (Aside from the requests for Ben Quadinaros and Jocasta Nu, of course.) I've certainly found that my question-writing and editing abilities have been honed by reading a lot of the team's answers, and that's absolutely true, by the way...
DD: Thank you.
JT: ... which I think is a testament to the honesty and the breadth of some of those answers. Is there any type of question from the fans you'd like to see more of? And how about less of?
DD: Again, this is another interesting... this is a very insightful question. It is absolutely true that the Q&As have had a profound impact on the way that we approach the business, because it allows us to, every few weeks, get 60 or 70 questions... so you might be missing a few -
JT: If it's 70, I'm missing a few!
DD: Ha! 70 or so questions a week that covers the range of the fan pulse. It's absolutely true that fans have had a profound affect and impact on the line. Taking advantage of a situation such as the early leakage of our figures, actually can be beneficial when we make mistakes, so fans will notice things that we make corrections on, things that could have been addressed we make later. So the fans oriented us, truly we sometimes don't know these ourselves, right? We think they've been corrected by the factory, comments may have been made by Brian Parrish or Mark, and they come back and they weren't addressed, we see it early and we're able to respond very quickly in the product line. As well as character selections, you know, the fans' choice polls are of course kind of the fan-wide litmus test for what characters truly rise to the top, but we know when fans specifically ask us about something in the Q&A that we may not have known about, such as, for example not all of us can read all the books that are going on, most of us play the video games or in particular read the comic books, but some of the characters we're not aware of, so we'll do a little research and dig into it, and see if it meets with where we might be going. So that's instrumental, helping populate our parking lot with ideas, should we have the chance to pursue them sometime, so there's no particular question or vein of questioning that we've like to see more of less of, necessarily, we want to let the fans continue to guide what gets asked, and we'll respond in kind. But I think you're probably right that... I've certainly noticed that some of the fan Q&A over time has changed a little bit to be more specific to what they know what our answers will probably be like, or in the general direction of things that are doable or achievable, and have you thought of this, it would make a great addition to the Starfighter vehicles, or this which would fit kind of the direction we're going. So kind of the big questions have already been asked and answered over time, so now we're seeing a level of questions that are likely to have more of an impact on the line, be it types of things we would do.
JT: And I do believe it's your answers that are making that possible.
DD: Thank you very much.
JT: There's something that confuses fans who are into organizing the various Hasbro Star Wars lines. "Saga Legends", "Legacy", "Clone Wars", "Vintage/The Vintage Collection" are all terms still in use right now from what we can tell. The vehicles ship in assortments that contain both Clone Wars and Saga items, and seem to have their own assortment number under either Legacy, Clone Wars, or Saga Legends, we're not exactly sure.
DD: Ahh, I don't know either. Ha ha!
JT: Ha! Oh dear!
DD: No, I'm kidding. Ha!
JT: Saga Legends used to be perceived as being under the main movie line, but now doesn't share packaging with the movie line, and turns out it's had its own assortment number for several years. Toys R Us has 2 exclusive deluxe figure & vehicle sets that are shelved with the rest of that line, despite deluxe figure & vehicle being a Clone Wars brand. Occasionally the term "Legacy" gets thrown out there for these assortments despite The Legacy Collection seemingly ending a few months ago with the Toys R Us Expanded Universe basic figure wave.
DD: Shared, by the way, with online retailers as well.
JT: Oh yes. I will correct that. ...You can see why it'd be confusing to those of us who don't work at Hasbro, right? Fans definitely don't agree on where Saga Legends should be organized, some saying under The Vintage Collection, others treating it as its own top-level line, and a 3rd take says it's "Legacy" product along with ALL of the vehicles. Lucasfilm has wanted the line to remain a "family" of products, but also wants a specific delineation between saga products and animated products. So how does this all get sorted out in-house so that it makes sense to retailers, and is it intended that fans see it differently than retailers? Is there some sort of Rosetta stone hidden in the Mr. Potato-head statue in Rhode Island that we just aren't privy to?
DD: Well, I think you just answered a lot of the question yourself, in that the line is intended to be seen differently by retailers and by fans. So, we can start with the retailers on this one. The boys action aisle in the store is the most intensely competitive aisle in the toy industry. Because these are movie-driven properties by and large, or TV-driven in the case of brands like Bakugan, that have enormous expectations for their productivity, and if you are not generating the turnover in inventory, the sales per square foot - and that's really how they look at it, it is real-estate that they want to make the best return on that real-estate they possibly can, and if you are not productive, then you will be out. So that's why certain assortments or lines eventually die and fade out, not everything can continue on, and we're basically in a fashion-based business, where every year we're trying to earn the attention of kids, and luckily collectors are with us for the long haul, but we're fighting for the attentions of kids. That said, we made some decisions back when the Clone Wars came out, prior to Clone Wars it was easy, it was all movie product, when Clone Wars came out, the decision was, do we discontinue these products or do we keep it going? The thing we knew we could not do, because we did not see this being possible... [there's a brief interruption] so one thing we knew we could not do, was basically split the line and, say, run Starfighter vehicles for, what we call the "Legacy", and Clone Wars vehicles [separately], we would not have the productivity, to use a business term, and I don't like to use them when I talk about our toys, but we have to balance the retailers needs for the line, so what that basically meant is that we deliberately folded things together. Now, that inherently creates confusion, so we look at it, try to look at the segmentation on a consumer basis, just have the package segment itself naturally. It doesn't always work out in the interest of creating one unifying brand expression, and that's basically to the point we're at where Saga Legends looks much more like Clone Wars than Vintage does. So the outlier in this situation is actually Vintage. Vintage is the one that deliberately stands apart, because of its heritage. Saga Legends is very, from a lineup standpoint, is very close to Clone Wars because the entire line is really under that black and blue umbrella, the character selections in Saga Legends are very kid-focused. The idea is to get kid-focused movie figures in there, because what we know is Clone Wars drives interest in going back to watch the movies, and vice-versa, sometimes kids come in, watch the movies, and then will see Clone Wars. So it's very kid-targeted. In the past, Saga Legends has had a collector-focus for, like, the Fans' Choice figures we've done, which could be seen as confusing, "is Saga Legends a collector line or a kid line?" We've migrated it to be a kid line, and put our focus on the collector line with the build a droid and with Vintage, and Saga Legends in the last 2 years at least has been meant as either a backup valve for when we're out of Clone Wars figures, or a way to get movie figures out. But, in going forward, we call all the movie, we use "Saga" and "Legacy" interchangeably. In reality, I don't believe we're using any of them on the package currently to describe the collection.
JT: In the vehicles, the instruction manuals still say "The Legacy Collection", but I was wondering if that was just a holdover.
DD: Yeah, I think it is just a holdover, it's probably the instructions haven't even though to that level of detail, it's certainly... on the packaging it's been to have more of a non-segmented approach. Fans will pick it up, and get it.
JT: So when you picture the fan organizing their series, their collections, for vehicles specifically because that is one that crosses the line completely, should in their minds, do you picture them delineating those into specific brands, like say the Cloud Car into The Vintage Collection?
DD: Yes, that's very much the way we saw it, because it follows the source material. Now, some vehicles that exist in both worlds, like an AT-TE or a Turbo Tank, for example. Those, fans have a choice, the Republic Gunship is another great example, fans have a choice, where do they go? Any place is valid. We're assuming fans, on their shelves at home, are making the segmentation between the movies and the Clone Wars figures, so some vehicles naturally go both ways, it's up to fans where they want to put those, but otherwise we're making the assumption that all the movie vehicles are in one side, anything that's purely from Clone Wars is on the other, and then they're probably splashing both - this is assuming that they have the luxury of space to merchandise them, to put them all out at home.
JT: You'd be surprised!
DD: We look at the movies as the "Saga" or the "Legacy Collection", that's kinda what we use to talk about it as, because it represents all the movies and all the expanded universe, everything in realistic style. And all the Clone Wars is "Clone Wars".
JT: Something you said about Saga Legends touches off this next question. While Hasbro's team has managed the Star Wars brand quite well the last 6 years or so, keeping it from folding under, there has emerged a pattern the last few years of an absence of product on shelves between January and late Summer, then 2 or 3 waves in third quarter. This was especially noticeable during breaks between 30th Anniversary Collection and The Legacy Collection, when Indiana Jones completely pushed Star Wars off the pegs for Spring '08, and seems to have happened again this year between LC and The Vintage Collection where stores have absolutely barren pegs for months at a time. -
DD: Indiana Jones didn't push Star Wars, not at all, not at all!
JT: Well, once Indiana Jones came, Star Wars left.
DD: No, I'll tell you. For Spring '08, that was not deliberate. Yeah, because some people say "well, all our focus is all there", it's not true.
JT: Ok. There seems to be a pacing issue there that is growing wider with each passing year. Is there a concern about taking the Star Wars brand off shelves for so long softening momentum for the casual-collector and kid markets? And isn't that period of early-to-mid Summer a strong kid market buying time to be missing out on? What about the concern that stores get so eager to fill that momentum with the new lines that they over-order the first 2 waves of the next Star Wars line, which in turn hurts retailer orders of later waves so those items see less impact at market? Doesn't that sort of situation mask the true market demand for certain types of figures that get lost in the mix, if not to Hasbro then at least to your retail partners?
DD: Ok, so here's the deal, it is our intention to release waves periodically to keep fan engagement for long periods of time. What you're seeing in the last few years, and our release schedule, is a reflection of the importance of Star Wars as a brand to retailers around the holidays, to Hasbro and the retailers. Now, when we manage the Star Wars line, we're faced with inherent choices. When retailers say "we want more Star Wars", like around the holiday period things are going well, a new season of Clone Wars is kicking in, they'll say "I want more Star Wars, I'm going to give you out-of-aisle features, we don't want to be short on figures or lightsabers or anything like this," our choices are as follows, they're really two-fold: "no" [we both laugh heartily at that one]
JT: Thaaaat's definitely a choice!
DD: Or "make more". And usually what happens, usually we do the latter. Well, let's figure out how to meet their demands, and keep Star Wars building through the holidays in a big way. Now to meet their demand, we have two choices: make new, or release more of the same. And the last thing we want to do is releasing more of the same that could risk bottling up the shelf and locking future waves of production. So, our tendancy has been to, in advance, make sure that we have enough wave-variety ready to meet the demands and release more product, when retailers say "we want more", we'll say "ok, well we have wave 5 ready to go", we'll add that into the mix. So what that means is, effectively, we've borrowed a lot of the newness that we would have had for Spring early, but with the best intents. The best intents was to make sure that we don't over-release waves that would prevent those waves from coming out in the first place. So you see that catch-22 inherent in this.
JT: Yes, that's the momentum I mean.
DD: So basically that means a lot of newness tends, in this circumstance, tends to come out in the Fall, and we have less available for Spring. Or we have Greatest Hits mixes in the Spring because we sometimes don't have new waves on tap to fill that void, or we know a line is ending and we hold all that newness for the Fall. So it's not desirable, but sometimes it's an inevitable outcome of being in the business of supplying toys to retail at the holidays.
JT: What do you think about, specifically, The Legacy Collection first 2 waves hit really hard when it hit because it had a very long period in that year with no Star Wars on the shelves, and you're saying that was not intentional, that was not your intent, that wasn't Indiana Jones pushing it out?
DD: One thing we wanted to do, when we're starting, there's another factor to this as well. When we know that we have a new line coming with all new item numbers, we do that when there is a big entertainment event happening. You've seen it time after time in the movie lines, Episode III will be a giant event at retail, Midnight Madnesses. We did the same thing for The Clone Wars movie, interestingly when we knew that Clone Wars was coming, we did not have a big event mentality in mind, we said this is going to be something that is coming naturally. As we learned Lucas had plans to make a theatrical debut of Clone Wars, our world changed, we said "ohhhh, hold on, we have to redo all the new item numbers." The idea there is, from that day, that debut date, we're going to tell fans, you want all of, 100% all over the world, brand-new product in the stores on the day we specified so fans come in for those Midnight Madnesses, they go to Wal-mart, to Target, to all the retailers everywhere, and share the same experience of finding the line for the first time, that excitement. That's what we call an "event date" on the calendar. When we do that, we have to reset all the lines completely, flush out the old product, discontinue it, work with our retail partners to make sure that they're out of that merchandise and that inventory, and the shelves are clean for the new, that's a big deal. When you do that, you start to wind down, just like this year, we're seeing, since it's a big new reset, we're winding down figure production as we go through Spring, we're not going to release as many figures, that's why the last 2 waves, we got 'em out. We had a choice: hold 'em and scuttle those waves, or release them in some measure, some quantities, get 'em out there. We chose, because it was a long delay, to get 'em out there. But it also comes with, when you put a lot of figures out at Christmas, they need to sell through during the holiday time period, you need to sell through before you can bring those next waves in. So what we saw this year was a compound effect that put a lot of figures out, it took a little bit longer than anticipated to sell through, which meant those last new waves were pushed out, and at the end as we're managing down the line, we made the decision, even though they're pushed out, we want them to go out, fans need something new. It just meant they went out in smaller quantities than we could get because Hasbro does not want us to be sitting on millions and millions of figures at a time when we have to be clean, that's financially bad, bad management, and will ultimately harm the Star Wars line, so those releases had to be tighter.
JT: What I've seen in this situation, and what I've perceived in this situation, is that retailers... as the old line tapers off, retailers then see the demand build back up because there's less product, and then when there's a big event, they get very excited and they, what I would say, with the new line they front-load it. And with Legacy, it seems like that front-loading of those first 2 waves, not only completely overwhelmed the Fall, it seems like it kinda cascaded through the entire line.
DD: Well, it did. Unfortunately, we put a lot of heart and soul into Droid Factory/Legacy line, and we're thrilled that all of the figures were eventually able to ship, but the task was herculean. What was happening in Fall of 2008 to the economy overall was probably the single toughest time for us at Hasbro to deal with in terms of managing the flow of our ratios, because was what happened was, because of the uncertainty of the economy, a lot of collectors had to stop collecting. We're there with you, we all to had kind of curtail expenses because we didn't know what was going on. But the reality is, we had been making our figure volume releases well in advance, we have to plan our line waaaay in advance before it actually appears at retail, with volumes forecasts, the ratios, what we're gonna make, how much of each we're gonna make, and we meet that with demand. Now, all throughout 2005, 2006, 2007 and spring of 2008, we were able to very, very accurately match fan demands, with a few expectations, you know, Darth Revan, Darth Malak sell out, because demand really seemed to shoot way beyond on those figures in particular, but by and large I think we could point back to that time and say there were very few misses where we had an excess of figures on the shelf. You know, Rieekan missed demand, maybe one of the very few handful of figures where we could say we over-released. What we actually had, for several years of kinda rock-solid, you almost might say "science-based" matching of our production to consumer interest, we built all our Fall '08 ratios on exactly what we knew was working, then the economic turbulence. So the truth of it is, Bane Malar, like the drummer from Jabba's Palace...
JT: Yeah, Ak-Rev and, uh...
DD: Yeah, exactly. Those releases were pretty similar to the releases that we had done for any other figure before. But Yarna was one of those characters where, actually, retailers said "great, we want to be real big on this Clone Wars event launch, we feel really good about it, and we're going to increase our forecasts to this," so, it's the same ol' thing. We filled in wave 2 very quickly, but still, we did over-release Yarna, we released more Yarna. Actually, we released more Ak-Rev, we released more Bane Malar, than we typically would have other figures, at the exact same time as collectors were pulling out of the market, because of the uncertainty. So we had 2 effects going on that were nearly catastrophic to the line, which is, we should have been taking, in hindsight, should have been taking our figure release down, and instead we took it up on obscure figures. It's fine for the Vaders and the Lukes and the Hans and the Chewies of the world because those figures will always find a kid audience to pick them up eventually. But what we call the "collector-oriented" figures that only have a collector market, there's nobody else that's gonna be the savior-angel, that's going to take them out of retail. Kids are not coming in to buy Yarna D'al Gargan, and if there are a hundred figures on the shelf, she would be the last one they would ever choose, or probably walk out of the store empty-handed and wait another week until the new figures came in. So those figures literally have nowhere to go, but we were confident looking at it, and it takes months to kind of get this data, to really say "oops, we have a problem". So by that time, more waves were coming in with figures that had more normal releases, but were still too much given the circumstances of some "collector pullback". And when we say that, we're not blaming anybody at all for anything. Some collectors who stuck with us feel that's a dispersion, "collector pullback, well you're not there to buy it!" Obviously, the fans that are there to buy it are doing everything they can to support the line, and those who want release the right number of characters. And we're not casting dispersions on the fans that, for whatever circumstance, couldn't afford to collect the line, clearly we want them to come back in at a certain time, and that's why we think now the time is right with Vintage to re-launch the line. So basically, back to Fall '08, you had 2 things happening that were really bottling this up, and it took a long time to get rid of, to purge those figures, finally we had to go back and pull them out of retail, all the collector figures, the cantina aliens which breaks my heart because a year or so earlier, all those figures would have sold through, so it means that some fans aren't there to enjoy the newness that we're bringing and the freshness that I would really wish they could have enjoyed, the same enthusiasm I, we greet the line. So, bottom line, Fall '08 was a unique and a very challenging time, but we made it through. Now, we're finding that our releases are much more compact, tighter to the extent that, in fact, you could say on the EU wave, way too tight. We know that, we're recognizing that there's continuing fan demand for some figures that were not intended to be short, but because of the awesomeness of the figures, they are short. The demand has increased now, and that's the great thing. The last thing we want to do is bottle it up, we'd rather chase it, we'd like to ideally match demand exactly. But what it looks like is, the good trend is collectors are coming back in now, so we're chasing figures, we will do our best to continue to get those guys out again as best we can to make sure nobody who really wants them will go wanting. Long answer to a big question.
JT: A quick side on that, for this year, all of Hasbro's main boy toy action figure lines, GI Joe, Transformers, Star Wars, are coming out the week of August 1st. Is that intentional, is that just coincidental?
DD: Well, no, that's actually intentional because the Fall product cycle is... the lead-in to the holidays is when we bring our new lines out to retail. The exception is when we have a movie event. Now, in years past, also we might have used January as kind of a time to introduce a new line, but January has become less a time to launch a new line because a lot of retailers still see it as maximizing all the key toys from the holiday, with big gift card season and things like that, kids are coming back after the holidays to continue to engage or get the next thing, their next set with the brand. So January has become a less important time for us to launch new lines. So August is really the focus, especially look at what's happening on The Hub this Fall, The Hub debuting 10-10-10, our joint venture with Discovery Communications, you'll see new shows debuting there, so Fall is the time when new shows debut, it's the time when new lines come to retail. So it's no coincidence, but we also look at these brands saying we have very diverse fan bases from a collector standpoint. We don't have fans who collect all 3. We know we have fans that collect 2 of our brands, that might collect Star Wars and Joe, we find a lot of that, or they might collect Joe and Transformers, we find a lot, and occasionally we find Star Wars and Transformers collectors, very rare that you find all 3, but they are out there, and Marvel as well. So we find that we'll re-stage our brands pretty much every Fall.
JT: Well, it seems like those 3 brands, Joe, Transformers and Star Wars did need a reset from troubles in this year, from various reasons, so it seems...
DD: Well, we had new lines planned from a year and a half ago to debut at this time, it wasn't in reaction to anything that happened, it was planned deliberate, what we call "freshness" to the lines and these storylines.
JT: I was actually planning this next question for Parrish, but he unfortunately couldn't make it. But... After decades of trouble capturing Mark Hamill's various likenesses throughout the 3 films as action figures, it seems the Hasbro team has lately found that magic formula, having delivered recognizable head sculpts on the OT's main character time after time the last 9 months or so - Luke from the Resurgence of the Jedi battle pack, Luke Death Star II, your new Luke Death Star II, Luke Snowspeeder, and now of course Luke Bespin that's hitting shelves this next week. And the decos are largely carrying these sculpts to fruition, no yellow hair or giant eyes, giant eyebrows. Leia figures are also getting to that point as well, as are Obi-Wan (Ewan and Alec), both versions. This is especially impressive given how much more scrutiny fans have for these characters since they know their visages so well, and how small these figures are (we've calculated the scale at exactly 1:19.2) -
DD: Not 1:18th.
JT: Not 1:18th because they're not 4" tall figures.
DD: Right? Correct, because they're shorter figures. [3.75"]
JT: And how each sculpt has to get resculpted into tooling which takes away some of the sharpness of the prototype, such as the prototype sitting across from us right now.
DD: Right, yeah, exactly!
JT: What is the secret to your recent achievements with those figures? And two main characters who haven't come across as well are prequel-era Hayden-Anakin, and Harrison Ford's various Han Solo looks - Han figures are starting to get there, but they seem to require some level of exaggeration to suggest the character, which can come off to some as cartoony. Yes, Lucasfilm approves each final sculpt before it can go to production, but that doesn't always mean perfection. What is it about those 2 particular actors' faces that makes them more difficult to express as action figures than the others? Are they just too subjective, too unique?
DD: Or we just don't like them!
JT: Oh ho ho!
DD: Totally teasing! We loooove our Hans and Anakin figures. No, the reality is we make toys, and we really pay attention to the fan input, and increasingly try to address their concerns and their comments. That said, sometimes in the toy process, we use different factories to make figures, some factories are able to nail the likeness, the casting that we send over and it's really right on to what we want. Other times in the manufacturing process, some of the detail is lost. It's not always exact in terms of what we send over to what we get out, as we've talked about with fans before. I'll say, it's just maybe a little more time, a little more experience, we're always trying to improve, and we'll keep trying to make the perfect Hayden-Anakin and keep trying to nail Harrison's likeness as we go on. It's not that those guys are particularly more difficult than the others, it's just sometimes things just go the way you want, and sometimes during the manufacturing they don't quite turn out. Harrison, I promise we'll get an exact likeness someday!
JT: Ha! So what is the magic formula you guys have for Luke, Leia, Obi-Wan, those characters that are coming out so well right now?
DD: Well, I'm not sure if there is a magic formula, except when we have one that really works, you know, to start from that and work a little closer. Our sculpting team isn't actually here, Dave isn't here to address that, so that's maybe something we take up at C5 and ask them. That I think is a really good question, but... we're continuing to refine, but, in the end they are toys and manufactured in a very big way, and that means that sometimes there are some liberties taken by the factories or sometimes things are changed a little bit from the input to the output.
JT: Since the Hasbro Clone Wars line started, there have been a lot of new vehicle tools - which is fantastic - but Hasbro has stopped using weathered decos virtually altogether since then. Vehicles on the show are generally very heavy with weathering in the CGI models, so it's not about the cartoon nature. What led to the decision to set aside weathering decos on the vehicles? Was there no longer a strong balance between the authenticity weathering adds and its high price, was there a perception that the sculpts had gotten sharp enough that they no longer need the weathering to carry it over that threshold?
DD: Well, it's really the first answer. It's no secret that over the last few years costs have gone up, for material costs, for labor costs in China, where all source production is manufactured. And we have to deal with that. Rather than shrink the value of what we're offering, and in a continued effort to keep utilizing the library of tools, the very very valuable library of awesome tools that we've built up, the decision was to keep the same value and play features we put into the toys, but find a way to deliver that in a way that financially we can balance that bottom line. And the decision was, deco. The ships in Clone Wars are very deco-intensive, they're heavy, they're weathered that adds the alure and the magic of those episodes, everything looks battle-used. But the reality is, deco is one of the most expensive parts in a toy, incredibly expensive. Of course there's a lot of material also used in our vehicles, so that's an added expense that we just have to balance. So we basically decided to keep the value, the size, and the features of the toy was critical, but let some of the deco slide, and if fans really want to add the deco, they can weather it themselves, but that wasn't the most important thing that we needed to deliver, so we put the focus on... the other choice we had was to take the price way up, we chose obviously not to do that, to keep it at what was $19.99, but we eventually take it up to $24.99.
JT: What's with the new smaller-hilt electronic role-play lightsabers Hasbro is now offering? These are in open-box packaging somewhat similar to the blasters, but far more compact, yet they aren't cheaper than other electronic sabers in the line. Are these smaller to better fit hands of younger kids, are they trying to be more accurate to the original props than previous Hasbro sabers? Might they seem too small for the pricepoint, or is there any concern they may cannibalize sales from the existing role-play electronic sabers, and why have open box packaging without a try-me feature?
DD: So the small-scale lightsabers are a direct example of ensuring that we continue our lightsaber key strategic price point, so it's very important for us to have a $9.99, what we call an "entry priced" lightsaber, as well as a $19.99 electronic or feature-based lightsaber. Now, over time, for the most part, for the better part of a decade, we really have not redefined the size of our lightsabers, but we've tried to hold that pricing tier. Rather than take our prices up, what we call "key consumer psychological pricepoint thresholds", we decided to respond to probably a long-overdue change and kind of tighten up the handles, shrink, make them a little bit smaller to be able to better afford. It's less material, the packaging can be a little more efficient. There is a side-benefit to that, and we did testing on this, kids had a very difficult time holding our older lightsabers because, especially the electronics, the size is so big, and we toggled the size of our basic hilts to the electronic hilts, so now that we're able to run our electronic lightsabers with smaller waves of batteries, it's a real benefit as we've tested with kids, it's a better experience for them because it's ergonomic. Kids don't notice the size-difference in lightsabers, they just want lightsabers to play with. So we're able to kind of shrink it, actually make an ergonomically-better lightsaber, and importantly we're keeping the overall bottom line in perspective in terms of being able to affordably deliver lightsabers.
JT: So that will be the new format going forward? Because they are shipping with other recently-new sabers of the larger format right now, I believe.
DD: They should not be. In the new, more slender, ergonomic -
JT: Well, the spring-up ones are still shipping in new packaging.
DD: The spring-out sabers will no longer be shipping, so they're going out of the stores.
JT: Ah, I better grab one myself finally then!
DD: Yes. Our spring-action sabers are effectively discontinued.
JT: So this is the new expression then?
DD: Yes, this is the new size for role-play lightsabers.
JT: The Clone Wars line has been a great addition to Star Wars collecting, but with all Hasbro's focus on Clone Trooper figures, there has been a lot of focus on command-level trooper figures (Gree, Cody, Rex, Bly, Stone, Thire) while lower-ranked clones, especially generic white clones, haven't seen pegs in a while. Will we be seeing more standard white grunts on pegs anytime soon to give the numerous commander figures more troops to lead? Running changes on headsculpts for grunts could make for a broader, more exciting collecting and army-building experiences, and you already have a broad library of head designs to choose from (which can be swapped in and out as needed elsewhere since they wouldn't be named-character clones), they could even be offered either as single packs or multi-packs. Will we be seeing the new helmet designs, the new Cmdr Stone armor designs, new headsculpts under the helmets, other weapons and accessories mixed into the grunt-level troopers put out there?
DD: Welllllll... that's not necessarily true, they've seen a lot of [battle pack] boxes. That's a great question. Basically, what kids have really responded to in Clone Wars are the characters, so the commander figures seem to have more of an aspirational attribute to them than generic clone troopers, to kids. So as more of them are introduced to Clone Wars, our tendency is to grab those figures, those name figures, and introduce them to the line. That said, there's still a lot of generic troopers in the line, ARF Troopers, and Jetpack Commandos, and things like that. We want to make sure that those continue, but it's just the focus on commanders as almost on par with the Jedi as something that kids have definitely shown us that they want to see. That said, there are plenty of clones, and we have a joke inside Hasbro, "leave no clone unturned." As we expand out our exclusives program, you'll see multi-packs, you'll see some of our 2-packs like we did for the Wal-mart series of 2-packs, the 501st troopers, Fives and Echo, so we will look to literally every clone opportunity, every new deco, to see how we can work it into the line in some way. So they may not be on the pegs, but they're in the boxes and the multi-packs to round out that experience, and believe me, kids are also responding to battle packs and buying battle packs as well.
JT: Why is it that when figures, especially Jedi, have separate soft-plastic "skirts", some figures will have slits designed into the sides so they can enjoy a full range of hip motion for sitting, action poses, or piloting vehicles, while other figures with similar "skirt" elements do not have those slits up the sides? Examples of this immobile skirt design include the TAC ROTS Mace Windu, the very recent EU Jaina Solo, last year's Stass Alie. Those figures would all be better served with either a split plastic skirt, or a more free soft-goods skirt when costing allows it, wouldn't you agree?
DD: It seems kinda arbitrary the way we decide, and in fact... we really need Brian Parrish to answer this one, but in general, yes, we would always prefer soft-goods when costing allows. That said, sometimes we're also going for the aesthetic of a figure. Sometimes we might make a decision on who the audience for the figure is, and what we want to achieve with the aesthetics. For instance, when we put a split-skirt in there, it doesn't look necessarily like a complete skirt, it's there for functionality, so sometimes our female figures who may say it's for collectors who may not really be going for action poses, so go ahead and do a solid skirt because it might look better on shelf. But otherwise, really it's more probably of a deeper question for Brian Parrish we can ask at another time, but I think at a very top level, that's really kinda how we think about it.
JT: We now have the deluxe Anakin with Desert Sport Skiff, and us old-fogey collectors who have been around since 1996 are quite surprised to see that accessory's return. It wasn't exactly popular back in its day, its styling wasn't that Star Warsy, and its wobbly guns didn't help much, yet now we have it back for a whole new generation of Star Wars collectors. -
DD: Ha! Those young kids!
JT: The other 1996 deluxe releases - Crowd Control Stormtrooper, Han Solo with Flight Pack, and Boba Fett with Mega Jetpack of Doom - weren't exactly crowd-pleasers either, but will we be seeing any of them re-released? Though the idea of a small vehicle for Anakin makes sense, re-releasing this piece seems like such an odd choice. Could you guide us through the thought process on bringing this one up? Did the failure of the original influence the decision at all?
DD: Did the failure of the original desert sport skiff influence our decision? No, not really. Because we knew... first of all, we chose this vehicle because we were looking for a small-pilot vehicle that Anakin could pilot, and it made sense with so much of the early Clone Wars taking place on Tatooine, that it made sense to kinda get something that's desert-y in there, and that's why we targeted that vehicle. The others will not be making a return, but that said, we were aware that this vehicle didn't have, necessarily, the gravitas of other vehicles in the assortment, so after we started development, you know what, we really want to be cautious on that one, so it is produced probably the scarcest of all the vehicles, it's produced in the lowest quantity of any of the deluxe figure-vehicle assortment, and it will not be making a return. So it's a one-and-done, small release, and we've moved on to the next thing. We just weren't able to tool up another new vehicle in time, which is why we really settled on... it's fulfilled its need for a while. So the others from that assortment will not be returning.
JT: I must say, I'm refreshingly glad to hear this wasn't supposed to be a "homage" to the original.
DD: Ha! No, it was truly... you know, we think about kids a lot when we do these things, and we knew Anakin's a very strong figure for kids, but we wanted a signature, different type of vehicle, that's the thing. You know, we could always do speeder bikes, they seem to be incredibly popular and they're totally Star Wars, you look at a speeder bike and you know it is from Star Wars, it's very unique and iconic. But we wanted get kind of some variety in there, like a new vehicle, so that's why it made sense for Anakin, but it definitely was not an homage to the past. [This elicits another hearty laugh from both of us]
JT: The other day, Steve was talking to Brian Merten here in the booth and they came up with this thought about the idea of offering unpunched cards. You guys have brought 4 cards here to Comic-Con that are totally virgin, and every year you bring 'em but this is the first year you've really had enough to go around, and they seem really popular. We were thinking, not virgin cards, but cases for e-tailers who aren't ever going to put them on shelves, cases of the actual wave that are unpunched as an exclusive.
DD: So you're talking about complete figures?
JT: Yeah, like Vintage wave 1.
DD: That are unpunched?
JT: Unpunched specifically for e-tailers.
DD: Ok, so here's actually what's happen with Vintage, maybe we didn't explain this, but when we initially announced Vintage and showed the card design, there was a lot of fan concern. We got it instantly coming back on the forums and in Q&As that 2 things were happening, were gonna happen. That the cards would not be punched, and that they would be immediately damaged because people would just tear them off the hang tags. I'll answer that last concern first, we decided to keep the vintage kind-of butterfly slot there to be as true to vintage as possible, rather than do a J-hook like we could have done like the 25th Anniversary -
JT: Well, those were clamshells that had the J-hook, the cards were vintage -
DD: Oh, sorry, I meant GI Joe 25th Anniversary, which has a vintage-inspired design but it's got a J-hook at the top. We looked at this and said, we can still be true to the original vintage design, but we're gonna have to create a new plastic piece to go on the back to reinforce it so you can't actually pull it, or it would require a tremendous amount of force to pull it off the peg. And also it means that, sure, a figure you may want may be stuck behind 5 or 6 other figures, so it's gonna require a little bit of patience on the part of the collector to take them off and hopefully put them back on the shelf, but by doing this it allows us to be very true to the other 24 vintage that we've released to date, and continue that going forward. And our retailers were willing to go along with us on that, so that was really good. Now, getting back to the hole-punch itself, so some of those first fan comments that came back were all about "ugh, I'm not going to be able to get unpunched cards anymore, Hasbro is that true and what are you doing about it?" So we actually went back and looked and we responded, we haven't actually released or told anybody this, but each of the punches will have 3 tiny little like connecty tabs to connect the punch itself to the die-cut hole. Now, they're small but they'll enable the punch to stay in transit, or at least a significant number of them to actually stay in place during transit, but then get punched out easily when retailers go to put it on the pegs. They're not gonna be like the little connective tissue, you might say, it's not going to be so big so as to lift the litho off the card when they go to put it on, so we're not going to see damaged cards either. So if we've done our jobs right, and we think we have, we can win both ways, collectors will get their unpunched cards but we can also hang them on the pegs and they won't be damaged easily.
[One of the R/C Millennium Falcons that the Hasbro team has been flying around the booth all convention is carefully and slowly flown across a crowd into my knee]
Hasbro Employee: Sorry about that.
JT: [jokingly] Ho ho! I don't think you were sorry about that at all!
HE: Heh, I was trying to prove it was soft and not dangerous.
JT: Oh yeah, I didn't even notice when it hit me.
DD: Ha! Perfect control, right down at him!
JT: Well, going back to the exclusive e-tailer idea, because they're never going to want to punch theirs unlike Toys R Us. What about running a different scenario on the die-cut where the die is altered at the butterfly opening so that it doesn't cut as far into the paper?
DD: Well, we can't do multiple versions of a die-cut and control that. Our production is done on a massive scale at our vendors, so we have to pick one solution for the die that tries to fit all retail scenarios, whether it's online or whether it's in-store, so we can't produce 2 different versions, we're just not set up to be able to handle that, and we couldn't keep track of them. We wouldn't know what ships where, it'd just be too difficult for us.
JT: Ok, this one's the last question I have. Cardback art has always been seen as artwork by the fans, even when the companies - Kenner and Hasbro - weren't seeing that, it was just product and marketing to them. Lately however, Hasbro has seen the light and hands out these virgin cardbacks at conventions. Do you still have access to the 1995-2010 cardback art library, or are those cards' art just lost files, perhaps recycled into other character cards? And would it be possible if you do have them to release older '95 to 2010 virgin cardbacks? And Hasbro ever considered releasing them as a set, or perhaps year by year portfolios?
DD: Oh, that's... well, we would not go back and deliberately release existing versions of package, we would re-release specific figures in the new line look if we chose to do that, so we're not going to go back.
JT: Well, this is an idea of just the card art by itself.
DD: Oh, just the card art itself! Not the figures. Well, that's an interesting idea, I would say we might save that, I'm not going to say "no we wouldn't do that". There might be an interesting... if there's an anniversary coming up, or it could be a retrospective, that would be kind of an interesting little sub-collection to run. So we actually have never thought about that, it's interesting, but I believe we definitely have all the files. [Derryl spots a co-worker in the booth] Hey Dave? [To me] Dave Reeves is our art director on Star Wars, he produces and supervises everything we do. [To Dave] So they asked the question, intrigued by our vintage cardbacks, do we still have all the files going all the way back to '95, when Kenner started up with The Power of the Force, so if we chose to do commemorative re-releases of favorites of times past, we could do that?
Dave Reeves: Yes, I still have all the assets, yup. Everything's been backed up on disk. Every single one.
DD: Good man! All the Kenner stuff?
DR: All the Kenner stuff is archived.
JT: Everything between there and now? The Power of the Jedi..., for example?
DR: Yup! I could pull up the files for, you know, all the stuff from back then.
JT: Wow! They're all digitized, even back to '95?
DD: So that's an interesting thought, something to talk about. We'll have to talk about that. It's a very interesting question.
JT: Well thank you. And thank you Derryl for your time today.
DD: Sure, sure! You're quite welcome.
- So there you have it, that's the end of our 2 interviews from Comic-Con International 2010. I want to again thank Derryl and team Hasbro Star Wars for their incredible generosity with their time and openness. Although these interviews took a lot of time, Derryl was willing to answer any questions I could bring him. In fact, it was only a lack of internet access in the SDCC exhibit hall which prevented more questions from being answered, as we had exhausted the large list of prepared questions and Derryl was willing to give even more of his time, which speaks volumes about his dedication to the brand and it's fans.