This article can barely contain Hasbro's answers to SSG questions for September 22nd, 2006.
Thanks to everybody for their patience, we are still endevoring to get the missing questions found and answered; and thanks again to all the folks who sent in questions and especially those who actually voted on them. Here come Hasbro's answers, and remember to check out ActionFigs.com for their weekly Hasbro Q&A as well (which also got an update today).
Hasbro Q&A for the week of September 22ndQ: What does Hasbro think the current number of "collectors" versus "casual buyers" (kids, and parents who buy for them) are in Hasbro's Star Wars line?
A: We don't release numbers for our kid or collector bases, but the number of kids actively engaged in Star Wars right now is VERY high. Our challenge is to plan for some of this audience to diminish over time, but we still need to keep a solid mix of heroes and collector-targeted figures to keep kids engaged. We also acknowledge that some kids will behave like collectors and buy very deeply (if not completely) into the line, but for the most part the "kids" we're talking about are the ones who will get a few vehicles and ten or so main figures over the course of the year to continue their involvement in Star Wars. There are a large number of these kids and we keep them in mind when we design waves and greatest hits.
Q: Star Wars collecting has always had heavy interest in its vehicles, the figures are 3.75" tall because that size would best allow action figures to interact with toy versions of the vehicles (a Millennium Falcon for 6" figures would be the size of a sofa, way too big). Lewis Galoob Toys made its mark on Star Wars with 2 major lines: Micro Machines and Action Fleet, both were vehicles supplimented by little mini-figures, and in their heyday Galoob was the 3rd-largest toymaker behind Hasbro but ahead of LEGO (all Star Wars licensees, perhaps not a coincidence?). In late 1998, Hasbro bought Galoob and within a couple years cancelled all the Micro Machines Star Wars lines (Micro Machines, Die-Cast, and Action Fleet), effectively ending consumers' access to Star Wars vehicle toys - many of which could never have been done in the 3.75" line. Hasbro has made several attempts to rejuvenate these Micro Machines concepts, often with sub-par results, but so far the only attempt that has not failed is the Titanium Series 3" vehicle line (which admittedly deserves many accolades, and its future appears to be getting even brighter); Micro Machines vehicles have not been re-attempted at all, while several Action Fleet relaunch attempts have lacked vehicle features and mini-figures resulting in slow sales - both the Saga Action Fleet and Titanium Series 6" Ultra Vehicles started slow with weak entries and higher prices only to pick up steam and fans right as the lines were cancelled. Star Wars collecting again lacks access to those sizes of vehicles, with that in mind, why did Hasbro buy Galoob toys if that company's main line did not meet Hasbro's sales expectations and its core lines were cast aside?
A: At the time of the purchase, the micro vehicle category was certainly very robust (I recall the days when it occupied almost an entire WALL in the Toys 'R Us planogram!) and was a very popular kid play pattern. However, the micro scale crashed and crashed hard, leaving the collector following as kids moved on to other things. Aside from the robust Titanium line, the the micro efforts you mention have been relegated to the occasional exclusive which never really gives the segment the ability to gain traction and build into something bigger. With the focus on Titanium for the vehicle extension, and with 3-3/4", Galactic Heroes, and Unleashed 2" for the figure expression of the brand, it's unlikely that we are going to try and fit in micro even though we know there is a following for it. So I'm afraid there isn't better news on the micro front.... right now, there just isn't the opportunity nor strategic focus to purse for Star Wars.
Q: Will Hasbro consider making more "clean" army builders such as the ARC trooper, Sandtrooper, Republic Commando, Clone Commander, Galactic Marine, Airborne Trooper, etc., in an army building white color scheme, e.g. no color markings or non-removable pauldrons?
A: That is a good comment. Right now, we do not have plans to go back to those figures in the near future, but if we do those are good suggestions for making them different and desireable as troop builders.