The next installment in SSG's new weekly editorial/collecting/Q&A column, and you thought it wouldn't make a second week. April Fools on you, it did!
Jedi Mind Tricks: Episode II - Simuloids on the Assault!- EDITORIAL: Here we are at Star Wars' 30th anniversary, we have over 500 Star Wars figures and more coming every month, some of the most esoteric characters in all of Star Wars have been immortalized in plastic (who would have ever thought a giant preying mantis would get 2 releases?) and yet this week it occurred to me that there's one face we've completely overlooked. Samuel L. Jackson said of this character when seeing Star Wars for the first time that he thought the film was going to be all about this character. The guy's face is one of the first humans we see do any acting - even if it is only for a few seconds - he's the older, white-haired Rebel Fleet Trooper who looks up to hear the Star Destroyer's docking clamps clutch the Rebel Corvette, then steadies himself to slow down the Imperial Stormtroopers preparing to blast through the docking hatch and overwhelm the Tantive IV's intrepid crew. It's just a little piece of acting, barely 2 shots of emotion, but it sells the scene's personal aspects in just that little moment and that's been enough to capture the audience's attention from day one. Forumite 'Droid' found out that our old guy with the gun is named Lt. Pello Scrambas - another name derived from the Decipher Collectible Card Game (a lot of no-name guys got their EU names from the CCG) - and while he might not be the most exciting figure Hasbro could make, we are in need of a new Rebel Fleet Trooper figure with updated styling and articulation and this is a minorly-iconic Star Wars face. I have never seen any figure request lists ask for him before, but maybe we've just all collectively overlooked him, and now it's time to rectify that. So I am calling on Hasbro to make Lt. Pello Scrambas into an action figure - during the 30th Anniversary Collection if possible - they could ditch the name, but we definitely need this guy.
· And on a different matter... I'm not a fan of April Fool's day hoaxes in general, there are some pranks that are big, obvious fun, but largely there are very few that I think pay off, and far too many more that just confuse collecting. It makes reporting actual collecting news even more difficult because readers are not sure what to trust, is that new LEGO Republic Cruiser an actual set or just a detailed hoax, are the PDF instructions for your own paper R2-D2 Mailbox real or are you going to end up just wasting printer paper and ink?. And do we really need a bunch of folks asking if Hasbro is really making the Tonnika Sisters Deluxe figure 2pack, or whatever make-believe nonsense fools the majority of folks into perpetuating for months to come in the hopes (or fears) that it's gonna happen? This year, even some of the licensees have gotten in on the act, I won't name names, but we all know there's no giant chicken man possible - at least I hope we all know this, then again this is the same company who put Arctic Padme in a poll of Expanded Universe figures and let her win. Granted, some outlets keep it all in fun, but others can take it too far: every year, the magazine Popular Science has several phony articles in their April issue - too bad the issue hits subscribers' mailboxes and newsstands halfway through March so the joke is easily lost on the not-yet-suspecting reader. Ultimately, fun is fun, but it's too bad that we Star Wars collectors have to buffer ourselves a little extra with every link we click just because the month of April is nearly upon us.
- COLLECTING LIGHTHOUSE: The new TAC (30th Anniversary Collection) Rebel Trooper Blaster and Clone Trooper Blaster are hitting shelves now, these are all-new accurate sculpts (except for the pull-back plunger on the back), they're the ones without sound effects, instead the trigger turns on a red targeting light from the sight and then fires a Nerf-style dart. The original prototypes were both painted black, shouldn't be a problem as there are several other black Star Wars blasters on the market from Hasbro in the last couple years, but for whatever reason Hasbro decided to change things up and now the Clone Blaster is in a very plasticky bright blue color while the Rebel Blaster is an ugly bright green with tan and orange accents (yikes!). Also, a few forumites have reported seeing a blue version of the Rebel Blaster instead of the ugly green, the blue would jive with the box art, and probably not be as much of an eyesore as that green number.
· Sideshow collectors take note, the 12" Rebel Endor Troopers are on the verge of hitting SSC's warehouse and then your mailboxes, first the exclusive "Endor Strike Force" trio bundle and then the individual figures "Endor Rebel Infantry", "Endor Rebel Commando Sergeant" and "Nik Sant - Endor Rebel Commando Pathfinder" (the latter 2 are Sideshow exclusives in the US). Sideshow has made it clear that the Endor Strike Force bundle orders will take shipping priority over the individuals figures, so if you've ordered the bundle, it's nearly upon you - make sure you've got the $180 plus shipping in your account, or contact Sideshow to make arrangements. These are the first entries in the 12" Militaries of Star Wars line, collectors have been waiting for these since the bundle's preorder went up in October of last year.
· I picked up Hasbro's "Capture of Tantive IV" battle pack recently, this isn't going to be a surprise if it becomes a hit set - it's an OT army booster from the very first scene in SW. This set is an opener, the boxed look isn't quite there since the forced-perspective look leaves the middle empty, the figures are posed oddly, and the stormtroopers' belts are on backwards showing the blank side. Vader is the odd man out in this set, he's just the 8-year-old commtech one with the same interrogator droid, and the cape on mine is pretty sloppy (note: the cape looks like it's on backwards when you take it off the tray, but it's just not folded over the shoulders). The Rebel Fleet Troopers use the POTJ body with its kneeling leg articulation, there's no waist articulation and the arms still don't come together the way they're meant to, and they still include the smallest rebel blaster when there's a slightly bigger version they should be using, but the body looks decent and they've revamped the head - well, "heads" since each Rebel has his own new unique head sculpt and different colored hair - plus a new removable helmet with separate antenna (mine were mashed down in the tray but popped back straight within an hour of freedom). The real star of the set is the new Stormtrooper you get 2 of, this is based on the Evolutions Sandtrooper rather than the VOTC Stormie, differences include the sandtrooper belt, different helmet, and there's no mid-torso articulation at all and some of the details on the stomach are different (the black dots are missing altogether). While they look like they're based on the same prototype, this Battle Pack Stormie's sculpt is noticeably crisper top to bottom than the VOTC version, there's a more-dynamic wider hip pose, and the white coloring is a little brighter and more uniform. I never expected this, but I think I prefer this Battle Pack version over the VOTC, the overall sharper lines - and especially the helmet sculpt with its smaller lenses and tighter sculpt - really pop, the brighter white looks tremendous, and the hip pose is less static than the VOTC. As for the blank belt, luckily the back is the correct look with the squares, the ammo pouch isn't too distracting (they attached it backwards I guess to pretend it's the Stormie's holster, it does a poor job convincing of this), and the belt is made to be removed and replaced easily at the ammo pouch. All that for $20, cheaper than the cost of the 4 army builders alone, plus you get a Vader to boot - look for the "Capture of Tantive IV" Battle Pack on shelves now, it's being spotted at TRUs and Targets already.
- YOUR QUESTIONS: Q) Who do we need to petition in order to get [SW collecting guru and Lucasfilm director of content management, in charge of fan relations] Steve Sansweet to write volume 2 of the Star Wars Action Figure Archive? - Rogue II
A) The first book dealt with the entire vintage Kenner toy line plus the first few years of the current modern Hasbro era. Since that time, the prequels have led to an explosion of SW figures, but even though the movies are done the toy line doesn't show signs of slowing, and that might make it tricky to do an all-inclusive book on an ongoing subject that covers at least 3 times the breadth of the original tome. That said, I know there's a lot of folks who want another entry, and the sooner a 2nd volume gets done the less work would be needed for a 3rd. So, there's obviously Steve Sansweet himself (for a while, our own SirSteve was often confused with him by visitors new to the site) who wrote the original Star Wars Action Figure Archive book 8 years ago. There's also Chronicle Books who published the original and others of Sansweet's books, including 2005's Star Wars Chronicles: The Prequels. And you could try Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, the division of Lucasfilm that deals with Star Wars' merchandising.
Q) With there being so much competition in regards to high end collecting with other licensees, has Hasbro considered perhaps making the figures' accessories out of metal like the already established saber hilts [from the 2002 Saga line]? They could also do it this time with blasters and other non-lightsaber accessories as well. - Ricollector
A) I don't have the "official" word from Hasbro on this matter yet, but from what I understand those didn't pan out as well as expected originally. The cost of die-casting the parts in metal was a little higher, there was less budget for painted details, and the castings just didn't have the quality of detail that the plastic could convey. Most importantly for the lightsabers though, there were high numbers of complaints about sabers taking a fall and having the blades break off in the hilts, that's obviously a pretty big deal. However, I did actually like some of the metal hilts because they had an air of substance about them (that'd be the "high end collectibles" aspect you mentioned), they'd also never warp or bend, and I kinda liked the magnet Force gimmick (the magnets staying in the figures was another problem though). There have been a lot of complaints lately about the rubbery plastic leading to easily bent blasters, and the packaging warping accessories before they arrived in consumers' hands, so perhaps Hasbro will take this into consideration for accessories in the future, but at this time I don't believe that's on their radar.
- TYCHO'S MOUSE DROID REPORT: I'm reading the novelization to "A New Hope," the version published in 1976. It seems like an appropriate way to celebrate the 30th Anniversary. I've heard that Alan Dean Foster is actually the uncredited novelization author, though the book is attributed to George Lucas. Meanwhile, I read some very interesting discrepancies:
Also, the Lost Scenes with Biggs at Anchorhead are described in detail, some things are in a different sequence than in the movie, and there's more. In any case, it remains an intriguing curiousity from Star Wars history for the fans to re-discover.
- - There was the mention of previous Emperors (plural) and indications that they had gone evil or corrupt with Palpatine.
- - It was not brought up that Palpatine was a Sith Lord, but rather focused on the fact that Darth Vader had that title.
- - Chewbacca originally had glowing yellow eyes before he would be filmed with baby blues. This ties in with the upcoming Ralph McQuarrie Collection figure.
- - The novelization is not what you'd call perfectly written. Imperial Officers in scenes we know to be acted out with Sandtroopers are described with expressions on their faces. This is not possible for officers wearing face masks and helmets, of course.
- - There were 3 aliens that confronted Luke in the bar when Kenobi intervened - one seemed to be Salacious Crumb in all but name and Ben cleaved him in half, killed Ponda Baba, and cut Dr. Evezan's arm off - however, none of these characters were mentioned by name.
[That's really interesting stuff, now you've got me wanting to dig into the novel myself! Also, you're correct Tycho, prolific science-fiction author Alan Dean Foster did indeed ghostwrite the original Star Wars novelization back in 1976, it was originally called "Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker" and was based on the film's script, though it came out so much earier than the movie due to the film's delays that there are some who still believe the movie is based on the book! - JT]
- FIN: Well, another episode of Jedi Mind Tricks is put to bed, and just in time too, last week's prediction of the column going a little too long seems to really have proved true this week with a double helping of editorials. Thanks again for reading, and please feel free to leave questions / comments / slobbering complaints in the Comments System below, or in this column's forums thread. Until next week, remember: Sandpeople always ride single file to hide their numbers!
note: the opinions stated in this article are not necessarily those of SirStevesGuide.com or its owner. JediTricks does not carry change over $5.00, does not have a car stereo, and does not have the combination to the safe.