This might not be the kind of surprise you wanted the Easter Bunny to bring you, it's a candy-fattened installment of SSG's weekly collecting column.
Jedi Mind Tricks: Episode III - The Sith Are Your Pals- EDITORIAL: What is it with Luke Skywalker figures coming with Darth Vader lightsaber hilts on their belts lately? First it was VTSC (Vintage-style The Saga Collection) Luke X-wing, now it's TAC (30th Anniversary Collection) Luke Yavin Ceremony, and in the next TAC wave it'll be Luke Moisture Vaporator. Hasbro's original answer to this a month ago was that it was something they had on hand that got them "pretty close" and they were looking into it for future releases, yet since then we've seen that carded Luke Moisture Vaporator sample again with this accessory. The Vader and Luke lightsaber hilts are not even that close in shape, and on top of that, Hasbro doesn't even bother to decorate the Vader hilt like the Luke hilt by not painting the emitter shroud. Sure the emitter shroud shape is still going to be wrong, but how hard could it be to NOT paint something? What really kills me is that Hasbro has a few perfectly viable options already for this deactivated hilt accessory, there's the one that POTJ (Power of the Jedi) Obi-Wan came with plugged into his belt, the one with TSC Luke Escape From Mos Eisley that came with Obi-Wan's trunk, and the removable-blade one that came with Saga Luke Hoth; heck, there's even the ROTS Anakin #2 "Lightsaber Attack" hilt with an extremely sharp-looking mold where the only difference at this scale is the cross-checked activation box band. We're not talking about new tooling here, we're just talking about tracking down any of these better alternatives and using them in place of that Vader hilt yet again. Why should the figures come with the wrong accessories for no good reason? Like we don't have enough Vader sabers already, might I add. It's time to remedy this situation, there's no acceptable excuse for this incorrect hilt accessory released on a 3rd figure, offer a mail-in exchange program, sell an accessory pack on your HasbroToyShop site, whatever, but do something about this Hasbro.
- COLLECTING LIGHTHOUSE: Stores should be ramping up the first wave of TAC product a little more now just in time for Easter and spring break. But while wave 1 is still hitting, it's already time to be on the lookout for TAC wave 2 as confirmed sightings have come in from Target stores all over the country. Wave 2 is the ANH wave and includes Han Solo Millennium Falcon Gunner, Luke Skywalker Yavin Ceremony, Biggs Darklighter X-wing Pilot, the Rebel Honor Guard, the Death Star Trooper, and McQuarrie Concept Boba Fett. The case is even-packed at 2 a piece, but already the Boba Fett and Death Star Trooper figures are proving far more popular which means harder to track down.
· In an update on the blue TAC Rebel Trooper Blaster variant I mentioned in last week's column, forumite TheDarthVader - who was the first person I saw to report the news of this - has found a photo of the blue version of this blaster, and I must say it's significantly less awful than the green version. Check out the image in this forums post.
· Did you catch the news about the Star Wars Celebration IV and Celebration Europe exclusive Hasbro figure set? It's McQuarrie Concept R2-D2 and C-3PO, and it appears unlike Celebration III's Vader, this one comes with the clamshell. Hasbro's getting a little cute with these, the Los Angeles Celebration IV version will have a different coin and cardback from the Celebration Europe, so completists should get ready to rumble. I can't say I'm entirely convinced on either of these figures, R2's legs look way too bulky and his coloring is so flat; while 3PO's entire likeness seems way off to me, both in the face with its wrong overall shape and totally wrong eyes and oversized mouth, and in that body that's too masculine and sports the wrong stance. Still, R2 looks like he has some fun gadget arms going on, and the duo look good on the card as a set.
· Speaking of Celebration exclusives, the preorders for the Sideshow Collectibles 12" Yavin Luke Ceremony that's exclusive to the convention is coming up next Thursday for attendees and Friday for non-attendees, both at 10am PST. The likeness on this Luke seems pretty good, the outfit looks sharp, and apparently they caught a detail few others had noticed - Luke's blaster on this outfit is the sporting blaster Leia carried in the beginning of ANH. I'm not sure I'm going to want to drop $60 or so on a non-action version of the character that was in this outfit for a minute, but we'll see how it looks in the other pictures on order day.
· SirSteve posted loose and carded photos of the TAC Wave 3 figures in this article, this wave looks like a real winner - minus the tan vest on the Jawa and Luke's bizarre windblown headsculpt that looks like a shaved monkey (12 years later it's Monkey-Faced Luke!) - and I'm very impressed with concept Chewie, very cool and very Star Wars.
- READER FEEDBACK: "This sounds more like ADD than SSG! Whoa... all over the board there, JT. I like the concept, but like realizing that Greedo shot first before Han (poorly) shot first and then that I could "choose" whether Han or Greedo shot first, it'll take some gittin' usedta." - Bel-Cam Jos, (soon-to-be-former moderator) on the first Jedi Mind Tricks column.
JT: Ouch, rough crowd! I can't believe you're comparing this column to that horrible Greedo shot first junk, maybe I should go back and edit the column to something far more toothless, then in 6 months claim that's how I always meant it, then in another year edit again so the words are in 3D. Zing!
"Actually, I liked the Q&A, commentary, and collecting lighthouse parts. What's the best way of getting you questions for the Q&A?" - Rogue II
JT: See Bel-Cam? That's how you do it :-P ! Thanks for the kind words Rogue II, and thanks also for setting me up to plug the Q&A (which is absent this week because, surprisingly, nobody sent me any questions - take that free-form column!). Questions can be sent in via the "comments" system at the bottom of the column's article, or posting in the forums thread, or sending me a Private Message in the forums, or sending me an email.
"The whole Editorial was good and I learned a few things, most notably: Pello Scrambas (hate the name, love the guy's look) We did offer him in the scene-by-scene voting poll but Biggs in Academy Uniform and CZ-9 cleaned his clock. However, Pello's time will come. I'd definitely buy this figure" - Tycho, on the second Jedi Mind Tricks column's editorial.
JT: Yeah, I hate that name too, but this guy is somehow slightly iconic to Star Wars, specifically ANH, I definitely want him (...uh, the action figure, I mean). I went back and saw your inclusion of the "old rebel trooper" from the scene on your list, since it didn't win it wasn't on the request list, so what I said was true... from a certain point of view.
"I am curious, if you open your figures, how do you keep them all together without scratching them all up?" - Randall M.
JT: I am indeed an "opener", I open just about every SW thing I have. As for damaging the paint on figures (or almost as frustratingly, having other paint wear into the plastic), I've not found a foolproof system yet (aside from displaying all your figures instead of storing them). Some folks put their loose figures in baggies with their accessories, but you risk running into potential issues with outgassing and the bags' plastics interacting with the paint. Paper separators can be too rough, like sandpapering the paint off. There's worries in almost anything you do here if you nitpick it deep enough, but using a little care, storing the figures not too tightly in whatever container you choose, keeping them away from moisture and dust and light, and using other tips of common collecting sense and I think you can't go too wrong with whatever method you choose. If you plan on taking them out or moving the storage container a lot though, consider something padded and perhaps with separate compartments for each figure.
"For a while, Star Wars Insider continued where the book left off. Looking through them now, I found it in issues 74-76. They only got through the first wave of Collection 1 TPM figures. I didn't find any more occurrences after that, but I didn't look too close. I was thinking they did more. And I was one of those that thought Sir Steve was Steve Sansweet." - Mad Slanted Powers
JT: The one thing I don't like about regular magazines for that sort of update is that the monthly schedule is very fast-paced compared to a book, so editing isn't as tough and you can end up with mistakes that get at best get correct months later - I'm not saying that's what happened with the Insider's extension, I don't even remember it that well, but the potential for mistake is always there ("no no, not the infalliable Insider!"). Trust me MSP, you shouldn't feel bad about that, it happened on almost a daily basis back in the day - I guess Star Wars collecting isn't quite big enough for 2 Steves, good thing my screenname's not 'George Lacus'.
- TYCHO'S MOUSE DROID REPORT: This past week more bad news than good news came pouring in like April showers. It started last week when many collectors experienced Target putting up new anti-collector notification cards in their toy isles. My guess is the policy spawned from there being too many folks using the DCPI numbers [the Target-specific stocking codes found on all the shelf tags, such as the TAC basic figures' code of 087-06-1990 -JT] to ask for product to be brought out from the back. The very fact that scalper-supported single-proprietor stores were offering Target exclusives for frustrating markups indicated that it wasn't just enthusiastic collectors working that system, but also the opportunists that prey on them.
Repetitive trips to my local Target yielded products I wanted, but also revealed that employees were likely lying to me about what they had in stock. A "team leader" suggested that if everything they had for Star Wars (or Hot Wheels or whatever toys for that matter) was completely stocked overnight, all their inventory would be gone by 8:05am and they'd have nothing to attract "moms with kids" into their stores later in the day, so they'd lose their larger multi-item ticket sales. It seems to me there's not a great answer to this from a business perspective. Collectors and even scalpers are regular customers, but I can see how "moms with kids" are more valuable customers. Still, every time a store 'just orders more,' they push themselves back closer to the days of Episode I glut on the pegs. With their quick-to-clearance habits, Target stores don't want to lose money in such a way, and their distribution centers' orders reflect that strategy, and in turn their product replenishment from Hasbro. [As I remember it, it was Hasbro's SW dealings that changed Target's policies here in the first place -JT]
Speaking of things found at Target, the next tragedy of last week was the Sith Infiltrator disappointment. I did want the ship crafted and off the to-do list for vehicles, but it took having the final product in my hands to see that the starfighter assortment was just too small to design this toy for. I accept "off-scale," but this was ridiculous.
To continue on to ludicrous speed, Hasbro plans to sell single-pack Galactic Heroes, including Bossk! Man is this ever a mistake: most GH fans have characters like Bossk and Lando in multi-packs. Troop builders could be more efficiently army-built in duplicate figure 2-packs, or continue with Rebel Soldier / Imperial and Clone / Battle Droid offerings. The next stupid thing they'll do with GH single-packs is offer Lushros Dofine!
Finally, the icing on the cake was Del Rey Books announcement that James Luceno would not be coming out with The Tragedy of Darth Plagueis by even early next year. By all accounts, the novel that should have explored the Sith training and origins of Palpatine was cancelled. No, the TV shows should not have had an impact on this area of the EU, being that they revolve around the Clone Wars and the New Order, post Order-66 years. Out-of-the-box-thinking on that subject matter could yield an intriguing possibility, but many fans would have still rather had the book.
I like my reports to be positive, but really it's best if they are honest.
- FIN: Well, that wraps up this Easter edition of Jedi Mind Tricks, don't feed the Dewback any plastic easter basket grass or the Sandtroopers will be cleaning up buckets of barf for a week. Thanks again for reading the column, and please be sure to leave any sort of comments / questions / insane ramblings (except for you Tycho) in the Comments System below, or in this column's forums thread . Until next week, remember: a communications disruption can mean only one thing... invasion!
- PREVIOUS COLUMNS: Episode I - 3/26/07; Episode II - 4/2/07
note: the opinions stated in this article are not necessarily those of SirStevesGuide.com or its owner. JediTricks does not handle dying eggs well, is not afraid to use that clear crayon, and thinks Star Wars easter egg kits are weirder than they are funny.