This is our fiftieth Q&A session! It's Hasbro's answers to SSG questions for May 23rd, 2008.Thanks again to Hasbro for the answers, to all the folks who sent in questions and especially those who voted on them.
Hasbro Q&A for the week of May 23rdSSG: Ever since the '04 OTC line, it seems like Hasbro's scheduled out an entire year's worth of figures only to find out later that the release schedule comes up short at the end and there's a scramble to fill that void with a wave or 2 of repaints which have to stretch the end of the year and sometimes even 1st quarter of the following year. It happened with the ROTS line, the TSC line, the TAC '07 line, and now apparently in The Legacy Collection line (though we know that is due to a delayed wave), and it's not just the SW brand, the Transformers brand has been doing this with almost every line for the past 5 years. Besides unexpected delays, what generally causes this sort of thing? Why repaints and not just a schedule with pacing that is spread further out to avoid such troubles (the TAC line's 2nd half really got slammed together in release scheduling before its repaint wave)?
Hasbro: Great question that deserves an answer. We (speaking for Star Wars) initially plan our line for periodic refreshes designed to get some new excitement out there every 6-8 weeks on average. This is based on the time is has typically taken waves to come in and sell through; we ideally time the new wave to come in when sales are tailing down and keep productivity high. That's an ideal plan, of course; delays and schedule changes happen and we have to find ways to deal with them. In some cases the delay comes at a very bad time so when we get caught back up we are put into a position to release a lot at once (like what happened last holiday). Still, though, it's our intention not to intentionally short or go too long on any one figure to keep the overall rate of retail turnover healthy. It's not a perfect system, but within it we have been able to bring forth what we think is an amazing array of figures the last four years and hopefully far into the future. And hopefully, collectors will forgive us for sometimes long delays and compressed cycles getting there.
SSG: With the Indiana Jones line's release, this question can no longer be contained... what has happened to the paint quality on the 3.75" figures' eyes over the past few years, both with Star Wars and now with Indy? The overwhelming majority of figures in the Indiana Jones line have big, sloppy whites and oversized pupils - too often also not painted at matching angles or painted looking upwards - which heavily detracts from the headsculpts, and the Star Wars line has been getting there as well. The Star Wars line had been doing much better in this realm up until a few years ago, a perfect example is comparing the Saga Luke Jabba's Palace with the TAC version which uses a modified version of the same head, the '04 Saga figure's eyes are much smaller and more realistic compared to the '07 TAC counterpart's which are bigger and gazing upwards.
Hasbro: We have been working with our principal Star Wars factories for years now and the process is well-honed; for IJ, it was a fast development cycle and a new factory, and overall we are pleased with the results and are fine-tuning the process as we go along. We have had some issues with consistency of paint deco on some figures, but we hope that we have worked through those issues and what you'll be seeing meets your standards. As for Luke, we didn't deliberately spec a new eye deco; it may have been a result in a process change at the factory (sometimes it may be hand-applied, sometimes tampo) that we did not notice.
SSG: The rumor mill had a Disturbance at the Lars Homestead battle pack appear in the Toys R Us computers, and recently a photo of a mock-up of this set has shown up. Can you give any comment on this set? The mock-up seems to show the old POTF2 Owen Lars figure which is well over a decade old and hasn't held up with the passage of time, will this be replaced with a new Uncle Owen? What other figures will come with the set, perhaps the April Fools Joke extra-crispy Owen & Beru skeletons? And does the igloo-type dome open to reveal an interior?
Hasbro: Details will be revealed at Comic Con, if not earlier. Collectors should not expect too much from the figures, though, as the building is the real centerpiece and what really cost us to develop. We can confirm there are still no extra-crispy skeletons in the package or elsewhere in the Star Wars lineup.
And the questions at ActionFigs.com:
- In the past, Hasbro's had a fairly good ability to get new Star Wars waves and lines onto shelves in a timely fashion within the prescribed dates Hasbro claimed. However, a few lines recently have suffered delays, such as the Saga '03 line, TAC twice (wave 1 and 4), the General Grievous starfighter wave, and now the announcement of the preview Captain Rex mail-away figure not coming out until July (thus negating the "preview" aspect). Why has it been getting more difficult to get new Star Wars products released on time?
- With the AT-TE and Millennium Falcon being released on the same day, while exciting it does lead to a few questions: After years of saying there's not enough interest in large vehicles, how do we get 2 extremely large vehicles at the same time, was there something specific which precipitated this change in thinking? Why release them at the same time, wouldn't conventional wisdom say to release them months apart so they don't detract from each other's sales or retail shelf real-estate? For those collectors who want both but cannot afford 2 $100+ pricetags at the same time, for approximately how long will each vehicle be shipping to retailers? And finally, will these be produced in roughly equal amounts, or is will there be more of one vehicle over the other, and if the latter, which vehicle and why?
- Will you ever release any Neimoidians & Separatist Leaders in the Galactic Heroes line? How about a General Lando/Nien Nunb set?