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  1. #1

    SSG's Tri-Weekly Hasbro Q&A - March 20th

    Is it March Madness, or just another installment of Hasbro's answers to SSG questions for March 20th, 2009? 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 March 20th

    SSG: Hasbro has shown great confidence in the Mos Eisley cantina scene, recognizing that the iconic scene has great mileage with both collectors and kids, and pledging to complete the roster of background aliens. With that in mind, might Hasbro be interested in expanding that to include Ket Maliss, Cebann Veekan, Myhr Rho, Y'bith, Thorp, Kelbo, the Tin Tin Dwarf, and/or Kal'Falnl C'ndros - characters who are "just off camera" and yet appear in various sources from behind-the-scenes materials to the Decipher's CCG and the Holiday Special? Many of these designs fit well with the in-film Cantina styled characters and all have precedent in or around that area, they could certainly be passed off to casual collectors as being part of that element, just as was done with your recent Bane Malar figure.
    Hasbro: First let's get something out of the way - Cantina aliens, and the scores of characters like them including the Jabba's denizens, Senators, Pod Racers, female characters, and other tertiary and background characters are interesting only to collectors. It's very important that we not produce too many of these characters, and be careful about how many we produce (can anyone say Yarna?) or else the line risks being imbalanced and unproductive for retailers. Now for your question... the short answer is, probably not. With the Cantina, there are still a solid number of on-screen characters that we would look to do first before we go off-screen even thought there are some very cool choices in the ones you suggest (the Y'Bith is awesome, as is what appears to be the first Nikto in any entertainment - Kal'Falnl C'ndros [editor's note: Hasbro likely meant Kelbo rather than Kal'Falnl C'ndros, who is a large ostrich-type alien whose legs were seen in ANH -JT]). Thanks for the entertaining look at this interesting group.

    SSG: Titanium Series has suffered another indignity by not being included at New York Toy Fair. With recent significant price increases, a continued focus on pointless repaints, a general feeling of lack of support from Hasbro for pretty much the life of the line, canceled and displaced molds (some shown at the '08 Toy Fair), what is happening with Titanium Series? Fans keep asking about the line, and Hasbro keeps saying they will give it more attention at the next venue, only to get shorted again. What does the future hold for this line that is in many ways the only outlet for most Star Wars vehicles in toy form? Are sales at least solid enough that Titanium collectors can relax their fears a bit for the foreseeable future, or is the line considerably weaker than the 3.75" figure line and thus vulnerable in these uncertain economic times?
    Hasbro: Titanium is indeed a much less-collected sub line that the 3-3/4" line. In the first year of Titanium vehicles, the line showed promise, but the audience never materialized to grow the collecting base. Since them, we have struggled with the amount of new tooling the line could justify along with the extraordinary number of new/refresh items the line needed to stay productive at retail (an outcome of the smaller batch sizes). While we feel that this year we are giving it some great attention and some exciting new tools, this will be the last year for Titanium. The line will be put on hiatus after 2009.
    [editor's note: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! -JT]

    SSG: Will we be seeing any episode-specific Battle Packs for The Clone Wars? This would be a great way to get several of the individualized clones, battle droids, or astromech droids from any given episode without spreading them over a long period of time into the basic line, especially when they're only minor retools or mere repaints or kitbashes.
    Hasbro: There will be episode-specific packs, but they will mostly be drawn from existing figures (for instance, there will be an upcoming Battle Pack for the episode "Holocron Heist" but there will be no new figures in it). It's possible that 1-2 episode-specific packs will be coming out as exclusives that will have new characters as you suggest, but those have not been confirmed yet.
    [editor's note: in case you're wondering, the episode Hasbro mentioned has not yet aired, its novelization won't even be released until September. -JT]
    - - -

    And our questions at CollectionStation.com:

    • Right now, based on what you've said and shown at Toy Fair, the 2009 basic TLC waves look like this: February (ANH), May (ESB 1), September (TPM). We know the '09 EU wave got pushed into '10, but according to your prior answers that still leaves 4 more TLC waves crammed into the last part of the year. 2008 suffered pacing issues and delays in part because the Hasbro SW team was focusing on Indiana Jones, but this year there is no such sidetrack, so why the pacing problems and slowdowns? Does the fact that so many other movies are getting Hasbro toy lines (GI Joe, Transformers 2, Wolverine) slow the flow of SW toys? Will all 7 remaining '09 waves actually make it to market in this year, or will all those waves on top of each other in the last 3rd of the year cause another push-out and all-repaints wave? As per your Dec 10th Q&A correction, will ROTJ and ANH 2 waves get released between May's ESB wave and September's TPM wave?
    • What are the requirements that a retailer must go meet to get a Star Wars exclusive, do they have to be a certain size company, make a certain number of Hasbro orders a month, etc.? Is there some sort of process that a retailer has to go through to get an exclusive, do they work with Hasbro on what item to produce, or is it out of their hands?
    • With the Titanium Series line, how much influence does Lucasfilm put into it? Have they ever asked for a specific ship to be included in the line when it otherwise wouldn't be? Have they ever requested a feature be added to a vehicle, or even possibly a potential feature removed? Is the LFL approval process fairly smooth with this line compared to something like the action figure line, have they ever sent a Titanium Series vehicle back to the drawing board or even canned it altogether?

  2. #2
    I can see what they're saying with the background aliens only being appealing to collectors. The argument could be made that Kenner focused a lot on background ROTJ aliens with some success; but the fact that the line only lasted 2 years, after ROTJ was released, would suggest that Hasbro knows what they are talking about (especially since we are going on our fourth year of Star Wars collecting post-ROTS).

    Personally, Hasbro has reached the limits of Cantina Aliens that I'm interested in. Bom Vimdim being the only all-new alien that I would want right now. And aside from SA resculpts of Ponda Baba, Dr. Evazan, and the Cantina Band Member, there's nothing else I really want from the Cantina.
    "To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence… When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

  3. #3
    I want Bom Vimdim as well, but there are also the Saurin (Hrchek Kal Fas) and the other Duro (not that I didn't customize him with a Leia Collection Luke Ceremony jacket).

    There's also the Defel and the Tzizvvt, not to mention that I won't ever give up hope on the Tonnika Sisters.

    Then there's the Ranat (smaller rodent like creature). And since they made Wioslea (who's not in the cantina) and CZ-9, plus some of the astromechs (in the BAD figures or the EE sets), I think we're good aside from the more boring humans. But they could still do them, too - in like a Mos Eisley battle pack in which they could also include a Sandtrooper (though I don't need any more).

  4. #4
    Hiatus, huh? Yeah... Somehow, I get an untrustworthy vibe from that...
    "Hokey packaging and ancient gimmicks are no match for good detail on your figure, kid."
    "I am a Klingot from Oklahoma in human boy form."
    "We came, we saw, we conquered... We, woke up!"

  5. #5
    CS questions and answers are now posted.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    I can see what they're saying with the background aliens only being appealing to collectors. The argument could be made that Kenner focused a lot on background ROTJ aliens with some success; but the fact that the line only lasted 2 years, after ROTJ was released, would suggest that Hasbro knows what they are talking about (especially since we are going on our fourth year of Star Wars collecting post-ROTS).
    Yeah, I agree, I get what they're saying, but there are a lot of collectors and a few kids and casual collectors who get this stuff.

    Personally, Hasbro has reached the limits of Cantina Aliens that I'm interested in. Bom Vimdim being the only all-new alien that I would want right now. And aside from SA resculpts of Ponda Baba, Dr. Evazan, and the Cantina Band Member, there's nothing else I really want from the Cantina.
    I thought so too, then I got Brainiac and it kinda worked. So it's one of those things where I think they need to look at the toy quality rather than just how rare they are.


    Quote Originally Posted by LTBasker View Post
    Hiatus, huh? Yeah... Somehow, I get an untrustworthy vibe from that...
    I'm super mad about that, and confident "hiatus" means "canceled".


    I dunno what it is, but I feel like we got them upset with these questions, there are a lot of answers that come off kinda miffed, both SSG and CS. And that Indy thing is wrong, they said that Indy was taking up their time last year.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    I dunno what it is, but I feel like we got them upset with these questions, there are a lot of answers that come off kinda miffed, both SSG and CS. And that Indy thing is wrong, they said that Indy was taking up their time last year.
    It always sounds to me like the answers we get are from different people each time. And they're not conferring with each other, they're just answering how they, as an individual, see the issue at that point in time. That's why we seem to get so many conflicting answers.

    Does Hasbro send over the names of the people answering the questions?
    "To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence… When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." - C.S. Lewis

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by JediTricks View Post
    Yeah, I agree, I get what they're saying, but there are a lot of collectors and a few kids and casual collectors who get this stuff.

    ...I got Brainiac and it kinda worked. So it's one of those things where I think they need to look at the toy quality rather than just how rare they are.
    Thank you JT I totally agree. I do understand that for the most part the aliens are collector driven, but in my mind the thing collectors affect the most is determining which ones get made before others. I've seen kids pulling cantina/ Jabba's palace figs off the pegs as well as the "core" characters. And these figs (with but a few exceptions) rarely pegwarm in my area.

    The problem with Yarna is that she fell into a wave that was heavily shipped because of the line resetting and the Midnight madness event. If she was made in more conservative numbers perhaps in a later wave I don't think we'd be seeing this problem.

    In that light, how does Hasbro justify devoting new tooling and a whole figure slot to a new Malakili, a notorious pegwarmer, this soon after Yarna instead of repacking the good-enough POTF2 one with the rancor? I'd like them to answer that. At least these other aliens look like they could function well as toys. Hasbro's response was a little harsh in tone at the beginning and the answer was kindof a bummer. The current wave 5 continues to be scarce in my area, aliens and all.
    Most wanted "bottom-of-the-barrel scrapes": ANH: Kal'Falnl C'ndros, Revwien (concept art), Tzizvvt ESB: Wiorkettle, Treva Horme ROTJ: Cane Adiss, Loje Nella TPM: Edcel Bar Gane AOTC: Rogwa Wodrata ROTS: Mon Calamari Dancer, Veedaaz Awmetth, Eeusu Estornii EU: Guri (red outfit), Ket Maliss

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bigbarada View Post
    It always sounds to me like the answers we get are from different people each time. And they're not conferring with each other, they're just answering how they, as an individual, see the issue at that point in time. That's why we seem to get so many conflicting answers.
    Each answer is given by the member of the team it's best suited for, so something about vehicles would go to Mark, something about exclusives would go to Brian W, something about brand management would go to Derryl. In the case of that why the line is slow "Indy" answer, both last year's statement and this current one are brand management questions so they'd be coming from Derryl.

    Does Hasbro send over the names of the people answering the questions?
    No, they want to stay anonymous for some reason. The Transformers Q&A occasionally breaks that pattern, but SW has only done so with the BMF questions.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cane_Adiss View Post
    I've seen kids pulling cantina/ Jabba's palace figs off the pegs as well as the "core" characters. And these figs (with but a few exceptions) rarely pegwarm in my area.
    Tell that to Ak-Rev, that sucker is a pegwarmer in my area. Granted, he looks like a Weequay hippie, or a court jester with a drum, but Umpass-Stay didn't pegwarm like this.

    The problem with Yarna is that she fell into a wave that was heavily shipped because of the line resetting and the Midnight madness event. If she was made in more conservative numbers perhaps in a later wave I don't think we'd be seeing this problem.
    They even address this in the answer, but we ALL knew pegwarming was a threat, that's what revision cases are for, to REVISE the case assortment to avoid pegwarming problems. Yet Yarna was kept in all 4 subsequent wave 1 revision cases for some reason, thus assuring her pegwarmer status - that was Hasbro's choice, not ours.

    In that light, how does Hasbro justify devoting new tooling and a whole figure slot to a new Malakili, a notorious pegwarmer, this soon after Yarna instead of repacking the good-enough POTF2 one with the rancor? I'd like them to answer that. At least these other aliens look like they could function well as toys. Hasbro's response was a little harsh in tone at the beginning and the answer was kindof a bummer. The current wave 5 continues to be scarce in my area, aliens and all.
    There's a new Rancor out now, with a new Rancor comes the best opportunity for a new Rancor Keeper. The POTF2 figure is pretty shabby (and flabby ) and may be another missing tooling - I certainly wouldn't want to be the guy who asks for another pressing of it.

    Wave 5 is very new, yet in my area I've already found Brainiac in several stores, and a couple Trintos, and even a Jawa w/ WED which is kinda crazy since I live in scalper central. I'm not suggesting those figures are failures or pegwarmers, but they don't have the ability to move the way more exciting guys do. While it may suck to hear it, I don't think Hasbro's wrong about the draw cantina types have compared to Vader types, and that there has to be some level of desire for it - or at least some level of perception that there will be desire for it once it comes out - to justify making it. Right now, the collectors have no desire for these and there's nothing to show that they would hunger for 'em if they were given the opportunity, they are way off the mainstream hardcore collector radar. That's why I was so hesitant to ask the question, and similar questions, in the first place.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "In Brooklyn, a castle, is where dwell I"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  9. #9
    I don't get why they didn't shortpack Yarna. I know we would have all complained at first about how hard she was to find, but that figure screamed for limited numbers.

    I don't agree that the aliens only apply to kids. Kids can only buy so many main characters and then they need interesting figures to interact with. They may not care who Trinto and Dice are, but when I was a kid I loved the aliens to interact with my main characters. I see their point, but I thought they were pretty snippy about it. It came across as, "Look, nobody wants these figures but you so shut up and be thankful for what we give you."

    I was a little surprised at their tone this time around. We weren't accusing them of not making the aliens we wanted, we asked about the chances of certain aliens. Why didn't they just say, "Interesting choices, but unlikely in the next few years."

    And when we asked about the pacing they seemed to say "Get off our backs we're doing our best" when we were really just asking what the calendar would likely be. I was particularly stricken by the sentence "Star Wars has a dedicated team assigned to it." We never said that it didn't!

    I still don't think we'll get all of the waves out this year. I hope I'm wrong. And JediTricks is totally right, they told us Star Wars was delayed by Indy.

    Geez, imagine their response if we sent them some of the stuff JediTricks won't let us send in before he inserts some diplomacy!

    I will be interested to read the other sites' answers to see if ours got the most negativity.

  10. #10
    "Hasbro: First let's get something out of the way - Cantina aliens, and the scores of characters like them including the Jabba's denizens, Senators, Pod Racers, female characters, and other tertiary and background characters are interesting only to collectors. It's very important that we not produce too many of these characters, and be careful about how many we produce (can anyone say Yarna?) or else the line risks being imbalanced and unproductive for retailers"

    I wasn't expecting that bit of commentary from them. Damn I bet they're really looking forward to putting out Willrow Hood!

    Their mention of Yarna really smacks of them saying 'we told you so'. It would appear there will be a limit as to what they will make as far as background guys go. Might it mean we see background aliens/humans in fewer numbers than before or might it mean we'll be hearing them say outright 'no definitely not' to certain characters in the future?

    Its a pity if not entirely surprising that they may be getting tired of the pegwarmer figures they feel obliged to make for us collectors.

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