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]
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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?