Mayday, mayday! It's May day, and with it comes Hasbro's answers to SSG questions for May 1st, 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 May 1st
SSG: With the unfortunate announcement of the Titanium Series line ending after 2009, fans want to know all about its now-limited future. How many new tools will we be getting between now and its end? When can we expect the last wave, and what will be in that wave? What happens to tooling and promises that were on the bubble for '09, like the Outrider which was promised and forgotten last year and then promised again for the end of '09, or the Gungan Sub which was tooled up and promised in 2000 but canceled? Using the term "hiatus" as you did, is there any hope for the brand's revival in the foreseeable future? As Titanium Series is the only outlet for the majority of Star Wars vehicle toys these days, will Hasbro be filling that void with an all-plastic form of Titaniums?
Hasbro: There should be nine all-new tools to look for from now until the end of the year, with numerous other repaints rounding out the line (these new tools all follow the latest that have hit shipped recently - BARC Speeder, Xizor's Ship, and IG-2000). The nine include: Hound's Tooth, Clone Wars Y-Wing, Hyena Bomber, Punishing One, Malevolence, a new Republic Gunship tool, Mist Hunter, Nebulon B Frigate, and the Outrider. Unfortunately, the Gungan Sub did not make the cut. We have a lot of heart for the series ourselves - it is amazing to reflect back on the 5-1/2 year run of this line and the incredible number of cool ships that were brought out. We are proud of it and feel it was a tremendous line, but we just couldn't keep it active any longer since the large development cost, the need for a lot of items to maintain retail productivity (an outcome of having a smaller but passionate fan base), and high cost of goods are all factors that could not be addressed for a healthy line. Aside from perhaps an improved cost of goods, an all-plastic vehicle line would not solve the problem either, since tooling costs are the same for plastic or metal, we would still need to introduce a ton of designs, and it would not necessarily attract a larger audience for Titanium. It's something we'll be exploring, though. It's important that we continue to work on ways to bring out the most exciting Star Wars vehicle lineup we can.
SSG: With the nifty Build-a-Droid line, every basic figure gets a little bio paragraph on the card except the actual build-a-figure droids themselves. Some of these BAF droids are made up by Hasbro (or are they unknown designs made up by Lucasfilm, we don't know) and have no backstories at all, while others are from comics, novels, even tertiary characters in the movies. Might Hasbro add a section to their website explaining to casual collectors who these droids are, both in-universe and even behind-the-scenes info, and perhaps make up bios for the characters new to the line? This would be win-win, fans would get more nifty bios about their figures, and Hasbro would get more interaction between the figures and their site.
Hasbro: We did not create any of the droids in the Droid Factory lineup - they have all come from Lucasfilm entertainment reference, with names supplied by Lucasfilm in the event that a particular figure had yet to be named or had been named by fans but not yet given the official Lucasfilm designation. That's a great idea about given each of their bios a day in the sun. We have some new plans on how to market the droids themselves a little better, especially since we'll be phasing out the confusing "GH" designation for repacked figures in favor of a continuous BD-series code. As a result, we are going to create virtual guide maps to collecting the parts from new/refresh of repack/carry-forward figures. The way we are creating the waves has not changed, with either 6 or 8 new figures, just the way we are labeling some of them is changing. Thanks for the suggestion - it's a great idea.
SSG: Given that we have a number of figures from SW: Purge (Bultar Swan, Tsui Choi, Koffi Arana, and of course, Darth Vader), does Hasbro plan to complete the remaining Jedi figures from that story - Roblio Darte, Sia-Lan Wezz, Ma'kis'shaalas, and Jasus Farr - at some point in the foreseeable future?
Hasbro: An excellent question. The answer, though, is probably not. Unless we do a multi-pack of figures where we could get extensive re-use of existing characters, it's very unlikely that we'd tool up these characters on their own. That's one of the inherent challenges with the EU - there are so many great and interesting choices, especially with Jedi, that we can only cover so many in a given year. A good example is the Republic comic series, during the Clone Wars era - each issue is literally a treasure trove of great heroes (and villains) but we simply can't do as many as we like as fast as we'd like in one area. Over time, we just hope to be able to continue to delve into these great veins and systematically tackle an occasional one in a particular series. We'll take a look at the Purge Jedi once more, and if they fit something we're doing theme-wise, and can get them tooled, we'll certainly consider it.
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And our questions at CollectionStation.com:
- If you had to guess, shoot-from-the-hip style, what percentage of Star Wars would you guess Hasbro has covered with the existing 3.75" line? Obviously the EU has a much wider number of characters, vehicles, and settings to address, so you can pick and choose which sources you'd like to answer for - e.g., "out of just movies & tv" or "out of movies, tv, video games, and recent DH comics", whatever works for you. But with so many main characters and even secondary and tertiary characters getting the action figure treatment, how far does Hasbro think they've taken the brand over the last decade?
- With Titanium Series ending, the opportunities for re-releasing popular and hard-to-find tools is getting quite short. With that in mind, might you be able to shoehorn re-releases of some of those popular, hard-to-find pieces like the Droid Gunship, Mon Calamari Cruiser, Trade Federation Landing Craft, Rogue Shadow, and Hailfire Droid into the last few waves (perhaps through revision cases) to make sure collectors are as best served as possible, rather than letting the Titaniums' ending serve only scalpers?
- While we'd always prefer a worn paint deco on vehicles and droids, we understand sometimes the budget just can't do it. The next time you do a vehicle with a white deco where the budget prohibits additional weathering paint, could you please not use the clean-white color of plastic that you've used on the Clone Wars V-19 or the TLC Dagger Squadron B-wing? This white plastic is just too clean, it screams for weathering as it hides every sculpted line and gives an unwelcome plasticky toy look, while the slightly off-white colors of plastic seem to bring out the lines and look a little weathered better than clean.