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  1. #1

    SSG's Tri-Weekly Hasbro Q&A - June 12th

    Hasbro gets a little defensive about Bane Malar in Hasbro's answers to SSG questions for June 12th, 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 June 12th

    SSG: In a recent answer, you said unless you could find a way to market Titaniums to kids, there were slim chances for a re-launch. Ok. However, in the Titanium brand's history, there hasn't been any focus on in-package co-play, that is, vehicle vs vehicle battle excitement, a "battle in a box". That has long been a feature of the micro-vehicles expression since Galoob's first foray into Star Wars 15 years ago, and over the past 5 years has been a growing portion of Hasbro's 3.75" action figure brand with stuff like multipacks and battle packs. But Titanium hasn't enjoyed such marketing, there haven't been battle packs recreating the Death Star trench run, there haven't been 2-packs of Jedi Starfighters vs Vulture Droids or AT-TEs vs Hailfire Droids. Why hasn't that been explored, get the kid market into battles right from the package, and thus start their Titaniums interest? Might the concept be worth testing out for a holiday retailer exclusive? Relatives are likely to buy kids an X-wing vs TIE Fighter, Snowspeeder vs AT-ST, Slave 1 vs Falcon, and other recognizable 2-packs for Christmas, especially if they have dynamic "in battle" packaging, don't you think?
    Hasbro: While potentially a very interesting visual packaging execution, we don't think this the multi-pack suggestion an approach that will get kids interested in Titanium. With no inherent play pattern other than to facilitate imagination, and collectability, the format has limited chance to appeal to kids. We have looked at Micro Machines type of play, and even launched a full-scale (non Star Wars) Micro Machines relaunch a few years ago, but the micro play pattern as we know it is no longer interesting to kids.

    SSG: With the drop in sales of the Legacy Collection, might it be time to rethink the stance on realistic versions of the Clone Wars characters? We know you have said many times "no plans for that", but the original Clone Wars animated line couldn't survive at market with a realistic-styled version out as well, it just seems like 1 popular figure line is always destined to cannibalize the other line's sales. Having realistic-styled CW figs would slow the hemorrhaging of casual collectors away from the core brand, unifying some of the fractured collector community. It also allows interactivity between the lines for the more fickle kids and collectors. So while Hasbro has no plans currently in place for the format change, might Hasbro ask Lucasfilm to rethink their stance for the protection of the realistic line, perhaps at least a single figure exclusive to gauge support for that realistic CW format?
    Hasbro: It doesn't seem that a migration to Clone Wars is responsible for the drop in Legacy/Droid Factory. On the whole, collector purchases have dropped some, across the whole brand. There may be collectors active in Clone Wars, but if that's the case they have really "voted" to collect that expression. It remains an interesting suggestion, but there are still no plans to "cross-over" the lines.

    SSG: Hasbro has confirmed that the 2009 Return of the Jedi assortment will include a new sculpt of Malakili, the Rancor Keeper. Given that virtually nobody was asking for a revisited Malakili, and that the '97 figure is one of the biggest pegwarmers of all time, certainly the most notorious one, why did you choose him over so many seemingly more deserving (and requested) Return of the Jedi characters? If there was a Hasbro desire to revisit him, wouldn't it have made far more sense to include him with the Target exclusive Rancor instead? With figures like Bane Malar, Breha Organa, and other not-really-thought-about collector-focused figures being released to less-than-enthusiastic sales, isn't Malakili an even bigger risk? Will there be a conscious effort to limit this figure's production and/or release rate to stem pegwarming concerns? Could you explain to collectors what the thinking was behind this release?
    Hasbro: We decided that he was deserving of an articulation update, part of our desire to eventually rework all of the Kenner lineup. We would have liked to include him with the Rancor, but he was not ready in time (the Rancor was actually intended to be on shelf last November, but a date slip bumped him out to this Spring; essentially, they were almost a year apart). He will indeed be limited as will *all* collector-targeted figures starting with the Attack of the Clones wave. Despite what you think about Bane Malor, the fans seem to like him; unlike some of the "passive" characters, he was a very successful figure with no sell-through issues whatsoever.
    - - -

    And our questions at

    • Recently, Hasbro has updated cockpits on a few OT ships, including the B-wing, TIE Fighter, and A-wing, not to mention the detailed cockpit on the new Millennium Falcon. We understand that the B-wing and A-wing got new detailed cockpits because they had the opportunity from their use as exclusives, but exclusives or not, are there any plans or thoughts about continuing that practice on other ships? The X-wing, Vader's TIE, and Y-wing are all good candidates for new, detailed cockpits, but would the small size of some of those cockpits prevent those upgrades?
    • Now that we're starting to see pictures of actual samples of the new basic figure packaging, it begs the question: what is the thinking behind the significant amount of blank white area behind the figures? It basically looks like a nearly empty bubble that one would see in lesser products, such as last year's Star Wars figure keychains from another company. Especially considering the figures' new pricepoint of $8, doesn't it seem like a particularly poor idea to use packaging that minimizes the visual impact of the amount of product within?
    • Fans are glad to see the Jawa with WED Droid set produced, getting us 1 step closer to a complete "purchase of the droids" scene, but it seems like this pack-in WED droid is a tad on the large size. Comparison images have it around 25% larger than its movie counterpart. Also, the coloring on the toy is significantly different from the Jawa scene's white and red design seen at the droid sale (WED-15-ST68) - the gray and copper droid made into the figure was used in a cut scene by Fixer at Tosche station. So on the WED droid, why the increase in scale, and why the different colors?

  2. #2
    [FONT=Courier New]This round of answers really reminds me of the old General Motors attitude of "we'll make it and you'll buy it".[/FONT]
    [FONT=Courier New][/FONT]
    [FONT=Courier New]"First of all, never bad mouth synergy..."[/FONT]

  3. #3
    Ok, so the CollectionStation Q&A has been posted and linked.

    I found the near-non-answer about the packaging to be quite telling. I suspect Hasbro is no more pleased about the packaging this time around than we are. Last packaging change they went on and on and on, this time it's 1 single sentence putting the blame on Lucasfilm.

    And I'm digging the WED droid answer.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Hasbro View Post
    part of our desire to eventually rework all of the Kenner lineup.
    This is probably the most hopeful part of this answer. They seem to have implied in the past that they aren't interested in this kind of thing, but they might be sorry that they included that tidbit of information, because I could come up with several questions to ask based on that comment alone.

  5. #5
    Nice about the repaint of the WED droid. Did I propose that part of the question? Ah, I'll just take credit for it anyways.

    That packaging answer is indeed quite interesting. You'd think they would at least say something positive about it, but yeah, it comes off like they're not enthusiastic about it.

    In the Malakili question, I wonder if they meant reworking the vintage line or the 1995-1998 line? I suppose, either way, there's not a ton left to do, but I think they're referring to the latter. I'm actually with them on Bane Malar, he might have sat around for a tiny bit, but nothing like Yarna or even Ak-Rev.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. JabbaJohnL View Post
    In the Malakili question, I wonder if they meant reworking the vintage line or the 1995-1998 line? I suppose, either way, there's not a ton left to do, but I think they're referring to the latter.
    I'm inclined to think that they're referring to the vintage line. That makes the most sense. Of course, the POTF2 figures were produced under the Kenner banner from 1995-98; but Hasbro owned Kenner at the time, so it seems a little strange that they'd be referring to that line as if it were from a different company.

    I guess we could also craft a question for them to clarify the issue.

  7. #7
    They've confirmed before that they want to redo the Kenner vintage line over time, but not really mentioned before that they want to fix POTF2.

    Keep in mind, Hasbro owned Kenner but Kenner division was its own department, Cincinnati division, so they do differentiate, especially now that it's a new team on it.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  8. #8

    Re: Bane Malar

    I'm not sure where the question about Bane Malar came from. I didn't see him warming pegs in my area like the Organas and Yarnas. Even though he's a virtual unknown, judging my nephew's reaction to him (he's 5), I'm sure kids liked that figure and bought him up.
    My 4 year old nephew when I opened up the BMF: "What a piece of junk!"

  9. #9
    I think I tacked the Bane Malar part on as an example of a figure that wasn't moving at the time the question was added, around here it was a pretty big pegwarmer for a while, but Hasbro phased it out while Yarna kept shipping.

    I've added the Questions from Other Sites roundup to the news. Yakface is not there because right now their forums are offline.

    Some of the answers feel like they're half-answers, like the one about exclusives. Others feel like it's finally time for them to say exactly what the score is (direct sales).

    I'm kinda bothered by Snowtroopers' question about the scale of the blasters. The Clone Trooper blaster is actually too BIG compared to the movie, but it's a good scale for the figures. The Stormtrooper blaster however is EXACTLY the right size, and they're saying it's too small. The first 2 pics on this Wookieepedia article show it to be the same scale as the ones in my figures' hands on my desk. I would hate for them to get bigger over this.

    I don't understand why Hasbro adds the hole to the back of the Magnaguard Fighter for the Magnaguard's giant gun, but the hole is too big for the handle.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.

  10. #10
    Yakface questions added. Confirmed on the U-3PO color change being LFL-requested. Why we have to argue with them about it and get nowhere only to have that come up is quite frustrating.
    Darth Vader is becoming the Mickey Mouse of Star Wars.

    "We named the dog 'Chewbacca'!"
    The use of a lightsaber does not make one a Jedi, it is the ability to not use it.


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