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.
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And our questions at CollectionStation.com:
- 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?