I just got back from Celebration V a few hours ago. It was a fantastic experience all around, taking the best parts of previous events and making them even better. There was a ton of great stuff, but one of the highlights for me was getting to talk to the Hasbro Star Wars team for a fairly good amount of time.
First off, I had been talking with a close friend a few weeks ago about how, as it turns out, one of his aunt's best friends is Vickie Stratford, who works as the brand manager (I believe) for the Hasbro SW team. So I talked to her and told her about it, she was very nice and confirmed this, which was just insane. The friend and I have been talking, then, about maybe doing a trip up to Rhode Island for a tour of the Hasbro HQ, which she said she could definitely coordinate. We talked for a while, about this, the SW line, and other various things.
She directed some of my questions more to other members of the team, especially Derryl Depriest, Brian
MertenParrish, and Andrew (not sure of the last name, but he works on packaging and some Clone Wars stuff, apparently), so I spent most of the time asking them questions. They were extremely helpful and very kind, returning to me if they needed to turn away to help someone else. I told them I was a fan and that I appreciated the interview he did with JediTricks as well as the Q&A program in general, and told them that my questions often get submitted here and they said this site has very tough but fair and insightful questions, which they seemed to like. I also said a few times that I didn't want to come off as nitpicky, even though some of my questions were about small details.
I wrote down questions that morning as we were in line for the Lucas-Stewart interview, so everything was off the top of my head, though I tried to do some stuff about various areas of the line, but mostly just things I myself wanted to know and haven't asked through the Q&A. What follows is not an exact transcript, as I didn't have any recording devices. I'm going off of my notes that I wrote before, so it's not necessarily in order of how I asked it, not that that really matters anyway. I'll break it up by question, so here we go . . .
*I told Derryl that I was a fan of the TVC Vader, but that I'd really like to see is this mold with the right hand removable properly as it is in ROTJ. Derryl said that they likely won't do that specific feature unless it's a dedicated final duel version of the character. He also said that a lot of fans have been asking about an update to the Dagobah version. I told him I thought the old one is fine, but he said he felt the sculpt was too bulky and that they could do better now.
*I brought up the battle droids not being able to hold the blaster with both hands; I was talking to Andrew at this point, so I realize now that he probably thought I was talking only about the Clone Wars version. He mentioned the Firefighter Droid's extra articulation and said it would be something to look at on future versions.
*I didn't attend the panel but I noticed the new Kit Fisto in the booth, saw that it was a ROTS version among an AOTC wave, and asked some questions about that. They said it got pushed back from a previous ROTS wave and that it was coming on an AOTC card, apparently with the Force-push image as the cardback. There seemed to be a bit of discussion between them at that moment about whether it should come on a ROTS card since it's technically a ROTS version (given the head sculpt) so I'm not sure what the final one will now be (though if it's ROTS, you can thank me ). I asked about the possibilities of a smiling Kit with the smiling image on the card, or at least maybe getting the smiling image on this one's card, but Andrew said the image they had for that was blurry and Derryl said it wouldn't be happening for a while.
*About the Fans' Choice poll, Derryl said that there are seven figures coming from this one, and Brian said that most (if not all) of those seven were already in some stage of development when the poll came out. They said they looked at the poll as mostly confirming that they were already on the right track as far as figures go.
*Tied to that, I asked about Jocasta Nu. They said she won't ever be coming, unless she wins the poll (or, as Brian said half-jokingly, if she ever becomes younger and more attractive ). They seem pretty dead-set on never making her, so there's that.
*I also asked about my boy Cliegg, and told Derryl that, after re-watching AOTC, I noticed that the hoverchair isn't actually that bulky. He said he actually hasn't looked at it too much, but that it definitely wouldn't fit on the vintage card, and that basically the only option would be to put him into a multi-pack but that there aren't many battle pack options for him. I suggested a Tusken Raider attack set, half-jokingly.
*While talking to Vickie, I asked about the possibility of a vintage-carded Owen using the body from the Visionaries pack, but she said she couldn't talk too much about upcoming products.
*As far as the Ralrra and Noghri comic pack that we saw an image of a long time ago, they said it was sculpted but never tooled, and the tooling would be so expensive that they'd have to charge around $25 per set so it's never going to happen. But he said to support the Entertainment Earth comic packs if we want to see any more.
*Having been to Disney World a few days prior, and with Star Tours all over the place, I asked about doing any more figures from the current/old ride now that it's closing, or about re-releasing the extremely hard-to-find final wave of droid figures from a few years ago. Derryl said that Disney actually comes up with the ideas for their exclusives and presents them to Hasbro, not the other way around, so Hasbro has basically no control of what goes into the line. It sounds like the opposite of their other exclusive partnerships with stores, where they present their ideas to the retailers. He said that, since the old one is closing, there's virtually no chance of any more stuff from there.
*I did say, though, that I loved the Star Tours Boarding Party, particularly Ree-Yees' camera. Derryl said he doesn't like the sculpt on the figure, and Andrew said that if/when they make a new Ree-Yees, he'll be able to hold the camera.
*I asked about the use of VOTC Hans skinny legs on the Echo Base Han figure. Brian said that, due to costing, they had to use the existing legs, and he seemed happy with them, saying that Harrison Ford really was quite skinny. The other guys mentioned that many fans have expressed displeasure with those legs, and didn't seem to be fans of them themselves. Derryl looked at his computer and confirmed that the 2011 Bespin Han will be 100% all-new, so hopefully they'll be better.
*Noticing that the Quinlan Vos figure wasn't with the other Clone Wars figures, I asked Vickie how much Lucasfilm lets them reveal. She said she'd describe their relationship as a partnership, and that Lucasfilm does indeed sometimes tell them when they can or can't release a figure, but didn't mention specifics.
*Ewoks! On the Kneesaa issue (and the "k" is indeed silent, at least according to them), it's actually tied more to Lucasfilm. Brian told me that LFL was fine with them making a realistic Kneesaa based on the animated character, and then changed their minds and said they wanted to stay away from that, so Hasbro pulled her from the Wicket two-pack. LFL later came back and said they picked out a light-furred Ewok from ROTJ to be the "actual" Kneesaa, telling Hasbro to base it on that version and that they could include accessories to make her look like both the on-screen and cartoon versions of the character. By that time, however, it was too late to get her back in the set, even though now they do indeed have the go-ahead.
*As for the Ewoks from the exclusive sets mentioned in the Q&A, it sounds like they had to break up the sets and they're now looking at releasing the Ewoks in other ways. Brian said they're likely to go with the more interesting-looking ones first, or the ones with more accessories to round out the figure.
*I asked Andrew about getting more astro droids into the Clone Wars line to pilot the multiple Jedi starfighters that are already out or on their way, and he said they're working on getting them out there but it sounds like they don't have anything specific planned after R4-P17.
*The new Wedge isn't just the figure from the Target X-wing set, but may or may not be the same body (it's an existing one, at any rate). The head sculpt was all-new, but as they've said, they has issues with the ball joint coming out wrong and they wanted to wait to release him and do it right instead of having to go back to fix it later.
*That said, I asked about which figure would be replacing Wedge in the case pack. They said it wouldn't be anything new, and wouldn't be a second Gamorrean Guard as they can't run two toolings of him right now, but they didn't know what would be replacing him (and it almost sounds like this slipped their mind completely).
*People have been asking about Fordo a lot, and they recently confirmed that he's coming as a generic clone, but they also showed the Clone Wars ARC Trooper battle pack with one who looks a lot like the phase I version. They said that Fordo is still indeed coming in the realistic line, but that he'll be coming with extra parts like a helmet and belt so that he can go from a generic ARC or clone trooper to the specific Fordo, with LFL telling them to name him ARC Trooper Fordo or something similar.
*I asked about why specifically LFL won't allow microseries stuff right now, they basically re-confirmed that LFL didn't want to take the focus off of the current series and animated line or confuse people. So, as with the Disney thing, it's not really up to them. I asked about ever doing more from the microseries, and they said not for a long, long time.
*I had remembered hearing about a redone or spruced-up OT Y-wing for a few years now, but never got anything concrete on it. Derryl said that they're working with a retailer on getting it out, but the retailer hasn't greenlit it yet or even seen everything that it's going to offer yet but they're still trying to get it out there.
*The new C-3PO in the Vintage Collection is smaller, and they confirmed that it was indeed a conscious decision to make it more in-scale. I asked about using it on other protocol droids, but they said that it's such a C-3PO-specific sculpt that we're not likely going to see it used on others any time soon. Brian also said that this one was done with the removable panels to potentially double as an AOTC version, but I'm not sure if he meant that's what it was supposed to be, or if that's a possibility for down the road.
*I pointed out that I loved the details on the uncovered C-3PO, and said that a new TPM C-3PO done in the same style could be really cool. Brian said that they probably won't do one since the deco is far too complicated and intricate and would be a killer.
*They also said that the new R2-D2 was done to be more in-scale, and I asked, as with C-3PO, if this was going to be the new size standard. Brian nodded yes, but Derryl said he didn't want half of his droid collection to be one size and have the new ones be another, and that he didn't want to redo the ones they've already made. So it seems like they haven't yet decided.
*I told Brian that I know he's likely tired of people asking about the Sail Barge, so I asked what it would take to get it made. I asked about perhaps putting it in several episodes of The Clone Wars, and he said seeing it featured significantly in about two or so wouldn't hurt. I know Jabba will be in Season 3, so I guess we'll have to see.
So, not exactly the hardest-hitting questions around, but I was glad to be able to ask about some smaller things I'd been wondering about and to clear up some misconceptions in person with them. It was really fun to get to do this, and to talk with Derryl and Vickie for a while about things not pertaining directly to the line. Derryl said he reads the boards, so I told him who I was on here, so hopefully I haven't screwed this up too much.