The first Q&A of the year. It's Hasbro's answers to SSG questions for January 30th, 2009.
First off, on behalf of the staff and readers, I'd like to note how absolutely amazing it is that we're entering the 4th year of Hasbro SW Q&A. Over 60 rounds with over 3,000 of the fans' questions answered, and yet every new round brings roughly 60 new questions, with many many more in reserve. This furthers the proof that Star Wars collecting is truly a unique hobby, and it's thanks to both the passion of the collectors and the good graces of Team Star Wars at Hasbro that the community has such an exciting and vibrant resource available!
Thanks again to Hasbro for the answers, to all the folks who sent in questions and especially those who voted on them. Here come Hasbro's answers.
Hasbro Q&A for the week of January 30th
SSG: 2008 marked the 25th anniversary of ROTJ, however there was no fanfare, no commemorative figure sets, no special packaging, nothing from Hasbro mentioning the milestone. Is there a reason it got snubbed while ANH has enjoyed Hasbro products for both its 25th and 30th anniversary? Will 2009 pass without anything celebratory of the TPM 10th anniversary? What about ESB's 30th anniversary the year after? Judging by some of your Q&A answers over the last 6 months, it seems like there's thinking about maybe doing some cool ESB stuff in 2010 - like a Tauntaun, e-web cannon, Bespin Han, and Boba Fett - are those hints suggesting ESB 30th anniversary special stuff?
Hasbro: 2008 was the year of Clone Wars and our focus was geared toward that as the big new story, with a portion of the very big spotlight being shared with the Millennium Falcon launch. The main story for both 2009 and 2010 will be the second and third seasons of Clone Wars, respectively, but it does not mean that the spotlight can't be shared to some extent. In 2009, there will be a celebration of the 10th Anniversary of EpI, small but significant, and details for that should be released at Toy Fair. For 2010, we are still looking at whether there is a program for the 30th Anniversary of EpV, but nothing is concrete right now.
SSG: Longterm collectors have noticed that, in the past, sometimes Hasbro ends up with spare figures at the end of a particular line - either unsold merchandise or even bought back from retailers like in the Saga line. Take for example the HasbroToyShop 8-packs of TAC Farmboy Luke, or Darth Vader, sold as "party favors". Collectors have always wondered, what happens to those extra figures: Are they melted down and recycled back into plastic (and wouldn't their paint make that difficult)? Are they repacked into new sets like battle packs or Saga Legends (which seems expensive to take them out of original packaging and put into a different package)? Are they sold off to toy liquidators, or donated to childrens' charity as a write-off?
Hasbro: This is an interesting question, and one we're glad you asked since we have seen some speculation that our Battle Pack or figure choices are dictated by leftover or excess (or, as implied, returned/unwanted) inventory. This could not be further from the truth; we select figures and sets based on the anticipated wants of the groups we are targeting, and match our existing library to those needs. Some Battle Packs may rely on older figures, but if they are kid-targeted (as many Battle Packs are) then many of our older figures are perfect for the audience. We have not brought figures back from retail in many years, but if we did, they would not be repacked into new sets like Battle Packs or Saga Legends. Production of all new toys takes place in Asia, and it doesn't make logistic sense to ship them back for reworking when it would be much less expensive to initiate new production. As for what has happened to figures in the past, it is likely that a variety of options were pursued to move the inventory, including the figure 4-packs that were sold to retailers in the past.
SSG: Fans may be a mixed bunch, but when it comes to the latest Sarlacc Ultimate Battle Pack exclusive for Target, while fans were really looking forward to this concept, their overall take on the finished product seems to be a less-than-positive one. The complaints range from weak execution on the set to poor paint on the figures to not enough product for the newly-increased pricepoint over the '07 models. What is the Hasbro Star Wars team's take on the final product that made it to retail, both its successes and its failures?
Hasbro: Good question. We understand that not everyone was satisfied with the pricing and execution of the set, and, as with everything, it is up to the individual fan to decide whether the materials and execution are up to their own individuals standards. Not everything always turns out exactly the way we want it, either; we do the best we can within our parameters for costing and what we can afford to produce. We are proud that we do take chances on things that otherwise we would never be able to do, and both the 2007 Ultimate Battle Packs and the 2008 versions are examples of such chances. Pretty much every choice we make is a compromise of some sort, with our strategic objectives always in mind. In this case, it was delivering a set that could retail for the same price as the 2007 Ultimate Battle Packs (actual retail pricing is out of our control). We are thrilled to have delivered a Sarlacc pit to fans, and we put in as much value as we could into the set, including the skiff, as many figures as we could, and the newly tooled parts that offered both versions of the Pit itself. While the larger base was vacu-formed, the set would not have been possible without this approach, and really is the key factor that ensured that the set existed in the first place. We worked hard to get this one out with as many components as we could, and are proud of the results, and hope that many fans share the same enthusiasm toward getting a Sarlacc Pit that otherwise could not exist.
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And our questions at CollectionStation.com:
- It's been a while since we've seen Hasbro visit Jabba's dungeons. Even if none of these are in the works for '09, are any on the short list for a future ROTJ wave? BG-J38, 2-1A with torture rack (we know it's not his official name, but it's fan name of the 2-1B body droid without the mouth), a tortured Gonk droid, perhaps even upgrades for 8D8 and EV-9D9... what are the chances we'll see stuff like that in the moderate future?
- Back on Aug 17th, '07, Hasbro answered SirStevesGuide.com's question about the Skiff Guards with "over the next few years you will see some more of these cool guards either get their turn for the first time or get a resculpt. You'll have to be patient though - we'll only be able to get to a couple new ones a year." 17 months later and 2008 closes without a new sculpt for any Skiff Guard, making it 10 years since the last ones. While you have confirmed 1 Nikto guard is slated for next year, do Skiff Guard fans have anything else to look forward to in 2009, as there have not yet been a "couple new ones" in '08 and so far only 1 new one in '09? Or does the patience need to be extended to 2010?
- Back in October '08, you answered a question about the potential for 4 Jabba's Palace characters - Cane Adiss, Loje Nella, Geezum and Yoxgit - by saying that "long term we do plan to get to some of these guys." If you only plan on doing some of these, which one or ones do you NOT plan on doing? Are there other Jabba's Palace denizens that Hasbro has no interest in pursuing, and why?