Q & A Archive for the Week of November 20, 2000
Q&A's 2000 Season Comes To An End


Questions for November 20, 2000

1
Adam -- any word on what's going on with online retailers and the POTJ figs? The holiday season's getting started, and the online toy retailers don't seem to have any SW figures that are less than a year old. Last year, this wasn't a problem; heck, I got my Watto's Box back then from a (non-scalping) site. But this year, they don't seem to be stocking any of the new figures at all, at least that I can see. What's the deal here? Does the problem lie with the retailers, with Hasbro, or with lack of demand?
  -Chris

Weeelll... not a lot of new toys have surfaced other than robo dogs, or so it seems. My guess is a lot of stores underordered and/or just didn't get all their stuff yet. This time of year is typically bad for new figure releases up until right around X-mas time.


2
Which two battle packs were released as prototypical versions with 1 more figure in each of them and how much are they worth today?
  -Andrew

OK, you're an idiot. I just need to stop being even remotely polite about this. THIS IS NOT A PRICE GUIDE COLUMN. DO NOT ASK WHAT SOMETHING IS WORTH HERE, PLEASE. Thank you.

The Battle Packs with one more figure weren't prototypes, actually, but just the way they were sold until at one point Galoob took out a figure to reduce the cost of making the toy. So there's quite a few out there, and most people are unaware of this particular running change. Check out our checklists for the skinny on who was cut.


3
maybe u answered this before but watta heck, will the invasion of theed game with roworr be available at toys r us or only at specific stores?
  -NYJORELL

Supposedly, it'll be available just about anywhere games are sold. An RPG-ish box one is being sold at game-centric stores, and a window-boxed board game version is supposedly being sold at toy outlets. I have yet to see either, so this could just be a load of crap on my part.

4
Adam...question on TPM.....How did Maul get a trace on our heroes being on Tatooine? QuiGonn stated that no messages were to be sent following the Sio Bibble message in order to prevent a trace. Maul later tells Sidious that the trace was to Tatooine? Did I miss something?
  -rob

I haven't seen the flick since December, so bear with me.

I'm fairly sure the Queen looked at a message, probably fake, from Sio Bibble and that was traced to Tatooine when she received it. But I might be wrong.


5
OK, My favorite character is Luke. My favorite outfit from the trilogy is his Bespin Outfit...Yakface reported that the CD rom figure was CANCELED. This sucks big time...that new sculpt was AWESOME....I'm already mourning it....do you have ANY information whatsoever? Any chance of upgrading it to a "deluxe" figure or even a regular POTJ figure? (if you don't know, sorry to bother you...I know people got annoying with Shmi and all, I just really wanted this one!)
  -Josh

As of this summer, Hasbro said if the CD ROM assortment was cancelled, the figures would show up elsewhere, probably in the POTJ cases. So if these things are really gone for good (as I would tend to believe), don't worry, they spent time and money making that Luke and you can be sure they want to sell it to us eventually.

6
Recently, Hasbro gave us the Amidala and Leia Portrait Editions aimed solely for the adult collectors in mind. Other toys like some Hot Wheels, McFarlane and Matrix figures have done the same thing as well. My question is, what is the prospect of Hasbro expanding on SW toys aimed solely for the adult collectors similar to McFarlane or N2 Toys figures? Or will Hasbro continue to target the kiddy market knowing full well a majority of the SW toys taken up today are from buyers from a different generation? Your thoughts...
  -mark

Hasbro will probably never ever ignore the kids market, even if they stop buying the stuff. With new characters that kids want being shortpacked, well, it's a safe bet that even though they're paying attention to the existance of a kid market, handling this delicate balance tends to be a challenging task for them. (Gungan Soldiers, 2 per case. Not hard.)

Is N2 really collector only? Aren't they doing Crocodile Hunter? I can't remember. Those definitely aren't aimed only at adults... and McFarlane is kinda on the fence. Kids do buy Spawn every now and again, and I'm sure many will want the new, awesome, man-I-wish-I-had-me-a-set-of-these Where the Wild Things Are figures... but Dough & Bob, Austin Powers, and Alice Cooper clearly aren't meant for the young 'uns.

Hasbro will probably keep doing things as they've been doing it, which is arguably a bad thing. While McFarlane seems to know almost exactly how many figures they can make and sell to turn a profit, Hasbro hasn't seemed to have found this formula with Star Wars yet.

Personally, I think that Hasbro wants kids to buy the stuff but they get stuck with us as their biggest customer base. Of course, there's so little product out there today to buy (save for a few POTJ asst. 1 Collection 1 figures), so it's hard to say if anybody really cares or it's just a "hey, is this rare? If it is, I need one" type of thing.

7
I used to collect the Micromachine Stra Trek model ships some years ago until they lost the licence. I remember especially wanting the Enterprise A model, but could not afford the cost of purchasing the 16 ships in the collection to obtain this model.
I contacted the Uk distributor of Micromachines who informed me that the model was available seperately direct from them. So for 2.00p I purchased the ship.
My question is would Hasbro adopt the same policy of allowing individual purchasing of figures only available as part of a collectors set. Would I therefore be able to purchase the red R2 unit from the queens ship without purchasing the ship.
  -Andy

I had a similar story trying to get my Enterprise-A... except mine lead me to writing a Star Wars newsletter eventually. :)

Hasbro doesn't like it when people ask for parts. More often than not, you'll be told to exchange the toy at your local store for another one when all you want is an extra label sheet or a missing wing or something. So if they were to do this, they would be doing us a great service, but odds are they wouldn't want to spend the time and manpower to set it up. I'd buy an extra few red droids for customizing if they did, but alas... it is not meant to be.

8
I read your answer to Dave's question [on toy yellowing] and thought I'd chime in. I'm a graduate student in Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech with a polymer background. I'm also an action figure collector and occasional toy columnist. I thought I may shed some light (no pun intended, well actually...) on the topic of aging and discoloration of figures and address a few things in both the question and your answer.

First, Dave, I can guarentee you that there's been formal research done on the topic. I don't know what kind of library you have around you, but any book on polymer photodegradation should give you some basic info. Which is what I'll try to do here. But I have to point out that its a complicated issue. I don't know what specific polymer figures are made of. I can make a guess, but well, I won't. I do know that different materials are used for different parts of figures, for example, the torso and limbs of POTF2 figures are different polymers. Same goes for vintage too, I think. I tried getting some information on this out of a few companies for a column I'd like to write, but they aren't sharing. Without that information I can't give you specific references, sorry.

Ok, quick crash course in polymer chemistry. Polymers are large molecules that are made up of many units of a smaller molecule, the monomer. And I mean large, polymers can have thousands and thousands of these units in a chain. What your figures are made of is a mixture of a polymer (or more than 1) and a bunch of additives. For example there's probably a UV-absorber (I'll get back to this), plasticizer (same here), unreacted catalyst, short chains of polymer, and unreacted monomers. These aren't simple materials, and the properties of the material are governed in part by this mixture of components.

Alright...moving on to photodegradation. Adam's totally right when he says to keep your toys out of the sun. In fact, that's what causes the discoloration in vintage Stormtroopers and Snow Job. This discoloration is the effect of interactions of the material and UV-radiation (light, but the UV wavelength range is the problem causing area). If you go to http://www.unc.edu/depts/chemistry/faculty/mdef/polymer.html , you'll see a few photodegradation reactions. In both cases there, a piece of the polymer molecule is broken off of the main chain and creates a free radical. These free radicals cause all sorts of problems. Damage may be manifest through discoloration, chalking, blistering, brittleness, loss of strength, warping and cracking. What I'm saying is that there's a whole lot going on. I think that the discoloration that occurs results from a change in the electronic structure of the polymer backbone, which will change its absorbance spectrum and its color, but don't hold me to that.

What polymer chemists do is add materials to the polymer blends to prevent this. That's where the UV-absorbers come in. These chemicals gobble up the radicals that are produced, preventing them from reacting on their own. But these materials can only prolong the life of the polymers, not extend them indefinately. But if you keep the figs out of direct sunlight newer figures should last a long, long time. Polymer technologies have come a long way in 20 years, and we get to take advantage of that.

Adam's also right about not smoking around toys...but that's just a stain, not anything chemical.

Ok..one last thing. A word about plasticizers. Actually quite a few words about plasticizers. Firstly they're materials that are added to polymers to make them more flexible and easily processible (the injection molding step for example). You know that smell when you open a McFarlane figure? That's plasticizer. New car smell? Plasticizer. In time and with exposure to heat, plasticizer will evaporate out of the material...as my car's dash will support. The loss of plasticizer causes materials to become more brittle and rigid. Maybe that's causing Mr. Fett's shoulder to squeak...maybe not.

Wow..this is a lot longer than I thought it would be. Wrapping this up...you don't need to worry about your figures turning into a puddle of goo. Unless you melt them, which I don't suggest because that can kill you. There is genuine concern regarding discoloration, but if you keep your figures out of direct sunlight they'll last a long time.

And check out my columns on actionfigures.about.com the latest one details my quest for a speederbike. Sorry, had to get the promotional plug in there.


  -Matt Guzy

Wow. That's... wow. Thanks!

9
If Hasbro made a [different] 3-pack of rebel pilot figs available through the Fan Club, do you think they'd sell?
  -Scott

Sure. Would it sell well? Tough to say. I think any figure set sold at a reasonable price would work... $25 for 3 new figures? I'd be OK with that, if they were genuinely exclusive. But we've gotten quite a few Rebel Pilots. There's the three pack, the other Wedge, Biggs, Y-Wing Pilot Generico Smith, X-Wing Luke, the supposedly confirmed new X-Wing Luke, Porkins, and... well, I'm tired and that's all that come to mind. That's 9, 7 different characters... more would be nice, but before we see more Rebels, how about some friggin' Ewoks?

10
You're gonna hate this question, but I'm going to ask it anyway: Presently in the regular POTF line (not including vintage or 12 inch), do we have more Obi-Wan figures or more Lukes? If he's not winning already, I have a feeling Ben is going to win it by Episode III.
  -Arthur

There's about 28 Lukes right now, two more are supposedly on the way.

I've clocked Obi-Wan at 13 currently. This includes E1 and classic. This doesn't include two possibly canned E1 versions.

So Obi-Wan's got a long ways to go... well, not *that* long, but still, there's time. I'm thinking E1 will be more like ESB in that there won't be nearly as much stuff out there for us to buy.

FIN
I might duck outta this column for the year earlier than planned... check back for more on this.

(In other words, I've been writing this around 3 A.M., I've gone through a lot of questions, and no, sorry I don't know why you aren't seeing 2001 Star Wars calendars. Sorry to say, I haven't really been looking... I can't imagine there not being any, though, but again, haven't really checked yet.)

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Next September marks the twentieth anniversary of Hasbro's Kenner The Power Of The Force action figure collection. The line introduced a new generation of children to the wonderful world of Star Wars toys and ushered in the modern collectibles we all enjoy today. Our ever-inquisitive Probe Droid is actively searching all corners of the galaxy to find out if there is interest in products that commemorate this very significant 1995 release.
I'd be into a Hasbro The Lost Line style assortment
I'd love to see Gentle Giant make a Jumbo Kenner 1995 Luke Skywalker
I'm behind both of these ideas!
I got started in 1995, but I have no interest in such a concept.
It isn't for me.
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