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Q: What?s the big deal
about April 23rd and Midnight Madness?
A: New Episode II toys! That?s a BIG DEAL! April 23, 2002 is the official street date when retailers can sell Episode II merchandise. Midnight Madness refers to the event where retailers hold special extended hours beginning 12:01 AM of the 23rd to sell EP2 merchandise to the awaiting masses of Star Wars fandom. Although not as expansive as Episode I?s merchandise launch as far as participating retailers, select Toys R Us stores and several online retailers are having a Midnight Madness event. Online stores (visit our Shopping Port for Rebelscum's trusted sponsors) give customers the opportunity to avoid the crowd and order their EP2 toys at the break of midnight for immediate processing. A few Wal-Mart?s are also having extended hours, so call your local store. TRU is giving away a FREE copy of Steve Sansweet?s essential collecting reference, Star Wars: The Action Figure Archive, for customers who purchase $50 or more of Hasbro merchandise (while supplies last).
Q: What?s the official name of the new line? Power
of the Clones?
A: The official name for the new Hasbro line is Star Wars Saga. The new Saga assortment unifies all the films into one toy line, with an obvious emphasis on Episode 2: Attack of the Clones for 2002. The new packaging is blue with the unmistakable iconic logo of Anakin?s hand grasping an ignited lightsaber, a definite homage to Kenner?s classic vintage design. Star Wars Saga?simple enough, but effective and absolutely appropriate. The new blue look should also be a lot more visually appealing in store aisles instead of the confusing mixture of red and green colors glaring at you when EP1 and POTF2 shared the same peg space.
Q: How many figures will be out on the 23rd?
A: The last count we have based on retailer sources and store reports are 27 Basic and 4 Deluxe figures. While entirely possible that some later figures will be leaked through distribution as well as via online auctions, this is the most accurate tally as of this writing. See our Shopping Guide checklist for details.
Q: Will there be any Classic Trilogy items?
A: April 23rd will be all about Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Wal-Mart will be releasing their exclusive Power of the Jedi vehicles, the TIE Bomber and Snowspeeder, which were inadvertently embargoed along with EP2 merchandise due to early leaks. We can expect more Classic Trilogy items in May, beginning with the awesome Bespin father and son duo of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (individually carded).
2002 being the 25th Anniversary of A New Hope, Hasbro plans to produce specially packaged TRU vehicle exclusives of new retooled versions of the X-Wing with R2-D2 and the Landspeeder with Luke Skywalker later this year. WalMart will also have interconnecting Cantina sets with figures as their 25th Anniversary exclusive. Classic will certainly be an integral part of the Saga assortment as the line progresses.
Q: Why are there cardboard background inserts included
with some figures and not others?
A: Although Hasbro has not officially commented on the missing backgrounds for later figures, we can report, based on information provided to us by a few sources, that they have indeed been discontinued for future production runs. The reason? When Hasbro usually does something like this, it has to do with either cost, aesthetics, or both. Some of the figures with backgrounds leaked in the Asian market earlier this year and also shipped to the bigger retailers like Wal-Mart. But since then, the common finds in the early going have been the ones without. This makes the Saga cards with background inserts the harder to find variation.The final Rebelscum verdict: Saga figures with the background inserts are the variants and the cardback without them will be standard production. You decide what to collect.
Q: What happened to Jedi Master points?
A: They?re now located underneath the card blister. Are they good towards anything like FREE goodies or promotions? Not yet. Hasbro has stated in the past that they?re eventually going to work on something for the Jedi Master points. But they have zero value at the moment except as a fancy name for the UPC barcode.
Q: What does that oval thing on the cardback mean
with ?02/#1 (for Anakin Outland Peasant Disguise)?
A: That?s the new numbering sequence Hasbro has implemented for the Saga Basic Figure assortment. ?02 means the year this figure was produced, which in this case is 2002, while #1 signifies the sequence that this figure was released. With that formula in mind, Anakin Outland Disguise is #1, Padm? (Arena) is #2, Obi-Wan Coruscant Chase #3, and so forth. Check out our 4/23 checklist for the numerical order of the rest of the figures.
Q: What happened to pack-ins?
A: With the Saga collection, Hasbro ditched the gimmicky pack-ins (i.e. Commtech Chip, Force Files) in favor of focusing on ?putting the action back into action figures?. Besides some nifty accessories and action features, such as magnetic properties for Jedi figures to mimic Force action, more action oriented poses and greater detail, realized via the use of Real Scan technology, places these new figures a few steps ahead of their POTF2 and EP1 predecessors. Even with all these enhancements and added accessories, the price for Star Wars figures have relatively remained consistent since Episode 1. Leading in to...
Q: Have prices been dropped for Saga figures?
Why do online stores charge more than Wal-Mart and Target?
A: Let me start off by saying that Hasbro does not determine what a retailer charges. They can suggest a price, but it's the store's ultimate decision. Hasbro's suggested retail price for basic figures is between $5.99 and $6.99. That's pretty much a mean equivalent to Power of the Jedi pricepoints. There has been a noticeable downward trend with the "Big Box" stores. Wal-mart plans on selling Saga figures for $5.88 while Target will have them for $5.99. Walmart and Target are in direct competition for that piece of Clone pie, so if one initiates a price drop, the other usually follows suit. Their prices are driven purely by this competition. Due to the sheer volume and profit margin they can generate because they are the big boys on the block, Wal-Mart, Target, and TRU can sell them relatively cheaper than smaller stores and online retailers, who typically charge between $8-$12 per figure. It's called the economics of scale. Smaller retailers cannot possibly compete with the prices charged by larger stores because of this. What they do offer is a more personalized service, the convenience of shopping online, and the guarantee that your toys will arrive in good condition. For some collectors, the extra couple of bucks is worth avoiding the gas and time wasted and spent otherwise. For others, the thrill of the hunt driving from store to store is worth the effort, especially for the perceived enjoyment and cheaper figures. It's your call to do the math and determine which option works for your lifestyle and budget.
Q: What does Collection 1 and Collection 2 represent?
A: Ah yes, the age-old question. Collection 1 represents mostly main characters and includes more accessories and action features meant to attract the general movie going public, especially children. Collection 2, on the other hand, is collector oriented with more secondary characters and the inclusion of ?blast effects? (That clear colored plastic stuff that looks like flavored toothpaste or rock candy), which attaches to weapons and accessories for those wanting to convey more action for their display or diorama.
Collection 1 figures will be a key driver for all retailers, especially during a movie year. Besides the usual retail toy chains and specialty shops, you'll find them in stores who normally do not carry Star Wars on a regular basis, such as your smaller neighborhood drug or grocery stores. Collection 2 figures will mostly be carried by mainstream retailers, like Wal-Mart and Target, and specialty as well as online stores, who regularly sell this type of product and cater to the collectors and hobbyists.
Q: Are there going to be any store exclusives available
on April 23rd?
A: There were murmurings that TRU will have their 12? exclusive Mace Windu on hand for Midnight Madness. But as of this writing, no exclusives will be available except for the aforementioned POTJ TIE Bomber and Snowspeeder.
Q: Do these new cards fit in protective cases?
A: Most of them do except maybe 3 or 4 (Kamino Escape Jango comes to mind), with the case snugly fitting right on the blister. The good news is that Protech, maker of the Starcase, is updating the design to fit the deeper Saga bubbles. They also have a new design to fit the Saga Deluxe figures. Visit http://www.gotoprotech.com/ for more info.
Q: When will we see
the other toys that were previewed at Toy Fair, like the Acklay,
Unleashed, Republic Gunship, and Geonosian Arena Playset?
A: According to Hasbro, the Acklay and Unleashed figures will be out this summer. The Republic Gunship and gargantuan Geonosian Arena Playset is due for release in the fall.
Q: Are the 4 Preview figures going to be repacked
in Saga cards?
A: No. The Preview figures of Jango Fett, Clone Trooper, Zam Wesell, and R3-T7 will not be recarded for the Saga assortment. Jango, Clone Trooper, and Zam will have new versions available for April 23rd (and I?m sure for future releases).