Posted by Curto on January 12, 2007 at 12:37 PM CST
As part of Hasbro's weekly Q&A session, Rebelscum passed on 3 of your burning questions and now we've got the answers for you.

Rebelscum: From time to time, collectors of the 3-3/4" figures discuss the figures' likely life spans, and how best to store them when not on display. The figures, are, of course made from a variety of plastics, and different plastics degrade at different rates. Many original vintage figures have discolored or have become sticky, and some reports of the earlier modern figures discoloring have come up as well. It seems to me that Hasbro must have in its employment one or more (most likely more) experts in these materials, so I thought it might be nice to here it from you. How long can we expect the modern line of action figures to last before they begin to deteriorate? What range of life spans do these figures have, and are the longer lived plastics generally more expensive to use? Does Hasbro put much thought into this when plastics are chosen for figures? What can we do to display and also store figures in ways that will best prolong their lives? Thanks for your advice.

Hasbro: We produce toys first and foremost, so do not take into account the long-term storage needs for figures (decades or more) into account but instead choose materials that will provide durability and play value for the expected life of the toy. We do know that collectors would like their figures to stay in optimal shape over the long run. There are some common factors that have proven to be the enemy of many collectibles, not just toys, and those are sunlight, moisture, and dust. There are archival techniques that can be employed, such as storage in cool, dry places away from sunlight and humidity and volatile temperature changes. We can't offically advise you in this capacity but encourage collectors to research the methods that will give them the best results for their particular storage conditions.

Rebelscum: Every year we see more Darth Vader figures released, and typically they are simple repacks, repaints, or retools of previous Vaders with perhaps some new accessories. Collectors sort of presume the justification for what may be an overdistribution of this figure is that there should always be a Vader available for kids or new collectors because he is such an iconic Star Wars character. That makes perfect sense. Now, a character that is nearly as iconic is the Stormtrooper. The basic plain white Stormtrooper has the added bonus of being an Imperial (always popular), probably the best army-builder of all time, and you have that superb Vintage Style sculpt. While Vader has been hard to miss, the Stormtrooper, in its various iterations, has been somewhat scarce since 1995. It sounds like you are taking steps to correct that next year with the Tantive IV battlepack and the Stormtrooper with removable helmet. What prevents you from making the stormtrooper as readily available as Darth Vader? Why can't Stormtroopers be released two or three times a year since they'd fit with just about every Original Trilogy assortment? Why shouldn't kids, new collectors, and even a few army-builders have as much access to this iconic character as they do to Vader?

Hasbro: You bring up a very good point, and the simple answer is yes, we believe that we have a core cadre of characters (not just Vader or Stormtroopers) that should be there in many if not all waves. Because we want to balance it out and mix it up to keep the retail mix fresh, they won't be in every wave, but characters like R2 and Clones, Yoda and Jedi Luke are key characters in the fantasy and need to be heavier in the rotation. As a result you will see us making sure that there are more Stormies than in years past in the mix in the future.

Rebelscum: Sometimes exclusive figures are just "too" exclusive, for example the Hunt for Greivous Battle Pack. Is it possible or even feasible, that when an exclusive is released, maybe a few months after it has been gone from the shelves, that Hasbro can offer that exclusive for sell on the net? It seems that most places (i.e. Target, Toys R Us, Wal-mart) do a poor job of stocking the exclusives on their shelves as well as on their websites. Any help from Hasbro would be great!

Hasbro: In order to incentivize our retail partners to get behind an item, we have an exclusivity policy that we will not offer those packs (or figures from those packs) elsewhere for a length of time (usually up to a year) after they clear the shelves. There are two tricks with that. One, it's rare that an exclusive sells out everywhere clearly and there are sometimes pockets of stock that retailers still have - just the inevitability of the distribution system. Two, we have usually (but not always) moved beyond an item at that point and we're not certain that collectors will embrace a re-release with the ferver that is needed to sell through the quantity that we need for a re-release (another factor that needs to be considered). That said, you will see some cases where we will be bringing out exclusives again, so look for that.

Got any burning Star Wars questions you need answered straight from the source? If so, post your questions in this thread in our forums, and with any luck, you'll get your answers next week!
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