Posted by Curto on May 9, 2008 at 06:00 PM CST
As part of Hasbro's bi-weekly Q&A session, Rebelscum passed on 3 of your burning questions and now we've got the answers for you.

Rebelscum: I am a big collector of the Jedi Starfighters. I like to display them with their pilots and the accompanying astromechs. First I would like to thank you for the upcoming Droid Factory sets as I see many astromechs and pilots paired together. My question is 2 fold:
  • Do you have plans to produce any more Jedi Starfighters what with The Clone Wars coming out?
  • Second, are there any plans to do an updated R2-D2 figure using the standard R4-G9 mold as you utilized it for Vader's R4-K5 as well as Mace's R4-M6?

    Hasbro: We're glad you enjoy the Starfighter - we certainly do too.

    This is a sidebar - but we also have good news to report for those who felt that stickers should have been included with the Aayla Secura Starfighter (even though as it is, it is deco-accurate to the comic). We will be producing a sticker sheet for the vehicles that can be obtained by contacting our Customer Service department on the Hasbro web site. The stickers are being worked on now but will take several weeks to finish. We will advise 'Scummers on when they will be available, and they can then contact Customer Service. We'll send a pic when ready.

    Now back to the question at hand...

    Yes indeed, Starfighters will continue at a good pace with The Clone Wars animation. While we won't abandon the iconic EpIII version, the focus will be on a new, slightly-modified Delta 2 to match the animation. This new one will be out later this year. As more Jedi are revealed to us in the animation, we hope to be able to match future Starfighters to them as well. Whether we do more deco versions of the "classic" Delta 2 and EpIII Starfighter has yet to be seen, but we will be keeping the main ones in rotation in the Starfighter collection. If we do more "new" color versions of these ships, we may use these as exclusives as we have for the last few variants.

    On R2-D2 with standard R4 body - We will be looking to get this version out eventually. We just have yet to figure out where to slot him in.

    Rebelscum: In the past, you have said that the more visual material you have on a character, the better the chance that character has of being made into a figure. So with this in mind, how much longer do we have to wait for a Jedi Master K'kruhk figure? He has been in the Republic comics, Jedi Council Acts of War miniseries comics, Dark Times Comics, Legacy Comics, and the Clone Wars micro-series, how much more material do you need? If he is not on the short list, is it due to the cost it would take to make him, due to his size and butt-kicking ability? :)

    Hasbro: You will very much enjoy what will be coming next year with one of our own favorite as-yet-unmade Jedi. We won't offer any more details other than "he's coming!"

    Rebelscum: In an earlier Q&A session, you talked a bit about the character selection process for the upcoming Saga Legends line for this fall. But I'm also curious in how the Star Wars team selects the characters for a full line of basic figures. Are there any "must have" characters that you feel need to be included? For instance, which main characters are considered a "shoo-in" each year? How do you choose secondary or background characters like Cantina aliens, droids, senators, second-tier Jedi, troopers, etc.?

    Also, with over 50 Q&A sessions behind us, how much do these sessions influence your selection process, considering the many requests for characters?

    Hasbro: Well that is a great question that goes to the heart of our 3-3/4" strategy. While we have touched on it a little bit in past Q&As, we can elaborate a bit more.

    Before we go in, we will say that the Q&As are extremely enlightending in a few respects. First, there are threads and questions that often validate assumptions we have had, about certain characters or classes of figures that strike a chord, and to which we need to make sure we are looking into even if it means adding characters to the famous "parking lot."

    Second, there is good insight into what can make a character new and different in some cases that does influence our thinking; this feedback of course is also found in forums on many sites, but we can't get out to sites often enough and in the depth we want to get a comprehensive view of what fans are saying. From this standpoint, the Q&A helps us greatly in the sense that the best questions/comments rise to the top and are submiited to us, often independantly by a couple sites, and as such are a good representation of the top level of wants/desires/questions/concerns.

    Now as to how we approach the basic figure line. The key here is that since Star Wars basic figures have a dual audience of kids and collectors, it is imperative that each and every case pack has figures that are relevant for both audiences.

    We will start our yearly planning sesion right around late Summer, to get ready for the next planning year. The process takes a couple months from start to a working line plan, with a couple rounds of lively discussion with our team and Lucasfilm before we arrive at a plan we all agree on and start to schedule against. We start with a brainstorm/planning session that uses both our Parking Lot as well as homework that folks have done. We look to both make sure that we have enough heroes for the year, and at the same time lay out wave structures that make sense and spread the coverage around to at least all the films, with usually 1 wave of EU to bring in some high-demand characters we can't fit in elsewhere.

    To anchor our waves, we have a strict short list of characters that we consider our star hero characters, and we make sure that we have some of these characters in every wave, and at the same time we try to make sure these characters are in the basic figure lineup every year. These top-level heroes are informed by historical sell-through data, so it is fact-based, not an emotional list.

    So we will start by building waves around new takes on the core characters. Depending upon how many stars we have we then look to add strength to the wave by looking to a second level of well-known characters that are not in our top-tier but are key Saga characters nonetheless. The actual list of characters who don't make that "first cut" may surprise some people...but again, we try to be fact based as much as possible, and the more stringent we are the better the line will perform and the more we can keep doing.

    Once we are convinced there is enough iconic strength from these two tiers to give traction to the wave from a kid standpoint, then we turn our attention to the much more subjective, emotional, argumentative, political, deal-forged, exhilarating, and dissapointing part of the selection: the collector figures! We are kidding about most of that, because it is really a fun part to be able to plan and slot in "wish list" figures for the first time, so there is a little deal-brokering going on ("OK, I'll give you Willrow next year if we get Yarna in this year," etc). This is where we need to make sure we have enough tooling to do what we want, and that's why updates to core characters not only keep the line healthy but allow us to develop more in the way of interesting collector offerings.

    This part of the process is subjective in the sense that we consider personal wants and fan wants, paying attention to the sub-categories of collecting interest that have emerged, including in no particular order new troop builders, Cantina denizens, aliens (which includes Cantina), Jabba's Palace denizens (ditto), Separatists, Rebels/pilots, Imperials/officers, senators, Ewoks, vintage updates, Padme versions, Mandalorians, droids, updates to secondary Jedi/new Jedi, and figures derived from non-comic source material (games & novels). With so many categories to choose from, and only so many slots to go around there is no wonder that a lot of folks feel we aren't going as deeply as they'd like. That's why we preach patience...we're in it for the long run too, just like you guys.

    It's during this line planning, and leading up to the subsequent delivery of figures, that sometimes we feel like the luckiest people alive to be able to really dig and work magic to bring new aspects of Star Wars to life in figure form.

    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 time!
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