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Q&A Concerning The Clone Wars
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KitFisto
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Galactic Hunter's Q&A (only slightly related to The Clone Wars):

Recent revelations of reduced articulation on a number of forthcoming GI Joe movie figures sent "shockwaves" through the Joe community. Articulation has, for a very long time, been perhaps one of the top two or three hallmark features of the GI Joe brand.

We seem to be able to infer from our various Collector Q&As and Convention interactions with Hasbro that each part on a figure drives up the production cost, and so it follows that each piece of articulation has an associated cost. We can also infer from reading collector forums that articulation is really important to collectors.

If GI Joe, of all brands, is losing some articulation (all but 5, in fact, in some extreme cases for the Retaliation movie line) what does it mean for action figures overall? Is the golden age of "super articulation" coming to a close? Or will there be a further division between kids toys and those collectibles aimed at adults? Do you ever foresee a return to the 5 or 7 point articulation in the Star Wars brand?
--John


I don't need to foresee anything: we're already there.

The new line of Movie Heroes has a lot of repackaged figures, but look at the new sculpts too. Not only does the Movie Heroes Battle Droid have only 6 joints (I find this offensive), but some of the vehicles don't even have appropriate drivers. As long as the G.I. Joe figures with reduced articulation are vehicle pack-ins which are capable of sitting in their driver's seats, I'm not going to cry. If I'm being charged $9 for a figure which, a few years ago, was one-half of a $6-$7 2-pack? OK, that upsets me. (I'm looking at you, Battle Droid.)

Increased labor costs in China are a very real thing, but it's being mixed with Hasbro exploiting its existing molds at the same time. OK, development costs have been increased, but Movie Heroes Wave 1 has little to no new tooling, and some of those molds have been paid for dozens of times over. It's important to make a profit, but geez, that Battle Droid is not worth $9, particularly when compared to last year's mega-articulated 2-pack in Saga Legends. The lack of an Anakin Skywalker figure designed to pilot the Pod Racer right now is annoying and disturbing-- there are no fewer than 4 Anakins out right now and none of them fit. Knee joints and ankle joints aren't as much of a concern to me that the only figure that fits the vehicle was released in 1999 WITH the vehicle, and is cheaper than buying the current vehicle at retail.

I don't believe Hasbro (or fans) are looking at the Big Picture. How are kids going to feel that their new toy doesn't have a figure which can drive it? Will Hasbro blame collectors if the vehicle doesn't sell? Will collectors blame kids, or Hasbro, when these things hit the clearance racks?

I personally don't feel reducing articulation means much to a lot of the younger buyers. This may sound flippant, but a lot of our people still collect carded figures, and let's face it: knee joints don't do much on a card. Forums bring out one kind of collector, and represent a fraction of the customer base. Not every collector will seek out a forum to say that they're happy, or unhappy. Actually, very few fans will ever go out of their way to share their opinion about a toy on the internet. While the reduction in articulation is annoying, to say the least, I think the only way Hasbro will acknowledge it as a selling point is if their sales drop, and even then? They might ignore it. Supposedly The Clone Wars is a little soft this season, and we've seen them consistently reduce articulation and increase the price on that line while also reducing variety and, in 2012, reducing the size of the line to something which might have been acceptable in the 1980s. Oh, and the ratings dropped.

More than anything else, I'm afraid the golden age of toy collecting could be closing. The future might be toys marketed to kids once more, which is what they should be anyway, but the action figure as a plaything may have been (gasp) a fad that just happened to have a spectacular run. Hasbro has moved more than a few of its toys to production in Vietnam-- take a look at Transformers Bot Shots-- so it's possible altering production facilities could mean the future could be bright, but without a huge base of consumers, Hasbro might just do the math and realize that in a few cases, additional articulation doesn't matter. If the Big H gets real money out of Fighter Pods, that's not going to bode well for the older fan.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another round of Q&As from Galactic Hunter:

The Clone Wars and vehicles (as a whole) are easy areas for criticism. As to vehicles, I don't know what's going on, and why that Naboo Fighter isn't already out is beyond my comprehension-- it's due very, very soon though. But The Clone Wars... have you looked at the ratings for that show? It's not doing great, it's in decline. I don't know if that directly connects with the toys, but Hasbro fancies themselves a media company and they like to get behind the biggest things they can, which sometimes results in other brands suffering. (See: Transformers Prime.)

Hasbro is not trying to kill the line. If anything, by giving it a lighter year, the brand as a whole will probably stick around a bit longer. I don't know what their long-term plans are-- if they'll want to renew it in 2017-- but it definitely feels to me like they've completely withdrawn support for The Clone Wars. Prove me wrong, is all I'm saying. 19 figures in a year is unacceptable when you have heavy-hitters like Darth Maul and amazing character designs, plus easy repaints like the Clone Troopers that nobody is taking advantage of these days. I guess the point is this: if you go heavy on Vintage, TV will suffer. Or vice-versa. Would you rather not have Darth Malgus, a new Hoth Luke, the Mon Cal Pilot, and the rest? Hopefully we'll see more TV figures next year, but the line has changed shape many times in recent years. Who else remembers 2003, when pretty much all Walmart carried were basic figures and maybe a few medium-sized vehicles? Things change, there are good years and bad years, and some times the product doesn't align with what each of us wants. Like Fan's Choice. Mara Jade? You people have awful taste. Pick something new, dammit!

...Hasbro is leaving a good chunk of money on the table. We all want to buy stuff, but with the lack of The Clone Wars and, other than The Old Republic, the line has no real future to speak of.

This is a crying shame, and somewhat funny given the nature of the last episode of The Clone Wars from Friday. It was awesome. I don't care if you guys hate the show, they gave us Simon Pegg as Dengar, a young Boba Fett in a really cool suit of armor, alternate Asajj Ventress outfits, new and weird alien creatures, bugs galore, and floating trains. It was wall-to-wall awesome, with no clones or Jedi anywhere in sight. Glorious. And based on Hasbro's recent direction in toys, we'll probably never see any of it in plastic until the "retro" Clone Wars line comes to pass in 20 years. There's not much sadder than to think Hasbro has this great license, and will just end up sitting on it. C'mon, people, bounty hunters galore. Easy money. It's not like the usual weird crap I ask for.

As to where we place the blame? Well, I point toward Avengers and G.I. Joe, because Hasbro's other darling Transformers is getting screwed this year too. (Heck, and last year.) People often ask "is the line dying?" and generally speaking, I'd have to say not really. It might be creatively shriveling away, although it's not the first time we've seen toys canceled without a trace and a few super-cool items ending up de facto European exclusives. That happened during The Phantom Menace the first time around, too.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
But The Clone Wars... have you looked at the ratings for that show? It's not doing great, it's in decline. I don't know if that directly connects with the toys, but Hasbro fancies themselves a media company and they like to get behind the biggest things they can, which sometimes results in other brands suffering.
Nonsense. Hasbro produces what retailers want. If Walmart had said, "We want all this movie stuff, but we don't want fewer releases from the weekly cartoon," Hasbro would be cranking out The Clone Wars toys in 2012. This isn't the 1980s when toy companies tell retailers what they can have this year. It doesn't work that way anymore. Pawlus is aware of that.

As for the ratings, it isn't getting its best numbers, but it's still performing very well compared to other kids' cartoons.

Quote:
As to where we place the blame? Well, I point toward Avengers and G.I. Joe, because Hasbro's other darling Transformers is getting screwed this year too. (Heck, and last year.)
Huh?

This just went from nonsensical to stupid. It's not a movie year for Transformers, but the brand is getting an entirely new line for Transformers: Prime. The First Edition toys from that line got bumped because Dark of the Moon toys stalled in the fall of 2011 and needed a huge holiday boost to clear the way for the last waves. The focus is about to be shifted completely to Prime, though, with plenty of new toys on the way. Marvel movie toys and G.I. JOE have nothing to do with Transformers or STAR WARS. 2009 wasn't a down year for STAR WARS, and that was despite Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie lines all being at retail. The G.I. JOE: Retaliation line is going to be much leaner than The Rise of Cobra was, and with an extensive library of existing tooling from which designers can pull, so why would that have any impact on STAR WARS?

There are plenty of STAR WARS toys in retail stores. They just happen to be mostly The Phanton Menace items that a lot of collectors don't want. We've all had a pretty good idea of exactly what was coming since NYCC, and it's obvious the brand is being marketed toward kids with the hype of the 3D release to drive sales. Whether or not that will be a successful stategy remains to be seen, but the idea that The Avengers and G.I. JOE: Retaliation are somehow getting in the way of more STAR WARS toys being produced in 2012 is patently absurd. Pawlus should know better, but he's allowing his emotions to get the best of him, as evidenced by his "getting screwed" hyperbole.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caped Crusader wrote:
There are plenty of STAR WARS toys in retail stores. They just happen to be mostly The Phanton Menace items that a lot of collectors don't want.


I have been paying close attention to the doomsday predictions for several months now, and it is interesting to see how even Pawlus has adopted some of this rhetoric. As you pointed out, there is a ton of Star Wars product on the shelf these days, even if a portion of it happens to be repacks. But there's still a whole lot of new stuff, too. For example, based on what I have purchased so far, I have gotten eight new figures from the first wave of The Vintage Collection, and four new figures from the second wave. I have also purchased seven figures from the Discover the Force line, two figures from the second wave of Movie Heroes, and four figures from the first wave of The Clone Wars. I even got one of the Target-exclusive 2-packs (Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader). So, there's plenty of stuff out there.

It is true that we are seeing a regression of sorts with regard to the articulation seen in those sub-lines geared toward a younger audience. But that appears to be a consequence of the changes wrought by the economics which control the production of these figures (i.e., the rise of the "middle class" in China, the rising cost of fuel, etc.). I can't say that I like it, but it's not something that Hasbro can really control, and it is not restricted to the Star Wars line. I would prefer to see the price go up and the articulation stay the same, but I doubt that that is really an option available to Hasbro in this tighter economy.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KitFisto wrote:
It is true that we are seeing a regression of sorts with regard to the articulation seen in those sub-lines geared toward a younger audience. But that appears to be a consequence of the changes wrought by the economics which control the production of these figures (i.e., the rise of the "middle class" in China, the rising cost of fuel, etc.). I can't say that I like it, but it's not something that Hasbro can really control, and it is not restricted to the Star Wars line. I would prefer to see the price go up and the articulation stay the same, but I doubt that that is really an option available to Hasbro in this tighter economy.
Exactly. Vehicle drivers in the G.I. JOE: Retaliation line will have '70s Kenner levels of articulation. Many of the single-carded figures will have the articulation for which G.I. JOE is known, but some of the earlier figures lack ankle joints and the double-jointed knees. Figures from The Avengers line lack the articulation that's been standard in Marvel Universe and other movie-based lines. They're missing ankle joints, wrist joints, torso joints, and swivels at the elbows.

So no, it's not at all specific to STAR WARS. The people at Hasbro are doing everything they can to make a big push for kids in what should be a huge movie year for them. Considering they just had to cut 170 jobs, they obviously have more pressing concerns than whether or not every action figure released in 2012 is fully articulated.

"It's important to make a profit, but geez..."

It isn't just important to make a profit; it's critical. Profits for Hasbro are the only path toward more great toys. The brand managers are responsible to the executives, and the executives are responsible to the shareholders. That's the bottom line.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caped Crusader wrote:
Vehicle drivers in the G.I. JOE: Retaliation line will have '70s Kenner levels of articulation.


Heck, we don't have to go all the way back to the 1970s in order to make a comparison. Your description of those G.I. Joe vehicle drivers (I have not seen them for myself) reminds me of these figures, both of which were released in 2005:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another round of Q&As over at Galactic Hunter:

3. Admiral Ackbar is a pretty popular character, right? When his younger self showed up on Clone Wars, I figured he'd be a shoo-in for figuredom. Especially when other characters in that episode were turned into figures!

They already have a young Calamarian head sculpt (Nahdar Vebb)...I get that Hasbro's making a line for kids and scaling back this year, but you would think Ackbar would be a hit with the kids (weird alien), fans of the series (good guy amphibian to go with the Scuba Clones!) and collectors (holy cow! Another Ackbar!) and even a casual Original Trilogy fan.
--Jeff


Basically nothing is a shoo-in for Clone Wars really... they're just not supporting the line. If they stick to their "Only 19 figures this year!" guns, it doesn't give us much hope for ANY new Clone Wars characters. I mean, where's Darth Maul? Or Dengar, or the new armored young Boba Fett, or a new Asajj Ventress, or countless other decent second-tier characters? I'm pretty sure Hasbro realized The Clone Wars was pretty collector-heavy in 2010, but they seem to be seesawing back and forth as to what it really is and I'm not sure if it's due to changing management or what, but I'm gonna guess we won't get an animated Ackbar, as much as that pains me because I want one too.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really thought these answers just kept sounding whinier and whinier, but then I saw this. Negativity on message boards is one thing. And yes, some sites invite it and cater to it. But for a "fan" site to adopt the worst kind of self-entitled, manchild nonsense as its official stance is something else entirely. Seriously, a grown man throwing a tantrum over toys? Chuck and his crony are an embarrassment to rational, sensible collectors everywhere.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow. That's all I can say is wow.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well now! I could have sworn my prying eyes spied a substantial post from one kitfisto in this post regarding his annoyance with the Walmart of collecting sites (rebelscum). I was reminded of something I saw earlier today on Yakface's facebook page. In a nutshell: Dan Curto is no longer a part of the rebelscum empire. A quick look at his own bookface page indicates that he was "fired" this past Tuesday. He says that he's not going to get into it, which is his prerogative I suppose. I will surely miss his visual guides as they helped me to decide what (and what not) to buy. And as much as I was annoyed with his collector's podcast (also a part of the rebelscum empire), I will miss that too.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aceface wrote:
Well now! I could have sworn my prying eyes spied a substantial post from one kitfisto in this post regarding his annoyance with the Walmart of collecting sites (rebelscum).


Yeah, after I re-read it, it struck me as being the self-righteous ramblings of an old windbag. So, I deleted it.

I didn't think that I was going to get caught. Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

aceface wrote:
I was reminded of something I saw earlier today on Yakface's facebook page. In a nutshell: Dan Curto is no longer a part of the rebelscum empire. A quick look at his own bookface page indicates that he was "fired" this past Tuesday. He says that he's not going to get into it, which is his prerogative I suppose. I will surely miss his visual guides as they helped me to decide what (and what not) to buy.
And still without so much as a "thanks for everything post" on rebelscum or cooltoyreview. Chuck and his crony might be clowns, but Philip Wise is the lowest of the low when it comes to fan site owners.

KitFisto wrote:
Yeah, after I re-read it, it struck me as being the self-righteous ramblings of an old windbag. So, I deleted it.
Well, now I want to read it. Razz
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

KitFisto wrote:
I didn't think that I was going to get caught. Very Happy

aceface is everywhere. beware aceface!

Caped Crusader wrote:
And still without so much as a "thanks for everything post" on rebelscum or cooltoyreview.

Or the thefarce.net. Jimmy Mac (from the forcecast) did post a few nice things on Curto's FB page, but other than that, I haven't seen anything from the other staff members.


Quote:
Chuck and his crony might be clowns, but Philip Wise is the lowest of the low when it comes to fan site owners.

Agree with you there. In 2002, when I first started actively posting on collecting sites, I joined rebelscum and theforce.net. Wise himself deleted both of my initial posts (warnings about the legendary badtrader "tastetesta"). The way he did it was so off-putting and unwelcoming, that I deleted my accounts and never returned. From some of the stories I've heard since, I have to wonder why *anyone* would want to be associated with the guy.
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aceface wrote:
Or the thefarce.net. Jimmy Mac (from the forcecast) did post a few nice things on Curto's FB page, but other than that, I haven't seen anything from the other staff members.
I saw that, and it was very cool of him. I don't care what caused the split; a simple "thank you" post on the sites he contributed so much to over the years was warranted.

I've never interacted with Dan Curto at all, by the way, so that's not any kind of personal bias. Just a matter of being the right thing to do.

aceface wrote:
Agree with you there. In 2002, when I first started actively posting on collecting sites, I joined rebelscum and theforce.net. Wise himself deleted both of my initial posts (warnings about the legendary badtrader "tastetesta"). The way he did it was so off-putting and unwelcoming, that I deleted my accounts and never returned. From some of the stories I've heard since, I have to wonder why *anyone* would want to be associated with the guy.
I registered there in 2002, as well, and I've posted fewer than 100 times in that decade. You're not missing anything. Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caped Crusader wrote:
I saw that, and it was very cool of him.

Jimmy seems fairly even-keeled and good-natured. I disagree with his opinion of Fan Boys (he liked it, I thought it was terrible) and I'm certainly NOT a fan of the self-important know-it-all that was that movie's director, but I do enjoy listening to Jimmy on the forcecast. He also accepted me as an FB friend and I've interacted with him 2 or 3 times there.

Quote:
I don't care what caused the split; a simple "thank you" post on the sites he contributed so much to over the years was warranted.

Yes it would. I'm sure the rebelscum elite believe they are taking "the high road" in remaining utterly silent on the matter, but all they are really doing is reaffirming to me how I already feel about them (that they are the Walmart of SW sites - that is, the LOWEST common denominator). If I had to guess (and it's really all I can do), I'd say that the higher ups felt that Curto wasn't contributing enough. I only say this in comparison to the output of the visual guides at jeditemplearchives - which has been more current and thus more helpful to me over the past year. It also sounds as though Curto has something (another website?) cooking and maybe has been involved with it for some time. Considering Wise's vindictive reputation, I would further suspect he (Wise) found out about it and fired Curto because of it.

I downloaded and listened to theforcecast's collector's cast over the weekend. This was started not to long ago and was hosted by Curto and James Burns of JediNews.co.uk. Towards the end of the show they announced that it was to be James' final show and that he was leaving for undisclosed reasons. I don't know if the two things are connected, but the timing struck me.


Quote:
I've never interacted with Dan Curto at all, by the way, so that's not any kind of personal bias.

Me either.

Quote:
Just a matter of being the right thing to do.

Agreed.

Quote:
I registered there in 2002, as well, and I've posted fewer than 100 times in that decade. You're not missing anything. Wink

I check the RS forums once in a while for the store reports and reviews of new stuff. Due to the level of belligerent ignorance that some members (and STAFF) openly display, I've never had the impulse to post.

Oddly I feel the same about shopping at Walmart. My weekend stops shall be quick.
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