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Pacific Rim: Uprising — Early Release for Patrons

This show will be available for all listeners Tuesday, March 27th, but Patrons of $25 or more can listen to it now!

March 26, 2018 Posted by | News | Leave a Comment

Hasbro Q&A — HasLab Sail Barge (and Yakface!) Update

From Left to Right, Steve Evans, Mark Boudreaux, and  Joe Ninivaggi

From Left to Right, Steve Evans, Mark Boudreaux, and Joe Ninivaggi

 

Today Star Wars Action News was privileged to be one of only three fan sites participating in a Q&A with the Star Wars Brand Team at Hasbro. The topic was, of course, their current crowdfunding project for the Khetanna — Jabba the Hutt’s Sail Barge playset that measures 4-feet long.

Participating in the conversation were our long-time friends from Hasbro: Steve Evans (Design Director for Star Wars toys), Mark Boudreaux (Senior Principal Designer for Star Wars toys), and Joe Ninivaggi (Director, Global Brand Strategy & Marketing – Star Wars).

The conversation revealed some new information about the current campaign, and also had a nice video tour of the newly painted Sail Barge.

You can read the transcript of the interview below, but the high points are:

  • The Yakface figure included with the Khetanna, on the Power of the Force card with the silver coin, will have the lowest production run of any modern Star Wars figure (assuming the Barge’s numbers don’t end dramatically above 5,000)
  • If you live in the US or Canada the crowdfunding is the only way you will ever be able to buy the Barge.  If the Barge is backed then Hasbro will make a small quantity of Barges available, but only for those living outside of the US and Canada.
  • The paint on the barge took over 200 man-hours. (The design of the barge took over “one thousand” Mark half-joked.)
  • The team is looking at only one Star Wars HasLab project per year.  HasLab will do multiple projects per year, but the others will be for Marvel, Transformers, and My Little Pony.
  • This is the team’s first crowdfunding effort and they’re using it as a learning experience. Future HasLab projects will take current feedback into account regarding payment plans, cost of items, duration of the campaign, etc.
  • The Barge is incredibly cool with so many details that can only be seen close-up, including a sink faucet in the galley and a retractable microphone in Jabba’s dais.
  • If the Barge is funded the Hasbro team is looking at producing an updated Jabba the Hutt figure with an improved paint application and perhaps facial sculpting from their previous efforts.

Below is an rundown of the conversation.

The team started with a run-down of the Entertainment Weekly reveal of the painted Sail Barge, and the inclusion of the Power of the Force Yakface figure.  Steve said the paint job was “200 man and woman hours” of work, to which Mark added “And that’s just to paint it. Not including the work that’s been done since… another 1,000 hours there.”  They also noted a pick-up in orders since yesterday’s news, but they still need almost 1,800 orders in 12 days.

Then the Q&A Began

Question: What is your ideal rate for Star Wars campaigns? One per year, two per year, etc?

Answer:  Joe said HasLab will likely have multiple initiatives per year across Transformers, My Little Pony, and Marvel, but they are starting with only one Star Wars initiative per year “and take it from there.”

Q: Why was a payment option not made available for the Barge as other companies do for items of similar price.

A: Joe replied, “I think this will answer a number of questions but this is our first time doing this. We’re learning a lot on this. HasbroToyShop, which, of course, is our partner that allows us to sell directly to fans, they’re set up a certain way and we went out with this particular model. There’s always opportunity to learn in the future, we’ve definitely seen that come up as a request and something that would hopefully make the product more accessible to all fans.”

Q: At Toy Fair Steve told Star Wars Action News that if the Barge is funded then there may be opportunities for it to be sold other methods. And on the HasLab FAQ it states “We reserve the rights to make the products (or similar versions of the products) available at other sources, such as online stores and retail locations, but such availability is not guaranteed.”

But in an Instagram post on March 19 Hasbro said the Barge would not be available via traditional retail outlets.

Can you clarify these statements? Is it possible the Barge will be available at retail if it is funded?

 

A: Steve clarified that if you live in the US and Canada then backing at HasbroLab.com is the only way you will be able to purchase the barge.  There are no plans to take this to retail in the US and Canada. However, since only US and Canada can purchase from HasbroLab.com then, if the Barge hits its 5,000 orders, they would make an additional, limited quantity available to international buyers only.

Q: People say there’s not enough time to budget for a $500 item in the time of the Barge.  In the future can we get a bit more notice?

Steve said they are getting insights daily and have learned a lot going for future projects like this. Their team read studies indicating 45 days is the optimal time for crowdfunding* and that longer campaigns have lower success rates.  For future crowdfunding campaigns they will look at “everything” and see how to adjust timing.

(Note: In my own research I’ve read campaigns over 30 days have a lower success rate. Either way, Steve’s point is valid. -Arnie)

Q: Perhaps in the future could Hasbro announce the campaign at Toy Fair, but launch it at San Diego Comic-Con so collectors have a few months to save up, not just 45 days.

A: Joe said that is a good idea and they may look at doing that next time.  They added that projects do not get much more ambitious in terms of size and price than the Sail Barge. They’ve wanted to do it for decades. But they know that price points for future items don’t always have to be this expensive.

Q: The Jabba on display in the published Sail Barge photos looks like the Toys R Us exclusive from a few years ago.  Is it an old Jabba or is it a new Jabba?

Mark clarified that Jabba is the same sculpt that came with the Jabba/Rancor set, but they wanted to make a special Jabba for the barge so they’re looking at enhancing his deco. The photos released show more weathering on the body and highlights to the face than the Jabba/Rancor set had. They’ll be looking at techniques, either photo-real or more traditional techniques, to make this new Jabba noticeably different from the older version.

Q: Can Slave Leia be rereleased to pose in the Barge

A: Steve said for characters that enhance the Barge, they’re doing Yakface and Skiff Guard. They’ll look at other background characters from these scenes if the Barge is successful.  As for Slave Leia–no plans but they’ll look at it.

Q: If the Barge meets its goal of 5,000, but not much higher, will this carded Yakface with the coin have the lowest production run of any modern Hasbro Star Wars figure?

A: Steve gave an emphatic “yes”. Historically Hasbro does not give production numbers for its products, but Steve compared the Yakface to their San Diego Comic-Con exclusives. For that convention he said they produce more than 5,000 of the exclusives (“not a lot more, but more”).

Steve added that Yakface on the Power of the Force card will not only be a “physical rarity” but also an “emotional rarity” given how Yakface and Blue Snaggletooth are the holy grails to many vintage Star Wars figure collectors.

Q: How will Hasbro handle broken/missing parts, and keep backers informed of progress?

A: Steve said for broken parts the usual Hasbro policy to contact Customer Service applies.

But Joe went on to say that the packaging team has been challenged to make the box secure. Additionally, they hope for the box to have nice presentation, including perhaps trays that slide out when packaged.  They hope to make the experience of the unboxing as cool as the item itself.  They feel presentation is really important with this, so it needs more than just printed inserts.  “This is a vintage item, after all, and we want to make sure to present it,” Mark said.

In regards to communication with buyers, Joe said “It’s not everyday you buy something for $500 and don’t get it for a year afterwards.” As such, if the project is successful, the Hasbro team plans to take backers on a behind-the-scenes journey, keeping them updated with the inner workings of Hasbro on how the Barge is made and shipped.

Q: Will there be tape on the Vintage box?

A: The team asked what we would be interested in, and unanimously the sites requested no tape on the Vintage box, just a flap-fold, and tape the shipping carton.

There was also discussion if the Yakface will be shipped inside the same box as the Barge. Steve said they don’t know for sure–currently it is in the box but that could change.

Q: With less than two weeks away from the end of the campaign, with about 1800 orders needed, what is the mood at Hasbro? How has this impacted you emotionally?

A: Steve said, “We’re on the edge of our  seats.  The trajectory is what we expected. It spikes, levels off, and spikes in the end.” He said that the released pictures of the painted Sail Barge helped make it real for some people, and adding the exclusive Yakface also helped.

They all agreed the campaign is emotionally draining. “It’s taken up a lot of our time personally and we have invested ourselves greatly on something that doesn’t yet exist,” Steve said. “I feel confident because it’s a great project but it’s up to the fans.”

“You don’t want to see a grown man cry,” Mark added on as the interview came to an end.

 

Then we were treated to a video tour of the painted Sail Barge and the Hasbro team pointed out many features that have not had much attention from fans:

  • The jail in the lower level has a sliding metal door to differentiate from the wood.  The Barge will come with two metal chains of different sizes to put different character sizes (perhaps a human and a Wookiee?) in the jail.
  • In the galley they wanted to “set a tone for the interiors” and then let fans embellish and fill it out to what they felt their fantasy for Jabba would be.  The Barge has a kitchen counter, a couple sinks, faucet, and Chupas hanging from the wall in the back, setting the stage for how fans might like to complete their diorama.  That’s one of the reasons they wanted to go with the Sail Barge: it’s awesome to start with, they said. Very iconic, a great movie beat with lots of characters involved, so they wanted something that could really push dioramas to the next level and interact with a lot of your characters both new and old.

    And they have some “Work in progress” images of painting that will be coming soon.

  • Next to the galley is the armory. Axes are mounted to the wall as decoration. They also have some horn racks on the back wall where you can hang your blasters, staffs, etc. and there’s a table in the back where you can repair your weapons.

    There are a couple staffs in the model photographs that were released, but those are not included with the barge.  You will need to supply your own weapons and staffs.  The axes on the wall are permanently attached decoration.

  • Moving into the lounge it’s more about comfort. A lot of wooden surfaces, wooden walls, wooden floors. There are opening and closing shutters on either side, as well as the dais which you can move back and forth a bit to adjust the floor plan.
  • You can actually pull the microphone out of the control panel on Jabba’s dias. It’s attached to a cable and for production they’re going to increase the length of the cable so you can have a C-3PO figure hold it.
  • One question they had was about foot pegs. They talked about it and, other than 2 foot pegs on the platform on the deck cannon, they’ve elected to not include foot pegs in the vehicle itself. They didn’t want to disrupt the aesthetics by putting traditional foot pegs and they didn’t want to limit character placement.
  • They have the rancor trophy mounted to the wall, Ishi Tib heads, a Gammorrean Guard head, and Jabba’s mural mounted to the wall. They wanted to include all the details seen in the film and then let you embellish with your own accessories.
  • There is a side hatch with a larger port where the Weequay can come out to surprise Luke (it’s larger as the barge isn’t QUITE to scale with 3.75 in figures).
  • They worked closely with Lucasfilm for all the details on the cockpit. They went to the archives and looked at all the reference photos, and also went into the vault to get any inspiration they might need to include other details.
  • There is a corridor so a figure can walk from the Cockpit all through the ship.
  • There will also be a trap door in the deck above that goes down into the jail.  A button on the side will allow you to activate the trap door.  “Gotta have some fun right? It can’t be all serious display stuff,” Steve said.
  • They’re making a subtle revision to the rail so if you have a Vism with a cannon open stock it will be able to fit onto the rail.
  • The sails would be removable so if you wanted to open the deck up for play it’s easy to do. The sails will stay in tact but you’re able to lift them off!

 

And with that Steve concluded the interview saying “Thank you for all your support.  Fingers crossed, trust in the force, #BacktheYak, #BacktheBarge!”

If you want to order, the campaign is open until April 3, 2018. You can back the project now at HasbroLab.com

You can see newly released photos of the Barge and its accessories in the gallery below!

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Movies, News, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tomb Raider

It’s been 15 years since Lara Croft last raided movie theaters, but now a new Oscar-winning actress is picking up the controls and racing into action. Tomb Raider 2018 – an origin story for the scrappy video game heroine – finds Danish Girl Alicia Vikander tracking her missing father Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) to a mythical Japanese island crawling with mercenaries and booby traps.  Listen now to find out if survivors Stuart, Arnie, and Justin have reached higher ground in the Now Playing Arcade.

March 20, 2018 Posted by | News | Leave a Comment

Hellraiser: Judgment

For the last several sequels, the Hellraiser franchise has been chewing through bad scripts and vomiting the pages all over Jakob, Arnie, and Stuart. Now 10th chapter Judgment aims to break this cycle by employing a kooky new collective of Cenobites – including a nebbish Auditor, a glutinous Assessor, a cleaver-wielding Butcher, and a recast Pinhead (Paul T. Taylor).  Are they guilty of bearing false witness against Clive Barker by pursuing a serial killer with a Ten Commandments fetish? Donate Now to find out if there’s any soul left to tear apart! 

March 16, 2018 Posted by | News | Leave a Comment

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life — Early Release for Patrons!

Angelina Jolie reprised her role as England’s most scantily clad excavator for her second and final Tomb Raider adventure. Cradle of Life finds Lady Croft diving into sunken ruins with Greek sailors, motorcycling across the Great Wall of China with Gerard Butler, and ascending African peaks with Djimon Hounsou.  All in the hopes of beating blackhearted bio-engineer Ciaran Hinds to Pandora’s Box. Listen and find out if this 2003 sequel is plagued by the same problems that made Arnie, Justin, and Stuart deathly ill watching previous video game adaptations.

March 12, 2018 Posted by | News | Leave a Comment

High Tension (Haute Tension) – Patron Exclusive Review

America wasn’t the only country to produce torture porn this millennium. Piranha 3D director Alexandre Aja first made a name for himself with the 2003 Gaelic slasher Haute Tension. Will Yank audiences be able to translate this ultraviolent tale of a deranged mechanic stalking two college girls in the French countryside?  And can Arnie, Jakob, and Stuart make sense of that infamous twist ending?!  Find out when you become a Now Playing Patron merci beaucoup!  

March 9, 2018 Posted by | News | Leave a Comment

THE LAST JEDI Comes Home in 4K Ultra HD Mar 27

 

The biggest movie of 2017 comes home this month! Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi is available in HD and Ultra HD 4k digitally via Movies Anywhere on March 13. Physical Blu-ray and 4k discs will be released March 27.This marks the first 4k releases of a Star Wars film, and it is Disney’s first title available on 4k Ultra Blu-ray disc in both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.

Bonus features accompanying this release include*:

  • The Director and the Jedi – Go deep behind the scenes with writer-director Rian Johnson on an intimate and personal journey through the production of the movie—and experience what it’s like to helm a global franchise and cultural phenomenon.
  • Balance of the Force – Explore the mythology of the Force and why Rian Johnson chose to interpret its role in such a unique way.
  • Scene Breakdowns
    • Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle – Get a close-up look at the epic space battle, from the sounds that help propel the action, through the practical and visual effects, to the characters who bring it all to life.
    • Snoke and Mirrors – Motion capture and Star Wars collide as the filmmakers take us through the detailed process of creating the movie’s malevolent master villain.
    • Showdown on Crait – Break down everything that went into creating the stunning world seen in the movie’s final confrontation, including the interplay between real-word locations and visual effects, reimagining the walkers, designing the crystal foxes, and much more.
  • Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only) – Writer-director Rian Johnson presents two exclusive sequences from the movie featuring Andy Serkis’ riveting, raw on-set performance before his digital makeover into Snoke.
  • Deleted Scenes – With an introduction and optional commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.
  • Audio Commentary – View the movie with in-depth feature audio commentary by writer-director Rian Johnson.

* Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer.

Hear Now Playing Podcast’s Review of The Last Jedi 

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Movies, Movies & Television, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts, Star Wars, Star Wars Action News | Leave a Comment

Death Wish (2018)

Movies with action heroes from the 1980s die pretty hard at the box office these days, but Bruce Willis aims to change all that with a 2018 reboot of Death Wish. The aging tough guy stars as a Chicago surgeon who goes from saving lives in the ER to taking lives on crime-ridden streets, after burglars violate his home and family.  Can Bruno take out the bad hombres and make America great again one bullet at a time? Or do hosts Arnie, Jakob and Stuart wish this vigilante died with Bronson? Listen and find out…

March 6, 2018 Posted by | News | 1 Comment

Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Dimond Select Toys’ Marvel Selects, Minimates, Gallery Statues, and More

Diamond Select Toys have long been the go-to company for Marvel fans who like highly-articulated, finely detailed figures with their Marvel Select line.  And for fans of articulated mini-figs, the Diamond Select Minimates are up to Assortment 76!

But the past couple of years Diamond has expanded their Marvel offerings with the Diamond Gallery PVC statue line and the Marvel Milestones statue line, and this will leave collectors like me with a problem:  not enough space for all the cool things they have coming!

Check out all the items in the video below, and see detailed photos in our gallery!

 

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Conventions, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , , , | Leave a Comment

Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Marvel & Movies Come to Life with Mezco

The clear winner of Best in Show for Toy Fair 2018 is Mezco.  Their One:12 series of Marvel figures is entering its third year, and Mezco unveiled some truly awesome and surprising upcoming releases!

On display at the Javitz center were some figures we’d seen before at San Diego Comic-Con, such as the Gladiator Hulk and Thor from Thor: Ragnarok, and the Spider-Man in his homemade suite from Homecoming.  New additions to the line however include Black Panther with his movie-style outfit. The silver accents and the detail in the black outfit really make this six-inch figure stand out!

Also new in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was revealed Hela–Mezco’s first female Marvel One:12 figure!  She comes with her large headdress and a Cate Blanchett likeness that is downright perfect.  My only hope for this figure would be an alternate head (or variant released) without the helmet.

Similarly, in the Marvel Television Universe, three figures were shown. Daredevil is coming in both his Season One black outfit and his season two red. And also from Daredevil Season Two (and his own series) comes The Punisher. He is wearing an armored chestplate, and has an amazing beat-up Jon Bernthal likeness.

For comic-based Marvel fans, though, there was some real excitement! Revealed at the show were two new mutant figures, Cyclops and his son from the future, Cable!  Cyclops is in his classic yellow-and-blue outfit, and the soft goods fit the figure perfectly. The shade of blue is spot-on with the ’90s version of the character.

Cable is on a much larger buck than usual, and has more solid plastic than soft goods from what I could see. The robotic arm has incredible sculpting detail, and he is a good size to stand among your other One:12 figures without dwarfing them!

Finally, for horror movie fans of Now Playing Podcast some of Mezco’s horror line of One:12 figures were revealed. They continued their look into the many iterations of Jason (leaving me hoping for a Jason X in the near future!), plus Michael Myers and Ash from Evil Dead 2.  I did ask if a Pinhead might be joining this One:12 series soon. Mezco has the Hellraiser rights (as shown with their large figure and fuzzy-dice puzzle boxes).  Drake could not confirm Pinhead being slated for the line, but he gave me hope stating, “I’m not saying no…”

Two surprising reveals included John Wick–with an uncanny Keanu Reeves likeness.  With the third film, and a TV series, in production there seem to be several companies looking to light the fuse on this new action star.

Plus–in the single most incredible valut-pull I saw at Toy Fair, they are making a One:12 figure of Diabolik from the 1968 film Danger: Diabolik! This is a movie championed in Now Playing’s book Underrated Movies we Recommend and to see the John Phillip Law character realized in six inches was nothing short of astonishing.

Check out our video and photo coverage of Mezco below, and be sure to follow Marvelicious Toys for updates and reviews as these products start to ship!

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Conventions, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, Movies & Television, News, Now Playing Podcast, Podcasts | , , , , | Leave a Comment

Toy Fair 2018 Roundup — Marvel Collecting with Monogram International

Monogram International was out in full force during February’s Toy Fair International!

Of course, for collectors the hot item from Monogram is their blind-packaged foam keyrings, and they had two new sets on display.  More, they were one of the only companies showing their new Infinity War merchandise–including a new set of keyrings with a blonde-haired Black Widow, Dr. Strange, Nebula, and others!

They also showed an assortment of X-Men related keyrings with characters including Professor X, Magneto, and Cyclops, and a Marvel Zombie Villians themed set with ghoulish versions of Venom, Thanos, and others

But the Marvel goodies didn’t stop at keyrings. Their vinyl bust banks continued to make a showing, with a Gladiator Hulk from Thor: Ragnarok and a new Black Panther joining the ranks of classics like The Punisher, Spider-Gwen, and Deadpool.

A new line of collectibles was shown — blind packaged, figural magnets.  These items measure about 2-3 inches tall, and have environmental bases showing the superheroes popping out at you! Initial offerings showed Iron Man, Daredevil (in both Red and Yellow outfits), Deadpool (in his gray X-Force outfit), Captain America, Black Widow, and others.

Finally, for the more practical, there were a number of household items including Marvel chracter-themed neck pillows for flying. There were also pens which are topped with Marvel characters in the same style as their cute keyring collection.

Check out the gallery below for pictures of their booth, and stay with Marvelicious Toys for updates and reviews as these hit retail!

 

 

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Comic Books, Marvelicious Toys, Movies, News, Podcasts | , , , , , , | Leave a Comment