I remember it fondly….
Mom and dad took toddler me to the store–the now-defunct Caldor(?)–and showed me a full wall of card-backed Kenner Star Wars action figures. The movie was already “a thing” in my life; frankly speaking, it’s my first memory. However, when I took this 3.75-inch figures of Obi-Wan, Princess Leia, and a stormtrooper home, well, I began to live the Saga.
After Thursday’s Google+ hangout with Hasbro’s Steve Evans (Design Director), Mark Boudreaux (Principle Designer), and Joe Ninivaggi (Director of Marketing)–all members of the HASLAB team currently working to bring crowdfunded replicas of Jabba the Hutt’s Sail Barge from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi to market–my guess is when any number of my contemporaries (or their children) bring this replica home, they (and most of their incredulous friends) will have another memorable Star Wars experience.
It’s a beauty
“We’re thrilled to be here with this beauty here,” said Ninivaggi, before referencing yesterday’s prototype reveal via EW.com.
“We’re here to give you a close up of the barge and everything it has to offer.”
I asked the trio about working with Lucasfilm and how much creative direction or help they received from the LFL folks on the West Coast.
“As you might imagine, the partnership we have with Lucasfilm goes way back,” said Boudreaux, whose expertise dates to Kenner’s Star Wars toys. “Whenever we do projects like this, we always in constant communication with our partners.
“They are gracious enough to open up the Lucasfilm vault for us. So, we reached back in time to use as much of the resources that they generated for this movie.
“We had full access to those images, which was huge,” he said.
The project is huge, with HASLAB staffers working over 200 hours just to assemble and paint the prototype, which is massive.
“Anything and everything we developed for the barge is rooted in the materials we get from Lucasfilm,” emphasized Boudreau.
“But lucky for us, this guy has it flying through his fingers,” interjected Evans, speaking to Evan’s long-standing stewardship of Star Wars toys–both at Kenner and Hasbro–and during the genesis of HASLAB.
“When it came to this HASLAB idea, it was like, ‘How do we create crazy products for crazy people like us?’” said Evans, who noted the Sail Barge—the what—was the clear choice for the initial project after figuring out the how. “We were like there is one that we should do and it was the barge.
“The decision was pretty simple.”
Upcoming decisions won’t be so easy.
The cost for Hasbro’s Sail Barge will be $499, and the company will only commit to building Jabba’s ship if 5000 fans preorder. They’re past the halfway mark as of yesterday, with an April 3 deadline.
“I don’t think there’s been a single convention over the past 15 years when we weren’t asked, ‘What about the barge?'” said Ninivaggi, who said he’d fielded a number of online petitions as well. “We’ve got to get to 5000–that’s the benchmark that we established, and we feel really good about that.”
“And hopefully now that we have the fully-painted barge available, people can get a better sense of what this really is,” added Evans, explaining that heretofore folks had only been able to see a gray prototype. “This wraps it all up… this is real; this is it; if you want it, come and get it.”
Without being overconfident, and asking those on the call to spread the word (“Rally your troops…”), Hasbro spoke with an eye toward the future.
There is another
“There is one,” continued Evans. “We recently did the Vintage Conversation on Hasbro Pulse’s Instagram, where we were asking [what fans wanted next] and the Ghost came up; by far No. 1 in terms of requests.
“But, I don’t know, it’s a tough one…” said Evans, trailing off after a discussion of the scale of that particular ship.
However, assuming the best regarding the Sail Barge, and using interaction with (and buy-in from) fans to fuel their creativity and production, HASLAB is ready to get to work. And those future projects should include ships from the current crop of movies.
Snoke’s Supremacy was a joking answer to what might come from the Sequel Trilogy, before Evans responded, “This isn’t limited to classic.
“There are a lot of… Original Trilogy fans,” added Evans. “But there are plenty of new fans out there too.”
Beyond the Ghost, Evans mentioned Kylo Ren’s shuttle and The Last Jedi’s new walkers.
“But I don’t want to get hung up on everything being big,” he added. “Nothing is off the table.”