SANDWATCH EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
The big problem of the Blue Clone
Trooper availability boiled over in Chicago. In the recent
aftershock of the Blue Clone Trooper Debacle, I decided to try to
get to the bottom of the problem for the Troops and let Gentle
Giant explain the recent uproar of fans regarding the
distribution of the Blue Clone Trooper Bust at Wizard World
Chicago. I contacted Eric Lyga of Gentle Giant Studios on Sunday
morning and was granted an interview. I wanted to know the truth
behind the rumor and this is what I was told:
Spice: Originally there were one thousand generated, what exactly was planned for distribution? Was it five hundred San Diego and five hundred in Chicago?
E.L.: Well, it was never intended to be evenly distributed. I do not know where that started. This was our first time in Chicago and our first exclusive ever. Obviously, San Diego is a larger event than Chicago, so we would allow more to be sold in California. We knew we had to hold some back for Chicago, and we did hold back as many as we could. However, we were overwhelmed. We wish we could have brought more to Chicago, and that was intended, and we do wish we would have made more total. We never anticipated them doing so well. We never had a plan as to how many we were going to sell at each show and I can't say when we realized we sold off too many. We wish there would have been a better split.
Spice: So one thousand definitely was not enough?
E.L.: Absolutely not.
Spice: Was this a result of badges not being punched in San Diego? This is the most common rumor being spread
E.L.: No. Badges were getting punched.
Spice: So that was a rumor.
E.L.: Yes, every badge was punched the same way.
Spice: So this was not the problem?
E.L.: No, the problem was people buying multiple badges. We instituted a policy in San Diego and carried over, and that was one per person. The problem we have is that after hours and thousands of people you can't tell who had been through before and who had not.
Spice: Is this going to shy Gentle Giant from future exclusives?
E.L.: No. What it is doing is helping us build plans for future endeavors. When we first planned for this our company thought one thousand was way too many. We heard "You'll never sell that many," and "We have three others, the demand will not be that high. We have done Clone Troopers before so one thousand will be enough." We saw what happened and (now) realize they will sell, so we will continue exclusives but with valuable lessons learned.
Spice: Okay, so you have been doing the raffle at one per person and selling 25 per day. Have there been any unclaimed or left over?
E.L. Yes, four each day and we will have the drawing at three p.m. today and if any more go unclaimed we will just keep pulling tickets until we have enough attendees to sell them out.
Spice: I'm sure you'll have someone standing around waiting. Do you have anything else to add?
E.L. Gentle Giant has a plan of attack in place. All of the exclusives we offer are nothing but sculpts of existing products. We would never offer just one place to get one character. We offer three other Clone Troopers. Same goes for Clone Pilots; we have more than just one. We had a Darth Vader that was an MBMA Exclusive for credit card points but it was no different mold than the Darth Vader we currently sell. Where other distributors have done similar promotions, saw the hot demand and jacked up the price, we didn't. We understand people are upset but we can only learn from these events for future releases. We are fans and collectors too.
I did not stick around to see the carnage after 3:30 when everyone would be fighting for leftovers. What I would like to ask is why are so many people so steamed? So you didn't get a Blue Clone Trooper. How many other Gentle Giant pieces do you have in your collection? I think many were just after this for the quick payday and now can't fill their pre-sell E-bay auctions. If you are a die-hard Gentle Giant bust collector I feel your pain, but if you just wanted it because it was the hard one, then give it a rest and stick to trying to find that Toy Fair Darth Vader you're still mad about and be happy that Silver Boba Fetts didn't go to a raffle format. For once Star Wars Collectors didn't catch the tail end of a bad deal like those poor Masters of the Universe and Batman fans. I think Wizard Universe will have to re-think the entire exclusive strategy.