That's three separate occasions they flat out said that realistic is where they are focusing their efforts on.
Check the dates there though... "Nothing for 2007, but...", etc. They're not talking the 2008 CW3D line, they're referencing specifically the old Clone Wars cartoon and any subsequent figures for it, which Hasbro has kept to their word there exact as we're getting that insanely kickass CW wave for the old CW toon this year, and got TattoonAkin, Roron and the gang the last couple years all realistic styled.
AF.com didn't seem to read the quotes too closely that they cited as "evidence" Hasbro was somehow BS'ing them, and their arguments to the contrary are nullified in my opinion.
In recent Q&A's Hasbro has obviously answered regarding the new CW line, since we've all seen it, but Hasbro is implying they tried to appeal to collectors as much as possible, stay true to the source material, and at the same time make the figures less animated looking than the original "animated figures" for the original line... Do they fit in with the basic line? Not by a longshot to me, but the animated look is less drastic, and the right paintjob and headsculpt could see the base figure look pretty decent as a "basic line" figure if they wanted to make it... I don't think they will, and I don't think it'd be perfect, but there's clearly a "more realistic" tone to the 3D animated line than the original animated line... I think that's where confusion was lead with different rumors as well, as Hasbro themselves are giving the implication(s) that they tried to be a bit more realistic, but from the "certain point of view" of comparing this line to the original animated line. Not to the basic line, or the realistic sculpted CW figures in the basic line.
I don't recall ever having advocated for the kind of playsets that I want to see to be geared towards kids.
That was kind of my point when I emphasized that Hasbro is insisting that playsets MUST appeal to kids because Hasbro insists Kids are their primary target market while we are not. And that, coupled with the much higher tooling costs of playsets, means that playsets must appeal to the target market, not the niche market... I have no doubts about Hasbro's notion that tooling of a playset is expensive, and I think that's undeniable really. I think sometimes they underestimate the importance of the collector "niche" to a degree, however I think they're probably pretty rooted in solid reasoning why kids are so important. It's kind of tough to dispute how well the line's done since 2005 when kids really got back into it afterall.
You add those things up though, and the things Hasbro say in their Q&A's about playsets don't seem so abstract... Playsets are expensive to create. Playsets, according to their info, don't appeal to kids. Collectors want playsets. Collectors are a small fraction of the purchasing whole compared to kids, so playsets due to their costs MUST appeal to kids on some level, but data shows playsets (for Star Wars at least) are not appealing and/or important to kids and the costs involved are too risky to make them focused on the niche that cannot carry/support them.
As far as what Hasbro has done in terms of playsets, and how they've done at retail... This is my experiences:
-POTF2 sets... Small, inexpensive, relatively simple, all on clearance.
-Episode 1 Sets... Larger, more "dynamic", certainly more expensive, all on clearance. I'd add to this as well that the Theed Generator playset is not far off from what you call a diorama-type set CHEWIE. I can't see how anyone can deny that. It's very sturdy, it has lots of detail (maybe lacking some paint application, but that's a minor issue), it has very VERY few "action features", and it was a nice set up for an iconic scene in that film. To me it's a shame it didn't do well. On top of all that it even connected to the Hangar scene which, aside from the poor "floor" being flimsy, was a detailed set up that would display figures nicely for the final battle.
-POTJ Bespin Freeze Chamber... Always left off people's lists, the Bespin Freeze Chamber was a distinct attempt IMO to mix collector-appeal with a cool feature for kids, and it functioned well. It's a really decent toy, it's sculpted insanely well and intricate, it's very complex... It got to retail online for collectors only, and it bombed. I still display mine with my Bespin figures because I do believe it's very decent as a display piece, and if people take the time to "add" to it, they really can have something impressively accurate. Once again, these couldn't be given away at one point, despite them being a good toy really, and underappreciated.
-Arena Playset... Sold dismally here, clearanced well into 2003 and even 2004.
-Mustafar Playset... Sold a little better here, still saw these on clearance at various stores.
Now that's just my experience here, and hardly solid marketing research data, but still it shows a trend. Couple that trend with the costs involved and Hasbro took a beating on these items once retailers sent their response back to the manufacturer...
I'm not saying a cool, non-kid-focused "playset" piece wouldn't rock all... I'd love one. I'm just saying Hasbro's been clear that their costs, plus the data they have that says collectors cannot carry an item that would justify that cost, is where Hasbro's basis is for not doing collector-oriented playsets for us. They've said kid-interest HAS to be there for it to work/sell, and that means the firing cannons, the blast-apart walls, and all the other stuff... And kid-interest isn't there for playsets at all, so they're not gonna make them for the "niche" that cannot financially support them.
Sideshow maybe will pick that ball up and run with it... I think the playset focus in Q&A's is downright silly at this point though, personally, and that if the focus was to take a new direction, they should pester Hasbro to give playsets a chance with Sideshow with the questions... That's where Q&A focuses should be on the topic, not the week-in-week-out asking of "When will you make a playset?", "Will you put a playset in a battlepack?" "Can you give us parts of a playset with figures to make one big playset?", and any other variation of "Can we get a playset yet?" type question in the Q&A. It's all the same question really.
Maybe it's time to start writing more to Sideshow than Hasbro though? I dunno. They're a pretty personable company to deal with.
I'd love a stackable Death Star, and I've had my ideas for my own one for over 10 years now and just never made it... It is a cool idea, but Hasbro's not laying out something that's unrealistic or hasn't addressed everyone's "concerns" yet either. Maybe CW will do well enough they'll take another look at something like this since there's a TV show to help it along, but I'd bet dollars to Donuts it'll have some kind of appeal to kids that'll make it less appealing to adults. Not to mention, it'll be for the Clone Wars series, not a Death Star or Hoth, or Bespin...