There was much anticipation for Hasbro's panel on Friday to find out what was in store for 2013 and they offered some surprises. The Vintage Collection will be put on a hiatus and The Legacy Collection Droid Factory will be re-introduced beginning next year with over 30 figures planned. A few exclusives were also revealed with one particular online retailer figure exclusive that was undoubtedly one of the surprise announcements of the day. The other surprise was news that there will be no Hasbro exclusive for Celebration VI next month.
THE RETURN OF DROID FACTORY
It's been the worst kept secret since the beginning of the year, but Hasbro finally announces the return of The Legacy Collection and Droid Factory. The Vintage Collection holds a special place in the hearts of Hasbro and Lucasfilm and they vow its return. Vintage has been Hasbro's collector oriented line since 2010 with a total of 115 figures, but they felt it was time to give it a break and refresh. Make no mistake that this retro inspired collection will come back, perhaps as early as 2014. With 3D releases for Episode II and III rumored to be in 2013, it would be more than appropriate for Vintage to coincide with the Original Trilogy's return to the big screen.
There's a good possibility that Vintage packaging will also be made available in limited fashion as exclusives next year, but when it does come back, Hasbro's goal is to eventually produce all the original Kenner figures on a Vintage card. This includes Imperial Dignitary Sim Aloo and the mustachioed Bespin Guard, both of which are on a very short list, as well as a Blue Snaggletooth and blue Power Droid based on the new molds from the just released Target Vintage 3 packs .
Droid Factory brings back the fan and collector favorite Build-A-Droid concept where each figure will include a unique packed in droid part. Each wave will allow you to build 1 or 2 droids with Hasbro indicating that they will all be new B.A.D. figures. The packaging follows this Droid Factory theme by having a metallic look with the card back for basic figures shaped and designed in the form of an astromech droid.
The first wave, which was put on display in their booth after the panel, is slated for release next spring and includes an R2-D2 with booster rockets, an all new Geonosis Arena Padme, a Biker Scout, TIE Pilot (Vader's wingman), an all new EP2 Anakin Skywalker, a Phase I Clone Trooper (Sergeant), a Phase II Clone (212th Battalion), a Sandtrooper, Luminara Unduli, a Geonosis red Battle Droid, a Geonosian Warrior, and Jedi Pablo Jill. The Build-A-Droids for this wave will be TC-70 (Jabba's protocol droid) and FA-4 (Count Dooku's personal pilot droid).
Both Clones will be based on the new, slimmer 2011 mold and the Battle Droid uses the super-articulated and foldable Vintage Collection template. Pablo Jill is pretty huge and will have a special sized blister to accommodate the extra heft of this figure.
Wave 2 is slated to include the following figures:
- Mace Windu
- Captain Rex
- Luke Skywalker (Yavin Ceremony)
- Mara Jade Skywalker (Jedi - Fan's Choice)
- Darth Vader Bespin
- A-wing Pilot
- Biggs Darklighter
- Episode II Clone Pilot
Mara Jade is an all new sculpt that's based on several expressions from the books and comics and not on actress Shannon Baksa McRandle. Hasbro wanted to give her a distinct "beautiful but dangerous" look, and referred to several source materials, including Japanese versions of covers. Hasbro designer Erik Arana wanted to make the fan favorite figure as authentic and special as possible, being a fan of the books and comics himself. We naturally found a good segue to ask about the possibility of bringing the comic packs back and were told that it was a high discussion topic and they're looking into possibly re-engaging with Dark Horse. Hasbro, we want Jaxxon. We need Jaxxon.
Erik expressed his goal to always design the "ultimate" Luke Skywalker, being the main hero character in the Original Trilogy, so we can look forward to an awesome Yavin Ceremony Luke. He also designed the Bespin Battle Pack Luke which he acknowledged was a nod to the classic Vintage figure. Darth Vader will be based on his appearance in the Bespin dining room scene and is able to grip Han Solo's blaster backwards while Biggs Darklighter will feature an all new head sculpt.
K-Mart has been the fourth player for retailer exclusives in recent years, but apparently the B-wing Fighter enjoyed good sell through enough where they will be offering a newly re-decoed Vintage Endor AT-ST and 2 packs featuring AT-ST Drivers and Ewoks. The Endor AT-ST has no new tooling but deco is new and unique, including the battle damage "scar" on the nose as seen in the film. Hasbro cannot "officially" admit to it, but the AT-ST crew head sculpts have a noticeable similarity to Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand and co-producer Robert Watts, who played the two Imperial drivers in the film. This is a new concept by Hasbro where these three pieces would have been offered as one set as an Ultimate Battle Pack, but they wanted to test the waters to see how a segmented offering unified in theme like these exclusive pieces will perform.
The all new Speederbike is quite spectacular and impressive. It's scaled accurately and features an opening panel to reveal the engine, detachable front nose cannon, and excellent paint detail. An almost all new super articulated Biker Scout is included as well as a clear stand for display. This ToysRUs exclusive was shown in Movie Heroes packaging, but don't count it out being presented vintage Kenner style in the future.
There was a lot of work and thought applied to the TRU exclusive vintage re-issued 2010 Millennium Falcon to inject the packaging design with that 70's retro feel right down to the kid with the bowl cut and turtleneck. The toy inside has no variation from the 2009 release, which should spare some change for loose completists, but how could you not love that spectacularly nostalgic and fun Kenner packaging?
On the other hand, the Vintage Return of the Jedi Endor AT-AT will be distinguishable from the 2010 release by muddied Endor forest paws and a different deco on the driver. The AT-AT is also a ToysRUs exclusive.
As already reported online for weeks on the inter webs, TRU will be carrying the Ewok and Endor Pilots multipacks. Why does Porkins look a little slimmer? Apparently so he can fit and sit in a cockpit appropriately.
Target will offer the Darth Maul Fighter Pods collectible tin with unique die cast Darth Maul along with the soon to be released Darth Maul Returns Battle Pack and the Vintage 3 Packs that are out now.
There weren't any Walmart exclusives revealed at the panel or the booth, but the retailer did enjoy a lot of success with their Discover The Force campaign in 2012 and we can look forward to more announcements at Celebration VI.
BRIAN'S TOYS EXCLUSIVE JOCASTA NU
According to some reliable sources, Jocasta Nu was originally planned to be the Celebration VI exclusive, but unfortunately plans fell through. Brian's Toys (a GalacticHunter.com sponsor) thankfully picked her up and are now offering the Jedi librarian as their first Star Wars exclusive, while Celebration VI is awkwardly left without a Hasbro Star Wars exclusive for the first time.
Jocasta's sculpt looks absolutely stunning, and like the Celebration V Bounty Hunter exclusive, is packaged in a Vintage style card that's enclosed in a special Holocron book. Also included is an awesome "Lost 20" Dooku bust on a mantle.
Brian's Toys is taking pre-orders now and she's scheduled for release in January.
12 INCH FIGURES
These have low price points, only 5 points of articulation, the weapons and lightsabers are molded on their hands, and they have a retro vintage feel that are targeted towards a much younger audience, but a few of you may still want to collect them because of this simplicity. Only four character's are planned next spring including Episode III Anakin and Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, and a Phase I Clone Trooper. We're curious to see how well these do.
Commander Fox will be the last Clone Wars figure for 2012. Hasbro does plan on continuing to strongly support the series and releasing 20+ figures in 2013.
There is no arachnid Darth Maul planned for release at the present time due to the size of the figure, but General Pong Krell is very much in their radar. Another Maul is slated for release outside the Target battle pack version. We think Spidey Maul is a perfect piece for an exclusive.
Fighter Pods will continue with Series 3 slated for fall that includes…look, it's a Spider Maul Fighter Pod figure! Over 125 more figures are planned in 2013 with ships that will now feature "Rapid Fire" and "Rapid Reload" launchers as part of the new "Rampage" play campaign.
The Fighter Pods game also takes the battle online virtually in August at www.fighterpods.com.
DISTRIBUTION AND PRICING
Hasbro is very much aware of this year's distribution issues and have taken ownership of the problem and are strongly focused on correcting them. They're considering ideas that include having 4 per case of popular figures like the Imperial Naval Commander and Darth Malgus. The lightly circulated final wave of 2011 that includes Bastila Shan and Ponda Baba are also likely candidates as well. Short circulated figures could potentially also continue to be distributed into 2013 with the right retailer support to ensure fans have the fair opportunity to collect them.
Hasbro acknowledged that they over-projected and heavily invested on the Episode I 3D release but are now dedicated in getting figures to you. Vehicles like the Mandalorian Attack Shuttle will eventually be released again, albeit in updated packaging current to the new line.
In terms of the higher pricing, fuel and plastic costs are some of the chief reasons. Hasbro isn't making any more money on these figures than they have in the past, it just costs more to make them.
Here are some additional bits of information from the Q&A's and our interviews with Hasbro:
- A retooled Skiff is on the short list of vehicles to be made. However, they consider Jabba's Sail Barge a niche big vehicle that may not have the same appeal as a Millennium Falcon and an AT-AT. With the landscape for vehicles and playsets changing, this may be a difficult one to produce.
- If they ever find the right situation to produce it, a modular alternative to the Death Star playset is not one they would consider, pointing to Star Trek's modular sets as an example. If they ever do produce one, it would be big and pricey. See Avengers Helicarrier as an example of a large 3.75 scale play environment with the right movie event and mommy support.
- There are no plans for Kenner retro style figures.
- The new Royal Guard will feature swappable helmets and has a fully sculpted Kir Kanos head underneath.
- A Darth Vader with funeral pyre is a 50/50 decision in getting made. The mold is there.
- No current plans for Build-A-Droid in Disneyland California.
- No plans for protective cases. They're just too expensive to make.
- There is no new Class III Big Vehicle planned for 2013.
- The realistic Clone Wars figures are fun to make for them and there's a lot of collaboration with Lucasfilm and even Dave Filoni to ensure the designs are top notch. Take a look at how the realistic Ahsoka sample displayed at Comic-Con has a much better likeness to actress Ashley Eckstein from the copy shown at Toy Fair as a result of this close collaboration.
Visit our Image Bank to view the rest of the photos from the panel and booth by clicking here.
The full Hasbro slideshow presentation is now available online at StarWars.com's Flickr page.
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE SULLENGER