So you aren't in Florida. Some of us are-- and we're taking more pictures and notes about what you can expect from Hasbro next year! Want to see what's on tap for Galactic Heroes, The Clone Wars, Vintage, and more? Read this fancy-pants article!
Hasbro 2010: Celebrate This!
The long and short of the 2010 convention season is this: if you missed it, you didn't miss much. So many hints and leaks came out before the various shows that little was genuinely new, although Hasbro remain great showmen who do have a few aces up their sleeves. They also mentioned that they were deliberately reducing the amount of product released so it might be more accessible, and we were even relayed a story about the Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner asking that the big AT-AT come out at a lower price. (He's good people, long may he reign.)
The worst thing I can really say is that the line has entered a region we can now call predictable. Even the biggest and best items come from long-simmering rumors which it turned out were totally true, and since some pretty cool hints were let loose during the show, we might even know what to expect in 2011 and 2012. It's good stuff, for sure, but we all know where this is going.
Two waves were announced before the summer, one was revealed at SDCC, and now we get a glimpse at the first wave of 2010, and it's Attack of the Clones. Sadly no packaging was shown, as I'm quite eager to see what's on deck for the logo design, but we were shown new and altered versions of Anakin Skywalker (Peasant, update of 2002 figure), Padme Amidala (Peasant, new outfit), Jango Fett (Evolutions redeco with Kamino gear, different backpack and blue deco), Kit Fisto (still no smile), Zam Wesell (two scarves, goggles move), Obi-Wan Kenobi (revised 2009 figure, new commlink), Mace Windu (new head sculpt), blue Senate Guard (heavy retool includes force pike, Red Guard remake has to be in the works), Super Battle Droid (gorgeous redeco, pic does not do it justice), and that's about it. No real complaints.
A few exclusive items are in the works that were new, too. One is a "Special Action Figure Set" 3-pack for Target. This is a large package of 3 individual 3-packs collected in a larger black sleeve, estimated at a Fall release at $50. For 9 figures it's a good deal, but since all of the figures are repackaged you may not care. The two oldest figures in the pack are a 2001 FX-7 and a 2004 Vintage Lando Calrissian, the rest of which are 2006 or newer. This is clearly made for nostalgia buffs, hardcore fans of the vintage aesthetic, and people looking for a fairly priced gift set.
The biggest surprise for the classic movie-style items was a rerelease of the Scramble on Yavin set, or at least part of it. The pilot and droid are gone, but the smaller Tech vehicle and the Technician are to be rereleased as a Toys "R" Us exclusive, much like the Speeder Bike redeco earlier this year. Another vehicle may ship alongside it, but Hasbro's reps were not exactly specific on if it would or would not, much less what would it be.
A new Slave I based on The Empire Strikes Back was not confirmed, but alluded to during the slideshow. While describing the Toys "R" Us version (more below), Mark Beaudreaux said that there's a compartment under the hood just perfect for storing a carbonite block should the need arise someday. Mark, we love you. I also asked if a Snowspeeder redeco was in the works for the next year or two and while nothing concrete has been established, I was told one could be quickly generated should the need arise for a specific retailer.
All in all Vintage is looking to be a tight collection of stuff new collectors shouldn't mind buying or re-buying. No new giant vehicles were shown, nor should they have been, as it's time for all you people to go buy an AT-AT so they can justify the next beast of a toy to the bean counters and executives.
While one wave was recently leaked (Boba Fett, Embo, Shaak Ti, R4-P17, Mandalorian Commando), another all-new wave was shown. General Scum of the Universe Cato Parasitti, another Clawdite Shapeshifter like Zam Wesell, was shown and looks incredibly expressive. Huge eyes and decent body language make it look like a pretty stunning release. An Undead Geonosian was shown, bringing the arguably most creepy villains in the entire mythos to "life" with removable wings and an alternate collar bone so you can troop build these and change their rank if you're so inclined. I believe I overheard that the sculpt may have alternate parts to make a regular Geonosian in the future, but you can't prove that, can you? Clone Trooper Draa has nifty green markings on the Stone Clone body, meaning you get a different range of movement than you might prefer-- but the sculpt does look sharper. (But can't sit.) Clone Commander Jet-- a very nifty design-- has red armor and was apparently born out of a rejected "Radio Trooper" design according to Dave Filoni at one of his many Clone Wars panels.
With the Mandalorian Battle Pack and individual Commando figure on the way, it might be confusing as to which one you should get. We were told the Battle Pack would have exclusive gear that the individual ones would not, so grab the gift set. Easy enough. This and the ARC Trooper Battle Pack will be the last non-exclusive sets of 2010.
Some new vehicles were revealed, the most surprising of which was a Jedi Speeder which sounds like a toy designer's crazy fever dream project. The rather plain speeder is packed with moving parts, hidden blasters, and a pop-out gunner platform in the back so your Clones can shoot at stuff. We're easy to please, but this seems to really go the extra mile. The Droid Gunship was also finally shown, after an unpainted test shot showed up earlier this year.
A number of exclusive items were shown, but little qualifies as genuinely new to you, the astute fan and keen reader. Even the massive Toys "R" Us Rise of Boba Fett set has been shown on Sandtroopers.com and via Daniel Logan's Twitter feed, meaning that you knew all about this set. What you might not know is that this item has a lot of neat features to warrant the cringe-inducing $100 price tag this October. The ship itself measures over 18-inches long and is packed with tiny compartments and features, plus those awesome sonic mines as seen in Attack of the Clones. Mace Windu's Jedi Starfighter was included as well, which means that it is exclusive to this set too. Five action figures (complete with game pieces and display stands) were also included, but only 3 of which are "new" to collectors. Bossk is, for the time being, exclusive to this set. It was to be in the basic line, but it ain't. I couldn't get Hasbro representatives to admit he is coming, but I would assume him to be an individually packaged figure before 2012 lest they feel the wrath of Mary Franklin. Boba Fett is a different figure from the individually carded release. The carded one attempts to give him a Bounty Hunter look, while the one in this set is squarely "young clone." Mace Winudu's astromech droid is also included.
If you piece out the Big Slave I set, it's not a bad value for a gift, but as a collector it could be a bitter pill to swallow. Five action figures carry a retail value of about $35, and the Jedi Starfighter repaint is worth about $25. So that's $60 or so, with $40 covering the remaining Slave I. We were told that the Slave I-- long rumored as a "large vehicle" assortment item-- has been long in development and likely would have been a fairly expensive item if released individually. Being a sucker and also a user of the Toys "R" Us Mastercard, I'll likely buy this item on sight. I assume you will too.
On a more personal note, I got to talk to the fellow that created the new 2010 Animated Grievous. And yes, I said it was a horrible toy, but clearly the most ambitious horrible toy on the market today. (Hey, it has every last feature you could hope for but can't stand worth a damn, plus it basically "melts" with the weak plastic. That's not a good plaything.)
A third wave of greatest playthings Hasbro makes was shown in the slide presentation, and an additional set was mentioned as coming but cannot be revealed yet as it's specific to the upcoming season. Exciting! We're certainly quite eager to find out just what it is. The Toys "R" Us exclusive gift sets as seen in early 2009 (Kamino, Purchase of the Droids) are said to be in-store now but, obviously, nobody has seen them yet. Not even you. (Unless you are from the future, in which case, welcome to the past.)
The biggest surprise in this category was the addition of an exclusive AT-ST set with a cool new driver figure, bonus characters, and a brand-new seller. Kohl's has shared exclusive items before from Hasbro, but this is the first-ever item that they themselves will host without another retailer. Congratulations! You are now going to get my business.
Small vehicles are already in stores, with SSP pull-strip mechanisms. These and new RC vehicles are part of a very large new vehicle initiative by Hasbro, largely to capitalize on an area where they are historically quite weak particularly compared to Mattel. These are said to be placed on the vehicle aisle, which will likely mean you figure collectors will never see them. (As a rule, many of us don't hunt on the Hot Wheels aisle. Ever.)
Star Wars Transformers were show but not much beyond what is already out or on order. Titanium was not shown at all. Other than FX Darth Maul, no new Lightsabers were revealed, and his was shown at Comic-Con last month.
Star Wars may be forever, but it is clearly mutating. Rather than have years with countless gift sets and over 300 figures in circulation over 365 days, we're seeing a more selective line which is a better approach. Kids can't absorb 100 figures per year, and generally speaking, they only have so much money for toys. A reduced line also means that collectors can better buy the line without needing to expand their storage space a great deal, which will likely be a problem as the action figure line proudly moves into its 15th consecutive year, having debuted in (essentially) August 1995.
Fans always expecting more may be bored by the presentation, but there are only 4 months left in 2010 and something like 20 more Vintage figures and a few dozen neat Clone Wars items on tap. It's still several hundred dollars worth of stuff, and frankly I'd like to see a much more conservative line going forward. Hasbro does fine work, and it gets better each year. By waiting to see certain characters in plastic, we're likely to see even better work than had Hasbro made it a few years ago.
The one area Hasbro has left where they can really surprise us in the animated space, because there are so many characters which as of yet have not seen plastic. There are also tons of new designs-- as such, this is the area where I think we're likely to see the most fun in the future, and the likes of Embo and the Jedi Speeder make me very happy to hear that this range continues to be successful.