2011 was, to put it mildly, a lackluster year for Star Wars action figure collecting. Lackluster in that it didn’t quite meet the promise of 2010, where The Vintage Collection was launched with such alacrity and The Clone Wars line churning out great episodes and figures. Last year, we had distribution issues, waves of figures that were held back, and even other waves that were found on discount pegs at TJ Maxx before you even found them at a Target.
As Star Wars is once again re-introduced to the big screen in 2012, there’s that anticipation of a new promise, of new figures, and maybe even a surprise or two from Hasbro’s Collector Media event at Toy Fair.
There’s the promise of new Vintage Collection figures, now over 100 and counting, with some awesome choices we were waiting for Hasbro to update from The Original Trilogy as well as some nice representations from The Old Republic game and even excellent “film” style Clone Wars figures. On the flip side, The Clone Wars assortment appears to be ramping down this year as only seven new figures were shown, mostly from Season 4. What the future holds for this line remains unclear, but Hasbro is definitely focusing on the films and other platforms like video games and Expanded Universe. Kid oriented toys such as Fighter Pods and their new assortment of AMP’d vehicles and figures are also in the forefront of their 2012 campaign.
Hasbro also announced the next Fan’s Choice Winner to be Mara Jade Skywalker. Jaxxon and Jocasta Nu fans will have to re-ignite their campaigns for the next go around.
THE VINTAGE COLLECTION
Consider it noted that a portion of what was shown has been already seen, like the Blu-Ray Deleted Scenes figures and the Evazan-Secura wave that was announced at the Toy Fair of 2011.
The new and upcoming figures are nothing short of glorious. We finally get an updated Episode IV Grand Moff Tarkin with a face sculpt that captures every distinct contour of the late Peter Cushing’s visage. Hasbro chose to include soft goods for his lower uniform (perhaps to make him sit easier?) that looks a little off, but the likeness is simply stunning. A new Bespin Leia also looks amazing and an update that’s welcome and a long time coming. There’s a well dirtied up orange pauldroned Sandtrooper, who appears to have a new helmet sculpt, and a newish Orrimarrko (Prune Face) that may have some re-used parts from the 2009 Major Panno.
And what looks to be a nod the for the upcoming 30th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, a new Lumat, Nien Numb (with correct height), and Emperor’s Royal Guard (that also comes with alternate training gear), and Emperor’s Wrath Vader.
Another nice reveal are the new Nikto and Weequay Skiff Guards with costume/clothing based on their film and Kenner vintage counterparts.
The “realistic” Clone Wars action figures were also looking fantastic. Hasbro accomplished channeling what the digitally animated characters would look like if they were in celluloid and part of The Vintage Collection. Obi-Wan Kenobi in Clone armor looked particularly superb.
It may not be your Expanded Universe bag of tea, but TFU2's Galen Marek and The Old Republic’s Darth Malgus, the Republic Trooper with a big honking gun, and Shae Vizla turned out quite nicely.
Finally, a blue Phase I Clone Lieutenant, a removable helmet super articulated Shock Trooper, and Clone Pilot Oddball make some excellent additions to your Grand Army along with a new well articulated Jar Jar Binks. He's well articulated for a reason, which you'll find out later in the read.
Most of the Wave 2 Movie Heroes were previously shown at New York Comic Con in October save for Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker with Light up lightsabers and Snowspeeder Luke, who has a grappling hook pack contraption on his back to allow him to hoist up the AT-AT’s belly.
THE CLONE WARS
The dearth of newly announced Clone Wars action figures has been well documented. A new Season 4 Ahsoka Tano and Aayla Secura in underwater gear, Republic Commando Boss, and a nice Phase II Clone Commander Wollfe make quite the nice group for what seems to be it for the year, but let’s hope not for the line.
No new Battle Packs were shown in the showroom but Hasbro did reveal some new sets in their presentation, including one with Darth Maul, Darth Vader, and Boba Fett which they claim are the best iterations of the characters they’ve made yet. We certainly can't wait to see what they mean!
All have already been seen and reported on before, particularly the Vintage Class II Vehicles. Curiously, there were no Class I vehicles represented so we weren’t able to photograph the announced Attack Recon Fighter and Republic Assault Submarine. We got a better look at the newly re-tooled Naboo Starfighter and it looks great with an astromech compartment and detailed control panel.
Which brings us to…
M.T.T. (MULTI-TROOP TRANSPORT)
Getting up close and personal with the M.T.T. gives one a better appreciation of the detail and play features of this year’s Class III BMF. We still aren't sure if it warrants the MSRP of $139.99, but the motorized droid deployment feature is really cool and the electronic lights and sounds definitely add to the play factor. It’s disappointing that the 16 (out of 20) Battle Droids that are fixed on the transport aren’t folded up like in the movie and has articulation only on the blaster arm. If you want to reach further into your pockets, you can use the Vintage Battle Droids and fold them up in the compartment. According to Hasbro, the M.T.T is scheduled for a Fall release and also includes an Obi-Wan Kenobi figure.
SDCC EXCLUSIVE CARBONITE FREEZING CHAMBER SET
Hasbro adds a sense of nostalgia, novelty, and humor in this year’s San Diego Comic-Con exclusive. While not the most shippable or portable thing for a convention exclusive, last summer's Revenge Death Star set was a fantastic piece of packaging and presentation. For 2012, it gets a little more portable.
Hasbro digs deep in their archives and re-introduces their “Lost Line” Kenner design that was nixed by Lucas for the iconic black and silver that we know today. Six figures from each film will be blister carded in this design and packaged in a Carbonite Freezing Chamber theme along with a seventh exclusive figure, a Jar Jar Binks Carbonite Block. You can read more about the "Lost Line" look in this excellent article by SWCA's Ron Salvatore.
The six figures will also be generally released in both the Lost Line card and traditional black and chrome Vintage Collection card. The Jar Jar Carbonite block will be exclusive to the set and not be numbered like the Mouse Droid and Salacious Crumb in the Revenge Death Star exclusive.
The six figures appear to be, based on what we gathered from the presentation and what was on display: I. Jar Jar Binks II. Clone Lieutenant III. Shock Trooper IV. Sandtrooper V. Bespin Leia VI. Either Emperor’s Wrath Vader or Prune Face.
STAR WARS AMP’D
Also coming out in the Fall is Hasbro’s new line of AMP’d figures and vehicles. The premise of this line is the ability to customize your Star Wars ships and vehicles for any mission with modular parts (that means you kids!). The assortment retails from $6.99 for the figure sets to $39.99 for the larger X-Wing and TIE Fighter set.
There are 12 figures and 6 Vehicles planned for 2012.
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE SULLENGER